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Retire In One of the Most Scenic Places in the World

Retiring comfortably overseas doesn’t have to cost a fortune, you can be living in an exotic city while still being able to stretch your dollars. Choosing the right spots to retire is key to stretching your retirement fund.

Living life to the fullest while still being able to maintain a budget doesn’t have to come with a headache. Some retirees opt to settle down in the Caribbean or even Italy, but one destination stands above the rest when it comes to quality and affordability—Cusco, Peru.

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The city of Cusco, compared to the capital city of Lima, is much smaller but is packed with grand perks. The city is lined with domed churches and cobblestone streets, perfect for a permanent getaway for anyone who would love a quieter life that’s surrounded by historical beauty.

The city is a mix of old and new. Cusco has its fair-share of a lively lifestyle fit for everyone, the city centre has been flipped into a modern destination that still shows off its historical flare. With hip and luxurious eateries, shopping and even residential areas. With Peru being recognised as a culinary destination recently, dining in the many restaurants of the city will be an adventure itself.

Other than the modern amenities of the city grounds, Peru is also home to some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. Nature lovers can easily go camping or hiking in the nearby trails and grounds while taking in the local views. From trips to Machu Picchu to the Rainbow Mountain, both destinations can be easily reached as it is all in the Cusco region.

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Retiring in Cusco, Peru is surprisingly affordable, allowing couples to retire on $1,700 a month and still live a comfortable and high quality life. International retirees can apply for a retirement visa to be able to live there.

 

Gear Up For an All-terrain Run Around Flores Island

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The first edition of the Azores Trail Runâ – Extreme West Atlantic Trail will be held on 24th November in Flores Island, in the Azores.

Azores Trail Runâ is responsible for organising three other trail running events held in the Azores and is bringing this event to the westernmost island of the Portuguese archipelago for the first time.

Every year, over a thousand athletes with different nationalities come together in Azores to take part in the trail runs. The events take place during the low season and there are only a limited number of spots available that athletes have to qualify for prior to the race.

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Azores Trail Runâ – Whalers Great Route was the first event organised by the brand in 2104. The race takes place on the last weekend of May annually. As the years went by, several other events have been added, namely the Triangle Adventure (this takes place for three days in the islands of Faial, Pico, and Sao Jorge), the Columbus Trail (scheduled for the first weekend of February 2019 on the island of Santa Maria) and also the Flores-based Extreme West Atlantic Trail.

Home to unique terrain conditions and having a high potential for tourism development, the Azores is a perfect destination for such sporting events.

Flores as well as neighbouring Corvo is considered to be one of the most remote islands of the Azores. The island’s population stands at approximately 3,800 people and is famous for its untouched natural beauty and canyoning. Tourists generally visit Flores during the high season from June to September each year.

Catch Sunsets and Eat Noodles on this Lesser Known Island

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Lined with groups of people and selfie sticks, people ran towards the the water’s edge, trying to get a piece of the sunset for themselves. Various silhouettes became part of the orange and pink hues of the sky as they were all trying to get the perfect shot for their social media post.

This famed place is located on the north coast of Shikoku, the smallest and most rural of Japan’s four main islands, Chichibuga is a flat sandy 1km-long beach that overlooks the Seto sea. Sitting between the bigger islands of Honshu and Kyushu, Shikoku is usually overlooked by many tourists.

Many visitors of the island are drawn by its spiritual heritage, inland gorges, rivers and waterfalls, not to mention its Pacific coastline. The island is easily accessible from Honshu, though the capital port city of Shikoku, Takamatsu, is about an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Okayama city.

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The visitors of the island and the now famous Chichibuga beach was once a very under the radar attraction to not just tourists, but even locals. Not until in recent years. Back in 2016, the Mitoyo tourism authority conducted a photography contests and concluded to a winning image of silhouettes of two children and they’re reflections on the still waters of the ocean with the sun setting in the background.

After the iconic photo circulated online, Shikoku and Chichibuga beach started to get noticed by many and started to get more and more visitors.

Kagawa is also known for their noodles. Shikoku is home to a ‘noodle hotel’ called Udon House, a cookery school with pod rooms, opened by Japanese entrepreneur Hima Furuta. Guests who wish to stay in the hotel for at least two days will be able to take udon making classes, visit a farm and join in on breakfast tours of local udon restaurants.

The Udon House is also a short drive from Chichibuga beach, so not only will you be able to eat amazing noodle but also catch the local highlight.

Hang Out at British Airways’ New Lounge at JFK

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The British Airways First lounge located in Terminal 7 of New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport has recently been remodelled and expanded, and is now opened to welcome eligible fliers.

The First lounge is now 60% larger than before and has well-designed seating zones and separate work spaces, a roving gourmet gin and tonic cart as well as a bar area with both self-serve and tended drink-making.

Wine lovers should get excited because a new highlight of the lounge is a separate wine room which features a glass-fronted enomatic wine preservation unit. They dispense one-ounce tasting pours to the themed wines that have been kept at the perfect sipping temperature. Cabernet Sauvignons have been selected as the feature wines for the month of Novemeber.

As many of the British Airways flights from New York to London travel overnight, a majority of the passengers prefer to have dinner on the ground and catch up on their sleep during the flight. Perfect for evening and late-night fliers, the First lounge will be offering a variety of selection for the preflight buffet dining complete with seasonal menus.

The First lounge at JFK will be opened daily from 5am to 10pm, and welcomes all passengers travelling in the First cabin and to those with BA Gold and oneworld Emerald status.

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Passengers who are flying first class with the airline as well as upper tier British Airways customers holding a Concorde Card should take note that they will be able to access a fancier lounge option at JFK T7: the Concorde Room, located beside Gate 1. The lounge provides table-service dining and has also been refurbished recently.

First lounge access includes the Elemis Travel spa located in the adjacent Club business lounge. Here, passengers can enjoy a complimentary 15-minute treatment which includes skin-reviving facials and foot, neck, and back massages on a first come first served system. Do remember to schedule an appointment with the spa desk upon arrival so as to avoid disappointment!

All Aboard Africa’s First High-speed Train

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Morocco’s coastal city of Tangiers and economic capital, Casablanca, would soon be connected via France’s famed TGV trains. These trains have the capacity to travel up to 200 mph and will be able to reduce current journey times by 50%.

Tangiers and Casablanca are 215-miles apart and currently it takes approximately 4 hours and 45 minutes to travel the distance. With the introduction of the high-speed train, travellers will be able to get from point to point within 2 hours and 10 minutes.

There are trains scheduled to depart every hour and it is projected to carry approximately six million passengers within the first three years. There are 14 trains at the moment, and each train is able to carry up to 533 passengers.

The high-speed train project is titled LGV and state officials hope to attract more foreign visitors with its inauguration, and at the same time hope that the train will also be regularly used by locals. The cost of the high-speed train will be about 30% more than the current train route, which costs between $14 and $27.

The $2 billion LGV project was initiated in 2011 by both Mohammed VI, the Moroccan King, and also then-president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. This initiative also included several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The train will be inaugurated on 23rd November, and it is expected that French president Emmanuel Macron will be present at the ceremony.

Five Places to Visit in Iran

Iran is a house full of treasures, home to some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. With almost every turn, Iran is filled with proof of Islam’s historical commitment to aesthetic beauty and elegant architecture. Here are some of the country’s artfully conceived places that not only radiates beauty and grace but as well as history and culture.

Shah Cheragh

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Roughly translated to “King of the Light”, the story behind Shah Cheragh goes back to around 900 CE, when a wanderer came across the site due to the mysterious light that was shining from a distance. The wanderer then investigated and found a grave of an important Muslim figure.

From then on, the site has become a popular pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims. It was only in the 14th century the site’s mirror-ball was placed in Shah Cheragh as instructed by Queen Tash Khātūn to intensify the light a thousand times over.

Despite being damaged over the centuries, the mosque has been in continuous good care, shining bright as it did years ago.

Badab-e Surt

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A rare geological sensation, the iridescent pools of water in Badab-e Surt are gathered in rust-coloured springs. The colourful puddles layer each other turning the naturally formed terraces into an extraterrestrial sight, mixing all the colours of the rainbows.

The natural disaster was hand crafted by nature during the Pleistocene and Pliocene epochs, when two mineral hot springs spent thousands of years sending bubbling water down the mountain from 6,000 feet above sea level.

When the terraces of puddle get hit by the light just right, it would seemingly glow with red, yellow and orange due to the tones of the underlying rocks. Sometimes the colours of the bright blue sky and its clouds would get reflected by the water, making an even more surreal.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque

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One of Iran’s oldest cities, Shiraz is a city of vivid art, rich history and vibrant craftsmanship. All of these can be found throughout Iran, but one of the best places to see and experience it is at Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.

One of the most beautiful mosque in Iran, Nasir al-Mulk is built with colourful stained glass, thousands of painted tiles and Persian rugs that cover the floor. A place of worship, this dazzling mosque is almost like walking into a kaleidoscope.

Sometimes dubbed as the ‘Pink Mosque’ because of the thousands of pink-coloured tiles that cover the ceiling, the best time to visit the mosque would be during early morning, when the sun hits the sainted glass patterns and reflects it onto the floor.

 Radkan Tower

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Seated on a hill top in northern Iran, the Radkan Tower was long assumed to be an ancient tomb or a beacon that guided travellers on the area, instead it was a curious tower made for something more spectacular.

Thanks to the discoveries of archeo-astronomers, the tower has been dated all the way back to the mid-13th century and is believed to be built by one of the greatest Persian scholars of the age, Nasir al-Din Tusi. Tusi was a scientist, polymath and astronomer and is known for helping pioneer the observatory at Maragheh, Azerbaijan.

During the days of solstice and equinox every year, the sun aligns perfectly to shine through the doors on the opposite sides of the tower. The tower is also believed to determine the beginning of the seasons, leap years, and the Iranian New Year, Nowruz.

 Yakhchāls

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They look like giant beehives made out of clay but these ancient structures were used to make and preserve ice in the deserts of Persia. Yakhchāls are ancient evaporative coolers and was made around 400 BC.

The conical structures were created to allow ice to be made, collected and preserved so that they can be used throughout the year. It was used for things such as preserving food and making the traditional Persian frozen dessert, faloodeh.

Ski Alongside Snow Monsters in Japan

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Home to well known hot springs and ski resorts up in the mountains of the Yamagata Prefecture, Zao Onsen is also home to “ice trees” or “snow monsters”.

Located in the Tōhoku region of northern Japan, about 250,000 people call the Yamagata Prefecture their home. With these people, every winter, snow monsters would pop by and live harmoniously with the residents.

The Zao Onsen ski resort transforms into a winter wonderland every winter, being blanketed by fine white snow. The ski resort sits about 800 feet above sea level, being fully covered by fluffy snow all winter long.

With all that snow, the trees that line the ski trails get covered as well, transforming them into snow and ice covered mythical looking creatures. The snow monsters, also known as juhyo, are caused by the region’s harsh weather, with frequent winter storms passing by the Zao Mountain Range and freezing cold fronts that originate from Siberia.

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You don’t have to be an expert snowboarder or skier to see these mythical trees, the best times to catch them would be between January and March. Guests can hop onto two connecting cable cars, the first one would be starting off from the base of the resort.

During the night time, the snow monsters would be lit up and will be seen from the summit café, or you can step off the observation deck and walk among the snow giants, if you dare.

The Zao Onsen ski resort is one of the oldest ski resorts in Japan and offers over thirty ropeways, lifts and gondolas and variety of courses that suits every skier and/or snowboarder of any ability, from beginners to experts.

The longest course starts by the territory of the snow monsters, right at the summit of the mountain and is about ten kilometres long. The ski season would usually start in late November or early December and would run all through early May.

 

California Wildfires Forces Thousands of People to Evacuate

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One of the most destructive and deadly wildfires in decades, firefighters and residents of Northern and Southern California has been battling three wildfires that are raging on in the state of California. The wildfire has already forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and has destroyed thousands of acres of land.

Two of the fires are rapidly burning in Southern California in a community just north of Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has already issued a mandatory evacuation for some parts of Malibu as well.

In Northern California, the Camp Fire has destroyed majority of the city of Paradise, 80 miles of Sacramento and has at least forced 40,000 people to evacuate their homes under short notice. Multiple injuries have been reported and the specific number of deaths are yet to be released by the state.

With the fatal combination of low humidity, high winds and dry lands, the wildfires has increased a great deal in size from Thursday through Friday morning. According to Cal Fire, the Camp Fire in Northern California began to grow on Thursday in an estimated rate of 80 football fields per minute.

The fire has devastated the area of more than 100,000 acres, having the department declare a state of emergency for Butte County. As of earlier this morning, only 35 percent of the fire has been contained.

According to CBS News, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire in Southern California in Southern California has declared emergency evacuations to more than 70,000 homes in both Los Angeles and Ventura County. With in a short few hours last Thursday, the Woolsey Fire has spread from 2,000 acres to an estimate of 8,000 acres. As of Friday morning, more than 10,000 acres has been covered by the Woolsey Fire.

The Hill Fire has spread to at least 6,000 acres of land, according to Cal Fire. The fire is taking place just down the street where a mass shooting in a bar took place on Wednesday evening, killing 12 people. Ventura County Fire Department has urged those who lived in evacuation zones to leave as soon as possible.

Changes to Australia’s Working Holiday Visa

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The Australian government has implemented some changes to relax the visa rules for backpackers. There will now be more opportunities for everyone to explore the land down under via a working holiday to Australia.

Previously, backpackers can only stay with their agricultural employer for a maximum of six months. With the new rules put in place, backpackers are now allowed to stay with their agricultural employer for up to a year. Plus, if you’re keen to take on extra agricultural work, you’ll also have the opportunity to stay in Australia for three years.

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The government also plans to remove the annual cap on workers on increase the age limit from 30 to 35 people from several countries, a few of which including Canada and Ireland. In the past, backpackers may have faced limitations in accepting agricultural work in Northern Australia. However, they will now enjoy greater flexibility to work in different regions.

As for Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme, changes have been made to allow people from nine Pacific Island countries to come and work on farms in Oz. Eligible workers will now be allowed to stay nine months, as compared to the previous six months, and employers will also have to cover less costs.

The new changes have been put in place as part of the Australian government’s effort to help fill agricultural jobs as farmers continue to struggle to meet the labour demands of growing season. Due to the nature of farm work being physically demanding, there can be difficulty attracting Australian workers to apply for such jobs.

How to Apply?

At the moment, passports from 19 different countries are eligible to apply for a working holiday visa for Oz, and applications are eligible for travellers who are 30 or under. For the case of Ireland and Canada, the age cap is at 35. For more information, you can visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

Cruise Around Hanoi on a Vintage Motorbike

One of Hanoi’s most visited area’s, the Old Quarter is filled with labyrinthine-like roads, pastel-coloured shop houses and is home to flocks of motorbikes. The Old Quarter is also home to the Hanoi Opera House, the National Museum of Vietnamese History, the Hoan Kiem Lake, and a maze of guild streets.

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The Old Quarters can easily be explored on foot, but why walk when you could tackle the labyrinthine streets through a unique perspective. Sidecar Tours Vietnam lets visitors cruise around the Old Quarter on Soviet-era Ural motorbikes.

The Old Quarter was established during imperial time centuries ago and has long been a centre of trade in the city. There are about 36 guild streets and each street is associated with a product, each of which was dedicated to a specific craft ranging from bamboo to copper, cotton, silk, and even lacquer-ware to name a few.

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Streets such as Hang Chieu Street is named after sleeping mats, having the lanes dedicated to straw bedding which would keep one cool during humid summers. However, despite being a dedicated street for sleeping mat, modern day Hang Chieu street has evolved to creating other products such as plastic bags.

At the end of Hang Chieu street comes the stately Quan Chuong Gate. It was built in 1749 and is the last of 21 brick and stone gates that once protected the fortified city. The rest of the gates were taken down during the French era.

Just past the gate is the Hang Ma Street, or Paper street. Hang Ma Street is not known for dedicated office or school stationery, instead it’s a street for paper offerings. Paper iterations of luxury items such as cars or bags that are burned as offerings to the deceased during festivals.

Known for being the busiest—and noisiest—street of the Old Quarter’s guild streets, Hang Thiec Street is famous for their welding, metal and sanding works. From tin boxes to dining utensils. The street is lined with overflowing shops full of tools and crafts.

The Old Quarter is truly Hanoi’s heart of the city. Every turn you take is a whole new world of commerce.