Travel Tips from Around the World

AFRICAThe best adventure. The newest natural thrill available in South Africa is the underwater shark watching. Four shark spotters at one time can spend three hours in sturdy cages, watching the great whites circling in search of prey. Contact Exotic Drive Tours, 45 Rosmead Ave., Kenilworth, Cape Town 7700The best Java. Kenya produces the best coffee in the world and is one of the world’s leading exporters of Arabica coffee. The Coffee Board of Kenya, Mama Ngina Street, serves the most tempting coffee in town, as well as light snacks. A light snack consists of coffee, mandazi (fried dough) and samosa (meat pie in the Indian fashion as interpreted by Kenyan cooks). Coffee was introduced to Kenya by the French Holy Ghost Fathers (who liked a good cup of coffee) in the 1890s. It was developed in the region north of Nairobi. African farmers were forbidden to grow coffee until 1954. It is now Kenya’s main export crop (which causes problems when the coffee crop fails). The berries are handpicked twice a year. The second leading export crop is tea. Today the region around Limuru supports more than 100,000 African smallholders, who grow enough tea to make Kenya the third-largest producer in the world, after India and Sri Lanka.CENTRAL ASIAThe best travel tip of all for the countries ending in “stan” Don’t forget to carry a roll of toilet paper with you. It is not yet common in Central Asia. Bathrooms may be quite a shock. Potable water is also a problem in Kazahkstan. Don’t drink the tap water. And limit your locally bottled mineral water intake, because it can be very salty. Bottled soda and juices are your best bet; they’re plentiful. Drink boiled water when possible; carry a canteen with you and fill it with boiled water at every opportunity. Carry iodine tablets for when none of the above is available and Lomotil just in case.CHINAThe old Red Light district Until 1949, the area west of People’s Park, off Fuzhou Road, was the heart of Shanghai’s world-famous red-light district known as Blood Alley. Before it was cleared out, it was inhabited by thousand of opium addicts and prostitutes. Liberation Lane alone, then known as Meet-With-Happiness Lane, had 34 brothels worked by more than 1,000 women. From 1949 until 1954, the brothels and opium dens were closed, the prostitutes given new work and new identities and the addicts detoxified.MACAUThe best gambling tables in Asia-and the ugliest hotel in the world. Macau is famous for its casinos. The biggest is the Casino de Lisboa, avenida da Amizade, in the Lisboa Hotel. The Lisboa is probably the ugliest hotel in the world, designed to look like a roulette wheel, which it wears like a crown upon its head. The Macau Palace, known as the Floating Casino, is a more exotic place to gamble. This red and gilded Chinese boat is moored on the inner harbor off avenida de Almeida Riveiro. Games include both those familiar to Westerners, such as blackjack and Chinese games, such as dai-siu and keno. Slot machines are known locally as “hungry tigers”.The best place to honeymoon. Macau’s Pousada de Sao Tiago, avenida da Republica; became a hotel in 1980-it was built 350 years ago as a fortress (the Fortaleza da Barra). Every historical feature was preserved during the transformation, including the Portuguese marble, hand-painted tiles, ancient stonewalls, gentle cascades, hand-carved mahogany and even the trees that shade the multi-level terraces. Overlooking the South China Sea, enveloped in warm, salty breezes, the pousada is an ideal romantic hideaway, perfect for a honeymoon. You could have your wedding here too-small weddings can be arranged in the chapel (which holds only 15 people). The pousada is complete with restaurants, gardens, a pool and reading rooms-you never need to venture beyond its grounds. The pousada has 20 rooms and three suites, starting at $125 a night.MEXICOThe world’s grandest canyon-and most exciting train ride. Chihuahua’s Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) is four times larger and 300 feet deeper than the U.S. Grand Canyon. Its mountain peaks rise 10,000 feet and its valleys drop 1,500 feet. Until 1961, when the Chihuahua al Pacifico train line opened, the canyon was inaccessible and known only to the isolated Tarahumara Indians living in caves. The train line climbs from sea level at Los Mochis on the Pacific to 8,000 feet before descending to Chihuahua. It passes the most spectacular scenery in Mexico-sheer cliffs that change color as the sun sets, giant rock formations, deep gorges and mountain peaks. You can catch the train every day in Chihuahua at 7 a.m. or in Los Mochis at 6 a.m. The cost of a one-way trip from start to finish is $80.The best place to stay in the canyon is the Hotel Cabanas Divisadero-Barrancas, in Divisadero, midway along the route. This rustic log-cabin hotel is perched on the rim of the canyon and affords dizzying views. Several Indian families live in caves nearby. These timid people sell handwoven baskets, wood carvings and necklaces. Surrounding the hotel are trails that the Indians follow to the bottom of the canyon, 5,000 feet below.The best place to hear the flutter of butterfly wings. A three-hour drive from San Miguel de Allende is the colorful old mining town of Angangueo. And only an hour from Angangueo, up a steep, unpaved road, is the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, now open to the public. The park’s 12,000 acres became a protected area in 1986 in response to warnings from conservation groups that the logging operations threatened to destroy the area’s unique butterfly habitat and migration site. The butterflies seclude themselves in the abies religiosas (a type of fir tree) at the summit of the 10,000 foot climb. When you climb to the top, you are overwhelmed by the noise created by the fluttering wings of 10 million butterflies.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.