Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Grand Palace of the King in Thailand

Walking the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok is like stepping back into the ancient period. The images of strange and beautiful mythical creatures and demons are visible in every corner. The smell of the burning incense is overwhelming, the air sparkles and shimmers with heat. Everything seems to be encrusted with jewels and mosaic inlay. Several objects which are considered as treasures of indescribable nature are housed in the Grand Palace, including the legendary Emerald Buddha. Millions of worshippers and visitors from far-away lands travel to Thailand to see this fabled palace, for most, to make the pilgrimage, pay their respects and say their prayers, and for some, to admire its beauty and learn its history.

The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok. It has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), currently resides at Chitralada Palace, but Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year.

Construction of the palace began on 6 May 1782, at the order of King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, when he moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok. In shape, the palace complex is roughly rectangular and has a combined area of 218,400 square metres (2,351,000 sq ft), surrounded by four walls. It is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River at the heart of the Rattanakosin Island, today in the Phra Nakhon District. 

Rather than being a single structure, the Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. It is divided into several quarters: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha; the Outer Court, with many public buildings; the Middle Court, including the Phra Maha Montien Buildings, the Phra Maha Prasat Buildings and the Chakri Maha Prasat Buildings; the Inner Court and the Siwalai Gardens quarter. 

Nowadays, the Grand Palace is currently partially open to the public as a museum that’s why it attracts millions of tourists every year who are willing to spend for air fare to Thailand just to see this magnificent palace. However it remains a working palace as several royal offices are still situated inside. 

The layout of the Grand Palace followed that of the Royal Palace at Ayutthaya in location, organization, and in the divisions of separate courts, walls, gates and forts. Both palaces featured a proximity to the river. The location of a pavilion serving as a landing stage for barge processions also corresponded with that of the old palace. To the north of the Grand Palace there is a large field, the Thung Phra Men (now called Sanam Luang), which is used as an open space for royal ceremonies and as a parade ground. There was also a similar field in Ayutthaya, which was used for the same purpose. The road running north leads to the Front Palace, the residence of the Second King of Siam. 

It is divided into four main courts, separated by numerous walls and gates: the Outer Court, the Middle Court, the Inner Court and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Each of these court's functions and access are clearly defined by laws and traditions. The Outer Court is situated on the northwestern part of the Grand Palace; within are the royal offices and (formerly) state ministries. To the northeast is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the royal chapel and home of the Emerald Buddha. The Middle Court housed the most important state apartments and ceremonial throne halls of the king. The Inner Court, situated at the most southern end of the complex, was reserved only for females, as it housed the king's harem. 

The highlight of visiting the palace is seeing the 75cm Emerald Buddha which sits on a high platform in a richly decorated bòt. It’s guarded by mythical giants called yaksha. The Buddha is always dressed in different robes for each season. It was discovered in 1434 A.D. when lightning struck a stupa in Changrai in Northern Thailand. A Buddha statue was found inside and was brought to an abbot’s residence. Shortly after, the stucco on the nose flaked off to reveal its green surface. Interestingly enough, the Emerald Buddha isn’t made of emerald. It’s thought to be jade. People flocked from all over the country to worship the beautiful statue.

Today the Grand Palace is still a centre of ceremony and of the monarchy, and serves as a museum and tourist attraction as well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Holi Festival in India

Holi is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. It is also known as Festival of Colors, held at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (PhalgunPurnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

Holi is also called the Spring Festival - as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter goes as Holi promises bright summer days. Nature too, it seems rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes. Fields get filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers and flowers bloom coloring the surroundings and filling fragrance in the air.

In India, it is one of the major festivals thus it is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety with grand festivities. In fact, because of its popularity tourists search for cheap airfare to India just to witness the fascinating activities of this festival.

Entire India wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration, hence the beautiful sight brought about by this festival is more than worthy of cheap flights to India. Market places get abuzz with activity as frenzied shoppers start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival. Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench everybody in the town. Womenfolk too start making early preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and papri for the family and also for the relatives. At some places especially in the north women also make papads and potato chips at this time.

The main day, Holi, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). After doing holika dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahladaccomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in South India.

Great excitement can be seen in people on the next day when it is actually the time for the play of colors. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people get all the time to get crazy and whacky. Bright colors of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring color water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colors on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies - applying colors and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.

There is also a tradition of consuming the very intoxicating bhang on this day to further enhance the spirit of Holi. It is so much fun to watch the otherwise sober people making clowns of themselves in full public display. Some, however, take bhang in excess and spoil the spirit. Caution should therefore be taken while consuming bhang delicacies.

After a fun-filled and exciting day, the evening is spent in sobriety when people meet friends and relatives and exchange sweets and festive greetings.

People believed that the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions participate in this joyous and colorful festival and strengthen the secular fabric of the nation.

Legends of Holi Festival

Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of 'Holika Dahan'.

Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna's devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.

In South India, people worship Kaamadeva- the god of love and passion for his extreme sacrifice. According to a legend, Kaamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Shiva to revoke his interest in the worldly affairs in the interest of the earth. However, Lord Shiva was enraged as he was in deep mediation and opened his third eye which reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. Though, later on the request of Rati, Kaamadeva's wife, Shiva was pleased to restore him back.

Monday, March 19, 2012

EVENT: 2012 London Olympic Games

2012 Olympic Games will be held in London from 27 July to 12 August 2012. London will be the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948.

London was selected as the host city on 6 July 2005 during the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, defeating Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris.

The Olympics will see the construction of brand new, state of the art sporting facilities, as well as the use of existing facilities across the country. Olympic venues will be found all over London, with many in well known and popular locations such as Hyde Park. The 2012 Olympic Games Park and main stadium will be in Stratford, east London – which has been the focus of a huge re-generation project while sailing events will be held in Weymouth at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

As the budgetary considerations generated some criticism, the Games will make use of many venues which were already in place before the bid, including Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena, Wimbledon All England Club, Lord's Cricket Ground, The O2 Arena, Earls Court Exhibition Center and the Excel Center.

2012 Summer Olympic Games will feature 26 sports and a total of 38 disciplines while there will be 20 sports and 21 disciplines for 2012 Paralympic Games.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lantern Festivals of Taiwan

Lantern Festival is commonly regarded as one of the most significant as well as the most romantic festivals in Taiwan. Held on the first full-moon night of the lunar year, it is celebrated with lantern making, lantern riddle games and displays of glittering decorative lanterns.

It is believed that this festival originated in the festive activities of agricultural people celebrating the lengthening of daylight hours and the coming of spring after the New Year. Other legends have it that the festival was actually started by an emperor of the Han Dynasty during 206 B.C – 220 A.D., who was a devout Buddhist. The emperor ordered his people to display lights on the fifteenth night of the first month of the lunar year to pay respect to Buddha. According to the same legend, holding torches or lanterns on this night makes it easier to see deities descending from heaven to give blessings to the earth.

The Tourism Bureau has been holding the Taiwan Lantern Festival for 22 years to attract visitors and raise the international profile of the cultural charms of Taiwan. Traditionally, the festival has been celebrated by carrying hand lanterns. The Taiwan Lantern Festival adds a high-tech to this traditional custom and brings the event to the international stage. From to the theme lantern displays to folk arts and performances, the festival has become a perennial favorite of locals and foreign visitors alike.

Tangyuan, also known as yuansiao is the traditional food for this occasion. Tangyuan is a glutinous rice dumpling with sweet or savory stuffing's. It comes in different choices of flavors. Sesame, peanut, red bean paste and minced pork are the most common and popular flavors while new flavors such as taro, green tea and sweet asmanthus preserves have also been attracting followers in recent years.

In Taiwan, several lantern festivals are held to promote local tourism, to attract tourist to book airfare to Taiwan. These festivals held in different parts of the country become a major tourist event in Taiwan over the years.

You will surely love the gigantic lanterns erected in the middle of the plaza of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The lanterns usually carry the theme in line with the Chinese horoscope sign of that particular year. The installation includes performances combining laser lights, music and sculptural arts. On the four sides of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, smaller lantern installations depicts folklore and historical events, large multi-colored lanterns in the likeness of various plants and animals such as butterflies, dragons, dinosaurs and birds are hung up along the road. They also have interesting live folk performances such as lion and dragon dances, acrobatic acts, folk art skits, mock battles, and booths that demonstrate and sell traditional handicrafts like fan painting, lantern making, dough sculpture, candy-figure blowing, paper cutting, Chinese knotwork and many delicious snacks and sweets. A tunnel of lights is also put up on the roads of Taipei, dressing up the whole city with glittering lights. Every year, this event attract tens of thousands of people from around Taiwan and other countries in the region to purchase airfare to Taipei, making it one of the biggest tourist highlights in Asia at the beginning of every year.

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of the most colorful activities of the Lantern Festival. Pingxi is a remote hillside town. In former times, those who worked or farmed in the mountains faced the risks of being robbed or killed; so the people used lanterns to tell their families they were safe. The lanterns have lost their function as a warning signal, and today they are a symbol of peace and good fortune.

The fireworks display put on by the God of War Temple in Yanshui, Tainan City is one of the more popular and much awaited events during the Lantern Festival.

The display starts one day before the Lantern Festival with the tour of the god's sedan chair, accompanied by the discharge of firecrackers. The noise, lights, and festivities that follow continue well into the following morning.

The official lantern festival, Taiwan Lantern Festival is usually celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar with a series of activities throughout Taiwan. Among the highlight events at this time is the inspection tour of the deity Master Han Dan in Taitung City. As guardian of the celestial treasury, Han Dan is revered today as a god of wealth, but people believe that he was once a real person named Chao Kong-ming. When the god makes his annual inspection tour of the earthly world, crowds turn out to pray for his blessing and good fortune. On the day of the festival, Han Dan is also joined by other gods of the temples in various townships and Taitung on tours of the community. Households in these areas prepare offerings of fresh flowers and fruit and light strings of firecrackers to welcome the Han Dan. The person representing the god on the tour wears only a headscarf, mask and pair of red shorts. He stands courageously amidst the fusillade of firecrackers protected only by a tree branch. There are several stories as to why the people throw firecrackers at Han Dan. In one version, it is because Han Dan is the god of hooligans and his power grows with the loudness of the explosions. A less widely accepted explanation is that Han Dan is afraid of the cold, so the people throw firecrackers at the god during his tour to keep him warm and win his blessing.

Indeed, Lantern Festival is the best time for visitors to experience the best of Taiwan. From rich historical culture and customs to authentic Taiwanese cuisines and local festive delicacies, Taiwan is a place you surely would not want to miss!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

EVENT: Expo 2012 Yeosu, Korea

Come and encounter the “ocean of the future”, join in the festivities of the 2012 World Expo as Yeosu, Korea hosts the most stylish and sophisticated World Fair from 12 May – 12 August 2012.

Expo 2012 is Korea’s second expo to be recognized by the BIE (Bureau of International Exhibitions), following the Daejeon Expo in 1993.The seaside Yeosu City venue highlights the main focus of the expo: the ocean and its value as a natural resource.

“The Living Ocean and Coast” is the hopeful theme of this year’s marine-focused World Expo showcasing floating pavilions, dazzling offshore multi-media shows, a vast Ocean Experience Park representing the world’s five major oceans and various forms of architectural grandeur which includes a mock-up, high-tech coastal city of 2050.

Exhibition centers include the Theme Center, Korea Center, Sub-theme Center (Climate Change & Environment, Ocean Industry & Technology, Ocean Civilization, Ocean City and Ocean Creatures), International Center, and Aquarium.

The 250,000 square meters exhibition area and auxiliary facilities have the geographical edge that comes from being adjacent to the ocean, and thus, is ideal for realizing the Expo theme. The site overlooks Hallyeosudo Marine National Park and Odong Island, and is surrounded by 317 jewel-like islets, having the perfect natural conditions to make the Expo’s theme come alive.

All these wonderful creations support the idea that human prosperity is inextricably tied to a healthier planet. This event is expected to draw 100 participating countries, generating millions of tourists who will be purchasing air tickets to Korea to attend the fair.

The expo theme aims to shed light on humankind’s knowledge and advancement of technology concerning the ocean and coast, and identify ways to resolve the challenges facing the ocean. It will serve as a timely reminder to the global community of the value of the sea, which is closely linked to the very existence of the human race. Many also hope that the expo will be a chance for nations to come together and discuss a new, unified vision for the world’s ocean environment.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan

It is the land where modern technology and ancient traditions blend harmoniously, a country with an unrivaled beauty and enchanting charm which attracts millions of tourists to visit Japan. Luckily even you don’t have big budget you can visit the country by checking those sites that offer discount air ticket and air tickets promo. For those who have visited Japan and spent a vacation in the “Land of the Rising Sun”, being captivated by the breathtaking sceneries and the warmth of its people will be an understatement, as everyone who have toured Japan, especially during the festival period, found their experiences in Japan as the most unforgettable one.

One of the biggest events on the Japanese calendar is the “Cherry Blossom Festival” also known locally as “Hanami”. It is an annual tradition with a very deep roots celebrated by every Japanese people, with their families, co-workers and friends. Companies arrange parties for employees, students have it marked on their academic calendar while parents plan ideal settings to introduce their little ones to the wonders of the cherry blossom festival. Visiting Japan during the bloom of the cherry blossom trees is definitely a delightful experience!

“Hanami” which literally means flower viewing is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, in this case almost always meaning cherry blossoms. The blossom forecast, sakurazensen is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called yozakura.

From the end of March to early May, sakura bloom all over Japan and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa. Within these months, there are many festive celebrations held in different parts of Japan thus tourists have every chance of finding one wherever they intend to go. In many places, temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of yozakura. On the island of Okinawa, decorative electric lanterns are hung in the trees for evening enjoyment, such as on the trees ascending Mt. Yae, near Motobu Town, or at Nakajin Castle.

Some of the most important celebrations for the cherry blossom festival across Japan are: Yaedake festival in Motobu city (January 7th - February 16th), Matsuyama Shiroyama Koen festival Matsuyama city (April 2nd-4th), Matsue Jozan Koen festival in Matsue (March 27th – April 15th), Tsuyama Kakuzan Koen festival in Tsuyama (beginning of April), Takato Koshi Koen festival in Takato-machi Ina (April), Takada Koen festival in Joetsu town (April 2nd – 18th), Kitakami Tenshochi festival in Kitakami (April 15th – May 5th), Hirosaki Koen festival in Hirosaki (April – May) or Matsumae Koen Park festival in Matsumae (April – May). These are only the places with the biggest celebrations for the cherry blossom festival, having few hundred trees to tens of thousands cherry trees however there are absolutely other smaller festivities in every place where cherry blossom trees grow.

The cherry blossoms are only the main attraction of these events, while Japanese celebrate through various activities. During this festival, every city park in Japan with lots of sakura trees will be jammed with people, and finding a spot to even sit down may be impossible. Among the most beautiful things that every visitor should not miss, are the small representations of traditional Japanese music and theater, the tea ceremony demonstrations or family gatherings to eat under the trees. The celebration does not stop at sunset with most orchards being lit throughout the night projecting a different panoramic beauty amidst the moonlight.

The most popular locations to join in the fun are parks, castles, riverbanks, temples, and shrines. In Tokyo this means places like Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, the Imperial Palace, or Yasukuni Shrine, along with lots of smaller more local parties as well. If you're still not sure where to go, look for any happy gatherings of Japanese people and you're likely looking at a local hotspot.

At weekends, these places are full of people strolling through the grounds or sitting under their chosen cherry tree. Some group of people mark their pitch by rolling out picnic. In popular places the best spots are usually taken as the sun comes up so better plan ahead.

The coming of the cherry blossoms (sakura) is one of the happiest events in Japan. First and foremost it heralds the coming of spring, which is a delight since winters in Japan are bone-chilling cold. They also have a deeper cultural significance since they fall to the ground and disappear in only a couple of weeks or even sooner if the frequent rains wash them all off the trees, which echoes an ancient cultural belief in the short, transitory nature of youth and life itself. This festival is the perfect occasion to understand a part of the Japanese culture and traditions, which remained unchanged through centuries.

It’s not too late to plan your trip to take part of these exciting activities, start searching for cheap airfare to Tokyo and have a wonderful “hanami” experience!

Monday, March 5, 2012

EVENT: Hong Kong Flower Show 2012

Hong Kong Flower Show 2012 will be featuring ‘Floral Delights’ as its theme and “Hyacinth” as its theme flower. Hyacinths are spring-flowering bulbs with long, narrow leaves, which come in shades of red, blue, orange, pink, violet or yellow. This year’s flower show will be held from 16 to 25 March 2012 at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.

The event will showcase the beauty of this exquisite plant and a rich profusion of exquisite potted plants, beautiful flower arrangements and gorgeous landscape displays by organizations from local, the Mainland and overseas. There will also be commercial stalls selling flowers and other horticultural products.

Hong Kong Flower Show is a major event organized by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to promote horticulture and the awareness of greening. Every year, it provides a good opportunity for hundreds of thousands of local citizens and horticulture lovers all over the world to appreciate the beauty of flowers and share their experiences in the cultivation of flowers.

Apart from plant exhibit, the show also features photo and student drawing competition.

Visitors will have the chance to see impressive photographs of local and overseas exquisite flowers and plants on display, interesting or touching scenes captured at the Showground, as well as portraits of TVB artistes and Miss Hong Kong 2011 title holders against the backdrop of beautiful garden displays with a view to promoting community greening.

Meanwhile, entries for Yuen Institute Student Drawing Competition are sure to draw crowds with the student’s impressive drawings of exquisite flowers, rare plants and unique garden displays in the showground, with a view to enhance the public’s awareness on the importance of plants and natural environment conservation.

Other educational and recreational fringe activities include music and cultural performances, floral art demonstrations, cookery demonstrations, plant maintenance workshops, green stalls, guided visits, recreation programs and fun games for the enjoyment of all visitors of all ages.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

EVENT: Singapore Hosts 1st Transformers Cybertron Convention in Southeast Asia

Singapore will hosts the first ever Transformer Cybertron Convention in Southeast Asia which will be held at Resorts World Sentosa from 11 to 14 March 2012.

The four-day event is expected to draw huge number of action block-buster fans from across the globe. Organizers urged fans who wish to attend the event to book their package and tickets fast, with prices starting at S$12 for a Day Pass.

As part of the Cybertron event, special guests will host panel session including Hideaki Yoke and Transformers brand experts from Hasbro, famous 22-foot tall Optimus Prime character statue will also make an appearance while drawing classes, three-dimensional action figure dioramas and National ‘Fastest Fingers First’ Challenge, testing convention goers’ skills at converting TRANSFORMERS action figures from “robot” to “vehicle” modes will keep enthusiasts busy.

Transformers Cybertron Con will be a spectacular brand extravaganza for fans, with different exhibits and activities that promise to bring smiles from the neophytes to even the most avid Transformers collectors and hobbyists.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be part of Transformers history! Join the largest and first ever gathering of Transformers fans at Singapore Resorts World Sentosa, a first in Southeast Asia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Travel News: KLM to increase Singapore-Bali Flights

KLM Royal Dutch Airline will increase its flights between Singapore and Bali starting on 26 March 2012. It will offer two additional flights, boosting its total frequency from five-weekly to daily.

Singapore-Bali services will operate using Boeing B777-300 and B777-200 aircraft which were configured with 35 business-class seats, and 390 or 283 economy-class seats, respectively.

Air France-KLM’s General Manager for Singapore, Indonesia, Australia & New Zealand, Paul Rombeek said: “We recognize the growing popularity of Bali as a travel destination and aim to offer passengers the best travel options with our new flights”.

“The introduction of daily flights to Bali will offer customers greater convenience and flexibility in planning their travel schedule when they fly with KLM,” he added.

TTG Asia

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

EVENT: I Light Marina Bay 2012

Themed “Lights Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival will be held in Singapore from 9 March to 1 April 2012.

The event will showcase 30 innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by artists and designers from 17 countries and territories, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The art installations will be displayed along the Marina Bay waterfront, transforming the place into a magical space of light and color.

Festival Director, Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou stated that the 30 artworks which will be featured in the event were selected from some 100 entries.

“We were thrilled that there was a significant increase in interest among artists to participate in this edition of I Light. Of these, 20 are new commissions especially designed for the Festival. We are confident that these artworks will not only create a visual feast that will inspire and capture the imagination of all our visitors, but also serve as a fitting testament to the importance of using energy-efficient lighting technology.”, she added.

In line with this year’s theme “Light Meets Asia”, 21 of the 30 artworks are created by artists and designers based in Asia. They include Cambodia-based artist Marine Ky, whose installation Receptacle challenges the rhythms of modern life and invites visitors to connect over shared experiences; Thai sculptor Be Takerng Pattanopas, whose work Gap the Mind makes use of the visual language of Thai culture to create a sense of tranquility in the urban environment; and a Hong Kong based LED artist.

Other artworks which will surely thrill the audiences include the interactive projection work from Portuguese multimedia design studio OCUBO called ‘Light of Merlion’ ,in which visitors will be able to cast colorful light projections on the surface of this iconic sculpture through an interactive touch-screen located at Merlion Park and ‘Key Frames” a multimedia light and sound installation from Groupe LAPS, a Paris –based design studio.

Mr Mark Goh, Deputy Director of Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Place Management Department, remarked: “Not only do these 30 innovative light artworks collectively celebrate the unique qualities of Marina Bay’s night scape, they also draw attention to the importance of energy-efficient technology and the efforts that can be taken to ensure a sustainable urban environment for all. We look forward to welcoming both local and international visitors to explore the bay area with fresh perspective and enjoy the vibrancy of this exciting waterfront space.”

Apart from the visually arresting and interactive sustainable light art installations, visitors can also look forward to a full array of complementary programs and activities – including a night picnic and carnival, outdoor performances, guided light walk tours, educational talks and workshops.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Travel News: Singapore-Bhutan direct flights put off Until September

DRUK Air – The national airline of the Kingdom of Bhutan which signed a memorandum of understanding with Changi Airport Group last August to conduct Singapore-Paro direct flights starting this March, is expected to carry through with the route launch in September – November instead, just before Bhutan’s peak autumn holiday season begins.

Karma Lotey, chairman of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators and a member of Druk Air’s executive board said that the twice-weekly flights between Singapore and Paro, where Bhutan's only international airport is located, were now anticipated to commence on the month of September. This is because Druk Air has yet to acquire an additional Airbus A319 aircraft to ply the route.

The launching of the Singapore - Paro direct flights, which will take five hours including a 45-minute refueling stop in Kolkata, have already been postponed before and were initially scheduled to be available on May 17.

Lotey stated that “Singapore is a key transit hub for Bhutan’s two biggest inbound segments, the US and Japan. The decision to start flights to Singapore was therefore a natural one, after gathering feedback from our key customers”.

Bhutan’s flag carrier is also considering launching flights to Hong Kong, however this venture will be subject to the performance of the Singapore-Paro flights. Druk Air does not expect to introduce this route, aimed at capturing the mainland Chinese market, until at least 2014, Lotey added.

TTG Asia

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

EVENT: The Singapore Airshow 2012

The Singapore Airshow is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense event, and one of the Top 3 aviation functions worldwide. From masterful aerobatic displays to exciting fairground attractions, this event promises sky-high thrills as spectators get face-to-face with the power and glory of warbirds and graceful commercial aircrafts.

This event which showcase world-class exhibitors, serves as a global marketplace and networking powerhouse for the world’s aviation community. It has always been greeted with tremendous support from industry players and continues to be the only event of its kind that brings together heads of the international aviation community, including key political and military leaders. In 2010, the Airshow closed on a high note with deals and announcements worth about US$10 billion in spite of a recovering economy.

It also features a series of high-level conferences dedicated to leading players in the global aviation industry - the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit and the Asia-Pacific Security Conference.

This year, Singapore Airshow will be a 6-day event, taking place from 14 to 19 February at the purpose-built Changi Exhibition Centre (CEC).The first 4 days of the event are exclusively for trade attendees while the final 2 weekend days are open to public.

The public can look forward to a spectacular aerobatic flying displays, which will be the highlight of the event. They can also see the latest aerospace technologies and innovations in the exhibition hall and meet the fleet of aviation stars at the aircraft static display area. For younger visitors, a world of fun and entertainment awaits them, with lucky draws, roving costumers, Wii and Kinect games and many other activities that are sure to fill the show ground with color and excitement.

Young and old, aviation enthusiasts or not, and anyone who enjoys a day of adrenaline-pumping revelry under the sun are bound to have a wonderful and exciting weekend at the Singapore Airshow 2012!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Exciting Spots in Bangalore

India, with its vast land area, diverse culture and traditions has a lot of interesting places to offer to its visitors. Each place is unique in its own way with its own set of festivals, authentic cuisine and famous tourist attractions. One of those places is Bangalore, also known as Bengaluru. It prides itself as the city which has witnessed the rise and fall of great empires such as the great warrior Tipo Sultan and the rule of East India Company. The richness of its exotic culture and the significant role it played in the country’s history entice tourists to book airfare to Bangalore.

Bangalore is a subtle mix of cosmopolitan and traditional culture, thus it features a modern way of life being the IT Hub of India at the same time projecting a deep respect for its traditional beliefs and practices. From the bustling city to the quiet life in the outskirts, visitors won’t run out of things to do in Bangalore.

The Vidhana Soudha is among the popular tourist destination in Bangalore because of its magnificent architecture. Vidhana Soudha is the State Legislature and the Secretariat of Karnataka, designed with 12 granite pillars in Neo-Dravidian style. It also bears the essence of Chola, Rajasthani and Kannadiga architectural style. This building has 4 domes, on top of the biggest dome stands “Ashoka Sthambh” (4 lions facing 4 directions) – the national emblem of India.

Another ancient structure worth visiting is the Tipu Sultan Fort. It houses the Tipo Sultan Palace, known for its stunning artistry. The palace is a two-story building made mainly of wood with arches, pillars and balconies reflecting an Islamic design of architecture. The fort also features the Ganapati Temple and a museum containing a number of relics dating back to the period of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan.

Historical buffs will surely enjoy a trip to the Bangalore Palace. It was built in the year 1887 bearing the style of Tudor architecture. Believed to be inspired by the Windsor Castle of England, the place is smeared with lawns, towers and arches. Some windows of the palace were designed in Gothic, paintings and rich wood carvings. Nowadays, the place is a popular venue for concerts, exhibitions and weddings.

The city of Bangalore also boasts well-maintained parks gardens and gardens such as the Cubbon Park, Bannerghatta National Park and Lalbagh Gardens.

The famous Lalbagh Gardens was built by Haider Ali and cultivated later by Tipo Sultan. Considered as the most beautiful botanical garden in India, Lalbagh Gardens features a “Glass House” with over 1800 species of trees, herbs and plants. The garden encompasses a land of 240 acres, housing a lawn clock which is a first of its kind in the country and one of the four Kempe Gowda Towers.

A stroll in the Cubbon Park will bring tourists face to face with statue of significant people in Indian’s history such as Queen Victoria, Chamarajendra Woodeyar, Major Gen. Sir Mark Cubbon, Rajya Dhurandhar, Sri K. Sheshadrilyer and Edward VII. With its beautiful flowers, trees and fountains, the park creates a natural and soothing environment perfect for relaxation.

On the other hand, Bannerghatta National Park is famous to tourists because of some of its main attractions like Tiger and Lion Safari, Crocodile Farm and Butterfly Park. The safari was divided into two sections namely carnivore and herbivore. It is home to a wide variety of animals such as royal Bengal tiger, hyenas, bison, black buck, leopard, barking deer, elephant and wild boar. The park also serves as sanctuary for those animals that were rescued from circus.

Ulsoor Lake is also an ideal place to just relax and soak in to the feeling of serenity and peacefulness. It is the largest lake in Bangalore well-known as a destination which offers rowing facilities and home of the boat club. One can just sit down, relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding tiny islands.

There are some tourists who booked air tickets to Bangalore mainly to see the breathtaking scenes of Nandi Hills and travel back in time exploring the historic relics scattered around the place. Two temples of Lord Shiva can be found at Nandi Hills, one is at the foot of the hill while the other one is at the foot. Other attractions are the cliff named “Tipu Drop” where convicts where pushed as a form of a death sentence, “Amrutha Saravora – a lake on top of the hill, a secret tunnel which served as an escape facility for kings during the ancient times and a fort built by a chieftain.

For those who would like to learn more about the history of India particularly the city of Bangalore, the Government Museum and Karnataka Folk Museum have all the information complete with collections of artifacts reflecting the different periods of time.

Karnataka Museum was established to promote the folk culture of Karnataka. All the collections about the folk culture are kept safely in three buildings namely Lokamatha Mandiral, Lokamahal and Chitrakuteera. Temple chariot, ancient carvings, videotapes of folk-dance, artifacts, puppets, earthen jars and mask are some of the interesting collections to see at the museum.

Set up in the year 1886, the Government Museum possesses some of the rare collection from different periods of time which played a significant role in the country’s history. The museum has 18 galleries presenting Neolithic finds like antiques, jewellery, and textile from various civilizations. Sculptures, old paintings and coins are some of the artifacts kept in the museum.

Art lovers will have wonderful time looking at the paintings in Venkatappa Art Gallery. This art gallery in Bangalore displays the works of Indian people who became famous because of their extraordinary gifts in arts. Works of famous painter Venkatappa, wood sculptor Rajaram and Hebar adore the walls of the gallery.

Bangalore is also famous because of its religious places for worship such as Nandi Bull Temple, ISKCON Temple Complex and Venkataramana Swami Temple. Learn more about the religious beliefs and practices of the people as you visit each temple and get acquainted with their sacred figures.

Indeed, Bangalore is a wonderful place for exploration and discovery. With all the travel deals offered by various online companies, traveling to Bangalore and other parts of India has become more affordable. For some cases booking air ticket online will give you the best airfare deal especially during promotional period thus spending holiday overseas can costs much lesser than the usual cost.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Traveling with Kids

Flying with kids can always be a challenge to parents especially with the issue of keeping them well-behaved during the entire flight. As everyone knows, children can be restless and irritable when they are kept in a place they can’t explore or they have very limited things to do. To help parents to cope up with this situation, here are some travel tips that might help to keep children behave properly while they are up in the sky.

1. Schedule your flight well.

● As much as possible, book a flight which coincides with the sleeping hours of your child. Nothing would be perfect than having your child asleep for the entire duration of the flight. Aside from the fact that you will be spared from several hours of saying “shhh” every now and then, you’ll have the opportunity to re-charge your energy for the tasks that awaits you upon landing.

● If you will be airborne with your kids for several hours, consider taking flights which has a break in between as even well behaved children can be restless when they are kept in a place with very limited things to do prompting tantrums and other improper behavior. Flying non-stop with your kids might not be advisable because letting them exercise their small limbs during breaks might work some magic to their moods.

2. Keep them occupied.

● Don’t forget to include materials to keep your children occupied while packing for the trip. Stuffed animals to cuddle and play with might save you from hours of walking behind your children while they wander around the plane. You can also bring art materials such as coloring books and pens, stickers, dolls, toys, cards, story books to read. Bring out one activity at a time to keep things properly organized. This will save you the trouble of repeatedly picking up things underneath the seats of irritated passengers around you.

● Some airlines do provide complimentary activity packets for children however you can’t be sure of it so it would be wiser to bring your own rather than risk having your children throw tantrum or keep bothering other passenger because of lack of activity to do.

● Include a CD player or other gadgets that they can listen to while they are being confined in an airplane. Make sure to bring earphones that fit their ears as well to be sure that they are comfortable.

3. Keep them well fed.

● Most kids get cranky when they are hungry so remember to bring your own supplies of sandwiches fruits or snacks in sealable plastic bags to keep them happy. Just remember to keep things tidy to avoid unpleasant reaction from nearby passengers.

● Having their favorite snacks will make them satisfied so make it a point to bring their preferred brand of drinks in small packets instead of forcing them to settle for what are available in the plane. However you might need to check with the airline company regarding this matter.

4. Make them comfortable as much as possible.

● Temperature in the plane might be too cold for children so a light quilt or blanket might be of great help to keep them comfortable. Some airlines do provide blanket upon request however the texture and the thickness might not what your child needs thus it will be safer to bring your own.

● Small pillows to provide comfort might make them sleep longer therefore bringing one will be a great idea.

● Dress them appropriately making sure that their movements are not restricted by their clothing. Jackets might be necessary to keep them warm especially when there are no blankets available in the plane.

5. Examine your own expectation.

● Don’t expect your child to be behaved perfectly because they are in the plane. Nowadays children are more responsive so they communicate easier expressing their thoughts and ideas so let your child speak to other passengers as long as they don’t mind. Conversation with little ones can sometimes be a refreshing experience for some adults who are not parents yet so allow your child to entertain other people.

● Let your kids wander around the plane as much as allowed every now and then to help them ease the feeling of boredom. Ask the flight attendant for some guide regarding what is allowed or not to make sure that your kids are not in the way of other passenger.

● Refrain from saying “sshh” to your children every minute. As long as the sound they are making is not loud enough to cause distraction to other passengers, let them be.

● Hope that there will be other children in the same flight who behaves less desirable than your child so that your child won’t attract much unpleasant impression from other passenger. You won’t feel good for sure being referred to as the parent of an undisciplined child.

● Don’t let the unpleasant behavior of your child gets the better of you. If the other passenger can see that you are doing your best to make your child behaved properly, they will give you some credit and won’t blame you for the way your child is behaving.

Traveling can be one of the best opportunities to spend quality time with your children so don’t let the concern of taking air plane rides with your children hinder you from creating memorable family moments. Just remember these tips when you are doing the flight booking for your family vacation and you’ll have a better chance of having a good start of a fun-filled holiday!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Top 10 Most Popular Festival in Philippines

Philippines is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Asia not only because it is a beautiful country which possesses numerous tourist attractions, but a great part of it must be attributed to the ready and genuine smiles of its hospitable people, which make every tourist’s stay in the Philippines truly memorable. Visitors often travel to Philippines during festival period, within these celebration, they are treated with spectacular street performances, representing the unique culture and traditions of each provinces. To give you a better understanding of these various festivals, here are some of the most popular ones.

Dinagyang Festival. Join the locals of Iloilo City as they shout "Viva Señor Santo Niño" and "Hala Bira" amidst the cracking of drums when they amaze the spectators with their fantastic costumes and make up during the street parade. Get your camera ready for it will be a regret on your part missing to capture the local people garbed in their grandest native attire. Dinagyang Festival is celebrated every fourth weekend of January to commemorate the Christianization of the natives and to honor the Holy Child Jesus. It is a very colorful parade coupled with a dramatization in honor of the patron Saint - Sto. Niño.

Higantes Festival. Prepare to feel small and tiny as you watch the “higantes” of the Anongo, Rizal. This festival dates back to the late 1800s in honor for the town’s patron saint San Clemente. It is characterized by huge papier-mache effigies or "higantes" which parade the street of Angono every 22nd and 23rd of November. You will surely be surprised by the artistic capabilities of the locals as they bring each giant character to life.

Kadayawan Festival. It is a celebration of Good Harvest in the city of Davao. This globally famous festival is a week long celebration and thanksgiving for nature's bountiful harvest. Watch the locals as they perform graceful dances in the streets wearing costumes that signify their livelihood sources. Kadayawan Festival is being celebrated every 3rd Week of August which annually attracts thousands of visitors to purchase airfare to Philippines. This is a celebration of the plentiful harvests of fruits and orchids during the season.

Ati-atihan Festival. It is a festival in Kalibo, Aklan which is considered as the wildest among Philippine fiestas. It is also believed this is the “Mother of All Philippine Festivals”. Celebrants paint their faces with black soot and wear bright, outlandish costumes as they dance in revelry during the last three days of this two week-long festival, so be careful of our signature clothes as you watch the street parade. Catholics and non-Catholics alike observe this special day with processions, parades, dancing, and merrymaking. This annual festivity is held every third week of January to honor the feast of the Holy Infant Jesus.

Maskara Festival. Get ready to see various smiling faces when you visit the city of Bacolod for its most popular fiesta, the Mascara Festival. It is celebrated on the third weekend of October closest to October 19, the city's charter day anniversary every year. Festivities kick off with food fairs, mask-making contests, brass band competitions, beauty pageants, windsurfing regatta, drinking and eating contests, trade fairs and exhibits. To make your experience more exciting, try on some of the wonderfully designed mascara and pose for a picture!

Moriones Festival. It is the most popular festival celebrated in the island of Marinduque. Morion means "mask" or "visor," a part of the medieval Roman armor which covers the face. Moriones, on the other hand, refers to the masked and costumed penitents who march around the town for seven days searching for Longinus. This week-long celebration begins on Holy Monday and ends on Easter Sunday. This festival is characterized by colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly-colored tunics. You will surely be entertained with the amazing performances of the locals as you learn more about their belief and customs.

Pahiyas Festival. This is a festival which attracts huge crowd in the town of Lucban in Quezon Province. It is celebrated by a colorful feast in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saints of farmers, as a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Visitors will be treated with the fantastic sight of houses lining the old streets of Lucban, artistically decorated with “kiping”, a wafer made up of rice that comes in different brilliant colors and other agricultural harvest. It is held every 15th day in the month of May which has been going on since the 16th century. The locals surely knows how to make an artistic display of their gratefulness for a bountiful harvest!

Panagbenga Festival. The city of Pines comes alive with high spirit during the Panagbenga Festival as the city brings out its most beautiful flowers to make different characters and images for the famous “parade of flowers”. Don’t miss this festival which is held yearly during the month of February. The celebrations are held for over a month and peak periods are the weekends. The Panagbenga Festival showcases the many floral floats and native dances. It is definitely a festival worthy of the effort searching for discount airlines as you get the chance to see hundreds of floral variety one can only find in Baguio City.

Pintados Festival. Are you ready to get painted? Well, you better try it and enjoy a unique experience. The Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is a merry-making event in Tacloban City in the province of Leyte which last for a whole month of June. The highlights of which include the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, the Pintados Festival Ritual Dance Presentation and the "Pagrayhak" Grand Parade. These festivals are said to have began from the feast day of Señor Santo Niño, held every June 29th. The Leyteños celebrate their religious festival in a unique and colorful way and since they are experienced in the art of body tattooing, what could be the best way to present their culture but to showcase their artistic gift.

Sinulog Festival. The Sinulog festival is one of the grandest, most distinguished and most colorful festivals in the Philippines. It is a major festival in Cebu City held each year on the third Sunday of January in honor of the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus. It is fundamentally a dance ritual which represents the period before the introduction of Christianity to Philippines. Visitors will surely have fun watching the different lively and spectacular street performances of the locals wearing equally fantastic costumes.

Visit the Philippines, get to know its people and their traditions in an entertaining and fabulous way with these various festivals one can only see in this beautiful archipelago.