Perjalanan Cinta Arif Muhammad “Mamak Beti” yang Akhirnya Menikah; Cowok Humoris Memang Menawan
With Memorial Day just around the corner, our thoughts often drift to taking a few days off from work for a much deserved vacation. If you are lucky enough to enjoy the benefit of paid vacation days from your employer, you should definitely consider them part of your total compensation package and take them each year. You should pay special attention to whether they expire at the end of the year, and if they do, you should absolutely take them before they expire. Letting them lapse is the same thing as leaving free money on the table. With that being said, using vacation days can be a double-edged sword. Most vacations end up costing a lot of extra money that could otherwise significantly help reach our longer term goals. I've compiled a list of suggestions to use your vacation days in less expensive, yet still very enjoyable, ways. 1. Stay Home At first glance, this might sound like a lame suggestion, but it actually might be the best one on the list! Tell everyone (friends, family, and coworkers) that you will be out of town and unreachable (maybe you are camping in the mountains or something??). Do a big grocery shopping run, go home, lock the door and spend a cozy week enjoying yourself in your very own house! Turn off your cell phone and unplug your land line. Sleep in late... take long baths... have movie marathons and game nights with your spouse/family... eat junk food and stay up late. Simply relax - you deserve it! 2. Give Back If you are charitably inclined, there may be many interesting opportunities for you to spend your vacation days helping those people who are more in need than you. You won't spend your time relaxing, but you will have an enriching, rewarding experience and you may have the chance to change someone's entire life for the better simply by volunteering during your vacation days. If there is a cause that's important to you (i.e. Katrina Survivors, AIDS in Africa, Poverty in India), start researching the organizations that are providing relief to those people affected by the issue. Many organizations will be able to direct you as to the best way to volunteer your time. Often, if you are volunteering, you will be able to obtain free or dramatically low-cost housing for the duration of your stay. Additionally, your church or community organization may be willing to sponsor a portion of your travel to the region. Sometimes churches and school groups organize entire "mission" trips that focus on addressing some of these causes. A less dramatic version of this idea is to contact a local soup kitchen, hospital, animal shelter or boys and girls club and volunteer your services for the week. 3. Vacation in Boston (or the city where you live) Obviously, this is only a good deal if you live in the Boston area and can stay at your own house! We are so lucky to live in a place that people from all over the world want to visit, but it is so easy to take all of that for granted. Have you visited all of the great attractions and sites that this city has to offer? Personally, I've lived here my entire life and I can think of several places I have not been (the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, the new ICA and the Museum of African American History, for example). With a little research, it's easy to find ways to visit local attractions for free or for very little cost. For example, visit the Institute for Contemporary Art on Thursday evenings for Target's Free Thursday Nights from 5:00 - 9:00 pm (icaboston.org). The Museum of African American History has a suggested donation of only $5.00 (afroammuseum.org). The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum welcomes all those named "Isabella" free anytime! (Otherwise, admission is $12 for adults - gardnermuseum.org). I highly suggest visiting your local public library to inquire about any free passes you could borrow to local museums and other attractions for the day. Look online - you may be surprised how inexpensive it can be to experience the local attractions you've always wanted to visit. 4. Work on a Life-Long Goal/Project If you have a week to spare but little cash to spend, think about those goals and projects you have always hoped to accomplish. Have you always wanted to get in better shape? Spend the week establishing a really great exercise routine. Could your living room use a bolder color? Spend the week painting and reorganizing your furniture. Do you have a favorite author or topic you'd like to learn more about? Go to the library and borrow a couple of books you have been meaning to read, head to the beach or local park with a blanket and picnic lunch and curl up with your book in the sunshine. 5. Go Camping The ultimate inexpensive vacation is camping. Although, you should be careful, since even camping can get pricey if you don't plan well. Your least expensive option will be avoiding private campgrounds and planning to stay at a National Park. You can usually drive your car to the campsite, which will be clean and level, set up a tent and enjoy everything from a campfire to a hike in the local area trails. To really save some money, try to get around purchasing new camping gear for your trip. If you don't already have a tent, ask around and see if you can borrow one from a friend or a family member. If necessary, however, I've noticed that tents at Target, for example, are as inexpensive as $30.00. Also, check Craigslist.org to see if anyone is getting rid of any camping gear that you could have for free or for very low cost. 6. Spend the Week at a Local Beach People travel from everywhere to enjoy the New England beaches in the summertime. We are so lucky to live within driving distance from these fabulous beaches. It would be lots of fun to spend the week at your closest beach, enjoying the sun, water and snack shop fare. If you pick a beach that is close to your home, you can sleep in your own bed and then drive over to the beach each day. If you would rather take public transportation each morning, there are a few wonderful options. You can take the Red Line to JFK/UMass and visit Carson Beach. Revere Beach on the Blue Line has undergone many improvements over the past couple of years and is a beautiful option with a boardwalk atmosphere. If you are looking to travel a bit farther, you can take the Amtrak Downeaster to Old Orchard Beach in Maine from Boston. It appears to be $23.00 each way, but could make for a nice, fairly inexpensive, day trip during your vacation! 7. Make a Plan Before You Go If you have read through the above suggestions, but still want more of a conventional vacation, there are plenty of ways to do so less expensively than you normally would. The best idea is to put in quite a bit of planning before you head off on your trip. It's too easy to book the flight and hotel only and plan to choose your activities when you arrive at your destination. The problem is that usually, when you arrive at your destination, you are already in "vacation mode" and you are more apt to spend money less carefully. How easy is it to say "we are on vacation - we deserve it!"? If you put in the time before you leave to think about those things that you would like to do, you can do some research online and find ways to do the things you want to do less expensively. I recommend doing everything from making dinner reservations, booking tours and activities, to planning certain days to relax and do nothing. The more time that you leave unplanned before you leave, the more money you are likely to spend. A great suggestion is starting with a comprehensive budget travel guide such as Lonely Planet's USA & Canada on a Shoestring. Plus, if you plan and research before you go, you don't have to worry or think about anything while you are away and you can simply enjoy your vacation - you deserve it! 8. Shop Around for the Best Deals Before you even book your trip, you can save significantly by shopping around for the best vacation deals. These days, we are all familiar with the major discount travel sites, like expedia.com, orbitz.com and travelocity.com. Those sites are wonderful places to start. Sometimes if you look for a package deal, such as purchasing your airfare and hotel together, you can save quite a bit (however, be sure to price them out separately as well, just in case they are cheaper on their own!). There is another service out there that not many people know about. A website called Travelzoo.com publishes the "Travel Zoo Top 20" every Wednesday at approximately 11:15am. If you visit the website, you can subscribe to receive the Travel Zoo Top 20 by e-mail. Each week, the company finds the best travel deals around and includes them in their list. The deals are anything from packaged vacations, to cruises, to car rentals, and are usually difficult to beat. If you see something you like, you need to be willing to move quickly as most of the deals sell out very shortly after the list is published. It's a great e-mail to subscribe to if you are somewhat flexible with your travel plans and you are simply looking for a great deal on a vacation! 9. Consider Hostelling Especially if you are a young person, hostelling can be a wonderful, inexpensive and enriching way to see the world. The hostel culture seems to be most active in Europe, but there are hostels all around the world, even right here in Massachusetts! A hostel is a less expensive alternative to a hotel. The most common situation will be one in which you are staying in a room with other people that you don't know (however, it is most often possible to get a private room for an additional fee). Hostel fees go down based on the number of people in the room, so you could stay in a room with several other people and pay very little money for your stay. You will usually have access to lockers in which to keep any valuables, and you should call ahead to see if you will need to bring your own sheets. Hostelling can be a great opportunity for you to save some money, but also to meet new friends from all around the world! It is possible to find hostels that are family oriented, but hostels are most often geared to single people, couples, or groups of friends. Check out hostelworld.com to learn all about the hostel culture and to find one that suits your needs. 10. Take Your Vacation Off-Season If there is a place you have always wanted to visit, consider doing so slightly before or after the "season" begins. There are so many benefits to doing so. You will avoid all the crazy crowds, and you can often negotiate a significantly lower rate than you would normally be charged. Some examples would be trying southern Maine or Alaska in early May or at the end of the season or Florida during the summer. The same idea would apply to staying places during the "off-peak" time of the week. If a certain location is most popular during the weekends, try staying Monday through Thursday. Your best bet is to look for bed and breakfasts, inns and independently owned hotels, as they will usually be more willing to negotiate the rates with you than the larger hotel chains would. This is also a great suggestion if you are planning a weekend getaway at the last minute. A small hotel or inn that is not full might be willing to cut you a deal if you call them Friday morning and they are not yet full for that weekend, especially if you are calling during an off-peak time of year. The down-side is that some of the regular attractions might be closed and the weather might be less than perfect for that area, but it's a great option to see an area for far less money.
While the economy is unstable and we may think about eliminating our vacation, cruise line CEO's report that their industry is still going great. The reason? A cruise is one of the best travel deals you can find: some 80% of your travel costs are included in the price of the cruise ticket, including a stateroom, mountains of food and entertainment. In 2007, roughly one million people opted to take a New York cruise, a trend that is continuing as air travel gets pricier and more unreliable and a gallon of gasoline pushes the $4 per gallon level. For example, Bermuda is one of the priciest destinations in North America. But Bermuda cruises make the destination highly affordable since the ship is both your hotel and restaurant. Instead of taking a Canada/New England vacation by car, let the cruise line worry about the price of fuel as you spend a day in lovely ports like Newport, Bar Harbor, Newfoundland and Quebec City. And, why fly to the Caribbean when a dozen or so ships sail from the three ports of New York? Since New York cruisers are bargain hunters who want the very best deal possible, I'm passing along my tips for cutting cruise costs even further. 1. A terrific travel agent is critical to getting the best deals. He or she can steer you to another, in many cases, better ship and show you a discount you didn't even know about. Travel agents know when bargains become available before the public. The best way to find a terrific agent is to ask for referrals, as you would a doctor, lawyer or anyone in a service business. 2. Whenever a great deal on a cruise pops up, pounce! Sometimes a few staterooms are available a month before departure and these will go in a nanosecond 3. Run "cruise travel agent" in Google and you'll pull up hundreds of travel agencies. Sign up for weekly bargain newsletters from a bunch of them. 4. Know what a bargain is and is not. For example, cabin upgrades rarely are: today, cabins are standard in size and amenities and cruise lines will only upgrade you in the category you're already booked in. Free gratuities and/or onboard credit will save money. 5. Cruise during the shoulder season. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, ships are normally full of families. Peak season for Canada/New England cruises is September and October. You'll find the best prices outside these periods 6. Cut down, or eliminate, the cruise line's shore excursions, which are over-priced. You can arrange the same excursions on your by visiting the port's web site. For example, one cruise line offered a one-day Budget car rental for $70. By going directly to Budget, I got the same deal for $30. 7. Repositioning cruises are the very best deal of all. While a few ships sail year round from New York, most change cruising seasons in March and October/November. 8. I know it's fun to buy new clothes for a cruise, but do you really need anything? If the answer is "yes", then buy it on EBAY or head for your local discount store. 9. If you live outside the New York metropolitan area and plan to drive to New York or Brooklyn, check out alternative transportation such as Amtrak or bus service. Not only is driving in New York a nightmare, but gasoline keeps climbing and parking is very expensive. 10. Before departing, decide which on-board expenses are unnecessary. Today cruise lines get the bulk of their revenue from onboard purchases so they push the spa, art auctions and other revenue generating areas. Do you really need more T-shirts? I've eliminated massages since they're never as good as what I'll get in New York and cruise ship spas charge 40% more.
We couldn't find Laos! All this way from Canada and the van drivers could not find the Thai - Lao border! After a few u-turns, a bit of paperwork, a 5 minute boat ride, we were in Laos. Lao is about people, truly delightful people who let us see into their homes and their lives. It's about villagers learning the lost arts of weaving and animal farming. It's about the mysterious Plain of Jars - what are those things anyway? It's about MAG and their tireless work ensuring kids are wary of bombies that fit into the palm of your hand but are meant maim and kill. It's about 4000 islands in the south and chasing elusive dolphins into Cambodia. It's about the daily dawn ritual of monks walking through their communities. A highlight of Northern Laos on this Explore tour for me was a walk on day 3. It was described as a 3.5 hour walk but what they did not say was that we would leave at 9 and get back at 6 because we stopped a lot! They have set up a small area here as an ecotourism project: they are taking people into some small villages in this biodiverse area. In the meantime they are teaching villagers how to weave so they have a product to sell the tourists being brought in and also how to farm with animals rather than the traditional slash and burn. I shot about 4 rolls of film in one day so that tells you how much I enjoyed the day. We were all sun burnt and hot so stopped at the internet café for chocolate cake on the way back to the hotel! Always a good idea to eat dessert first - life can be uncertain! A day or so later, we took a boat from Nong Khiaw on a trip down the Nam Ou river which joins the Mekong just above Luang Prabang. The 5 - 6 passenger boats are long narrow skiffs with the motor at the back but the driver at the front. The river is quite narrow so it was very easy to see what the people were doing along the way. You could smile and laugh with them and of course wave! Some people were even panning for gold if you can believe it! Others were washing all manner of things aside from themselves. We saw really little boys - age 4 even - paddling around in canoes all alone, parents nowhere to be seen. We saw some very primitive small "hydro" stations where the river ran a bit faster over the rocks. Just enough speed to generate a bit of power for their homes. Quite incredible. We saw people coming to the sandy outcrops mid-river to fill sacks full of sand to use for construction in their home area. It must be a very steep uphill battle for the government and NGO's in the area to teach people to look long term when there is such an immediate need for water closer to home than the nearest well and a little electricity. Luang Prabang is the nicest little town. At one of the main temples they have made many mosaics of local life on the sides of two of the stupas. The mosaics are made from glass and of course shine in the sun. The scenes that are created on these walls are just amazing and so colourful. Life in Lao - people falling into a well, others praying, kids feeding a dog, fields of corn, monks strolling, elephants herds walking. I have never seen anything like it before and it was great. It is a very lazy town and very hot here (even the main shopping is done at the night market). At dusk most of the group climbed to the top of the hill in the centre of town for a 360 degree vista of the area including the Mekong. At about 5:30 the next morning we went back to that same temple to see the people offer monks their food for the day. In Buddhism, people gain merit by giving to the monks. Many tourists now go out to see the procession and as the Explore leader explained, it is almost more for the tourists now than for Buddha. Interestingly some street kids had set up a spot for themselves with plastic bags and bamboo bowls laid out so the monks would then scoop some food out of their bowl and put it into the kids' bowls. Circle of life. It was quite a long procession - about 12 monks altogether and as the tourists scrambled about trying to get photos of all this giving of food, we must have looked quite the sight. The basis of the ceremony is very human and I like that part of it. I had seen a similar ceremony earlier in the trip and I could not help but compare. As we waited outside our family-run guest house, 3 monks came along the road. The lady next door was waiting for them: she was sitting on a mat. They circled around her, she bowed her head, they said a few words - prayers perhaps, she passed them the rice, she bowed her head again, and the monks continued on by. So which is Laos? Both most certainly. The enchantment of the place is that it still retains the one-on-one element: you can feel the people here and feel their humanity. But if you think about life from their perspective, they are keen to have farangi come, stay in their guest houses, buy their wares, see their sights, use their internet cafes. Laotians are ready for all these things. But given the historical events of the last 50 years, the one true thing they have is their religion. So it becomes a struggle to satisfy all sides of life. I asked what the monks do all day. They chant / pray just twice a day and the boy monks go to school. They are taught in a school just for monks but in small village areas, they are in village school with all the kids. No one is allowed to touch them or play with them though. I thought this sounded quite lonely. You may know that everyone is supposed to become a monk for awhile in their life. Tough decision. As a parent, if you give your child to the monk-hood, the child will be schooled and fed for free and the family gains merit for the next life. Sounds pretty good - but as you grow older, there is no one to look after you so a bit of a downside as well. During the Vietnam war, there were some air bases in Thailand. If the weather was bad and "they" could not drop their bombs on the Vietnamese target, "they" dropped them off in Laos on the way back to the airfield. "They" were too worried to land with bombs on board so "they" dropped them off indiscriminately in Laos. The estimate is 90 millions special cluster bombs. A cluster bomb is a shell casing with about 670 mini bombies inside. Each mini bombie fits in the palm of your hand. Inside the mini bombie, there are about 300 ball bearings. On impact, the ball bearings scatter to a range of about 30 metres. The bombs are armed somehow by the number of rotations they do in the air before impact. Some bombies did not explode when they landed because they had not rotated enough. And that is the situation Lao deals with today. Estimates here are that there are up to 30 million bombs still active. They landed anywhere and everywhere - in trees, on houses, in crowded people places - and so now they are trying to find these and set them off safely. A British group called Mines Advisory Group (MAG) are the people doing this important work and doing a great job. Lao people need to be educated as these bombies can be trod on or picked up by curious kids etc at any time. The bombies may have been under the ground for awhile and then a heavy rain will uncover them. Curious kids might have been playing in that area for months and suddenly a bombie goes off.