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Back in 2008, I spent one year living in Beijing, China attending the Beijing Language and Cultural University, in a vain attempt to master the Mandarin language. During my time there, friends and I would plan short trips to explore this magnificent country, usually on the spur of the moment. Living there as a ‘local’ and with knowing the language, it was a lot easier to get things organised – and you would be surprised to see how many locals travel within China itself.
You can hardly spend a month in India and not be tempted to have a traditional garment fitted. All those small open-fronted shops, with piles of fabric in shades of colours you didn’t even know existed, waiting for you invitingly.
The condensation rolled lazily down the side of my glass onto the napkin folded underneath. I turned my attention from this back to the book I was absent-mindedly flicking through and allowed myself a wry smile. I was lucky enough to be sitting in an extremely comfortable (and rather grand) armchair in the magnificent Ceylon Tea Trails’ Castlereagh Bungalow.
The long harsh Indian summer was knocking on the door, wrestling to knock over the pleasantry spring winds. Before it got too hot, I and my husband decided to travel to the tiger kingdom of India – Ranthambore National Park.
It was still dark and a little chilly as we rubbed the sleep from our eyes and sipped cautiously at steaming hot cups of deliciously strong coffee. We were certainly not the only people awake however. The small town was busily gearing itself up for another day – shops were opening, freshly picked produce was being arranged at market stalls, water sprinkled on the ground to keep the dust at bay, dogs were yapping, and all around us people were yawning, smiling, and greeting each other in a wonderfully foreign sing-song language. Delicious aromas of frying food wafted on the air and somewhere nearby a cockerel crowed.
Hong Kong is definitely one of Asia’s main hot spots for sumptuous and delectable cuisine. Food found in Hong Kong is a combination of Cantonese and regional Chinese food, in addition to having a variety of Western cuisine widely available.
Pandas are probably one of the very few creatures in the world that most people would agree give you that warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach - or maybe that's just me! In December 2011, much publicity took place when a pair of these shy and elusive mammals arrived in Edinburgh Zoo, Tian Tian and Yang Guang. They now call Edinburgh Zoo home for the next 10 years.
Phang Nga Bay in Thailand found its fame though the 1974 Bond film, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’ This lone rock is definitely the apple of the locals’ eyes and I was lucky to visit on my family holiday in February this year.
There’s nothing quite like curling up with a book on a cold and rainy day. Snuggle up with your blanket, have a good old cuppa or steaming mug of hot chocolate, and be transported to India with one of these good reads. You’ll be surrounded by spices and feeling the sand between your toes in no time.
Today is International Women’s Day - a day to celebrate women’s achievements from the past, present and future. The global day was established in the early 1900s and embraces women’s work in economics, politics, and sociology. Now it is even an official holiday in many countries.