Enjoyable and Unique Things to Do in Jakarta.

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If you’re looking for an interesting, unique and vibrant place to explore in Southeast Asia, Jakarta in Indonesia might not be the first place that springs to mind, but perhaps it should be. Why? Because there are so many enjoyable and unique things to do there…

Could You Be The Ultimate Expat?

An expat is by definition someone who’s chosen to leave their birth country to explore the world and find a country of adoption. You’d be surprised to know that there is a variety of reasons for people to want to move abroad and start a new life, from political to professional reasons. But the most common explanation that you’ll receive from Millennials coming from any of the Western cultures is a sense of self-discovery. Young adults decide to move abroad as a way to tackle the feeling that they don’t fit in where they were born. It’s a common disparity in civilisations where the digital revolution and the social traditions don’t match. People who grew up in a world where they could expand their knowledge, and cultural perspective with a click of a button find it difficult to exist in an environment where the social evolution is not yet a match for their open-minded digital approach. You know the kind: borderless, genderless, nationless, these are the results of digital interactions. No wonder Millennials are changing countries to find a place that will understand them better! So, if you find that you’re stuck in your current situation, maybe it’s time to consider a bold move abroad. What’s the best place to go and how to make it work? Here are some thoughts about the expat life to help you make a choice.


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South east Asia is a cultural blast for those who need a change of lifestyle.

If you genuinely need to take a brand new start and change your perspectives on life, then you want a cultural renewal. If like most expats you were born in Europe or the USA, you need to broaden your horizons with a stay in south-east Asia. Why there, you ask? Because it’s the perfect mix of activity poles, high tech, centuries-old traditions, great food and folk culture, and more importantly amazing landscapes. Besides, you’ll find that the history of the place is fascinating and somehow has a tie to Western history too. There are plenty of options from Thailand to Cambodia, but you’ll find that Malaysia offers the ideal balance of new and old if you’re not ready for a complete mindset reboot. On the one hand, you’ve got cities like Kuala Lumpur that combines a happy mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences in the middle of a modern town surrounded by a fantastic landscape. But on the other hand, you’ll be amazed by Cameron Highlands, a lush scenery of tea plantations, strawberry farms and butterfly gardens around volcanoes. Besides, the cost of living there is low so that you can look for a house for rent in Malaysia without breaking the bank. The local currency, the Malaysian Ringgit equals around 18 pennies, so you can find it easy to settle in Malaysia. In fact, with grocery prices 25% cheaper than European prices, you’ll enjoy the local life even more!


Touring Europe: Going back to culture basics

If you prefer to stay in a known environment but still get a change of traditions and landscape, you will love the European life. It’s a safe bet if you want to move abroad but can’t be too fussed with integrated into a new culture. European culture is thankfully very similar to what you grew up with if you were born in the UK or even in the USA. You will find the same religious traditions, such as Easter and Christmas – although some European countries celebrate it more in-depth than others. In fact, regions that are deeply Christian, like Spain or Italy, have made religious celebrations the core of their behaviour. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun there, on the contrary! If you are keen to discover something new, have a look for Orthodox celebrations in Greece, as it will give you a different perspective. Still need to decide where to go in Europe? You could try Denmark, which has been named the world’s happiest country several times in a row. Or maybe you’d love the confrontation of natural elements in Finland, which makes it the ideal spot for artists. For British expats, specifically,  the place to go to is not Finland but Sweden instead as it offers the best advantages for families to raise their children, on top of a super healthy lifestyle. Too cold or too expensive for your liking? Try Porto instead, the beautiful harbour town in Portugal that offers low rent and healthy Mediterranean environment with a sunny weather almost all year through.

There’s only one issue with choosing to live by the Med: You will have to learn a foreign language, as most people, while they understand English, don’t use it as a mean of communication. In Nordic countries, you can survive with speaking English only, but if you choose to live in the south of Europe, you’ll have to learn Italian, Spanish, French or Portuguese.

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Embracing a big adventure in America

Finally, how about embracing the famous American dream and giving your life aspiration a little boost? If you’re thinking about moving to the USA only, take a moment to consider your options. Nowadays, both north and south Americas are popular destinations for expats and migrants. In fact, while most people still choose to start a new life in the USA, more and more adults have moved to Central America in the past few years. The reason is a happy combination of sunny weather and new business opportunities. In fact, there are more Europeans who have moved to Latin America than the other way around. From a historical point of view, it’s easy to understand the peak in interest, as Latin America’s past is tightly connected to Europe, and especially Spain. However, whether you choose north or south, you’ll need to keep an eye on the intrinsic divergences between each country. In north America only, the cost of life in Canada and the USA is very different, and the social advantages you receive in one country have nothing in common with the other. If you’re planning to start a family, Canada is the place to live in. But if you want to launch a successful entrepreneur career, you may pick the USA instead.


Whether you’re in for a cultural change, a brand new language in a known cultural environment or a successful career, you’ll pick a different destination. But the bottom line is: the expat life is only as good as you’re ready to make it.

 

Grape Expectations: Why You Should Visit Wine Country USA

If someone said to you the two words “wine country”, be honest: would you think they meant somewhere like France or Italy? Absolutely no-one would blame you if that were the case.

In reality, though, more and more those words are being used to describe a slice of the West Coast of America that forms part of the New World range of wine-making locations. As well as being home to some excellent vineyards, the New World is also full of attractions and locations for a holiday you’ll remember for years to come. You don’t need to be an oenophile to enjoy these vacation spots; though it definitely helps!


Paso Robles

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Paso Robles vines.

Paso Robles is a bustling Californian city, surrounded by a seemingly endless array of excellent vineyards. Indeed, it is where the Californian wine trail began in many ways, with settlers finding that the vines carried more fruit than they could reasonably eat. What do you do with too many grapes? Make wine, of course.

Today Paso Robles is famed for its excellent Zinfandel wines, which go particularly well with fish (good job you’re on the coast, then!), as well as the hot springs which will make your stay all the more relaxing.


San Francisco

In many people’s minds, San Francisco is the jewel in the crown of California, and it’s certainly the hub for any wine tour. The city itself is home to some of the most chic wine bars anywhere in the world, and there are several excellent wineries dotted around the outskirts of the city.

It’s also the perfect place to base yourself for the duration of your stay. A short trip from your base in the Comfort Inn & Suites at San Francisco Airport West, you’ve got an eternity’s worth of sightseeing to do. The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Haight-Ashbury and, if you travel between September and January, the legendary San Francisco 49ers play in nearby Santa Clara.


Napa Valley

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Vineyards as far as the eye can see in Napa Valley.

Wine buffs will be used to seeing the words “Napa Valley” on the side of bottles. The valley — and its famous cool winds — provide the perfect environment for Cabernet grapes, which make some of the best red wines available today. The Old World of France or Italy can only dream of the grapes that the Napa Valley is able to provide– so this area is a must visit if you’re a fan of red wine.

Taking the wine train through the valley, you’ll delight at the stunning verdant scenery, rolling hills filled with vines, and the pools and lakes of the Bothe-Napa State Park. You’ll see more wineries than you could possibly stop at, including the famous Inglenook with its award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll also get to see Old Faithful— the legendary geyser that erupts, as if programmed to do so, every hour or so.

Stunning locations and some of the best wine the New World has to offer– who could possibly resist?

Flagstaff, AZ – The top 5 Attractions.

Flagstaff, Arizona, is a beautiful northern city that boasts a hippy/lumberjack feel in extremely cool surroundings. The city is around a 4 hour drive north from Tucson and a 2 hour drive North from the state capital, Phoenix. The city is at a much higher elevation than Phoenix and Tucson, so has a much greener environment with lots of forests and grasslands. Flagstaff is considerably colder than its fellow Arizonan cities, so you should pack some long sleeves and trousers!

Iceland Bound? Here’s Your Must See List.

If you like your holidays to be full of adventure, Iceland is the ideal trip for you. It isn’t your average sunbathing, sand and sea, and you’re more likely to have a hot chocolate in your hand than a cocktail, but it will certainly be an experience to remember. Iceland is one of those places you absolutely have to see at least once in a lifetime, and with so much to do there, it’s difficult to narrow down your sightseeing list. So, if you’ve got a short time frame in Iceland, here’s what you need to prioritise.

Game of Thrones Tour

If you’re a GOT fan, you’ll already know that part of the show was filmed in Iceland. You can now follow in your favourite characters steps and explore the land where filming took place. The tour lasts all day and you may learn some facts you didn’t know.

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The Northern Lights

Let’s be honest, most people go to Iceland in the hopes of catching a glimpse of The Northern Lights. The spectacle known as Aurora Borealis displays a natural phenomenon in the sky where you can see an array of different coloured lights. It really is breathtaking. You can book a tour from Reykjavik at night and you’ll spend a few hours looking at Iceland’s finest scenery. If you’re unlucky and don’t manage to see the lights on your tour, you can usually rebook for free.

The Golden Circle

Taking a Golden Circle day tour will stop you at three separate places: Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park. You’ll get to see some fantastic Icelandic scenery along the way, but your stops are what you’ll really look forward to. The Gullfoss waterfall is mesmerising to see and a true inspiration to anyone who loves nature. You’ll also witness bubbling pools and tectonic rifts. It’s a tour worth doing if you want to see something truly different and rarely found anywhere else in Europe.

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Blue Lagoon

The famous Blue Lagoon is one of the best ways to take in what Iceland has to offer while feeling totally relaxed. Take a dip into the warm water, enjoying the geothermal temperatures and all the spa has to offer. Sip on an Icelandic tea (hot or cold) while walking through the surface mist that the lagoon creates. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or solos holiday, the Blue Lagoon always fits the description. You’ll be surrounded by amazing scenery, most of which has been created by volcanic action. You’ll be able to spy lava creations from your cozy spot and it will definitely be a night to remember.

Snowmobiling

If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junky, you can’t leave Iceland without having a go at snowmobiling. Imagine jumping on a snowmobile for the first time and being guided through the glaziers of lush Iceland and you’ll have an idea of how wonderful this excursion really is. Fly at speed through the powdered snow and get the thrill of a lifetime. Remember to wrap up warm and follow your instructor’s trail.

 

The Top 5 Epic Destinations On My Bucket List.

Everyone yearns to visit certain destinations more than others. There’s a certain allure that places a destination in your mind and it never leaves. You always have that urge to visit there and dream of the time you will spend exploring the sights. These destinations can be on our minds for years, it’s just down to us to visit them! Here are my top 5, one may raise a few eyebrows!


Seattle

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The city of Seattle, Washington,  is nestled away in the north-west corner of the USA. The stunning city is full of glimmering skyscrapers, including one with a flying saucer on top 😉. The quality that sets Seattle apart from other cities for me, is not its skyscrapers, it’s the surroundings: the city is completely surrounded by turquoise waters, emerald mountains, and lush evergreen forests just begging to be explored. Within the city itself lie thousands of open green spaces making Seattle a haven for lovers of the outdoors and nature. I haven’t visited the city yet, but I know Seattle would easily be a city I could live in.


North Korea

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With everything that North Korea is involved in at the moment (the closest thing to nuclear war since the Cold War, in case you’ve been under a rock), you’re perfectly within your rights to question why the country is on my list. The simple answer is that I’m just so curious about it! Now, I know curiosity killed the cat, but It’s literally the most isolated country in the world and it is so unique due to its harsh rulers. Foreigners are only allowed to enter after strict checks. Once in the country, you can only move about while being escorted by guides who watch your every move! So few people have visited the country and we know so little about it that I think it would be the most eye-opening trip that I’d ever been on!


South Africa

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I’ve always admired South Africans; I’ve met many in my life and I’ve always liked them a lot. My physics teacher and my favourite swim coach were both South African. Not only are their accents epic, but I always felt a kind of ‘no bullshit’ attitude emanating from them, which I love. Coupled with having great people, the country itself is beautiful as well. Now, I know the country is not without its problems; a lot of houses have to have armed response security due to the risk of armed robbery. But despite these problems, many millions of tourists travel to the country due to its epic scenery and culture. Towering over Cape Town you have the world famous Table Mountain, and within the country’s grasslands lie some of the best safari experiences available in the world. This is the location I would want to do a skydive!


Japan

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With its bright city lights, ancient traditions, great sushi, and advanced technology, Japan has always intrigued me. Tokyo is the largest city in the world and contains some of the most technologically advanced features in the world. Take The Bullet Train, this travels the length of the country at 200mph. Toilets in hotels will talk to you and put on a water display, the subway is super efficient (but super crowded), the people have amazing manners, and the nightlife is insane – check out the Roppongi district. Outside the bustling cities lie the Japanese countryside that is full of history and culture. Thousands of shrines and temples are dotted throughout the coutry accompanied by its majestic mountains terrain.


Antarctica

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Antarctica is the one with the penguins! I so badly want to go on a trip to this continent that I’m looking up cruises now! Whats better than visiting the region of the earth that is the least visited by humans and the most pristine. Here you see mother nature in all her glory; penguins darting in and out of the water, whales chasing their prey, and seals flopping around on icebergs. I mean honestly, what is better?! The main ways to see this continent are by cruise or air. On a cruise, you will likely be on an icebreaker that will navigate through the many icebergs and crash through the sea ice to take you to the action.

 

There are my top 5 destintions, what about you? Do you have any that may knock some of these off my list?

Michael x