Friday, August 18, 2017
   
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Taking giant steppes in the Land of the Clear Blue Sky

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Bangor reader RICHARD HOLMES, the honorary Mongolian consul in Northern Ireland, takes Northern Ireland Travel News readers on a trip through the Gobi desert...

SOMETIMES known as the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky, Mongolia is a remarkable country, full of contrasts and rapidly becoming an increasingly popular destination for the adventurous traveller and eco tourist.

Situated between Russia and China and with a land area almost seven times that of the British Isles, Mongolia has a unique heritage and culture stretching back over the past eight hundred years to the height of the Mongol Empire under the rule of the mighty Chinggis Khan.

Visitors are drawn to Mongolia not only by the unique culture but also the tremendous diversity of the Mongolian landscape which ranges from Swiss style high mountains and lakes through to the arid expanses of the Gobi Desert. These contrasts also extend to the striking differences evident between the countryside and Mongolia’s increasingly modern capital city, Ulaanbaatar.

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A taste of Thai tradition

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ROBIN NOWACKI explores the lesser-known I-san region of Thailand

WITHIN three hours drive north east of Bangkok lies the I-san region of Thailand - as yet unknown to most UK travellers to this exotic Far East kingdom.

There are no pristine beaches here to lure tourists from Europe, instead I-san boasts green, culture, cuisine, and wine! The green is represented by the quite wonderful Khao Yai National Park - one of the largest intact rain forests in Asia - and a Unesco World Heritage site.

For culture fine Khmer ruins as old and as intact as Angkor Wat are to be found, as is a taste of Thailand as it once was - with friendly locals whose lives and livelihoods are not solely dependent on tourism.

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Country retreat fit for royalty...

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Regular contributor PETER McGREGOR EADIE, avoids the bright lights of London and takes a pre- Christmas break on the golf course....

AS THE Christmas season gets underway, and the lights of Regent Street and Oxford Street in London go on, people flock to London to do their Christmas shopping and take in some of the shows and pantomimes. This could offer to keen golfers a good opportunity to include a short break on the golf course.

Recently I enjoyed such a break at Brocket Hall just 22 miles from the centre of London. This venue lies within the magnificent parkland of a 543 acres estate.

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Cinnamon and Gingerbread at Europe's Festive Celebrations

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With the Christmas holidays less then two months away, now is the time to start planning your 2010 Christmas Market visit, particularly if you are planning on travelling to the markets in Europe...

WITH the British currency improving in value against the Euro, visitors from the UK should find a visit to Germany, Austria or France much better value for money. Check out www.christmasmarkets.com - the unrivalled internet directory providing comprehensive information about Christmas markets across the UK, Europe and even the USA - for wealth of information on over 473 Christmas Markets worldwide.

GERMANY

Festively lit half-timbered buildings line the streets while the aromas of mulled wine from the local vineyards and spicy cinnamon permeate the air at Germany's traditional Christmas markets.

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Eastern European Gems!

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BRIAN OGLE took a short trip to the Ukraine recently and found two of its best known cities well worth a second look....especially with the European Soccer Championships due in the country in two years time...

ON the way in from Borospyl International Airport, a forest of tower blocks testify to Kiev's Soviet past. Like most other eastern European cities the visitors' first impression is not a complimentary or comfortable one ...rundown-looking tower blocks of up to 15 and 20 storeys each housing hundreds and hundreds of the city's working class population.

Each satellite of tower blocks is in its own little suburban ‘town’ with well-used, worn grassy play areas, and stores serving every need... groceries, clothing, restaurants and cinemas.

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