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Dez 7, 2015 at 08:51 o\clock


Booking a flight can be one of the most stressful parts about travel! Airfare is expensive and, with variation in prices, we often worry that if we buy right now, prices could drop and we’d be the person who paid the most money for the flight. “Maybe if I wait just a little longer, prices will drop,” we say to ourselves.

booking a flight online for cheap 

I used to spend hours upon hours searching for the right price. I’d search multiple websites, second-guess myself, and worry about what happens when the prices drop. I would hold off on buying, waiting for that perfect moment. It was like trying to time the market – it simply doesn’t work. 99 times out of 100, you lose out. On a recent trip from Austin, a one-way ticket on American Airlines was $206 USD. The next day it was $149 USD and a BETTER route. When I checked a few hours later, it was back to $206 USD.

You can’t predict prices. The best day to book is usually today.

Last year, I went to visit the folks at Google Flights, and over lunch they told me about a study they did of thousands of flights. They found the average drop price is about $50 USD. That means if you wait, you’re most likely to save about $50 USD but might be stuck with a price that is hundreds higher. (This excludes sales and mistake fares.)

As someone who doesn’t go a day without searching for airfare to regions all over the world, I can tell you that you can’t second-guess yourself. If you’re comfortable with the price you paid, you need to accept it and move on, even if airfare drops.

In the past, I’ve explained how to finding a cheap flight – the theory and strategy to use when searching for a flight. Today, I want to show you how to put that into practice and walk you through how I book my tickets.

For this article , I’m going to look for a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong or NYC toAthens in March for 8-10 days. (Note: Prices reflect the day of search on 11/11/15.)

Step 1

First, I’ll look at deal websites like Holiday Pirates or The Flight Deal to see if there are any fare sales going on. Sometimes there are, most of the times there aren’t.

After that, I start with web dat phong khach san vung tau  ITA Matrix, an amazing tool that allows for complex searching and that every flight junkie I know uses. While it only searches major airlines (no budget carriers here), it has a calendar option so you can see prices over the course of the month and provides a solid baseline on prices.

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Nov 13, 2015 at 06:02 o\clock

Gujarat, India: At home with Narendra Modi - and the Mahatma

Among the 60,000-strong crowd due to pack Wembley Stadium on Friday tocatch a glimpse of Narendra Modi, India’s populist Prime Minister, many will be Gujaratis, people who while long since settled in Britain, trace their ancestry back to India’s westernmost state and the place which for years served as the base for an even greater Indian leader – Mahatma Gandhi.

Gujarat is where Mr Modi was born, raised and where he – albeit extremely controversially – cut his political teeth, eventually rising to become chief minister.




The state is almost the size of Britain and has a similar population; we are home to its largest diaspora.

Compared with Rajasthan to the north and Maharashtra to the south, it does not attract huge numbers of British visitors – though it should.

With Mumbai lying just down the road, it is easy to get to and as I stepped off the train at Mahesana, a small northern town, Bhowar my driver greeted me like… a long-lost foreign tourist.

So what are the obvious traces of the man who started life helping out at his father’s tea stall and rose to become the Prime Minister of India?

As we sped past fields of sugar cane on our way to Vadnagar – the town in which he grew up – Bhowar heaped praise on its most famous son. Modi, he said, “gets things done – like decent roads”.

At home with Modi - and the MahatmaThe former 'tea stall' of Damodardas Mulchand Modi, Narendra's father  Photo: GETTY

There’s not a lot in Vadnagar to suggest his connection with the place, though many believe local infrastructure has indeed benefited from nostalgia-tinged largesse. There’s the B N School, as modest as it was in his day; the humble family tea shop which is now a shop for farm machinery, and Sharmishtha Lake, where the young Modi reputedly defied crocodiles to save a drowning friend.

In the earthy old quarter veined with streets barely wider than a bullock cart, we located his modest former home. Having long since changed hands, it has now been augmented with an extra storey.

At home with Modi - and the Mahatma
The B?N School, as modest as it was in his day  Photo: GETTY

So much for Modi’s Gujarat; fortunately there is much more to detain a visitor. Such as Modhera, home to the 11th-century temple dedicated to the Sun god Surya. Here I found a deep tank lined with 108 miniature shrines, a flight of stone steps rising to an ornamental archway; friezes depicting gods, goddesses and dancing girls. Briefly I had its idyllic, faintly eerie tranquillity to myself, the spell interrupted only by a local guide anxious to show me some of the temple’s more “erotic” sculptures.

• India by train: five magical journeys

Twenty miles north, at Patan, is the incredible Rani-ki-Vav, or Queen’s Stepwell. “Step” and “well” might not sound promising but this 11th‑century architectural tour de force is among the largest such wells in India – a shrine to the sanctity of water and an astonishing blend of aesthetics and practicality.

At home with Modi - and the MahatmaModhera's 11th-century temple dedicated to the Sun god Surya  Photo: AP/FOTOLIA

Lingering among its terraced colonnades, I watched light, shade and shadow bleed subtly with the arcing sun across a thousand sumptuous carvings of alluring maidens and enigmatic divinities. The mythological and religious imagery is profoundly sensual, almost playful.

Domestic tourism to Gujarat prospered during Modi’s period as chief minister. India at that time was going through spectacular economic growth, and he was canny enough to encourage the marketing power of Bollywood to help raise the state’s profile. In 2010, venerable Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan became a “brand ambassador” for Gujarat Tourism and filmed several adverts with the slogan “Fragrant Gujarat”.

• 18 incredible images of India by Steve McCurry

It appeared to be a winning formula and shortly after last year’s general election, the Modi government announced a “Brand India” campaign focusing on “Five Ts”, among them tourism. Today 113 countries, including Britain, benefit from the long-awaited introduction of an online E-visa regime.

At home with Modi - and the MahatmaThe incredible Rani-ki-Vav, or Queen's Stepwell  Photo: AP/FOTOLIA

In reality, there’s nothing fragrant about Ahmedabad, the former state capital and still its largest city. The one-time “Manchester of the East” still boasts a vigorous mercantile community – and one of their sprawling homes is now the city’s only “boutique” hotel. The House of Mangaldas Girdhardas, or “House of M G”, a lovingly rescored Twenties mansion boasting an open-air rooftop restaurant in which I enjoyed possibly the city’s finest thali.

Next morning I embraced the city’s unbridled vitality on my way to arguably its prize draw, the Calico Textile Museum. It sounds dull but inside is an unrivalled collection of Indian fabrics, textiles and costumes.

Other highlights included Bhadra, the city’s original 15th-century citadel, and an old quarter with labyrinthine lanes containing ancient mosques and still-venerated tombs. Completed in 1524, Ahmedabad’s huge principal mosque – a confection of pale sandstone now missing its delicate minarets – still draws thousands on Fridays and readily accepts visitors.

I was struck during my wanderings by how this predominantly Hindu city also nurtures a substantial Muslim population and was heartened to hear, at least anecdotally, that communal tension had not recently raised its ugly head.

• Top 10: best palace hotels in India

That of course remains the one big skeleton in the Modi closet – the memory of the terrible communal riots that rocked several Ahmedabad localities in 2002 and the allegation that the then chief minister stood by as Hindu mobs took revenge on Muslims. India’s Supreme Court eventually cleared Modi of all allegations, and his rise since has been nothing short of meteoric. Once shunned on the international stage, he is now embraced wherever he goes, as seen this week in his invitation to have lunch with the Queen.

Nov 13, 2015 at 05:51 o\clock

One of the last remaining Chinese junks sails past Hong Kong

A 400-year-old port, Macau has long been closely linked with the sea. As recently as the 1950s, Macau children would have grown up knowing they would likely become fishermen or shipbuilders: both industries were riding a wave, with nearly 10,000 fishermen and more than 30 enormous shipyards dotted across the tiny territory. The coastal villages were thriving and the ocean was teeming with fish, crabs and oysters.


Sunset falls on Coloane's empty shores (Credit: Credit: Wamodo/Alamy)

Sunset falls on Coloane's empty shores (Credit: Wamodo/Alamy)


But the fishing and shipbuilding industries collapsed in the 1990s. Not only were the territory’s waters becoming increasingly polluted as China’s Zhujiang Delta began to develop, but Macau’s handcrafted wooden ships couldn't match the competitive prices from mainland China. And, since hand making a wooden fishing junk would take one team about two months, their craftsmen could not compete with the efficient production of metal boats.

Once a buzzing shipbuilding hub – carefully crafting everything from shrimp-trawling junks with their billowing, fan-shaped sails to long, slender dragon boats made of teak – the last ship yard, Lai Chi Vun Shipyard, made its final vessel in 2005. Today the once-proud workshop comprises decaying building materials, washed-up trash and a few abandoned boats.


A 1955 photo shows traditional Chinese junks sailing to Macau (Credit: Credit: Horace Bristol/Getty)

A 1955 photo shows traditional Chinese junks sailing to Macau (Credit: Horace Bristol/Getty)


However, while Macau is now cruising on a new current of casinos and property development, a few enterprising residents have taken it upon themselves to keep the city’s maritime traditions afloat.

Former shipbuilder Leong Kam-hon resides next to these eerie, empty docks in Coloane, a village on Macau’s southern coast, where he runs Hon Kee Coffee (Estrada de Lai Chi Vun, +853-2888-2310). Despite its humble appearance, the small cafe is deceivingly successful, drawing regulars and tourists daily to sample its signature sweet and frothy coffee.


A former shipbuilder, Leong now owns the Hon Kee Coffee shop in Macau (Credit: Credit: Kate Springer)

A former shipbuilder, Leong now owns the Hon Kee Coffee shop in Macau (Credit: Kate Springer)


Leong began a career in shipbuilding in 1972, which was cut short 14 years later when he wounded his arm on a saw. “At the time, my hand was injured but there were still a lot of boats being made, so I thought I’d sell coffee and bread to the nearby workers and the fishermen going out to sea,” said Leong. “Now I feel empty because the industry is gone.”

But it seems that the ghostly docks next door may see life once again. The Macau Government Tourist Office recentlyproposed plans to repurpose the forgotten Coloane docks into a museum dedicated to preserving the traditions of shipbuilding and fishing – although there’s no confirmed timeline as of yet.


The abandoned Lai Chi Vun Shipyard's history is decaying (Credit: Credit: Kate Springer)

The abandoned Lai Chi Vun Shipyard's history is decaying (Credit: Kate Springer)


In the meantime, local resident Tam Chon-ip, whose father and grandfather were both shipbuilders at Lai Chi Vun Shipyard, is offering tours of the site in collaboration with the Cultural Affairs Bureau on 28 November and 12 December. The tours will cover the past, present and future of shipbuilding, featuring historical anecdotes passed on from Tam’s family, the history behind the shipyard and an introduction to the tools used for shipbuilding.

Having grown up at the docks, Tam uses his knowledge of ship construction to design to-scale models of traditional Macau junk boats, which he will display in a studio outside of the Lai Chi Vun Shipyard next year. He also visits universities and schools to teach young people about Macau’s shipbuilding heritage, and is working on an oral history project of the shipbuilding industry.


A traditional Chinese junk ship, once found in Macau, sails through Hong Kong (Credit: Credit: Philippe Lopez/Getty)

A traditional Chinese junk ship, once found in Macau, sails through Hong Kong (Credit: Philippe Lopez/Getty)


Another passionate boatbuilder is Wan Chun, ex-chairperson of the Macao Association of Shipyard Workers, who draws on his decades of experience to hand-craft meticulous miniature replicas of Chinese junk trawlers.

“Boat making is a traditional craft and I make these model boats exactly the way you would a normal fishing boat – from the materials to the tools and techniques,” said Wan, who spends about 120 hours creating each ship. He can usually be found sitting in the shade on the porch of the Macau Historical Archives, where he regularly exhibits his work.


Wan has spent his whole life building ships large and small (Credit: Credit: Kate Springer)

Wan has spent his whole life building ships large and small (Credit: Kate Springer)


Wan grew up in a fishing family, and remembers his parents being away for long stretches every day of his childhood. “They would place me at a [friend or relative’s] home near the pier, and I would spend the rest of the day anxiously waiting for their return,” said Wan. “I remember the wait vividly. When it was high tide, that’s when I knew they were coming back.”

Nov 13, 2015 at 05:49 o\clock

Nine awesome places to visit

NOT all destinations live up to the hype. There are, however, plenty of destinations and attractions around the world that have exceeded my expectations.

Here are some of these places. You won’t regret paying them a visit:


It’s incredible. Picture: Flickr Moyan Brenn

It’s incredible. Picture: Flickr Moyan Brenn

Prepare yourself, because this country is truly moving. It’s all about the crazy landscapes — geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers and black-sand beaches. If you go outside of the peak tourist season (mid-June through August) accommodation is cheaper and you have the sites pretty much to yourself. I went in October, picked up a hire car from the airport and drove around for 10 days. Now I want to go back again and again. It’s a long way from Australia — but if you happen to be in London you could consider adding on a trip to Iceland (it’s three hours from London to Reykjavik).


Beautiful at any time of the day. Picture: Flickr Lawrence Murray

Beautiful at any time of the day. Picture: Flickr Lawrence Murray

It’s just a big rock. However, anyone who has been to see it will tell you Uluru is so much more than a massive sandstone monolith. Is it the star-filled sky? The fact that this special place carries great spiritual and cultural significance for the local indigenous tribes? It’s difficult to pin down, but Uluru sure lives up to the hype.


What’s not to love about somewhere so pretty?

What’s not to love about somewhere so pretty?Source:Supplied

So nearly everyone on the Eastern Seaboard seems to have been to Queenstown, but I only discovered it last winter. Why didn’t anyone tell me I didn’t need to fly all the way to Europe to see stunningly beautiful mountains with snow?


There’s so much space out here. Picture: Flickr Stephen van der Mark

There’s so much space out here. Picture: Flickr Stephen van der MarkSource:Flickr

Mongolia — it’s fantastic. The clear blue sky and the pastoral rolling grasslands of the treeless steppe will steal your heart. This place was everything I dreamt of and more — I fell head over heels with the remote, natural beauty, Mongolia’s nomadic culture and the abundant wildlife. The food, however, is not great — the most common rural dish is cooked mutton, often without any other ingredients. It would be a nightmare for a vegetarian.


Keep aware when these big guys are around.

Keep aware when these big guys are around.

Cameroon’s Waza National Park, a fenceless reserve made up of 170,000 acres of savanna, was the highlight of my trip to the west Africa country. The park is home to lions, giraffes, elephants, cobs, ostriches, antelopes, leopards and waterbuck. It’s the most famous park in Cameroon and one of the most spectacular in French-speaking Africa.

However, you might want to wait a while until you book your holiday as it’s currently unsafe — recent cross-border raids by the Nigerian Islamist extremists of Boko Haram have all but halted such visits by tourists.


Wow. Just wow.

Wow. Just wow.Source:Supplied

When I visited Fiji as a teenager I hated it, maybe it was the fact that I was ripped off. A taxi driver, who drove me from my hotel into Nadi one day invited me to his family home for a meal. He picked me up that night and I enjoyed the curries his wife made. But then he handed me a bill for $100 for food and transport and demanded I pay it, which, stupidly, I did. The next day it got worse — I got sunstroke. So when the idea came up to visit Fiji as an adult, I wasn’t keen. But I gave it another go — and wow, was I blown away.

Malolo Island (25km by boat from Nadi International Airport) is the Fiji of my dreams. I’ve now stayed at both resorts on the island — adults only Likuliku Lagoon Resort and kid friendly Malolo Island. And if you can get there — go, you won’t be disappointed.


The 10-hectare Legoland park in the small town of Billund has rides, entertainment, its own bank, post office, tourist office and even its own airport. If you make it all the way to Denmark and on to Billund (three hours by train from Copenhagen), then you may as well go the whole hog and stay at Hotel Legoland, the park’s official hotel. It’s so close that you can practically roll off the roller coaster into the bar. Inside there are creations made out of bricks everywhere you look, from Darth Vader in the lobby to an assortment of firemen, pirates and knights in the corridors.


Just hanging out on the mountain.

Just hanging out on the mountain.Source:Supplied

If you’re a mountain and hiking lover, it’s highly likely that this small and untouched country has been on your radar for some time. It holds so many surprises. It’s a deeply Buddhist country with incredible monasteries, a dramatic Himalayan landscape and fun loving and well educated people. I met locals that have never encountered a tourist before — an incredible experience for me, and hopefully for them too.


It’s hard to tire of a view like this.

It’s hard to tire of a view like this.

There’s a lot about Hawaii to love — the sugary white beaches, the mix of Polynesian and American culture, the sunsets that are just as good as the postcards and the food — island farmers markets, food trucks and fusion menus by Hawaii’s star chefs.