PEr FYI

May 5, 2019

Snow activity Land, Rusutsu, Hokkaido…hits and misses

So what if temperatures are plummeting? Your excitement level life is heating up with exciting things to do in the powdery snow of Rusutsu. Rusutsu in the snow is a spectacular sight and whether you prefer to take to the slopes on skis or simply mosey on through the snow-dusted fields, there’s usually something for everyone to enjoy.

Snow Activity Land is a one-stop shop for dog-sledding, snowmobile tours, etc. The most disappointing activity was the dog-sledding. I don’t know if I have ever been more personally disappointed by any activity at Rusutsu than I was with Snow Activity Land’s dog-sledding. It wasn’t as long as I thought it would be. For a one hour activity as advertised for JPY3,780, the ride was over in 30 seconds. It’s a total rip-off, not worth the money. On the other end of the scale the snowmobile Adventure Course is worth every dollar. Conquering the snowy terrain as you zoom along on a snowmobile is the best way to enjoy a wintry landscape. If you’re a thrill seeker, you can zip up and down through the woods; if you prefer something more relaxed, you can opt for a scenic tour of the well-groomed trails. Nabin Tamang (email: paddletamang@gmail.com), our guide the best there can be, bringing with him hot coffee for a pit stop on the powdery snow.

Hit and misses with Snow Activity Land. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 3, 2019

Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa, Hokkaido…don’t miss the penguins

What’s cuter than penguins enjoying an afternoon waddle? Their webbed feet were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. It’s great to see them outside their habitat and see them walking right beside me. I’ve never been this close to one of these delightful birds.

Asahiyama Zoo is an intimate Hokkaido zoo with a number of fun and interesting exhibits. Look for the adorable polar bears and watch them at feeding time in the polar bear pool.

Asahiyama Zoo may not be as large or extravagant as Ueno Zoo, but it does feature beautiful surrounding scenery and some of the most exotic animals in the world. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 23, 2018

Old Trafford Museum and Stadium Tour, Manchester….a day to remember

As a Manchester United fan since 1976, this 80-minute tour around the historic ground is like a pilgrimage to football mecca for me.

There is no match on today, so we’re able to access areas that are rarely seen by the average punter. We make our way to snoop in the players’ dressing rooms, through into their bathing room, walk through the tunnel on to the pitch, stand in the manager’s spot in the dug out, sit in the heights of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand for a bird’s eye view of the pitch and marvel at the splendour of this impressive stadium.

After the tour, make sure you stop for a bite at the Red Café Restaurant. The gammon, egg and chips – 8oz gammon steak, served with double egg, pineapple, grilled cherry tomatoes & chunky chips is a plate full of goodness that will leave you feeling full but not bloated in the slightest. English staple at its best.

A day to remember. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 8, 2018

International Red Cross Museum, Geneva…a moving and humbling experience

Geneva is also the hub for a number of NGOs and International organisations, such as United Nations and Red Cross. This museum highlights how the Red Cross helps families separated by war or genocide; and the third details its work during and after natural disasters.

The sculpture right outside the museum –  of people with their heads covered (because International Committee of the Red Cross- ICRC supports all the war victims equally, irrespective of their religion and faith),  tied and hands are held at the back (showcasing their helplessness). There’s the museum’s extraordinary collection of six million record cards containing the fate of prisoners of war during World War I. There’s the platform game- Hurricane where it delivers a strong message of reserving the resources for an unpredictable natural disaster

A moving and humbling experience. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 30, 2018

Saigon Vespa Tours, Ho Chi Minh City…enjoy the thrill of living life like the Saigonese

Getting on a scooter in one of the busiest cities in the world with a stranger seemed like a sensible idea. Walking is not popular in Ho Chi Minh City – a city with 7.43 million motorbikes – so being on one is the ideal way to see the buzzing centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

My heart was in my mouth as scooters, taxis, buses and bikes came at me from every angle. Though it sounds scary, the fact is that negotiating Ho Chi Minh City’s night traffic on the back of a vintage Vespa turned out to be exhilarating. Strangely, the breeze on my face; the exotic smells of spices; the people watching; the bustling night markets and the neon lights of the bars and massage parlours, all began to have a hypnotic effect. In accordance to our request, the first pit stop was at Lesbian Sisters bahn mi. They had bought the bahn mi and that saved us waiting time. We devoured them within 20 minutes on the roadside. Before we can digest all this, we were off to a trendy skybar – Glow. After a quick drink and soaking in the view, we were drive to a restaurant of our choice.

While you don’t ride around in luxury, that was never part of the deal, the tour gives you a chance to experience life as a local, being exposed to the thick smog emitted from the scooters. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 22, 2018

Jucker Farm, Zurich…honestly fascinating & relaxing

There is one thing that will catch your attention the moment you make your way to Jucker Farm: The magnificent view over the turquoise lake and the rolling hills. In the background, you might even see the snowy Alps.

The food in the canteen style restaurant is not fancy but quite tasty. There are piles of cake, waffles, pancakes… fresh salads, müesli, smoothies… and also, hearty meals like rösti with fried eggs, quiches and on the nostalgic black stove simmer two different types of soup. There are amusement areas for kids – a dwarf goat petting zoo, a rabbit pen (including baby bunnies), and old tractors for the children to explore – including an apple garden – an accessible labyrinth made up of 5,900 apple trees that provide apples for the table and for producing cider.

Juckerhof in Seegraben, located on the picturesque Pfäffikersee is about a 30 minutes drive from Zurich.

Nothing spells relaxation more than having lunch on a table overlooking the tranquil Lake Pfäffikon. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 17, 2018

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Hua Hin…Uber-touristy.

The idea of eating at a tourist hotspot in our hometown is laughable. On holiday we endure plastic croque monsieurs under the Eiffel Tower, misshapen bratwurst by the Berlin Wall and food and fruits on the floating markets in Thailand, like Damnoen Saduak.

Damnoen Saduak has been Thailand’s best known floating market for a very long time but it is also the most touristy one. It’s lively, full of boats selling food and fruits, and it’s colourful. But you can’t turn your head without being sold something. Everything is expensive.

In sum – don’t go here if you hate cliches, and don’t eat here unless you like paying three times more for your food. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 11, 2018

FIFA World Football Museum, Zurich…I have mixed emotions

This is the brainchild of FIFA’s disgraced former president, Sepp Blatter, who was banned from football after an ethics committee found him guilty of  abusing his position.

It tells the story of “the beautiful game” through artefacts, archival collections and memorabilia. Take a journey through every World Cup in history or learn the origin of FIFA. On the top floor there is an interactive area to kick footballs around and test your skills.  There is a referee game too, to check, if you would be a good referee or not

Not going to tell you whether it’s worth it or not. You can be the judge afterwards. I have mixed emotions. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 7, 2018

Bain Des Paquis, Geneva…cheese heaven and a great place to people-watch

A truly authentic cheese fondue meal – the much loved Swiss staple – is best relished away from the stress and bustle of city life. Bain Des Paquis is a great place to lay-back and hang out in the sun right next to Lake Geneva. The on-site café, La Buvette des Bains serves affordable yet tasty meals – especially the cheese fondue.

The house specialty, Fondue au Cremant is made with sparkling wine similar to champagne rather than white wine, for a more delicate flavour. This is the real fondue deal.

If rich, creamy cheeses a sound like your kind of scene, grab a few friends and meet for conversation, people watch in laid-back atmosphere and some of the most spectacular sceneries you’ve ever seen. Bain Des Paquis is just for people like you. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 13, 2018

Cambridge Chauffeur Punts, Cambridge…enjoyed the views but not the narration

Punting is the most elegant and romantic way to navigate Cambridge’s River Cam. Who could visit Cambridge trying getting a punting experience.

A punt is a traditional square-ended, flat-bottomed boat, usually propelled using a long pole. What’s punting like?  It’s a calm, soothing boat ride on a river, something like riding in a gondola in Venice, except that gondolas are propelled by oars instead of poles.

The boats are kitted out with blankets for the colder months and especially after the sun goes down. The chauffeured punting took us on a 45 minute tour through the College Backs – a great way to see the river and experience the history of Cambridge. Though the guide was informative, telling us about the beautiful university buildings that line the river, he didn’t speak loud enough for us to hear him clearly.

This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful stretches of river in England. The views are unmatched! his is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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