The Great Journey to Australia From the UK – Without Catching a Plane

For the past three years or so I have been planning a journey that will not take place until late 2011. I have had such a lovely time consulting maps, timetables (how I love timetables) Internet sites and books. Now I think I know the route I will take. So where am I going? Well, I love Australia. But the cost to the earth’s resources of flying there is great, and my love of trains is pretty powerful too. So I am going to combine the two and go to Australia without catching a plane.

You cannot get all the way there on a train, I know that. But you can get a very long way toward it by taking the legendary Trans-Siberian Express. And nowadays we Brits can get to Europe by train, since the opening of the Channel Tunnel. I can get on a train in Milton Keynes and travel to Euston Station, from where it is a short walk (or free bus ride since I have my free bus pass now) to St. Pancras Station. The Eurostar trains run from there to Paris or Brussels. I am not absolutely decided whether it will be Paris or Brussels yet, though Paris seems the more likely. From there I will take the train to Berlin and thence to Moscow. The Trans-Siberian doesn’t start at Moscow, but it would be silly to go west to travel east so I shall start my long journey in Moscow.

This train is a legend. Anyone who loves travelling by train wants to do it, but it takes a very long time and people do not have that kind of time anymore. I was lucky last year to have travelled from Ulan Bator in Mongolia to Beijing on the last leg of the Trans-Siberia that goes that way. I shall almost certainly not follow that route, but go to the Vladivostok terminus, from where I can get a ferry to Japan. This is not entirely on the route, but I have friends on Japan whom I want to visit, and this is one way to do it.

Having stayed with my friends awhile, and travelled all over the country on the Bullet Train called Shin-kan-sen) I intend to get on the move again by going to Singapore, again by ferry. I don’t quite know why, but I have never been to Singapore, and would like to see what all the talk is about. These ferry trips are not short journeys and could be really awful in some ways but it’ll also be a new experience. From Singapore I intend to get a cabin in a commercial ship for the journey to Darwin. I have been in contact with several companies that do this and know it will be fairly easy.

In Darwin I shall buy a camper van and join all the other retirees who are moving around Australia. Camp sites are well kept, with great facilities, and people in Oz are wonderfully friendly. It has been discussed, but not yet agreed, that members of my family may travel over and share this part of the experience. That’ll be better than good! When I have finished with the camper van I shall resell it and make my way back. That could be by container ship in a cabin, all the way back to Europe via the Us, through the Panama Canal, or it could be via South Africa. That bit is still in the planning. Or, of course, I might get a plane home. Who knows?

Throughout my journey I shall be keeping in touch with everyone via the Internet, and documenting the experience in word and photograph. I love my laptop, which has opened up so many possibilities for communication. It takes up little room and allows me to keep records of everywhere I go. I have even photographed receipts on my travels – a complete record will be kept and I’ll do something with it when I return.

I am already overwhelmingly excited at the prospect. I have bought my book on the Trans-Siberia, have contacted shipping firms, know about the wonderful website run by the Man in Seat 61 which has all the information you could possibly want about rail travel. And it’s two and a half years yet until I have to be sure. I never was one for planning before, but this is immense fun, and, when it’s raining and the winter has been going on too long, it is a wonderful diversion to get out the books and look at it again. I’m really looking forward to being 70. But don’t think I’m not going to enjoy every moment of my life until then. It’s all a journey, and I’m loving being on it.

I am Dianna Moylan, in my mid-sixties, an ex-teacher who has been involved for many years in local amateur dramatics, I have directed, designed and made costumes, taught the songs and performed in many musicals and plays. I live in a small house which is rapidly becoming swamped with doll house stuff which I build, renovate, sell and hoard. My site, [] is newly launched. I also sell on eBay. In addition to loving making dolls’ houses I enjoy writing a lot and welcome this opportunity to have a say.

Lake Baikal, Russia: Seven Days on Olkhon Island

Let’s get one thing straight: the water in Lake Baikal is cold. It’s late afternoon in the middle of July, the sun is beating down and the thermometer is touching thirty. Perfect for a dip in the water, right? Wrong. It’s freezing. But there is an old saying in these parts that touching the Baikal waters will add five years to your life, while swimming in them adds 25. So, inch by inch, I insert my reluctant body into the icy waters. I just hope the longevity is worth it…

Deep in the wilds of Siberia near the Mongolian border lies Lake Baikal, one of the planet’s most impressive natural wonders. The deepest lake in the world, it holds nearly a quarter of all the fresh water on earth. Surrounded by wild mountains and Siberian taiga forest, Baikal has long been a national treasure for the Russian people. But recently more and more foreigners are being drawn to its natural beauty – including me.

Base-camp for my Baikal trip was Irkutsk, once known as the ‘Paris of Siberia’. Irkutsk is a popular stop on the Trans-Siberian railway and this is how most foreign visitors find themselves at the lake – typically spending a day or two at the lakeside town of Listvyanka, an hour or so away by train. But I didn’t fancy fighting over the deckchairs. I wanted to find the real Baikal. So when I heard of an island in the middle of the lake with no running water, barely any electricity, and a mere seven hours away by bus, my bags were packed and I was on my way. Welcome to Olkhon Island, one of the most unspoilt places on earth.

The island, roughly 10 miles wide and 25 miles from end to end, can only be reached by boat. For many islanders a trip to the mainland involves joining the tailback of vehicles queuing for the tiny car ferry. Fortunately the bus to and from Irkutsk is allowed to jump the queue and after a long day I finally reached Khuzir, the largest settlement on the island. There is a variety of places to stay in Khuzir – homesteads, bed & breakfasts, beach camps – but I was heading straight to Nikita’s Village.

Seventeen years ago Nikita Bencharov, tired of beating all-comers as Russian national table tennis champion, came to the island to visit a friend for a month. He’s still here. After noticing the increasing number of visitors attracted to Olkhon’s natural beauty, he hung up his bat for good and set about building small but functional wooden cabins which he could offer to tourists short of a place to stay. Today, this eclectic collection has evolved into a thriving community. For 550 Roubles (roughly £11), you get a night in comfortable, if basic, accommodation and three home cooked meals a day.

Your stay on Olkhon can be as independent or organised as you like. I spent most of my time exploring the island on foot, admiring the views from its dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches. But to get the most out of your stay it’s worth taking advantage of the different excursions that Nikita’s offer. I signed up for a one-day jeep tour of the island but there are several different activities on offer, from fishing trips to tours of the lake by boat.

I was joined on the tour by four other guests and our guide for the day, a local named Gregori. Having lived there all his life Gregori knew every inch of the island, so I sat back in his jeep – an essential vehicle on an island where roads are scarce – as we headed north, to the tip of the island. Throughout the day we stopped at various points of interest and Gregori gave us a feel for the island and its culture and history.

One strange (and recurring) sight was monuments surrounded by mounds of broken bottles. Gregori explained that these were shamanistic ceremonial grounds. The region around Baikal, particularly around the eastern shore, is home to the shamanism-practising Buryat people. Shamans are believed to be able to commune with the spiritual worlds, and to aid their transitions they often imbibe alcohol or hallucinogenic substances during ceremonies. The drink of choice is usually vodka, and afterwards the empty bottles are smashed and offered up to the gods.

At the northern-most tip we disembarked and headed for the cliffs. It was there I got a real sense of the immensity of the lake – water as far as the eye could see, in all directions. While we were taking in the views Gregori prepared lunch – barbecued Omul fish, unique to Baikal. In fact, Baikal is altogether an ecologist’s paradise. Remote and relatively untouched by modern civilisation, 80% of its marine species are found nowhere else on the planet.

My seven days on Olkhon flew by. Whether it’s exploring the island, lazing on the beach, braving the Baikal waters or practising your table tennis, there’s never a shortage of things to do. There are easier ways to see Baikal – hop on any eastbound train from Irkutsk and you’ll get a view from the window – but to really experience this charming place requires escaping from distractions and immersing yourself in nature. And there is no better place for that than Olkhon Island.

Getting There

Irkutsk is a major stop on the Trans-Siberian (Moscow-Vladivostok) and Trans-Mongolian (Moscow-Beijing) trains. Alternatively it can be reached by plane from Moscow (£200-300 return), Beijing (approx. £200 return) and all major Russian cities. There are several buses per day from Irkutsk to Olkhon.

Being There

Nikita’s Homestead offers a variety of accommodation from 550 Roubles (£11) per person per day, including meals.

When To Go

July to September is the best time to visit temperature-wise, although you may have to watch out for ticks in any wooded areas. The lake freezes over between January and May, when temperatures can reach -35oC.

The Trip of Your Life

There are those who take a year off before venturing into university. And there are
others who just need a year away from the routines of their lives. For whatever
reason, there are more and more people digging their heels in and just doing it. Its
not an easy decision to make and much has to be thought out. You must consider
the security your current job gives you, the flat you rent, your girlfriend, pets, and
so on. But hundreds of thousands will do it this year, aged from 18 to 80.
So after reading pages and pages on travel forums and blogs, I have put together a
few stops one must make to be able to return home and proudly say “I did it”.


I’ll begin with the lighter options. Some will seem too simple on paper to be an
lifetime experience, but that’s only because you have yet to experience them.

Get your photo taken outside the Taj Mahal

Often labeled as man’s most impressive construction, to sit on a stone bench in
front of the Taj Mahal is much more impressive than any professional photograph
can possibly depict. A photo of you in this that is the trademark site of India is one
photo you must simply take home.

Buy some fruit in Bangkok

Bangkok is chaos, but captures each visitor with the sights, sounds and smells that
make it one of Asia’s most visited destinations. The colourful floating markets are
just one example and as simple as it may sound, to see such dazzling colours will
be one of those experiences you will not forget.

Get a massage in Goa

You’ll find a wide assortment of courses being offered in Goa for want-to-be
masseurs. It is a spiritual place where you will meet some of the most colourful
personalities. Hire a bungalow by the beach and hire a masseur. You will find many
experienced masseurs who will go to your own bungalow. You will be massaged and
washed from head to toe, and I promise you will never feel cleaner. Take your time
to shop around. The best way is to ask for recommendations, and you’ll find the
right one.

Work in the Big Apple

New York is the top US destination and consistently makes it into the top 10 most
popular destinations for young travellers; especially those taking a year off before
entering university. There are a number of organizations, such as Work Experience
USA and BUNAC, who help young visitors find short-term jobs, and allow them the
unique opportunity to live among the 7.5 million New Yorkers that make up this
exciting city.

Take brunch at the vineyard

A mid-morning meal in the centre of a vineyard will be the most unforgettable meal
in your life. Whether you choose Portugal, Spain, Italy or France, your feast will
include fresh bread with home-made olive spreads or fresh cheeses and of course a
selection of the vineyard’s own collection of wines. It is a sheer luxury to begin your
day in the middle of a beautiful vineyard, enveloped by the silent, sunny hills on any
given morning.


Be inspired to learn and experience different cultures in different ways

Go on Peru’s Inca Trail

In Machu Picchu, there is the 3-day Inca Trail to do. Group tours organized by local
tour operators begin in the Sacred Valley. It will be 3 days of hikes and camping
along the more than 30,000 marvellous hectares of the Sanctuario Historico de
Machu Picchu. With the glorious Andes as a backdrop, you’ll have the unforgettable
chance to discover the ancient city of the Incas, whose way of life is still marvelled
at today.

Cross Asia on the Trans-Siberia Express

The trans-siberian ensures a cross-cultural experience of epic proportions for 10
days on the most famous railway line on earth. Crossing China and entering Russia
through Mongolia the experience is a journey back to another place in time, while
you take in the romantic Mongolian landscape, followed by quaint old Russian
villages and their spectacular Orthodox churches. A trip on the trans-siberian is a
peaceful and inspiring adventure.


And now, another selection of trips for those who wish to challenge themselves.

The Awesome Foursome in Queenstown, NZ

It is known as the adventure capital of the world. There is a six-hour available for
those who seek the challenge themselves to the extreme, known as the Awesome
Four. Beginning with a 71m bungee jump from Skippers’ Canyon Bridge, you go on
to the Shotover River for a 30-minute ride on the Shotover Jet. The 360-degree
spins and close shaves with the rocky outcrops of the canyon walls will get your
blood pumping, it is a guarantee. Next there’s a helicopter ride that will give you the
chance to take in the amazing scenery before jumping into a white-water raft ride
down the Shotover, which boasts some of the most challenging rapids in the world.

Scuba diving in Belize’s Blue Hole

Taking your PADI is one of those “must dos” for those who truly want to experience
the unique sights of our oceans. Still held as a well-kept secret, the Barrier Reef,
located off Belize, is magnificent and much quieter than other scuba diving spots. It
is also one of the more affordable options for divers. Its waters are home to an
incredible and diverse selection of species, making the Blue Hole the perfect spot
for all divers, beginners and advanced PADI. Another plus are the shipwrecks to
discover – a real adventure for the more experienced divers.

Trekking in Nepal’s Annapurna Range

In the the Annapurna Range there are different treks to choose, from peaceful half-
day walks to a 2-week challenging trek. From Pokhara you will need to take a 1-
hour bus to reach the trails, with or without a guide. Passes can be purchased in
Pokhara at accessible prices, and the price will vary on the duration of the trek you
choose to take. The Circuit is a trek that takes you to and from the base camp in
Annapurna, and is by far the most populatr, especially in October/November. From
March to April you’ll find less trekkers in the circuit, and is a time to take in some of
the local wildlife and flora.

If you have time, you should also consider doing some white-water rafting too.
There are a few smooth runs, but Nepal’s waters are some of the most adventurous
for rafters.

Bungee jumping in South Africa

Plunge off the world’s biggest bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge on Storms River,
South Africa. A 180 metre, 7 second long freefall that will get you moving at a speed
of over 190kmph – even the rebound is higher than the Victoria Falls. The feeling,
as reported by those who have made it, is one of never-ending horror, followed by a
sense of greatness that will stay with you forever.

Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

Australia’s Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is one of the most exciting experiences. It
takes 3 hours to scale the bridge, and you will be rewarded with stunning views of
one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

6 Useful Tips to Book a Reliable Airport Transfer Service

A productive and hassle-free business or pleasure trip can take a lot of careful planning. This is likely to include things like organising appropriate accommodation, planning a travel itinerary, and booking the airport transfer service. Let’s take a look at a few things that are necessary to organise a successful trip:

Get a quote

Make sure to get in touch with two or three companies to get a fixed quote. You want to get a price that is all-inclusive and may need to include extras like waiting time, parking, and night or day travel. Before making the final booking, you want to be certain the price quoted is practical for your needs.

Additionally, it is worth assessing the reputation of the different companies to make sure they are respected in the industry. Simply look for online reviews or feedback to get an idea of the quality of the service offered. Any time invested in research will increase the likelihood of finding a great company with a solid reputation.

Book online

The most convenient option to book the airport transfer is to use the online services. You get the option to input your travel details to simplify the process of making your travel arrangements. A few key points to have ready when making the booking include contact details, flight number, terminal information, drop off address, number of passengers, date and times.

Also, this will give the option to print out a booking confirmation which should be kept with you when travelling. In the event of any issues, you will always have proof of the booking which can help sort out any issues.

Avoid mistakes

One of the most common issues relates to making a mistake with the travel date and time, especially for the trans-Atlantic travel when there will be a different time zone.

Meet and greet service

The option to use a meet and greet service can have plenty of benefits for the tired traveller. Being met in the airport means you aren’t likely to be rushing to find your driver inside or outside in the drop off area. Also, the driver will be able to giving a helping hand with carrying the luggage.

Be easy to contact

A mobile phone can be a simple way to stay in direct communication with the company, and should ensure the process is a lot less stressful and easier. Most airports will be very busy so it can be difficult to know exactly where to go to find the driver. However, when you are easy to contact, it should be simple to always know where to go.

Get assistance

The driver can assist in many different ways. They are useful for things like minding your luggage, carrying your bags or simply directing you to somewhere you want to go.

Also, once the journey starts from the airport, you can still ask the driver for assistance with such things as a comfort break or simply a short rest period to stretch your legs. Also, they may be willing to make a short stop at the shops to give time to pick up a few essentials before arriving home.

No Blame – No Victimhood – No Kidding

Whenever I discuss my perspective on this subject with others, it stimulates “but what about” questions. “But what about the holocaust?” “But what about Cambodia in the 70s?” You get the idea.

My retort to those people is always the same; their reaction to my retort is always the same; the ensuing discussion is always the same. An abbreviated version goes something like this:

Them: “So Rand. You take a dim view of victim-hood. Aren’t there extreme examples in which people are really victimized?”

Me: “Look. Of course the recipients of torture and genocide are victimized. On a less destructive level, every person gets taken advantage of at one time or another. There is a huge difference, however, in being the recipient of treatment intended to victimize, on the one hand, and regarding one’s self as a victim, on the other.”

Them: “I don’t get it.”

Me: “Some people… MANY people marinate in a cauldron of psychic dysfunction. They whine about the way the world is. They complain about how ‘put-upon’ they are, by others. They continuously, boringly and irritatingly place the blame for their circumstances on everyone but themselves, and at some level, they like it! Here’s what they say: ‘I can’t get promoted because my boss is a jerk; my parents didn’t love me, so naturally I have no self-esteem; if that bartender hadn’t served me that tenth drink, I wouldn’t have hit that school bus; if the burger joint would only cut out the trans fats, I wouldn’t weigh 400 pounds; my business wouldn’t have gone bankrupt if it hadn’t been for (fill in the blank with one of these or choose your own similar answer: regulation, competition, legislation, prices, Bangaloor, third-world slave-shops, recessions, expansions, sinus headaches, male pattern baldness, the full moon).'”

While there may be an element of truth in some of those assertions, these people lay (and re-lay and re-lay) the foundation for living as victims. Here’s what happens: First, by defining themselves as victims, they automatically imply that someone or something else has imprisoned them. So, it only follows that they cannot escape from that prison; they must wait until they are freed by that someone or something else.

What an elegant scam!!! They can stay stuck where they are forever without taking action because in their minds, action would be fruitless. Then they can complain forever as their (so-called) victimizers do nothing to relieve their misery.

Second, they imply that their plight makes them unique. My response to that: “C’mon! Every human being has to deal with ‘stuff.’ It’s not your ‘stuff’ that determines your success. Everybody has ‘stuff.’ It’s what you do about it that determines your success. Get over yourself!”

Third, many victims are on a recruiting mission. They want to geometrically increase the membership of their two clubs: The Loyal Order of Irritating, Recreational Whining Victims of America, and its sister organization The Submissive, Indulgent Enablers of the Loyal Order of Irritating, Recreational Whining Victims of America. The former group retains the services of a slew of personal injury lawyers, ready to extract large sums of money from those they believe are to blame for their malaise – everyone but them. Members of the latter group (which is the farm team for the first group) listen and bob their heads in agreement as the whiney victims do their whiney thing. Both clubs meet at water coolers and in rest rooms of America’s leading companies and institutions.

So, here’s the bottom line: Whiners and victims are psychic vampires. They will suck the life out of any room they enter and suck the energy out of the people in it! Stay as far away as possible from these people. Instead, seek out members of the “I am Responsible and Accountable for Everything in My Life Association.”

Their motto: “No excuses, ever!”

I am not implying that we can all control all of the outcomes in our lives. I do believe the following without equivocation:

• Most people can influence their outcomes to a far greater degree than they do.

• Personal accountability stimulates better planning and execution in business and in all the other arenas of life. It also stimulates reflection in the aftermath of life’s events that leads to the development of wisdom – a prerequisite for learning from experience as well as the RESULT of learning from experience.

• Blame, excuses and victim-hood are toxic and diversionary.

Remember this: What you think about, believe about, feel about and act about, comes about! I call it (in baseball parlance) the “four-bagger.” It’s true in all aspects of life. If you dwell on the inherent unfairness of the universe and how you have gotten a bad deal, get a check-up from the neck-up! The reason: You cannot be or become successful and fulfilled if you blame anyone or anything for your circumstances – ever!

Best Cities For NRIs To Invest In Real Estate

NRIs often hear stories about investors hitting jackpot by buying and selling properties back home. Very often, they also hear about someone who has lost money in a project that never materialized or in which issues crept up, rendering the property impossible to sell.

Eager to bag a slice of the pie, the NRI begins researching how to invest in the Indian market from abroad and which city, to begin with, only to get lost in contradictory sources.

It is a fact that the Indian economy is expanding rapidly; in fact, the World Bank projects that India will surpass China as the world’s fastest growing large economy by 2017. For those looking to become real estate investors who wish to participate in India’s growth, choosing which part of the country to buy-in can be a challenge. After all, the economy may be making great strides at the national level, but what forces at work at the local level? Put another way, which city or cities can promise the greatest returns?

We have compiled a list of the best cities for real estate investment. Some of these are large metros, known to be the hubs of many industries. Others are smaller, upcoming cities which show a lot of promise in their growth rates in population and per capita income amongst other factors. Read on to identify which city may be the best for you to invest in real estate.

1. Bangalore

Thanks to its combination of rapidly growing population, well-paying jobs, and low real estate prices, the hub of India’s IT industry has become the hub of its property investment as well. JLL recently published its annual ranking of the world’s most dynamic cities, in their City Momentum Index, affirming that Bangalore is the fastest-changing city on the planet.

By some estimates, 40 percent of India’s IT industry is based in this one metropolis. These changes have made it the most attractive place in India for real estate investment. A recent survey pegged Bangalore as the top real estate opportunity across Asia-Pacific.

All of this makes Bangalore the most desirable place for real estate investment in India.

2. Pune

Pune has displayed rapid population growth over the past decade with a growth rate over 30% during this period. The average white collar salary in this city is second only to Bangalore. Currently, property in this city is affordable as compared to other cities, which shows that it’s a good time to invest.

The city also benefits from being close to Mumbai. It also holds opportunities in the education, IT, automobile, and engineering sectors. This is yet another example of a formerly slow city that has experienced rapid recent growth and change.

The good weather all year round is an added benefit for NRI investors here. A new international airport and increased metro connectivity will bring even more growth and positive change to the city in coming years.

3. Chennai

Head over to the capital of Tamil Nadu for yet more real estate investment opportunities. Chennai is also in the leading pack, with a high growth rate in population (30%) and reasonably high average white collared salaries. This industrial city also has many companies that do IT and financial services.

The government has made road connectivity a priority here in recent years. This has helped the city and the surrounding area develop faster and attract new business opportunities.

A coming monorail and elevated railway line are sure to further help with this connectivity.

4. Visakhapatnam

As far as population and area, Visakhapatnam (Vizag) is one of the biggest harbors in India. Because of this, it is considered the commercial hub of Andhra Pradesh.

A quickly growing IT industry coupled with good infrastructure makes this city a desirable place for real estate investments.

With the first phase of the Vizag Metro Rail slated to be completed in December 2018, transportation options will also soon open up in this city.

5. Mumbai

As a growing city with modern urban development, Mumbai is a good real estate investment choice for a non-resident Indian who cares about lifestyle.

Considered the financial capital of India, this city is hard to beat when you compare the level of infrastructure with other cities. Target a premium property in an upscale neighborhood for the best return on your investment. There are several luxury hotspots in Mumbai that place you near high-end retail stores and restaurants.

As India’s financial hub, Mumbai also attracts many investors and corporate firms, providing plenty of work opportunities. If you want an internationally competitive work culture, this is the city.

Mumbai has great education facilities, including international schools. Political stability and easy resale options are added incentives to make Mumbai your investment realty location.

6. Bhiwadi

As the third-largest industrial hub in India, Bhiwadi is a manufacturing hub for some major firms. Companies like Gillette and Honda ensure plenty of local work opportunities.

Real estate projects are also cheaper here than in other cities. The affordability right now makes this a great investment realty choice for the long term.

The Indian government has proposed projects in Bhiwadi including new high-speed public transportation. This will make this city even more desirable in the years to come.

7. Kochi

Kochi, the commercial hub of Kerala, has seen new real estate prospects thanks to recent changes.

An upgrade of the sea port and privatization of the local international airport brought in new business prospects.

Many NRIs are already investing in Kochi. In fact, only some 30% of investors in real estate in Kochi are locals.

Part of what makes this city so appealing is its recent developments in infrastructure. New planned developments include the Vallarpadam International Container Trans-shipment Terminal, which will expand investment opportunities for this port city.

An “oceanarium,” or marine research facility that also doubles as a tourist attraction, is another proposed project that’s sure to attract even more opportunities to the area.

8. Bhubaneswar and Cuttack

These twin cities in east India are growing education and IT hubs. This boosts real estate development in the area.

The real estate market is well-regulated here since most of the available land is still owned by the government.

Plans for new commercial projects, a wider highway, and the new Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex add to the reasons to target Bhubaneswar and Cuttack for real estate investment.

9. Coimbatore

The second largest city in Tamil Nadu boasts a stable industry that revolves around textiles and spinning.

Engineering, IT, and manufacturing have added to the industry in Coimbatore in recent years, providing economic growth and increased work opportunities.

A planned airport expansion will increase the ease with which travelers and business opportunities can flow into the city. And a proposed bus rapid transit system provides added options for transport on the ground.


There is a long list of cities in India that are great opportunities for real estate investments.

You may choose an established, major hub like Bangalore, or a newer and growing location like Kochi. It all depends on exactly what your future plans are for your investment.

With so many cities undergoing rapid developments and offering new opportunities, it’s hard to go wrong if you consider the key factors to select cities of choice for real estate investments.

Don’t be intimidated by the process of investing in real estate. Instead, reap the benefits the coming years will have for real estate investments in India and ride India’s economic growth wave.

Panorama Mountain Village – Transit Transitions

Panorama Mountain Village is a popular destination for visitors seeking world class winter recreation and warm weather outdoor adventures. Skiing, hiking, ATV and snowmobile treks, horseback riding, fishing, and whitewater rafting are magnets for Canadian and US visitors. Getting to Panorama Mountain Village, and getting around once you are there, you will find a number of options to help you make the most of your trip, no matter the season of the year.

Transportation – Panorama Mountain Village

• Car Travel

Calgary, Alberta is the city nearest to PMV and you will take the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff, Alberta to Castle Mountain Junction and through the Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs and go south to Windemere Valley and go right at the Invermere exit, pass the outflow of Lake Windemere, cross a railway bridge and turn right onto Panorama Drive. This two-lane road follows the valley of Toby Creek for the last 11 miles right into PMV. If you are coming from Vancouver it takes about two days by car via Highways 1 and 5 to Golden and then Highway 95 through the Columbia Wetlands to Invermere. If you’re driving from the south follow Highway 93/95 up the Rocky Mountain Trench and pass through Cranbroom connecting with the U.S. border at Eastport, Idaho, and #93 connects with the U.S. border at Roosville, Montana.

• Greyhound Canada

Take the bus and leave the driving to us runs a bus services between Invermere and Calgary, Alberta, with one bus a day in each direction. Call (800-661-8747) for information.

• Silver City Stage Lines

Runs daily service between Cranbrook and Golden, stopping in Invermere. Call (250-368-5555) for information.

• Airport Shuttle: Panorama operates an airport shuttle from Calgary International on weekends from mid-December through mid-April as well as shuttle transportation to Invermere, Radium Hot Springs, and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden.

• Day Bus Trips: Once you are at the Village you can explore the area by taking day bus trips that will transport you to Radium Hot Springs with special rates for families with kids.

• Night on the Town Shuttle: Go shopping, dining out and get there via the Mountain & Valley Shuttle Bus. Call (250.341.3043) for information.

• Heli-Ski: If you are adventuresome enough you might try heli-skiing. You will approach the slopes via helicopter. RK Heliski’s offers heli-skiing excursions aboard their Bell helicopters including single day packages that allow you to make the most of the slopes. Call (800-661-6060) for information.

• ATV: Get around Panorama Mountain Village on an ATV tour Toby Creek Adventures are expert at providing All Terrain Vehicles for the novice as well as the seasoned driver. Typical tours run from three to five hours and Toby Creek has all the information as to trails, safety precautions, and what to expect on your ATV excursion. Call (800-663-2929) for information.

Con Son – One of the Most Visited Tourist Attractions in Vietnam

Close to Hanoi, Con Son is both beautiful and historic, yet left off the majority of tourist itineraries. Pine forests, hundreds of years old, sweep down the mountain ranges to ancient pagodas and the views from the mountain top are spectacular.

The main draw of Con Son is Con Son mountain and the 13th century pagoda that sits as its base. One of the three centres of the Buddhist Truc Lam Trinity during the Tran Dynasty, the pagoda underwent restorations during the 17th and 18th centuries.

On the flat top of the mountain is the “White Cloud Temple”, farther up sits the legendary “Fairy Chessboard”

The story goes that visitors arrived at the pagoda one clear day in autumn. They stayed the night then trekked to the mountain the following morning. Hearing laughter as they ascended they expected to see others atop the mountain. Upon arrival the scene was empty save for a chessboard left amid a game. The visitors concluded that some heavenly deities must have descended from the clouds to play, but flew back when they heard others approach.

The climb up Con Son Mountain isn’t exactly arduous, but you’d be lucky not to break a sweat on a hot day. The 600 step, 200 metre incline, littered with sweet papers and empty bins disguised as tree trunks, is popular with Vietnamese and the odd foreigner and small confectionery stands selling water and soft drinks in old glass bottles dot the path

The view is worth the trek. Serene rather than spectacular, it looks down the mountain and over peaceful countryside and rice fields.

The Kiep Bac festival, held during the eighth lunar month, is of especial interest. It celebrates the victories of one of history’s greatest generals, General Tran Hung Dao.

Con Son is an easy day trip from the capital. Those unafraid of adventurous driving can catch a bus from Gia Lam bus station to Hai Duong City and take taxis or motorbike taxis from there.

How Adult Day Care Programs and Care Giver Support Groups Can Help Keep Aging Loved Ones at Home

When our parents become elderly and frail, we want to assist them and keep them at home as long as possible. With the proper services, equipment and safety measures in place, this is possible for many people.

But, successfully keeping our parents safely in their home (or ours) is only half the battle. Many seniors are in fact living in their own home but are completely isolated, lonely and sleeping the day away. Their life is spent waiting for doctor appointments, waiting for someone, anyone to visit. Home care companies may advertise, “There’s no place like home”, but not everyone thrives at home. Let’s face it, a senior who was once an accomplished professional or an active social butterfly will rarely be challenged by the company of a home health aide who may speak limited English or who made be bored with his/her job. Having a warm body keep a senior company does not qualify as social interaction. Many of our clients crave just to be touched. If you hold their hand, they won’t let go. If you rub their tired shoulders, they melt in the chair. A kiss on the cheek goes a very long way because we all need to be touched. The touch of a home health aide getting them dressed in the morning does not count.

Even seniors who have moderate dementia and who seem to not remember one moment to the next do better when they have social and physical stimulation geared to their level of understanding. Some feel social interaction does not matter if it cannot be remembered later. The fact is, seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia and memory loss do seem to live moment to moment, but the quality of those individual moments do matter to their overall health and happiness. If we have a six month old baby, we try to give them wonderful experiences even though they may not remember them the next day. It is important to have quality of life every day because they do register at some level.

Adult Day Care Programs are designed to meet the daily socialization needs of seniors and provide necessary respite for weary caregivers. Even seniors who have live-in caregivers may need Adult Day Care because some seniors, especially those with dementia, sleep very little. Their caregivers are exhausted because their sleep is interrupted by their loved one roaming the house or watching television. The Adult Day Care helps provide the caregiver with an opportunity to run errands and sleep. When the caregiver is a spouse, Adult Day Care is especially important so the spouse can attend social functions, doctor appointments, and preserve their own health and happiness.

There are many Adult Day Care Programs located in Palm Beach County. Most are run by government funded organizations or not-for profit agencies. Some examples include the Division of Senior Services, Alzheimer’s Community Care Alliance, Mae Volen Senior Center, Morse Adult Day Center and New Day Adult Care Center.

Adult Day Care rates vary widely, depending upon the funding source and the participant’s income. Many seniors who have Long Term Care Insurance are delighted to know that many policies do cover Adult Day Care. Most are partially funded by federal funds through the Older American’s Act and county funds such as Community Care for the Elderly. The government funded Adult Day Care locations only charge the participant a small fee. This fee is usually in the form of a tax deductible donation. Many government funded programs have a policy that no one is turned away for inability to pay. Private Adult Day Care locations such as those owned by churches and private non- profit organizations may have a sliding scale based upon financial status. Private Adult Day Care can cost about $55/day and may charge extra if the participant requires personal hygiene care. Whether the cost is $5 or $55 a day, all participants receive lunch and two snacks, assistance with activities of daily living, specialized activities designed to stimulate body, mind and soul. The goal is that every participant has a day of FUN which celebrates what they CAN DO. Staffing ratios average one staff member to every six participants. Some even have a ratio of 1:2. All Adult Day Care locations should be licensed by the State of Florida as an Adult Day Health Care Facility. They are inspected by the state biannually.

Some privately owned Assisted Living Facilities such as Arden Courts will allow you to bring a loved one to their facility to spend the day and participate in activities FOR FREE with the understanding that the participant is considering moving into the facility within a month. Other facilities, such as Encore Senior Living will provide day care at their dementia specific assisted living facility for about $55 per day for an unlimited amount of days with no move-in commitment necessary.

Considering that the average price of a home health aide is now $17/hour ( that is $136 per 8 hour day, an 8 hour day at Adult Day Care will cost only $55/day at the most. Adult Day Care, especially those which charge very little, can save a family hundreds of dollars per week in home health care costs and provided priceless respite for the caregiver.

Most Adult Day Care participants are transported to the program by spouses, family members or home health aides. Others take advantage of free special needs bus transportation provided by Palm Tran Connection. Palm Tran may be free but may not be a good option if your loved one cannot be ready and waiting at the door when the bus arrives. They cannot wait and will leave without anyone who is not ready to go.

Many Adult Day Care locations also host support groups for spouses and caregivers. Some have support groups for people who have Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and other diseases. They generally spend part of the time in a support session and part of the time listening to an invited speaker who provides an educational or community resource presentation. To locate Adult Day Care facilities and support groups call The Elder Helpline at 2-1-1 or log on to, click online resources, then community resources and scroll down to locate the support group or service you desire. Many folks who attend support groups attend the same group for years and become very close with the other members. Caregiving for a spouse or parent is a very difficult job. It is easier when you put all the support services in place and surround yourself with others who understand.

The Truth About Trans Fats

Primer on Fats

All fats have the same basic structure; they are a chain of carbon atoms with varying amounts of hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon. This is important to understand the next piece to this article. Let’s delve into some simplified chemistry:

Think of the structure of fats as a school bus; the bus itself is the carbon atom chain discussed above and all the seats are the hydrogen atoms.

o Saturated Fat: all the carbon atoms are full of hydrogen atoms, the “seats on the bus” are full. No other atoms can fit onto the structure because there are no “empty seats.” Saturated fats are easy to identify because they are solid at room temperature (butter, shortening, animal fats, etc).

o Monounsaturated fat: (mono, meaning one) fats: there is one “empty seat” on the bus and the rest are full. There is room to fit more hydrogen because of the one “empty seat.” Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (vegetable oils, like olive oil, canola oil, etc).

o Polyunsaturated (poly, meaning many) fat: several of the “seats” are empty. Polyunsaturated fats are also liquid at room temperature (flax oil, fish oil, etc).

Where do trans fats fit?

Trans fats are basically vegetable fats that have been changed chemically by a process known as hydrogenation. Remember the monounsaturated fats from above had one empty “seat” without a hydrogen atom. The process of hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation is when food manufacturers artificially add hydrogen to unsaturated fats to provide greater stability and, ultimately, longer shelf life in addition to a more desirable texture; hydrogenation makes liquid fats solid at room temperature. For these reasons, it has been used in food manufacturing for quite some time.

Downside to trans fats

The problem is the body treats the hydrogenated fat like it’s a saturated fat. Trans fats have adverse actions on lipid profiles since they raise LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that contributes to plaque formation, and decrease HDL, the “good” cholesterol, which offers defense against artery clogging fats. Trans fats also negatively affect plasma markers of inflammation and reduce endothelial function, which are all subsequently associated with an increased cardiovascular disease risk (1). Similar results have been realized not only for those with preexisting heart disease but they also occur in healthy individuals (2).

Table 1: Select foods that commonly (not always) contain trans fats

Therefore, with these negative health outcomes clearly correlated to trans fats, it is important to discuss specific foods they may be found in (Table 1), suggested intakes, how to avoid them, and the new labeling laws that will require trans fat be listed on food labels. These tips may help provide insight into the world of trans fats.

Is there a suggested intake for trans fats?

There is no suggested intake for trans fats. However, it is suggested that intakes are lowered as much as possible since there is no requirement for trans fats in the diet.

How can someone tell if a product contains trans fats?
The simplest way is to read the ingredient panel; if hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are listed, it contains some trans fats. In 2006 it will be mandatory for all food manufacturers to list trans fat on their product’s nutrition facts panel. This will be listed on a separate line, under saturated fat.

How can the ingredient list say hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, but list 0 grams of trans fat?

Some products may contain low amounts of trans fats, but still list zero trans fats on the food label. Remember, if the ingredient list says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, the food contains trans fats. Food manufacturers are allowed to list the amount of trans fats as zero, if, and only if, each serving contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat. Keep in mind that this is per serving, so if it’s normal to sit down with a container of non-natural peanut butter on your lap and eat it by the spoonful, the normally low amount of trans fats in each serving will quickly add up. Of course the calories will too, so this practice is not recommended at all.
Take home message

The moral of the story is that trans fat free margarines are safe when consumed in small amounts. While there are more healthful alternatives, like olive oil, flax oil, nut oil, etc cooking or baking certain foods require butter or margarine. Therefore, it is best to limit the intake to only trans fat free products and only use them when necessary. Other than that, stick with healthier fat alternatives.