The Islands of South East Asia

December 7, 2009 by  
Filed under magazine, News

We are very pleased to unveil our most recent project,
a travel publication focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all around Asia. If you’re in the region of South East Asia, do pick up a copy and don’t hesitate to send in your comments and thoughts.

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In this issue
+ The Islands of South East Asia
+ Raja Ampat, Phuket, Puerto Princesa
+ Koh Pha Ngan, Bali
+ New Zealand’s Splashing Lake Taupo
+ A Guide to Middle Eastern Cuisine
+ Heeding the Call of Asia
+ Spotlight on Jakarta
+ Flashpacking Essentials
+ A Tropical Affair

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Riverland Relaxation

January 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Enchanting Oceania, Feature Highlights

The Riverland in South Australia seems almost like it could be custom designed for a campervan holiday. Picture this: rolling countryside divided into a patchwork of lush orchards, where exotic fruits such as olives, citrus, garlic, apricots and grapes hang off the vine and branch.

Splitting the region in two is the mighty Murray River, which flows past high limestone cliffs and expansive wetlands, breathing life into the fertile soils and giving character to the countryside. A number of small towns in the Riverland provide bases for the fruit and fresh produce industry (one of the biggest in Australia), and it is in these that you can find hospitable caravan parks to base your motorhome in.

The scenic riches around you and the laid back, accommodating atmosphere in the towns will ensure that your tour of the Riverland is one you’d like to repeat again and again.

The Riverland extends for 300 kilometres, marked at each end by the townships of Waikerie and Renmark. The former is the closest to Adelaide, and is reached by an easy two and a half hours drive from there- an easy drive through picturesque countryside. At the centre of the region is Barmera, which is the biggest town in the Riverland and undoubtedly the commercial centre. At 221 kilometres from Adelaide, its a bit far for a daytrip, but just perfect for a weekend away!

Barmera sits on the shores of Lake Bonney, and water sports enthusiasts take full advantage of this fact. On any given day the lake’s horizon will be dotted with the sails of boats and windsurfers and boats towing wakeboarders, water-skiers and other strange inflatable contraptions regularly zoom past. Yacht races are regularly organised, attracting crowds of enthusiasts and spectators.

The lake is big enough that there are still areas of peace and quiet where anglers can try their luck with the many species of fish lurking beneath the surface.

If you can tear yourself away from the lake there are a number of fun ways to entertain yourself in the town. A favourite place to visit is the Rocky Country Music Hall of Fame, which was established to honour local country legend Dean ‘Rocky’ Page. Inside is a huge collection of memorabilia and instruments, commemorating all the Australian greats such as Slim Dusty.

On your tour of the region Waikerie is a town you should definitely call into. It gives the impression of a place where nobody takes themselves too seriously- probably helped along by the fact that all the garbage cans in town are the shape of oranges! As it is an internationally recognised destination for hang gliders, on any given day the skies are dotted with these large, silent planes gliding high above the surface.

A number of majestic old sandstone buildings on the main street add to its character, and you can find out all about the town and the surrounding attractions at the Orange Tree Information Centre, located right on the Sturt highway. A trip to the Scenic Lookout is especially enthralling- perched atop high cliffs it offers stunning views of the Murray River.

Of course you cannot visit the Riverlands without indulging in the feature that gives the region its name – the Murray River. Whether its enjoying a barbeque on the grassy banks under the a shady tree, or hiring a boat and some fishing rods and getting out for a bit of fishing, the Murray is the perfect place to recharge and forget about all of your stresses. Houseboats are also a popular form of escape on its wide and smooth waters, and a great way to finish off a day is with an evening cruise- nothing beats watching the sun go down with a drink in hand, serenely floating down the river.

Thats actually a good word to sum up the whole Riverland region- serene. Its a place big enough to see something new everyday, but small enough that you dont have to travel too far in your campervan for a change of scene. There is plenty of places to stay, every town has its share of caravan and tourist parks. So forget about your worries and head to the Riverland for that break youve been craving all this time!

About the Author. Gavin Wyatt. Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Discovery Campervans

Whale of a Time

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Culture, Enchanting Oceania

Every year up to 3000 humpback whales use Hervey Bay as a stopover during their migratory return from Antarctica. Sheltered from the currents and winds by Fraser Island, the bay’s waters are calm and mild. After the tempestuous Southern Ocean, the location provides a place for whales to rest and develop layers of blubber for the next migration south.

Tourists flock to Hervey Bay between August and November, when sightings are virtually guaranteed to occur. Several operators provide whale-watching tours from the town’s Urangan Harbour to Platypus Bay, but MV Spirit of Hervey Bay is the only vessel with underwater viewing windows. This ensures passengers can witness the antics of these 15-metre, 40-tonne creatures both above and below the waterline.

On the day I went in search of whales, I learned that the whales are apparently relaxed by the warm temperatures and untroubled by the tourist activity on the water.

To see these magnificent mammals dive and surface was memorable, to see displays of tail and fin-slapping or breaching was spectacular – a real privilege. When surfacing took place right beside the boat it was a heart-stopping encounter of mutual curiosity. There was constant communication between whales in each pod, which could be heard if the tour operator submerged a microphone in the water. Mesmerized, there wasn’t a sound from anyone on-board the boat.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.

Magical Tashkent

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Crossroad of Asia, Feature Highlights

“Tashkent,” I whispered. An exotic, soulful name that conjured images of magical kingdoms filled with Genies, flying carpets and architecture that blends with the sand. I expected a great caravanserai city in the midst of the scorching desert sun with sprawling bazaars, slender minarets and serpentine desert caravans. I was pleasantly surprised however, to find Tashkent a modern, cosmopolitan city with an impressive infrastructure and various luxury hotels and shops. Uzbek’s capital city has certainly defied expectations.

Autumn in Tashkent. Photo by xMadyax at deviantart.

Autumn in Tashkent. Photo by xMadyax at deviantart.

Tashkent sits on the Central Asian steppe, right on the banks of the Chirchik River just southwest of the Chatkal Mountains. For centuries, this ancient city was a crossroad for traders passing between East and West on the Great Silk Road, the most illustrious trade route ever. One of the few respite of the desert, the gates of Tashkent was a welcome sight for traders, a refuge where one could rest and recover between the mountains and the sand.

The lively Chorsu Bazaar has everything the urban Uzbek may want.

The sprawling Chorsu Bazaar evokes images of the Silk Road.

The sprawling Chorsu Bazaar evokes images of the Silk Road.

Little remains of the ancient city after the 1966 earthquake that leveled most of the buildings.

Since then, the government embarked on a major renovation program in the center of the city that has seen roads, buildings and parks being completely reconstructed. The result is an impressive upscale city with large parading avenues, heroic statues and towering office blocks. However, most locals have yet to see any improvement in their respective residences. Drive further out from the city center and Tashkent slowly transforms back into the desert town of old.

The essence of ancient Tashkent remains in the various bazaars held throughout the city. More than anywhere else, the sprawling Chorsu Bazaar (Old City) conjures up memories of the Great Silk Road. It was picturesque, noisy and full of local colour, a large open-air market which has pretty much everything the urban uzbek might require – carpets, cotton goods, knives, ceramics and food. Trays of spices, vegetables, fruits and assorted animal parts lined up in the agricultural section. Although foreigners are probably paying a premium price, it is still a friendly and welcoming place, perfect for simply wandering around and immersing yourself in the local culture.

The Uzbek culture is blessed with a proud history that sees them become one of the ancient centers of Eastern Civilization.

The armies of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, the caravans of the Great Silk Road, and the relocation of populations during World War II. All these major events and characters in the history of the world passed through Uzbekistan one way or the other. Not surprisingly, Tashkent as its capital boasts numerous museums and monuments of history such as the State Museum of History and the Amir Timur Museum.

The former, like its name implies, charts the flow and ebb of the state’s long history. Exhibits here showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Uzbek people, and more. With Uzbekistan long being a center for shipment between the East and the West, there are also collections of coins from the Hellenic state from the 3th century BC, Bactrian drachmas and Chinese coins from the Tang Dynasty. The latter, the Amir Timur Museum, chronicles the life of Timur, known to the wider world as Tamerlane, an all-conquering tyrant now resurrected as Uzbekistan’s national hero.

Street vendors lines up at the heart of Tashkent.

Street vendors lines up at the heart of Tashkent.

At the heart of the city, Saligokh Street – known locally as Broadway – is lined with various bars and restaurants that are popular with the locals. Various street artists selling their wares add to the unique atmosphere of the street. There are also plenty of entertainment at night, numerous modern pubs and nightclubs with unique themes catering to their perspective clientele.

Tashkent has been patiently waiting for a boom.

The infrastructure, hotels and shiny new shops are there, as well as the fascinating history and colorful local culture. The expected influx of people and businesses however, has been slow to materialize. It is high time for for Tashkent to emerge from this obscurity and reclaim its status as a cultural and commercial capital.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.

Discovering Gems of Asia

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Hello, and welcome to the inaugural issue of Unearthing Asia. What are we all about, you may wonder? Simply put, a travel blog or zine focusing on traveling all over this amazing region filled with an unbelievable diversity of cultures, lifestyles, history and natural wonders. Our sole aim is to share with you these wonderful tales about Asia, in the hope of influencing, inspiring and motivating you to pack those bags and head here yourself!

We want to tell you about the beautiful star-studded night sky at Redang Island, and its famed crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. All those stories you’ve heard about how magical they were? All true and some my friends. We want to tell you about the magical capital city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, a place that would have history buffs trembling with pure joy. And we want you to know as well about Taikang Lu, that quaint little street that blends the old and new in the midst of the cacophony that is urban Shanghai.

Take a look around, and let us know how and where we have succeeded or failed. We sincerely hope you enjoy your stay here, and do subscribe! And wherever you may be and will be heading, may your travels be well and safe, and filled with unforgettable moments.