Category Archives: Travel-Eco

A new eco-conscious expo in South Korea

At the Expo Digital Gallery, you can watch the advanced IT and LED lighting art interwoven to create an outdoor marine culture art gallery. That amazing overhead LED screen measures 218m by 30m. — Photos by MAJORIE CHIEW/The Star and courtesy of Expo Yeosu Korea 2012

THE exhibition halls are fully booked and impossible to get into, says our tour guide, Jinny Kim. And it wasn’t even opening day at the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012!

Our group, though, has special permission to enter, as we are there to report on this extraordinary expo. Even before we get in, though, we hear details that are jaw-dropping: The expo, which began on Saturday and runs until Aug 12, will draw 10 million visitors, and its expected economic effect will be 12.2 trillion Korean won (RM32.7bil) as well as the creation of 80,000 new jobs, explains Yeseul Oh, a spokesperson for the expo’s organising committee.

To draw all those visitors, the 93-day expo will be jam-packed with over 3,000 cultural programmes, with 40 performances and events daily!

The venue is Yeosu’s 2.71sq km New Port development where the expo site covers an area of 250,000sqm. The result of four years of work and US$10bil (RM31bil) in investment, Expo Yeosu is the country’s second international fair since Expo Taejon (Daejeon) in 1993.

While that event was about development, this year’s theme is “The Living Ocean and Coast” and emphasises the importance of the marine environment. To quote the expo’s website, the event “will provide an opportunity to enhance the international community’s perception of the function and value of the ocean and coast, share knowledge on the proper use of the ocean and coast, and recognise the need for cooperation in the marine sector.”

In keeping with that very green spirit, the entire expo site was constructed using environmentally-friendly methods and recycled materials to produce the least amount of waste possible. All preparations and events are designed to leave a limited carbon footprint.

Basically, the expo forms a model city exhibiting the low-carbon lifestyle of the future. It is an open-air gallery housing artworks of architectural grandeur and providing a glimpse of a high-tech city circa 2050 against the backdrop of the sea.

The Aquarium is well worth visiting as it is the largest in Korea and offers an up close look at rare marine species such as beluga whales.

The construction and operation of the expo facilities and exhibitions are based on South Korea’s cutting-edge information technology allowing for novel experiences involving virtual and augmented reality.

The major exhibition facilities are the Theme Pavilion, the Korea Pavilion, and the International Pavilion, which comprise a joint pavilion hosting 56 developing countries and the individual pavilions of 49 countries.

Among the areas our tour takes in on the expo’s second pre-opening day are the Aquarium and Japan Pavilion. (Our guide informs us that the Malaysian Pavilion would be worthy of a visit but that it is, unfortunately, not ready at this time.)

Just getting to the International Pavilions is fascinating because a supersized LED screen with fantastic digital shows stretches over the walkway; the 218m long by 30m wide screen is part of the Expo Digital Gallery, which is a pedestrian mall offering a variety of electronic art.

After that experience, we head to the Japan Pavilion where we are treated to footage of the beautiful seas around that country and receive sobering information about the sea’s connection with forests, cities and the March 2011 tsunami disaster. There is also a screening of an animated story about a Japanese boy, Kai, a tsunami survivor who rides a magical flying bicycle to see residents restoring their hometowns.

Dazzling: The night-time musical fountain show at the Big-O, one of the iconic structures at the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012.

Visitors are also introduced to Japan’s advanced ocean technology that help people enjoy the bounties of the sea.

If you can’t make it to every facility at the expo, do be sure to get to the Aqua Planet Aquarium – it is definitely worth a visit. It is the largest in South Korea – comprising a 6-tonne water tank – and displays 280 species of fish and rare marine species such as beluga whales from Russia. It’s awesome when you walk through a transparent tunnel and find marine life teeming around you – makes you wonder just who is in the tank!

This facility has three zones: The Coastal Life zone allows visitors to see rare ocean animals such as white whales, Baikal seals and sea dragons; the Marine Life zone can be viewed in all directions, the first of its kind in South Korea; the Eco-Terrarium zone recreates the ecological system of the Amazon and houses rare South American freshwater fish such as the pirarucu and piranha.

While we can’t get to it, we hear that the Climate & Environmental Pavilion is a hit with visitors too, as they get to experience the extreme cold of the Arctic ice-edge in the Arctic Glacier Experience section.

A myriad of futuristic robots await visitors at the DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) Marine Robot Pavilion. Meet Navi, the tallest robot ever introduced in South Korea. An adult comes up just knee-high to the 6.5m tall, 1 tonne machine.

Led by Navi, a fleet of robots present the performance of marine resource exploration and mineral mining in a 6,000m-deep virtual underwater environment.

There is also Ever, a feminine robot that has 30 different facial expressions, and Mero, which dances to famous songs by Korean boy band Super Junior. Also, a seven-colour robot fish and robots from other countries such as the United States, Britain and France, join a total of 73 robots on display.

The Sky Tower, the tallest structure at the expo, is a monumental piece of art, recycled and redesigned from a pair of abandoned 55m-high cement silos. It has a harp-shaped exterior, an embodiment of giant waves, but really, the tower is a fully functioning pipe organ that plays tunes related to the sea!

The main Theme Pavilion is the country’s first offshore pavilion.

The Ocean Experience Park is part of the city’s concrete shore-protection project that has been turned into an eco-friendly park. It is a great venue to learn about the significance of coastal ecosystems while lapping up the pristine beauty of the sea.

And at Energy Park, you can have hands-on experience with the latest technologies using renewable energy sources such as wind and tides. This eco-friendly park also offers a place to rest while exploring these green technologies.

Apart from the different pavilions and other facilities, the expo also offers large scale events such as the state-of-the-art Night Multi-Media Show of a dazzling display of laser lights. The Big Ocean Show is a weekly performance that uses the sea, beach and ships to create different performances that reflect the expo’s theme. And the World Ocean Performance features artists on a floating stage, thus using the sea as a platform for cultural activities.

Celebrities gracing the Big-O shows include nine-time Grammy Award winner John Legend and a host of K-pop stars such as the Wondergirls, Dynamic Duo & Simon D, Beast, Jay Park, Apink, BTOB, Busker Busker, Leessang & JeongIn, 2AM, B1A4, 2PM, MissA, Infinite, Shinee, Super Junior, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, Ailee, FTIsland, and ZE:A & c.

And if you are separated from your travel companions amidst the throngs of people and carnival atmosphere at the expo, the Big-O is the place to converge. This 48m-tall round steel structure is the iconic centrepiece of what is truly an amazing expo.

For more information about the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012, go to eng.expo2012.kr.

The writer was part of a eight-member delegation comprising representatives of the Malaysian media, Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation that toured the expo before it opened. The trip was organised by the Korea Tourism Organisation and supported by Korean Air.

Article excerpted from www.thestar.com.my

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Eco-tourism may be good news for sharks

A massive female tiger shark, about 14-feet long, glides past a group of divers.

Imagine swimming in crystalline ocean waters shot through with sunlight when one of Earth’s most notorious predators swims into view — a very close view.

Such pulse-quickening encounters are, in fact, the whole point for visitors to Tiger Beach, an idyllic spot in the Bahamas where eco-tourists can get up close and personal with tiger sharks — indiscriminate eaters known to devour everything from sea turtles to kegs of nails (and occasionally a few unlucky humans).

Yet it is by playing to the sharks’ voracious appetites that dive operators are able to lure them into view, courtesy of generous offerings of chum — minced fish.

However, some have argued that the free meals — and resulting close encounters between humans and sharks — could have bad consequences for both species.

Shark meal
“People are concerned that it could be causing sharks to associate people with food,” said shark researcher Neil Hammerschlag, an assistant professor at the University of Miami. Some worry that, like cartoon castaways eyeing each other hungrily in a boat, tiger sharks might, essentially, begin to see humans as giant pork chops with legs.

“Shark attacks are so very rare, so it’s really hard to draw conclusions,” Hammerschlag told OurAmazingPlanet.

Another concern, he said, and one that is easier to test, is that all the free food might disrupt the sharks’ natural wanderings, and artificially limit their movements to areas close to tourist sites. (Why go hunting out at sea when the bipeds regularly serve up snacks?)

Since sharks are apex predators — a bit like the Godfathers of the ecosystem — and keep potentially disruptive ecological usurpers in check, such a change could have negative effects.

“They help keep balance,” Hammerschlag said, “so if this really changes their behavior long term, it could have ecological consequences.”

Neither idea has been properly tested, he said. To that end, Hammerschlag, heading up a team of researchers, designed a study to investigate.

Shark testing
They used satellite tags attached to the sharks’ dorsal fins to track tiger sharks in areas where eco-tourism packages offer plenty of free food to the sharks — the Bahamas’ Tiger Beach — and an area where the practice is forbidden — Florida.

All told, they tracked 11 Floridian tiger sharks and 10 Bahamian sharks, in near-real time, for spans of six months to almost a year. Hammerschlag said he expected the Bahamian sharks, with access to cushy meals, to travel far less than their Floridian counterparts.

“But, in fact, we found the opposite,” he said. The Florida tiger sharks traveled, at most, 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from their tagging site.

In contrast, “the tiger sharks from the Bahamas diving site moved massive distances,” Hammerschlag said. “Definitely that area was important, but they didn’t rely on it.”

Some swam as far as 2,175 miles (3,500 km) out into the middle of the Atlantic and spent seven months there. The researchers noted that the difference could be related to size: The Bahamian sharks are bigger, and bigger animals tend to travel larger distances.

Their research is published today (March 9) in the journal Functional Ecology.

Shark people
Hammerschlag said that the work indicates that eco-tourism, when done right, may not be all bad for sharks — crucial predators that are disappearing from oceans around the world, many falling victim to the lucrative and devastating shark-fin trade.

With proper policies, he suggested, people could continue to see economic benefit from sharks, but in a way that keeps the animals alive.

“In the Bahamas, they’ve encouraged shark diving because it’s good for the economy, and because of that they’re protecting sharks in their water,” he said — something that Florida policymakers might want to keep in mind.

“I would say that before we ban these things outright, we should do some research,” he said. “Rather than basing our decisions on fear, we should base them on fact.”

The Best Apps for the Eco-Conscious Traveler

Image by AFP via @daylife

With the rise of ecotourism throughout the United States and the world, “green” travel has never been more in demand.  Ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, boasting annual growth rates as high as 10-30%.

“Green” applications for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch can help to conserve while you travel, with functions that track your CO2 emissions for your vehicles, identify organic and sustainable businesses in your location, calculate the most environmentally efficient route to your destinations and measure your green footprint wherever you go.

1.  Green Globe – Certified Sustainability

Green Globe is the quintessential green travel app.  It finds sustainable hotels, resorts, cruise ships, tours and conference centers and provides photos of properties, videos and links to help you book travel directly.   Green Globe’s website details travel sustainability certification and the rigorous process involved for meeting the “sustainable” criteria for the Green Globe Standard for travel & tourism – so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal in green travel.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Cost: FREE

2.  Green Travel Choice

Green Travel Choice tracks your CO2 emissions, whether you’re driving in a car, taking the bus, flying on a plane or riding on a motor bike.  It keeps a log of your trips, travel distance and your emissions over time, helping you to choose your future “modes of transport” more wisely.  Green Travel Choice is also partnered with The International Tourism Society (TIES) who are known for their invaluable work in ecotourism since 1990.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Cost: $1.99

3.  In Bloom: The Eco App

The “See Goodness Nearby” button searches for green businesses, farmer’s markets, organic restaurants, green supply stores, ecohotels, grocery stores and biodiesel electric charging stations – it even indicates businesses that are powered by renewable energy.  In Bloom was created by musicians Andy Ross of OK Go and Eytan Oren of Eytan and The Embassy, who wanted to find a way to “make it easier for bands to tour more sustainably.”  In Bloom is currently formulated for the New York City area, but expect to see new cities added in the near future.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS      4.2 or later.

Cost: FREE

For those outside of New York City, GreenEco is a similar app that will work anywhere in the USA.

4.  This Is Green

Make informed and energy efficient choices with this green health & fitness app.  Save money on your energy bills, keep toxins at bay and fill your life with healthier, eco-friendly alternatives.  The app will help you find green products for your home as it imparts green tips and tricks for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Cost: $0.99

5.  Green Genie

Voted the #1 Green App by TechCrunch.com, Green Genie is more of an educational tool than anything else.  The app has a green glossary, descriptions of various types of plastics and their recyclability, tips on how to save money when adopting a greener lifestyle, certified green product lists and a submission tool so you can share projects and ideas with like-minded techies at Green Genie.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

Cost: $0.99

Take an eco trip and better your world.

BONUS: If you want to go green all the way, eco-friendly company Vers makes wood iPhone and iPad cases, and even wood headphones. Wood is inherently practical for optimal acoustics and crisp sound quality.  Their products are made of recyclable materials, naturally.

Article excerpted from www.forbes.com

The hot list: 10 hip and green UK destinations for 2012

Forget France; the UK is home to some of the coolest holiday spots on the planet. Whether you want scenery, natural phenomena or a dose of eco-luxury, there’s a British break to suit you

Not only does the UK boast some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, it also has wildlife watching opportunities galore and a wealth of historical sites. So why then, is the country so frequently written off as the ‘cheap’ option or the ‘green’ one? It’s both of these things of course but whatever you’re looking for, Great Britain has more going for it than flight-free and low-cost travel. ‘The only way to educate people is to do it in the location,’ comments Matt Spence, CEO of UK eco-tourism specialists, Natural Retreats. ‘When people see [what the UK has to offer], they start to understand.’ After a stellar 2009, domestic tourism has fallen slightly according to statistics released by Visit Britain, with around 96.4 million overnight stays taken by Brits in the UK last year. That might sound like a lot but it still represents a fall, with more of us than ever heading abroad.

In part, this is down to the quest for value (one of CheapFlights CEO Hugo Burge’s top travel trends for 2012) – with the UK often regarded as overpriced – but it’s also the result of a lack of knowledge about Britain’s beauties. Who knew, for instance, that the Northern Lights could be seen in Britain, or that the seas off the top of Scotland offer some of the best whale watching experiences in the world? ‘Up in John O’ Groats you can see the one of world’s largest predators (the killer whale) from the beach,’ says Spence. ‘There’s seals and you can go scuba diving to look at shipwrecks. What we have here is a pristine wilderness area that people really need to see.’ John O’Groats is the location for Natural Retreats’ newest venture – the retrofitted and renovated John O’Groats Hotel – but it’s not the only British destination that looks set to become a must-visit this year. From Cornish beach huts to Cambrian mountain cabins, the UK has something for everyone, whether you’re travelling with children or looking for a romantic retreat. We’ve rounded up 10 hip hotspots that offer combine chic surroundings with an emerald green eco ethos – and they’re all a short train ride away. If this doesn’t get you thinking about a British break, nothing will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchard Carriage, Somerset

Why it’s cool: One for locomotive enthusiasts and lovers of all things quirky alike; until the mid-1900s, the Orchard Carriage was exactly that – a train carriage on the local branch line. After being decommissioned, it was used as a storage container for the Village Hall in nearby Bruton before being rescued and restored to its former glory. Set in a pretty orchard on a biodynamic smallholding, it boasts sensational Somerset views, a comfy double bed and has its own wood-fired sauna. In the area you’ll find a wealth of walking opportunities, plenty of pretty villiages to explore and some wonderful old pubs. Try the Archangel in nearby Frome, which offers seasonal, locally sourced fare in a historic building – parts of which date as far back as the Domesday Book.

Green credentials: Owners Zoe and Jonno have kept fossil fuel use to a minimum by using a combination of solar power and a woodburning stove for heating and lighting. Outside, you’ll find a compost toilet and the aforementioned wood-fired sauna.
Find out more: www.canopyandstars.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Retreats, John O’Groats

Why it’s cool: Surprisingly for a town that’s so well known, John O’Groats has little in the way of decent accommodation and even less going for it in the eco department. All that however, is going to change when Natural Retreats launches its newest property in June. In partnership with Heritage Great Britain, the eco holiday specialist is giving a green makeover to the historic John O’Groats hotel, with local materials and green construction techniques incorporated into the build. The most northerly town in the UK, John O’Groats boasts a wonderfully wild coastline, with plenty of seals, whales and dolphins to spot. If you go in winter, you might just get a glimpse of the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis.

Green credentials: Like the rest of the Natural Retreats portfolio, the John O’Groats property will be run along eco-friendly lines. Locally sourced, sustainable materials and local craftsmen are being used to complete the refit.
Find out more: www.naturalretreats.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jersey

Why it’s cool: It might be famous for its golden sand and creamy milk but 2012 looks set to be the year that Jersey becomes known for more than cows and beaches. With a packed events calendar that ranges from the charming (Battle of Flowers) to the choral (Tennerfest), there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Other top picks include the convivial La Faîs’sie d’Cidre (Cider Festival) and the June in Bloom Floral Festival. Away from the festivities, spend some time enjoying the island’s balmy climate on one of its many sandy beaches or hire a bike and take a trip round the island using its ‘green lanes’, where cyclists have priority over car drivers. Also worth visiting is the magnificent Mont Orgueil Castle, which offers wonderful sea views and a network of towers and spiral staircases to explore.

Green credentials: Along with its network of green lanes, Jersey remains largely unspoilt and as a result is home to a wealth of rare flora and fauna, including a puffin colony on the Piemont Headland. Although eco accommodation options are limited – think camping – the island does have an Eco-Active scheme to encourage businesses to do more to protect the environment and biodiversity. The Radisson-Blu St Helier is signed up.
Find out more: www.jersey.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hebridean Trail, Outer Hebrides

Why it’s cool: A new experience launched for summer 2012 by eco travel specialists, Wilderness Scotland, the Hebridean Trail is a seven-day mountain biking trip through the Outer Hebrides, with local guides, ferry transport and accommodation all thrown in. The seven islands that make up the Outer Hebrides remain relatively untouched, with stunning coastline and plentiful wildlife spotting opportunities on offer. Among the non-human residents are the golden eagle and the red deer, and you’ll also get the opportunity to get to grips with the islands’ unique, Gaelic-speaking culture.

Green credentials: Carbon emissions are kept to a minimum with all transportation done by bike or ferry. Wilderness Scotland are also willing to collect visitors from Inverness station – the nearest mainline station to the Hebrides – which means you can leave the car at home and rule out the plane entirely.
Find out more: www.wildernessscotland.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell Bay, Bryher

Why it’s cool: Despite the apocalyptic name, nowhere could be further from hell than the Hell Bay hotel, located on the glorious Bryher island. One of the Scilly Islands, Bryher is home to thousands of seabirds and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, along with the world-famous Abbey clifftop gardens on the nearby Tresco. Perched on a clifftop with spectacular sea views is the Hell Bay Hotel, which boasts an impressive CSR policy, ultra chic rooms and a restaurant specialising in local fare. Art lovers will adore the plethora of locally made artwork, including pieces by Barbara Hepworth, while for wildlife fans, the hotel can arrange boat trips and diving excursions.

Green credentials: Hell Bay’s exhaustive stable of green initiatives, includes everything from composting food and paper waste to eco-friendly cleaning products. Use of plastics is kept to a minimum, while old glass is crushed and used as aggregate. The hotel also encourages water conservation and uses recycled rainwater as much as it can.
Find out more: www.hellbay.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Culloden Estate and Spa, Belfast

Why it’s cool: With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic just over two months away, all eyes are turning to Belfast where the doomed liner was built. The Titanic Belfast, a spectacular new museum and community arts centre designed with the shape of the ship’s funnel in mind, opens in spring, and will play host to a number of commemorative events, including the Titanic Light Show, from the 7th to 12th April, and the Titanic Proms on the 8th September. Away from the city, head to the Culloden Estate and Spa – a sympathetically restored manor house perched on Belfast Lough, five miles outside of the city centre. Not only is it within striking distance of Belfast’s nightlife and attractions, it’s a great base for exploring the surrounding emerald green countryside.

Green credentials: The Grade I listed house has been sympathetically restored using local materials and antique furniture, while the spa uses holistic naturals brand, ESPA.
Find out more: www.hastingshotels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Potting Shed, Tweed Valley

Why it’s cool: If you’re the sort of person who escapes to the garden shed when the going gets tough at home, then the quirky Potting Shed in Scotland’s Tweed Valley could be exactly what you need. You won’t be sharing space with the owner’s tool collection though, as the former shed has been totally revamped, with an open-plan living space, a bright bedroom (complete with linen bedsheets) and wonderful views of the River Tweed, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows. Often overlooked in favour of the Highlands, the Tweed Valley has plenty for nature fans to get excited about, and there are plenty of biking and hiking trails to choose from. The pretty town of Melrose is within hiking distance of the Potting Shed, while a short bus trip will take you to the historic town of Bamburgh with its magnificent mediaeval castle and vast stretches of golden sandy beach. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also the chance to take a boat trip to Lindisfarne where you can take a closer look at the island’s famous gospels and the ancient ruins of the abbey.

Green credentials: Heating at the Potting Shed comes courtesy of a wood-burning stove and an ultra efficient Everhot electric heat storage unit, which also provides power for the cooker. Organic Sedburgh toiletries are also provided.
Find out more: www.crabtreeandcrabtree.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beach Hut, Cornwall

Why it’s cool: Forget visions of candy-striped beachside boxes; this beach hut is more of a cottage than a changing room. Built in 1920, the grey clapperboard cottage is set in the middle of a 52-acre property near Bude and boasts spectacular sea views plus doorstep access to a vast sandy surfing beach. Inside, the single room cottage has a king size double bed, a small kitchen area and stripped back décor, with a wood-burning stove taking pride of place. Perfect for surfers, the Beach Hut also works brilliantly for wildlife fans, with trips to view the endangered Basking shark available upon request. Miles of coastal paths offer ample cycling and walking opportunities, while the Eden Project is within striking distance.

Green credentials: A wood burning stove heats the property, and although logs are supplied, you can just as easily use driftwood foraged from the beach. A hamper packed with local goodies, including Cornish sea salt is provided.
Find out more: www.beachtomato.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limewood, New Forest

Why it’s cool: If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at foraging, the New Forest with its diverse array of habitats and carefully preserved coppices is the place to start. Limewood, an eco-chic retreat deep in the heart of the forest, offers bespoke foraging trips with resident expert, Garry Eveleigh. Expect to find wild berries, nuts and fungi, all of which can then be turned into something spectacular by chef, Luke Holder, on your return. If the thought of a woodland pick your own session hasn’t whetted your appetite, then maybe the idea of cycling, hiking and riding through some of the best-preserved ancient woodland in England will. There’s plenty of unique fauna to see en route, including red deer, fallow deer, adders, lizards, badgers, foxes and of course, the New Forest pony.

Green credentials: The Regency house has been carefully restored, with the environment in mind, while the restaurant serves up locally sourced and foraged fare. The spa uses British organic brand, Bamford, and has its own ‘herbary’, where it grows herbs for use in treatments.
Find out more: www.limewoodhotel.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cabin, Cambrian Mountains

Why it’s cool: Located in a pretty wooded glade, the Cabin looks like a cross between an old-fashioned pavilion and an ultra luxe garden shed. What’s not retro, however, is the ridiculously chic Moroccan style interior, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Wallpaper spread. What’s more, with hydro powered amenities, local timber walls and wood-powered heating, it’s gorgeously green. Nant yr Onnen also has plenty for bird enthusiasts to love, with edkites, cuckoos, woodpeckers, nuthatches, buzzards, henharriers, goshawks and sparrowhawks all to be seen from the kitchen window. In the surrounding area, you’ll find the Upper Towy Valley, with its myriad walking and biking opportunities, the Dinas Nature Reserve and the spectacular Carreg Cennen castle, which sits on a rocky outcrop that commands stunning views of the nearby Black Mountain and Towy Valley.

Green credentials: The planet is a priority for owners, Fiona and Tim, who generate their own electricity using a micro hydro generator, and use their own sustainable timber in their wood burning stoves. The Cabin also has a compost toilet, while water comes direct from one of the springs on the property and is stored behind the owners’ cottage in an old milk tanker.
Find out more: www.canopyandstars.co.uk

Article excerpted from www.theecologist.org

Top 10 Travel Gadgets for 2012

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Feb 14, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — With a dizzying array of gadgets emerging every day, finding the right one for you can often be a difficult prospect – nowhere more so than in the field of travel, where the right gizmo can make or break your trip and transform an otherwise tedious journey.

Phil Dalbeck, Skyscanner’s Tech Expert has been scouring the world for the latest in tip-top travel tech: “Travelling doesn’t mean gadget freaks need to be parted from their latest prize possession — in fact, we found that some of the best new gadgets emerging in 2012 are especially handy for being portable, rechargeable and most of all, fun!” he said.

Phil presents you with his round-up of 2012’s best new travel gadgets.

1. Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera powered by Android

Launched at CES last month, the Polaroid SC1360 is backed by Google’s Android operating system and enables instant sharing through over 400,000 apps like Flickr and Twitter, as well as a 16.0 megapixel camera and 32GB memory via microSD card. GBP tbc, Polaroid.com/en/sc1630

2. i’M Watch

A serious piece of futuristic tech for your wrist, the i’M Watch connects wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth and displays your texts, emails and calls on a small colour screen so that you can quickly and easily keep in touch at the flick of a wrist. GBP 129, imwatch.it

3. Mushroom GreenZero Wall Travel Charger

Unlike most other chargers on the market, this little alien-like device shuts off the charge from the mains when you’re device is fully charged, stopping your battery from being overcharged making it the must have eco-friendly charger. $30, bracketron.com

4. Recon Instruments MOD Live

The ultimate for snow-sport loving tech fans, these Alpine goggles are kitted with an HD display on the inside lens showing texts and GPS location plus real-time data and stats on your speed and performance. $240, reconinstruments.com

5. UWater G4 Chrome MP3 Player

The manufacturers of this product claim it’s the world’s smallest 100% waterproof MP3 player. Ideal for singing in the shower and, as it’s protected from salt water, even scuba diving to your favourite soundtrack. $80, fitnesstechusa.com

6. Powerbag

Laptop? Check. Tablet? Check. Smartphone? Check. Backpack that keeps them full of juice all day long with built-in charger and cables to suit all devices? Check. $139-179, Powerbag.com

7. Sony HMZ-T1

Can’t bear to leave your home theatre behind? Then look no further than the Sony HMZ-T1, a head-mounted portable home cinema system with surround sound and a 150-inch HDTV screen projected to ‘appear’ 12 feet in front of you. GBP 799, sony.co.uk

8. TripButler WiFi

TripButler is your very own rentable WiFi dongle which hooks up to as many as five devices, enabling you to stay connected when you’re on location and avoid nasty roaming charges in the process. That’ll be all, Jeeves. From $2, TripButler.com

9. Jawbone UP

This battery-powered colour wristband works with a clever iPhone app to track your activities and measure your metabolism, and the alert feature is ideal to remind you to take some exercise on holiday. GBP 79.99, jawbone.com

10. Jetlev R200

With a predicted ‘launch’ date of Spring 2012, the 20lbwater-propelled Jetlev R200 jetpack uses water to propel the users 30ft in the air. While owning one of these may break the bank (an estimated GBP 83k) the good news is they are to be made available for hire for just GBP 150 a day. tbc, jetlev.com

Article excerpted from www.marketwatch.com

This Tiny Electric Bike Delivers 80 Miles of Efficient, Eco-Friendly Travel

Eventually, the time will come when mankind can fully replace archaic foot-powered bicycles with the electric variety. Boxx Corporations clearly wants the same thing, as their stylish take on charged two-wheel travel is getting ready to roll into production, along with making the necessary rounds on the trade show and exhibition circuits. For a cool $3995 and some change, you can buy one of the first models and even slap a coat of “hot rod” red paint on your new eco-friendly ride.

In fact, it might be more accurate to call the Boxx a miniature electric motorcycle instead of an electric bicycle. According to the specs, it tops out at a pretty speedy 35 miles per hour, which is just fast enough to get you a ticket in most city areas. Considering that the entire thing’s only a meter tall, that’s pretty good speed in relation to the Boxx’s diminutive size. Speaking of which, it’s apparently a lot sturdier than it looks despite being so small — the Boxx’s aluminum build can support even the bulkiest drivers, up to 300 pounds of weight. Then again, weighing 300 pounds might be a good excuse to get out the old “foot pedal” bicycle anyway.

As Red Ferret notes, the real attraction for the Boxx is most likely the fact that you can easily store it inside your office cubicle or home. That’s a notable step up from mopeds, which have to sit outside and face the elements, although we can’t imagine that hunching over an even smaller vehicle is any cooler. Surprisingly, it also packs in features that you’d expect from a larger motorized gadget, such as onboard storage, all-wheel drive, and even an auto-braking system.

Of course, that 80-mile running length is only applicable if you pony up the cash for the optional “Core 2” modular power system, which boosts the price above 4500 dollars. And if you’re just feeling crazy about it, Boxx Corp can even throw in a one-hour charging unit and 3-year warranty for a little (well, a lot of) extra cash. If you want to get in on the Boxx early so you can ride to work in expensive-yet-eye-catching style, the developer’s taking orders right over here.

Article excerpted from www.pcworld.com

Green Honeymoon Ideas

With increased awareness of environmental issues, many people are putting more of an effort into choosing green lifestyle options; this includes where to go and what to do on honeymoon.

It’s no longer popular to lie basking in the sun being waited on hand and foot, although plenty still class that as the ultimate luxury. Now honeymooners, keen to leave less impact on the planet and have more of an experience on their trip, are looking at various ecotourism projects, resorts or lodges in which to consummate their union… or just have a nice wee break if the union’s long been consummated! Well, it’s the rules of getting married isn’t it? Get married, have honeymoon. It’s the only reason people go through with it, right?

Eco-friendly Honeymoons Ideas

  1. Put some thought into the destination – do you really need to travel to the other side of the world when you haven’t explored what’s on your doorstep yet? There are ecotourism options practically everywhere so check out your own backyard (not literally) before booking a trip further afield. You may get an unexpected surprise.
  2. Make a list of all the places you’d like to go and then investigate them thoroughly. Maybe you could do a two centre holiday? Some people like to get involved in a community ecotourism project for one week and chill the next. Choose something that suits you both and book through a good eco travel company.

  3. Many popular honeymoon destinations have questionable practices. They build without any regard to the environment, pay pittance wages and treat staff with little respect yet they still manage to provide 5 star treatment to holidaymakers. So give a little something back by venturing out of your holiday haven and spending money in local communities rather than ploughing it all into an already wealthy resort.

  4. Book tours through locals when you get to your destination, not through your holiday rep. That way you know the local community will benefit directly from the money and you won’t have to sit on a bus with 50 other touros singing round choruses of Una Paloma Blanca when all you want to do is experience things first-hand.

  5. Use local transport to get around and use a local guide to explore; after all they will know the area better than someone employed through a company back home. If you do have a wonderful guide, spread the word about their services, leave info on websites for other honeymooners looking for similar experiences, that way you’ll be generating more work for your guide and potentially other guides too.

  6. Eco doesn’t always mean hippy, there are a number of luxurious eco escapes worldwide that have been built sustainably and employ responsible tourism principles so you can have your cake and eat it.

  7. As with any eco-friendly holiday, check the hotel or resort’s green credentials. It’s sometimes difficult to know whether the vacation you fancy is genuinely green or tainted with greenwashing tactics, so read up a few tips from Ecotourism Logue before you book.

  8. Dare to be different!

Article excerpted from www.ecotourismlogue.com

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