Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Orlando Christmas Holiday

Orlando is a great escape in the cold winter months. Temperatures are mild and if you are Canadian like me, wearing flip-flops and a sundress is a real treat in December. One week just wasn’t enough time to experience all that this city had to offer. It seemed that we weren’t alone in our thinking because we met many people while we were there and very few of them were Orlando natives. People flocked from all over the country and beyond to sit in the sun or take the family to Disneyworld.

The best part of our trip to Orlando was a swim with the manatees. No, this is not found in Orlando, but a town about 1.5 hours away (by car) called Crystal Rivers. There are many tours that operate out of that area. We boarded a boat in the early hours of the morning and given a guided tour of the area. We actually got to touch several manatees in the wild. This was such a unique experience – how many people can say that they have swam with an endangered animal in the wild?

Another unforgettable experience was Discovery Cove. Situated right in Orlando, this place has something for everyone. We had trouble leaving the aviary because there was a bird sleeping on my head and we didn’t want to disturb her. I will not soon forget that. When we did venture out, we snorkeled with manta rays and tropical fish and even got to touch them. Even though it started raining, this didn’t ruin our day at Discovery Cove as we were well on our way down the lazy river. The water is heated so a little rain was not going to ruin our day.
We decided to forgo Disneyworld, SeaWorld and Universal Studios as we had just experienced them in San Diego a few months prior. Instead, we made the trek out to Tampa to visit Busch Gardens. My husband had a great time on the Cheetah Hunt though – despite waiting in line 90 minutes (apparently Christmas time is the busiest time at Busch). We took the sky ride and the train around the park and visited all of the animals. I especially liked being able to pat a kangaroo.

Most people probably don’t go to Orlando to shop but there is an amazing outlet mall there. Orlando Premium Outlets is a huge mall that has everything from Coach to Burberry to Tommy Hilfiger. The deals were to die for! We actually had to leave before we saw most of the mall because we spent all of our money within the first couple of stores.
One free exhibit is the duck march at one of the Orlando Hotels. It is very brief but very neat. The ducks march from their quarters down a red carpet and into a fountain. We stayed only a few minutes but it was quite a spectacle.

Last but not least our Orlando Hotel was amazing. The Caribe Royale had friendly staff and magnificent pools. We found all of the hotel information on If you stay there, look out for the hidden pool behind tower 4 and 5. Most people don’t realize that it’s there and it is virtually unoccupied. One thing that this hotel does well is their gym. It has great equipment and it’s huge. Also, there is a kid’s movie playing every night outside. You sit poolside and watch a movie under the stars!

I will definitely be traveling to Florida again for a vacation. It was such a welcome break from our cold, dreary weather. We got a great rate on our airfare (we flew out of Seattle as opposed to Vancouver and saved $600) and the hotel. Next time I will avoid the busiest week and opt for mid-January when all of the kids are back in school.

For more info on travelling options, check out the following: Explore Earth Travel Blog, UK Travel Blog, and Cheap Travel Blog.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Enjoy adventure travel holidays on Borneo

The island of Borneo is possibly one of the world's best-kept secrets but probably one that many people would love to learn more about. Read on to find out what you are missing. It may encourage you to see it for yourself.

Location and Topography

Borneo is the world's third largest island, situated in South East Asia close to Malaysia. For a relatively small area, the island features a radically diverse variety of terrains including mountains, coral reefs, mangrove swamps and most famously, rainforest, making it a wonderful destination for adventure holidays.

A large part of the island is covered by the 130 million year old rainforest, which is home to thousands of different species of flora and fauna including the endangered Bornean orang-utan, man's closest primate relative. There are 13 other species of primate and 422 identified mammals indigenous to Borneo.


Today, Borneo has a population of approximately 18 million, which has almost doubled since 1980. The island is still populated by a variety of native tribes, known collectively as 'Dayaks', with each tribe being distinguishable by having its own language and exhibiting variations in its culture.

Adventures in Borneo

Active Adventures
The most popular adventure holidays feature 'jungle trekking', which is the most popular visitor activity on the island. There are numerous nature trails all over the island that vary in length and can take anything from a few hours to a few days to complete.

Water lovers can indulge in rafting on the Papar River near Sabah or the Kiulu River a short drive from Kota Kinabalu. The Papar is a must for white water rafting experiences whereas the Kiulu can be negotiated at a gentle enough pace to enjoy the passing scenery.

Nature Adventures
The Sabah jungle is the most exotic place on Borneo to explore and is most popular with naturalists. Kinabalu Park features much more challenging terrain as it is home to the all-dominating Mount Kinabalu. Both are filled with unique species of flora, not to be missed.

The Kianabatangan Wetland is animal heaven for the nature watchers, featuring the highest concentration of primates on the island as well as elephant, leopards and the rare civet cat.

Comfortable Adventures
For those who prefer a more leisurely form of adventure, there are two train journeys that travel through the heart of the island offering the chance to observe many of its sights from a luxury carriage. The North Borneo Railway features a steam train journey that runs from the town of Beaufort all the way across the island to Tenom via the coastal areas of Jessleton and Weston.

The Papar 'Rice Bowl' Run begins at Tanjung Aru and traverses the island, taking in numerous sights, such as the Kinarut Buddhist Temple and the Kawang mangrove swamps, on its way. The highlight of the journey is crossing the Papar River high up on a steel trestle bridge offering glorious views of the destination town as the train crosses.

A Final Word

Visiting Borneo is a truly unforgettable experience, no matter which style of visit you choose and whether you want peace and serenity, activity or extreme experiences. It is a place that everyone should try to visit at least once in their lifetime.


Jim Broomfield has spent a large part of his adult life observing island life all over the world. He also enjoys a bit of adventure in his life and writes regularly on
adventure holidays for a variety of websites and blogs.

For more travel information check out: Holiday Blog,Worldwide Vacation Blog, World Travel for all.