Do you ever feel like you know just enough about Phuket to be dangerous? Let's see if we can fill in some of the gaps with the latest info from Phuket experts. sailboats and motor yachts arrived from all over the world for the sixth annual Phuket Invitational Superyacht Rendezvous. The event gathered even more cachet this year at its new venue, the exclusive Resort on Phuket's Andaman coast.The champagne flowed at the opening cocktail party on board the classic motor yacht Maid Marian II, which was celebrating her 75th birthday. Following cocktails, owners and crew were whizzed ashore for another party. Hein Velema of the principle sponsor Feadship then announced "The Feadship Challenge" over finely flavored canaps. The objective was simple: Teams had to design and build a model Superyacht in 15 minutes!Feadship knows a thing or two about boats but wasn't giving away any secrets, leaving teams scrambling. Hein looked on with amused curiosity as the teams tackled the challenge, paying homage to ancient shipbuilding traditions with balsa wood, plastic, superglue, sailcloth and a few basic tools. Suitably inspired by generous quantities of Moet and fellow guests, the teams came up with some super - and not so super - yachts while pondering the age-old question, "Does size matter?"The boats took to the water in the specially built racing trough. Wind power proved tricky as team members attempted to blow maximum gale force to propel their boats. To separate the men from the boys, a beer had to be downed at the halfway point. The team from Sylvia encountered steering problems, while superior wind power assisted Maid Marian through several heats until Yanneke Too - built for speed, emerged the fastest. "The Best Design" award went to the Silvertip team for sleek clean lines. "The Ugliest Design" (fast but ugly) went to Cordelia for an extreme flat bottom. Truthfully, the only difference between you and Phuket experts is time. If you'll invest a little more time in reading, you'll be that much nearer to expert status when it comes to Phuket. The following day dawned with glorious weather conditions. The sun shone; a fantastic fresh wind blew to fill the sails; the sky was a brilliant deep blue - all set against the lovely coastline of Phuket. Veteran King's Cup race master Andy Dowden, reminding everyone "it's a rally not a regatta," set the triangular course leading the yachts close to land. Long legs and downwinds provided spectators with a magical sight, as sails were unfurled in majestic splendor.The classic ketch Sylvia, always memorable, was an inspiring sight as southwest winds filled her 600-square meters of sail setting her on course for Sri Lanka. "Everyone got their passport?" joked Capt. Bryce after Sylvia missed the starting line. The 5O-year-old lady was challenged with rigging and renegade sails that took a lot of combined muscle to rein in. As every year, she followed a slightly different course. Capt. Bryce acknowledged that perhaps a few regatta rules had been broken, but everything was fine.Yanneke Too - operating with push-button efficiency led the field. After an exciting start, which had Yanneke Too and Intrigue neck and neck, Yanneke the only boat that hoisted her fabulous spinnaker, made headway. Unfortunately the spinnaker just dipped in the water and Intrigue sailed sovereign in the winner's position.This year's Invitational captured a moment in history. Following last year's tsunami, Phuket and the Andaman coast have made an incredible recovery and many visitors felt a new era was beginning for the region. The sponsors, including organizing sponsor SEAL Superyachts, see Asia and especially Phuket emerging as the ultimate yachting destination in the not-too-distant future.At the final gala dinner their predictions seemed to be on track. The private beach was beautifully decked out. The lavish buffet included fresh Andaman seafood and an array of sensuous chocolate delights. Lashings of champagne added to the general bonhomie as dozens of traditional hot air lanterns were launched in the night sky, forming a canopy of tiny lights above the yachts. " That's how things stand right now. Keep in mind that any subject can change over time, so be sure you keep up with the latest news. http://www.phuket-cannacia.com
Spain is the land of romance and amazing oddities. From bullfights to Gaudi to partying the night away on Ibiza, travelers could easily spend a year exploring Spain.MadridWith a population of over three million, Madrid is a big, modern city in central Spain. The suburbs of Madrid are very modern and not particularly interesting. Make it to the center of the city, however, and you are in for a treat. Small alleys, hidden squares and odd little shops are the norm. In this center, you will find a vibrant public life with outdoor cafes literally overrun with the passionate and interesting people of Madrid. When visiting the city, keep in mind it is very hot in the summer and pretty cold in the winter.BarcelonaOne of my favorite travel destinations, Barcelona is a costal city oozing charm. The city embodies all of the interesting little oddities of Spain with ancient streets where the local hobby is people watching. The city is also the home of best Gaudi architecture in Spain. Gaudi was either a genius or a madman, but there is no denying his architecture is unique. I would describe it as a mix between dripping candles and normal architecture. The big tourist attraction, of course, is the Sagrada Familia church, but better examples can be seen by just walking through neighborhoods. Yep, his work is throughout the city. The only downside to Barcelona is a trend of modernization. While modernization is generally okay, I think it is taking a bit away from the historic charm of Barcelona.IbizaIf youre looking to sit on the beach all day and party the night away, Ibiza is the hottest spot in Europe. An island off the coast of Spain, Ibiza is the rare tourist spot where monstrous tourist hotels dont dominate. Instead, youll find yourself staying in rented rooms, little hotels and hostels in Ibiza Town. During the days, its all about enjoying the beaches. At night, the bars and clubs of the island are world famous and they never really seem to close. Bring plenty of aspirin!If youre going to visit Spain, you cant really go wrong. If time is short, Madrid, Barcelona and Ibiza are three spots worth seeing.
The Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in South America. Following is an overview of fun loving Brazil for travelers.Overview of Brazil for TravelersIndigenous peoples have populated for a long, but undetermined, period. European influence began with Pedro Alvares Cabral when he claimed Brazil as a Portuguese colony in 1500. In a little known development, Brazil actually became the location of the Portuguese government in 1808 when Napoleon chased the royal family out of Portugal. While in Brazil, the family ruled from Rio de Janeiro until 1821 when it returned to Europe. This move was motivated by a declaration of independence by Brazil, led by Dom Pedro.As with many South American countries, Brazil has seen its ups and downs from a political perspective. In 1989, it finally completed a transition to a popularly elected government when Collor de Mello won the popular vote. Less than three years later, he was forced to resign under the cloud of corruption charges. In 2002, Luiz Inacio da Silva rose to the position of president. Lula, as he is known, represents a major change in Brazilian politics. He is the first leader from the working class. Brazil covers just under 3.3 million square miles of South America. The climate in Brazil is mostly tropical, particularly in light of the Amazon River basin.With a population exceeding 186 million, Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world and largest in South America. Despite covering a vast area, most of the population lives in urban cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. If you think traffic is bad in your location, keep in mind over 18 million people live in greater Sao Paulo! The people of Brazil are called Brazilians. The population is 186 million people and growing at a rate of .1 percent a year. 74 percent of Brazilians consider themselves Roman Catholics. The official language is Portuguese and the literacy rate is 86 percent. Average life expectancy is 71.3 years. Brazil is one of the world's leading producers of hydroelectric power. Over 75 percent of its electrical power is generated via dam projects. If you are considering visiting Brazil, you should keep in mind that crime can be a problem in certain areas. Use common sense and you will have no problem. Brazil is a blast, very cheap and gets a big thumbs up as a travel destination.
ArizonaP.M. Enterprises has opened a new tour operation in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Owner Cathie (Priddy) Marshall, formerly with GlobeMasters Travel Network and All Around Branson, identified the need for group tour receptive services which specialize in sightseeing and custom packages for groups touring in the Lake Havasu region. Services being offered include meet-and-greet at both Las Vegas and Phoenix airports, transportation and step-on guides. Other options include various theme and special interest packages, which feature accommodations, theater, entertainment, recreation, gaming, sightseeing and other activities. Contact: 928-680-7949 NevadaMystre, the long running Cirque du Soleil production performed in Las Vegas, is at the Bellagio and has added a Sunday matinee to its schedule. Evening shows are performed Wednesday through Sunday. Contact: www.mgmgrand.comThe Mirage Resort in Las Vegas has introduced several new dining options for guests. Cravings, the popular buffet restaurant, has been redesigned to resemble an international bazaar market. It has 13 culinary stations, each representing a different global cuisine. Also new at this hotel is the opening of New York Citys Carnegie Deli. OregonThe Woodburn Tulip Festival, mid-March through mid-April, is celebrated at the Wooden Shoe Bulb Company and City of Woodburn at the peak of the tulip blooming season. There are tours of the flower fields, wine tasting, craft fairs and other events. For a complete schedule of events, contact: 800-711-2006 or 503-982-8221.After a three-year hiatus, the Columbia Queen has returned to the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers. Its new owner, the American Rivers Cruise Line (ARCL), is completing several enhancements to the luxurious 161-passenger riverboat in preparation for its launch in April. The 2005 season offers eight-night cruise vacations which visit scenic and historic points along these rivers which follow parts of the Oregon Trail and the route of Lewis and Clark. Guests have an opportunity to experience selection of price-included daily shore excursions which are led by historians, naturalists and cultural interpreters. There are several other included features being offered by the company. Contact: 800-901-9152 www.americanriverscruiseline.comTexasThe Texas Historical Commission publishes guides to the states ten Heritage Trail Regions. Its newest guide, The Texas Brazos Trail, follows a path through central Texas and traces its early history and European heritage. It also highlights the regions many attractions, scenic waterways, small communities, commercial centers and the influence of the railroads and cotton industry on its growth and development. This region boasts having seven Texas Main Street Cities, ten notable parks and numerous historic sites. It is part of the infamous Chisholm Trail and home to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. It also features several colleges acclaimed for both their academic status and gridiron action. There are halls of fame celebrating Texas sports heroes and the Texas Rangers and many museums including the Dr. Pepper Museum. There are 36 historic communities in the region, each having sites of interest and most offering several celebrations and festivals at various times of the year. For a copy of Brazos Trail guide contact: 512-463-6100Source: www.leisuregrouptravel.comother links:www.grouptravelblog.comwww.grouptraveldirectory.com
The Ghan is a living legend in Australian history and offers the ultimate journey through the heart of the Australian continent. Named after Afghan cameleers who originally helped open up the desert interior of Australia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Ghan is at once a luxury railway train and a 3000 kilometre railway journey that meanders from the fertile Adelaide countryside through the rusty red hues of Central Australia to the tropical splendour of the Top End.The railway line began its colourful life as the Northern Railway in 1878, at the height of a national railway boom, in the hope of developing the pastoral and mining potential of the Australian interior. Soon becoming known affectionately as The Ghan, by 1891 the line reached from Port Augusta to the outback town of Oodnadatta in northern South Australia. Oodnadatta remained the end of the line for the next forty years.In 1895, in an effort to advance construction of the line, it was stated that "the interior was not all desert, but had extensive areas of good land fit for cultivation and a variety of tropical products". The line was finally extended to the Central Australian town of Alice Springs in 1929, and remained there until 2003 when a major project to extend the line through to the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, was completed.Until 1929, almost all goods to Alice Springs were transported by camel trains driven by Afghan tribesmen adept at handling these hardy 'ships of the desert'. The camel trains would meet the train at the railhead in Oodnadatta and carry goods ranging from pianos, motors, and furniture to food supplies, mail, newspapers and clothing on to Alice Springs. The arrival of the camel trains was always a time of great excitement. The camels remained a viable means of transport in Central Australia for so long because the development of motor transport was hindered by a lack of well formed roads and the reliable availability of fuel supplies.Part of the Ghan's legendary reputation derives from the many mishaps which occurred during the early years of its operation. The 1520 km journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs passed through some of the driest and most difficult country on earth. Normally dry rivers would frequently flood after a downpour and run several kilometres wide, sweeping railway tracks, bridges and other infrastructure away in their path. Sometimes the train would not arrive for weeks or even months. At one point during the 1970's the Ghan was not sighted in Alice Springs for 3 months and essential supplies had to be flown into the town daily.By 1980 the Ghan's route had been relocated a considerable distance to the west, and the line upgraded from narrow gauge to the wider Australian standard gauge. In the process, many new bridges and earth works were completed, and the Ghan's reputation for unreliability became history.Today the modern Ghan is a world-class luxury railway and renowned attraction for travellers wishing to experience the real Australia in comfort. The 3000 km journey from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs takes two days, and passes through just three other towns of any size, Port Augusta in South Australia and Tennant Creek and Katherine in the Northern Territory.