BRUNEI: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

Best Sights of Brunei

Rich in oil, yet oozing with unspoilt charm, Brunei is too often dismissed by travelers. Nestled between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, Brunei is almost entirely covered by pristine tropical rainforest with vibrant cultural landscapes that’s just waiting to be explored

Brunei: At a Glance

Experience the Best Attractions of Brunei

  1. Sultan Omar All Saifuddien Mosque, Bandar Seri Begawan Heavenly Beauty: With a dome made of pure gold, imported marble from Italy and a man-made lagoon, the Sultan Omar All Saifuddien Mosque is the pride of Bandar Seri Begawan. The mosque is visible from anywhere in the city, and the view from the top of the main minaret is enough to make you believe in heaven. At night, the mosque is lit up, literally illuminating its splendor!
  2. Diving in Brunei near Bandar Seri Begawan Dive Right In: Some of the best diving sites in the world are located off the coast of Brunei. The good news is, most of them have not been discovered yet. As an explorer, you therefore gain access to serene, clear waters, unspoilt reefs, and marine life and discover a few shipwrecks all on your own before the crowd gets wind of them.
  3. Pasar Gadong night market, Bandar Seri Begawan Midnight Feast: You are on holiday; you should be able to eat anytime you feel like it. Indulge those annoying nighttime hunger pangs at the Pasar Gadong night market. Choose from a tempting array of kebabs, seafood, and noodles, or taste a bit of all if you cannot make a choice. The food here is delicious and very affordable, and it will be hard to tear yourself away from all those tasty treats.
  4. Ambuyat, Brunei's national dish Eat What?: Ambuyat, Brunei’s national dish, may raise a few eyebrows, but its fun to eat and even more fun to share. The dish is starchy and rather glue-like and is made from the sago palm, but its flavor comes from the cacah, or the variety of dips used to eat it with.
  5. Kampong Sungai Matan, Homestay in Brunei Get Bucolic: Go back in time and discover the roots of Brunei, its time-honored traditions and rituals showcased through a homestay in a Bruneian village. The residents of Kampong Sungai Matan will be delighted to have you as a guest and will gladly share their way of life with you, demonstrating cooking methods, local customs, and arts and crafts and how to fish like a true Brunei native.
  6. Ulu Temburong National Park, Sunrise Safari Early Bird: Get yourself out of bed early for a sunrise safari through the Ulu Temborong National Park. This is a lush spot with more than a few mischievous monkeys you will need to watch out for. The view from the top of the 60 feet canopy, and the active local wildlife are worth waking up for.
  7. Kampong Ayer, World's largest water village, Bandar Seri Begawan Life on the Water at Kampong Ayer: The pulse of Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, Kampong Ayer is the world’s largest water village, having been inhabited for an impressive 1,000 years. Get yourself a water taxi and go meet the locals in their stilt houses, set amid an array of wooden boardwalks and bridges.
  8. Royal Regalia Museum, Bandar Seri Begawan Wealth of Art: The Royal Regalia Museum gives you a glimpse of what life in the lap of luxury looks like. You will see treasures and ceremonial costumes from the Sultan’s own collection.
  9. Istana Nurul Iman, Bandar Seri Begawan Meet the Royals: The end of Ramadan heralds the festival of Hari Raya, Brunei’s biggest celebration of the year. During this time, the Sultan and his family throw open the doors of their palace and greet people in person. While you are getting friendly with the royals, you can also take a long look at Istana Nurul Iman, the largest residential palace in the world.
  10. Empire Hotel and Country Hotel, Bandar Seri Begawan Live among the Stars: The Empire Hotel and Country Hotel will astound you with its opulence. With a shopping arcade, a cinema, a private beach, and a golf course, among others, on the grounds, it is worth a visit even if you are not staying here. Fun fact: The Emperor Suite here has hosted both Prince Charles and Bill Clinton, and has carpets flecked with real gold!

THAILAND: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

Thailand - Land of Smiles

Millions of visitors flock to the ‘Land of Smiles’ every year and it is easy to see why. Whether you want to party, laze on a beach, or stuff yourself with local delicacies, Thailand has something for everyone. Beyond its more obvious attractions, however, a little deeper exploration yields up Thailand’s subtler charms.

Thailand: At a Glance

Experience the Best Attractions of Thailand

  1. Muay Thai, Thai Boxing Boxing Days: Grueling training sessions, a rudimentary diet and sparse facilities—these are the staples of training for Muay Thai or Thai boxing. There are special camps run across the country that offer short-term courses for visitors. Most have English-speaking instructors, and training periods can range from one day to a few weeks. Check out the Lanna Muay Thai Boxing Camp in Chiang Mai and the Muay Thai Institute in Bangkok.
  2. Biking in Thailand Biker Fun: Thailand is great for two-wheeled exploration, as long as you can deal with crazy traffic. Check out the Big Bike Company in Patong. They rent out Honda CB 400 cc motorbikes that are fun and fast. Your inner petrol head will certainly be happy, especially when you hit the long, winding roads.
  3. Red Curry from Thai Cooking Cook up a Storm: If you love Thai food and like pottering in the kitchen, why not combine the two and take in a Thai cooking class. The Baipai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok is a well-known institute in a beautiful location, and offers short courses run by English-speaking instructors. If you are in Phuket, the Phuket Thai Cookery School offers you a haven from the noise and bustle of the city. Located on Siray Beach, you can couple your cooking classes with panoramic ocean views and then walk off a meal in the evening or even take a siesta on the wooden sundeck.
  4. Adventure Sports in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand Leave the Road Behind: Go off the beaten track and indulge in some soft adventure sports in Nakhon Nayok. From rappelling to cutting through forests and streams on ATVs and white-water rafting, there are lots here for the intrepid adventure-lover.
  5. Unrestrained water fight, Songkran Festival, Thailand Get Wet: Thailand turns into a free-for-all water park once a year. The Songkran Festival is an unrestrained water fight, and visitors are fair game, both to be soaked and to do the soaking Images of the Buddha are ‘bathed’ and young Thais seek the blessing of their elders by pouring scented water over their hands. Held at the peak of the hot season, Songkran is quite literally a chance for the entire country, and all its visitors, to cool off.
  6. Turquoise Waters, Phuket, Thailand Join the (Yacht) Club: If your sailor self has been feeling neglected for a while, and you are feeling especially indulgent, Thailand has many great yachting options. A sailing holiday in Thailand is an especially beautiful experience with the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea and swimming and snorkeling at your leisure. Most trips are around Phuket and Koh Samui, and you will get to see other islands as well.
  7. Koh Phangan's Sanctuary Island Resort Kick Back: Take a break from all that activity at Koh Phangan’s Sanctuary Island Resort. The Sanctuary is a laid back, alternative health resort on a isolated beach fringed by tropical forest and tropical seas. Your mind and body will both leave refreshed and ready to take on the world again.
  8. Loi Krathong, Thailand's festival of lights Festival of Lights: Come November, Thailand transforms into a veritable fairyland of lights, Loi Krathong is Thailand’s festival of lights held on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month of the year. If you are lucky enough to be staying on the coast, you will be able to see lights stretching far out across the water. The word ‘loy’ means ‘to float’ while ‘krathong’ is the lotus-shaped receptacle. Originally, the krathong was made of banana leaves or a spider lily plant; it contains food, betel nuts, flowers, candles, and coins.
  9. Tom Yum Thai Soup Soup It Up: Thailand is known for its spicy, flavorful food and tom yum soup is one of the country’s best-known dishes. This clear, hot-and-sour soup combines herbs, spices, and seafood to great effect.
  10. Wat Bang Phra, Yantra Tattoos, Thailand Get Inked: Experience tattooing like no place else at Wat Bang Phra. The monks here create delicate sak yant (also known as yantra tattoos) following age-old methods, and bless them afterwards.

LAOS: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

Laos Travel: Best Sights

Laos was not really thought of as a tourist destination until the 1990s, when people realized it had more to offer than just pachyderms and Buddhist monks. Even as elephants and religion continue to drive the country, there are also dramatic landscapes, ancient architectural ruins and much history to be discovered, making it a wonderful spot for the inquisitive traveler.

Laos: At a Glance

Experience the Best Attractions of Laos

  1. Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang, Laos Take a Walk: A blend of traditional architecture and urban structures, Luang Prabang is made for ambling around in. Make a stop at the Royal Palace Museum before heading on to discover the War Nong, Wat Sene, and Wat Khili temples. Chill for a bit at Dara Market, and later catch the sunset from the boat pier.
  2. Tiered Roofs of Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang Do a Temple Run: Visit one of the oldest temples in Luang Prabang—Wat Visounnarath, which is home to the incredible That Mak Mo stupa. However, the most beautiful temple in Luang Prabang has to be Wat Xieng Thong, whose tiered roofs sweep low almost to touch the ground. The temple is considered a archetypal example of the Luang Prabang style of architecture.
  3. Street Food in Laos, including Fried Crickets A Different Treat: Jump straight into the native experience and try a serving of fried crickets. These crunchy snacks are available both at street-side stalls and in some cafes and eateries, and are best eaten hot, and with an open mind! Khop Chai Deu in Vientiane is a safe place at which to try crickets and other local delicacies.
  4. Buddhist Statues in Pak Ou Caves Buddha Says: The Pak Ou Caves are a short trip upstream from Luang Prabang. This network of caves at the convergence of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers is where you will find hundreds of Buddha statues left by devotees over the centuries.
  5. long Kong Lor Buddhist Cave Explore Hidden Caves: The capital of the Khammouane province in south-central Laos, Thakhaek is a small municipality dotted with lots of lovely French architecture. However, its main draw lies in its limestone mountains—the site of hundreds of unexplored caves, including some that are believed to keep undiscovered treasures. How is that for adventure? The most well known among these is the 7.5km-long Kong Lor Cave. Also worth a dekko is the Buddha Cave, which holds, as the name suggests, rows and rows of gorgeous Buddha statues.
  6. Mok Pa: herbed fish steamed in banana leaves, Laos Take a Cooking Class: If you have fallen in love with Lao food, take a cooking class so that you can whip up some of your favorite dishes back home. Tamarind offers cooking classes that give you a crash course in Lao cuisine, followed by a visit to the market to pick out fresh ingredients. You can learn to make mok pa, a dish of herbed fish steamed in banana leaves, or laab, a minced-meat and herb salad, among other tasty treats.
  7. Wat Phu Champasak Temple Heritage up Top: Overlooking the Mekong River valley, the incredibly well preserved Wat Phu Champasak Temple complex is more than a thousand years old. Lined with jacaranda trees, this Khmer-styled temple was originally dedicated to Shiva, and later converted into a Buddhist temple. As you are walking around soaking in all the history and culture, keep your eyes peeled for the funny crocodile and elephant stones.
  8. Kwang Si Waterfalls, Laos Fun in the Water: Drive, trek, or hitchhike your way past forests, villages, and rice fields to the cascading waters of the Kwang Si Waterfalls. Dive in for a bit of a paddle, walk up for pretty views, and then dig into your picnic basket for a well-deserved meal. Remember to stop at the Asiatic Black Bear Rescue Centre that looks after bears rescued from poachers.
  9. Mount Phou Si, Luang Prabang, Laos Mountain Shrines: Bang in the heart of Luang Prabang’s old town, Mount Phou Si is a small hill of religious significance to the locals. It is sandwiched between the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, and offers great vistas over the city. Two shrines call Mount Phou Si home, namely War Phou Si, halfway up to the top, and Wat Chom Si, which sits at the peak.
  10. Lao handicrafts Night Owls: While Luang Prabang has no dearth of charms through the day, its night market is worth exploring, too. With what is possibly the largest collection of Lao handicrafts available for sale in one place, it is a great place at which to buy souvenirs to take home.

Indian Food Menu on Carnival Cruise Lines: Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Dishes

Carnival Cruise Lines offer many wonderful and delicious food choices onboard. Carnival offers “taste of the nations” buffet during lunch featuring an international cuisine every day during lunch. We’ve seen Mexican, Caribbean, Italian, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian food on offer during lunch in addition to the regular offerings at the Lido buffets.

Contact Carnival guest services no less than two weeks before embarkation to request Indian vegetarian or non-vegetarian food. Indian food is a fairly popular choice, especially with the increasing popularity of cruising among tourists from South Asia and the United Kingdom. Also contributing is the emergence of Indian food emerging as the de facto national cuisine in England. For this reason, even if guests do not pre-book Indian vegetarian food, Carnival’s ships tend to stock up on constituents of Indian food.

Carnival Cruise’s Typical 5-Day Rotation of Vegetarian Indian Food

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Aloo Shimla Mirch, Khumb Matar, Rajmah

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Basmati Jeera Pulao, Raita, Achar, Papad, Kachumber

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 1

Dinner on Day 1

  • Aloo Shimla Mirch: potatoes with green bell pepper
  • Khumb Matar Dahi Wale: mushroom and peas in yogurt sauce
  • Basmati Jeera Pulao: basmati rice with roasted cumin seasoning
  • Rajmah Raseela: red kidney beans in spicy gravy
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 2: Aloo Baingan, Malai Kofta, Channa Dal, Matar Pulao

Dinner on Day 2

  • Aloo Baingan: potatoes with eggplant
  • Malai Kofta: fried cheese-balls in creamy gravy
  • Basmati Matar Pulao: basmati rice with stir-fried peas
  • Channa Dal Masala: spicy yellow split peas
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 3: Boondi Kadi, Palak Paneer, Mattar Subzi, Basmati Rice

Dinner on Day 3

  • Boondi Kadi: fried chickpea pearls in thick chickpea-yoghurt gravy
  • Palak Paneer: spinach and Indian cheese
  • Basmati Safed Chawal: plain basmati rice
  • Sookhe Mattar Ki Subzi: green peas with spices
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Carnival Cruise South Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 4: Beans Poriyal, Zucchini Kootu, Sambar, Dahi Bhath

Carnival Cruise South Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 4: Dahi Bhath Yoghurt Rice, Raita, Achar, Papad, Kachumber

Carnival Cruise South Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 4: Beans Poriyal, Zucchini Kootu, Sambar

Dinner on Day 4

  • Green Beans Poriyal: curry of green beans in South Indian-style
  • Zucchini Kootu: stew of zucchini and lentils in South Indian-style
  • Dahi Bhath: basmati rice in yogurt in South Indian-style
  • Sambar: vegetable stew with tamarind in South Indian-style
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 5: Bhindi Masala, Aloo Matar, Onion Pulao, Chole Pindi

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 5: Basmati Onion Pulao, Raita, Achar, Papad, Kachumber

Carnival Cruise Indian Vegetarian Food: Day 5: Bhindi Masala, Aloo Matar, Chole Pindi

Dinner on Day 5

  • Bhindi Masala: okra with spices
  • Jeera Aloo Matar: potatoes and peas garnished with cumin
  • Basmati Onion Pulao: basmati rice with glazed onions
  • Chole Pindi: chickpeas with spices
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Carnival Cruise’s Typical 5-Day Rotation of Non-Vegetarian Indian Food

Carnival Cruise Indian Menu: 5 Day Cycle

Dinner on Day 1

  • Murg Dahiwala: chicken in yoghurt sauce
  • Aloo Shimla Mirch: potatoes with green bell pepper
  • Basmati Jeera Pulao: basmati rice with roasted cumin seasoning
  • Rajmah Raseela: red kidney beans in spicy gravy
  • Customary Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Dinner on Day 2

  • Aloo Baingan Baingan: potatoes with eggplant
  • Chicken Tariwala: chicken with spices
  • Basmati Matar Pulao: basmati rice with stir-fried peas
  • Channa Dal Masala: spicy yellow split peas
  • Customary Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Dinner on Day 3

  • Gosht Palak: spinach and (sheep) mutton curry
  • Boondi Kadi: fried chickpea pearls in thick chickpea-yoghurt gravy
  • Basmati Safed Chawal: plain basmati rice
  • Sookhe Mattar Ki Subzi: green peas with spices
  • Customary Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Carnival Cruise Dining Room

Dinner on Day 4

  • Chicken Chattinad: chicken cooked in Chettinad-style
  • Green Beans Poriyal: curry of green beans in South Indian-style
  • Dahi Bhath: basmati rice in yogurt in South Indian-style
  • Sambar: vegetable stew with tamarind in South Indian-style
  • Customary Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

Dinner on Day 5

  • Goan Fish Curry: fish with spices cooked as in Goa-style
  • Bhindi Masala: okra with spices
  • Basmati Onion Pulao: basmati rice with glazed onions
  • Chole Pindi: chickpeas with spices
  • Customary Accompaniments: Raita (yoghurt relish), Achar (Indian pickle), Roasted Papad (crisps), and Kachumber Salad

SINGAPORE: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

Singapore Skyline

Great things do come in small packages, and Singapore is the ideal example. From quirky, obscure bookshops, gritty designers and excellent cuisine to exemplary street food and sophisticated bars and watering holes and even extraordinary wildlife encounters, this power-packed country offers you a holiday experience you will definitely never forget.

Singapore: At a Glance

Experience the Best Attractions of Singapore

  1. River Safari, Singapore Down the River: If you always wondered what lies beneath the waters of the Mississippi, you need look no further than in Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park. At River Safari, you will meet over 5,000 aquatic animals, spread out over 300 species. Documenting life in eight river habitats, here you will learn about the giant river otter, the endangered Mekong giant catfish, and much more. This is one experience you will not want to miss.
  2. Singapore Zoo Animal Magic: Known as one of the most spectacular zoos in the world, spread out over 26 hectares of intimate viewing platforms and sensitively constructed habitats, the Singapore Zoo is your ticket to wildlife wonderland. You could make friends with the free-ranging kangaroos in the Australian Outback, then head to the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia to see the Hamadryas baboons.
  3. Chili Crabs, National Dish of Singapore Something Fishy: Singapore has some of the most superb seafood in the world, none more iconic than its chili crabs. Recognized as an unofficial national dish, this delightful dish involves crab slathered in a sweet-spicy sauce and served with fried mantou (buns) with which to mop up all of that extra sauce. No less well known are the pepper crabs. Served in a black-and-white pepper sauce, these are hugely enjoyable treats.
  4. Singapore Flyer, The world's largest observation wheel Love’s in the Air: What better way to proclaim or re-affirm your love than at 165m above the ground in the world’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer is one of the most beautiful ways to take in the magic of Singapore. If you are looking to spend a special evening, book the Moet and Chandon Champagne Flight. Raise a glass of bubbly in this especially themed capsule as you take in the sights of the city and splurge on a romantic four-course meal that comes with a personal butler.
  5. Gardens by the Bay (Singapore) are made up of three spaces---Bay Central, Bay South, and Bay East Green Thumbs: If you are craving some open green space, this 101-hectare horticultural attraction with over 250,000 plants will give you just the breather you have been looking for. A mere five-minute walk from the city, the Gardens by the Bay are made up of three spaces—Bay Central, Bay South, and Bay East. The view from the promenade is resplendently beautiful and the grounds are a great spot for a stroll in the evening followed by a family picnic on the lush lawns amid plain trees.
  6. Battlestar Galactica Roller Coaster (Singapore,) the world's tallest dueling coaster ride Filmi Business: All you movie lovers, who are always dying to be part of the action, get to Universal Studios. Go on rides designed to take you through the worlds of Madagascar, Shrek 4, and The Mummy Returns. Scream your lungs out on the world’s tallest dueling coaster ride at Battlestar Galactica and prepare to be amazed by unbelievable special effects in the Transformers ride.
  7. IFly (Singapore,) the world's first vertical wind tunnel for indoor skydiving Flying High: Experience the heart-thumping rush of skydiving without the risks at IFly, the world’s first vertical wind tunnel for indoor skydiving. With a flying height of 17.22m (the equivalent of five storeys), anyone between seven to 106 years olds can fly. The technology ensures a high degree of safety, and the massive wind tunnel lets you try out free flying and even formation skydiving.
  8. Clarke Quay, Singapore Something for Everyone: There is not much that Clarke Quay does not have. Whether you are looking to eat, drink, party, or shop for antiques, this colorful entertainment center will have it. At night, the entire zone is lit up and the fountain grooves to suit the mood of the moment. With loads of dining, dancing, and partying options, Clarke Quay is a meeting place for people from across the world.
  9. Peranakans - Dscendants of an early Chinese community in Singapore Go Peranakan: Descendants of 17th century Chinese traders who migrated to the Malay Archipelago, the Peranakans, brought a rich convergence of Chinese and Malay cultures, with sparks of Dutch, Indonesian, and Portuguese influences, to Singapore. Along with religion and traditions, their food has distinguishing flavors, with recipes that have been handed down for generations, and is a must-try at restaurants like Blue Ginger on Tanjong Pagar Road.
  10. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Dining with the Stars: Marina Bay Sands houses some of the most exquisite restaurants and celebrity-chef outposts in Singapore. Here, you can sample culinary masterpieces cooked up by some of the world’s best-known chefs, including Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, and Daniel Boulud.

How Amtrak Deals with Daylight Time Changes


When the clocks go forward an hour in Spring, Amtrak trains just run an hour behind and try to make up for the delay during the rest of the trip. In Fall, when the clocks go back an hour, Amtrak simply stops its trains in the station immediately after the time change, wait one hour for the time to “catch up.”

From the notes section on the Amtrak timetable:

Amtrak operates according to prevailing local time, either standard time or daylight saving time. At the spring time change (second Sunday in March), Amtrak trains traveling overnight will become one hour late and will attempt to make up the time. At the fall time change (first Sunday in November), Amtrak trains traveling overnight will normally hold at the next station after the time change then depart on time. Arizona does not observe daylight saving time. Please observe footnotes in schedules for trains serving Arizona to determine your departure or arrival time.

Apparently, Amtrak has followed this procedure since it began operations in 1971. This Chicago Tribune article from 29-Oct-1985 states,

R. Clifford Black, Amtrak’s manager of corporate communications in Washington, conceded that “it’s a rather confusing procedure unless you spend a lot of time pondering it, and not many people do.”

Asked why Amtrak must brake for time when planes do not circle in the air for an hour, Black answered: “There aren’t that many planes flying at night. They can adjust their departure times, and they don’t make numerous intermediate stops like trains do.”

In contrast, airlines and air traffic management primarily operate on UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) and simply adjust their published arrival and departure schedules where UTC times are translated into local times. Pilot and crew schedules are changed accordingly. When time changes in Spring or Fall, there are always passengers and crew members who forget to change their clocks. Consequently, in Fall, some people arrive to the airport too early. In Spring, people arrive late and miss their flights.

Definition: Cook’s Tour

A Cook’s Tour is a guided but cursory tour of the major features of a place or an area.

Broadly, a Cook’s tour is a rapid but extensive glance or survey of a subject matter.

'Thomas Cook: 150 Years of Popular Tourism' by Piers Brendon (ISBN 0436199939) According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the phrase has its origin in Thomas Cook & Son, the prominent British travel agency, and precursor to the present-day global travel company Thomas Cook Group plc. The first known use of the phrase Cook’s Tour was around circa 1909. Thomas Cook & Son was started in 1872 as a partnership by Thomas Cook and his son, John A Mason Cook.

Recommended Reading: Thomas Cook: 150 Years of Popular Tourism by Piers Brendon.

Best Budget Binoculars Your Money can Buy

Best Budget Binoculars Your Money can Buy

What to Look for in Binoculars: the Essential Features and Guidelines

Whether you are considering buying a pair of binoculars for casual use during a cruise or upcoming travel or for more serious uses in bird gazing or stargazing, here are the essential features to consider when buying a pair of binoculars.

  • Magnification and objective lens. The optics of binoculars are designated using two numbers, for e.g., 10×50. 10×50 means that a binocular offers 10 times magnification—distant objects appear ten times larger than they would without the binocular.—and consists of a 50mm objective lenses. For general use during casual travels, cruises, bird-watching, and nature observations, something in the range of 8×32, 8×42, 10×42 would be more than sufficient. For sporting events, 10×50, 12×50, 10×42, 8×32 are recommended. Astronomy users need better magnification and a wider field of view and might find 7×50, 10×50, 15×70, 20×90 configurations helpful.
  • Ease on the eyes, especially if you wear glasses. Good quality binoculars offer a comfortable eye relief. Eye relief measures the allowable maximum distance between your eye and the eyepiece before the field of view starts to diminish. Greater the eye relief, smaller the image (think of a tunnel) through the eye piece. This can affect you if you wear glasses: you must hold the binoculars a little farther away from your eyes than somebody who doesn’t wear glasses. Buy binoculars with eye relief of 14mm or more.
  • Light-weight, compact in size and the ability to fold and store.
  • Water-resistant or waterproof design can be handy features for use during damp or humid conditions.
  • Image stabilization technology to diminish the effects of shakes and vibrations caused by hand motion.

Note that good eye relief, waterproof designs and image stabilization technologies will be absent in budget binoculars.

Budget Binoculars that Offer Value for Money

Below are my top picks for binoculars that are inexpensive and yet offer great optics and range for the average user. Most of these binoculars feature built-in diopter adjustments which can help you adjust for differences in your vision from one eye to the other. Many of the mid-range consist of an antireflective coating to reduce glare and maintain optimal image quality.

Personally, I carry Bushnell Falcon 10 X 50mm binoculars on my travels and presented a Bushnell Powerview 10 X 25mm Compact Folding binoculars for my mother.

  • Tasco Essentials Binoculars: 10 X 25mm starting $9 Tasco Essentials Binoculars (10 X 25mm, Start at $9) feature fold-down eyecups for use with eyeglasses and come with black rubber armoring. These are perfect for use during casual travels where carrying normal-sized and heavy binoculars might become very cumbersome and for use indoors. Users of the Tasco Essentials binoculars tend to be especially like the clear vision that can zoom on a bird’s from as far as 150 yards.
  • Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Roof Prism Binoculars: 10 X 25mm starting $12 Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Roof Prism Binoculars (10 X 25mm, Start at $12) are an excellent value. They are small and light and consist of extraordinarily sharp optics compared to the other low-end binoculars in its price range. The compact size of its design comes with a drawback though: to compensate for the short eye relief distance, users will have to roll down the eye cup. And for users who wear glasses, this can diminish the field of view. Great choice for children who tend to lose or break them more frequently than adults do.
  • Coleman Binoculars: 10 X 25mm starting $19 Coleman Binoculars (10 X 25mm, Start at $19) are well-made, compact in shape, and come with a belt-attachable carry case. When collapsed and fit in their case, they are just 2in X 3 in X 5 in. One drawback is that the Coleman consists of almost no eye relief. Therefore, expect long eyelashes to interfere with your view.
  • Tasco Essentials Zip Focus Binoculars: 10 X 50mm starting $33 Tasco Essentials Zip Focus Binoculars (10 X 50mm, Start at $33) promises the most superior optics among binoculars that cost less than $100. They are lightweight, easy to hold, and offer first-rate optics. Those who use this model for stargazing can gaze at constellations with sharp optics and no reflection of any kind inside, even with urban lights outside. Birdwatchers will be amazed at the clarity and sharpness of the lens.
  • Bushnell Falcon Wide Angle Binoculars: 10 X 50mm starting $34 Bushnell Falcon Wide Angle Binoculars (10 X 50mm, Start at $34) are specially useful for people who have trouble focusing & adjusting binoculars, even to view objects that are 25 yards away. The lens caps on the eye pieces seem floppy and drop easily. The tilt focus (in addition to the knobs) can let an user change the focus without having to run a finger along a knob, shaking the view as it focuses. The quality of the strap and a bag are inadequate, but the binoculars are an excellent value for money.
  • Olympus Roamer DPC: 10 X 21mm starting $42 Olympus Roamer DPC (10 X 21mm, Start at $42) appeals to backpackers with their 6-ounce weight and compact size. Olympus Roamer DPC’s satisfactory optics is a great buy for value seekers who need binoculars for sporting events, opera shows and other short-medium range close-up viewing. Olympus claims that the special optical material used for the lenses can protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.
  • Bushnell PermaFocus Wide Angle Porro Prism Binoculars: 7 X 50mm starting $49 Bushnell PermaFocus Wide Angle Porro Prism Binoculars (7 X 50mm, Start at $49) brag about a wide field of view consisting of 578 feet from 1,000 yards away. The most appealing feature is the Permafocus that can zero in on anything more than 50 feet away without requiring any adjustment. This feature can be especially handy for keeping an eye on sports action or an animal on the move. However, this model is heavier than the others in its price range.
  • Nikon 7218 Action Binoculars: 10 X 50mm starting $207 Nikon 7218 Action Binoculars (10 X 50mm, Start at $207) are perhaps the best binoculars that money can buy for an amateur user and a low-end for people seriously interested in bird-watching, star-gazing, and other recreational activities. Nikon’s aspheric technology offers a the particularly bright and sharp image. It’s wide angle design, a field of view of 446 feet at 1000 yards and a 12 foot-close focus range makes it an ideal medium-powered binoculars for back yard astronomy.

Difference between a Hotel and a Motel

Difference between a Hotel and a Motel

The commonly acknowledged distinction between the definition of a hotel and that of a motel is based upon the means of access to the rooms.

Most hotels have interior hallways to the rooms. A guest is expected to leave his car in the hotel’s parking lot, enter through the hotel’s lobby, perhaps take an elevator, and walk down a hallway to access his room.

In contrast, motels consist of exterior corridors. Motel rooms open directly into a parking lot or a balcony overlooking the parking lot. A guest could park his car directly in front of his room and enter his room. Motels do not have hallways or internal corridors within the property.

The term ‘motel’ originated as a portmanteau for ‘motorist hotel.’ In the 1920s, with the development of the freeway system in the United States, many motorists needed to park their vehicles and stay for the night during their long-distance road journeys. Located along (or close to) these freeways, the motels provided accommodations to motorists who needed rest before proceeding. In this context, a hotel is a residential property inside a city of destination where travelers stay for the duration of their travel.

Another common understanding is that motels are low-priced hotels.

All you wanted to know about Carnival Cruises’ ‘Cruise Elegant’ and ‘Cruise Casual’ Dress Codes

Dress Code Requirements on Carnival Cruises

One of the topics that continues to be a mystery to many cruisers and leads to many threads on the cruisers’ internet forums is the topic of dress codes for the “formal nights” organized on many cruises.

Almost all cruise lines have a dress code of some type. If a tuxedo is required on a particular formal night, some cruisers might want to get along with just a suit. Interestingly, cruisers who follow the dress code tend to tattletale and frequently complain of leniency and lax enforcement by the cruise lines.

Historically, cruise ships and premium cabins in ocean liners required that their guests and patrons wear formal dresses after 6:00 pm in all the public areas of the ship. Men regularly wore a white tie and ladies wore evening gowns. Over the decades, the dress codes have become less formal. During the 1960s, when cruise lines started appealing to budget travelers that might not own formal dresses, cruise ships designated some evenings as formal evenings and others as informal evenings. Cruise lines that appealed to the mass market began to loosen their dress codes and required formal dresses of guests that dined only in the main dining room. Different cruise lines relaxed dress codes to different levels, created many variations between cruise lines, and these factors resulted in much confusion.

Carnival Cruise - Cruise Elegant Dress Code

Cruise Elegant Evenings on Carnival Cruises

On carnival cruises, most evenings are casual nights requiring patrons to adhere to their ‘Cruise Casual’ dress code. Some nights, depending on the length of the cruise, tend to be formal nights—Carnival calls them ‘Cruise Elegant’ evenings. The number of evenings designated Cruise Elegant depends on the length of the cruise:

  • 1-day cruises: no Cruise Elegant evenings
  • 2- to 5-day cruises: one Cruise Elegant evening
  • 6-day or longer cruises: two Cruise Elegant evenings

Carnival usually schedules the first Cruise Elegant evening for the second or third day of the cruise and the last Cruise Elegant evening the second or third day prior to the end of the cruise, with the rest of the Cruise Elegant evenings spread out during the cruise.

The Lido restaurants are exempt from the dress code requirements during Cruise Elegant evenings.

Carnival Cruise - Cruise Casual Dress Code

Dress Code / Requirements on Carnival Cruises

  • Cruise Elegant: Shorts, t-shirts, jeans, flip flops, bathing suit attire, sleeveless shirts for men, sportswear and baseball hats are not allowed in the restaurants.
  • Cruise Casual: Gym or basketball shorts, flip-flops, bathing suit attire, cut-off jeans and men’s sleeveless shirts are not allowed in the restaurants.