Friday, 29 April 2011

London - A City that is Ready to Welcome You

Last week I was lucky enough to take several tourist groups on a panoramic tour around London. They couldn’t have picked a better week to visit this amazing city. London is really buzzing at the moment. We have the royal wedding to look forward to on 29th April, the Queen’s jubilee will be celebrated with a grand river-pageant along the River Thames on Sunday 3rd June, 2012 and then the Olympics, London 2012 begin in July.

It’s amazing how thousands of people have come to London just to see the preparation for the events. I took the opportunity to walk my tourists, some from Singapore and Malaysia, through St James’ Park to see Buckingham Palace. The park was popular and especially pretty during the most perfect spring weather that we have enjoyed for many years. Children played and fed the variety of water birds that are kept in the park and families generally enjoyed the quiet away from the busy chaos of London streets. It’s hard to believe but true that 40% of London is green space and no-matter where you are in London, you’re not far from a peaceful square or grand park, all free and full of fascinating distractions from the busy backdrop of London. For example; Kensington Gardens is home to the ‘Peter Pan’ playground with a replica of Captain Hook’s ship and Indian village, all for the delight of children of all ages. Regent’s Park is home to its very own open-air theatre and boating lake; also home to London Zoo (for which there is an entry charge). Hyde Park is home to the Serpentine Art Gallery and borders on to ‘Speaker’s Corner’ at Marble Arch where every Sunday morning you can witness true freedom of speech as members of the public literally stand on soap boxes to remonstrate about something they feel strongly about.

Try not to miss this opportunity to visit a city that is ready to welcome you, all these great events are rare occasions and will probably not happen again in our great city for at least another generation. There’s nothing like being able to say, ‘I was there, I saw that’, so book your trip and enjoy the celebrations with us.


Linda King is a professional blue badge tour guide who loves visual arts and architecture and relishes the idea of escorting groups around galleries and Museums. With literature as her forte she is a qualified London tour guide and Windsor National Curriculum Specialist.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

5 Excellent Spots for Outdoor Adventure in Laos



It’s remote, exotic, & perhaps not the first destination that springs to mind when you’re after last minute travel deals. However, if you’re seeking outdoor thrills in a leafy, miraculously undeveloped tropical landscape, Laos is full of excellent wilderness travel opportunities. 

South of China, between Vietnam & Thailand, Laos is dry & comfortably warm from November to February. Its predominantly rural landscape is naturally beautiful & largely unspoilt, & its laid-back people are friendly & accommodating.

For outdoors enthusiasts, Laos holidays can take many different forms, from gentle elephant-treks through virgin jungle, to riding a tube down a river or spelunking in ancient caves.

The number-one activity in Laos at the moment is trekking, & the country is one of the best places in the world to explore on foot. Most of the best trails are in the north. Luang Nam Tha is top-notch for wildlife spotting; the Nam Ha protected area contains all manner of beasties & birdies. If you're very lucky, you might even spot a tiger!

It’s also possible to hike from Luang Nam Tha up into the hills, to visit the villages & homes of tribal people in the area. It’s currently illegal to hike without registered guides, though, so make sure to get some, or risk deportation. One of the nicest treks round here is the two day Ban Nalan trail, which takes you along riverbanks & through miles of beautiful forest before emerging at a tiny village, where you meet members of the Khamu tribe & observe their traditional lifestyle.

Phongsali, home to a large group of displaced traders from Yunnan who have really left their mark on the town's identity, is quite difficult to get to, but worth it. Chinese is more widely spoken here than Lao, & at 1000m it's refreshingly cool - even chilly, at times. The trekking here is world-class – think crystal-clear rivers, rows of green hills fading into the clouds, waterfalls crashing all around & the odd temple emerging from the undergrowth.

Treks also run straight out of Luang Prabang – why not treat yourself & go by elephant? Tiger Trail runs a two-day adventure with elephants which involves riding, washing & learning all about these majestic animals.

Vang Vieng, in the south, is home to those infamous tubing adventures. Put simply, this involves jumping in an inflated tractor tyre innertube & floating down a river. Like at those fancy swimming pools, but for real. It’s a pretty cool way to see the jungle & the river from right up close, but it’s become more & more dominated by the party scene & bars now throng the waterways. For a more natural experience, try the cave walks further up-river, or even some river kayaking. If you’re really ready to splash out, you can even take a hot-air balloon over the whole region, giving unparalleled views. 

Si Phan Don, the ever-shifting 4,000 Islands, is an archipelago in the mighty Mekong River. There might not seem to be much to do down here, but you’ll find excellent scenic cycling along the largely flat islands, stunning limestone karst scenery that matches Thailand, & the chance to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. Try hiring a boat & pootle about the islands, playing at Robinson Crusoe.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

EU Airline Blacklist -Part 3

Today is the final instalment of the EU's Airline Backlist.

We hope that this will help you feel safe when travelling the world, to know that these airlines are banned from operating within Europe Airspace. So next time you see a cheap flight, just double check you know who the airline is.

Name of the legal entity of the air carrier as indicated on its AOC (and its trading name if different)
ICAO airline designation number
State of the Operator
MAURITANIA AIRWAYS
MTW
Republic of Mauritania
AEROWURKS AERIAL SPRAYING SERVICES
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
AIR PHILIPPINES CORPORATION
GAP
Republic of the Philippines
AIR WOLF AVIATION INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
AIRTRACK AGRICULTURAL CORPORATION
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
ASIA AIRCRAFT OVERSEAS PHILIPPINES INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
AVIATION TECHNOLOGY INNOVATORS INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
AVIATOUR'S FLY'N INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
AYALA AVIATION CORP
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
BEACON
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
BENDICE TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
CANADIAN HELICOPTERS PHILIPPINES INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
CEBU PACIFIC AIR
CEB
Republic of the Philippines
CHEMTRAD AVIATION CORPORATION
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
CM AERO
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
CORPORATE AIR
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
CYCLONE AIRWAYS
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
FAR EAST AVIATION SERVICES
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
F.F. CRUZ AND COMPANY INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
HUMA CORPORATION
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
INAEC AVIATION CORP
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
ISLAND AVIATION
SOY
Republic of the Philippines
ISLAND TRANSVOYAGER
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
LION AIR INCORPORATED
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
MACRO ASIA AIR TAXI SERVICES
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
MINDANAO RAINBOW AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
SERVICES MISIBIS AVIATION & DEVELOPMENT CORP
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
OMNI AVIATION CORP.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
PACIFIC EAST ASIA CARGO AIRLINES INC
PEC
Republic of the Philippines
PACIFIC AIRWAYS CORPORATION
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
PACIFIC ALLIANCE CORPORATION
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
PHILIPPINE AIRLINES
PAL
Republic of the Philippines
PHILIPPINE AGRICULTURAL AVIATION CORP.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
ROYAL AIR CHARTER SERVICES INC
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
ROYAL STAR AVIATION INC
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
SOUTH EAST ASIA INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
SOUTHSTAR AVIATION COMPANY INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
SPIRIT OF MANILA AIRLINES CORPORATION
MNP
Republic of the Philippines
SUBIC INTERNATIONAL AIR CHARTER
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
SUBIC SEAPLANE INC
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
TOPFLITE AIRWAYS INC
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
TRANSGLOBAL AIRWAYS CORPORATION
TCU
Republic of the Philippines
WORLD AVIATION CORP.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
WCC AVIATION
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
YOKOTA AVIATION INC
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
ZENITH AIR INC.
Unknown
Republic of the Philippines
ZEST AIRWAYS INCORPORATED
RIT
Republic of the Philippines
AFRICA CONNECTION
Unknown
Sao Tome and Principe
BRITISH GULF INTERNATIONAL COMPANY LTD
BGI
Sao Tome and Principe
EXECUTIVE JET SERVICES
EJZ
Sao Tome and Principe
GLOBAL AVIATION OPERATION
Unknown
Sao Tome and Principe
GOLIAF AIR
GLE
Sao Tome and Principe
ISLAND OIL EXPLORATION
Unknown
Sao Tome and Principe
STP AIRWAYS
STP
Sao Tome and Principe
TRANSAFRIK INTERNATIONAL LTD
TFK
Sao Tome and Principe
TRANSCARG
Unknown
Sao Tome and Principe
TRANSLIZ AVIATION (TMS)
TMS
Sao Tome and Principe
AIR RUM LTD
RUM
Sierra Leone
DESTINY AIR SERVICES LTD
DTY
Sierra Leone
HEAVYLIFT CARGO
Unknown
Sierra Leone
ORANGE AIR SIERRA LEONE LTD
ORJ
Sierra Leone
PARAMOUNT AIRLINES LTD
PRR
Sierra Leone
SEVEN FOUR EIGHT
SVT
Sierra Leone
AIR SERVICES LTD TEEBAH AIRWAYS
Unknown
Sierra Leone
SUDAN AIRWAYS
SUD
Republic of the Sudan
SUN AIR COMPANY
SNR
Republic of the Sudan
MARSLAND COMPANY
MSL
Republic of the Sudan
ATTICO AIRLINES
ETC
Republic of the Sudan
FOURTY EIGHT AVIATION
WHB
Republic of the Sudan
SUDANESE STATES AVIATION COMPANY
SNV
Republic of the Sudan
ALMAJARA AVIATION
MJA
Republic of the Sudan
BADER AIRLINES
BDR
Republic of the Sudan
ALFA AIRLINES
AAJ
Republic of the Sudan
AZZA TRANSPORT COMPANY
AZZ
Republic of the Sudan
GREEN FLAG AVIATION
Unkown
Republic of the Sudan
ALMAJAL AVIATION SERVICE
MGG
Republic of the Sudan
NOVA AIRLINES
NOV
Republic of the Sudan
TARCO AIRLINES
Unknown
Republic of the Sudan
SWAZILAND AIRLINK
SZL
Swaziland
ZAMBEZI AIRLINES
ZMA
Zambia