above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Home-stay in Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan

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I always enjoy the "real" aspect of living as the locals live - having done home stay in various countries around the world. Before setting out on a 5 day trek into the Tian Shan Mountains of northern Kyrgyzstan, I stopped by the Shepherd's Life tourism office to make trekking arrangements. They also recommended a nearby family who rents out rooms. This elderly couple speak no English - we communicated via a few words in German, Russian and … [Read more...]

Start Building a Bucket List For 2015. Consider these!

Yurts, Song-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

It is never to late to build your personal bucket list - creating a list of must do activities and experiences. Our motto as it relates to travel is, "do it while you can", and it now the perfect time to start planning some trips and experiences for 2015. One company, Contiki Tours offers a number of worldwide based activities and experiences for those in the 18-35 range. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. Climb a Mountain - choose … [Read more...]

No Rest for the Weary – Trekking in Ala Archa, Kyrgyzstan

The beautiful Ala Archa River

Armed with a variety of informative paragraphs gleaned from Goats on the Road, A Monk Bought Lunch, Backpacking Man and Wandering Earl and not much else in the way of plans we set off to explore the beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan. After 36 hours of planes and airports I landed in the warm air and darkness of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan at 5am. Hopping into a taxi where I was treated to music from the band Abba, silence from the driver after … [Read more...]

Travel Media Showcase & Lake Charles, LA

Sunset over Lake Charles

Travel Media Showcase is an annual industry event focusing on the USA domestic market, pairing representatives from mostly small to medium sized regions with a variety of journalists. Travel shows for the industry such as this one are a great way for journalists to make personal contact with destinations and brands - learn about some of the latest activities and attractions in each region and help coordinate future visits. This show was TMS's … [Read more...]

Travel Writing Contest Winners, 2014


We are excited to announce the three winners for this year's travel writing contest. There were many submissions this year (thank you to everyone who submitted an entry or two). The three judges unanimously picked the top two winners in that order - competition for the third winner was more intense. We received entries from a number of countries and US states - for the past 6 or 7 years one of the winners has been from Los Angeles or Orange … [Read more...]

From Sea to Clouds, Vancouver to Whistler

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With two days in Vancouver before jumping on the Rocky Mountaineer train on the way to Banff, we decided to visit the mountain town of Whistler. Greyhound offers a relatively affordable option by combining a round trip bus journey with unlimited tram/gondola rides on Whistler/Blackcomb Mountains. This makes it quite doable to see Whistler in a day with an early start from Vancouver. As soon as we arrived in Whistler Village (partly home to … [Read more...]

Comedy, Kayaking, Museums and Farmer’s Markets in Los Angeles

Enjoying a relaxing moment between rapids

Looking for some comic relief in the evening after fighting traffic earlier in the afternoon, I stopped in at the famed Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd - just down from the celeb rich Chateau Marmont for some comedy. Many famous acts have started here or performed on its stages including Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase among others. It was #blackout Tuesday and I was the only Caucasian in the audience. Oh and I was in the … [Read more...]

Chena Hot Springs, Crazy Squirrel and Plenty of Sunshine!

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Since visiting Chena Hot Springs (pronounced Cheena) several years ago, I've recently had the urge to revisit this neat little part of Alaska - merely a 90 minute drive from Fairbanks. And sunlight nearly all night in these northern latitudes was also appealing. It is almost 11pm as I type this outdoors, swatting nats and the occasional mosquito and there is bright light still! Sunset is around 1am and sunrise around 3am but it never really gets … [Read more...]

Mud Pond & Raymond Burr Gardens, Fiji

Huge Tree, Raymond Burr Gardens

With the weather remaining dark, gloomy and at times spitting buckets of heavy rain scattering people under overhangs in downtown Nadi - it was a "weather weight off my back" today as the clouds parted and we finally had sunshine! Too much of this rain and gloomy weather is bad for my personal psyche. The cyclone watch was lifted a day or two ago and it was just a waiting game for the storm to dissipate. Today I set out for the hot springs and … [Read more...]

A Quick Stopover in Kiev, Ukraine

Cathedral in Pechersk Lavra

These days, with WiFi commonly available while on the go, Independent travel has certainly become "easier". After arriving at the massive central train station in Kiev, I simply typed the words "hotel" and "hostel" in Google maps and immediately a number of properties popped up within walking distance. This can take a bit of "adventure" out of raw Independent travel - simply removing all human contact. I didn't need to try and talk to anyone for … [Read more...]