A Glimpse of Portugal’s Azores Islands

The Pacific has Hawaii and the Atlantic the Azores. The Azores are a cluster of 9 volcanic islands located in near the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The territory is under Portugal flag, but they are mostly autonomously governed. These paradise islands to some have been called heaven on earth- lush vegetation, stunning mountains, stunning marine life, golden beaches, and not overpopulated. One of the islands- Santa Maria- is inhabited by a mere 5,500 people. Many of Azores island names relate to nature: Pico for mountain island and Flores for flower island. The major sources of income derive from agriculture, dairy farming, ranching, fishing, and tourism. They are also known for their renounced whale watching, rock climbing, and diving.

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Whale Watching
In the past, this cetacean safe heaven contributes much of its economy from whale hunting. Now the area and marine life are protected and cherished. Throughout the year, this island paradise is visited by common and bottlenose dolphins, and blue and humpback whales. It is a site were marine animals come for rest during their long migration. Tours of each island can be booked, but strict laws prohibit boats from disturbing the animals. Visitors can stop by at one of the many whale museums on land, displaying the culture’s drastic transformation from killing to protecting whale species.

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Hikers
The Azores also has a strong allure for hikers. The mountains here are some of the tallest in the world if you were to measure from the ocean floor. Mount. Pico is the most famous, ranging from 7,713 feet above sea level. It has over 60 trails that usually take up to 3 hours to hike. From those trails, two of the most popular sites are the São Miguel’s Setes Cidades twin lakes and Lagoa do Fogo which takes you to the shore. The island of Flores is a famous hiking site, well-known for the land’s extreme natural beauty.

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Diving
With the frequent whale and dolphin sightings, this would be a great diving site, but the water holds many more surprises. The volcanos not only provide for nutrient water, but the lava creates winding caverns and rock formations for many species to thrive. Exploring below the surface, divers can find Devil Rays, Loggerhead Turtles, Sharks, Slipper Lobsters, Yellow Mouth Barracuda, Tuna and plenty more. Along with this, you can stumble upon one of the decaying shipwrecks. Most of the Islands provide for dive trips and with the visibility as high as 100 ft. and water temp around 70F, it is one experience that would not be easily forgotten.

Join us as we explore the unknown and exotic locations around the globe. We can help to make your life easier by planning your adventures for you. Just askus@ladyredot.com!


josh-may Hello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.

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Fun things to do in Mexico

Mexico is full of hidden wonders. From its past Mayan history to its mastery of cuisine. Here is a short list of 7 fun places to visit while there.

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Visit Guanajuato
Originally built in the 16 century, Guanajuato is now a booming cultural destination. The city became rich in the mining industry where at their height, was responsible for two-thirds of silver production in the world. Now Guanajuato is mostly known for its brightly coloured alleyways, cathedrals and local music. Another one of city’s attractions is their mummy museum with some bodies dating back more than 150 years.

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Soumaya Museum
Soumaya is the most visited private museum in the world. Opened in 2011, this architectural innovation houses over 66,000 American and European art pieces. Its crazy hourglass shape was designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero. It holds expensive pieces from Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and Degas. Although its popularity, the museum has been harshly criticised for the expensive design in a time of high pollution and violence.

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Guachimontones
This circular pyramid was re-discovered by an American archaeologist in 1970. It dates back to the Teuchitlan, an ancient society which put a lot of emphasis on religion. The pyramid was a known site for worshiping. Diagrams found from excavations also show the pyramid being related to feasting, music, and burials. Directly under the platforms shaft tombs were found. Although its mysterious past of the pyramid, this archaeological gem is a wonder to see.

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Museo Subacuatico De Arte
This museum is unlike any other. Jason deCaires Taylor and Jaime Gonzalez Cano built this underwater wonder in 2009. It was designed to represent the disastrous effects humans are having on coral reefs. They first started off with only a few sculptures and now have 500 permanent life-size pieces. The art was made with specialised materials and fixed to the seabed to act as an artificial coral reef. Being only 4 meters underwater, you can reach it by snorkel or glass tour.

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Playa Del Amor (Hidden Beach)
Mexico’s famed hidden beach is located on the Marieta islands, 20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. The surrounding island were all formed due to underwater volcanic eruptions, but the beach was man made. In the early 1900s, this site was a popular military testing grounds. It is rumoured that this site was the cause of massive explosions. The island is now named a national park and although the devastation that took place, it now shows great recovery. On a boat ride there, travellers can see sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, tropical fish, and the occasional humpback whale. The place is a testament to the wonders of nature.

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City of Books at Biblioteca Vasconcelos
Not your average library, this Biblioteca is the compilation of 5 smaller libraries and holds over 470,000 books. It is located north of Mexico City and was built by architect Alberto Kalach. The design of this building was inspired by 5 of Mexico’s greatest thinkers: Ali Chumacero, Carlos Monsiváis, José Luis Martínez, Jaime García Terrés, and Antonio Castro Leal. Each of the 5 smaller libraries corresponds to the thinkers and their immense collections. The Mexican President at the time stated: “this was one of the most advanced constructions of the 21st century and that it will be spoken of throughout the world”. Try not to get lost.

Care to join me at my next adventure? Sign up to follow us at LadyRedot.com or you can find us at our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


 

josh-mayHello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.

Going back to Basics – Tioman Part 1

If you are my regular follower, you are probably seething with envious that I just came back from a glorious trip to my favourite island, Tioman. This time round instead of staying at my regular hangout on the island, I decided to go for a full zero mobile technology retreat. This meaning I have no access to Internet, mobile signal and computers. I love doing this when I was in the corporate world, unplugging myself and clearing my mind full of clutter. And I just found a gem that allows me to do this because they advocate the best they can, going back to basics.  

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I have always wanted to visit Bagus Place back some 5 years ago and this time round, I finally have the chance to do so. First of all, it is the 2nd top resort on TripAdvisor. You actually can read through the positive reviews. Even as I thumbed through the negatives ones (not many), it is hardly tangible and more like from a personal perspective. Booking though their website is easy, you can either pay through credit cards or PayPal but I do wish that they would put more photos of their gorgeous rooms.

Their rooms are a tad expensive in comparison to other resorts in Tioman. This is due to their most unique selling point: they only have 10 huts (rooms) on their private part of the island. Tioman is split up between multiple ferry jetty and some of the resorts have their own space cordoned off from the rest of the island, making it exclusive and ability to crowd control. With Bagus Place’s limited 10 huts, meaning they are only able to have 30 guests at most at a time. This allows me as a guest to benefit from the peace and quiet I’m hankering from. No screaming parents, crying kids and cringe-worthy photo snapping elbowing tourists. So it’s no wonder they are pricier, you are buying the exclusivity and your peace.

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Their huts are wooden and very basic, with the necessities like hot water and air con but don’t expect more. There is no wifi, no television, no radio which suits me perfectly. The linens are clean, the air is fresh and my room comes with a fantastic enchanting view. I chose the Rock House but they bumped me up to Rawa Laut, their most secluded hut usually reserved for honeymooners during the reservation confirmation. I wanted Rock House because of the sea view and Rawa Laut gives much more, offering 280 degrees of unblocking sea view and I can see the sea in between my toes!

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There are several ways to reach Tioman and our drive was 4 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Mersing Jetty Terminal in Johor. One tip is to secure your ferry tickets online way advance because there are limited trips that the ferries will make everyday. Usually after mid noon, the ferry ceased to bring passengers to the island due to low tide. You can park at the Mersing Ferry Terminal but please allocated at least half an hour into finding a parking space. The overnight parking charges RM15 a day and it can be quite a hectic experience because there was little organising and almost every car was parked in any kind of way possible. We ended up paying a local to park at his house. Just like Airbnb but only for cars.

The ferry journey is about 45 minutes, one tip: bring snacks and your earplugs along. Tioman is a family holiday destination for a lot of Malaysians and Singaporeans. Stuck 45 minutes in a small enclosed space with screaming kids running around and making faces at you can unnerve you, no matter how much you adore children.

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As reported in many blogs that ferry ticket collection booth are disorganised and disarray. Just grab any local (or anyone who looks like a local) and asks, chances are you’ll be directed to a booth to collect your ferry ticket with further instructions to queue for passport registration. After which, you’ll be directed to another booth to purchase a Marine Park Conservation Ticket RM20(taxes to the government).

A little introduction about Tioman:
Tioman Island is actually a very small island where it has a land area of only 136km2. Gunung Kajang is the highest peak here which sets at 1,038 meters while it has less than 500 people who are mostly from the Malay and Chinese communities. The densely forested island is still sparsely inhabited. Also, it is surrounded by numerous white coral reefs, making it a haven for scuba divers from around the region. 

I shall continue my breathtaking retreat to zero technology island in my next post. Keep a lookout for it!


Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

Diving in the City

I can’t say I am a hardcore diver but I have always wanted to learn how to dive. It actually took me 10 years to put my heart to it and I have gotten my Open Water License. Yay! More about it in our future post. One thing when I talk enthusiastically about diving to non-divers, they either have a nonchalant look or a look of terror. I guess not everyone is as charmed as me when it comes to the underwater world.

If you are a non-diver but yet too afraid to committed yourself to a course, there are ways to counter that fear. A lot of folks mistaken that you can only dive when you have a license. Not really true. You can actually experience diving in 3 different ways before you decided it is the sport that you want to invest your time, money and effort in.

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Diving in a Pool
You actually can request for a school to allow you to do tryouts in a swimming pool. Depending on different schools, they might allow do so if they own their own swimming pool for a fee. This is actually one of the most comfortable ways to try out scuba diving if you have a phobia but yet still want to give it a try.

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That’s me getting ready to dive!

Diving in an Aquarium
A lot of city aquariums allow diving in their aquarium together with their instructor. Usually comes in a package, inclusive of full equipment and full guidance from an instructor swimming next to you for 10 to 20 minutes. The exciting and amazing part is that you will see more type of marine life rather than in the sea in that short amount of time. It is here you can also opt for diving with the sharks, which I did when I went for diving at Bangkok Sealife Ocean World at Siam Paragon. Instead of a group diving session, it is more like a 20minutes with one to one with the instructor. So I felt really safe when I swam underneath the belly of a shark.

 

For more information: http://www.sealifebangkok.com/en/experience

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Diving in a Scuba Bubble Maker Course
Every diving school has a scuba bubble marker course where it is like an introductory course leading to the Open Water Course. You get individual attention from your instructor and he or she will be at your side at all times underwater. This is the closest you can get to scuba diving without taking a course. Unlike the below two options that is in a manmade controlled environment, you are diving in the sea, nearer to the shore.

If you want to do it, there are really no reasons not to try it out at any options given above. And if you get bitten by the scuba diving bug like me, you definitely should go and get your Open Water License so that you can explore more of the unknown mysterious sea below.

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Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com