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Full Moon Party

Full Moon Party (Photo credit: YoTuT)

Your college years may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't get a little crazy every once in awhile.  Full moon parties take place once a month throughout southeast Asia, but one of the hottest spots to get in on the action is Koh Phangan, Thailand. Full moon parties occur on the night of the full moon, but don't fret, if you miss it, there are also half moon, quarter moon and black moon parties.  Basically, if you are staying Koh Phangan, you will not be getting much sleep.

It All Started When...

Once upon a time, a group of tourists discovered the magic of the full moon on the beaches of Koh Phangan, Thailand.  They decided to celebrate their birthday under the stars, and it has now grown into an international tradition that attracts people from all over the world. In fact, when the movie, The Beach came out in 2000, it was partially inspired by the growing popularity of the full moon party.

Party Until the Sun Comes Up

Most say it is the best party atmosphere they have ever seen, and is a truly once in a lifetime experience. Beginning at dusk, 20,000-30,000 people gather each month as the yellow moon begins to rise. Several booths are set up selling glow sticks and face paint and fire dancers light up the beach. All types of music--reggae, dance, techno, drums and bass break out along the beach causing an outburst of dancing among the crowd. After awhile, partygoers enjoy a dip in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

Set Stereotypes Aside

Don't let the image of thousands of obnoxious young people wreaking havoc deter you from being part of the fun. Most people who go are just out to have a good time, and it is rare to have conflict during the full moon party.


Because the full moon party is a worldwide known event, it is important to plan in advance where to stay. It is advised that you arrive four days prior to find accommodations for a decent price.  If you want to be in the middle of the action, stay in Haad Rin. For a regular room, it is about 500-800 baht per night (approx. $17-30). The closer you get to the full moon party, the higher the prices are.

Party Safe

The point of the Full Moon Party is to let loose and have a good time, but make sure you party smart.  Wear solid shoes because it would ruin your trip if you stepped on a broken bottle. Also, drink lots of water throughout the night since the climate is hot and humid and you don't want to get dehydrated.  Stay out of the ocean because the waves are strong. Finally, make sure to bring as little as possible because theft is quite common. But don't let the bad stuff deter you, if you come to have a good time and plan well, the night will be a success!

by Molly Nelson, Contributing Author

Sunset of the Forbidden City, Beijing (northwe...

Image via Wikipedia

When planning a visit to China, most tourists immediately think of the main attractions such as the Great Wall.  Why not immerse yourself in Chinese culture and history and book a trip in October?  October 1st was China National Day in Beijing which guarantees the Chinese the week off to celebrate the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949. Take a unique trip and find that China has more to offer than your favorite deep-fried wontons and kung-pow chicken.


National Day represents the start of one of the two Golden weeks in China, a week chalk full of so many public holidays the government grouped them all into one long celebratory event. The other Golden Week is during the Chinese Lunar Year.  On this day in 1949, the leadership of Communist China declared victory in War of Liberation against the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai Shek.

National Day Decorations

China National Day is well-known for its beautiful d├ęcor featuring the National Day Flower Bed festival which can be found in cities all over China. The most outstanding and admirable festival is located in Tiananmen Square which is where the Great Wall is stationed as well. The flower bed consists of 200,000 potted flowers which lights up Beijing with beauty. Besides the glorious flower displays, red lanterns which symbolize luck and joy are seen everywhere especially at the gates of government office buildings.

National Day Parade

If you are lucky, you can catch the National Day Parade, which is only held when the anniversary year is a multiple of five ( 50th, 55th or 60th).  Plan ahead as it's definitely a site to be seen with elaborate fireworks and military shows of bravado.

Fireworks Show

Magnificent fireworks displays are shown in cities nationwide on China's National Day.  Hong Kong is well-known for its display which started in 1997 at Victoria Harbor. Over 100,000 spectators gather to witness 23,000 fireworks erupt in the sky.

National Day Concert

Large concerts are put on for China's National Day in the nation's biggest cities. The Music Spectacular Water Cube Concert and Shanghai National Day Concert involve laser shows, waterscapes and performances from Chinese stars.  Chinese folk, orchestra and classical music are performed as well so there's a bit of everything.

by Molly Nelson, Contributing Author

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Image by zaui via Flickr

It's a bird, it's a plane it's a hot air balloon! The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is held every year the first week of October ever since Albuquerque won a bid to host the 1973 World Hot Air Ballooning Championships and has become the official balloon capital of the world. The event attracts thousands of pilots and spectators to witness hot air ballooning activities.

Albuquerque Aloft

Aloft is a fun way to kick off the week long Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Pilots launch their balloons on selected school grounds which are an opportunity to get the community involved and excited about the event. Teachers, students and parents get the chance to meet the pilots and learn how to fly a balloon. The event is the only balloon fiesta to have pre-designated launch sites outside of Balloon Fiesta park.

Dawn Patrol

In 1978, two California balloonists discovered lighting techniques to enable them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots fly until landing spots are visible giving other balloonists the chance to get an idea of wind speeds. Depending on the weather, Dawn Patrol inflation begins at 5:45 am everyday of the Balloon Fiesta and launch at 6 am.

Mass Ascension

During the mass ascension at the Balloon Fiesta, balloons are launched in waves decorating the morning sky with brilliant color and sound. Launch directors in black and white striped outfits, also known as zebras, direct pilots to make sure they take off safely.

Balloon Glows

Balloon Glows is a sight to see as balloons light up the night sky like giant ornaments. One of the most spectacular moments is when all the balloon fire burners are lit up at the same time. Balloon Glows is followed by New Mexico's greatest fireworks display for more evening fun.

Special Shape Rodeo

The Special Shape Rodeo started in 1989 and is the most popular event at the Balloon Fiesta. Balloons designed in a variety of shapes and characters are launched two mornings in a row and have glow shows in the evening.  The evening shows have been named the Special Shape Glowdeo.


If the balloon shows are not enough, other forms of entertainment includes a performance from the Albuquerque Air Jump Rope Team and live music.

Balloon Discovery Center

The Balloon Discovery Center attracts 30,000 visitors every year.  Visitors get the chance to see how hot air balloon work with different interactive balloon exhibits catering to people of all ages. Balloon Fiesta attendees also get the chance to learn about NASA aeronautics. Daily presentations are held by NASA aerospace engineering technicians.

Check out the full schedule of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta events.

By Molly Nelson, Contributing Author

The southern hemisphere's glitterati have once again descended on Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week which started last Friday August 19 and ends Saturday the 27th, 2011. Stars collecting in the Whitsunday Islands for Australia's biggest sailing extravaganza include designer Collette Dinnigan, there to oversee the launch Hamilton_yachts.jpgof her Cruise Collection 2011, held at the exclusive qualia resort on the northern tip of Hamilton. Other celebrities joining the social whirl include chef Matt Moran and former British supermodel turned designer, Gail Elliott, who recently spent a weekend here with best buddy Yasmin Le Bon. Almost 200 yachts have entered the regatta, which runs over seven days around the Whitsunday Islands. It is expected that some 2,000 bottles of champagne and sparkling wine, 8,400 strawberries, and 12,000 oysters will be consumed on Hamilton this week.

But not everybody who visits this island is famous. Hamilton is accessible to all comers, all year round. To get there, fly in direct from airports all over Australia or drive to Shute Harbour for the 40-minute Fantasia cat trip to the Whitsundays. Hamilton is the classy lovechild of Rosemount Estate winery billionaire Robert Oatley, who has developed the island infrastructure since he effectively bought it in 2004. There are several accommodation options, starting with the luxurious 18-story Reef View Hotel, where raucous sulfur-crested cockatoos colonize the balconies peering over Catseye Beach and the neighboring islands of Fitzalan and Whitsunday. Here it is easy to pass days of hedonistic luxury puttering around the island in a buggy and re-energising with a magical massage at Wumurdaylin spa using organic Waterlilly products, drinking cocktails around several swimming pools, and even cuddling sleepy koalas in HI Wildlife Park.

For more privacy book, qualia is a divine reHamilton.jpgsort created by Aussie architect Chris Beckingham, a magical enclave hidden under an imported canopy of trees on the north-east tip of the island. The guesthouses are scattered around the hillside; inside they are all teak, mahogany, and marble, with sea views from long picture windows. On the complex is also a sleek restaurant, breakfast area, infinity pool, and bar, all with glorious views over qualia's private beach.

There is no need to set foot outside this slice of paradise as all needs are amply and discreetly catered for; except maybe you should dine at Bommie's, the island's superb leading restaurant. Located in the harbour-side yacht club and constructed of angles resembling sails, the eatery serves top-quality Australian cuisine such as a feast of belly pork cooked three ways and gigantic Moreton Bay bugs enjoyed against a romantic backdrop of the marina.

Other plush accommodations options

Bommie.jpgencompass salubrious 1-4 bed apartments overlooking Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Beautifully appointed in soft earthy colors, with every conceivable designer accessory, they surround a private swimming pool and are a step away from the sedate ambience of the stores and restaurants of minute downtown Hamilton Island.

There's plenty on Hamilton Island to keep everybody amused; activities in the resort kick off with fitness classes at 6.15am and fill the whole day with kayaking, bingo, buggy rallies, water volleyball, and snorkeling off Catseye. Adrenaline-filled cruises to Whitehaven Beach on board the catamaran On The Edge lead to picnics on the spotless white silica sands. On neighbouring Dent Island there is the spectacularly sited 18-hole Hamilton Island golf course- with views of surrounding islands magnificent enough to distract any golfer - and complete with the clubhouse, where terrific al fresco feasts of scallops and barramundi are served up.


by Sasha Heseltine, Contributing Author


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