Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Venomous Snakes of Florida: North Captiva Island

North Captiva Island remains beloved as a vacation getaway island. That’s not least because it’s home to so much and such varied wildlife. On the land, in the sea, and certainly in the air, it’s a wildlife scene that’s literally teaming with birds, fish and marine mammals and terrestrial creatures.

While nearly all wildlife can present an attractive spectacle, all wildlife is also best left alone. Among those in this latter category, the venomous snakes are among the most dangerous – and the most interesting.

Though you’re chances of seeing even one venomous snake are very slim, it’s best to familiarize yourself with them, and what you should do in the event that you do run across one.
Snake bite victims need to be treated, as soon as possible, by emergency personnel at a hospital. According to WebMD, you should carefully note the snake's appearance, so that the type of venom (and thus anti-venom) can be determined.

Be sure the victim is a safe distance from the snake, but keep the victim still while you wait for medical personnel. They should be positioned with the wound below the heart to slow the movement of the venom. Never cut a bite wound and don’t attempt to suck the venom out or apply a tourniquet. No ice, no water.  Just cover with a light bandage and get to medical help or wait for an ambulance.

Venomous Snakes in Florida

In all of Southwest Florida, there are only four venomous snakes:
  1. the eastern diamondback rattlesnake,
  2. the dusky pygmy rattlesnake,
  3. the Florida cottonmouth
  4. and the eastern coral snake
While not exceptionally rare on mainland Florida, they are less common on the islands, though not unheard of. Only the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and eastern coral snake have been documented on the islands, but undocumented sightings of all four have been noted. 
In any event, stay away from all of the above, if you are lucky enough to spot one. Spotting one, hopefully photographing one, is all you should hope for. Don’t get any closer.

Confirmed Venomous Island Snakes

Eastern Coral Snake – With black, red and yellow stripes running around its body, the eastern coral snake is easily one of the most attractive snakes. Don’t go picking one up. Full-grown coral snakes are seldom more than about three feet long. Though cold comfort, coral snakes only inject venom about 40% of the time that they bite so there is a chance of getting bitten and merely needing a tetanus shot rather than the anti-venom. One of presumed reasons the coral snake has taken to the islands is that they survive chiefly on a diet of frogs and lizards of which both Sanibel and Captiva Islands can boast prolific numbers. Even if you have spotted only the mimicking snakes, snakes that appear like the eastern coral snake, just steer clear of them, and spare yourself the trouble.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes – Folks tend to need a lot less warning when it comes to rattlesnakes. They simply have a reputation preceding them, so they’re not likely to be mistaken for something pretty, (like the eastern coral snake above). On the other hand, they do tend to put themselves in places where they can surprise small animals and bigger folks end up surprising the snakes. And that’s the problem. Full grown at up to about five feet in length, they’re big enough to put even daredevil types on their guard, but rattlesnakes will still end up wandering into places where we just don’t expect them to be. Surviving mostly on small mammals like mice and shrews, rattlesnakes generally want to be left alone, and they are best that way. There’s enough other wildlife around to keep island visitors occupied.

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnakes – Much smaller than their diamondback cousins, pygmy rattlers grow to just about two feet in length and they’ve been documented on North Captiva. Sanibel island has reported sightings, but none of these have been confirmed. Similar to the diamondback, their venom can be deadly but it tends to come in smaller doses. Also like the diamondback, the pygmy rattler, lives mostly off of rodents and similar small game.

Florida Cottonmouth – Similar to the pygmy rattler, the water mocassin has never been confirmed on any of the Fort Lee County islands. Still, it’s a relatively aggressive snake and it thrives in other semi-aquatic environments all over south Florida. They certainly could show up, and though uninvited, they do perform a role wherever they’re found keeping mice and other small rodents, frogs and bird populations under control. Like most venomous snakes, the cottonmouth will defend itself if it feel encroached upon, and the venom it can deliver is not to be underestimated.

Most snake bites in the last half century have resulted from people trying to catch, isolate or handle venomous snakes. North Captiva Island has a wealth of other wildlife that can be justly and thoroughly enjoyed. Some creatures can even be appreciated from very near at hand. Other than in a dolphin petting zoo, you shouldn’t try to touch (much less handle or catch) any of the animals. And if you’re fortunate enough to witness one of the venomous snakes mentioned above – on North Captiva – or anywhere in South Florida, do yourself a favor, and keep your distance.

The Author:

This article was written by james t. James is a New Jersey native but currently lives in Mexico City because it’s a tad bit cold in New Jersey at the moment. Still, he is looking forward to the 2014 Super Bowl being held in his freezing home state.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Most Unusual Restaurants on Earth



If you have grown tired of the traditional sit-down restaurant or just looking for an impressive photo opportunity, there are restaurants all around the world that deliver a truly unique dining experience. In many cases, the food in these restaurants is reason enough to make it a destination meal on your next vacation. Factor in the odd atmosphere and you have a meal you are likely to remember for the rest of your life. If being a foodie is not enough of a culinary adventure, then step inside of the eateries below and take your dining to a whole other level.



If Robots are Your Thing

Hajime Restaurant (Bangkok, Thailand)

The first of our robot themed restaurants is found in the capital city of Thailand where you can feast on Japanese delicacies, all of which are served up by the restaurant’s robot staff. With a price tag of over one million dollars, the staff did not come cheaply. However, they also dance for patrons while delivering their meals.

Robot Restaurant (Tokyo, Japan)

If you did not get your fill of robot excitement in Bangkok, head on over to Tokyo to see a show that can hardly be explained in words. With a performance that looks to be part anime, part Batman movie (the really bad Clooney movies) and part Terminator, the Robot Restaurant is a sight to be seen. Throw in a few dozen scantily dressed women, and you have the makings of a wild night. Oh yea, they also serve food there.

The Macabre

Cannibalistic Sushi (Tokyo, Japan)

Staying in Tokyo, your restaurant tour can take a turn from the strange to the deranged at Cannibalistic Sushi. Building off the eating practice of Nyotaimori where diners will eat sushi off a living female body, this restaurant lets you take your inner Hannibal Lecter to the next level. Diners eat sushi that arrives inside the body of a naked woman. No, she is not real, but the restaurant prides itself on creating a sushi experience that mimics the insides of a human being.

New Lucky Restaurant (Ahmedabad, India)

If the fake human body was not macabre enough for you, why not grab a meal beside a coffin filled with the remains of people who have long passed. The identity of those who make their permanent resting a place in the restaurant are a mystery even to the owner.

Your Inner Nerd (or Outer Nerd)

Ninja New York (New York, NY)

You do not have to travel to the far east to enjoy a weird restaurant full of Asian culture. If you are a Bruce Lee enthusiast in the Big Apple, you can stop by for a Ninja dinner of sushi and saki while employees unleash the warrior inside them. The restaurant itself is described as a subterranean labyrinth that is made to look like a 15th century Japanese feudal village.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant (Maldives)

Want to let out your inner Ariel or Sebastian from Disney’s Little Mermaid? You can truly enjoy a meal “Under the Sea” at this restaurant located in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel. The restaurant is submerged 16 feet below the surface of the water with a menu filled with fresh seafood of course. There are other underwater restaurants across the globe, but we give this one in the Maldives the nod as it was the first of its kind.

The Just Plain Weird

Modern Toilet (Taipei City, Taiwan Province of China)

Hard to find a reason why such a restaurant exists, but you will not find a weird restaurant list that doesn’t include this odd themed restaurant. Toilets are everywhere to be found at this now chain of restaurants. Toilets represent most of the wall decor, every chair around the table is a toilet (non-working), and even the dinnerware is comprised of mini toilets. Some of the more popular dishes include chili and chocolate ice cream for dessert.

Dinner in the Sky (Various locations)

Originating in Belgium and now found in various locations across Europe and North America. Groups of 15-20 dinner guests strap into chairs and rise about 150 feet by crane to enjoy their meal while floating above the city streets. The menu ranges from sushi and sashimi to steak and potatoes. This mobile restaurant now moves from city to city for a limited time and could be headed to a city near you.

The Writer:

Brian Levesque, is a food tourist who travels the country and the world to sample the most unusual dishes he can find. He prides himself on finding the weirdest and best dining locations all over. When looking for a bite to eat at home, he finds restaurants and reviews by making use of Food Pub. You can learn more about Brian on Google+.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kochi- The Tourist Hub Of Kerala


The prominent port cityalong the West coast of India, adjoining the waters of Arabian Sea, is a famous sought after tourist hideout on the map. Prestigiously known as the Queen of Arabian Sea, flaunts one of the exquisite natural ports of the world.  Cochin (erstwhile name), the natural harbour was once the renowned world spice centre. Earlier Kochi was a group of islands, commonly Fort Kochi, Willington Island, Mattancherry and many low-land areas, whereas now it is an impressive mark in the tourism world and the prosperous city of God’s Own Country. The breath taking destination is a marvel to cherish and a gateway to Kerala. Let’s look at some of the hot-spots at Kochi which you shouldn’t opt out from the list on your next voyage.

Kochi Backwaters



The brackish lagoon or backwaters of Kochi run parallel to the mesmerising waters of Arabian Sea. The long stretch of lagoon from Kochi Azhi to MunambamAzhi is the Veeranpuzha, the placid lake to the northern extension of Vembanad Kayal (backwaters). The lake is a known tourist attraction. Water-front festivals are held in Veeranpuzha , lures foreigners from far and wide. On a houseboat or rice boat cruise, tourists can behold green heads of swaying coconut groves bordering the crystal clear waters over a long stretch of lands, water lilies, water birds resting on the vibrant greenery, women engage in their daily chores in the backwaters, fishermen fishing  - enchanting sights to relish. Apart from the nature’s scenic excellence and rustic lifestyle, admirable monuments, churches, Jewish Synagogue, European settlements, etc, the backwaters proffers visual extravaganza to the visitors, a reason why flocks of tourists visit the land. If you plan to visit the destination during December end you can witness the thrilling water regatta on Kochi backwaters- Indira Gandhi Boat Race.

Fort Kochi



Surrounded by the bluish lagoons, Fort Kochi takes you to the past and you feel like travelling through the ancient times, a blend of European, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese. Adjacent to Fort Kochi is the nerve town Mattancherry, where you see the reflections of the historic Cochin. The Chinese nets were introduced as a result of the Chinese settlement. Near to the water-front, is the Fort Emmanuel built by Portuguese, by which the first part of the name got framed. Behind this Fort is the world famous St. Francis Church, which is of historical significance. Vasco Da Gama, the renowned Portuguese explorer was buried in this church. Though the church displays Portuguese architecture and brilliant ambiance, the Dutch and British took control of the land later. Santa Cruz Basilica is yet another classic monument of Fort Kochi, owes its origin to the Portuguese. The Chinese nets, ancientbuildings, shopping spree, Jewish Synagogue, water-front restaurants  and the natural attractions makes it a favourite haunt of tourists.

Mattancherry Palace




The popular Portuguese Palace is commonly known as the Dutch Palace. The idyllic lake-side locality, located 9 km away from the city is inhabited by people from all walks of life, than the native population the place holds migrants from different parts of the country and abroad. The place houses the famous Mattancherry Synagogue or Paradesi Synagogue, the only functional Jewish synagogue of Kerala, MattancherryPazhayannur Royal Temple, Mattancherry Palace Museum, Palliarakkavvu Temple, GowdSaraswat Brahmin Samaj Temples (Jain and Venkatraman Temple) and many mosques. The traditional Kerala architecture reflects on every corners of the MattancherryPalace. The repertoire boasts from Kerala mural arts which are fine and detailed Hindu temple arts, vibrant paintings, portraits of Maha Raja of Cochin, exquisite exhibits like royal umbrellas, a howdah, palanquin, ornaments, royal costumes, drawings, coins, etc. 

Cherai Beach




Located northern end of Vypeen Island, Kochi is a tranquil destination to revive from the daily mundane of life. Cherai is famous for the picturesque beach which is an ideal swimming hideout. The time spent on this lovely sun-kissed sandy beach, cuddled by gentle breeze and luscious coconut groves will be definitely a relishing experience. A walkway is built along the beach where you can have a short stroll on evenings and enjoy the vibrant hues of sunset merging with the blue-green waters.  

About the Author:\
This article is authored by Ajith Thomas who is one of the authors of the blog GreatBackwaters, you can find him at Google+

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Waters of Caraga Region

Unknown to many, Caraga Region in Mindanao is a home to many great travel destinations in the Philippines. With its untouched natural resources, Caraga is indeed a region to explore.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

PHILIPPINES, Valerie Weigmann - Contestant Introduction: Miss World 2014


How about getting to know Miss World Philippines Valerie Weigmann as you also get to know our country - Philippines.






New York Times features Palawan Underground River

Philippine pride - Palawan Underground River or Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park just got a whole page feature at the Travel page of New York Times Magazine, November 2 issue. 

My US based friend, Erwin Amora posted in his wall: "It's nice to see your country is being featured in New York Times Magazine  November 2 issue/Travel Page. — feeling proud."  along with this photo




Proud moment indeed so I persuade him to share some more photos so I can share it here. 






It is heartwarming to see our very own being recognized by the world. I'm hoping that with this, more tourists will visit Palawan to see the wonder that is Underground River. More tourists means more income for the locals. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dateline: Lipe Island


13 October 2014. Hatyai City. Our Lipe Island trip officially starts today.

We booked for our trip to the island yesterday at so we made sure to get to the meeting place right on time. It was scheduled to depart at 9 o'clock and arrived at 11 o'clock in the morning and since October is not a peak season, the van wasn't full so there was plenty of rooms for all of us and the journey was smooth and comfortable. 


Upon arrival at the pier, we waited for a while for the verification of our booking ticket and off we boarded the ferry boat that took us to the island. We were ecstatic. My travel buddy - Belle was filled with euphoria and obviously couldn't keep her anticipation as the boat started to move away from the pier. 

The ferry boat was packed with foreign and local tourists seated in rows. Those which can't be accommodated by chairs had to endure standing for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes but were unmindful of the situation as the endless panorama of the islets, rock formations and the vast endless blue waters were breathtaking. We were later told that we were lucky because the ocean was calm and there wasn't much waves that may have ruined our trip or might have turned our stomach upside down. What a relief!


We get-off from the ferry boat at a platform (consider it as a terminal) about 20 meters away from the seashore where we paid 70 bahts for the long-tailed boat that will finally take us to Lipe island which at the moment was already waiting for us at a distance. 

Lipe is a relatively small island located at the Southern part of the Andaman seas which is a part of Tarutao National Marine Park which consists of around 50 islands. It has three main beaches: Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach and Pattaya Beach and is also surrounded with bigger and smaller islands which are also great sites for snorkeling and diving activities. Going to the main beaches in the island will only take 20 - 30 minutes through the main roads. While walking is best idea to do exploration, there are also available motorbike taxis that will carry you around if one feels the need for transport services. 


Setting foot at the fine white sand of Lipe was a delight. The vast serene cool water was inviting even at midday where the sun is scorching.We found a nice accommodation at Lipe Beach Resort that offers a great view of the pristine Sunrise Beach. I love the crystal clear water. From afar you will see the monochromatic spectacle - turquoise where it's shallow and royal blue where it's deeper. 

After digging out our late lunch in bed right in front of the beach, we settled in our "Bamboo Cottage" accommodation.There was nothing fancy about the room - a soft bed under a well-tucked mosquito net, an electric fan and a clean toilet were all inside and it was all enough to give us the comfort we needed during the entire duration of our stay. We paid 500 bath a night for our cottage.  


We spent the rest of the afternoon getting acquainted with the place and getting enough rest as we waited for the sunset. It was a perfect scenario of relaxation: lying back in front of the beach reading an interesting book while sipping sweet coconut shake. What a life! I thought I couldn't ask for more. 

Later that day, Belle and I walked towards the Sunset Beach to get a glimpse of the multicolored hues in the sky before the sun finally makes its exit at the horizon. There was not much of it on that day since the weather was not very cooperative with the signal of the imminent rain, but we weren't disappointed. We had quite a view.


The first day at the island was wrapped up with a dinner at the Walking Street, Ko Lipe's main street and the center of business and entertainment...then after some glasses of spirits, we called our day 1 a night. 

Zzzzz....zzzzz...zzzz...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Summing Up my Term Break Holiday


I am back from my one week get away in the South of Thailand and my head is actually full of things that I'd like to share. I just couldn't organize right now as to where should I start or maybe I still need another full day rest and maybe then I'll get things sorted out and I could write properly. 

To kick off, let me just share though that the whole week was a blast having been around Songkla with Belle as my tour guide. Despite the momentary rainy weather, we were able to visit a number of significant destinations including temples, parks, markets, and bars but the highlight of which is the three-day stay in the island of Lipe. 

Hatyai

Hat Yai (also Haad Yai or Had Yai) is a city in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. It is the largest city of Songkhla Province, the largest metropolitan area in the South, and the third metropolitan area of the country. Being the center of commerce in the province, it is usually mistaken for being the provincial capital. In fact, Songkhla is the capital and the center of administration and culture. The two cities however, make the Greater Hatyai-Songhkla Metropolitan Area and are considered to be twin cities because of their geographical proximity.

Hatyai. A panoramic view of the city. 

Ko Lipe

Ko Lipe (Lipe Island) is a small island in the Adang Rawi Archipelago of the Andaman Sea, in the Satun Province of southwest Thailand, close to Malaysian border. It is on the border of the Tarutao National Marine Park and is directly south of the larger islands Ko Adang and Ko Rawi, and about 50 km. from the island of Ko Tarutao. This island was originally settled by a group of sea gypsies from Malaysia, known as the Urak Lawoi people. 

Beds. In front of  Sunrise Beach @ Ko Lipe

More to Come

These are but few bits of information that I could share for now but I'll sure give away more in my coming posts about the whole holiday experience. I have more storiesto share about Songkhla and Hatyai and more vivid details about their tourist destinations and their exciting night life and more importantly, I can't wait to give my written account of my first-hand experience about Ko Lipe, known as Thailand's version of Maldives. Did it exceed to the expectation we had prior to our arrival? What activities did we do during our stay in the island? Where did we go? These and more in the days to come. 

Open Arms. Enjoying an afternoon breeze while waiting for the sunset @ Sunset Beach in Ko Lipe.

For the mean time, let me go and drink my meds before this cough gets  worse. (Now, that's another side of the story.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunrise

Palawan. October 2012.


The Story:

It was an early morning on our way to Dos Palmas, Palawan for the wedding ceremony of two dear friends. Then came the majestic sun spreading awesome hues in the sky. This boat was just right in its place just as it was needed. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Time Warp in Rome

Rome is a city within the country of Italy at the same time, the largest and the capital city of the nation. Rome is famed for being the place of the Roman Empire, as well as the seat for religious affairs. Rome has been a centre for religion, power, and culture for several hundreds of years as being the cradle of one of the biggest and influential civilizations.

In modern age, Rome still is a power to be reckoned in terms of culture and religion. The city houses the Vatican City, the seat of authority for millions of Catholic devotees. The city also is influential in terms of arts and architecture that withstand the test of time. Come fly to Rome now, as it is easy to access the city. Take a flight going to Rome via the Rome-Flumicino Airport and enjoy the timeless and ageless beauty it really is.

The Pantheon


The Pantheon is among the many structures noteworthy to be visited in the city. The Pantheon offers a unique architectural and engineering feat with open dome roof and a round shaped base. The primary purpose of its design is to hold the town hall that can be seen by the gods during the pagan days.
The building undergoes many transformations from a house for several affinities of religion and administration functions. A visit to the Pantheon will definitely still delight and mystify for those who watch the beauty and grandeur of the building.

The Coliseum

Google Image
The Coliseum in Rome is one of the most sought sites ever laid in the city. The coliseum is famous for its depiction on many mainstream media as being the best spectator establishment in the ancient world. The glamour of the building brings a testament on the engineering and cultural prowess of Rome. The purpose of the coliseum is to hold sports and games of armed combatants as well as some involvement of wild animals.

The memory of the historic building still lingers with anyone who visited and gazed upon its marvel and wonder. The Coliseum is now being included in the new 7 wonders of the world as it is rightfully so for connecting to many people the time period for which Rome stood high and mighty.

Architecture


The city of Rome has many fine establishments, structures, and places that incorporatemany styles throughout the years. Rome is considered to be the best centre for classical architectural style in the world, in which it incorporates the Greek style upon applying new methods of arches, domes, and vaults. Rome saw many architectural feats though the years with the rise of the Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque style to name a few.

The place and buildings need to be visited and seen are the archaeological sites of the baths of Emperor Caracalla, the Trajan’s Column, Circus Maximus Hippodrome,  and the triumphal arch of Constantine; just a few of the many famous places. From the medieval time going to the present, the city possesses many churches and basilica including the Santa Maria in AraCoeli; as well as some of the world’s best plazas or gathering places like the Piazza Venezia.

Engineering


The origin of some of the best engineering wonders come from Rome with the development of bridges, aqueducts, and fountains. The process of transporting water from the mountain side to the city centre for consumption is work of engineering prowess. To see authentic and surviving aqueducts is a truly magnificent moment along with the massive structure and history.

Bridges are also some of Roman engineering achievements that are widely used today. It is a historical and educational treat to step foot on the beginnings of bridge constructions. The fine engineering prowess of the ancient Rome is a remarkable achievement of mankind that needs to be commemorated upon.