Sunday, 19 November 2017

'GONG' PRODUCT WINS AWARD

Wollongong’s Skydive Australia has been named the best activity in NSW at the Golden Backpack Tourism Awards.

The accolade recognises the service that Skydive Australia offers
independent travellers at its five drop zones in NSW, including from its home base in Wollongong.

The Golden Backpack Awards celebrate the achievements of companies working to make backpacking the best experience possible.

MAKING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FIRST VISIT TO THE MISSION IN SAN FRANCISCO

There’s a lot to be said about the Mission neighbourhood in San Francisco. For one, the food is divine and the food scene itself is full of unique character. Second, it’s culturally rich in a way that really honours San Francisco’s history and the “quirkiness” the city is all about. Third, it’s active. There’s always something to do in this neighbourhood. A visit to the Mission is always a worthwhile one. Here are some suggestions on making the most out of your first visit.
History

It’s not surprising that the Mission is cited by many publications as having the best burritos in the city. Because it is historically a Mexican neighbourhood, you can see the homage being paid through all the beautiful Chicano storefront murals and Mariachi bands performing in restaurants! It’s a lively place to visit. Originally the Mission housed the first official baseball stadium in California and in the 1970s and 80s was home to a very vibrant punk music scene. Today, people enjoy the neighbourhood's diverse music scene and outdoor leisure activities on a consistent basis. Art, parades, beautiful parks, nightlife, food… it all echoes the Mission’s past and secures a place in "what the Mission is" today.

Best Time to Visit

There is often an event going on in the Mission. Whether it is a concert, a parade, or a gigantic annual festival like Carnaval (this year’s theme is Long Live Mother Earth!), there’s always something special to do here. But the truth is, you can experience what is appealing about the Mission on any given day. From people watching, indulging in the food scene, taking in the views and local attractions you’ll quickly see how very San Francisco the Mission is, no matter the timing of your visit.

Awesome Places to Visit for Your First Time

Where all the locals love to hang out and take in breathtaking views of the city. All you need to bring is a blanket to sit on and take it all in. There are tons of characters here, so you’ll never be bored just people watching. Especially if you bring in some delicious food from restaurant neighbours. Pro tip: We definitely suggest the sandwiches from Claire’s Deli and the famed desserts from Tartine Bakery.

First off, Lolinda has one of the coolest rooftop bars in San Francisco. And as an Argentinean steakhouse with incredible craft cocktails - expect a wait if you get there during prime hours or without a reservation. It’s that fun, it’s that good. Tacolicious has exactly what the name implies: some of the most delicious tacos around. The atmosphere is lively and the beef nachos are out of this world.

  • Taking In the People’s Art: Graffiti Wall At Clarion Alley (Between Mission And Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets.) 
Run by the American Indian Center and Promotoras Latinas Comunitarias de Salud, Clarion Alley is where meaningful, message-driven community art in San Francisco thrives. Colorful, edgy and created with a purpose. This small street has been characterized by its murals painted by local artists since 1992. Snap some photos, take in some “meaning” behind the works of art, and make it special by picking a favourite mural!

Mission Bicycle Company not only builds awesome customizable bikes, but also rents them out for around $40 a day and includes everything from a helmet to a messenger bag.

  • Relax and Unwind the Entertaining Way: Foreign Cinema (2534 Mission St.) 
Foreign Cinema has won numerous awards, been dubbed as one of the top 100 SF restaurants by the San Francisco Chronicle, and remains a favourite for locals and visitors alike. With a movie playing in the background and gorgeous art surrounding the venue, the ambience is truly magical. It’s a popular spot, so make your reservations ASAP! Weeks in advance is recommended.

Best Places to Stay

There are plenty of options in the Mission to stay at if you choose to do so, but we recommend a bed and breakfast:
  • 1906 Mission Hotel (1906 Mission St.): A modern Victorian bed and breakfast with the coolest earthy-meets-urban decor. You’ll feel at home here with their comfy beds, amazing showers, and unique lounge areas that serve cucumber water around the clock.
  • Noe Valley Apartments (3743 23rd St.): Full of funky decor, it just echoes the awesomely eccentric vibes of the Mission. Pet friendly too!


How to Get There

Public Transportation

You can take BART to 16th and walk a few blocks into the heart of all the action or take the Muni Metro (J-Church) to 16th and Church. BART is underground, whereas Muni is above ground.

There’s a lot to be said about the Mission neighbourhood in San Francisco. For one, the food is divine and the food scene itself is full of unique character. Second, it’s culturally rich in a way that really honours San Francisco’s history and the “quirkiness” the city is all about. Third, it’s active. There’s always something to do in this neighbourhood. A visit to the Mission is always a worthwhile one. Here are some suggestions on making the most out of your first visit.

History

It’s not surprising that the Mission is cited by many publications as having the best burritos in the city. Because it is historically a Mexican neighbourhood, you can see the homage being paid through all the beautiful Chicano storefront murals and Mariachi bands performing in restaurants! It’s a lively place to visit. Originally the Mission housed the first official baseball stadium in California and in the 1970s and 80s was home to a very vibrant punk music scene. Today, people enjoy the neighbourhood's diverse music scene and outdoor leisure activities on a consistent basis. Art, parades, beautiful parks, nightlife, food… it all echoes the Mission’s past and secures a place in "what the Mission is" today. 

Flower festival to return to Da Lat in December

The 7th Da Lat Flower Festival, themed “Flowers of Da Lat – Miracle from the good earth”, will return to Da Lat City, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong from December 23-27.

This year’s event will continue to promote the brand of flowers and tourism in Da Lat, while also introducing traditional tea and silk products from the province.

The five-day festival will feature a fashion week of silk and “Ao Dai” (traditional Vietnamese gown) and folk performances by artists from the Republic of Korea.

A series of workshops will be held as part of the event to promote investment in Lam Dong, to discuss Da Lat’s development planning and to develop the local tea and silk industries.

According to the Chairman of the People’s Committee of Da Lat City Vo Ngoc Hiep, the festival provides an opportunity for local businesses in agriculture and forestry to meet with their peers from other provinces and for the tourism industry to foster a local uniqueness among visitors.

MURIEL'S WEDDING THE MUSICAL OPENS

The highly anticipated musical adaptation of the hit movie Muriel’s Wedding is now on in Sydney.

Muriel’s Wedding The Musical has been adapted by the writer of the movie, PJ Hogan, and features original music by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall.

"This exciting new home-grown production is one with global appeal and is expected to generate more than $3 million in overnight visitor expenditure for NSW during its exclusive Sydney season" said NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall.

The season runs until 27 January 2018.

The world premiere of Muriel's Wedding The Musical was secured exclusively for Sydney by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Tickets are now on sale now.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

TOURISM AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Outstanding tourism businesses from across NSW were honoured last night at a special ceremony at the International Convention Centre Sydney, to mark the 2017 NSW Tourism Awards.

Managed by the Tourism Industry division of the NSW Business Chamber, and supported by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, the Awards celebrate and acknowledge tourism excellence in NSW.

Speaking at the Awards, NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall highlighted the importance of tourism and events to the State’s economy and congratulated the winners.

“The tourism industry contributes a phenomenal $33.2 billion per year in international and domestic visitor expenditure to the NSW economy and directly employs 164,000 people,” Mr Marshall said.

“At the heart of this success are the many hard-working individuals and businesses across NSW who work tirelessly to deliver world-class tourism experiences, and I thank them for their commitment to excellence.”

The NSW Tourism Awards winners will represent the State as finalists at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards on Friday, 23 February 2018.

View the winners list.

Lake Nojiri National Park

The autumn leaves are now at their best in the area around Lake Nojiri National Park.

This place is a hidden spot of one of the best autumn colours in Japan.

Driving or Cycling around the lake is highly recommendable.

Here is the link to the town's website.

Bac Ninh promotes spiritual tourism potential

The northern province of Bac Ninh has actively applied numerous measures to fully tap its spiritual tourism potential.

Nguyen Van Anh, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, communication campaigns will be promoted in order to raise the awareness of the role of tourism, particularly spiritual tourism, among levels, sectors and the community.

Besides, the province has been investing in technical infrastructure for tourism, including the expansion of tourism services and the construction of ports, wharves and infrastructure facilities along the Duong and Cau Rivers to connect spiritual tourism destinations.

Apart from mapping out number of typical spiritual tourism tours, Bac Ninh will focus on personnel training, particularly tour guides and safety and security for tourists.

Bac Ninh is home to 1,558 historical and cultural relic sites. Of which, nearly 200 are national relic sites and four are national special relic sites, including 1,000-year-old Phat Tich Pagoda in Tien Du district, Do Temple in Tu Son township.

The province also features 547 traditional festivals and 60 traditional trade villages.

Over the past years, the province has issued numerous policies to promote spiritual tourism potential. Hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong have been poured into upgrading and restoring local relic sites.

The province welcomes around 3 million visitors each year, mostly to religious sites and festivals in the Spring.

BREAK UP YOUR DAY AT DISNEYLAND TO ENJOY ANAHEIM’S FOOD SCENE

A day at Disneyland is a day made for princesses and princes. But from time to time, the royal court must depart. Weary from reigning over Radiator Springs Racers or prevailing over Pirates of the Caribbean? Consider the many dining options in Anaheim, just outside the Magic Kingdom.

Many within walking distance from the parks, Anaheim offers an array of culinary creations fit for foodie royalty. No crowns required.

Downtown Disney & Disney Hotels

Step just outside Disneyland for a quick lunch that reminds you you’re still on vacation.

Tortilla Jo’s Taqueria

Looking for a quick bite that’s made to order? Head to the taqueria attached to Tortilla Jo’s. Customize your own tacos, nachos, or burritos and dine on the colorful outdoor patio. You’ll be able to cool off with aquas frescas made in house.

La Brea Bakery

Just off the promenade for the Disney parks, you’ll find La Brea Bakery. The cafe provides both a casual dining experience and also a grab & go menu. Pick up a Montecito salad with beets, goat cheese, and caramelized walnuts while you exit the park.

Tangaroa Terrace/Trader Sam’s

Find paradise at the Disneyland Hotel. The tropical themed quick service restaurant serves up salads, flatbread pizzas and burgers with Polynesian flair. Right next door, you’ll find another option for a quick bite with Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. Order a Shipwreck and watch the bar come to life!

Anaheim GardenWalk

Just a short walk away from the Disneyland Resort is the Anaheim GardenWalk. Take advantage of the art installations after sampling some favorite restaurants from home, and choices found only in Anaheim.

House of Blues Anaheim

I’m fairly certain the House of Blues Anaheim has a time machine because I feel like I’m 20 again whenever I dine there. An edgy, art-filled atmosphere serves up comfort foods that feed the soul. Try Southern-style tacos or something from the smokehouse, like the Sliced Brisket or Pulled Pork. If you’re looking for lighter fare so you can boogie while dining, try the Southern Salad with apple, fennel, white cheddar and toasted pecans.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Forrest Gump said, “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, steam it, sauté it.” At Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., they do it all. Pair your “Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp” with a margarita, hand-shaken at your table. Life may be like a box of chocolates, but at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. you know exactly what you’ll get. A relaxed environment with a great selection of seafood.

The Anaheim Packing House

A vintage citrus packing house turned food hall makes for a hip and diverse spot for lunch.

Adya

Looking for a flavorful way to spice up your day? Try Adya. The vegetable curry of the day or kebabs bring fresh Indian flavors to the lunchtime crowd.

Black Sheep

You’re never too old for a grilled cheese sandwich. Black Sheep grills up made-to-order cheese sandwiches with some grown-up flavors. Try the #1 served with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and arugula pesto. Add tomato soup for the comfort of home.

The Kroft

Looking for something to appeal to our neighbors to the north? Try Canadian-French specialty fries called poutines. Although the menu inspiration isn’t, the produce and meats are local. Consider a market-inspired sandwich.

Anaheim and Beyond

Just outside Anaheim are some delicious destinations for consideration.

Rutabegorz

The name is odd, but the food is fantastic. Hippies and health-conscious will adore the oversized salads and sandwiches in Rutabegorz Fullerton. The cozy coffee shop turned full restaurant has been an O.C. mainstay since the 70s, serving veggie-filled options. The Garlic Chicken Salad is a fan favorite, year after year.

Cortina’s Italian Market

Want to eat like a local? Order a meatball sub from Cortina’s. The Italian market will help you find your favorite stinky cheese or great wine, but it also serves incredible sandwiches, salads, and, of course, pizza.

Pour Vida

Do not wait for Taco Tuesday; go to Pour Vida every day of the week. The hand-crafted fusion tacos are cheaper than therapy, with similar euphoric effects. Grab a Hamburger Taco or Brussel Sprouts Taco with nacho fries.

PokiNometry

You’d miss PokiNometry while driving down Harbor Blvd. if it weren’t for the line out the door. PokiNometry is what you get when you add poke and sushi into a bowl, made just for you in a poke assembly line. Start off by picking your “Nemo” and then top your fish with added flavors and spice.

EXPERIENCE AUGMENTED REALITY AT AQUARIUM OF THE BAY

Get up close and personal with some of your favourite marine life through the Aquarium of the Bay's interactive augmented and virtual reality film presentations.

Sponsored by Big Bus Tours and projected onto a 20-foot screen, the two shows, The Ocean Adventure and The Arctic Explorer, developed by London-based, INDE BroadcastAR, allow guests to "touch" images of various animals from the sea, including whales, dolphins, walrus, polar bear, penguins and seals. High-resolution images of guests interacting with these augmented reality (AR) shows will be available for sale from Snapshare. This AR experience will be shown in the Farallon Room at the Aquarium.

Also available to experience at the Aquarium is The Click Effect, one of the most successful virtual reality (VR) experiences to date. Taking guests on a free-dive down to 100-feet into the ocean depths to swim with dolphins, pilot whales and giant sperm whales, The Click Effect is the first VR film at the Aquarium. The Virtual Reality Micro Theater was developed specifically for museums, zoos, planetariums and aquariums, and features custom hardware and software allowing synchronous play on headsets for a shared experience by viewers. The Click Effect was shot in 2016 by veteran filmmaker Sandy Smolan and best-selling author James Nestor, and has won the Lumiere Award for Best VR Documentary.

The Aquarium of the Bay is conveniently located within PIER 39 alongside the Embarcadero and adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf. For more information on the Aquarium, including hours and ticket availability, and to view additional featured events, please visit the Aquarium of the Bay online.

Nearly 10.5 million int’l visitor arrivals to Viet Nam in 10 months

In October 2017, Viet Nam received 1,024,899 international visitor arrivals, up 5.0% over last month and 24.7% compared to the same period last year, the General Statistic Office reported.

That figure added to the total number of international visitors to Viet Nam in 10 months of this year of 10,473,230 arrivals, up 28.1% over the same period of 2016, exceeding the total number of 2016 (10,012,735 int’l arrivals).

Of which, the international visitors travelling by air reached 8,877,100 arrivals (+31.0%); by sea: 204,707 arrivals (-8.1%); by road: 1.391.423 arrivals (+18.0%).

In comparison with the same period last year, almost tourist markets recorded positive growth. In particular, Northeast Asian markets saw a strong increase including Republic of Korea (+53.9%), China (+45.6%), Hong Kong (+37.1%), Taiwan (+21.1%). Many European markets recorded two-digit growth rate such as Russia (+38.3%), Spain (+20.6%), Sweden (+17.5%), Finland (+15.2%), Germany (+13.7%), Holland (+12.7%), Italy (+12.3%), UK (+11.8). In addition, African and Oceanian markets continued to went up 28,5% and 13,3%, respectively.

The number of domestic trippers in 10 months estimated 63.1 million; total tourism receipts reached VND 417,400 billion, up 25.9% over the same period of 2016, according to Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism.

*Thanh Tam