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Category: Travel (Page 1 of 2)

Visit China

Chinese City Of Guilin Great To Visit For Young & Old Alike

By Roger Allnutt, Travel Writer

For many visitors to China it is the bustling cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou together with man-made treasures like the Great Wall and the famous Terracotta Warriors at Xi’an that are the main drawcard.

China is also endowed with a wonderful and incredibly varied natural landscape including the mighty Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, rugged mountainous regions and the remote spaces along the Silk Road.   One of the most unusual places in China is the remarkable karst formations found in a large area around the southern city of Guilin.

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Located in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to the west of Guangzhou, nature has endowed the area with a unique landscape that belongs in fairy tales.  Typical of a karst landform, the limestone formations rise up to around 300 feet like statuesque domes and towers.  There are so many of them spread out over a huge area that in total they give the impression of a huge forest.  The formations are riddled with caves some of which can be explored and feature cave paintings dating back hundreds of years.  The closest cave to Guilin is Reed Flute Cave.

The Li River and a number of tributaries wind through the region and it is from small cruise boats on the river that the best impression is obtained.  The weather is often rainy or misty which adds an ethereal and haunting charm to the scenery that has been the inspiration for centuries of Chinese landscape painters and more recently photographers.

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Guilin is a bustling, modern city along the banks of the Li River and a good base for exploring the region which is basically rural with only a few medium sized cities and relatively little industrialisation.  Like many Chinese cities traffic is dominated by a huge number of mopeds – bicycles have virtually disappeared.  Many of the lady riders wear long gloves. Shops and cafes are always busy, but there is still the odd space for small vegetable plots being carefully tended by older women carrying water in buckets on the end of poles.

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Elephant Hill Park is the major attraction in Guilin, a parklike area on a lake with a natural feature of a large rock formation in the shape of an elephant dipping its trunk into the water..  A couple of fishermen were showing how fish are caught by trained cormorants.  The park also features an odd collection of sculptures and tree formations and was packed with locals.

The region is famous for growing tea and it is an instructive experience to attend one of the excellent tea ceremonies and learn about the different teas and how to prepare it.

The most popular stretch of the Li River for the scenery is between Guilin and Yangshuo about 60 miles away but if time is short then there are shorter cruises available from both cities.  Along the river are many small villages, water buffalo wallow in the water and there are plenty of fishermen trying for the day’s catch.

Yangshuo is another popular tourist town with West Street a focal point for tourists with many bars and restaurants and souvenir shops.  We watched couple of powerful men pounding nuts and other ingredients to make delicious nougat like biscuits.

At night don’t miss the outdoor show “Impression of Liu San Jie” with over 600 performers on platforms on a lake blending the culture of the ethnic minorities in an impressive sound and light spectacle.

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Not far from Yangshuo through Longsheng a winding road takes you up a mountain side to the amazing Devil‘s Backbone Rice Terraces near Longji village.  . The terraces, which date from the Yuan dynasty in the 13/14th century, derive their name from their resemblance to dragon scales, the terraces blending in with the natural curves of the hillside.  You can pay for a ride up to the village on top of the mountain from the bus parking place but it is worthwhile to walk along the pathway to get the best perspective of this wonderful ‘feat’ linking human labour and natural landscape.

A number of different ethnic minorities live in the Guangxi province and a visit to some of their villages is highly recommended.  Between Longsheng and Sinjiang are two popular destinations.

The Dong people live in a village set among karst formations.  A feature is a long bridge “Bridge of Wind and Rain” spanning a stream where water wheels still operate.  The ornate bridge is typical of the architecture of the region as are the thatched roofed drum towers decorated with sculptures and frescoes.

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The Miao people are famous for their colourful dress and headgear and traditional customs; our group was greeted by a stirring welcoming song which we had to reciprocate. .  During our visit they demonstrated making sticky rice which we ate accompanied by a toast of a very powerful drink.

Although it would be possible to visit the region independently I would recommend taking an organised tour as local guides and drivers take away all the stress particularly if you don’t speak Chinese.

I was surprised at the standard and quality of local accommodation in all the towns I visited.  International chains like Sheraton and Shangri-La are well represented but I would recommend trying similar quality local hotels such as Grand Link Hotel in Guilin, Yangshuo Jasper Hotel in Hangshuo and Sanjiang Dongxiang Guest House in Liuzhou (wonderful night views of famous Fengyu Bridge)…

For more information check www.visitguilin.org

 

 

SailTime

SailTime Ranked Among The Top Franchises In Entrepreneur’s 38th Annual Franchise 500®

Fractional Boat Membership Franchise Leader Adds to List of National Recognitions as Pioneer in Sharing Economy Plans for Expansion into Europe

CHANNEL ISLANDS, CA — SailTime, the world’s leading fractional boating membership program, with bases around the United States and Australia, announced its inclusion in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 38th annual Franchise 500®. It is the third major honor within the last year for SailTime, following their inclusion in the INC 500/5000 in August 2016 and Entrepreneur’s recognition in 2017’s “10 Hottest Franchise Categories” in December 2016.

Yellow Banks

“All of us at SailTime are incredibly excited to be named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500,” SailTime CEO Todd Hess said. “This recognition is a fantastic way for us to kick off what we believe will be our best year yet as we aim to grow our international presence with new bases in Europe!”

Dolphin

SailTime has enjoyed growth of 161 percent since 2012, expanding to 28 franchise bases in the United States and six bases in Australia. Their recent partnership with Beneteau, one of the biggest and most respected boat manufacturers in the world, provided SailTime franchisees the opportunity to offer Beneteau boats for both the membership program and the boat ownership program. Three Beneteau yacht dealers in North America integrated with SailTime in 2016, and corporate officials are heading to Dusseldorf, Germany on January 21st to discuss integrating the SailTime franchise with Beneteau dealers in Europe.

“Beneteau has been a terrific partner with SailTime, so it’s only natural that we’d take the success we’ve had stateside in 2016 and look to expand the partnerships with our European boating friends this year.”

Over its 38 years in existence, the Franchise 500 has become both a dominant competitive measure for franchisors and a primary research tool for entrepreneurs. The key factors that go into Entrepreneur’s evaluation include costs and fees, size and growth, support, brand strength, and financial strength and stability. All franchises are given a cumulative score based on more than 150 data points, and the 500 franchises with the highest cumulative scores become the Franchise 500 in ranking order.

“Entrepreneurs in every industry must constantly improve and adapt, and our Franchise 500 list is full of success stories,” says Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur. “No matter what their concept is, these companies — from booming newcomers to established industry dominators — tell us a lot about what it takes to keep up with current trends in the business world.”

To view the full ranking and any of these related stories, pick up a copy of the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur magazine on newsstands now, or visit www.entrepreneur.com/franchise500.

Go Sailing And Power Boating With SailTime!

 

Oxnard Wildflowers

Oxnard Is In Full Bloom This Spring Season!

OXNARD, CA — With the abundant amount of rainfall that fell on southern California this year, Oxnard is reaping the benefits with stunning wildflowers blooming on the offshore Channel Islands as well as along hiking trails surrounding the coastal town of Oxnard, located along the Central Coast of California.

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Channel Islands National Park — Oxnard is just 12 miles offshore from the first island in the Channel Islands National Park chain, Anacapa Island. There, visitors can see a full bloom of the brightly colored coreopsis scattered throughout the majestic island. On Santa Barbara Island, biologists have discovered a new flowering plant, not previously known to have existed there before. The small and delicate white mallow or Eremalche exilis, is believed to have bloomed due to the prolific rainfall. The Channel Islands themselves are green and lush with vegetation with opportunities for visitors to also see seabirds, western gulls and California brown pelicans, as they set up their nests and prepare for spring!

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Point Mugu State Park — Not far from Oxnard, is Point Mugu State Park, a great spot to hike and see the beautiful wildflowers. On the west end of the Santa Monicas, hikers can access La Jolla Canyon from the Pacific Coast Highway and take in the scenic Chocolate lilies, poppies, lupines and Blue dicks, currently in bloom.

Conejo Valley — Just at the base of the Conejo Valley grade sits Camarillo Grove Park, boasting a nature center and two miles of recently opened trails. It’s a prime spot to see sprouting flowers, giant coreopsis in addition to Indian paintbrush, orange bush monkey flowers, California fuchsia and a variety of cacti and succulents. Miles of wildflower viewing can also be found along the Conejo Canyons, part of the Conejo Open Space Conservancy. Besides Blue dicks, the canyon is also lined with Goldfield, morning glories, poppies, wishbone, owl’s clover, lupine, shooting stars and peonies.

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Simi Valley — In nearby Simi Valley, the Chumash Trail becomes a paradise in the spring with sightings of the mariposa lily with white Catalina and butterfly, pink Plummer’s and yellow varieties. The Mount McCoy Trail also provides an opportunity to see blue skullcaps, field mustard, chocolate lilies, coast goldfield and even the white flowering fritillary.

According to officials, the wildflower season should run through June. Visitors can stay in Oxnard and take advantage of the many other offerings the city has to offer, including its coastal climate, wide open beaches, and attractions.

About Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau — Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, and tourism revenue opportunities through the promotion of Oxnard as a premier travel destination. Oxnard is an easy drive up the coast from Los Angeles or from the northern portions of California. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy Oxnard’s uncrowded beaches, explore the many diverse attractions and outdoor adventures that are unique to the area. A wide variety of hotel accommodations are available ranging from mid-priced rooms to oceanfront and seaside settings. For more information, call the California Welcome Center at 805-988- 0717. To learn more about what Oxnard has to offer to visitors, visit the website at www.visitoxnard.com.

Embassy Suites Oxnard

Take A Deserved Break And Head To The Beach!

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort is an Ideal Location to Escape!

OXNARD, CA — Spring break is a great time for family bonding and a chance to recharge and refresh the soul! It’s even better when it’s combined with a seaside setting. The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort invites visitors to take advantage of its beautiful weather and beachfront location this spring!

Young couple frolicking at sunset beach
The resort offers a perfect venue for families with the beach just steps from the property and the large freeform pool, allowing for countless hours of fun and entertainment. And, the Splash family room will keep the kids busy all day long! The resort also offers bike rentals and tennis courts for more entertainment. The AAA four-diamond resort is equipped with two-room, spacious suites that include complimentary hot, cooked-to-order breakfast each morning and complimentary nightly sunset beachfront cocktail reception.

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach - Hotel & Resort, CA - Coastal Grill Dining Room
Couples will also enjoy a getaway this spring with opportunities to take romantic strolls along the water’s edge or enjoy a couple’s massage in the privacy of their own room or in the spa treatment room.

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The onsite Coastal Grill Restaurant offers a casual setting for lunch or dinner with stunning views of the beach and Pacific Ocean. With an emphasis on innovative American fare prepared using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, the menu changes seasonally offering the best quality meats and fresh fish caught direct from local waters. Kids will love the menu designed just for them where they can select from favorites such as macaroni & cheese to mouthwatering burgers.
And for more fun, adjacent Channel Islands Harbor provides all types of recreational activities including excursions to the Channel Islands National Park. Visitors will also find kayaking, paddle boarding, electric boats and more.
For more information, call Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort at 805-984-2500 or visit the website at www.mandalayembassysuites.com.

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About Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach – Hotel & Resort — Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach – Hotel & Resort creates an ambience of far away destinations set in a tranquil ocean-front location, situated on the beautiful Pacific in-between Santa Barbara and Malibu. The only all-suite hotel in Southern California to sit directly on the beach, the resort contains 250 two room suites and features the signature amenities standard at any Embassy Suites Hotel including free cooked-to-order breakfast each morning and a complimentary two-hour Manager’s Reception each evening.

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The guest suites have a living area with a sofa bed, dining/work table, two HD TV’s, high-speed Internet access, a wet bar, mini-refrigerator, microwave oven, separate private bedroom and 2 private baths. Onsite amenities include a large free form swimming pool, which is adjacent to a large whirlpool. A second whirlpool specifically for adults is also on property, allowing for more privacy and relaxation. In addition, the resort contains a workout room, lighted tennis, volleyball, sport courts and business center. Guests can enjoy spa services in their suite or in the treatment rooms. Bicycle rentals are conveniently located on site, and nearby options include the opportunity to surf, kayak, sail, paddle board and boat, as well as enjoy the sun-soaked California beaches.

Island of San Miguel

Charter A Private Yacht And Sail The Channel Islands

Boats located in Channel Islands Harbor, Marina Del Rey

CHANNEL ISLANDS HARBOR, CA — Just off the coast of Southern California are a chain of magical islands, the Channel Islands. These unspoiled islands offer unique species of animal and plant life found nowhere else in the world. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and join Channel Islands Charter on an excursion that will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the world.

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Whether you are looking for a quick four hour getaway or a week-long adventure, we can make your dream vacation come true. For those wishing a truly private experience aboard a luxury sailing yacht, Channel Islands Charter is the only way to go. We have a variety of boats and yachts to provide you with an experience tailored to your needs and expectations. Our crewed boat rentals are perfect for parties of up to 6 passengers. In addition to Channel Islands Harbor (located in Oxnard, California), we have yachts available in Marina Del Rey which are available for excursions to Catalina as well as cruising Santa Monica Bay and Malibu.
The islands offer a variety of activities including fishing, SCUBA, surfing, kayaking, water skiing, hiking, sailing and more. Visit the Activities link for more detail on things to do. For additional information on reserving your vacation please contact us via phone: 424 781-7245 — or Email: Reservations@channelislandscharter.com.

Kayak The Channel Islands

Kayaking The Channel Islands Is The “Activity Of The Week”

VENTURA, CA — The Channel Islands is one of the most exciting kayak destinations in the world. Volcanic by origin, it’s host to some of the most dramatic sea-caves on the planet. Come on out and experience the crystal clear water, all of the wildlife in it’s natural habitat, Sea-lions, a multitude of marine birds, sea-stars and more! And then there’s “THE CAVES!” You have to experience them to believe them, All I can say is awesome!


HISTORY & WILDLIFE TOUR — The History and Wildlife kayak tour is one of the most creative fun kayaking tours in California. This kayaking adventure starts out with a quick intro kayak lesson and then the fun begins! You’ll learn about the origin of the Channel Islands, encounter a real fossil, meet “Chippy” the worlds only replica of a Channel Islands pygmy Mammoth! Venture into our harbor mock up cave to find murals and artifacts before heading out on our wildlife paddle in search of starfish, crabs, Sea lions, marine birds and a multitude of other fascinating local wildlife!
KAYAK RENTALS — If you’re ready for some awesome fun in the sun, come on down and give our rentals a spin!
The Channel Islands Harbor has some of the clearest water of any harbor in california, so it’s alive with a multitude of local wildlife like sea-lions, marine birds, crabs, starfish and more! Just come on out and join the fun! (For more information, please visit www.cikayak.com/)

Sailing Ventura

Sailing Center In Ventura Leaves Lasting Legacy

VENTURA, CA — The Leo Robbins Community Sailing Center is a national award-winning sailing and kayaking school located in the beautiful Ventura harbor. It has been managed by the City of Ventura Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Partnerships since its founding in 1972.

Sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding lessons.
We teach sailing and kayaking courses on a variety of boats, ranging from 7 to 30 feet by American Sailing Association and United States Sailing Association certified instructors. We run youth and adult courses year-round for beginning through advanced students. If you want to learn to sail or kayak, have a love of the water, or simply want to try something new, browse through our courses today!
About Leo Robbins — Leo Robbins, the Sailing Center’s beloved founder (1916-2007) not only helped the City of Ventura start its sailing program in 1972 with five small boats and six students, but he also built it into today’s award winning Community Sailing Program offering classes for sailors of all levels. To honor his 25 years of service, the center was named after him when he retired in 1997 at age 80. Even in his ten years of retirement, Leo was able to visit the center frequently and test out new boats, advise new instructors and spread his passion for sailing to new students. (www.lrsailingcenter.com)

StrawberryFestival

Kindergardner Wins Art Contest For Local Strawberry Festival

OXNARD, CA — From 951 entries Kindergarten to 6th grade, the whimsical roller skating strawberry design of five-year-old Fatima Ponce from Hathaway Elementary School in Oxnard was selected as the grand prize winner of the 34th Annual California Strawberry Festival Youth Art Design Contest.

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Last week, the Festival representatives orchestrated a surprise strawberry cupcake party and award presentation with her entire kindergarten class to celebrate the announcement. Young Fatima received a $100 gift certificate and a framed presentation of her design which will also be showcased before a crowd of thousands at the California Strawberry Festival May 20 and 21. Her teacher Norma Cortez, was awarded a $50 gift certificate. She and her fellow students also took home field-fresh strawberries from Nakamura Farms. A representative from Assembly member Jacqui Irwin’s office issued a certificate of recognition and Superintendent of Hueneme Schools Christine Walker joined in the festivities.

The hundreds of students who participated in the contest from school districts throughout Ventura County will also receive a free Festival ticket as an appreciation for their efforts.

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Ponce’s colorful winning masterpiece features a smiling strawberry complete with eyelashes and a green-leaf crown, roller skating amidst a strawberry patch. After a class discussion about strawberries and how they grow in Oxnard, she and her classmates worked independently to express the Festival’s atmosphere and what the event means to the community. To create the design, Ponce used her imagination and positive outlook for the concept, and went to task with crayons.

“Art and language arts are her favorite subjects,” says proud teacher Cortez. “It’s very exciting for Fatima who is somewhat shy and often prefers to be by herself in the classroom. It’s wonderful that her design was recognized as a standout among submissions from students who are much older.”

“The Youth Art Design contest offers a unique way to engage children while spreading awareness of a celebration that pays tribute to the region’s rich agricultural heritage and gives back to communities,” says Festival Chairperson Kim Gibas. “The teachers do a terrific job to share the study plan with their students and art is the medium that connects it all together.”

“The California Strawberry Festival’s Youth Art Design Contest is a fantastic way for students to show their excitement for the Festival and our community through art,” said Assembly member Jacqui Irwin.

California Strawberry Festival general admission is $12, seniors 62+ are $8, and children ages 5-12 are $5. Kids 4 and under are free. Active military and dependents with ID are $8. Hours are 10:am to 6:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or in advance online. The California Strawberry Festival toll free information line is 888 288-9242. For tickets and info visit http://www.castrawberryfestival.org

(www.castrawberryfestival.org)

Bandon Dunes Golf

Bandon Dunes Is Golf As It Was Meant To Be

BANDON, OR — Bandon Dunes is true to the spirit of Scotland’s ancient links.
Here, players immerse themselves in the traditions of a timeless game and the grandeur of Oregon’s rugged coast. Sweeping, untamed shores stretch for miles. Primeval grassy dunes roll to the sea.

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Five distinctly different courses have been conceived in harmony with the natural environment. They combine with all the essential elements to reveal a new golf experience every time you play. The soul of the game resides here. Players walk. And at the end of the day, gracious hospitality comforts each guest like a warm, friendly embrace.
This is Bandon Dunes. This is golf as it was meant to be. Golf was born on rugged, wind-swept land just like this. Every hole, every hazard, every shot is defined by nature’s infinite presence. As the elements change, so does the game. It’s all part of the tradition of links golf. Lies are tight and conditions are lean. Bounce and roll are a better measure of quality than color. Mastery of the ground game becomes a more important skill than raw power. The ingenious and inventive player is rewarded with multiple options on nearly every shot. Amongst the massive dunes and hearty pines, you’ll discover golf in its purest state. Where nature is embraced, not conquered. And where the traditions of a time-honored game yield to an experience unlike any other.

Rockfish

Rockfish Season Is Open, And The Fish Are Biting

OXNARD, CA — There is something about the enormity of the ocean and the vastness of its riches that call to anglers everywhere. Nowhere is that more true than here, along the amazing Southern California Coast.


Channel Islands Sportfishing (CISCOS) is proud to offer premier, affordable charters, having one of the largest and most impressive fleets along the Ventura and Channel Islands Coast.
Channel Islands Sportfishing Center enjoys providing access to the renown fishing around the Northern Channel Islands. Fishing enthusiasts love having access to the thriving marine habitat that surrounds Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island, and San Nicolas Island, as well as the coastal waters between Santa Barbara and the Ventura County line near Malibu.
At the helm of their fishing charters you’ll find enthusiastic Captains who are knowledgeable about our extremely productive fishing grounds that produce a wide range of fish including world record Halibut, White Seabass, Sheephead, Barracuda, Yellowtail, Rockfish, World Class Lingcod, and Salmon, along with the surface fish which includes, Calico bass, Barracuda, Sand bass.
In recent El Nino warm water conditions, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Marlin and other exotic warm water fish have been caught. The Captains and their crew are highly experienced industry leaders, and well-respected for their dedication to sport fishing.
Channel Islands Sportfishing offers daily deep sea fishing trips in California, private charters, seasonal Whale watching and more. (For more information, pleae visit www.channelislandssportfishing.com/)

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