Travel To The World’s _____ Country!

Certain countries are known for their sites, or their scenery or their food. Through the years though, some nations have been making their mark in different ways, maybe because of their disposition, or their per capita income. Wouldn’t you wanna say that you’ve traveled to the world’s- insert appropriate adjective here- country?

Here are just a few:

1. Richest Country– The honor of the world’s wealthiest nation goes to Luxembourg, with a GDP per Capita of $68,800. You’ll get more than your fill of culture there, as it neighbor’s Belgium, France and Germany. In fact, most people are fluent in Luxemborgish, German, French and English! A great idea would be to take the Uniworld Cruise , and stop by Luxembourg! Luxembourg
2. Fattest Country– Although the US is well on it’s way to becoming the world’s fattest nation, it hasn’t reached thenauru top of the list yet! For now, first place goes to Nauru! This South Pacific Island nation has 94.5 % of its population listed as overweight! That’s a lot of fat! Although the country is overweight, it is still home to some beautiful beaches that are predominant over the South Pacific and is still worth a visit! And, it doesn’t hurt the self esteem either to go to a place and be amongst one of the “fitter” people there!

3. Most Fit countryFinland takes the cake for the fittest country. They should be known as Fitland instead!finland They have the country with the least amount of couch potato citizens. Finland used to be really unhealthy, but campaign in the 1970s worked wonders, eliminating heart problems by 65%!

4. Saddest CountryLithunia ranks as the world’s saddest country. This is because their suicide rate ranks highest in the world, if we were to base it from 2004 statistics! It is estimated that at least 400 thousand people commit suicide there yearly!

5. Happiest Country– An excellent way to counter a visit to the world’s saddest nation is to visit the world’s happiest! That is no other than Denmark! It is said that Denmark’s wealth, beautiful surroundings, small size and excellent health care all factor in to make it the world’s happiest!

copenhagen

I think it would be such an interesting idea to see what makes all these countries have the “image” that they do. Also, any excuse to travel and vacation is always a good one, right? Do you know any countries that are known for particular things? Please share 🙂

Sun, Sand and Self-defense: New things to do on your vacations

With the equality of the sexes more evident that ever before in the spheres of politics, economics, and in the workplace, it seems to be a great time to be a woman. Women of today enjoy more freedom and privileges compared to the many generations before them.

However, all is not as sunny as it seems. Crimes against women have been on the steady rise too. Just yesterday, I read in the news of a 13 year old girl who was raped in Detroit. Reuters recently reported on a Bosnian Serb indicted on the rape of 2 Muslim women. Just as the world is opening more doors for us, it is proving to be a more dangerous place too.

Women shouldn’t stand idle while all this is happening! If they are earning enough to buy nice houses and go on nice vacations, then they should think about investing in ways and means to protect themselves!

The next time you go on a luxury vacation, why don’t you consider a destination where some effective self defense methods hail from too. Aside from getting a well-deserved break, you’ll also walk away from your vacation with a good amount of exercise, and something that could potentially save your life. If you don’t know where to go, here are some suggestions:

1. Brazil– the streets and beaches of Sao Paolo or Rio de Janeiro are rife with fun, flavor, color and all things that we love about the Latin culture. However, not many people know that Brazil is also the home of Capoiera. Capoiera is a mixture of dance, martial arts and acrobatics that originated from the African slaves. Its aesthetics are so unique and draw on its rich African heritage.

Capoiera
 2. Israel – Many consider visiting Israel for the Holy land tours- trips that take one to Jesus’ homeland. Israel is also the homeland of Krav Maga. Krav Maga is a self-defense system that utilizes hand-to-hand combat. It applies “real life” context to its movements in the sense that it employs just the minimum practical movements to defend oneself from attack. It is the self-defense method used by the Israeli Security Forces.

krav maga

3. China– While the great wall and the upcoming Olympics are great reasons to visit China, they are not the only ones. Karate, arguably the most famous self-defense method hails from China. It developed from Southern style Kung Fu and is a striking art, involving punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes.

karate
4. Thailand– A very popular destination for those who want a taste of the “real Asia”, Thailand offers wonderful shopping, great food and beautiful beaches. Thailand also includes in its offerings Muay Thai or more popularly known as Thai Boxing. Thailand’s national sport uses a series of punches and kicks which targets the “8 points of contact”. It is so effective that the military even employ it as their form of defense.

muay thai

5. Japan– With the Yen in a not-so-good state, It’s the perfect time to head to Japan to enjoy a taste of the Hariijuku street life, while partaking in authentic sushi and wagyu beef. The dropping Yen has also made the art of Ninjitsu more affordable. Ninjitsu, in laymen terms is “Ninja training”. This martial art follows the way of the Ninja, with rapid and fluid hand and foot movements.

nunjitsu

These destinations are just a miniscule taste of what the world has to offer. Each country actually has its own native and specialized form of self-defense. It is only up to you to ask and look.

The next time you go on vacation, come home with more than just a nice tan. Come home with a means of protecting yourself and your loved ones as well.

5 Fascinating Lenten Traditions Worldwide

Disclaimer: This post may contain videos of a graphic and gory nature. Reader Beware!!

The season of lent is amongst us. In fact, Holy Week, the most important week of the season kicked off yesterday, with the celebration of Palm Sunday. While most of us here in the US fail to celebrate this occasion save for Easter Sunday (and that isn’t even really about religion, but is more about bunnies and eggs!), a big part of the World commemorates lent with traditions seeped in the Christian faith intertwined with touches of their own culture.

A common practice worldwide is to abstain from eating meat, but in many countries, it goes far beyond that! I find it all very interesting really, as these practices range from the amusing, the cute, the strange,to the all out gory bordering on inhumane! W

ithout further ado, here are 5 of the most fascinating lenten traditions in my book;

1. Ever heard of a Pancake race? Well, they actually exist! To use up the all the eggs and fat before lent, residents of various parts of Britain participate on a Pancake on Shrove Tuesday. The town of Olney, in Buckinghamshire is perhaps most famous for these pancake races. Housevives dressed in aprons hurriedly cook their pancakes upon hearing the first churchbell, and dash outside when hearing the second. They race from Market square to the church, clad in their aprons and pans. Upon reaching the church, participants have to toss their pancakes in the air 3 times! Yummm!!!

2. In Mexico, Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of lent are celebrated by cooking up the “Capirotada”– a dessert made up of crusty rolls, raisins, cheese, butter, milk, sugar, tomatoes, onions, plaintains and other secret Mexican ingredients. They make this as a substitute of sorts for meat. Wouldn’t you like to take a bite of this?

3. In Poland, housewives stop baking bread a week before Palm Sunday. It is believed that if they do, the bread they bake for the rest of the year would spoil. Many resume baking on Holy week, especially on good Friday. It is said that if a housewife violated this, the whole village would suffer from a long drought, which can only be countered by throwing the guilty party with her pots in a pond!

4. Another tradition in Poland is for people not to use mirrors and combs on Good Friday. Mirrors are covered, and combs are put away! I wonder how people manage to shave and get dressed, and put make-up on on this day?! LOL.

5. This last tradition from the Philippines, is not for the squeamish and faint-hearted. In many provinces like Pampanga and Cebu, devotees re-enact Christ’s crucifixion under the heat of the sun. Using 2 inch stainless steel nails soaked in alchohol, they are actually nailed to the cross! Ouch!!! WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING SCENES

I’ve never had a Holy week that extreme! And to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t want to subject myself to that pain. I am a coward who would rather spend his holy week here. And just because it is Holy week after all, I’d promise not to eat meat! :)Do you have interesting traditions for Lent in your part of the world? Please share!

My Top 5 Tourism Ads

Ok. Let’s face it and be honest. If given the right tools, the right director, the right editors, maybe a lot of photoshop skills, and the right budget, any place in the face of the planet can look great and leave you drooling with thoughts of “I wanna go there!”. This is what advertisements lead us to believe, yadi yada yada…But since we’re on the subject of honesty here, I’m going to be honest and confess that I’m a total sucker for these ads.Given that I’ve said that, I’ve compiled the 5 places I’d visit in a heartbeat based on their tourism ads. Hail the advertising Gods and all that! Take a look at them though, and tell me what you think. Or maybe you could give me some better ones (with links and video please as the traveler in me is always on the lookout for some more places to explore).In, no particular order, here they are: 1. New Zealand– I’ll be sentimental and admit the song makes me teary-eyed. Enough said.2. Australia– Although fortunate enough to have seen it, the perfect shade of the water in this ad always gets me, and the beers and the girls don’t hurt either ☺3. Dubai– I want to see that interesting looking building, and take a whiff of those spices too.4. Greece– Again, its something about the water that compels me to visit Greece, and the party scene from the ad doesn’t look half-bad either.5. Israel– Nothing beats a tourism ad that makes you laugh.Do you agree with me? What are your own favorites? Please share! Happy weekend everyone!

Travel Problems: Travel and Hunger Pangs Just Don’t Mix

It’s true. And I can attest to this. You can’t enjoy traveling without having a bite to eat. You won’t be able to bottle up the experience of painting the town red with an exhilarating feeling of pride as you walk with your backpack – heavily dangling on your back – while your empty stomach gnaws and groans in agony.

It’s a Pain…if You
Let Things Slide.

That’s the worse thing you are going to have to go through.

I remember one time (where I think I left my marbles somewhere else) I had chosen to ignore what is also known as a “burburygmus” attack.

That was a grave mistake.

And I never, ever want to go through that ordeal again.

Why?

Because I don’t want to be heading for this gut-quenching, perspiration-inducing ulcer attack once you let things slide a bit, and choose to ignore it.

Just like me, if you’re thinking of going for a Mystery Auction – $1 Starting Bid, where a magic trip is entitled to you, you simply can’t scrimp along breakfast.

Eat, Indulge, or Engorge.

That’s right. Eat breakfast.

This is NOT just a no-brainer tip.

In fact, it’s so good that I tried stuffing myself up the rest of the days I was in England, resting a bit, and heading out of the hotel doors with a zest for the outdoors.

And what did I get for my efforts at feeding myself? Benefits that will last me with more enticing travels along the way.

Sometimes, it’s sooo good to listen to simple advice that you’ve learned a long time ago. Lesson learned. 🙂

I’m Dressed to Thrill Coz’ I’m Travelling to Japan

japan-harajuku.jpg
Travelers like me know that April is the time to see the cherry blossom in Tokyo, the largest city in Asia. I see Tokyo as the most western face of the east. The buildings are tall and modern western style.

For me Tokyo is so fascinating. Even I have only a few days in this city, I experienced everything, from the mystique of the old eastern world to the techno-crazed life of the 21st century. Tokyo is a must see coz’ I see it as a treasure trove of things to see and do. Here are a few ideas to build on during our visit to Tokyo.

japan-garden.jpgClassical Japan: After the rush of jet travel, with my sister Susie, we spent our first day unwinding in the gardens adjoining Imperial Palace. Since the month is April, the cherry blossoms are at their best and it is a sight that I never tire of. We took the time to admire the floral displays of magnolias, azaleas and irises that we saw as we strolled through the gardens on our way to the Museum of the Imperial Collection. This is the home to the Imperial family’s treasure-trove of art. Our travel was well worth the experience.

 

japan-people.jpgShopping. We started in Tokyo’s Ginza district by standing in front of the Sony building. I’ve found some of the world’s best shopping here. My funds are too limited for a serious retail therapy. Spending a little is a treat on its own. When I reached Takeshita Street, It has the latest fashions from around the world with specialty shops and designer boutiques. At the next intersection is Mitsukoshi department store at Harumi Avenue. Also at Harumi is Sake Center. I sampled the various rice wines and I have no doubt you will come across that too during your stay in Tokyo.

 

japan-sushi.jpgDINING. One of the great things about Japan is that I would have to be very unlucky to find any food stall or restaurant that isn’t spotlessly clean. A taste of sushi, one of renowned dishes, I tried the Restaurant Sushi-ko. Here I discovered that they have been serving sushi for more than 120 years. Huh! The next day, we tried Robata Honten, coz’ we’re looking for the meals that the average Japanese enjoy. We ate mixtures of dishes like stews, fish and vegetables.

 

japan-american.jpgNightlife. Ginza, Shibayu, Akasaka and Shinjuk u are the city’s lively places that I find the most interesting restaurants, bars and clubs. Many establishments are offering a range of entertainments depending on the crowd. Some bars copied the interior of an English pub, a Spanish style salsa bar and even a Wild-West Salon bar. We specially enjoy the Japanese pubs that serve a good range of drinks and bar-snacks. Open from 6 p.m. to around midnight. Modern hotel bars with great views are always popular .

japan-restaurant.jpgThe Intercontinental, New Otani, Park Hyatt, Hilton, Nikko and the Akasaka Prince are just few of the excellent ones I find in Tokyo. It’s good that we brought some stuff that makes it appropriately to mix comfortably with the well-educated, elegant crowds that we found in the hotel.

On our way home we tried our luck at the national obsession — a game of pachinko at one of the many pinball parlors. Just a few minutes or so, we feel like local, a good feeling.

Our Hanoi’s Old Quarter Travel

With a stuff for a week and with my long time buddy, Ajay we travel to Hanoi. We find Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the city’s most unusual, lively and colorful places. Here, we find that the entire area is in fact one large market. We browse and shop for musical instruments, snake wine, silk, mats, woven, candlesticks, even “ghost money” and much, much more.

hanoi.jpg

Here, we find exploring the maze of streets and alleys an adventure! We’ve got lost in the Old Quarter because of the frequent change of street name every couple of blocks. But it’s fun!

hanoi-pic.jpg

We passed by Hang Thiec Street and bought “ghost money” or fake money which we used for burning at Buddhist ceremonies. And that includes fake US$5,000 bills! Hahaha We find this travel strange but enjoyable.

When we reached Lan Ong Street, we find a wide array of herbs that will whip up a concoction for whatever ails you on. Hang Chieu Street specializes in straw ropes and mats. On Hang Hanh Quat Street, Buddhas and Buddhist altars are for display.

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Now we are ready for a break. We visit Hang Hanh Street which is devoted to coffee shops. Hereby, Nha Tho Street is less crowded and quieter part of the Old Quarter which is also near the lake. We find Nah Tho lined with French restaurants cafes, antique stores and at the end of the block, St, Joseph Cathedral. So relaxing.