Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thailand on the Map

World's Best

Thailand On The Map

Thailand on the map

Thinking about heading east for Christmas or the New Year? Rick Jordan rounds up the latest luxury options from north to south

Traveling guide from North To South In Thailand.

By Rick Jordan

Bangkok Guide:
The cultural and commercial centre of Thailand.

Best Asian Spa:

Conde Nast Readers Name the Best Places to Go, Where to Stay, and How to Get There

Conde Nast Readers Name the Best Places to Go, Where to Stay, and How to Get There
By Libby Zay

October 20, 2009

Conducted since 1988, Conde Nast Traveler magazine's Readers' Choice Awards is one of the most esteemed in the industry. Over 25,000 travelers were polled this year, each ranking the best-of-the-best when it comes to places to go, where to stay, and how to get there.

Here is the partial list:

Top 20 Scores
01. (Resort) Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, 98.9
02. (Hotel) Peninsula House, Dominican Republic, 98.6
03. (Hotel) Blanket Bay, South Island, New Zealand, 98.3
04. (Hotel) La Scalinatella, Capri, 97.3
05. (Resort) King Pacific Lodge, British Columbia, 97.8
06. (Hotel) 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, 97.2
06. (Hotel) La Colombe d'Or, St-Paul de Vence, France, 97.2
06. (Hotel) Oberoi Udaivilas, Rajasthan, 97.2
06. (Resort) Oberoi Vanyavilas, Rajasthan, 97.2
10. (Resort) Mombo And Little Mobo Camps, Botswana, 97.1
11. (Hotel) Il San Pietro Di Positano, Positano, 97
12. (Hotel) Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, 96.8
13. (Hotel) The Peninsula, Hong Kong, 96.5
13. (Resort) Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Bali, 96.5
15. (Resort) One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, 96.4
16. (Hotel) Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden, Dresden, 96.3
16. (Hotel) The Saxon, Johannesburg, 96.3
18. (Resort) Sandibe Safari Lodge, Botswana, 96.2
19. (Hotel) Grand Hotel A Villa Fel Trinell, Lake Garda, Italy, 96.1
19. (Hotel) Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Tuscany, 96.1

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The 10 Best Retiement Havens.

In Pictures: The 10 Best Retirement Havens
By Richard C. Morais

© Inti St. Clair/Getty Images


Elegant architecture, classical music, trams that run. Vienna offers the highest quality of life on the globe, according to Mercer, and medical insurers say its private clinics are world-class. Salzburg, Graz and Kitzb├╝hel and surrounding hamlets have much to offer those who love mountains and the outdoors. Look at Austria as a lower-cost Switzerland.

Downside: no Mediterranean-style love of life. Icy reserve.


Warmly welcoming of retirees and ideal for seniors on modest budgets, Thailand has everything from bungalows on Phuket's blue lagoons to urban living in bustling Bangkok. Considered Asia's best buy for quality health care at reasonable costs. But the good private hospitals are in Bangkok, so make sure your retreat on the water is within three hours of the capital.

Downside: unpredictable politics.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

World Most Beautiful Sunset. #2

Rudy Maxa, TV personality, travel journalist: Ban Talae Nok, Thailand
© Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa, TV personality, travel journalist: Ban Talae Nok, Thailand

Beautiful sunsets aren't just about the sun. Surroundings, and even local history, add to the experience. Rudy Maxa recalls a recent visit to Ban Talae Nok, Thailand, a small community that lost more than 200 villagers in the 2004 tsunami, including 16 schoolchildren who were playing near the beach. Today, a new school stands out of harm's way high on a hill. And every evening at sunset, Maxa says, "a herd of wild water buffalo go down to the deserted beach and pause as if not sure they want to get their feet wet. Then, as the sun threatens to sink into the Andaman Sea, they step gingerly into the small waves and begin wallowing in neck-high water for about 15 minutes. It's one of the most unusual sunsets I've ever seen."

Rudy Maxa is host and executive producer of Rudy Maxa's World, which airs on Travel Channel International.

World 25th Sexiest Beach 2009

Phang Nga Bay, Phuket, Thailand

Thailand runs the gamut in terms of sexiness: There’s everything from romantic seclusion to all-night barely clothed partying. No one can argue with the beauty of the stunningly scenic Phang Nga Bay, where giant limestone formations spike dramatically out of the jade waters. National Park protection has guarded the area against creeping over-development.

SEE ALSO: The World's Best Cruises, Period

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

507-Carat Rough Diamond Found

507-Carat Rough Diamond Found
by Deidre Woollard (RSS feed) Sep 29th 2009 at 10:02PM

It looks like a chunk of clouded ice but the stone shown at right is a 507-carat rough diamond found at the Petra Diamonds Cullinan Mine in South Africa. The 507.55 carat stone is believed to be of exceptional color and clarity, and is most likely a Type II diamond. The rough was found as part of a run that also included a 168-carat piece of rough and two other stones of 58.5 and 53.3 carats. A lucky day indeed, the stone is one of the top 20 largest high-quality rough diamonds ever found making it incredibly rare.

The Cullinan Mine has yielded some of the world's great diamonds including the largest "gem-quality" stone ever recovered, the "Cullinan," 3,106 carats rough, and was the source for the Golden Jubilee, at 755 carats rough, and the Centenary, at 599 carats rough. Cullinan also produced the piece of rough that became the Taylor-Burton diamond, a stone that is 69 carats polished. The diamonds will be analyzed by a team of experts and then the long process of determining how to best cut them can begin.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary Queen Of Scots' Last Letter.

When I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, I visited the Edinburgh Castle and saw Mary Queen Of Scots' bed. Several years later, I read "Mary Queen Of Scots" (1969) by Lady Antonia Fraser and it took me back to the Edinburgh's trip and feeling of absolute awe, of wonder, of humility.

FILE - In this June 2006 file photo, visitors, some with audio guide headsets, learn all about Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.
(AP Photo/Jeannette Goldstein, file)

Here is another story reminding me of the cold summer days in Edinburgh in 1965.

Last letter of Mary Queen of Scots appears briefly
Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:17am ED

By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - At 2 a.m. on a frigid February morning in 1587, Mary Queen of Scots sat at her table and penned a last letter before her execution in the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle in the English midlands.

"Tonight, after dinner, I have been advised of my sentence: I am to be executed like a criminal at eight in the morning," she wrote to her brother-in-law, the king of France.

Fragile with age but in remarkably good condition, the letter by one of the great tragic figures of Scottish history is making a rare appearance until Sept 21 at the National Library of Scotland.

Library spokesman Bruce Blacklaw said the library wanted to promote a new visitors' center and bring to public view treasures tucked away in the library's vaults.

"What we wanted to do is bring people in...There's no better way than to get one of the real iconic treasures from Scottish history out to be seen," he said.

He added Mary's last letter was unlikely to emerge again from its dark air-conditioned safe for "a long time."

In 1603, Mary's son James VI of Scotland acceded to the English throne as James I on the death of Elizabeth I, thus uniting England and Scotland under one monarch.

Mary's remains lie in London's Westminster Abbey, conveyed there by her son. Continued...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Move Over Myspace.

Brothers Reunited After 70 Years
AOL News
posted: 6 HOURS 52 MINUTES AGO
comments: 36
filed under: National News

(Aug. 4) - Two brothers separated as infants have been reunited after 70 years -– thanks to Facebook.

John Mellinger, of Spokane, Wash., had known since boyhood that he was adopted. When he was in his 40s, he tried to trace his birth parents. He was able to track down an aunt -- who told him that he had a brother. But then his search stalled.

Remarkable Reunions
Dan Pelle, The Spokesman Review / AP

Seven decades after they were separated, brothers John Mellinger, left, and Dan Newburn met again July 22. Newburn, 71, of Las Vegas, contacted Mellinger, 70, of Spokane, Wash., via Facebook. Their teenage mom gave the brothers up in 1939 in Boise, Idaho. They were adopted by different families.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Global Protest.

Protesters Demand Iran End Clampdown

LONDON -Protesters around the world called on Iran Saturday to end its clampdown on opposition activists, demanding the release of hundreds rounded up during demonstrations against the country's disputed election.
Groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International backed a global day of action, with protests planned in more than 80 cities, including several in the United States.
The protesters want Iranian authorities to release what they say are hundreds, or even thousands, of people detained during protests that followed the presidential election last month that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Global Citizens.: Enlightened Next Magazine.

Global Citizens.: Enlightened Next Magazine.

Enlightened Next Magazine.

Extreme sport spiritual experience.
The closest that I came to experience spiritual and uplifting feeling was a few times when I was at the top of Heavenly Valley and Sqauw Valley ski trails. Fresh clean air, snow all around with only a narrow trails to ski on, blight blue skies, white clouds, green forest and gorgeous Lake Tahoe down below. That was quite an experience!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 1:13pm
Big Wave Surfing (Think About This #64)
by Megan Cater • 25 Comments

The following excerpt from the movie Riding Giants features Laird Hamilton, considered by many to be the greatest big wave surfer ever, pulling off a move that stunned the professional surfing world.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Myanmar: Collapse of an Ancient Pagoda

Myanmar: Collapse of an Ancient Pagoda
By Global Voices Online • on June 4, 2009

An ancient pagoda (2300 years old) collapsed while it was going under renovation, killing at least 5 people, injuring many workers and pilgrims.

Collapsed Danoke Pagoda (from New Era Journal)

The 180-foot Danoke Pagoda is situated in Dala Township, which is across the Yangon
River, in Yangon Division. The pagoda was originally damaged during Cyclone Nargis, so it had been going under renovation.

Just on May 7th, 2009, there had been an umbrella-hoisting ceremony at Danoke Pagoda, which was attended by military leader Senior General Than Shwe’s wife.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Room With a Zoo

On Travel Section - MSN:

A Room With a Zoo

Check out these lodgings where you can get up close and personal with creatures of every stripe.
1 of 15 images
Fishbowl in a Kimpton's Hotel Monaco guestroom (© John Dziekan/Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants)
A Room With a Zoo

These hotels aren't just pet-friendly properties: They're wild about animals, from dogs you can borrow while you're in town to live-in seals and resident giraffes.

All Kimpton hotels nationwide ( welcome pets and present them with toys as well as in-room bowls and beds. Guests staying at Kimpton's Monaco Hotels get an extra treat: They can borrow a complimentary goldfish for the duration of their stay. Even better, there's no need to clean the bowl or feed the frisky, finned friends: With the "Guppy Love" program, the hotel staff does it all. Even, we suppose, flushing away any fish that have permanently checked out.

Slide show text by Harriet Baskas; photo editing by Connie Ricca.

Harriet Baskas writes regularly about airports, air travel and other adventures for and and on her "Stuck at the Airport" blog,

A Room With a Zoo

Check out these lodgings where you can get up close and personal with creatures of every stripe.
2 of 15 images
Koko the parrot at the Southern Palms Beach Club, Barbados (© Southern Palms Beach Club)

A Room With a Zoo

A parrot named Koko has been living at the Southern Palms Beach Club in Barbados ( for at least 45 years. She has a limited vocabulary, but is reportedly a good listener. "Especially," says managing director Britta Pollard, "if you sing to her." Pollard says that many years ago, Koko was sent to a zoo aviary to be near other birds, but she got sick there and recovered only when she returned to the hotel environment.

A Room With a Zoo

Check out these lodgings where you can get up close and personal with creatures of every stripe.
3 of 15 images
Turtle on beach outfitted with tracking device for the Turtle Rehabilitation Unit, Madinat Jumeirah–Mina A'Salam Resort, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (© Jumeirah LLC 2009)

In Dubai, a turtle rehabilitation unit based at the Madinat Jumeirah-Mina A'Salam Resort (
) helps save dozens of sick turtles each year. Scientists or local residents who find the animals in the water or on the shoreline have brought many large green turtles and smaller hawksbill turtles to the center. Guests are welcome to visit while the animals recover in a special swimming pen at the hotel. Once rehabilitated, the turtles are returned to their natural habitat.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009,

Earth Hour 2009, Saturday March 28, 8:30pm



Turn off your lights for Earth Hour, record your vote and share it with the world! Here's how:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wall Street slides to 12-year low

Wall Street slides to 12-year low
Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:03pm EST

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street slumped to a 12-year low on Monday as investors lost faith that the U.S. government will be able to stabilize the financial system.

The S&P 500 and the Dow both posted their lowest closes since the spring of 1997 as reports the government may convert its stake in Citigroup into a big common stock holding fell short of what many see as necessary to fix big banks.

"It is generally a market 'no' vote to what we're getting from Washington," said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust Co in Philadelphia, of the reaction to the Citigroup news.
"It certainly doesn't inspire confidence when you do break multi-year lows, so it's just feeding into a real negative cycle that we're in right now," he said.

Adding to the bleak picture, CNBC reported that insurer American International Group could be forced into bankruptcy if new rescue talks with the government fail to secure it more funding.
The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 250.73 points, or 3.40 percent, to 7,114.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 26.71 points, or 3.47 percent, to 743.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index skidded 53.51 points, or 3.71 percent, to 1,387.72.

In addition, worries about a decline in business and consumer spending on technology hurt the biggest names in the tech sector. IBM and Hewlett-Packard were the two of the biggest drags on the Dow industrials, with IBM shedding 5.0 percent to $84.37 and Hewlett-Packard sliding 6.3 percent to $29.28 a share.

The market capitalization of the Dow fell $77.1 billion on Monday. The index is down nearly 50 percent from its record high close in October 2007, with about $10 trillion of value in wiped out since then.

So far this year, the Dow has fallen 18.9 percent while the S&P 500 has shed 17.7 percent and the Nasdaq has dropped 12 percent.

The blue-chip index is down nearly 50 percent from its record close in October 2007.

Fears that some major U.S. banks could be nationalized continued to drag on sentiment on Monday, as stocks briefly came off lows after the White House reiterated that a privately held banking system regulated by the government was still the best way to operate.

As the only boosts to the Dow, Citigroup and Bank of America were up 9.7 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, after having fallen more than 35 percent each on Friday.

Helping to fuel the tech slide was a Morgan Stanley downgrade of its PC sales forecasts for 2009 and 2010, citing lower prices and weaker-than-expected demand for PCs given the rising sales of netbooks, which are cheaper, no-frills notebook computers.

Apple Inc, down nearly 5 percent to $86.95, was the primary drag on Nasdaq.

After the closing bell, JP Morgan announced it will slash its quarterly dividend to 5 cents a share from 38 cents, saying that will enable it to retain an additional $5 billion in common equity per year. Shares rose 1 percent to $19.70 in extended trade. Continued...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Old Manuscript.

An undated handout photo released to Reuters February 6, 2009 ...
Fri Feb 6, 7:58 AM ET

An undated handout photo released to Reuters February 6, 2009 shows an ancient manuscript which authorities in northern Cyprus believe is an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus. The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old. Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript, and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a fake.

To match Reuters Life! CYPRUS-BIBLE/ (Kibris/Handout/Reuters)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

10 New Amphibian Species Discovered

10 New Amphibian Species Discovered

posted: 9 HOURS 27 MINUTES AGO

WASHINGTON (Feb. 2) - Ten new species of amphibians -- including three kinds of poisonous frogs and three transparent-skinned glass frogs -- have been discovered in the mountains of Colombia, conservationists said Monday.

With amphibians under threat around the globe, the discovery was an encouraging sign and reason to protect the area where they were found, said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert at the environmental group Conservation International, which made the find.

Marco Rada, Conservation International Colombia

Conservationists discovered 10 new species of amphibians -- mostly frogs -- in a mountainous area of Colombia. This is a rain frog, one of two new kinds of rain frogs spotted on the expedition by the group Conservation International.