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Balinese Coffee — the Special Blend

Posted by on 11:41 am in Indonesia, Spotlight | 2 comments

Balinese Coffee — the Special Blend

Balinese Coffee Hype The Most Expensive Balinese Coffee When I first heard about the Balinese coffee that costs 300 plus dollars a kilo, I was in disbelief. I was even more flabergasted when I found out why it costs so much: because a small animal called a luwak eats the beans and poops them out, which is supposed to make it taste better (not because of the poop but because of the digestion process). Fascinating. So while in Bali this spring, I decided to go to one of the many coffee plantations on the island that produce luwak coffee. The...

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Getting Married for Iran

Posted by on 7:16 am in Iran, Spotlight | 2 comments

Getting Married for Iran

Married for Iran Travel Travel Plans to Iran Let me start off by saying I never thought I would go to Iran. Or get married. So when my Iranian boyfriend, Hamid, first came home to our small Istanbul flat and told me he thought we should get married to go visit his family in Iran, my heart almost fell out of my ass. “Look, it’s simple. We get Islamic temporarily married and you don’t have to go through all the bull shit of booking a tour guide and paying all this extra money. You can stay with my family, I can show you around.” He looked so...

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Tagaytay and Taal Volcano, The Philippines

Posted by on 7:45 pm in Philippines, Spotlight | 0 comments

Tagaytay and Taal Volcano, The Philippines

Tagaytay, The Philippines Vacay in Tagaytay Have you ever wondered where the locals of places considered our holiday destinations go for their holidays? I did. “Where do you go for holidays?” I asked the taxi driver in Manila, who has just spend the last ten minutes reciting the list of holiday islands in his country, straight out of a brochure that I got at the arrival hall of the airport. He thought about this question, an indication that he has never been to any of these fancy tourist spots that he has just recommended. “Tagaytay,” he...

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Eye on Saitama, Japan

Posted by on 10:01 am in Japan, Spotlight | 1 comment

Eye on Saitama, Japan

North of Tokyo in Saitama The Suburb of Saitama Driving through the suburbs of Tokyo, the roadside is dotted with familiar sites such as: an auto body shop, a town barber and clusters of modest suburban houses, each with a lone fruit tree in the front yard. It could be a stretch of road in Ventura County, but the Japanese characters advertising cell phones and televisions, and the fruit trees, heavy with ripe persimmons, make it distinctly Japan. Saitama to be precise, a smallish prefecture north of Tokyo that houses a large population of...

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Shrekfast in Macau

Posted by on 6:17 pm in China, Spotlight | 0 comments

Shrekfast in Macau

Dining with Dreamworks in Macau Macau Beyond Gambling I stood at the check-in counter at the Sheraton Macao in the middle of Cotai, which is a man-made bridge that connects the islands of Taipa and Coloane in Macau. My gambling days were over and wondered how I would occupy my time in Macau. Of the 28 million visitors to Macau every year, I would be one of the few who would not be trying lady luck during my stay. Sure Cotai is supposed to be for adults but the Sheraton Macao Hotel and a few other partner hotels on the Cotai Strip are looking...

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Sunrise on the Holy Ganges

Posted by on 9:57 pm in India, Spotlight | 1 comment

Sunrise on the Holy Ganges

Along the Ganges River The Holy Ganges The sun seemingly rose out of and above the holy Ganges river until it hung large and low in the sky, glittering and reflecting long, yellow strands on the water and casting a mellow, dewy glow over the the ghats. The misty morning air filled with the aroma of sandalwood and jasmine flowers as the ghats erupted into a riot of colour and activity. Varanasi, also called Kashi (city of life), is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is a holy city for Hindus and pilgrims who come...

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Dubai Announced as Host City for Expo 2020

Posted by on 2:02 pm in Announcements, Dubai | 0 comments

  First World Expo to be held in the MENASA region will attract 25 million visitors Winning Expo 2020 bid will “accelerate the growth of the tourism industry in Dubai, the UAE and the wider GCC region” November 27, 2013 (Dubai) – Hosting Expo 2020 will have a significant impact on the tourism industry of Dubai and the UAE, and provide a unique platform on which to communicate the remarkable story of a young city and nation – according to the head of the body responsible for promoting Dubai around the world and attracting international...

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Ancient and Modern Indonesia

Posted by on 8:21 am in Indonesia, Spotlight | 1 comment

Ancient and Modern Indonesia

Ancient and Modern Indonesia Ancient Indonesia at Borobudur Stepping out of the bus station, dazed by streaked sunlight and compressed heat, brings that familiar “pin-prick” feeling of unexpectedness behind my navel. I have come to this part of Indonesia for Borobudur; an ancient Buddhist temple; a tantric mandala; a symbol of the universe. Its grey bricks wait unassumingly in the distance, happily circumferenced by a UNESCO-friendly visitor’s park. The real beauty resides in the intrinsic Buddhist philosophy embedded in the monument...

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A Turkish Experience

Posted by on 10:00 am in Spotlight, Turkey | 3 comments

A Turkish Experience

Getting Turkish by Visiting Turkey I just cracked open my new Skyfall DVD and seeing Daniel Craig cycling across Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar conjured up memories of a top secret mission vacation The Media Guy recently took to Turkey. I needed to get it all down in writing so you can take a similar trip if you so choose. Only 13 hours from Los Angeles and eight hours from New York. Get to the Greek The winding road to the Upper Greek House ($80-$150/night; +90 384 353 54 13) led me to the top of the grand old Turkish village of Mustafapasa in...

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Canoeing Around Phuket, Thailand

Posted by on 6:40 am in ITKT Staff Writers, Spotlight, Thailand | 0 comments

Canoeing Around Phuket, Thailand

“Lie as still as you can, lie as low as you can,” my guide whispered as he slowly navigated us into the weave of tunnels. I kept calm and still as I watched the cave close in on me, sharp rocks dangled inches from the tip of my nose. “This is too narrow. I am going to have to let some air go.” As my guide, Souk, gently deflated the canoe with his hands, I should have felt alarmed. The deeper we pushed ourselves into the limestone caves the further the canoe shrunk, and molded itself against the sharp rocks and squeezed...

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Discovery Adventure Travelers To Visit New Hope

Posted by on 2:49 pm in Africa, Announcements, Cambodia, Thailand | 0 comments

Discovery Adventure Travelers To Visit New Hope

Discovery Adventures Offers Travelers A Chance To Give Back To Local Communities In Tours To Thailand, Southern Africa And Peru (Toronto, September 4, 2013) — Discovery Adventures, the tour operator developed in partnership with Discovery Communications and G Adventures, offers three exciting trips for travelers looking to support special community initiatives and projects, as well as engage with local cultures. These three tours – Thailand and Angkor Wat Cultural Journey, Southern Africa Safari, and Amazon & Incan Adventure – allow...

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Battambang, Bamboo Rail-Riding in Cambodia

Posted by on 10:11 am in Cambodia, Spotlight | 7 comments

Battambang, Bamboo Rail-Riding in Cambodia

Battambang Bamboo Rail-Riding in Cambodia A Trip to Battambang ‘What would my insurance company say’, I wondered, ‘if I tried to make a claim for getting thrown off this thing?’ Especially since I had discovered my mode of transport, the Battambang, Cambodia, bamboo train, was actually ‘unofficial’ — or, illegal but in a legal kind of way. I had been excited about my trip to Battambang (pronounced ‘bat-tam-bong’), a city about three hours’ bus drive from Siem Reap and the second largest in Cambodia. The bamboo train, also know by the Khmer as...

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Gazientep, Turkey

Posted by on 10:00 am in ITKT Blogs, Turkey | 0 comments

Gazientep, Turkey

Alternate black and white stones lined the windows of the Kurtulus Camii mosque in Gazientep. This was the most noticeable architectural feature I saw as I walked around the outer wall. I eventually found an open gate and walked through. There was a good view of the minaret in the late evening sun and I took a couple of pictures. As I looked at some further possible images through the viewfinder I gradually became aware of someone watching me. A man wearing a woolly hat and yellow Wellington boots smiled at me and said some words while...

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Foods to Taste in Turkey

Posted by on 11:38 am in Food and Wine, ITKT Blogs, Turkey | 0 comments

Foods to Taste in Turkey

Foods to Taste in Turkey The Diversity of Turkish Food On one of my first nights in Istanbul, the mother of the child I was au pairing for told me an interesting piece of information, something I don’t think I would have guessed: that Turkish food stands among the five most diverse national cuisines in the world (the other four were Italian, French, Chinese, and Mexican). In addition to the being the owner of several Istanbul-based food and dining magazines, she is also a skilled and knowledgeable cook, and over the weeks that followed my...

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Gobekli Tepe, Turkey

Posted by on 4:42 pm in ITKT Blogs, Turkey | 0 comments

Gobekli Tepe, Turkey

Gobekli Tepe is an unprepossessing archaeological site in Northern Mesopotamia – the area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. No postcards of the site are on sale and no guidebooks. Indeed, the gatekeeper has only one book for sale and that’s an English translation of the work by Klaus Schmidt that first alerted the world to his significant discovery in southern Turkey near the Syrian border. The archaeologists believe that Gobekli Tepe was built by hunter-gatherers somewhere in the period 7500BC – 9500BC, which means this site is...

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