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RTW #8: 7 Continents from (A)ntarctica to (Z)anzibar

Lucky in Livingstone: A Visit to Victoria Falls

Posted by on Feb 2, 2013 | 2 comments

Lucky in Livingstone: A Visit to Victoria Falls

After my quick trip to the Canary Islands, I arrived back in Madrid with a 4-hour layover and a mission…unload my Antarctica suitcase. You see, I had this whole master plan to ship the obnoxious suitcase carrying all my heavy winter clothes (and one very yellow parka) back to the U.S. so I wouldn’t have to carry it around the world for a month. Unfortunately, when I tried to ship it back from Buenos Aires, they wanted almost $400. Preposterous! So I checked the bag to Madrid figuring I’d have better luck shipping it back from Europe than South America.

Luckily there was a post office in the Madrid airport and after filling out paperwork for an hour and parting with €100 (far more reasonable) I was approximately 40lbs lighter and had never felt better. Finally, back to my traveling weight! Unfortunately, my joy would be short-lived.

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Zen in Zanzibar

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 | 0 comments

Zen in Zanzibar

After a lengthy (8-hour) layover in Lusaka after Victoria Falls and a sleepless night on the way to Nairobi, I landed at 6:00am with two hours to kill in the Nairobi airport before my 8:00am connection to Zanzibar. And thank goodness for the Kenya Airways Simba Lounge or I might have been reduced to finding a square of floor space somewhere. Even at 6:00am, the Nairobi airport was a hive of activity.

Though booked through Kenya Airways (a Skyteam member), my flight to Zanzibar was operated by Precision Airways. We boarded the small prop plane right on time and I grabbed a window seat hoping to get a glimpse of Zanzibar on approach. Little did I know our pilot had plans to start the show long before our arrival in Zanzibar.

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Whatever/Whenever Wows at W Bangkok

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Whatever/Whenever Wows at W Bangkok

I arrived in Bangkok ready to leave Africa behind for now and move on to my favorite part of the world, Southeast Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time in Africa, but I was due for a good meal and a night not spent sleeping under mosquito netting. My first long-haul flight on Kenya Airways was quite pleasant. Their business class seat design is one of the most effective in the Skyteam fleet for getting a decent night’s sleep, it actually goes almost completely flat (versus that sometimes annoying barely discernible slant that can leave you sliding down in the seat all night).

Unfortunately, I soon learned that arriving in Bangkok from Kenya (where I connected after Zanzibar) is a bit more complicated than arriving from Europe or the Middle East as I normally do. I waited my turn in the now familiar immigration line only to ultimately be turned back by the officer and told I must first visit the Health Inspection office. Well, that was a first. I had no idea where that was and for some reason no one else in the airport seemed to know either.

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Packed in Phuket: A Lesson in What Not to Do for Chinese New Year

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 | 0 comments

Packed in Phuket: A Lesson in What Not to Do for Chinese New Year

I love Phuket, I really do. Honestly, it’s hard to find any part of Thailand that I don’t love. But if you also love Phuket, do yourself a favor and never go over Chinese New Year.

On past visits to Phuket, I’ve typically stayed farther afield, like the Khao Lak area – off-island and a ninety minute drive up the mainland coast. On the few occasions when I have stayed on the actual island of Phuket, they’ve typically been brief trips where I lounged on the beach and rarely left the hotel. This time I had four nights, a rental car and plans to explore the island in more depth.

Unfortunately, my timing was lousy. For those of you who haven’t been in Asia over Chinese New Year before, let me first say that it’s by far the biggest travel holiday for all of the continent and it goes on for (seemingly) weeks. The actual New Year fell on this past Sunday, right in the middle of my 4-day stay.

I am almost always somewhere within Asia over Chinese New Year but I guess I’ve typically been in cities: Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore. Cities are fine over the holiday because everyone gets out of the cities. And now I know where they go: Phuket.

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The Simple Joy of Nikoi

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 | 0 comments

The Simple Joy of Nikoi

Before I began the planning for RTW #8, I’d never even heard of tiny Nikoi Island. But before each big trip these days I cruise my friend and London-based-travel-writer, Jill’s, ecoluxhotels.com website for properties that still need to be reviewed. In exchange for doing the review, the writer receives a 2-night stay. In the past year, her site has introduced me to several luxurious eco-lodges like Laguna Lodge in Guatemala and explora’s superb Chilean properties. So, that’s how I discovered this little gem of an island just 50 miles from Singapore.

Since I had already penciled in Singapore on the RTW #8 itinerary, Nikoi seemed like the perfect place to escape the buzz of the city for a few days. Getting there from Singapore sounded complicated at first glance but turned out to be a breeze. From Singapore, I took a ferry to Bintan Island in Indonesia (1 hour and the entry visa was easily processed on the boat) and then Nikoi’s staff took over from there, greeting me at the ferry terminal and escorting me to a private car for the ride across the island to meet the Nikoi boat (also 1 hour). From there, it’s just a 15-minute speedboat ride to the private island paradise of Nikoi.

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The Latest from Singapore

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 | 0 comments

The Latest from Singapore

It’s been quite a while since my last visit to Singapore…7 years, in fact, on RTW #1. During that time, much has changed in this tiny island nation. Perhaps the most dramatic addition to the skyline is the daringly-engineered Marina Bay Sands hotel which opened in 2010. It features the world’s most expensive casino project and the highest infinity pool which hovers a staggering 57 floors above the city. I was definitely looking forward to getting a look at that.

I added Singapore to the itinerary for RTW #8 for a couple of reasons. One, I really enjoyed my last visit and I’d been planning to go back for a while. And two, I had a hotel review to do for my friend Jill’s eco-luxury hotel website on a tiny Indonesian island called Nikoi and Singapore was the closest major airport.

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