Saturday, November 29, 2008


Tokaj is a small town in northeastern Hungary. Part of the famous Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its fame? The Tokaji Aszú wine.

The Tokaji wines are sweet wines, with a measurement of sweetness (sugar content) that ranges from 3 puttonyos to 6 puttonyos. Those above 5 puttonyos will be classified as Aszú-Eszencia, which is also known as nectar! A visit to the wine cellars for wine tasting is thus not to be missed if you have a chance to travel to this region!! And the wine tasting is done in the cellars!

The vast underground wine cellars are also quite an eye-opener. Rows and rows of barrels and bottles line the passageways. The cellars are covered with a special mold, which feeds off the alcohol evaporated during aging process. The underground system also keeps the place at a constant cool temperature, and all these constitute the special conditions that is ideal for making tokaji wine.

The vineyards are situated in beautiful country, and is extremely pictureque during sunset. So, check out this part of Hungary!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday on Feet

Trekking. Hiking. Tramping. Call it what you want, it is just walking :). Do it on a holiday? Why not? In fact, it is highly recommended!!

Ok, before you start to think of those trips that are 2-3 weeks of pure trekking, well, you don't have to. You can always start with day hikes, or even intersperse different day hikes into your trip. Once you experience it and like it, you can then plan for trips with hikes/treks that last 2-3 days etc. But why hike and tire yourself when a tour bus can bring you to sights?
For one, some of nature's most beautiful sights are not accessible by buses or even cars. With a little walking, you will often see scenes that you can only see in magazines. And sometimes with some serious trekking, you'll see sights that blow your mind away! For nature lovers, it would definitely be worth your while.
And if you're doing hikes or walks in come countries like Nepal, India, China etc, these hikes often passes through villages which yield fantastic experiences no tour can provide you. You can see strange cultures, untouched lifestyles, and make contact with interesting people. It is travel at its best.

Different countries provide different backdrops for your walks. And different seasons add to the variety. From rugged mountains in Pakistan to icy glaciers in New Zealand, and from lush greenery in summer Laos, to striking red in autumn Romania, there is something for everyone!

So put on your walking shoes, and enjoy your walking holiday!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Nepal is one of the places that was extra memorable to me. It was my first foray into a multi-day trekking trip, in a less developed country. It opened my eyes, and widened my thirst for more adventurous travel, and on top of that, with my "new" second-hand digital SLR, it was quite literally the bud that grew to my Roving Light website :)

For the trekking initiate, I think the routes in Nepal are quite excellent. They are relatively simple, and flexible enough to be able to provide different options (length) for different people. Me and my friends did a short 3day trek in the Annapurna region. It could easily been a 5-6 day trek, and for the hardier, there is even the famous ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) trek which could extend to 18-21 days! But regardless of the length, the scenaries are spectacular. With the Annapurna mountain ranges as a backdrop to your trek, it was indeed exhilarating. Not just the air, but the light in the mountains are fantastic too!

The exposure to the people living in the mountains was also an interesting experience for me. Their living conditions and their lives are often inconceivable by us city folks. The children in the villages are adorable, and as the region receives more trekkers, many of them would give chocolates or sweets to these children. A simple thought really, but on a bigger level, could actually cause a dental problem as there are no dental clinics in the mountains! The children would also start begging and pestering for these, which is certainly not something to be encouraged. So, it really brought different perspectives to me, of the world that revolves as a whole but at such a different pace at its different parts.

Go take a look at that part of the world, Nepal.

Friday, November 7, 2008

LuGu Lake

Lugu Lake (泸沽湖) lies 5-6 hours away from Lijiang, and makes for a really interesting side trip from Lijiang. Because of the long journey there, a minimum of 2 nights stay would be recommended. So what's so interesting there?

Lugu Lake is home to the Mosuo people, one of the more interesting minority groups of Yunnan province. They are a matriarchal society and their customs and practices are strange and often accounted. One of the more famous customs of the Mosuo is their marriage-less system. Men and women are free to have their love affairs and single mothers are common. Children grow up with their mothers and uncles and most don't even know who their father is (they take their mother's surname)!! Traditionally, women who are interested in a particular man will invite him to her house/room to spend the night. Usually, the man will come after dark, and leave in the morning. Both are free to continue or end this "arrangement" as they please! Talk about ancient conservation China!

There are a couple of villages or settlements in Lugu Lake, with Luoshui probably the most "touristy". There are no lack of guesthouses, and common activities around here would be hiking around the mountains and taking boat rides to the islands on the lake. While the Mosuo do not wear their traditional attire in their daily life anymore, many of the communities around the villages will dorn their traditional clothings and dance and sing around campfires for the tourists. And if there is enough demand, you could even roast/grill a whole sheep over the campfire (烤全羊)!

The lake itself is of course beautiful, with different hues at different times of the day. The morning mists is just beautiful, and overall a wonderful place to just chill out too. So really, 2 nights is easily the minimum you would want to stay here!!