Some years back (in 2011), whilst travelling in Malaysia, I decided to pay a visit To a tourist hotspot called Oriental Village in Langawi.
Here you can take a cable car some 2000 feet above sea level to have the opportunity to see breathtaking views over the beautiful island of Langkawi.
On the way to the top I met a lovely couple from Australia who had been dating for over 50 years and had got engaged the evening before, I thought they were lovely and it was touching to know that they still wanted to get married after all these years. We had to change cable cars on the way to the top and it felt like we were lifting up for ever. The fact there were multiple cable cars to reach the top made me nervous.
At the top we trudged along a dangerous path to the Sky Bridge. The place was full of tourists, there is no way that it could be unsafe with hundreds of steps taken along the bridge, daily.
The Sky bridge is over 400ft and is elevated by a single pylon. It was constructed whilst elevated by helicopter back in 2005. It really was quite spectacular to see a masterpiece like this, so futuristic, in the middle of Asia. Tips of mountains sit just below the bridge which helped with my nerves somewhat, to not see a sheer 2000ft drop.
On the bridge there are several steps to take which have no backing meaning your toes can see right down to Earth. I’m not normally afraid of heights but this made me somewhat uncomfortable.
Overall it was very enjoyable, but I was glad to be back on land after taking the cable car back down. What shocked me to my core was, only a few months after this, I read a report that said the bridge had been closed down due to safety fears. It made me feel sick. I had paid money and trusted that the bridge was safe, only to find out that just months afterwards, such a masterpiece that attracted tourists daily was deemed SO unsafe that they had to close it, at a loss of income.
Years have passed and I understand the bridge fully reopened again in February of this year after 16 million Malaysian Ringgit was invested into its repairs, not to mention time. I believe more steel poles have been added for further security. I would go back to it, hopefully feeling more secure. I feel quite honoured to have experienced the real ‘floating bridge’, though.
Surrey based tour operator ‘Exclusive Escapes’ who specialise in holidays to Turkey, yesterday confirmed they have gone into administration.
They currently have some 500 customers abroad currently. If these customers are ATOL protected then they can enjoy the rest of their holidays and fly home as normal. ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence and it is a financial protection scheme operated by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
There are almost 2000 customers yet to depart on their holidays with Exclusive Escapes. The sad news here is that, they won’t be going away. The CAA has reportedly confirmed that all passengers due to fly are covered by ATOL protection and therefore should be entitled to a full refund. If this applies to you, please contact the CAA directly who can assist you.
The moral of this story is, whenever you book flights, either direct with the airline or through a travel agency, make sure they are ATOL (and ABTA) bonded and ensure you receive an ATOL certificate once booked. In this day and age with advancing technology and the ability for individuals to book their own flights and hotels online at the click of a button, physical travel agents will start to become obsolete unless they can offer something unique that the Internet cannot. Be safe and book wisely.
Where has everybody flocked to this weekend for that last minute summer holiday?!
Could it be Gran Canaria? Fuerteventura?
Could it be Costa Blanca?
Or perhaps Canada?
This has to be Portugal in the height of Summer…!
You will be stunned to learn that this is on your doorstep, in the UK. Every photo. In light of the fact that stats are indicating more Brits are holidaying at home this bank holiday due to financial reasons, I thought I would share with you all a few other, more beautiful reasons to holiday at home this year.
Two years ago, a friend and I headed to Jordan for a last minute ‘why-not’ break. I did not have high expectations and was hoping for a bit of sunshine and sightseeing. What I did not think was that I woukd have one of the best weeks of my entire life which was totally unexpected. A lot of people I know were concerned about political issues in countries close to Jordan, however I did not feel concerned at all. The locals are beautiful people, very friendly and slightly more relaxed Muslims than other parts of the Middle East in terms of how to dress and drinking alcohol.
Day 1 – we arrived into Amman airport and met with our driver who we had arranged to be our personal driver for the whole trip, he charged about £300 and considering the miles we covered and his kind nature, it was very reasonable. We checked into the Blue Moon Hotel in Petra which was superb, great value and good standard for 4*. It was just a stone throw away from the Entrance gate to the famous Petra (where Indiana Jones was filmed).
day 2 – we woke early and headed into Petra which is quite expensive, about £50 entry but SO worth every penny. You need to be active as there was 5 hours, 18km and over 800 steps to reach the monastery at the top but the views and sightseeing alon the was are beyond breathtaking. This is a place I feel everybody should see in their lifetime. It is really special.
Inside Petra, there is an abundance of horses and donkeys they will try to offer for ‘free’ but they will ultimately charge you and frankly, watching people on the back of a donkey, unattached whilst it was limping up hundreds of steps on the edge of a cliff path without railings made me nervous to say the least. Walk it if you can! You can also do a sunset visit into Petra at night time which I hear is incredible.
On return to our hotel, our driver met us and took us out to Wadi Rum Desert where we got in a jeep and were taken into an awesome camp site in a small clearing in the rocks. The tents were spacious and fairly clean and there was a much larger tent where all travellers met for dinner and drinks and music and had a BBQ under the stars, it was truly spectacular and felt so liberating to stay somewhere without wifi, houses or even electricity to charge my devices, total relaxation.
Day 3 – One of The guides onsite escorted us On a day trip of the desert which was superb. It started with rock climbing (this was moderate and not overly challenging) which was excellent fun, then I was allowed to drive the jeep through the desert, then the guide used the jeep to do some terrifying but exhilarating tricks in the jeep (which had no seat belts!) then we went sand boarding, I had never done this and it was fantastic and felt very safe! We had tea with some locals who were wonderful to talk with. We had lunch with the guide which was delicious and after visiting a cave (where I fell into a pond, but I will breeze past that) we took a camel ride out of the desert back to civilisation.
Our driver met us outside the desert and we began the long drive to the Dead Sea where we checked into the 5* resort, the Movenpick. It was a superb resort with excellent facilities for a relaxing break to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is infamous for its salt water which is so high in salt that nothing lives in there and offers many health and healing benefits. What interested me more was the fact that the water was so salty, apparently you can sit on the top of the water and float. How could it do this with someone as heavy as me? Well, it does work! Make sure you don’t shave for 24 hours prior entering the Dead Sea and do not go in if you have any cuts because it will sting! Buy some Jelly Shoes (like when you were a child) as it’s very rocky and slippy when entering the sea, these will become your best friend. It feels very surreal when you are there; it is 420 metres below sea level and it is just an incredible experience. They say the sea level here is decreasing by 1 metre every year and in 90 years the Dead Sea may be gone altogether – get yourself out there now!
We travelled in February which was a great time to travel weather and season wise. It was hot, but not too hot. It is much much cheaper in Jordan that Dubai and a totally different, incredible journey. In terms or value, I was gobsmacked at how reasonable it was. The whole trip staying in 4/5* accommodation, including flights, travel and spending money came to around £800pp. What a bargain!
If you are looking for a fun, safe, sunny adventure that is a bit different from the norm, then Jordan is your one.
Greece has agreed to a third bailout from the European Central Bank of approximately 85 billion euros and plans to repay it by cutting spending and increasing taxes.
Travel and Tourism is being affected by holidaymakers choosing other destinations instead of Greece for their holidays this year. Thomas Cook has reportedly lost around £5 million in the lates market.
This should, in theory result in discounted holidays to Greece in the near future. With its beautiful architecture and sublime beaches, now is the time to start planning your trip to Greece, I know it’s on my agenda.
We all have our favourite airlines and most would say theirs are a shiny new modern Airbus with all the gadgets and features to occupy oneself during a long haul flight which is all good and well. Some of the greatest, in my opinion include Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.
Despite being a ‘no-frills’ airline, I have found over the years Easyjet to be absolutely fantastic. I have flown with them over fifteen times and they have never disappointed. Here’s why;
They are reliable: I have never had more than a 30 minute delay with them which is more than I can say for some of the far more reputable UK airlines. Obviously many people will have experienced a delay with them, but on average they are miles more reliable than comparible airlines.
Helpful Staff: the cabin crew are very professional, efficient and helpful. I have travelled with friends who have been sick and nauseous during our flight and the staff went out of their way to ensure they were as comfortable and looked after as possible.
Safety – Easyjet have never had a fatal accident recorded since they began operations in 1995. They were also recently given 5* safety award according to airlineratings.com
Comfort – the seats give a fairly standard minimum of 29″ inches (which is the distance from the front of your seat to the back of the seat in front). You can request exit seats or pay a fee for a few extra inches on some of their aircraft. The best bit about these seats is that they cannot be reclined so the chair in front won’t end up in your face immediately after take off.
Good in an emergency: on a 5 hour flight returning to the UK with Easyjet, a passenger started having chest pains. Within minutes the plane had landed on short notice on a small runway on a Greek island. It turned out the passenger was having a heart attack. Easyjet’s quick response to this may have saved his life. The man was met by an ambulance and quickly escorted off the aircraft leaving the rest of us to continue our journey with only a very short delay.
Equality and Diverty – passengers with special requirements are treated with dignity and respect. Wheelchair users and passengers with children and pushchairs are normally given automatic priority boarding. If travelling with an infant they usually allow for extra luggage, check the details before you fly.
Granted they do not have personal TVs or much entertainment to shout about, but they are ideal if you need a low cost, reliable, friendly and safe flight. No more cheesyjet.
(Author’s personal view and has not been credited by Easyjet for this article)