AirVūz Blog

September 19, 2018

#QuadGoals FrankheadFPV

Welcome to the first edition of “Quad Goals,” where we feature the gear that some of the top FPV pilots are flying. Find out what equipment the pilots use and hear stories about what makes these quads special for the pilots. Our first pilot is Frankhead FPV, a master of the long-range flights. It takes a special quad to fly distances as long as he does, so he lets us in on his secret for perfecting the long-range game.
Drone Pilot: FrankheadFPV
Video Created with Quad: Skårasalen Cliff Diving

About This Quad:
“Funny story about this quad…I had just dived Europe’s highest cliff face ‘The Troll Wall’ in Norway, (at 1700m high) and while flying back to myself I started to feel the battery lose power! Shortly after, the quad slowly loses altitude as I watched on painfully through the fpv camera. The video feed cuts to static and I figured it must have crashed in the forest about 400m from where I was standing. I gather my gear and start walking to where I think it had crashed. I was interrupted in my search as I discover a river 50m across, consisting of ice cold glacier melt water blocking my path! Hmmm, I knew the quad was somewhere on the other side of that river, so I got down to my underpants and tried swimming across. The water was freezing cold and the current was strong! so I gave up disheartened, having lost a 4th quad in 2 years.
Later that day I drove to a nearby town, and I saw that one of the shops had children’s body boards for sale! So I went in and bought one. I then drove back to the river with a determined smile on my face! 20 minutes later I am standing by the river once again in my underpants, with my FPV goggles on my head, but this time armed with a kids body board. I start swimming across. Immediately the current takes me and I am suddenly 100m down river and still halfway to the other side… I paddle harder and eventually I get to the other side, now 200m down river! It takes me 3 hours of searching in the forest to locate the quad and an additional 45 minutes to dislodge it from the canopy of the tree it was perched in. I yell for joy as my shaking of the branches eventually causes it to fall to the ground. I think to myself how strange I must appear to someone watching this ridiculous scene unfold.  But then I realise there is no one around. I am 15m up a tree, in nothing but underpants and fpv googles and I am on the other side of an ice cold river. No one comes here, ever. I think to myself, “If I fall out of this tree, I am totally screwed”, so I very carefully climb my way down. I pick up the quad and head back to the river, this time taking into account the strength of the current. So I start swimming from a location upstream and arrive exactly where my clothes and belongings were situated on the other side of the river. It was an eventful afternoon.
If I hadn’t retrieved the quad, I would have lost quite a lot of footage from this summer, so I am glad I got it back!
The quad has a range of about 2km, and a flight time between 4 and 6 minutes. It is such a joy to fly these devices and nothing quite matches the feeling of really being connected through FPV. Once it can behave the way you want it to, and you learn to fly it confidently, anything is possible. Nothing beats the feeling of surfing jagged mountain peaks, diving cliffs or getting up close with exposed glaciers. Being able to share the footage of our adventures is an added bonus.”

DRONE PARTS –
Frame: Custom homemade design
Flight Controller: Revolt V3
FPV Camera: Runcam Swift
5.8g Antenna: Aomway Cloverleaf
Receiver: Crossfire Micro

RADIO GEAR –

FPV GOGGLES – 


September 18, 2018

Colombia: Where Contemporary Meets Colonial

Colombia is a South American giant awakening to its vast potential. In this diamond-shaped tropical nation, you will find a cornucopia of natural wonders side by side with sleepy villages and vibrant cities. A place where tourism is now blooming, and turmoil and guerrilla conflict are yesterday’s news. The country is physically stunning, ecologically astounding, and culturally vibrant.

The cobblestone plazas of Villa de Leyva, Popayán, and Bogotá, the capital city, still echo with the boot steps of Spanish conquistadores. And tiny time-warp colonial villages color Colombia’s rural highways. Geographically, Colombia is a triptych of the coastal plain, soaring mountains, and velvety jungle. Rivers teem from the Andes into the Amazon Basin and the seamless sponge of Choco’s Pacific coast – vast rainforest homes to jaguars, monkeys, poison dart frogs, and other wildlife species of every stripe, spot, and hue.

Bogotá

European in character, Latin American in soul, Bogotá is Colombia’s capital of over 10 million people. In two decades, Bogotá has transformed itself into a surprising tourist destination and welcoming city that is Colombia’s epicenter of business, politics, and entertainment. Much of the city is a hodgepodge of redbrick and concrete buildings. Different architecture – from art deco and modernist to Gothic and Renaissance- lines the city’s streets. Bogotá today is being hailed as the “Athens of South America” – a sophisticated tableau of architecture, action, and art.

The high-rise condominiums of Los Rosales, stylish malls of Santa Barbara, trendy restaurants and boutiques of Zona Rosa makes the city a cosmopolitan center of sophistication. Full of cathedrals and museums, the 400-year-old centro historico is also the government headquarters.

Cartagena

Hot, sultry, filled with bright color, tradition and the sound of music, Cartagena de Indias has been an important port on the Caribbean ever since it was founded in 1533. The cruise ships have returned to Cartagena, where ancient fortresses still echo with the clash of cutlasses and the roar of cannon. The old walled city is the heart of Cartagena. Protected from storms and pirate attacks by the fortress, the old city full of cathedrals, convents, and ancient mansions painted in soft tropical colors – guava green, papaya yellow, tangerine – reflects Colombia’s positive future while showcasing the best of a picturesque past. This area is today known as El Centro and features restaurants as well as a section known as Getsemani which is worth a daytime stroll.

Rosario Islands which comprise a small archipelago on the southern part of the Bay of Cartagena offers crystal clear waters and multicolor reefs ideal for recreational diving. Beach lovers will also find refuge on Playa Blanca with its white sands and crystal clear waters.

Medellin

The second largest city in Colombia, Medellin is a principal industrial and manufacturing area, as well as a commercial flower growing region which is famous for its orchids. A beautiful city that is modern and vibrant yet true to its regional characteristics, Medellin was founded in 1616 within the scenic Aburra valley. Plan your visit around early August to attend Feria de las Flores, the famous Medellin flower festival.

Visit the Basilica de la Candelaria, which is one of the few colonial buildings left in Medellin. Also, tour the Basilica Metropolitana which is situated in Parque de Bolivar. The Basilica was completed in the early 20th century and is believed to be the largest brick church in South America. At Pueblito Paisa, you will find a replica of a typical Antioquia village, complete with handicraft shops. Plaza Botero features displays of several works by Fernando Botero, the internationally renowned Medellin sculptor who specializes in oversized human figures.

Popayan

Founded in 1537 at the foot of Volcan Purace, Popayan is situated in the Andean cordillera. The churches of Popayan rank high on the list of things to do in this Colombian town. Visit Iglesia de San Francisco which is noted for its beautiful side altars. Iglesia La Ermita is Popayan’s oldest church which dates from 1546 and boasts frescoes and an impressive altar. Capilla de Belen offers panoramic views of the city.

Stroll through the streets of Popayan for a closer look at the two-storeyed colonial houses which feature small balconies on the second floor. Just outside of Popayan to the northeast is the town of Silvia, home to an indigenous community of Gambinos. The town holds a weekly market on Tuesdays where the Indian natives dress in traditional clothing and sell handicrafts as well as fresh produce. Set off into the wilderness to Parque Nacional Purace, which is situated to the east of Popayan. Its landscape features the snow-covered Purace volcano which rises 4780m, waterfalls, hot springs and lakes.

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September 17, 2018

Indonesia: A Vivid Tapestry of Nature, Cultures, and Spirituality

Most countries offer you an insight into a different culture, but Indonesia, with its dozens of historical influences, offers something dramatically more. The strands of varied customs, religions, legends, and modernity are woven into intricate patterns that reveal themselves in layers. Sometimes, when a country is transformed by tourism, it pays a heavy price in terms of cultural losses. Not so in Indonesia. For every stretch of silver beach filled with sunbathers from nearby luxury hotels, there are plenty of villages rich in traditions that date back not just centuries but for millennia.

Indonesia is the largest island nation in the world comprising more than 17,000 islands. The landscape is mostly rugged. Shallow seas patterned with coral reefs surround mangrove swamps and coastal plains reaching back to dense rainforest. The mountains and geological structures are mainly volcanic, with many of the volcanoes still active, for this is a region of geographic turmoil.

Bali

Bali attracts a variety of people, from backpackers and expats to families and newly married couples. This tropical island, once quiet, has become world famous thanks to its incredible beaches, rice fields, waterfalls, as well as its unique cultural, spiritual and artistic environment.

If you have come to Bali in search of intriguing culture and a relaxing ambiance, Ubud is your destination. Avoid its two busy streets and stay in a quiet area overlooking the rice fields. Attend a yoga class, cycle through the rice terraces or watch the macaques climb the roof of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Do not miss the mysterious Elephant Cave and immerse yourself in the Tirta Empul baths, which date back to the 9th century.

Located on the slope of Mount Agung,  Mother Temple is composed of 22 different temples. The main temple is Pura Penataran Agung, an extensive sanctuary with different areas representing the seven layers of the universe. At the top of the Mother Temple is Pura Pangubengan, a darkened stone temple offering beautiful views of the complex.

Jakarta

The capital of Indonesia is a busy metropolis, famous for its colonial relics, beautiful mosques, numerous shops, and family entertainment. Located in the northwest corner of the island of Java, Jakarta is chaotic but also has plenty of flavor and color. Founded in the 4th century and colonized by the Dutch East Indies, Jakarta has long been served as a critical Indonesian port.  The city of over 10 million population has a multifaceted culture with Javanese, Dutch, Chinese, and Arabic influences.

The best-known tourist sight in Jakarta is the 140-meter-tall Monas, often just called the National Monument. It is situated in the famous Freedom (“Merdeka”) Square, and you can go into its observation deck to see views of the entire city. The Presidential Palace is also worth a visit, as the current functioning office of the president of Indonesia, and is free to tour on weekends (but make sure to reserve ahead of time and dress somewhat nicely). You also shouldn’t visit Jakarta without seeing the National Museum, which is 200 years old and a famous icon. It will help you better understand the natural and human history of Indonesia, and you can also see an excellent elephant statue. The nightlife in Jakarta is active and fun, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.

Sumatra

While Java offers a rich history and culture, Sumatra is a paradise for nature lovers and thrill seekers. Here you can surf some the best waves in the country, hike through the thick tropical jungle in search of red-haired orangutans, or dive and explore the magnificent underwater world. Toba Lake has been a must in Sumatra for decades: it is the largest lake volcanic lake in the world, with an intense blue color. Observe orangutans in the virgin jungles of Bukit Lawang, as well as tigers, rhinos, elephants, and leopards. You can also swim with sharks and turtles in the coral garden of Pulau Weh, walk through the heart of the matriarchal village of the Minangkabau, and climb up to the steaming peaks of the volcanoes that surround the mountain village of Berastagi.

Bandung

Bandung is a Javanese city with a mountainous backdrop, a pleasant climate, and a relatively bland center until you come across its famous art deco architecture. The fourth largest city in Indonesia, Bandung boasts a population of nearly 3 million and is known for its universities that make it the intellectual center of Java. Condensed traffic and buildings in need of repair only make up the first layer of this city – upon closer inspection, the city’s hidden character is exposed with some incredible street art.

TO VIEW MORE AERIAL VIDEOS OF INDONESIA CLICK HERE 

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September 13, 2018

Mexico: Fiesta of Fireworks

Easy to stereotype but harder to comprehend, Mexico is nothing if not diverse. Spanish invaders, European immigrants, and indigenous people from a variety of ethnic traditions have over the centuries created a complex national character and cultural lexicon. From this diversity have emerged folk art and music, paintings and poetry. Intense and passionate, Mexicans hide their emotions under a mask of serenity and indifference.

Marching south from the U.S. border for around 700 miles are the eastern and western ranges of the Sierra Madre (literally, “mother mountain”). In between, the Mexican Plateau cradles a series of lesser ranges and highland valleys, and in the north, the Chihuahua and Sonora Deserts. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortes, the Baja California peninsula is equal parts desert and mountain, with eight main mountain ranges, dozens of islands, and a combined coastline of about 3,000 miles. Mountaineers are inspired by some of the continent’s tallest peaks – including Pico de Orizaba, Iztaccihuatl, and La Malinche.

Mexico City

The capital and the largest metropolis of Mexico, Mexico City is also the most buzzing, buzzing and action-filled city. Berated continuously as a center of crime and a ‘dirty city,’ it is beginning to transform itself in a big way. Mexico City isn’t for everyone. The cantinas, shops, street stalls, and roads are rife with chaos at any moment of the day, but these experiences are exciting, as long as you’re vigilant.

Plaza de Tres Culturas is the most famous square in the city rich with culture and history, representing the amalgamation of pre-Hispanic and Spanish influences. Palacio National, the colonial palace, is the birthplace of many of its policies and laws that have made Mexico what it is today. Stroll through Mercado de la Merced filled with street stalls selling fresh produce, souvenirs, and clothes. If you’re a fan of traditional Mexican mariachi bands, you will love Plaza Garibaldi. In true flamboyant Mexican style, they play hearty tunes with trumpets and guitars, approaching the odd spectator to serenade.

Southern Mexico

Oaxaca City is the place to visit excellent museums and impressively restored baroque churches, as well as to shop for folk and fine art. Learn about one of Mesoamerica’s earliest civilizations at the hilltop archaeological site of Monte Alban. At nearby Mitla, ancient artisans produced exquisite geometric mosaics from the area’s fine limestone.

Squeezed between Oaxaca and Guatemala, Chiapas is an undervalued state. It’s 391 miles east of Oaxaca City to Chiapas’ most popular tourist destination, the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, with beautiful churches, inexpensive hotels, and loads of handicrafts for sale. Visit more highland towns and don’t overlook the magnificent Maya ruins at Palenque.

If you eschew overcrowded Mayan ruins like Tulum and Chichen Itza, seek out Campeche’s fantastic, lesser visited ruins of Calakmul. This, and smaller Maya sites, lie within the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, nearly two million acres of tropical forest providing a haven for jaguars, spider monkeys, and howlers.

Baja California

Though superficially barren and desolate, the Baja California peninsula has long entranced scientists and adventurers. “The very air here is miraculous, and outlines of reality change with the moments,” wrote author John Steinbeck. “A dream hangs over the entire region.” A similar feeling inspires a more modern cadre of adventurers, dedicated to exploring every crevice and cove of Baja.

Seated at the bottom of a C-shaped bay, the sophisticated capital city of La Paz is famous for its streaky vermillion sunsets, observed equally well from a solitary, sandy beach on a turquoise inlet or an open-sided restaurant along the bayfront promenade. Nearby are excellent deep-sea fishing and diving sites.

Northwest Mexico

Lunar-like and otherworldly, the landscape of El Pinacate is as beautiful as it is barren. Huge, craggy craters rise in startling contrast to the flatness of the surrounding desert, and in the western portion of the 1.8-million-acre park, winds build shifting dunes hundreds of feet high. Geologists and photographers are especially drawn to the rich textures and striking hues of the region.

Sonora’s beaches are backed by cliffs ranging from rust to red to gold. The simple fishing villages and unpretentious towns from Puerto Peñasco to Guaymas have long provided fresh seafood and a relaxing atmosphere. Puerto Peñasco is the first seaside town on Sonora’s 600-mile coastline. Sandy beaches, rocky coves, and extreme tidal variation attract shell collectors and lovers of long walks.

Paquime, the most prominent archaeological site in northern Mexico attracts plenty of history buffs. Inhabited since about 700 A.D., this historic site began to blossom after 1150, reaching its apogee in the 15th century before being abandoned.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF DRONE VIDEOS OF MEXICO

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September 12, 2018

France: La vie en rose

The boundaries of France are mainly natural: the English Channel and the Ardennes hills in the north; the Atlantic Ocean in the west; the Pyrenees in the southwest; the Mediterranean in the south; the Alps in the southeast; and the Jura and Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River in the east. To these striking features add the Massif Central and its huge extinct volcanoes.

The distinctive style associated with France and Frenchness is rooted in an extraordinarily rich history that is full of contrasts. Hardly surprising, given all the riches, the French are extremely proud of their cultural heritage. Education is highly valued, and discussion of artistic and intellectual matters is taken for granted as part of everyday life.

Paris

Paris has the well-earned reputation for being one of the most beautiful, exciting, and romantic cities in the world. Often called the City of Dreams, Paris has been a mecca for aspiring artists, writer, thinkers, and adventurers since the earliest times. Stroll down almost any street in Central Paris, and you pass evidence of its past in the narrow, twisting medieval byways and awe-inspiring churches; in the ornate 17th-century Renaissance palaces that flaunt incredible wealth; in Napoleon’s classically inspired monuments; and in the sweeping tree-lined boulevards of Baron Haussmann’s 19th-century revamp of Paris.

Packed into the center of the grand city on the Seine are some of the world’s greatest museums, the most beautiful buildings in France, including the Eiffel Tower, and all possible luxuries. Paris continues to be a sophisticated, vibrant, living city, the economic and cultural center of France. The creativity of today is evident in the exciting new buildings and modern paintings and sculpture that dit harmoniously alongside the treasures of the past.

French Countryside

For all the splendors of Paris, and of the provincial cities such as Nice and Marseillaise, France is predominantly a country of villages. Rural France varies from region to region – from the gray, granite fisherman’s cottages to the thatched and half-timbered Normandy hamlets nestling among apple orchards dotted with cows, to the flat, Roman-tiled, red roofs of Provencal hill villages clinging in terraces to steep slopes.

Significant regional differences in climate, geography, and culture have given rise to the immensely varied and rich agriculture that contributes so strikingly to the diversity of the French landscape – and, of course, produces France’s fabled cuisines and wines.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Provence and Côte d’Azur is a jumble of orchard-dotted valleys and snowy peaks, turbid rivers, and bubbling springs. Mixed in are Roman ruins, pebbly beaches, bird-filled marshes, and dark forests. There are lively cities like Nice and Marseille, and sleepy medieval hill towns.

Old and new, traditional and modern, natural and artificial all combine to create this enchanted land, a varied and contradictory realm indeed. Provence is celebrated for its fruity wines, abundant fruits and vegetables, Romanesque architecture, year-long calendar of festivals, friendly people, lilting accent, famous beaches … all good reasons to explain why everyone from the ancient Romans to movie stars have been lured here.

Stroll through the produce-filled markets, luxuriate in the shade of centuries-old plane trees, and sip pastis in an old village square. Pick either the Quintessential Provence tour, centering on the charming towns of Avignon, Aix, and Arles; or the French Riviera tour, a celebration of beaches, contemporary art, and glitzy nightlife.

Rhône Valley and Auvergne

The Rhône Valley is not only a significant road and rail route and intersection of geographical areas, but it also combines different natural environments which have resulted in a variety of flora and fauna. The Pilat Regional Nature Park alone boasts some 90 species of bird. The beautiful mountainous region of the Monts du Lyonnais is famed for chestnut groves, with vineyards and orchards in the low-lying valleys. The wines of Beaujolais spread the region’s name far beyond the boundaries of France.

Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône, Lyon is a World Heritage Site. The “city of light” is magnificent at every level, from its architectural and cultural heritage to its contemporary wealth and renown.

What makes the Auvergne so unusual is the presence of a large number of volcanoes which, although extinct, constitute a significant feature of the landscape. They vary in appearance depending on their formation, type, and age. Clermont-Ferrand is the natural capital of the Auvergne. The city center is built on a slight rise, all that remains of a volcanic cone. The old houses built of the volcanic rock in the “Black Town” huddle in the shade of the cathedral.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF DRONE VIDEOS OF FRANCE

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COLLECTIONS OF AERIAL FILMS FROM COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD


September 11, 2018

Indonesia: A Vivid Tapestry of Nature, Cultures, and Spirituality

Most countries offer you an insight into a different culture, but Indonesia, with its dozens of historical influences, offers something dramatically more. The strands of varied customs, religions, legends, and modernity are woven into intricate patterns that reveal themselves in layers. Sometimes, when a country is transformed by tourism, it pays a heavy price in terms of cultural losses. Not so in Indonesia. For every stretch of silver beach filled with sunbathers from nearby luxury hotels, there are plenty of villages rich in traditions that date back not just centuries but for millennia.

Indonesia is the largest island nation in the world comprising more than 17,000 islands. The landscape is mostly rugged. Shallow seas patterned with coral reefs surround mangrove swamps and coastal plains reaching back to dense rainforest. The mountains and geological structures are mainly volcanic, with many of the volcanoes still active, for this is a region of geographic turmoil.

Bali

Bali attracts a variety of people, from backpackers and expats to families and newly married couples. This tropical island, once quiet, has become world famous thanks to its incredible beaches, rice fields, waterfalls, as well as its unique cultural, spiritual and artistic environment.

If you have come to Bali in search of intriguing culture and a relaxing ambiance, Ubud is your destination. Avoid its two busy streets and stay in a quiet area overlooking the rice fields. Attend a yoga class, cycle through the rice terraces or watch the macaques climb the roof of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Do not miss the mysterious Elephant Cave and immerse yourself in the Tirta Empul baths, which date back to the 9th century.

Located on the slope of Mount Agung,  Mother Temple is composed of 22 different temples. The main temple is Pura Penataran Agung, an extensive sanctuary with different areas representing the seven layers of the universe. At the top of the Mother Temple is Pura Pangubengan, a darkened stone temple offering beautiful views of the complex.

Jakarta

The capital of Indonesia is a busy metropolis, famous for its colonial relics, beautiful mosques, numerous shops, and family entertainment. Located in the northwest corner of the island of Java, Jakarta is chaotic but also has plenty of flavor and color. Founded in the 4th century and colonized by the Dutch East Indies, Jakarta has long been served as a critical Indonesian port.  The city of over 10 million population has a multifaceted culture with Javanese, Dutch, Chinese, and Arabic influences.

The best-known tourist sight in Jakarta is the 140-meter-tall Monas, often just called the National Monument. It is situated in the famous Freedom (“Merdeka”) Square, and you can go into its observation deck to see views of the entire city. The Presidential Palace is also worth a visit, as the current functioning office of the president of Indonesia, and is free to tour on weekends (but make sure to reserve ahead of time and dress somewhat nicely). You also shouldn’t visit Jakarta without seeing the National Museum, which is 200 years old and a famous icon. It will help you better understand the natural and human history of Indonesia, and you can also see an excellent elephant statue. The nightlife in Jakarta is active and fun, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.

Sumatra

While Java offers a rich history and culture, Sumatra is a paradise for nature lovers and thrill seekers. Here you can surf some the best waves in the country, hike through the thick tropical jungle in search of red-haired orangutans, or dive and explore the magnificent underwater world. Toba Lake has been a must in Sumatra for decades: it is the largest lake volcanic lake in the world, with an intense blue color. Observe orangutans in the virgin jungles of Bukit Lawang, as well as tigers, rhinos, elephants, and leopards. You can also swim with sharks and turtles in the coral garden of Pulau Weh, walk through the heart of the matriarchal village of the Minangkabau, and climb up to the steaming peaks of the volcanoes that surround the mountain village of Berastagi.

Bandung

Bandung is a Javanese city with a mountainous backdrop, a pleasant climate, and a relatively bland center until you come across its famous art deco architecture. The fourth largest city in Indonesia, Bandung boasts a population of nearly 3 million and is known for its universities that make it the intellectual center of Java. Condensed traffic and buildings in need of repair only make up the first layer of this city – upon closer inspection, the city’s hidden character is exposed with some incredible street art.

TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF AERIAL VIDEOS OF INDONESIA CLICK HERE

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August 28, 2018

UAE: A Modern Oasis in the Desert

When you think of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), what comes to mind? Probably images of Dubai, the tallest building in the world, opulent hotels, artificial islands, expensive cars, super-sized malls, and oil. Well, you are not wrong. But there is a lot more to the UAE than its tall buildings, state of the art infrastructure, desert landscapes, and rich culture and traditions.

The culture of the country reflects Islam, Bedouin, and Arab culture, and this is depicted in their clothing, architecture, music, cuisine, and lifestyle. Islam is embedded in their way of life. Local people are supposed to pray five times a day, so you will frequently see mosques scattered throughout the city and prayer rooms in public buildings like malls. Despite being a Muslim country, the UAE accommodates the non-Muslim residents quite well.

Dubai

One of the seven emirates that comprise the UAE, Dubai is a global hub with cosmopolitan culture. With a myriad of attractions Dubai offers you on the platter, you are sure to be spoilt for choice. Haggle over gold, at the Gold Souk, one of the most colorful shopping destinations in the country. Sample dates at the Date Souk and take in the enticing aromas of the Spice Souk. Visit Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building that stands as a testament to Dubai’s burning desire to continually attain new heights.

After taking a tour of the skyscraping sights, contrast your experience with an Abra ride on Dubai Creek, which is Dubai’s traditional transport for centuries. Right on Dubai’s doorstep is the Arabian Desert, and what better way to experience it than by going on a desert safari. Cruise over sand dunes in a 4×4, surf the dunes, and feast on a desert barbeque underneath the starlit desert sky. Your visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without seeing the insides of one of its famous mosques, Jumeirah Mosque, the only Dubai mosque that welcomes non-Muslims.

A beach lover’s paradise, Dubai offers a range of options for fun in the sun. There are plenty of sand stretches that are ideal for sunbathing or indulging in a variety of water sports. Pack a picnic and head over to the famous Jumeirah Beach for a sunny day out.

Abu Dhabi

Less extravagant than its neighbor Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a land of contrasts where luxury and modernity are skilfully mixed with Bedouin traditions. Between ocean and desert, dive into the heart of a booming tourist city, in a setting worthy of the Arabian Nights. Hard to imagine that half a century ago, before making a fortune in oil, the glittering and neat capital of the United Arab Emirates was still a small fishing village of pearls and fish. Today, skyscrapers and shopping malls, true temples of shopping thrive alongside the authentic sites like Al-Hosn Palace and the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. The mosque is the largest mosque in the country and features an immaculate display of artistry, design, and precision. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24-karat gold gilded chandeliers, and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet.

As a family, enjoy unforgettable moments in the Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld theme parks or enjoy a camel safari in the desert. The Corniche Road spreads across eight kilometers of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach.

Sharjah

Sharjah’s story takes you on a journey through 5,000 years of history from valuable archaeological sites to pristine wilderness areas. Sharjah is a modern cosmopolitan metropolis with deep-rooted traditions. Islamic customs are central to all aspects of culture today, as they have been throughout Sharjah’s history. Courtesy and hospitability are highly prized virtues, and you are likely to experience the genuine warmth and friendliness of the local people. Explore Old Sharjah by walking among the coral stone buildings and labyrinthine passages and step back in time some 200 years, before the discovery of oil.

The array of museums, galleries, and heritage sites provide unique insight into Arabic history. It is easy to soak up the culture by strolling amongst the traditional architecture, timeless dhows, and atmospheric souks. As well as being an impressive insight into tradition, and offering fantastic photo opportunities, the souks of Sharjah are great for souvenirs. You can find restaurants and cafes showcasing the best of Arabic, Asian, and international food. From diving to mountain biking, desert driving to dhow cruising and paddle boarding, there is something for everyone. Sharjah is an ideal base to explore the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF DRONE VIDEOS OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES


August 27, 2018

Thailand: Land of Smiles

Thailand has the distinction among Southeast Asian nations of never having been colonized. It has not suffered a civil war nor the racial conflicts that have at one time or another plagued other countries in the region. Thailand’s escape from the domination of foreign powers for an extended period of time is reflected in the nature of Thai people. They are fiercely proud and independent.

Here you will encounter a paradox: an ancient culture juxtaposed against a vibrant, dynamic modern age. Thailand’s past, represented in its art, architecture, and religion, is itself reason enough to visit the country. But add to this a surfeit of natural beauty, ease of traveling to all regions, safety, superb cuisine, and the traditional friendliness and hospitality of the Thai people, and you will end up with an exceptional country.

Bangkok

In Bangkok, the East does more than meet West – it collides it with a thunderous explosion. You’ll find traffic jams, bustling crowds, towering buildings, a neon-pulsing nightlife, unashamed consumerism in gigantic shopping malls, fashion-conscious people, and a fair share of street hustlers.

Then take another look: Buddhist monks in saffron robes ride the city’s modern Skytrain. An elephant, being ridden by his handler, lumbers down busy Sukhumvit Road among the BMWs, colorful three-wheeled tuk-tuks, and smoke-spewing overcrowded buses. In quiet side streets, people make food and incense offerings daily to spirits in doll-size temples set on pedestals. People still greet each other with a traditional wai (hands joined in a prayer-like position in front of the chest, and head bowed slightly). Standing next to high-rise office towers, huge, riotously ornate temples, full of gilded images, are constant reminders of the pervading influence of Buddhism in the country.

Chiang Mai and the Mountains

Those interested in culture and the outdoors should visit Chiang Mai, about an hour north of Bangkok by plane. The capital of the historical Lanna kingdom and home to 700-year-old temples, Chiang Mai, is also a favorite jumping-off point for mountain treks into the hill-tribe country. Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak is close to Chiang Mai, and the hike on it leads to a beautiful temple.

Even if you’re not into hiking, day trips to nearby hill tribes are enlightening experiences, as are visits to elephant sanctuaries, such as Elephant Nature Park. For an exotic cultural experience, visit the Long Neck Tribe where the Kayan women wear rings to elongate their necks. Hire a scooter and ride six miles east of the city to Bor Sang. Popularly known as ‘Umbrella Village,’ the village is locally and internationally recognized for its beautiful hand-painted paper umbrellas. A significant region for handicrafts, Chiang Mai has several workshops along San Kamphaeng Road.

The Beaches and Islands

If you prefer sand and sun, Thailand has two coasts with gorgeous islands and turquoise waters. Both the west and east coast of Thailand are dotted with postcard-perfect palm-crowned beaches with white powdery sands. Located on the west coast, Phuket is a doorway to the nearby islands. In addition to being a party hub for backpackers, Phuket also attracts seekers of culture and outdoor activities. Phuket has something for everyone: from hiking along the coast to snorkeling, surfing, and swimming, as well as jet skis and parasailing for the more daring. Located three hours south of Phuket by road, Krabi is comparatively more laid back and allows access to Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Koh Yao Noi.

On the east coast is Ko Chang, which was transformed from a backpacker’s haven into a posh resort tagged the “Phuket of the East.” Closer to the water, mangroves proliferate, and clear water laps up on lovely, white beaches. To get through Ko Chang, you must pass through Trat, a small but thriving commercial enclave, and the sleepy port village of Laem Ngop, the launching point for ferries across the island.

Off the Beaten Path

Those looking to get off the beaten path should explore the northeastern provinces – what’s called Issan – for ancient Khmer temples and rural life centered on agriculture. Udon Thani is an excellent base to explore this region. Nature enthusiasts should consider Khao Sok National Park (fly to Surat Thani or Krabi – both less than an hour flight south from Bangkok) or Khao Yai National Park (108 miles/175 km northeast of Bangkok via bus, car, or train), both sanctuaries for indigenous birds and wildlife – including elephants! The ancient capital of Sukhothai is known for stunning ruins. The Loy Krathong festival here in November is spectacular.


August 26, 2018

Russia: Confining Entirety in its Immensity

Everything about Russia is monumental – its turbulent history, its astonishing cultural achievements, and its title as the world’s largest country covering more than one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited surface. Understanding this vast land has never come easily to outsiders. However, Russia is a country that offers it all from historic cities and idyllic countryside to epic train journeys and an intoxicating vodka-fuelled nightlife.

Described as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ by Winston Churchill, the mystery of Russia has always fascinated and the raising of the Iron Curtain has led to millions of tourists venturing beyond the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg for the first time. The iconic city of Moscow is, without a doubt, the best place to begin exploring this stunning country, with routes such as the Golden Ring and the Trans-Siberian Railway offering the perfect chance to see both historical and rural Russia.

The Golden Ring loops around the northeast of Moscow and encompasses a collection of superbly preserved cities dating from the Medieval period. Here, you can explore the star-sprinkled domes of Suzdal, the ancient monasteries of Kostroma, the exquisite churches of Vladimir, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city center of Yaroslavl.

Whichever Russia you choose to explore, you are sure to encounter passionate and hospitable locals who are likely to leave the most lasting impression on your journey.

Moscow

The 860-year-old capital of the Russian Federation, Moscow is a truly iconic and global city. For many westerners, Moscow may look entirely European. However, the chaotic spirit of the city is never far beneath the surface. Today’s Moscow couldn’t be further removed from its humble beginnings as a small wooden town, as it quickly becomes one of the world’s most visited cities.

From its historical, political, and financial attraction for foreign business travelers to the world-renowned universities that attract students from around the world, Moscow is a melting-pot in every sense of the word with a superb dining scene and a fast-paced nightlife reflecting its cosmopolitan population.

St. Petersburg

Russia’s second-largest city and former capital, St. Petersburg is known as the country’s ‘window to the west’ and is one of the most glorious cities in the world. It is said that there are whole countries who can’t boast as many great sights like this one city, and this is plainly evident when wandering through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic center which is packed with significant buildings, threaded with winding canals, and dotted with Baroque bridges.

The ‘Venice of the North’ is an ideal destination for those in search of culture with countless palaces and art galleries, history with numerous historical figures leaving their mark on the city, fun with a legendary nightlife, and thriving café culture.

Kazan

Although only the eighth most populous city in Russia, Kazan is commonly referred to as Russia’s third capital and the city ‘Where Europe meets Asia’. The capital of the Tatarstan Republic, the city, pre-dates Moscow by around 150 years and is the center of world Tatar culture – a rich Muslim culture with its own language, evident in the bilingual street signs and government. However, the Slavic Russians make up around half of the population and Kazan has become famous for its religious tolerance and friendliness. The pride of the city is its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kremlin, and the renovation project to celebrate the city’s 1,000-year anniversary in 2005 has made many more attractions more accessible.

Kaliningrad

Previously known by its German name of Königsberg when it was renowned for its regal architecture and cosmopolitan culture, Kaliningrad now has more than a slight air of its days as a USSR outpost about it. However, don’t let the imposing Stalin-stamped buildings and Soviet monuments fool you. Kaliningrad is a wonderfully pleasant city with outstanding museums, leafy parks, and charming neighborhoods. The streets are easy to navigate, and the locals are always willing to lend visitors a hand or point them in the right direction.

Lake Baikal

Located in eastern Siberia, the astonishing Lake Baikal is one of the world’s oldest geological features, formed between 25 and 30 million years ago. It is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world and a treasured UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the summer, you can enjoy outstanding vistas across waters of the purest blue to rising mountain ranges on the opposite shore. If you are traveling in winter, you can marvel at the powder-white surface, frozen solid in temperatures well below zero and ice roads. The lake contains almost one-fifth of the planet’s fresh water, more than all the Great Lakes in North America combined, and is pure enough to drink from in most places.

Sochi

Covered in palm trees and bathed in a subtropical climate, Sochi is known as the gateway to the ‘Russian Riviera.’ The city received massive media attention in 2014 when it hosted the Winter Olympics. However, the events in the games were actually held in the neighboring resort of Adler and Krasnaya Polyana – no actual events took place in the city of Sochi. The lively pedestrian-only sea embankment is the activity center of the city, packed with bars and cafés, and providing an idyllic spot to watch the sun set behind the Black Sea horizon. In stark contrast is the towering mountains which provide top class ski resorts. It is this combination of beaches and mountains that makes Sochi unique.

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August 25, 2018

Philippines: The Pearl of the Orient Seas

The Philippines is a remarkable country in Southeast Asia, not only geographically but also culturally and spiritually. The vestiges of the Spanish era include exuberant parties, colonial architecture, and centuries-old churches. On the other hand, the commercial centers, the fast food chains and the use of English as an official language demonstrate the influence of the successor of Spain: the United States. Perhaps due to the mixture of all these influences, the country boasts a unique character. Filipinos are welcoming and optimistic, and that attitude captivates the visitors.

The country is the beach paradise with more than 7,000 islands for all tastes, from isolated stretches of sand to prosperous mega-cities such as Luzon or Mindanao. If you want to sunbathe and go scuba diving, you should go to Las Visayas, where there is a wide variety of pristine beaches. The more adventurous can camp on a deserted coast and play Robinson Crusoe for a few days. You can also go kayaking, kite surfing, canyoning, and caving. While surfers enjoy ripping waves, the divers experience the magnificent underwater world teeming with corals.

Boracay

Not long ago, Boracay was a sleepy and almost unknown place. But things have changed, and a lot. The world has discovered Boracay, and this tiny island has entered the circuit of the great beach parties of Southeast Asia. But although it has changed so much, it is still a more peaceful place than Kuta or Ko Samui. And you can still find quiet corners, especially at the southern end of the famous White Beach, where the spirit of ancient Boracay is still preserved.

Manila

The metropolis is more than traffic and noise. The nightlife of Manila is second to none in the Philippines. From the locals for hipsters to the rhythm of bongos of Quezon City and Cubao to the seductive bars and kitschy Makati clubs. There are also excellent museums, and in contemporary art and design, Manila is the rising star of Asia. The gastronomic scene is leaving behind the bad reputation of the past with the popping up of modern restaurants, coffee shops, and craft beer bars.

Puerto Princesa

With a royal pedigree – it’s named after a Spanish princess – there has always been a buzz to Puerto Princesa, and if it’s your first time in the Philippines the town’s natural beauty will be highlight enough. However, over recent years Princesa has also developed a name as an eco-tourism hub offering a whole host of green tours, including the well-known journey to the UNESCO listed Underground River and its surrounding national park.

El Nido and Coron

Take to the pristine blue waters of El Nido on a trip to ‘heaven on earth’ for a day of swimming in warm waters, snorkeling amid clouds of colorful reef fish and corals, and sunbathing on the multitude of white sand beaches that El Nido has to offer. Head to Coron island on a boat and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Coron Town and its bay from the short walk up to Mount Tapyas, the second highest mountain of Coron. Meet the Tagbanua indigenous people who have the dangerous job of climbing rickety scaffolding to obtain the cave nests of swallows needed for birds’ nest soup.

Cebu

In Cebu, perfection has the shape of a beach. Throughout the island, there are spectacular coves and cliffs next to pristine waters. On the west coast, the reefs attract a variety of marine life. The divers meet in places like Moalboal, where the sardine banks are a spectacle. The islands of Malapascua and Mactan are paradises for divers (for whipping shark and turtles, respectively), while Bantayan is ideal for sunbathing. And in the heart of the island is the fun of the capital, Cebu.

Sagada

Sagada is a mountainous corner in the center of La Cordillera, north of Luzón. It has all the ingredients to be a backpacker’s paradise: incredible excursions, mysterious caves, hanging coffins, strong coffee, excellent bakeries, and cozy, cheap accommodations. Here you can have muesli breakfast and go out in search of adventure, or spend the whole day by the fireplace in a cafe.

Bohol

Although most visitors to Bohol are divers who go to Alona beach, the real charm is in its interior. Perhaps it is the best Filipino island to travel by motorcycle. There are paved roads that cross the jungle and pass by green rivers, chocolate-colored hills, zip lines with incredible views and populated with tarsiers, the native primates. The island was severely affected by the earthquake of 2013, but it has recovered and is better than ever.

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