Monthly Archives: August 2016

Find the fresh air and sea

But forget the zoo and the themes parks and even Ron Burgundy. The US’ eighth-largest city offers some less conventional opportunities for appreciating its fineness by ditching terra firma and taking to the skies and the water. Here are the best options for getting a fish/bird’s-eye view of San Diego.

Rooftop panorama

It can be hard to get a handle on downtown San Diego from the street. More high-rise than you might imagine and more densely-packed than other Californian cities, it is also divided into distinct districts. Happily, some of the best places to get an overview of the city are from rooftop bars which offer sensational vistas accompanied by a tempting array of cocktails.

San Diego’s harbour is dominated by the two towers of the Grand Hyatt Hotel whose 40th-floor Top of the Hyatt bar gives unbeatable sunset views over the marina. Further downtown, on 6th Avenue, the Nolen (thenolenrooftop.com) attracts a more local, fashionable crowd, who down cocktails and local craft beer above the busy Gaslamp Quarter.

Paragliding

Further north in La Jolla, paragliders emerge each morning from the clifftops at Torrey Pines. Taking advantage of the unique soaring conditions (westerly sea breezes deflected upwards by the sandstone cliffs) gliders can stay aloft for hours and land back on the clifftop. Unlike many paragliding venues, flying here is a year-round activity (although they do make a grudging exception for Christmas Day). Tandem flights (flytorrey.com) take you straight out over the sea where, floating above the vast Pacific Ocean and with dolphins and surfers sharing the waters of Blacks Beach below, you can see the expanse of the La Jolla coastline spreading out on one side and North County on the other. The flight even gives you aerial views at startlingly close quarters of La Jolla’s poshest clifftop communities. It’s worth sticking around afterwards for a sandwich at the Cliffhanger Café to watch others in flight and enjoy the views with your feet on the ground.

Helicopter flights

The best way to get the full panorama of San Diego is undoubtedly to take a helicopter tour, which in one flight takes in the city’s entire area.  Most fly over La Jolla (some venturing further north up the coast to glitzy Del Mar) as well as downtown and waterfront San Diego andBalboa Park, with perhaps a swoop down to the Mexican border towards Tijuana. Variations on the theme include a stop-off for wine tasting in nearby wine country. These trips don’t come cheap – prices tend to start at around $250 for the most basic tour – but they do cover a huge distance.

Combat flight

If you’re a fan of classic Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, a trip to San Diego is all about visiting locations from the movie, and a combat flight over the city is the ultimate Top Gun experience. Admittedly less sightseeing and more adrenaline adventure, this is your chance to experience a flight in a fighter jet (skycombatace.com), complete with aerobatic manoeuvres and even the option to take the controls yourself. It’s wildly expensive but, for Top Gun buffs especially, unforgettable.

Harbour cruise

San Diego is built around a sea port and with its grid formation you often get tantalising glimpses of the ocean as you walk around. To get the best water views though, you need to head out into the harbour.  Tours take place at regular intervals throughout the day in cruise ships, and give you a feel of the scale, depth and history of San Diego, as well as impressive shots of the skyline. The tours typically take you past the glamorous residences of Coronado and under the Coronado bridge, passing the military base (where you get an excellent close-up look at navy destroyers and aircraft carriers) and commercial shipyards with huge floating dry docks. If you want to turn the tour into more of an experience there are dinner and champagne cruises as well as blue whale tours on some days of the week.

Seal tours

There aren’t many major cities that don’t have a boat-on-wheels tour in one form or another (often called a Duck Tour) and there’s a reason – it’s an incredibly popular, fun trip, especially for families. After a whistle-stop drive around the city, the San Diego version makes a splashy entry into the bay. From then on, there’s more of an emphasis on wildlife than in most of the harbour cruises – there’s a detour to see the sea lion colony – and the commentary is aimed at a mixed age audience.

Sea kayak trips

For messing about on the water under your own steam join one of the many kayak tours that head out from La Jolla every day into the marine ecological reserve. You need to be tolerably fit to keep up, and you will get wet, but it’s worth a little exertion to paddle with pelicans flying overhead and rays swimming beneath, out to the seal and sea lion colonies. La Jolla has attracted the rich and famous for generations and you’ll get the lowdown from the well-informed tour guides about who has lived in the grand, colonial-style mansions that dot the coastline, as well as picking up a fair bit of local history and geology. The highlight of the trip is venturing into the La Jolla caves, strong waves permitting. Prices vary substantially so it’s worth shopping around; La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak Tour is a good option.

Great place to advanture

unduhan-30Shaped like a crescent moon, Perak sweeps across the northwestern corner of Peninsular Malaysia. Limestone cliffs are the state’s most unmistakable landmarks, but Perak is a tapestry of mangrove swamps, jungles and beaches, too – terrain so varied that exhilaration (and exhaustion) are practically guaranteed. Here are four adventures to get your pulse racing…

Get off the grid in Royal Belum State Park

The only sound is a rhythmic swish, swish, as our boat glides across Lake Temenggor. We’re heading deep into Royal Belum State Park (royalbelum.my), a 117,500-hectare wilderness made even more impassable by its water levels. This jungly swathe of northern Perak, right against the Malaysia-Thailand border, was flooded in 1972 when Temenggor Dam was built. And in this remote nature park, the chances of getting phone signal are roughly the same as spotting the elusive sun bear.

The boat thumps noisily against the wooden gangplank at Belum Eco Resort (belumecoresort.com.my), my island home for the next few nights. While resort staff busy themselves securing the boat, my fellow travellers are already wriggling out of their T-shirts and dive-bombing into the lake.  As we bob around in the water, the jungle chorus of whistling blue-rumped parrots and chattering crickets surrounds us.

At daybreak, we gather in walking boots and liberal coatings of mosquito repellent. Boat transportation and a hiking guide are essential in this dense, swampy wilderness. Ours is leading us into the 130-million-year-old rainforest, one of the world’s most ancient. It’s home to tapir, seldom-seen tigers, and rafflesia, one of the largest flowers on the planet. Along slippery trails we spot tiny orchids that cower amid tree roots, while grasshoppers whir past our heads like toy helicopters. Hornbills swoop between branches, their orange beaks easy to spot in the gloom.

Make it happen: Royal Belum is a 170km drive north of Ipoh, Perak’s main city (or 150km east of Penang). Daily buses from Ipoh reach gateway town Gerik from where you can get a taxi towards the park. Stays at Belum Eco Resort include boat transfer from Pulau Banting jetty, a 42km drive east of Gerik.

Board a Jeep safari to Kinta Nature Park

‘No other place in the world can claim to have 10 species of hornbills in one location,’ declares Jek Yap with pride. For Jek, a fanatical local birdwatcher, Perak’s wildlife is hard to beat. And in contrast to remote Royal Belum, some reserves lie in easy reach of Perak’s cities, like Kinta Nature Park.

Around 20km south of state capital Ipoh, this former tin-mining land is a tangle of low-hanging trees and teeming fish ponds. The park is home to around 130 species of bird, and it’s the region’s largest gathering place for herons and egrets.

‘Birds usually show up at dusk and dawn,’ counsels Jek. Despite Jek’s advice, dawn has long broken by the time I trundle into the park by 4WD. But hitting the ‘snooze’ button on my alarm hasn’t caused me to miss out: wildlife is abundant here, and much of it is barely troubled by the sounds of the car engine.

I can see grey herons alighting on fence posts, and plump little herons looking improbably weightless as they perch on fine tree branches. Huge monitor lizards dawdle on pathways. I’m poised to photograph a blue-tailed bee eater, but its flash of jade feathers is faster than my camera’s click. Still, it’s a good excuse to lay down my camera and admire the flourishing reserve, distraction-free.

Make it happen: book knowledgeable Ipoh-based guide Mr Raja for a guided 4WD excursion into Kinta Nature Park for RM400 per head (minimum two people). It’s also possible to cycle parts of the park.

Experience Gopeng’s caves and river rapids

The ceiling of Gua Tempurung yawns above my head. As I hike deeper into the cave, one of the largest in Peninsular Malaysia, every footstep sends echoes bouncing off the walls. Long spindles of limestone reach up from the slippery ground, and stalactites drip from above. Squinting, I can make out other walkers further along the dimly lit trails. They seem microscopic in size, dwarfed by vast folds of limestone.

What is the interesting one if you visit in canada

The coming year is filling with warm-up events as impatient revellers begin the countdown. If you’re thinking of visiting the True North Strong & Free, this is the perfect year to do it – and here’s a peek at the best birthday festivities.

1. Ottawa: the biggest party

Not surprisingly, the nation’s capital is leading the way in party planning. With an online countdown to the very second Canada turns 150, Ottawa has a whole year of events planned including world skating competitions down the Rideau Canal, fiery pop-up stunts in public spaces, an enormous picnic on a grass-covered Alexandra Bridge and a long list of wine, food and rural fair experiences. All of this culminates on July 1st at Parliament Hill for the nation’s biggest birthday bash, with flyovers by the Snowbirds, Canada’s air demonstration squad, a giant street party and free concerts and events, many to be held in the new cultural village being built out of sea containers on York Street. There are even rumors that the Queen may attend. For the full scoop, see the event website (ottawa2017.ca).

2. Charlottetown: ahoy mate!

As the birthplace of Confederation, Charlottetown always celebrates Canada Day in a big way, and for 2017 they’ll be cranking it up a notch. A ten-hour concert will showcase Prince Edward Island’s musical talent with everything from jazz to fiddles to rock. Visitors are sure to join in the fun – it’ll be hard to miss the roaring 21-gun salute or the giant birthday cake. The city’s harbor will also be a guest port in a trans-Atlantic 150th Celebration Regatta, bringing around forty traditional tall ships for you to hop aboard, along with a waterfront cultural festival spotlighting seafaring from around the time of Canada’s birth. You can be certain that even at the height of the party, that unhurried island vibe will still shine through, proving that in Charlottetown, you really can have your cake and eat it too.

3. National parks and sites: get choosy

Fancy staring out over the glassy, blue waters of Lake Louise? How about experiencing 18th-century French-Canada at the Fortress of Louisbourg or chilling with moose in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park? In celebration of the sesquicentennial, Parks Canada (pc.gc.ca) is throwing open the doors to all of its national parks and heritage sites, offering free entrance for all of 2017. With 47 parks and 168 historic sites to choose from, who wouldn’t feel like celebrating?

4. Toronto Symphony: know the score

While music has always been a big part of Canadian tradition, this is the year to really keep your ears open. Linking orchestras across the nation, the Toronto Symphony has initiated a musical mosaic that will bring to life some of the country’s long forgotten heritage composers, as well as commissioning new pieces that celebrate Canada’s eclectic musical traditions. Nearly forty orchestras from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland will be choosing a composer and writing a score – nicknamed a ‘sesquie’ – to be performed and broadcast across the nation. Pieces rooted in French, English, Native, folk, pop and jazz traditions will echo across the land, as well as compositions that celebrate what it means to be Canadian, like a piece honoring the first responders to the Fort McMurray fires. While there will undoubtedly be plenty to keep you musically nourished on July 1st in Toronto, tune into events and performances throughout the year and across the country at the Toronto Symphony website (tso.ca/canadamosaic).

5. Vancouver: the drum is calling

Wedged between towering mountains and a glistening ocean,Vancouver revels in its uniqueness and each year kicks up its Birkenstocked heels for the biggest Canada Day celebration outside the nation’s capital. Events spread across the city include a full-day music concert with impressive headliners, a citizenship ceremony where you can watch new Canadians joining the clan, street performances, an evening parade and a massive fireworks display from two barges in the inlet. For 2017, the city is digging deep into its roots and hosting an eleven-day First Nations’ festival where traditional and contemporary events let you experience a side of Canada less frequently witnessed. Other ethnic communities have also committed to joining the celebrations, promising a party of dizzying diversity.