Asia & the Middle East

Asia & the Middle East…

 

ASIA

Hiroshima ferry to Busan, Korea

Seoul or fly to Incheon ferry to Tianjin, China

Beijing fly to Chengdu (pandas)

Train through Golmud or fly to Lhasa

From Beijing take train to Xian’s Hua Shan…one of five sacred Taoist mts

Fly to Mongolia’s Ulaan Baatar (horses)

Naadam Fest July 11 &12 archery, racing and wrestling

  • BHUTAN: 18,000 tourists are let into Bhutan/yr, has ancient temples/fest/trekking (best Sept)
  • CHINA: Tibet Lhasa’s Potala Palace, overland to Kathmandu via Himalayas, Nepal

    Lhasa’s kora (pilgrimage of holy site) around Drepung Monastery, 4/5 day hike from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery

    -Where to go When: mild altitude sickness, get acclimated for few days, walk clockwise around religious things, sun is harsh, night cold, don’t drink chang homebrew made from un-filtered water, wander sts and take in atmosphere, Jokhang to Kora around temple, Barkhor, Potala Palace (once home of the Dalai Lama), Drepung, 4WD tour of Tibetan plateau to Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery & Samye Monastery, Namtso Lake via Tsurphu Monastery, stroll Norbutingka

  • INDIA: Palace of Wheels private toy train of the Maharajas $295-350/person 1 wk rdtp from New Delhi buy from www.sitaindia.com Oct-Mar, Cochin, Kerala car service to Lake Vembanad then boat trip to Coconut Lagoon Village arranged by hotel reserve Middle East Asia Tourist for dbl $160 Nov-Feb, for 4 days early Jan The Great Elephant March held in Trissur and Kovalam (ref: 1000) fly to Delhi see India Gate & Humayun’s Tomb, Agra for Taj Mahal take picture in love seat (closed Fri!), haggle price w/ taxi driver b/c they will not use meters, ***Barsana celebrates Holi in March w/ water and Powder (gulal) bought in Chandni Chowk (Kinari Bazaar)***, visit Mathura, Old Delhi, Red Fort or Jami Masjid, surfing Andaman Is, Kerala (one of the most pop tourist dest in India), “God’s own country” arr in Kochi, Ft Chnin, River Rd to see Chinese fishing nets, St Fracis Church, Santa Cruz Cathedral, Paradesi Synagogue in Jew Town, Kathakali perf in evening at See India Foundation, trip to Munnar, try Ayurveda Massage, to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (tigers, elephants, monkeys, boars, etc), Alapphuzha for backwater cruising (stop @ Vembanad Lake beforehand if possible) to Kollam, stay overnight on a kettubalam (rice barge) to Trivandrum (ext of Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temp & museums to Kovalam or Varkala beaches, carry mosquito repellent at all times, cover tops of arms/legs for respect, don’t drink water, possible to go on to Sri Lanka FESTIVAL: Kavadi Festival of Penance piercing and pulling carts, walking on nails 2x/yr winter and spring

    Taj Mahal: a tomb situated in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is one of The Seven Wonders of the World and is said to be one of the finest art of the Mughal architecture.

  • INDONESIA: Java in JuneWaisak Buddhist pilgrimage to Borobudur Temple and Borobudur Festival (ref:GT World) surf Nemberala, Roti Island (ref:GT World) Temple of Borobudur (ref: 1000) explore yogyakarta’s Karton, Candi Mendut, hindu temple Prambanan (May-Oct during full moon perf of Ramajana 7:30-9:30 pm), Surakarta has 2 places and biggest batik mkt, Bali: lake Bratan, mkt town Dedugul, elephant ride thru Taro Jungle, Aquatonic Pool @ Ritz Carlton, The Rock Bar at Ayana Hotel
  • JAPAN: dive Okinawa
  • LAOS: Champassak Wat Phou, Luang Prabang, sailing the Mekong River depart Pakse Vat Phou every Tues & Sat Jul-Apr or Zolotrips from Bangkok to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh (main attraction is Laos www.mekongcruises.com 2 nights $350/person including shore excursions and meals(ref: 1000) start at Ban Houei Xai on Thai (NE) border and take converted rice barge down Mekong River to UNESCO Luang Prabang (200 miles, 2 days) or (6 hrs by longtail boat), visit wats (temples) Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai, Wat Visoun, day trip to Pak Ou Caves, rent bike to tour mkts, Mount Phousi for views of city & sunset, Vientiane (8 hrs by long tail speedboat), dine in Nam Phu Sq, morning mke for hill tribe jewelry, That Luang Wat, Lao Nat’l History Museum, women should never touch a monk, don’t put feet at Buddha, Pakbeng, bike countryside of Vang Vieng and go river tubing
  • MALAYSIA: Sipidan Island, Sabah, Borneo (is that safe…terroist cells, no?!?) (ref: 1000) Mt Kinabalu (4095m) highest peak in Asia south of the Himalayas (ref:GT World)
  • MALDIVES: in the Indian Ocean, try to avoid rain in July, diving is great and try the Maldivian tag game bai bala
  • MONGOLIA: camel trek Goi Deset (ref:GT World) FESTIVAL: July 11-13th usually Nadaam Festival is most impressive at Ulaan Baatar festival of wrestling, archery and horse racing
  • NEPAL: Himalays (March), Kathmandu, Bodhnath Temple stupa built by Tibetan Buddhists, fly to Lukla, trek 3 hrs to Phakding, 5 hrs to Namche Bazaar, Tengboche 5 hrs, Dingboche 5 hr, Khumbu Glacier, Lobuch, 4 hrs to Gorak Shep, across up to Everest Base Camp (need 2 wks) walk around stupas and temples in a clockwise direction and not pointing us two hands when giving/receiving, hike Imjaste/Island Peak (6173 m)
  • PHILIPPINES: Banaue Rice Terraces, Luzon (ref: 1000), Boracay, Cebu
  • Sri Lanka: Colombo taxi/bus to Kandy, Temple of Sacred Tooth (Aug fest), car to Pinnewala Elephant Orphange, tea plantations near Ella Village, Nuwara Eliya, temples: hindagala Vihara & Natha Devale, negotiate fare before getting into tuk-tuks, don’t pose next to or in front of statues of Buddha’s as it’s disrespectful), surd Hikkaduwa reef break Nov-Apr and Arugam Bay pt break Apr-Oct
  • TAIWAN: Taipei Taipei 101 Shopping Mall (highest blding in Taipei, Shihlin Night Market
  • THAILAND: Koh Pha Ngan Full Moon Party, Koh Samui Ang Thong Nat’l Park, Koh Wua Talab beach, Chiang Rai (bus to Pakbeng, Laos!), Chiang Mai’s Hmong Hilltribe village

    Bangkok-Rattanakosin, Golden Mkt, Khao San Rd, Banglamphu (Wat In), Little India, Chinatown, Chatuak wknd mkt, Siam Square shopping district, Damneon Saduak, River Kawai near Kanchanaburi…travel by boat when possible

    Chiang Rai

  • VIETNAM: Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay limestone cliffs kayaking and junk boat cruising overnight, Hue dragon boat to visit pagodas, Imperial Citadel, Da Nang, Hoi An UNESCO world hertiage w/ French influence, Nha Trang beaches, Ho Chi Minh’s War Remnants Museum, cruise Mekong Delta rice paddy fields, coconut palms and sugar plantations

    ***Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)-Mekong Delta-Ho Chi Minh-bus? to Nha Trang-bus to Hoi An-bus to Da Nang-bus to Hue-bus to Hanoi-tour to Halong Bay back to Hanoi-train to Sapa-train to Hanoi

FESTIVALS:

 

MIDDLE EAST

  • UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Dubai is super luxurious but actually great value too
  • ISRAEL: Bethlehem Christmas, En-gedi the Dead Sea is 1 hr east of Jerusalem by car, try and see if we can stay at the kibbutz inn, Jerusalem take a 90 min train ride, see the Jaffa and Damascus gates, Muslim Quarter and Jewish Quarter, El-Aksa Mosque, Mount Moriah, the Wailing Wall on sunsets every Friday, Via Dolorosa past Stations of the Cross en routh Christ is believed to have taken as he carried the cross to crucifixion, Calvary, Church of Hold Sepulcher, Christian Quarters, try humus, bring your own napkins, Israel Museum, Masada fortress is 1 & ½ hrs drive from Jerusalem and 2 & ½ from Tel Aviv, admission is $4 and cable car $10 best Apr-Sept, Tel Aviv Museum of the Diaspora (ref:1000) FESTIVALS: Aug last wk Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eliat
  • JORDAN: Jerash Temple of Artemis and 3 wk (Jul-Aug) Jerash Festival at the Forum and South Theater (ref:10000) Petra historical fortress is located 170 miles southwest of Amman, Jordan on the edges of the Wadi Araba desert. It is also 50 miles south of the Dead Sea and the only way to enter the city is through a narrow crevice called the Siq. One has to uncover a very narrow path of mountains, kilometer by kilometer before they get to see the majestic beauty of Petra.This path is only about five meters wide, with sandstone walls towering up hundreds of meters high on both sides. This long, narrow & not very well lighted gorge is very cool & soothes the visitors before it unfolds the mystery step by step. A taxi is the best means of transportation to get from the Queen Alia International Airport to Amman. Remember to ask the driver to take you to the Wahdat bus terminal, since there are two major bus stations in Amman. Destinations are usually printed in Arabic on the respective buses, so if you do not read Arabic, ask to be shown to the bus that will take you to Petra.

FESTIVALS:

 

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