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Dominican Republic – What to Pack

Many have said that in the Dominican Republic you will find an earthly heaven. For those who will visit the Dominican Republic from cold areas, you must leave your jackets at home, cause all year around the weather is sunny, you will be enchanted by the dazzling white beaches, the sunsets, and the sounds of merengue and bachata. If you visit the Dominican Republic with your loved ones get ready for a dance, a hug, get ready to fall for your person again because cause passion, sensation and vivid emotions are what characterise this magical place.

Dominican Republic beach

If you want quiet and relax you should visit the villages where you will find peace, silence and really friendly villagers. However, in my opinion it  will be a pity  not to discover  the interior of the country and  the magical landscapes. You will find the local happy to help you and if you’re lucky they can host you.

Dominican Republic Village

We should talk about the luggage now. What to put in your luggage ?

You should take light clothes of cotton, open shoes, shorts, shirts, t-shirts …Attention… do not forget your swimsuit, as well as warm clothes and hiking boots for some walking in the mountains. You will enjoy the hiking (believe me), you will forget everything else. A sweater would be comfortable in the mountains … both in the bus or in the restaurants where sometimes there is too much air conditioning. Dominicans love to dress up to go out,so  don’t  forget to take  some nice clothes to wear at  night.

boat off bacardi island samana bay dominican republic

For those you will come with their family and children, do not forget your hats and sunglasses, not to mention high index sunscreens. Do not trust the breeze or the clouds, that the UV rays of the tropical sun pass through easily. Better bring your own hygiene products ( baby diapers ). Finally, a good flashlight could come in very handy if the power fails, or in public places with insufficient lighting.

Punta Cana – Dominican Republic

But most of all do not forget your cameras, so you could take pictures of this wonderful place … Enjoy

By Angela B

Source : trip&travel

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Packing Tips

Some travelers jam two weeks’ worth of gear in their bags for a long weekend. Others pack a bit too lightly and forget important things like medicine or passports. Savvy travelers strike the perfect balance and bring just what they need — with a little help from our list of road-tested packing tips, of course!

Packing Methods
When packing your clothes, you don’t want to neatly fold them individually as you would in a dresser. If you do, they will crease when compressed. Here are a few alternatives:

Rolling Your Clothes
Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts and sports shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.

Fold Clothes Together
Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you’ve folded it so it’s less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds.

The Bundle Approach
This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of the “The Packing Book,” has now become our favorite. It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we’ll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.

Start with your sports jacket or the longest, most wrinkle-prone item you have. With the collar or waistband flat, place it against the bottom edge of the bag and drape the rest of the garment over the opposite side of the bag. Take another garment and place it in the opposite direction, flattening and smoothing out both garments in the bag and draping the remainder over the side. If you have trousers or other narrow items, do the same with them in the narrow direction of the bag. Keep alternating your items, ending up with the most wrinkle-resistant clothes you have.

When you finish, place your “core” in the middle. Now you’re going to start folding the garments over the core and each other in the reverse order you put them in. If you fold something over and there’s excess draping over the sides of the bag, tuck it underneath the bundle you are creating.

What you will end up with is a bundle of all of your clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece. It’s compactly packed and doesn’t waste an available space in your luggage. Plus, because of the way things are folded, your clothes will wrinkle less.

To find something in the bundle, lay it flat and unwrap until you reach the layer you want. Take the item out and refold the remainder. If done properly each layer should result in a self contained bundle at each layer.

Interactive Packing List

Tissue Paper
For delicate items, try tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don’t want to crush.

suitcase backpack packingTips for Air Travelers

  • You may not pack liquid or gel substances in your carry-on unless they are in individual containers of 3.4 ounces or less and enclosed in one clear, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag per passenger. Any larger containers of liquids and gels must be packed in your checked luggage. For more information, see Airport Security Q&A.
  • Be aware of restrictions on the size and number of bags you may bring onto your flight. Many airlines now charge a fee for every checked bag or have lowered the maximum permitted weight limits for checked luggage. For a clear overview of what the airlines are charging for checked bags these days, and how large and heavy your luggage is allowed to be, read Airline Baggage Fees.
  • Do not lock your checked bags except with TSA-approved locks; otherwise, if your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the lock to get inside.
  • Do not overpack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.
  • Carry all film with you onboard, as screening equipment for checked luggage can damage undeveloped film.
  • Place any packed belongings you don’t feel comfortable with strangers handling in clear plastic bags.
  • Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other; instead, spread them out throughout your bag.
  • Make your own must-pack list with our interactive packing list before your next trip!

 

Source :  Independent traveler 

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25 best foods for summer

Hurry up and read this story before it melts all over your hands!

By Elizabeth Leigh, for CNN 17 June, 2013

In some countries, the coldest, sweetest dishes are considered the best foods for summer.

In others, the hottest — in both senses of the word — are considered the best way to beat the heat.

Whatever the logic, we’re ready to dig into all these summer foods.

kulfi

The matka (clay pot) keeps the kulfi insulated.

Kulfi

This will probably upset gelato fans, but of all the icy, creamy desserts out there, kulfi’s our pick for the best one for summer.

A traditional Indian ice cream developed to melt slowly in the heat of the Indian subcontinent, kulfi tends to be creamier and denser than its Western counterparts, with flavors such as rose and mango.

It’s served in matkas (little clay pots) that keep it even more insulated.

Best at: Mumbai restaurants and dessert shops. Street vendors sell popsicle-like versions.

eloteIt’s hard to go back to plain old butter after trying seasoning like this.

Elote

The Mexican version of corn-on-the-cob may be higher in calories than other styles, but the taste makes the extra weight worth it.

After being grilled, sticks of golden corn are slathered with cheese or mayonnaise. Chili powder and lime juice are sprinkled on top.

Best on: the streets of Mexico.

naemyeonMul naengmyeon goes best with some hot galbi.

Naeng myeon

These Korean cold noodlesare served with ice cubes in the broth to keep the dish chilled while you eat.

Chewy buckwheat noodles are mixed with slivers of cucumber, pear, boiled egg or beef and submerged into icy broth for a tangy concoction laced with sharp mustard oil.

Best at: Woolaeoak branches in Seoul.

GazpachoGazpacho is thought to have Arab roots.

Gazpacho

A cold tomato and bread-based soup that originated in Andalucia, gazpacho bursts with summery flavors.

Traditionally pounded under a mortar and pestle to a creamy consistency, the soup’s main ingredients are tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and most importantly, stale bread. That last one is what gives it body and distinguishes it from being just a liquid salad.

Best in: a Seville tapas bar.

vichyssoiseThese days it can be difficult to find vichyssoise — the fat content is too high for the health-conscious.

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise is an elegant cold soup made from potatoes, leeks, cream and chicken stock.

Possessing a beautiful vanilla color and a silken consistency owing to the heavy cream, it’s served at a cold temperature, which keeps the taste light and refreshing.

Although French recipes with similar soups have been around for centuries, the late chef Louis Diat says that he first coined the name 「vichyssoise」 at The Ritz-Carlton New York in 1917.

Best in: New York restaurants that claim the soup as the city’s native invention.

AcarajéAfrican influence.

Acarajé and vatapá

From the land of eternal summer, acarajé is Brazil’s representative street food.

It comes from the country’s northeastern regions, where cuisine is influenced by African culture.

Black-eyed peas are crushed and made into a ball, then deep fried, and formed into a bread-like base to hold vatapá, a creamy mix of shrimp, ground peanuts and fragrant coconut milk.

Best in: Salvador de Bahia during the Dia da Baiano festival.

som tumOne bite of this flavor bomb will get your energy flowing.

Som tum

Thailand’s green papaya salad combines briny fish sauce, tart lime juice, the kick of chili peppers and the freshness of unripe papaya.

It’s all pounded under a mortar and pestle to form a delicious antidote against hot-weather lethargy.

Basically fat-free, som tum is a favorite for Thais trying to lose weight.

Best at: Somtum Der in Bangkok.

Great summer meal in Korea: beer with a side of chicken. Or is that the other way around?

Korean fried chicken

A trendy food in South Korea that’s caught on around the world, Korean fried chicken has won us over as a crunchy finger food for hot weather.

Koreans have perfected the holy fried chicken trinity: crispy, thin skin that still retains some gooey fat underneath, a strong spicy flavor and delicious moist meat.

We recommend it with cold beer or soju and a side of pickles.

Best at: 3 a.m. in Seoul’s hip Hongdae district.

bun chaHanoi is obsessed with char-grilled pork served with cold plain rice, vermicelli and a bouquet of fresh herbs and greens.

Bun Cha

Two summer favorites, barbecue meat and salad, come together perfectly in this dish.

The explosion of flavor comes from Vietnamese food’s ubiquitous dipping sauce, nuoc mam pha, made of fish extract, sugar, chili, lemon juice, garlic and a generous dose of MSG.

Best in: Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Live on brain freeze and sugar highs all season.

Halo-halo

The name of this Filipino dessert means 「mix」 and that’s just what it is — a jumble of sweet and colorful ingredients mixed together.

Halo-halo got official Anthony Bourdain approval when the intrepid eater tried Jollibee’s version in Los Angeles on a recent episode of 「Parts Unknown.」

It can include anything from sweetened beans and chickpeas to preserved fruit and ice cream flavored with mango, taro, coconut or other summery fruit.

Best at: the Peninsula Manila.

36 hours on a Philippine bus

spam musubiThere are lots of ways to enjoy Spam.

Spam musubi

A slice of fried spam on top of sushi rice wrapped with nori is one of our favorite foods for summer because it reminds us of the beaches in Hawaii, the backdrop to all our fantasy summer vacations.

Best after: riding a wave on the beaches of the Big Island.

Bruschetta dates to the 15th century.

Bruschetta

An antipasto that can be eaten as a light summer dinner.

Not many better ways to showcase one of summer’s best products: ripe tomatoes, scarlet and bursting with flavor.

Best at: your favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant.

chongqing hot potSpicy hotpot from Chongqing may be the last thing Westerners expect on a list of favorite foods for summer.

Chongqing hotpot

Chongqing is one of the hottest corners of China and residents believe that Chinese spicy food forces diners to sweat, thereby helping to expel heat and excess moisture to help cool the body.

It’s therefore natural that hotpot is a favorite summer food for locals — the bubbling pot of spicy broth comes filled with scarlet chilies and heaps of mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns.

Best at: night markets in Chongqing.

Fluffy and creamy, cotton ice should be served with dollops of syrup and fruit.

Shaved milk ice

Known as 「cotton ice」 in Chinese, this Taiwanese dessert has become popular across East Asia in the last few years.

Instead of plain crushed ice, this version is made with frozen condensed milk that’s run through a shaving machine to create thin sheets of white milk ice that piles up in folds.

Best at: a Taipei night market.

cevicheCeviche is one of South America’s most popular seafood dishes.

Ceviche

This raw dish originated in Peru and is consumed throughout Latin America.

It’s so fresh and so good, Peru has a national holiday in honor of the dish.

Best at: Lima restaurants on the Day of Ceviche.

sobaJapanese noodle fans believe the best way to experience the texture of quality handmade soba noodles is to eat them cold.

Zaru Soba

To make Zaru Soba, buckwheat noodles are run through ice-cold water then drained on a bamboo sieve known as a 「zaru.」

The noodles are served directly on the zaru with a topping of shredded nori and a dipping sauce made of dashi, soy sauce, mirin and a dab of wasabi.

Best at: a Tokyo izakaya with a flask of cold sake.

watermelon rindSummer’s ambassador: the noble watermelon.

Sliced watermelon rind

When it’s hot outside, watermelon is one of the first foods we crave.

The rind is usually thrown out, but it can be saved to make pickles or dressed to make a salad — the extra crunchy part of the melon makes an excellent juicy substitute for boring old lettuce.

It’s also good stir-fried or stewed.

Best at: a Beijing restaurant during one of the city’s legendary heatwaves.

affogatoSimply good.

Affogato

Affogato means “drowned” in Italian, and we really wouldn’t mind being dunked into a sea of this Italian dessert.

A scoop of vanilla gelato is scooped into a cup and a shot of hot espresso is poured on top.

The result is a beautiful swirl of semi-solid ice cream and streaks of golden, bitter coffee.

Adding a shot of Amaretto or coffee liqueur ups the flavor.

Best in: Italian outdoor cafes.

satayBarbecued meat on sticks — essential summer eating.

Satay

The national dish of Indonesia, satay can be made from any type of meat.

Turmeric is added to give satay its characteristic yellow color.

It’s likely an adaptation of Indian kebabs, as it became popular after the influx of Indian immigrants in the 19th century.

Best at: street stands in Java.

peach cobblerSouthern-style cobbler with Georgia peaches on homemade biscuits — perfect for summer nights.

Peach cobbler

Peach cobbler is a timeless, simple American dish that coats cooked peaches in a blanket of biscuit crust.

Summer gives rise to the best peach cobblers, as intense heat is needed for the plant to mature and produce a perfect, succulent sweet-tart peach.

Best in: Georgia during the Georgia Peach Festival.

Don’t be put off by the smell. There’s a reason why durian is called the king of fruit.

Durian

This famously challenging fruit is the alleged king of all fruits in Asia.

Durian addicts who love the fruit’s distinct rotten-garbage odor look forward to durian season every year — the fruit can be grown only in tropical areas and is available between June and August.

Of 30 varieties of durian, the most expensive is mao shan wang, which sells for up to $10 per kilogram in Singapore.

Best had: fresh from a market in Singapore.

mezeA spread of small dishes for a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Meze

The meze plate is usually served as an appetizer platter throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East and has a little bit of everything.

It can be as simple as a piece of feta cheese with a few kalamata olives, or an impressive spread of hummus, tarama, cacik, baba ganoush, falafel, dolma and haloumi cheese.

All foods are served cold and go well with a light beer by the sea.

Best at: a seaside tavern in Santorini.

salmonBaked salmon — one of the easiest dinners to make.

Salmon

We can fish for salmon all year round, but the biggest sport fishing season for wild salmon (most of what we eat is farmed) is in Alaska during summer and early fall months.

That’s when wild salmon spawn and run back to rivers.

Once that fish is caught, there are a bewildering number of ways to prepare it for a summer dinner. Poached in champagne or grilled outdoors, it’s all delicious.

Best at: a beachside barbecue after a fishing trip in Alaska.

injeraSalads are sometimes served on injera.

Injera

The national bread of Ethiopia, injera is a flatbread with a spongy texture and sour taste.

The acidity perks up appetites and the porous texture makes the bread a great carrier for sauces and wet salads.

Best in: an Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles, where there’s a high concentration of Ethiopian diaspora.

summer smorgasbordDidn’t think it was a real dish, did you?

Summer smorgasbord

The Scandinavian buffet has seasonal versions.

The summer smorgasbord retains all the classic items, such as grav lax, rye crispbread, pickled cucumbers, cheese, and the quintessential pickled herring, but hot foods are omitted.

Best in: Sweden where wild strawberries are usually added to the spread.

Source: CNN Travel

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Malaysia’s top 40 foods

What do you get when you combine Malay, Chinese and Indian influences on a plate? An addiction to Malaysian food. You’ve been warned.

By CNN Staff and Justin Calderon, for CNN 13 June, 2013

In an age when the term “underrated” gets tossed about with impunity, it may be difficult to take us seriously when we say Malaysian food isn’t getting the global recognition it deserves.

But the fact is, this stuff is good. Damn good.

The sum of many delicious parts, Malaysian cuisine’s influences include Chinese, Indian and Malay.

In some ways it’s similar to Indonesian food, with the two nations sharing many of the same dishes. (Warning: debates over dish origins can turn nasty in these parts — such is the passion of the region’s food lovers.)

Regardless, once you’re in Malaysia and eating, you’ll quickly dispanse with historical concerns and wonder instead where your next meal is coming from and how you can you get to it sooner.

To help narrow your choices here are 40 of Malaysia’s top dishes, in no particular order.

What are your favorite Malaysian dishes? Share your photos and stories in our Malaysian food iReport assignment.

Mee goreng mamak — the complete package.

1. Apam balik

You haven’t truly experienced Malaysian food until you thrill your taste buds with this sweet treat.

A pancake-style snack wedded with the compact package of an omelet, apam balik is stuffed with more than a sufficient amount of sugar, peanuts and the occasional sprinkle of corn — it’s a dish that’s constantly being reinvented.

2. Mee goreng mamak

This Indian Muslim dish is the complete package. Yellow noodles. Beef or chicken. Shrimp. Soy sauce, veggies and eggs. A bit of chili tossed in for an irresistible jolt.

Sounds simple, right?

Sadly, you can try to replicate this one at home, but it’s just not going to taste the way it did when you chowed down at that gritty Malaysian hawker stall.

3. Nasi kerabu

If the blue rice doesn’t spark your curiosity, the lines of people around the country waiting to order this favorite Kelantanese dish should.

From the state of Kelantan in northern peninsular Malaysia, nasi kerabu gets its eye-grabbing color from telang flowers, which are crushed and mixed into flour.

The aquamarine dish is topped with bean sprouts and fried coconut, then drenched in spicy budu, a fermented fish sauce.

In true Kelantan style, you use your hands to dig into this one.

4. Ayam percik (chicken with percik sauce)

KFC’s popularity in the region (and across Asia) over other fast food chains won’t surprise those familiar with ayam percik.

Basically, it’s barbecued chicken slathered in spicy chili, garlic and ginger sauce mixed with coconut milk.

With the right amount of percik sauce, this staple Malaysian stall food packs more zing than anything the Colonel can muster.

5. Nasi lemak

Some call nasi lemak Malaysia’s unofficial national dish. Everyone else calls it delicious.

Nasi lemak is basically rice cooked in coconut milk.

It’s the sides that matter.

Depending on where you are in Malaysia, it comes with a variety of accompaniments such as hard-boiled egg, peanuts, vegetables, lamb/chicken/or beef curry, seafood and sambal (chili-based sauce).

Nasi Lemak is traditionally eaten for breakfast but these days people are ordering it any time of day.

More on CNN: A guide to choosing the best dishes in Asia

Nasi kandar restaurants offer a variety of meat curries and gravy served over white rice — prawn curry is especially popular.

6. Roti john

Whoever John was, it’s apparent that he preferred his sandwiches made with grilled minced meat and egg in the middle of slim bread, and drowned in a confection of condiments.

Mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue and chili sauce — choose one or choose them all.

7. Rendang (beef, chicken or lamb)

Though sometimes erroneously called a curry, Malaysian food aficionados point out that this chunky cauldron of coconut milk and spices is nothing of the sort.

The difference is in how it’s prepared: slowly simmered (to let the meat absorb the spices) until the rosy liquid completely evaporates.

A favorite, especially during festive seasons, rendang is found across Malaysia.

8. Kuih

Variety, variety, variety — that’s way to explore kuih, or Malay-style pastries. Small enough to snap up in a gulp and sugary enough to give you a modest jitter, kuih vendors are the most colorful stalls of all.

This kaleidoscope of soft, sugary morsels goes quickly — few pieces are left by the time daylight begins to fade.

9. Nasi kandar

Nasi kandar is essentially rice served with your choice of toppings, which commonly include curry, fish, egg and okra.

Everything is laid out buffet style, though you can also order à la carte.

Found all over Malaysia, nasi kandar eateries are extremely popular, most open 24 hours and run by ethnic Indian Muslims.

10. Popia basah (wet spring roll)

A hefty sort of spring roll, popia basah speaks to those in need of the familiar crispy snack, but without the added oil.

Not to be confused with wet rolls found in parts of Vietnam, popia basah comes complete with its own regional-specific flavor. In place of lettuce, the Malay wet spring roll has turnips, fried onions and bean sprouts.

As word of its deliciousness spreads, laksa is poised  for global culinary domination.

11. Laksa

A staple of Malaysian cuisine, laksa eateries have been migrating abroad in recent years, making appearances in Bangkok, Shanghai and further afield.

There are multiple variations. For anyone who enjoys a taste of the volcanic kind, this spicy noodle soup can get you there in its curry form.

Some like it with fish, others prawns.

Our favorite is Penang’s asam laksa, in which tamarind features heavily (“asam” is Malay for tamarind) to create a spicy-sour fish broth.

More on CNN: Kuala Lumpur’s top 20 restaurants

12. Bubur (porridges)

Bubur vendors are easy to spot. They’re the stall with the giant steel pots and matching ladles.

The contents of these coconut milk-based, sometimes sugary soups include a medley of vegetables and meats, and even dyed balls of flour and coconut milk.

There’s no standard recipe in preparing bubur — different regions boast their own specialty.

More on CNN: Baba Nyonya life and food in Penang

13. Roti jala

Roti jala, or net bread, gets its name from the net-like formation that’s created by making zigzagging lines with flour on a large skillet.

The final product is folded up like a crepe and usually served with chicken curry. Roti jala is eaten any time of the day.

14. Murtabak

This pan-fried bread stuffed with minced meat and onions and dipped in spicy sauce is a meal and a half, only recommended to the famished.

Perfect murtabak is made with a robust amount of minced meat, so that the taste comes through on the first bite.

So spicy-sour it’ll make your tongue curl.

15. Cendawan goreng (fried mushrooms)

Deep-fried fungus doesn’t get better than this. One version, cendawan goreng, is typically peppered with chili or barbecue seasoning, giving it its own sass.

Eaten as an appetizer or snack, with a meal or while on foot, this one will have you imagining what else you can fry — and how else it can be seasoned.

Sambal udang is a Peranakan dish, created by descendants of 15th- and 16th-century Chinese immigrants.

16. Sambal udang

The Baba Nyonya people, also known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese, are mainly of Chinese descent, originally from Fujian province in southeastern China.

They settled along the coast of Malaysia mainly in Penang and Melaka, as well as parts of Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. These days, they’re famous for their incredible food.

A popular Peranakan dish, sambal udang is all about prawns. Whole prawns are sent swimming into a delicious pool of sambal — chili paste — that’s flavored with prawn paste. The addition of tamarind juice gives it a tangy kick.

17. Asam pedas

Nazlina Hussin, founder of the popular Penang cooking school Nazlina Spice Station, says it’d be outrageous not to include asam pedas on any short list of her country’s best foods.

A fish curry popular throughout peninsular Malaysia, it’s commonly made with freshwater fish or stingray.

Asam, which means tamarind, features heavily, along with ginger, shrimp paste, garlic, chilies and other herbs.

18. Lemang

Eaten with a meat or vegetable dish, lemang is glutinous rice mixed with coconut milk, which is cooked in bamboo.

The time-consuming process to make lemang starts by lining hollowed-out shoots with banana leaves.

The bamboo is left over a fire to slowly cook the rice in a process known as tapai.

The result is sticky, wet rice that can, and regularly does, make a nice substitute for its plain Jane counterpart.

19. Otak-otak (brains)

Perhaps named by someone with an offbeat sense of humor, otak-otak gets its graphic moniker from its appearance, not its taste or ingredients.

This fish paste mixture of spices and diced onions is loosely wrapped in a banana leaf and barbecued over charcoal until the pinkish contents become warm and the leaves are slightly charred.

No fuss or frills when it comes to eating — picking at it straight from the leaf is the only way to do it.

More on CNN: The foodie village in the middle of Kuala Lumpur

20. Tepung pelita

A kind of kuih (Malay-style pastry), tepung pelita easily takes the cake when compared to its post-dinner relatives. At some point just about everyone has over-indulged in this two-layered coconut milk-based sweet.

On the top layer, thick coconut milk with salt; on the bottom, a similar milky liquid mixed with sugar and pandan leaves to turn it green.

Served in bite-sized pandan leaf bowls, the packaging of tepung pelita makes it easy to fulfill those gluttonous desires.

 

Rojak — not your average fruit salad. Veggies, shrimp paste and dough fritters are thrown into the mix.

21. Rempeyek

Few snacks come saltier, or more gratifying, than rempeyek.

This top Malaysian food is commonly made by deep frying a doughy batter into a thin brittle and topping it with peanuts and anchovies.

The amount of salt can vary and there are variations that use dried shrimp or garlic instead of anchovies.

22. Rojak

Rojak (“mixture” in Malay) is essentially a fried dough fritter with fruits and veggies, though there are regional variations.

But vegetarians shouldn’t get their hopes up. The whole mixture is combined with Malaysia’s ever-popular shrimp paste.

It’s the perfect combination of sweet, spicy and sour.

23. Putu piring

Like roti jala, putu piring is enjoyed in India and Malaysia.

Putu piring has the taste of a cake, with the added bonus of pockets of palm sugar.

It’s plate-like shape is formed by flattening the flour before covering it in a white cloth and placing it in a conical steamer.

24. Satar

If otak-otak is the hodge-podge, hot dog variety of grilled fish, then satar is its more refined cousin.

At one bazaar in Kelana Jaya, Malaysia, a vendor has set up what he calls 「mackerel-filled food from the east coast.」

Roasted in a banana leaf, the process and look are a Photostat of otak-otak, but with more fish, less spice and larger portions.

25. Roti canai

An Indian-inspired flatbread, roti canai is made with flour, butter and water, though some will toss condensed milk in to sweeten it up.

The whole concoction is flattened, folded, oiled and cooked on a heavily oiled skillet, resulting in a sublimely fluffy piece of bread with a crispy exterior.

You can eat this one as a snack on its own or use it to scoop up a side of curry.

More on CNN: Best of Langkawi

Meat on a stick. When does this concept not work?

26. Satay

Though considered by many to be a dish native to Thailand, satay is actually believed to have originated in Indonesia.

Origins aside, can we all just agree that meat on a stick is good?

Malaysia has its own variations of the grilled skewers, served nationwide in chicken, beef or pork forms (the latter in non-Muslim venues only).

Sauces vary from region to region, including the peanut sauce that’s loved the world over.

27. Ikan bakar

The direct translation of this dish means “burned fish.”

You shouldn’t let that turn you off. This is one tasty grilled bit of seafood.

After being marinated in the all-important sambal, the fish is placed on a banana leaf and grilled over a flame. Great for sharing.

28. Mee rebus

In case you haven’t noticed, Malaysia has done a lot with the simple Chinese noodle.

Another one to set your taste buds into party mode, mee rebus is made with blanched yellow noodles drowned in an insanely addictive curry-like potato-based gravy and spices like lemongrass and ginger.

It’s similar to mee goreng.

Common proteins added to the mix include prawns, mutton and dried anchovies.

Garnishes include lime, spouts and halved boiled eggs.

29. Gulai ayam kampung

This chicken curry dish can be cooked in a number of ways. For instance, in the “village” style, traditional herbs and potatoes are tossed in.

The best thing about gulai ayam is the smell. Turmeric and kaffir lime leaves, plus lemongrass, give it an irresistible aroma. Palm sugar and coconut paste add that extra oomph to knock your socks off.

30. Lor bak

A Nyonya specialty of Penang, lor bak is braised pork that has been marinated in five-spice powder before being wrapped in soft bean curd skin and deep-fried.

Lor bak is served with two dipping sauces, a spicy red chili sauce and a gravy thickened with cornstarch and a beaten egg called lor.

More on CNN: Eating up Malaysia’s neglected east coast

Many locals say char kuey teow is the first dish visitors should try when they step off the plane in Malaysia.

31. Char kuey teow

We asked author and chef Norman Musa, one of Malaysia’s most famous exports, which dish he’d be outraged not to see on a list of the country’s top dishes. This is the one.

Another one to thank China’s migrants for, char kuey teow –- made with flat rice noodles –- is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular noodle dishes.

The noodles are fried with pork lard, dark and light soy sauce, chili, de-shelled cockles, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and sometimes prawn and egg.

Essential to the dish is good 「wok hei」 or breath of wok, the qualities and tastes imparted by cooking on a wok using high heat.

32. Chai tow kway

In this dish, rice flour and grated white radish is mixed and steamed into large slabs or cakes.

These are cut up into little pieces and fried with preserved turnip, soy sauce, fish sauce, eggs, garlic and spring onions.

You can have it 「white」 or 「black」 (with sweet dark soy sauce added). Also known as fried carrot cake or chye tow kueh, this grease-laden belly warmer is available at many hawker centers.

33. Wonton mee

You’ll find variations of wanton mee, a dish of Chinese origin, all over Asia, but the one in Penang stands out.

Springy egg noodles are served al dente with a sticky sauce made from soy sauce and lard oil. A spoonful of fiery sambal is added to the side.

It’s topped with pieces of leafy green Chinese kale, sliced green onions, pickled green chilies and wontons. The wontons are either boiled or steamed, as you’ll find them elsewhere in Malaysia, or fried, in a unique Penang twist.

34. Goreng pisang

The popular Malay snack of goreng pisang (banana fritters) is one of those dishes that has variations in banana-growing countries around the world.

The deep-frying helps caramelize the natural sugars in the bananas, making them even sweeter than they were to begin with. Some of Malaysia’s Chinese versions have unusually delicate and puffy batter.

35.  Chicken curry kapitan

This isn’t an ordinary curry. A Peranakan dish, chicken curry kapitan has a tangy flavor made from tamarind juice, candlenuts, fresh turmeric root and belacan (shrimp paste.)

As for the name, kapitan was the title of an Indian or Chinese leader in Penang. Legend has it a kapitan once asked his cook “what’s for dinner tonight?” The chef replied, “Chicken curry, Kapitan!”

Ketupat. So pretty you almost don’t want to eat it. Almost.

36. Ketupat

It would be a crime against the dumpling gods to leave this fancy little package off a list of Malaysia’s top foods.

More of a side than a main dish, ketupat comes in several varieties. Basically, it involves weaving a pouch made of palm leaves around a handful of rice. The rice expands and compresses, resulting in a neat little bundle you can dip in your curry or rendang.

37. Jeu hoo char

Another Peranakan great — we could easily put together a list of 40 delicious Peranakan dishes —  this salad features a finely shredded mixture of stir-fried carrots, onions, mushrooms, pork and cuttlefish.

This dish is particularly popular during festivals — especially Chinese New Year.

38. Kaya toast

Kaya is a sweet and fragrant coconut custard jam, slathered onto thin slices of warm toast with ample butter. It’s as divine as it sounds, particularly when downed with a cup of thick black coffee.

Many locals have this for breakfast supplemented by two soft-boiled eggs with soy sauce and pepper.

39. Ais kachang

Shaved ice desserts are always a popular treat in the tropics.

Ice kachang (ice with beans) evolved from the humble ice ball drenched with syrup to be the little ice mountain served in a bowl, drizzled with creamed corn, condensed milk, gula melaka and brightly colored syrups.

Dig into it and you’ll discover other goodies hidden within — red beans, palm seeds and cubed jellies.

40. Air tebu

While inhabitants of some regions in Asia prefer to gnaw on sugar cane (China and Vietnam, for instance), others take a more refined approach when it comes to extracting the sweet nectar within.

Much of the smoke wafting through Malaysia’s bazaar crowds comes from pots of boiling, frying liquid, but a significant portion also originates from the engine of a sugar cane grinder.

Stalks are fed into industrial-sized juicers; the liquid is collected and served by the bag and bottle. There’s no dearth of syrupy drinks on offer, but air tebu is the only one that comes with a show.

Special thanks to author and restaurateur Chef Norman Musa, cooking school owner Nazlina Hussin and the other Malaysian locals who helped compile this list by sharing their favorite dishes, cooking tips and explanations.

We know, we know. We’ve only scratched the surface here. Did we miss your favorite Malaysian dish? Sound off in the box below. Or, better yet, tell us about it in this Malaysian food iReport assignment. The best submissions will be featured on CNN Travel. 

 

Source: CNN TRAVEL

 

 

 

 

 

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The cutest cats in Taiwan

The dilapidated mining town of Houtong is now drawing thousands of visitors during weekends. And it’s all thanks to stray cats.

Houtong, also known as Taiwan’s 「cat Mecca」 for the hundred-odd cats that roam its streets, is an increasingly popular day-trip for Taiwan’s amateur photographers.

The first thing you’ll notice when you make your way into town are the cats — more than a hundred of them, snoozing on benches, clambering up tin rooftops, or reluctantly playing with whatever enthusiastic photographers push their way.

Houtong attracts thousands of snap-happy domestic tourists every weekend.

Houtong from afar.

「The cats seem to be used to crowds, and weren’t too bothered by the fact that I kept on snapping away at them. They just continued sleeping,」 a blogger notes.

The tabbies and calicos at Houtong are smart to stay. All strays at Houtong are regularly fed, groomed and petted by locals and volunteers, and many of them are given affectionate nicknames.

Houtong was one of Taiwan’s biggest coal-mining sites up until the 1970s, according to the Tourism Bureau of Taipei County. Then electric trains took over, oil took the place of coal, and the town suffered a steady decline.

Houtong became a train stop along the Yilan line that most travelers bypassed, until a cat lover who goes by the name of 「Palin88」 set up a series of cat photography events at Houtong in 2008.

The town has now become a cult tourist destination. The Facebook group 「Houtong Cat Lovers Society」 has over 5,700 fans, and a quick search of Houtong on Flickr returns over 24,000 results.

Houtong residents are cashing in on the tourist surge by opening souvenir shops and selling cat-shaped pineapple pastries, local press reports. The local government is trying to give tourism an extra push by setting up mining history museum at Houtong, which opened this July.

But there are downsides to Houtong’s growing fame. Many pet abandoners, assuming that strays will be looked after by Houtong locals, have chosen the town as their dumpsite, according to Taiwanese news reports.

Cat numbers have swelled by 20 percent in recent months and volunteer caretakers are trying to get the cats vaccinated in time to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Getting there: Take the Taiwan Railway Administration Eastern Line. Houtong station is located along the Yilan Line, the northern section of the Eastern Line. Details of the Houtong mining park can be found here (Chinese only).

Here are other adorable cat pictures taken by visitors to Houtong:

A hygienic kitty cleans itself at a restaurant.

A cat looks ready to test the nine lives theory on a rooftop in Houtong.

Catfight!

“I’m scared of flash,” the sign reads. Signs like this can be found all over town.

Houtong strays take a noon-time snooze.

Houtong’s cats are putty in anyone’s hands … as long as they’re holding treats.

Source:CNN Travel

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A Guide to Singapore’s Hawker Food Culture

The Old Airport Road Food Centre. (Photograph by One More Bite Blog, Flickr)

The spicy broth steamed up my glasses as I pulled the long, golden noodles from the bowl of prawn mee in front of me. If that chili-infused dish didn’t satisfy my hunger, the bowl of savory fish ball soup next to it would, or even the shu mai dumplings next to that.

These were a few of the delicacies before me at a casual dinner on the first evening of my weeklong tour of Singapore. I thought my local guide, who was obliged to follow a set itinerary, had led me to an eatery with a decent introduction to Singapore’s legendary hawker food — until I got an informal text message:

「U bored of Food Republic? U wanna get out yet?」

Fried prawn mee. (Photograph by Jerry Wong, Flickr)

My friend Carol, a born and bred Singaporean, revealed to me that my guide had brought me to a 「touristy,」 「overpriced」 imitation of a 「real」 hawker food center, Food Republic in VivoCity, Singapore’s largest mall to date. Not that the food wasn’t delicious, but if I was to have the true hawker experience, I would have to leave air-conditioning behind and hit the streets, where it all began. Lucky for me, I had Carol, and her husband, Zac, to lead the way.

Singapore’s cuisine is as diverse as its culture. It’s an extension of Malay cuisine but influenced by the Chinese — not to mention the Indians, Arabs, British, and other settlers who have contributed to making Singapore one of the world’s most important trading ports.

Hawker food centers — urban food courts — arose in the 1960s through the 』80s, when the government consolidated street food vendors and relocated them to facilities with more sanitary conditions. These epicurean epicenters have since become an integral part of modern Singaporean life — and one of the must-do items for visitors, even if their experience is limited to one of the replications near tourist attractions, like the Singapore Flyer.

Many people new to Singaporean cuisine start with what some regard as the 「national dish」: Hainanese chicken rice, in which poached chicken is served with cucumber, coriander, and a chili-soy-sesame sauce alongside ginger- and garlic-infused rice. But to really understand Singapore, you must push past this 「entry level」 dish.

Fatman Satay at the Lau Pa Sat hawker center. (Photograph by Jeroen Elfferich, Flickr)

「Basically, Singapore is all about food,」 Zac told me as he drove Carol and me to Chomp Chomp Food Centre, away from Singapore’s postmodern skyline in the suburbs of Serangoon Gardens. I had heard good things about Chomp Chomp from many of the Singaporeans I’d encountered — including Zac, a local restaurateur with a discerning palate.

When we arrived, Zac zipped around to various food stalls and brought back an impressive assortment of dishes: chili squid, luak (oyster omelet), fried bee hoon (rice vermicelli) with prawns, and chai tao kway, a savory dish of radishes cut into cubes and sautéed with eggs, chilies, and spices. I managed to find room in my stomach to sample it all and even squeezed in some room for what Chomp Chomp is famous for: barbecued sting ray.

Most dishes in the vast array of Singaporean cuisine can be found in any proper food center, but particular food stalls have elevated their specialty dish to destination status.

Avid foodies flock to Chomp Chomp Food Centre for its sting ray, but head to Old Airport Road Food Centre for lor mee (thick, flat noodles mixed with a special spicy and savory gravy), or East Coast Seafood Centre for another one of Singapore’s signature dishes, Sri Lankan crab smothered in a sweet and savory sauce of egg, tomato, chilies, and other spices.

I endured long queues to sample some of these hyped-up hawker stalls during my stay, but a week was hardly enough time to develop any real discernment. Not that it mattered; I was impressed with all of the dishes I tried — from easy-to-swallow char kway teow at Lau Pa Sat Festival Market to high-end fare like Assam fish-head curry at Changi Village Food Centre and pig-organs soup (it’s exactly what it sounds like) from Tiong Bahru Market.

Despite easy access to a variety of good, inexpensive food (many Singaporeans rarely need to cook at home because of this), it’s not just about getting your fill at hawker food centers. These places are also rendezvous hubs for neighbors, friends, and family members to gather together and take a break from city life.

「Most of the young people in Singapore still live at home,」 Zac explained to me. 「So they come here to hang out with their friends.」

Or luak (oyster omelet). (Photograph by Erik Trinidad)

So it was with his brother Keith, who regularly spends his nights at the open-air prata stands across the way from Chomp Chomp Food Centre. Later that night, Zac, Carol, and I joined him for a post-post-meal snack and drinks to wash down the paper prata (thin fried pancakes). Despite my bulging belly, it was a fascinating glimpse at Singaporean nightlife.

I witnessed similar social scenarios in the different neighborhoods I visited each night. In Geylang, young Singaporeans gathered at a table outside a durian stand to socialize, people-watch, and simply sit and eat the tropical fruit — despite its strong odor. At Lau Pa Sat, locals and ex-pats conversed over dinner, while a Filipino cover band played on a nearby stage. I could only imagine that this was the nighttime hawker scene as it was decades ago — minus the Journey lyrics and ubiquitous glow of mobile devices, of course.

By the end of my week in Singapore, I had tasted the full spectrum of Singaporean hawker cuisine — but judging from the couple of pounds I gained, I’d say I had more than a taste. If you ever find yourself in the Southeast Asian city-state, make sure you save some room in your stomach; you won’t understand Singaporean life without it.

Erik Trinidad may be based in Brooklyn, but he spends most of his time crisscrossing the globe (he’s been to all seven continents!) in search of exotic food, high adventure, and scientific curiosities. Follow his travels on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter via @theglobaltrip.

Source: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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How Beautiful Taiwan – Offshore Islands

Taiwan's Offshore Islands

Are you looking for a place where the waters are clear, the skies are blue, and countless stars stud the sky at night? Or, would you like to wander through remote and picturesque fishing villages? Then pack your bags and visit the offshore islands of Taiwan!

Taiwan is located along the southeast coast of the Asian continent, on the fault line where the Euro-Asian and Philippine continental plates meet. This unique geographic location and frequent seismic activity not only created an extremely diversified topography and natural environment on Taiwan, but also resulted in the diverse characters of its off-shore islands. Main offshore islands include Penghu, Ludao (Green Island), Lanyu (Orchid Island), Kinmen, Matzu, Turtle Island, and Little Liuqiu. As their locations, topographical characteristics, and human activities differ; each has its own unique scenery and culture. Therefore, each island offers something different to satisfy the various needs of visitors, such as sightseeing, snorkeling, or sport fishing.

【Penghu】
The Penghu archipelago is Taiwan’s largest offshore island group, situated in the straits that separate Taiwan from China. Penghu is made up of 90 small islands with a combined coastline that stretches more than 320 kilometers. Each season brings its own particular scenery, and rich natural and cultural resources can be found here. The landscape here is characterized by basaltic rocks, coral reefs, sea-eroded formations, and beaches, while the fishing culture and migratory birds add extra dimensions to the picture.

【Ludao】

Ludao, also known as Green Island, is located some 33 kilometers off the coast of Taitung in eastern Taiwan. It is a volcanic island where winds blow and waters eat away at the rocks all year round, creating a beautiful and diverse coast.

【Lanyu】
Lanyu, or Orchid Island, is situated off the southeastern coast of Taiwan; like Ludao, its neighbor to the north, it was raised from the sea by the accumulation of volcanic lava. It has a moist and rainy climate, and its mountain areas (which occupy most of the island) are covered with dense rain forests that are filled with a great variety of plant and animal life. Coral reefs decorate the surrounding seas, and the Japan Current which flows past brings in large numbers of fish. This makes Lanyu a paradise for fishermen and skin divers. The island is inhabited mainly by people of the Yami tribe, the most primitive of  Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, who still keep much of their traditional culture and lifestyle. Their traditional stone houses were built mostly underground to avoid extremes of temperature as well as the ravages of typhoons. The Flying Fish and Boat Launching festivals are seen nowhere else on earth. In addition to savoring the beautiful island scenery, you can also enjoy a glimpse into the fascinating Yami culture during your trip to Lanyu.

【Kinmen】
Lying just 2,100 meters off the coast of China at the nearest point, this hilly island is composed mostly of granite and has a history that derives largely from war. It can, therefore, be termed a “battlefield island,” and it possesses unique battlefield scenery. Kinmen also contains numerous traces of history, and the government has designated 21 historic sites within its small area. It also has large numbers of houses built in the traditional southern Fujianese three-sided courtyard style, giving it a rich ancient atmosphere.

【Matsu】
Situated in the northeast corner of the Taiwan Straits and separated from China by only a narrow strip of water, Matsu, like Kinmen to the south, is also made up largely of granite. Its scenery consists of sea-eroded terrain, natural sand and pebble beaches, sand dunes, precipitous cliffs, and other scenic features. In addition to its beautiful jagged coastline and the migratory birds that pass through Matsu also offers traditional eastern Fujian villages built on mountainsides as well as defensive fortifications built by the military.

【Guishan Island (Turtle Island)】
This small, solitary island located about 10 kilometers off the coast of Toucheng in Yilan County has a volcanic terrain that, from certain angles, looks like a turtle floating in the sea. Among the features of the island are high cliffs, steaming fumaroles, welling underwater hot springs, mountain peaks, sea-eroded caves, a lake, and unique cliff vegetation, as well as rich marine ecological resources. It is a perfect place to study volcanic terrain and the natural ecology.

【Little Liuqiu】
Lying in the sea about 14 kilometers to the southwest of Donggang in Pingtung County, Little Liuqiu is the only one of Taiwan’s numerous offshore islands that is composed of coral. Three special features make this island unique: the finest location for viewing the sunset, the most species of coral, and a terrain made up of coral. Strange coral rock formations stand throughout the island, and its ocean scenery is entrancing. This is a fishing island whose inhabitants are intensely religious; there are many temples here, each with its own unique features and special attractions.

If you are longing for a peaceful holiday on an island, Little Liuqiu should be at the top of your list of choices. Let the clear transparent sea water, blue skies, and interesting local folk customs and cultures entertain your eyes and enrich your mind!

Source : Taiwan

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How Beautiful Taiwan Ecotourism

If you want to know how beautiful Taiwan really is, you have to come and see for yourself. You will be amazed at the diversity of ancient species this beautiful and relatively young island has to offer. Come and explore its numerous mountains, forests, wetlands and oceans, and find an incredible collection of natural ecosystems.

Taiwan lies off the southeast coast of the Asian Continent, where the tropical and subtropical zones come together. Surrounded by the sea and dominated by high mountains created by tectonic action over the eons, the country features a full range of climates and terrains from the tropical to the frigid. The variations in weather, geology, and elevation give Taiwan an unparalleled richness of flora and fauna, including many endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world. Taiwan is, in fact, a northern-hemisphere microcosm and natural treasure house that, truly, must be seen to be believed.

Coastal Regions】

Taiwan is surrounded by oceans and therefore has a long coastline, which offers different sceneries wherever you go. The West Coast mainly consists of sand dunes, sand beaches, sand bars and lagoons, and its straight coastline is rather monotonous. The East Coast on the contrary presents a dramatic coastline of towering cliffs that almost directly descend into the deep sea. The coastal plains here are very narrow. The rock formations at the North Coast alternate with beautiful bays and offer the most varied coastal landscape of Taiwan, while the South Coast mainly consists of coral reefs. The offshore islands of Taiwan also offer a great variety of geographical landscapes that are characteristic for the region, such as the basaltic rocks of the Penghu islands, the granite rocks of Kinmen, and the marine erosions of Matzu.

【Flora and Fauna】

Yushan National Park

Taiwan harbors a great diversity of organic life, and some variations are rarely found elsewhere in the world. An example is the black forest similar to that in Germany, with vegetation going back 30 to 60 million years, such as Taxus sumatrana, mangrove, Taiwan isoetes, and the rare high-altitude grass plains. The world’s oldest amphibian, the Formosan salamander, can also be found here, as well as the Formosan black bear, the Mikado pheasant and the land-locked salmon. The beautiful azalea, cherry blossom and maple leaf are also subjects of admiration. If you want to experience this diverse animal and plant life, consider a visit to one of Taiwan’s national scenic areas, national parks or forests, or nature reserves, as these form the most ideal outdoor natural resource learning opportunities in Taiwan.

Taiwan’s national parks, including Yangming Mountain (Yangmingshan), Taroko, Yu Mountain (Yushan), Shei-Pa, Kending (Kenting), Kinmen, Dongsha Atoll, and Taijiang, form the back garden of Taiwan and in themselves are natural treasure-houses. Next to beautiful sceneries, they provide the shelter to unique animal and plant life, including insects, fish, and birds. The natural reserves actually form miniature ecosystems that not only provide a protected environment but also offer a great alternative for recreational activities, environmental education and academic research. Here, visitors can get away from their hectic lives in the city and enjoy the serene environment.

 

You can also come to Taiwan to watch its numerous species of butterflies and birds.

【Butterflies】

Some 17,000 different species of butterflies are known around the world; almost 400 can be seen in Taiwan, 50 of which are endemic to the island. There are many different sites where you can go to watch them dance in the air, including Doll Valley in Wulai near Taipei, Yangming Mountain (Yangmingshan) National Park, Mt. Jiaoban, and Mt.Lala along the Northern Cross-Island Highway, Qilan near Taipingshan (Ta-ping Mountain) , Guguan, Li Mountain (Lishan) , and Cuifeng along the Central Cross-Island Highway, Nanshan River and Huisun Forest near Puli, Shanlin River (Sunlinksea) in Nantou County, Butterfly Valley in Maolin near Kaohsiung County, Sheding Park and Nanren Mountain (Nanrenshan) in Kending (Kenting) , and Butterfly Valley in Taitung.

【Birds】

Yushan National Park

Because of its warm and humid climate, Taiwan has extremely rich vegetation which attracts many birds. Located at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, it is also a favorite resting area for migrating birds. Resident and migrating birds total some 440 species, and endemic birds such as the black-faced spoonbill and the Sterna leucoptera can be seen here. Sites for watching these migrating birds include the Guandu swamplands in the northern Taiwan, Yilan swamplands, mouth of the Exit Dadu River in the central Taiwan and Gaopin River in the southern Taiwan. Other bird-watching sites are the Penghu islands, Matzu, Wulai, Mt. Hehuan, Xitou, Ali Mountain (Alishan), Yangming Mountain (Yangmingshan) National Park, Yu Mountain (Yushan) National Park, Shei-Pa National Park, Taroko National Park, Kending (Kenting) National Park, Kinmen National Park, Taijiang National Park, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, and East Coast and the East Rift Valley National Scenic Areas.

 

【Marine Life】

As Taiwan is surrounded by oceans, marine life and other oceanic resources are abundant and diverse. The clear waters and warm climate of Kending (Kenting) and Lu Island (Green Island), for example, provide the ideal environment for colorful and peculiarly shaped coral reefs. These not only form the architecture of the undersea world, but also provide the shelter for all kinds of tropical fish. On Wang-an Island in Penghu, as well as Lanyu in Taitung County, you can even see the green sea turtles coming to the shore to lay its eggs. Along Taiwan’s East Coast, particularly off the coast of Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung, more than 60% of all whale and dolphin species that are found in Taiwan can be spotted. You can choose to take one of the boat trips that are organized in this area. While listening to the introduction by professional whale spotters, the chance of seeing these extraordinary creatures is as high as 90%.

Source : Taiwan

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The Best Travel Gadgets

Traveling nowadays for most people is almost unimaginable without a high-tech gadget of some sort, most often including cameras, charging systems, bluetooth speakers, heart monitors, travel adapters, and so on. Some are pretty high-tech and very expensive, while others cost only a couple of bucks, but are still very useful.

Franklin 12-language (Speaking) Global Translator

The Franklin Translator is a handy little device, that can do a great job for you whenever you are traveling abroad. It is a compact, lightweight gadget, weighing about 6 ounces, and it’s 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. It’s main function is translation of words and phrases to and from 12 languages, including: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japan, Korean, Polish, and Dutch.

Franklin 12-language

It features a 3-inch diagonal LCD screen, and you can uncover the QWERTY keyboard if you slide up the top half of the Franklin Translator. You just have to type in the word you want to translate, and it will immediately show you the results in the target language. There are 450,000 words stored in it, along with 12,000 phrases, divided in several categories, such as business or medicine. Apart from the translation function, you can use it as an MP3 player, or as a currency converter. It costs $229.95, and it’s a pretty smart purchase considering it may help you get out of an inconvenient situation, for example if you get pick pocketed and you have to explain to the police what was stolen from you, or if you are having health issues and need to go to the doctor’s and tell them what’s wrong with you, or simply need to ask for directions to a museum or a restaurant, which could prove quite helpful if you are not traveling in your car that comes with a GPS navigation system.

Garmin Fenix Outdoor Watch

This is a travel gadget for those who like to have more active, adventurous holidays instead of just laying on the beach or reading books in a hotel room. This watch has various features that come in handy for people who like hiking, running, swimming or biking. It is waterproof up to 50 meters, with built-in GPS and ABC functions, so you can get precise information about your location, while the altimeter provides you with exact information about your elevation when hiking, and you can monitor temperature and atmospheric pressure through the built-in barometer. There is also a heart rate monitor, speed sensor and temperature gauge, and you can save and share the data on your smartphone or tablet. This cool and practical gadget will set you back about $400.

 

Garmin Fenix Outdoor Watch

Walkin’ Bag

The Walkin’ Bag may not be a high-tech device like the Garmin Fenix Watch, but is every bit as useful. It’s a carry-on bag that can be transformed into a chair or a desk. The bag, that you can get for $225, has a 2,604 cubic inches capacity, and weighs a little under 10 pounds. It has 4 wheels, so you’ll have no trouble pulling it along those long, crowded airport terminals. If your flight or train is delayed and you have to wait for it for a couple of hours, you can just unfold the seat and take a breather, or turn the bag into a desk and put your laptop on it.

 

Walkin’ Bag

 

Source: Trip&Travel

 

 

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What to see in Iran , The Bridge of 33 arches of Isfahan

Less than knowing how to read the making, as distinct from the Arabic, I prefer to use the transliteration, Si-o-se Pol, the original سی و سه پل. Bridge of 33 arches is the meaning of the name of this bridge, one of the eleven bridges in the city of Isfahan, with over a million and a half inhabitants in central Iran.Bridge of 33 arches of Isfahan

The bridge is often taken as an example of architecture in vogue when Iran was ruled by the Safavid dynasty, which ruled that Shiism as the state religion. The initial project was that the inside of the arches placed at the pedestrian level were painted, but then it all came to nothing due to the resistance of a religious nature.

Walking on Bridge of 33 arches of Isfahan

Front of Bridge of 33 arches of Isfahan

Bridge of 33 arches of Isfahan, Iran

Built between 1599 and 1602, the bridge of 33 arches is almost 300 meters long, 13 meters wide, and allows the passage over the waters of the Zayanderud, which runs for 400 kilometers before emptying into the salt lake Gavkhouni.

Bridge of 33 arches of Isfahan, night view

In pedestals on which sustain the arches of the bridge are located the local pools, where you can eat, drink tea and smoke the Galyan, the Persian version of the nargileh.

By Nikos K

Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Source: trip&travel

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