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Recreation - page 10

Must-see places and can’t miss things to do from Malé to Bali

Must-see in Thailand: Phi Phi Islands

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koh phi phi thailand islands

Ready for an adventure? Take to the sea Herman Melville style and visit the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast of Phuket. This beautiful bundle of isles in the Andaman Sea offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Add these must-see islands to your Thailand itinerary.

Koh Phi Phi Leh

Early birds get the worm, or in this case stunning views of Maya Bay featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Beach, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. A private chartered speedboat departing at sunrise from Royal Phuket Marina near Cape Yamu offers the best chance to witness this remarkable site before the hoards arrive.

The approach to Koh Phi Phi Leh is an experience in itself, as the 100-metre-high limestone cliffs encompassing unbelievably azure water come into view. Silhouetted by dense jungle, the two silky-soft white-sand beaches of Maya Bay are gradually warmed by the rising sun with the allure of lazy lounging. But wait, there’s more.

Snorkelers rejoice! This remarkable bay with depths of two to three metres is teeming with marine life in its northern section where coral reefs are more prevalent. Leap from the deck of your private charter boat or dare the 150-metre swim from the beach. Either way, be prepared to see large boulders laden with enormous sea anemones, parrotfish and photogenic giant clams posing with mouths agape.

Before departing to the next destination, venture barefoot into the jungle along a short trail shaded by a lush tropical canopy to a wooden staircase and terrace overlooking Loh Sama, reputed for its snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you’ll see a picturesque tiny islet surrounded by crystal clear waters with traditional long-tail wooden boats moored alongside.

Phi Leh Lagoon

Opposite Maya Bay on the eastern edge of Koh Phi Phi Leh is the unbelievably green Phi Leh Lagoon. Stretching nearly 600-metres, this stunning natural wonder twists and turns down a canyon-like waterway ending in a wide picturesque lagoon with vertical limestone cliffs on all sides. Its full beauty is unveiled around midday, when the sun, like a brush to canvas, brings to life its colours, tones and textures. This is a spot to linger awhile and appreciate how nature’s artistic hand can create such a glorious site. 

If it weren’t for the ripples, you could be forgiven for thinking you were diving into a putting green on a world-class golf course.

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Yachting on Phuket – Best charters for island-hopping

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Bristol Charter Infinity One speedboat

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience.”

In 2000 Danny Boyle’s “The Beach” was released on the big screen and it was the first time I had ever seen the beauty of Thailand. The crystal-clear water, white sandy beaches with palm trees, the hedonistic lifestyle – it was where I wanted to be. In 2007 the dream came true. I moved to Phuket.

At first, it seemed like the perfect island, having an array of beautiful beaches and an exciting and sometimes crazy nightlife. For the first six months, I explored Phuket from east coast to west coast, from north to south and found it to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Yet it wasn’t until I took my first trip out on a traditional Thai Long Tail boat that I realized Phuket is one of the many beautiful islands within Phang Nga Bay.

Phuket is the gateway to over 100 islands, each one easily accessible by boat and offering something different, from perfect dive and snorkeling sites, long white sandy beaches for chilled-out lazing around, and some with shacks that serve fresh tasty local food. It was after my first trip out, that my eyes opened up to the place I now call home, and how beautiful it is. That’s when island-hopping around Phang Nga Bay became my passion.

Each of the islands within Phang Nga Bay has its own uniqueness. There are the distinctive features of limestone formations that rise out of the emerald waters, the best example being Koh Ta-Pu (Nail Island) known to you and me as James Bond Island. One of the most famous islands in Phang Nga Bay, having been used as the backdrop for the 1974 James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”, now due to its popularly, it is also one of the busiest islands.

you might have (what my 5-year-old daughter calls) “boat hair” but you will have memories that last a lifetime

I have two young children,

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Ubud Yoga Classes

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Yoga class

Ubud is known as the cultural and spiritual heart of Bali, a place to seek tranquility amidst lush green rice terraces, traditional villages and sacred Balinese Hindu temples. A hot spot on the tourist trail and one of the healthiest cities in Southeast Asia, charming Ubud is a sanctuary of well-being and an oasis for yogis and spiritual seekers.

There are many yoga studios in Ubud to choose from, several of them doubling as holistic healing centres, spas or cafés, and supporting environmentalism and charity projects.

The choice of yoga classes for visitors is vast. From Yin to Ashtanga and Bikram, there is a yoga style for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi. At many centres, you can book your class beforehand. You can also drop-in just before a class, but be sure to go at least 30 minutes early as they do fill up quickly. All the studios provide yoga mats and other equipment, so all you need to bring is comfortable clothing and positive mind.

5 yoga classes in Ubud, Bali

UBUD BEGINNNER YOGA CLASS
CALLING ALL NOVICE YOGIS

The Yoga Barn offers a beginners’ class daily at 2pm. Intro to Yoga is an ideal class for anyone new to yoga with discussion on how yoga can benefit our everyday lives, with simple breathing techniques and basic yoga poses.

Being the most popular yoga centre in Ubud, the class sizes are big – their studios cater up to 60 people. Intro to Yoga is great choice for beginners and those wanting to meet new people.

Yoga Barn’s gorgeous space offers over 15 yoga classes a day, plus dance class and guided meditation. They also have an on-site healing centre ‘Kush’ and Garden Kafe.

The Yoga Barn
Jl. Raya Pengosekan,
Ubud, Bali
(+62) 0361 971 236
https://www.theyogabarn.com/schedule.html

ACROYOGA CLASSES IN UBUD
TAKE YOUR STRETCHES TO NEW HEIGHTS

Looking for a fun and challenging yoga class in Bali? Elevate your routine with Acroyoga!

Acroyoga classIMAGE: ACROYOGA INTERNATIONAL.

This fun movement class incorporates yoga and partner acrobatics to build strength and balance, as well as some deep stretching poses influenced by traditional Thai massage techniques.

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Scuba Diving in the Maldives

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Scuba Dive Site in Maldives Baa Atoll

AN UNDERWATER DREAM COME TRUE

Don’t let the name deceive you. Diving in the ‘MalDIVES’ is anything but mal! Teeming with marine life, the 1,190 tiny islands of the Maldives lie scattered across 800 kilometres of Indian Ocean like jewels escaping from an overturned treasure chest. And they offer some of the best diving in the world.

As the Indian Monsoon Current sweeps across this equatorial island chain, it brings with it nutrients that feed the soft corals and sponges found clinging to rock walls. Caverns and overhangs dotted with mysterious, vibrantly coloured creatures line the ocean channels, while rock pinnacles extend to the water’s surface within crystalline lagoons.

These coralene islands are home to some 900 species of fish. While manta rays, whale sharks, turtles and eels co-exist below the waves, stunningly white beaches provide a dreamscape for visitors looking to get away from it all.

The blissful Baa Atoll is a prime pick for when it’s time to tick ‘Diving in the Maldives’ off your bucket list.

“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish” – Jaques Cousteau

Diving Baa atoll is an experience like no other. Designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in June 2011, it is the jewel on the necklace that is the Maldives. The atoll is situated on the west of the archipelago and experiences far fewer visitors in comparison to its southerly neighbours. From above, the 61 islands – half of which measure less than 10 hectares – resemble extra-terrestrial orbs spread out over a deep blue canvas. Close up, they offer heavenly visions overflowing with stunning natural beauty.

Our top pick in Baa Atoll is the less-than-one-kilometre-long Amilla Fushi, which translates to ‘your island home’. This quintessential paradise island boasts some of the best dive sites in the Maldives and can be reached in under a half an hour by seaplane from Malé International Airport. From Amilla Fushi, visitors have the opportunity to dive any of the 30 sites of the Baa atoll, including the Blue Hole and world-renowned Hanifaru Bay.

To guide you in your underwater explorations is HUB (Home of the Underwater Biosphere) in partnership with luxury dive pioneers Dive Butler International. Their team includes an international group of highly qualified marine conservationists and dive professionals who can tailor excursions to meet your needs.

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Where in the World? The Biggest Asian Elephant Gathering

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The Gathering at Minneriya National Park

Elephants are amazing. There’s something about their grey leathery hides, their tiny soulful eyes, their wispy mop-like tails and their playful trunks. Oh, and I love it when they run!

Given my penchant for Pachyderms I couldn’t be living in a better place than Sri Lanka, land of the Asian Elephant. There are thought to be around 2,500-3,500 wild elephants on this 65,000-square-kilometre island, mostly living in protected national parks and reserves, which are connected via ‘elephant corridors’ – forested passageways.

 

Minneriya National Park elephant reserve

One of the world’s most significant elephant phenomena happens in Minneriya National Park – a protected 8,890-hectare reserve within Sri Lanka’s famed Cultural Triangle. Every year, from the beginning of the dry season – usually late August – groups of elephants start to congregate around the receding waters of the Minneriya Tank, a vast and ancient waterbody spanning some 4670 acres, which was built by the ‘tank-building’ King Mahasena in the 3rd century. This tank at the centre of the reserve never empties so when other drinking sources become scarce, elephants find their way here to drink, bathe and feast on the young shoots of grass that flourish on the edges of the tank as the water recedes.

This phenomenon, which usually lasts until the monsoon begins in October, is known as The Gathering. The term was coined less than a decade ago by renowned Sri Lankan naturalist Gehan de Silva Wijerathne, and since then crowds of visitors have come to observe these majestic creatures in their natural setting. As many as 300 elephants have been recorded at the tank at any one time; it’s thought to be the biggest gathering of Asian elephants in the world. Minneriya forms part of an elephant corridor that links Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa national parks, all located in Sri Lanka’s North Central region.

 

Minneriya National Park See Asian elephants at the gathering

Last September I was lucky enough to witness this natural spectacle for myself. The afternoon is the best time of day to observe the elephants, so I was at the park by 2.30pm to meet up with my driver and tracker. Jeep drivers double up as safari guides, though trackers (some are former poachers) are often more experienced at sighting wildlife. Luckily, mine spoke English.

We drove slowly, taking in the park’s scenery as our guide scanned the forest for any signs of movement.

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