Tourism Thailand has announced wildlife conservation and care for animals like elephants and dogs is improving. This is music to the ears of animal advocates.
Organisations and individuals have made great strides to improve the state of Thailand wildlife.
On this, the media release stated:
“… a priority for authorities is preserving Thailand’s remaining forest cover and returning some developed areas back to a wild state.”
Elephants and Thailand wildlife
We haven’t travelled to Thailand, but friends have. They adore the place for its beauty, wildlife and friendly locals. Our fellow travellers share that visitors must be vigilant when researching an ‘elephant sanctuary’ to visit. If you’re here, you should know NOT to visit anywhere that offers elephant rides.
Encouraging responsible travel
Elephants have been mistreated here for a long time. Yet the elephant is Thailand’s national symbol. Thoughtless visitors have fuelled the demand for elephant rides and entertainment. This in much the same way as donkeys are used in Santorini Greece for riding up to see the sunset.
Thankfully, ‘aware’ travellers and tourism destination operators are spreading more positive messages about animal welfare and doing the right thing.
Land regeneration and poaching
Elephants need large wild areas to thrive. That’s why there is a renewed focus on regenerating the land for them. To counter poaching, the government plans a database of every domesticated elephant’s genetic information.
The plan is to stop poachers from taking wild baby elephants and claiming them as offspring of domesticated elephants. The government is also scrutinising elephant camps for any mistreatment.
Elephant conservation efforts
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) has been caring for elephants in a forested area south of Chiang Mai since 1993. Conservation is the key, and TECC operates an onsite elephant hospital and manages a mobile clinic. The TECC teaches visitors to appreciate elephants and has pioneered conservation and research in Thailand.
Phang Nga Elephant Park is a family-run eco-business north of Phuket. Here, visitors interact with elephants in a respectful way. No dancing and circus tricks!
“Public awareness about elephants is the aim. Through human-elephant interaction people learn to respect and practice responsible elephant tourism.”
Elephants World in Kanchanaburi and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) are also positively contributing to the rehabilitation of animals and reforestation.
Dogs in Thailand
The Soi Dog Foundation started in Phuket in 2003 to help the street dogs and cats on the island. The group is active on social media and while some images are hard to see, the awareness is critical to their efforts.
Soi provides a humane and sustainable solution to the stray population and has expanded nationwide. Work includes rescue, sheltering, medical treatment and vaccination of strays.
Keeping waterways clean
The UN reports that our global marine environment is in serious trouble. In an effort to reverse the damage, Thailand is also pushing to reduce plastic waste and conserve corals.
Organisations like the Marine Conservation Project, invite volunteers to help in their conservation efforts.
Challenges remain, but things are looking up. It’s up to us to remain vigilant. Support, share, blog about the topic, and importantly, travel responsibly wherever you are.
Got advice, an opinion or stories on this subject? Let us know in the comments.
Images and news via Tourism Thailand.
Cooper and I are both proud Queenslanders and appreciate the value of exploring the south-east, Brisbane to Gold Coast. They are not the same, by the way, but two separate cities. Brisbane is the trendy capital city of Queensland. The Gold Coast is one of the largest and fastest growing cities in Australia. But they are near to each other – Brisbane to Gold Coast by car or train is only about an hour.
While I consider England is a bit like my spiritual home, being back in Aus recently made me remember what’s so special about it, and why you should definitely do the Brisbane to Gold Coast trip.
Brisbane to Gold Coast – a sunny adventure you want to have
I’m most disappointed when people around the world tell me one of two things about why they might not travel to Queensland, Brisbane to Gold Coast or other areas of my stunning home state:
- “I don’t think I’ll get to Australia, it’s a bit far and isn’t it just the same as other places, like America, Spain, England…?”
- “I went to Queensland a few years ago and found it to be run down, and too touristy.”
But I get the myths, stereotypes and misconceptions.
Please, don’t ever write Australia and especially travel to Queensland off.
I was reminded of how contemporary and cool we are; super friendly people and a sunny vibe.
It’s worth your while. I’m inspired when I meet travellers like Geri Vladeva who dream about visiting Aus,for good reason (and she did so this year, read about her adventures)!
Let’s start again.
Brisbane to Gold Coast: city updates
After being away for four years I noticed some big changes, especially in Brisbane.
Anyone who has visited Queensland over the past 20 or 30 years tends to think Brisbane, Gold Coast and Cairns (some of the best places to go!) are a little dilapidated.
Now however, you’ll find sleek cities, lovely river walks, restaurants, bars, cool spaces to hang out and be active.
I was really impressed.
Head straight for the riverfront walk in Brisbane, or a stroll through Southbank.
And if you’ve not been to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast in a while, well, it’s totally cleaned-up, and a chic spot to visit.
Pacific Fair down the road at Broadbeach has enjoyed a significant expansion and is a premier shopping destination.
Burleigh on the Gold Coast is still beautiful too, with its glorious beaches and sophisticated restaurants and cafes.
A cultural melting pot of charm
Australia has its own charm, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Queensland.
Multicultural influence is everywhere too, particularly Asian culture.
There’s no shortage of Asian grocery stores and fusion restaurants, including Harajuku Gyoza – a smart Japanese-inspired chain developed by an Aussie foodie fan.
Brisbane city centre boasts a number of food halls dedicated to serving delicious Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Korean food. So good!
I was also surprised to find an extraordinary ‘spiritual spa’, meditation, yoga, therapies and crystals space – Chameleon New Age Salon, set across two dazzling floors in the heart of Surfers Paradise.
It was just one of the many unique offerings I found in south-east Queensland and that had me feeling truly proud and impressed.
Getting around, Brisbane to Gold Coast
Brisbane and the Gold Coast are served by international airports that are now easier to access than ever before.
The Gold Coast has developed the ‘G’ (G: link) tram which means a city that was previously quite inconvenient to navigate if you did not have a car, is now simple to access.
You can take the train from the centre of Brisbane all the way to Helensvale then catch the tram to Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. Alternatively you can easily transfer to Coolangatta airport (Gold Coast) on this line too.
Brisbane and the Gold Coast (also Cairns) receive countless flights from Asian destinations now, and Queensland is well and truly open for business.
If you buy a Go Card, you can use it on all public transport in Brisbane and across the Gold Coast. It operates like an Oyster card (London) or any other major city transport card. You can add top-up value to it, and by using a Go Card you will enjoy big discounts on your travels, so it’s worth picking one up from one of the many vendors in these cities.
Areas to visit, Brisbane to Gold Coast
I was very impressed by Brisbane – it’s a city that’s done a LOT of growing since I last lived here.
The river walk is absolutely beautiful. I’d start down in front of the Stamford Hotel and walk along past the gardens, or go left towards Hamilton. Early morning is the best time to explore and capture great pictures like the one above.
You can use a Go Card on the CityCat (ferry) too, and see the city via the Brisbane river – head one way towards the cruise terminals and Hamilton, or the other way towards my old stomping ground, the University of Queensland.
The Gold Coast – in my mind at least – consists of three major sections.
Coming in from Brisbane you hit the northern end, with its theme parks and serene suburbs like Sanctuary Cove (great for golf or boating enthusiasts) and Paradise Point.
Harbour Town outlet shopping is also in the area, and in recent years features cool additions like Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors stores.
Driving further into the city you might like to explore up-market Main Beach (not far from Sea World), the waterfront at Labrador and a stop in Surfers Paradise is a must.
Past Surfers you’ll come to Broadbeach which is a beautiful spot brimming with cool boutiques and eateries, the home to Draculas cabaret restaurant and theatre and an intense shopping experience, Pacific Fair.
Burleigh and beyond is for those who love serious beachfront landscapes – probably my favourite part of the coast, presenting the epitome of our Aussie beach lifestyle.
Australia – it is as sunny and beautiful as they say; full of characters, experience and charm. My home state is far from back-water now.
You’ll find the best of contemporary experiences here, along with an enviable way of life from the rainforest to the surf.
Heading our way for a travel adventure? Let us know in the comments if you have any questions. And of course, if you’ve discovered your own slice of fun in Queensland, we’d love it if you left your recommendations in the comments to help other travellers.
Situated only 90 minutes from Melbourne discover unlimited coastlines and seaside villages, lavishing wildlife and an array of family attractions on Phillip Island.
The breathtaking natural beauty is perfect for everyone looking for the perfect holiday vacation.
The most popular attraction here is the penguin parade. Other attractions include koala and bird sanctuaries, remarkable rock formations, historic homesteads and fine pottery shops. Sports activities here include surfing, sailing, fishing, tennis, golf and bowling.
The penguin parade at Phillip Island is an amazing natural spectacle. Every day at Summerland Beach, hundreds of little penguins waddle from the waters of Bass Strait to their burrows in the sand.
They have been doing this for many years for all seasons. On shore, the penguins spend their time preening themselves. Visitors watch them from raised boardwalks from the many penguin tours to Philip Island. Read more about a day in the life of penguins and tourists on Philip Island here, where Peter Dann comments:
“I can see quite clearly that tourism has been crucial in the protection of this colony and the visitors are playing an important role in the conservation of Phillip Island.”
Seal Rocks is located at the western end of the Phillip Island.
At Sea Rocks, you can find Australia’s largest colony of fur seals. There are about 6,000 seals indulging in activities such as playing in the surf, resting in the sun or feeding their pups on the rocks.
The peak of the breeding season is around early December; hence, it is best to watch these fur seals during this time. Visitors can watch these fur seals through telescopes in the kiosk on the top of the cliff at Point Grant.
Alternatively, they can join an organised trip to view these fur seals. There is also a large koala colony on Phillip Island.
Phillip Island has a few fantastic beaches. Cape Woolamai, with its wild surf and red cliffs, offers fine walking trails, great surfing and good bird watching.
There are some sheltered beaches on the north side. You can view Australia’s native fauna at the Koala Conservation Centre. The main town, Cowes, is located on the north coast.
In this place, you can find sheltered beaches, pubs, cafes, resorts and hotels. It is a peaceful town where you can enjoy swimming, eating and relaxing.
There is fine seafood served by restaurants. Cowes served as a tourist centre on the island.
During summer, when the number of visitors is at its peak, you can find the place extremely packed with holidaymakers and tourists.
Phillip Island is an interesting place to visit. Particularly, you can have a unique opportunity to view the amazing penguin parade.
Besides this, you can enjoy viewing fur seals, koalas, birds and Australia’s native fauna.
There are plenty of exciting activities for you to do here.
Apart from sightseeing, you can enjoy many kinds of sports activities. Explore the hidden treasures of nature that will forever be an exclusive experience you’ll ever find!
Tokyo is fascinating, cool and colourful. It’s the most populous city of Japan and is officially called Tokyo Metropolis; founded in 1943 by merging Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo.
Generally Tokyo is mentioned as a city but it is administered as a ‘metropolitan prefecture’ – that is, both city and prefecture.
The city administers 23 special wards of Tokyo – which consists of the place formerly known as the City of Tokyo – and 39 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture.
Tokyo City was ranked first by TripAdviser in terms of “overall travel experience” and it also holds the first position in different categories like “nightlife, shopping, public transportation and cleanliness of streets”.
Despite a massive population, people of Tokyo are extremely polite, and it is considered one of the safest cities in the world which makes it even more pleasurable to visit.
Well-known for being technologically advanced, Tokyo is also rich in cultural heritage and people still value traditions and constructs of their civilisation.
With so much to experience, it’s difficult to know where to begin – here is a starting list of eleven places to visit in Tokyo – a city that will inevitably end up as one of your favourite destinations in the world.
11 places to visit in Tokyo
Situated in Asakusa, this is the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo and a spot of attraction for most of the locals and foreigners interested in Buddhism or different religions of the world.
The temple is associated with Guan yin, the goddess of mercy and was formerly associated with the Tendai sect which gained independence after World War 2.
Nakamise is the oldest shopping centre in Japan and it is located near Sensoji.
There’s a huge paper lantern here, painted red and black to show thundercloud and lightning, and visitors enjoy browsing the different stalls that sell local souvenirs and snacks.
A Shinto temple dedicated to emperor Meiji and his wife Shoken. The temple has its own rituals to pay tribute to the emperor and to make wishes if one has any.
Rituals include a half bow when entering and leaving the temple, washing your left hand and right hand then left hand again and rinsing your mouth.
At the main shrine building if you want to make a wish, bow and clap twice, make a wish and then bow again.
Imperial Palace and East Garden
Imperial palace (pictured above) is the residence of the Emperor of Japan and it reflects the political history of Japan.
This palace is not open to the public except on two days which are New Year’s greetings day and the emperor’s birthday (2 January and 23 December respectively). On these two days, imperial figures make public appearances on the balcony.
The imperial gardens are the part of the inner palace and are open to the public.
Tsukiji Fish Market
This is the largest wholesale market of seafood in the whole world. It manages more than 400 categories of sea animals from cheap species to expensive ones, from tiny sardines to 400kg tunas!
The most interesting part of this market is the tuna auction which can be seen in the early hours of the day in two shifts. You’ll need to purchase tickets and they are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
If you want to experience the tuna auction it is advisable to stay near Giza so that you can get a cheap cab early in the morning because no trains are operating at this time. If you are looking for other travel discounts then check out Groupon deals.
The 634m Tokyo tower is the tallest tower in Japan and is used for television and radio broadcast across the Shinto region.
It comprises of two parts which are the Tembo deck and Tembo gallery, and there’s a shopping centre at the base.
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
A popular park of 115 acres and based on the films produced by Walt Disney, this was also the first Disney theme park outside of United States.
Tokyo Disneysea is the world’s fourth most visited park, inspired by the myths and stories of Disneyland, this park is based on seven ports of call: Mediterranean Harbour, Mystery Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, post-Discovery and American Waterfront.
This is often called the ‘sleepless town’. The name Kabukicho comes from the desire to build a theatre named Kabuki here back in in 1940.
The theatre was never built because of financial reasons but the name stuck and Kabuki-Cho is a place with lots of hotels, dance clubs and bars; famous for its entertainment spots and Red-Light District.
One of the high-end fashion centres in Japan and famous for its costly real estate, Ginza also boasts many of the five-star hotels and entertainment centres of Tokyo.
On weekends the roads are filled with flowing traffic, while in the daytime it is a haven for pedestrians.
A shrine dedicated to those who died for a cause and for the emperor of Japan.
This shrine is also famous for a poem written by Emperor Meiji when he visited the shrine in 1874, the lines are:
“I assure those of you who fought and died for your country that your names will live forever at this shrine in Musashino.”
This is one of the most touching and inspiring real-life stories in the world, and is particularly poignant for ‘dog people’.
Hidesaburō Ueno took in this dog as a pet and every day, loyal Hachiko greeted his owner on a nearby train station when he returned from work.
One day Ueno died unexpectedly because of a cerebral haemorrhage. He never came home.
Hachiko waited nine years in the same place for his master to come back, with friends and passers-by in the busy city often stopping with food for the dog.
Eventually, Hachiko became a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness and ended up with his statue being erected in the middle of the bustling city.
Do you have Tokyo tips to share? Please add them in the comments section below…
History meets modern-day buzz along the uneven cobblestones of everyone’s favourite weekend haunt in these parts – The Rocks in Sydney.
The Rocks mark the birthplace of modern Sydney, with an intricate history that dates from its shady beginnings when convicts first settled to the contemporary home of Sydney’s most creative and cultural.
If you’re thinking walking tours are the last thing you’d want to do at The Rocks, prepare to be proven wrong!
The Rocks holds some of the best walking tours in Sydney, taking enraptured audiences through spine-tingling urban legends and infamous historic events every day of the week. Ever wondered about the markings on the sandstone you see everywhere in old buildings and footpaths? They were actually made by convicts who each had a unique system of markings to distinguish how many blocks each person had chiseled.
For those who are more daring, ghost tours run in the evenings taking you through the torch and lantern-lit laneways once home to street gangs, dank seedy bars and a rampant outbreak of the plague.
The Rocks Markets are an enduring highlight for visitors, and some of the nicest markets in the city. Here, the markets are open from 10am to 5pm every weekend all year round offering 200 stalls stacked with an eclectic range of homewares, beauty products and art.
For locals, these markets give a taste for Sydney’s diverse mix of cultures and art. Wander through and you’ll find your senses engulfed by the delectable allure of Turkish gozleme, the colourful arrangement of fresh fruit or the ingenuity of artworks made from cutlery. Whatever crazy idea you’re looking for to spice up your weekend, take your pick here.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA is one of Sydney’s standout museums, not just for its extensive collection of contemporary art sourced from high-performing artists worldwide, but also for being a constant hub of special events.
From its current (2016) showcase of international artists in the Biennale to the annual participation in the now famous Vivid light show, transforming the building into a work of art, the MCA is constantly buzzing with vibrant activity throughout the year.
An Illustrious nightlife
If you’re looking for a classy night out away from the loudness of Sydney’s mainstream bars and restaurants, The Rocks offers a refined strip of small restaurants and bars – quieter and less pretentious. A standout is Hero of Waterloo, a sandstone bar and restaurant built over 170 years ago with a colourful history of rum-smuggling in its famous underground tunnels.
By Liam Barrett. Feature image by Dieter Bethke (Flickr creative commons).
Dog tired? There are plenty of options for pet friendly travel in Australia. Wotif.com has shared some ideas with us for holidays to get tails wagging.
Image by thekarmapolice, Flickr creative commons tinyurl.com/pk5ltek
NSW – Carool
Tailwaggers Rainforest Retreat
Escape to (3.5 star – self rated) Tailwaggers Rainforest Retreat with your four-legged friend. Relax in a self-contained cabin with a fenced yard purrfect for your pet and take advantage of the nearby walking trails. Linen is included for pets as well and there’s even a dedicated hydrobath to wash your pet.
VIC – Rutherglen
Must Love Dogs B&B
Dog lovers should head to (4.5 star – self rated) Must Love Dogs B&B. Get spoilt with treats and chocolates for all guests and take advantage of free pet sitting.
WA – Albany
Emu Beach Chalets
Pack your doggy or kitty bag and head to (3 star – AAA rated) Emu Beach Chalets for a pet-friendly break. Spread out in a self-contained chalet surrounded by bushland, just steps away from the beach.
QLD – Mooloolaba
Pamper your four-legged friend with a holiday at (3.5 star – self rated) Saltwater Villas. Kick up your feet/paws and relax in a waterfront villa with pet sitting, a day spa, water sports, pool and spa – it could be your next purrfect holiday.
SA – Robe
Arches Spa Apartments and Complex
Get cosy with your plus one and four-legged friend in the Patsy Ryan Cottage at (4 star – AAA rated) Arches Spa Apartments and Complex. Settle into the 1850’s style cottage complete with a country kitchen and two bedrooms.
VIC – Mildura
Emaroo Cottages Mildura
There’s no need to leave your pet behind when you stay at the (4 star – self rated) Emaroo Cottage Mildura. Pets are charged at AU$30 per stay.
TAS – Cambridge
Riversdale Estate Cottages
Stay in a self-catering cottage at this (4.5 star – self rated) private vineyard and olive grove estate located only 15 minutes from Hobart CBD. Pets are charged from AU$10 per pet per night.
TOP PET TRAVEL TIPS
Image by Nathan Rupert, Flickr creative commons tinyurl.com/o4wb9uo
Wotif.com’s Product Director, Donna Rodios, shares tips for a stress-free holiday with a pet in tow…
- “Remember pets can be susceptible to car sickness, especially on longer journeys, so it’s wise to avoid a big meal before you hit the road and definitely don’t give them anything new or exotic. Unlike one respondent who fed tuna to their dog the night before a long journey – needless to say it wasn’t a very pleasant car trip.”
- “When flying, dogs and cats have to travel in a cage which meets the airline’s guidelines so make sure you check their requirements.”
- “If your pet isn’t familiar with a cage, it pays to prepare them by placing them in one overnight in the lead up to your trip and reward them with treats for a job well done. That way they’re less likely to throw a wobbly when you check them in.
- “It’s always a good idea to pack some of your pet’s home comforts so they feel as comfortable as possible in their new environment – remember they can be fussy so letting them eat out of their own bowl is a good way to help them settle.”