LINKIN PARKMEET THE THEORYWHERE IS LINKIN PARK?REVOLUTION TOURREANIMATIONLIKE A METEORABREAKING THE HABITFROM THE INSIDELINKIN PARKLinkin Park takes hard rock and hip-hop vocals, blazing guitars and drums and vaporizing spins blenderizing them into a sound that is truly modern and unique. No wonder they are one of the most successful current bands.MEET THE THEORYLinkin Park is comprised of band members Chester Bennington, Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, Joseph Hahn, Mike Shinoda and Dave “Phoenix” Farrell. Prior to 2000, the band was going by the handle of “Hybrid Theory” after switching up they then dubbed their first album by that same name.WHERE IS THIS LINKIN PARK?The band has gone through three name changes. First it was Xero, then Hybrid Theory before landing solidly on Linkin Park. But how did they come by this motley handle? The name is a misspelling of the landmark Lincoln Park in Santa Monica, CA where the band originates. They played many of their emerging gigs on the Sunset Strip at the Whiskey A Go-Go.REVOLUTION TOURWith the combined tours of Family Values, Ozzfest and the Projekt: Revolution Tour with Cypress Hill the band played a staggering 324 shows in single year during 2001.REANIMATIONA year later, they had moved onto headline status and garnered three Grammy nominations for Best Rock Album, Best New Artist and Best Hard Rock Performance.LIKE A METEORATheir sophomore studio effort, “Meteora” was released to rave reviews in March of 2003. The album sold a sky-rocketing 810,000 copies in the very first week of release. So much for those rumors of loss profits to the likes of Napster and Limewire, these guys can sell records. They were the highest-selling musical act of 2001, having parlayed more than 8 million copies of their 2000 debut album, “Hybrid Theory” to adoring fans. The album continued to sell extensively the following two years with over 14 million copies sold.BREAKING THE HABITNot to corner itself into modern sound bites, Linkin Park made a throwback to the ’80s with its tune, “Breaking the Habit” on their recent album “Meteora”. They take a similar unexpected turn with the song, “Nobody Listening” which has a extensive flute and ominous guitar riffs.FROM THE INSIDEDuring their 2003-2004 world tour, the band hired a crew to document their events on and off stage, resulting in a new 144-page photo book called, “From the Inside”. This one-of-a-kind book follows the exploits of Mike, Rob, Phoenix, Brad, Mr. Hahn and Chester as they ride their meteoric success of “Meteora’s tour.
For better or worse, man has tamed Mother Nature in many countries. My general impression is this isn’t the case in Costa Rica.San Jose to CarrilloRoughly ten of us had decided to head to Costa Rica for a week to stay at a friend’s place just outside the beach town of Carrillo on the west coast. We flew into San Jose and were supposed to be met by a rental company representative that had two new VW vans for us.As often happens in such situations, we weren’t met by anyone much less a person with vans. Calls were made but not answered. Lunch was had. Calls were made again and finally answered. After a bit of “intense” conversation, we were told the vans would be at the airport in 15 minutes. Roughly two hours later, two VW vans apparently stolen from Woodstock rolled into parking lot. The trip had certainly started on a sour note, but we decided to cut our losses and take the vans.As we rolled out of San Jose, it was starting to get dark. Unaware that a new highway had been opened, we followed the old route which wound through the mountains and added two hours to the trip. Two hours that would haunt us for days.As the hours passed, we laughed away the time reliving the past. I was sitting in the back of the van with Stuart, a nurse in San Diego, and Picasso, a graphic designer for surf clothing companies. We were all in shorts and flip flops, which was appropriate for the heat and humidity. How I wished I had worn pants and boots.As we drove along, we happened to come upon a little village. Little cafes and stores passed us as we drove down the road. So did street lights. Bright street lights. Street lights that lit up the inside of the van.And the things in it.Cockroaches. Big cockroaches. They were climbing on the walls of the van and across the floors. A few even took off and flew from one wall to the other.This is the part in the movie where the men, Picasso and I, take action to protect our female companion, Stuart. Of course, who believes what they see in the movies? In our case, Picasso screamed like a little girl and started stomping on the floor and kicking the walls. I, in turn, did the ultimate crunch, which is to say I whipped my legs off the ground with such speed as to make a drill sergeant weep with joy. I then jumped off the bench just to make sure there weren’t any of the little buggers in my shorts. Stuart, on the other hand, just laughed at us.Our driver whipped over to the side of the road to find out what the heck was going on. The other van pulled over as well and discovered they had a cockroach problem as well. We were apparently driving the hive around the country.After obtaining a little liquid courage at one of the cafes in the village, we came up with a solution for keeping the creepy crawlies at bay. More liquid courage, drivers excepted. Much more.New bravery in hand, we reclaimed the vans and hauled it to Carrillo as fast as possible. Picasso danced the cockroach crunch throughout the remainder of the trip, which made for a messy van and the need for new flip flops. I hoped I was imagining things crawling on my legs. Stuart just kept laughing.Nature is beautiful, except when it ain’t!
Every country has a unique beverage it claims as its own. In Costa Rica, the beverage of choice is Guaro.BeveragesThere is a certain national pride associated with claiming an alcoholic beverage. Think of Mexico and tequila immediately comes to mind. Vodka, of course, goes with Russia. Visit Greece and an ouzo headache can’t be far behind. Aquavit in Sweden will definitely turn your head…and stomach. Costa Rica, of course, couldn’t miss out on the fun.GuaroDepending on which bartender you speak to, Guaro is either a mind erasing alcohol beverage or an energy drink with a little kick. Guaro is the national beverage of Costa Rica. Despite visiting Costa Rica on multiple occasions, I have never tried. And for good reason.The Guinea PigTen of us were hanging out in the beach town of Carrillo just taking in the evening after another day in the sun. Carrillo is a great town for fishing and a few epic surf spots are close by. It is similar to Tamarindo, but without the overwhelming ex-pat influence. Unfortunately, Carrillo is extremely tame at night. Put another way, there is really nothing to do.A bit bored, the ten of us had congregated in a cafÃ© overlooking the ocean. Tables and chairs had been pushed together and we had reached the point in the evening where we were telling lies about how great we used to be. The bartender/owner approached our table and suggested we hadn’t experience Costa Rica until we had sampled Guaro. One of our merry band was selected.Known humorously as Mexico Mike, our guinea pig was experienced in the ways of Mexican Tequila. Mexico was remotely close to Costa Rica, so the drinks were probably similar. Indeed, Mexico Mike was the man for the job.The shot glass came. Jokes were made. Mike through it back. A small grimace, a lime, slaps on the back and general laughter. Just as we started egging each other on to be the next person to experience Costa Rica, a funny thing happened.Mexico Mike was becoming Pink Mike. Laughter stopped and concern spread across the table like the rash developing on his arms. We were probably three hours from a hospital and the term “pink eye” was taking on a much larger meaning. His skin was turning pink! You could actually see it moving down his arms and across his chest. His girlfriend, Stuart, was not happy!It has to be an odd feeling to sit there and watch your skin change colors. Mike was cracking jokes as is his nature, but there was a definite tension to his laugh. Fortunately, the reaction soon slowed and retreated. Within 20 minutes, he was good as new and we had a new story to tell.We universally passed on further offers of Guaro. A traveler has to know his or her limits!
Who else wants to find the best cheap airfares or at least great discount airfares for the vacation of a lifetime? See if this scenario matches anyone you know!Another busy day. You have to be in the office in 10 minutes but you are caught up in heavy traffic. You’re late. A note on top of your desk from your boss says, “See me when you arrive!” is waiting for you. The phone rings. The clients come in. You start to do the paper works and forget about the time. You stop for a minute only to realize that it’s time for you to go home. Another busy day. Again.Try to sit back and relax. Imagine crystal springs and beaches. Think of the topography, a variety of breathtaking landscapes or coral islands all waiting for you. Dream of the combination of balmy weather, pristine beaches, and luxurious resorts equipped with all the frills of modern living. Isn’t a beach vacation a great idea?Everybody needs a vacation. That’s a fact. No matter what kind of job you have–be it in the corporate industry, or in the comforts of your own home business–you still need a vacation to ease the tension. When you feel that you are being stressed out because of the complexities you have to go through everyday, what would be better than to pack your things and go somewhere your boss can’t find you?But, just when you think that your dream of a tropical island is coming to life, you go down to reality, with a bang. Your concern? Just how much one vacation will cost you!The first problem to consider when you decide to go on a vacation in or out of the country, is your airfare.Thanks to the advent of technology and really tough competition, airlines have offered various promos and airfare programs that will hopefully fit your budget.Unlike before, when it would have to cost years of solitude just to cross the Atlantic, cheap airfare makes it possible now for the average person to go almost anywhere in the world.It is advisable to surf the net when looking for cheap airfares. The World Wide Web provides easy access to sites that offer airfare discounts. It is also quite convenient because you can find the cheapest airfare you can ever find and not worry about booking tickets since it is available 24/7.By surfing the net, you can also get notifications when airfare deals are being offered. There are actually sites that constantly monitor the lowest airfares there are going to a particular city. This airfare watch is as equally crucial when you decide to embark on international flights. Just make sure that you are updated with the airfare rates for that specific country. Who knows, you may even get unimaginably cheap airfares for your vacation?Aside from regularly monitoring the airfare rates in a specific website, you can also check out other airfare sites for that great airfare bargain. It is advisable to do this because you can compare the best and cheapest airfare rates online. You can also join the mailing lists of some airlines. Through this, you will be constantly informed of new promos each airline develops.Since discounted airfares are hard to find, you may want to try looking into courier companies that sell cheap airfares in exchange for using your checked luggage allotment. Lastly, you should consider being flexible with your travel dates in order to get cheap airfare. You can really save more in airfares when you buy the tickets earlier.Your dream vacation may be just a few keystrokes away!
When people think of Holland, Amsterdam is usually the first place that comes to mind. Shockingly, places like Rotterdam and The Hague prove there is more to the country. Really!RotterdamA traveler is often able to deduce certain things from the name of a destination. In the case of Rotterdam, nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing is rotting. Well, maybe something in the bottom of a fridge somewhere, but nothing in the public arena. Instead, Rotterdam is a vibrant, fairly modern Dutch city.Rotterdam sits at the confluence of a couple of rivers and what appears to be a collection of canals designed on an child’s etch a sketch board. Despite this and nearly being wiped out in World War II, the city has a get on with your business kind of feel to it. Unlike Amsterdam, you’ll actually feel like you’re interacting with the Dutch in their daily lives. The rejuvenation of the city, however, has cost Rotterdam a bit of a character. There isn’t much to see, but the nightlife is hopping and museums carry collections from Monet and van Gogh.The HagueKnown as the City of Peace and Justice, this is a place you want to watch your Ps and Qs! Home to such institutions as the War Crime Tribunal and International Criminal Court, The Hague definitely has the justice thing down pat. The city is actually a very nice place to visit with stunning architecture and cultural sites ad nauseum. On top of this, there are beaches and excellent wooded areas for hiking. The Japanese gardens in Park Clingendael are worth a trip. All and all, The Hague is more or less Amsterdam without the edginess.HaarlemIf you start to burn out on Amsterdam, hop a train to Haarlem. In fact, just blow off Amsterdam and head directly to Haarlem. The city is a great place to see the “real Holland”. A funky place, Haarlem has everything Amsterdam does, but you’ll also find windmills outside of town.Keukenhof GardensIf you want to get garden envy, visit the Keukenhof Gardens to the south of Haarlem. The Gardens consists of miles of…gardens. Every plant known to mankind can be found and the fields of tulips and colors will temporarily blind you. If Buddha returned to the earth, this is where he would make his home. You can literally spend days just walking around drinking in the visual treat. Once you see it, you’ll never look at your backyard the same way again.Amsterdam is the hot travel destination in Holland. If you fail to venture out of the city, however, you’ll be missing some incredible places.
Chang Mai is the largest city in the north of Thailand and well worth a trip. In many ways, Chang Mai is similar to Bangkok, but without the mass of people.Chang MaiChang Mai is perhaps the most serene big city I have ever had the privilege of visiting. Located at the foot of a large mountain, the city nicely meshes older areas with modern conveniences. Serene Buddhist temples stand only a few blocks from bustling universities. Much of the city can be walked, but moped rentals are cheap and plentiful. Street markets are common, but the hustle and bustle of Bangkok is not.The night market is perhaps the most noted thing about Chang Mai. Located in the eastern side of the city, the night market runs about a mile down the length of street dwarfed by malls, restaurants, stores selling art and spas. The stalls on the side of the road tend to sell cheap touristy products, but you should check them out anyway to sample some of the food items. Thais seem to take great humor from cooking anything they can get their hands on so long as they can gross out the tourist. Yep, you can munch on fried roaches, spiders, crickets and so on. For a good laugh, one can hang out around the stalls and watch tourist try the delicacies. It’s like the show Fear Factor without the washboard stomachs and breast implants.To find the “good stuff” at the night market, you should head off the street and up into the open air malls. As you move towards the back of the malls, the quality of the products goes up dramatically. You’ll find artist not only hocking their wares, but also creating them before your eyes. There is some serious talent in the back of those malls.If silk is your material of choice, Chang Mai is a good place to purchase it in bulk. Do not buy it at the night market. Instead, ask your hotel for a recommendation to a shop. Prices are low, but quality is high.Traveler’s TipGuidebooks will tell you the best way to get to Chang Mai is to take an overnight train from Bangkok. Liars! Flying domestically in Thailand is very cheap. A one-way flight from Bangkok to Chang Mai will run you about $40US. There is no need to book ahead. Just walk into the airport in Bangkok and buy a ticket on the spot.If you prefer to spend the night in a bunk on a train, knock yourself out. Just keep in mind Thais tend to have smaller body masses than Westerners. Much smaller.Of all the cities in Thailand, Chang Mai is my favorite. Yes, even more so than Bangkok.
The Buddhist Temples in Thailand are simply impressive. This is particularly true of Wat Doi Suthep, the mountain temple outside Chang Mai.Wat Doi SuthepMore or less located on the top of Suthep Mountain, Wat Doi Suthep is a day trip from the city. You’ll notice I didn’t write an “easy” day trip. When the Thais build a mountain temple, they’re serious about the mountain aspect.Suthep Mountain is large as is the road winding up it. I had planned to rent a mountain bike and ride up to it early in the morning. While sitting in a beverage establishment the previous evening, the bartender had to take a minute to himself to stop laughing after revealed my plans. I wasn’t sure if this was because I was actually in the establishment or because of the road up the mountain.The next morning I was a little less enthusiastic about my riding plans, so much so I rented a moped. Off I went and, after a few wrong turns, I was headed up the mountain. I felt a bit guilty as I passed a few people riding bikes up the hill. As I putted up the hill, I thought the exercise would have done me well. Up I went enjoying the view. And up I went and went and went. If there had been any turns off the road, I would’ve sworn I had taken a wrong turn.It turns out the ride from Chang Mai to the Wat was something like 22 miles. All of it up hill at a grade that would get a whimper out of Tour de France rider. The people riding up the hill were definitely not professional riders. It was like watching a progression of misery. The higher you went, the more unhappy the looked.Pulling into the parking lot for the Wat was like pulling into a disaster zone. Twenty or so bikers were sprawled out on the ground in various states of agony. Some appeared to have ridden to a soft looking spot and just fallen over. Most were saying things like, “Never again.”I spend an hour up at Wat Doi Suthep overlooking the valley below. It is definitely worth a day trip from Chang Mai. Just don’t try to mountain bike to it. I never saw any of the wounded in the parking lot actually come into the Wat!
The city of Amsterdam is a clash of styles, both conservative and liberal. Whatever your personal views, Amsterdam is a city you have to visit at least once.AmsterdamVisually, Amsterdam appears to be a conservative European city out of antiquity. The place oozes charm with cobblestone streets, canals and towering water front homes. Philosophically, however, the city is very liberal with marijuana being decriminalized and prostitution a licensed profession. It is easy to get caught up in debates over the merits of this liberal attitude and completely miss much of what Amsterdam has to offer.MuseumsYou’ll think Amsterdam is heaven if you are an art lover. Even if you’re not big into art, the collections in the museums will impress you. This is the stuff that was in your high school art books, which you failed to appreciate because you were too stupid, young or a combination of both. I certainly had a healthy dose of both!The Rijksmuseum carries collections of some of the great Dutch painters such as Vermeer. While the building alone can be considered a great piece of art, the Rembrandt collection is a must see. For those who are art illiterate, I’m talking about the painter, not the toothpaste. Included in the collection are pieces such as the famous Night Watch. This painting has reached that peculiar level of fame wherein a psycho idiot tries to slice it in half every few years. Now that’s fame. A very sad form of fame, but there you are.Ah, but what about that crazy man with the really bad ear piercing? Where are his paintings? Fret not. The Vincent van Gogh Museum is considered the finest and largest collection of his work. It is impressive, but I thought framing his notes regarding picking up food for dinner was a bit much. Just kidding. Impressive notes…very impressive. Brought a tear to my eye.Coffee Shops/Red Light DistrictThe coffee shops in Amsterdam actually sell coffee. This is often a surprise to some since they are famous for selling marijuana as well. I don’t know this personally, but have “heard from a friend” that such things go on. I can, however, definitely recommend the coffee. Good stuff. If you prefer to try things other than coffee, try to show some restraint. You are in a foreign country and an out of his or her mind tourist is asking for trouble.The red light district in Amsterdam is an odd place. Because of the fame, it is more of a tourist destination than anything else. The “professionals” sit behind storefront windows, waving and winking at people passing by. These “people” typically consists of tour groups and random tourists who want to say they’ve seen the place. Although I am sure business is being done, it isn’t particularly obvious.While the clichÃ© is “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll,” Amsterdam seems to have replaced rock with art. All and all, the city is top notch and absolutely worth a visit if you’re traveling to Europe.
Thailand is known as the land of smiles, which is amazing considering the traffic jams in Bangkok. For budget travelers, Thailand simply can’t beat on price alone.ThailandThailand is an odd mix of contrasts. It can be extremely stressful while trying to get around in Bangkok and gloriously relaxing while laying on practically any of the beaches that populate the coast of the country. Regardless of the situation, the Thais have a habit and custom or smiling regardless of what you ask or how you ask it.BeachesThe beaches of Thailand need no introduction. Used as the setting for hundreds of movies, they come in a variety of styles. The beaches of Phuket and Phi Phi fall along the lines of traditional beach resort areas like you might find in a place such as Cancun, Mexico or Tamarindo, Costa Rica. On the other end of the scale, you can find more rustic beach areas in places like the island of Ko Chang where you’ll have a few beach bungalows, a couple of bars and one or two stores. If you’re looking for a little of both styles, just ask around.Da NorthInfatuated with the beach life, many people fail to head up country when in Thailand. This is a mistake as the north is the host to such locations as the city of Chang Mai, the Summer Palace of the King of Thailand and interesting little villages. For the outdoor enthusiasts, rafting, hiking and mountain biking are very popular and widely available.PricesIf you’re on a budget, Thailand is a perfect travel destination. For some reason, flights to Thailand are particularly cheap with my recent flight on Korean Airlines running roughly $650 round trip. Once in country, your money will go a long, long way.I think a note of caution is need at this point. Please beware. If you decide to take a trip to Thailand, you won’t want to come back to your native country. You will, however, definitely come back to Thailand!
“Ways of healing need no passports or borders”This famous quote by Anthropologist Carroll Dunham aptly explains the unquestioned appeal of a spa in Asia in the minds of health and fitness enthusiasts globally. With the wellness retreat that spas in Asia are, more and more people all over the world are learning to make better choices for their beauty and well-being. Years of healing wisdom of the spa-experts and spiritual gurus make health and beauty spas in Asia a haven of natural and organic living. Situated among the tranquil, tropical splendor of the resorts of Thailand, Maldives among others, a spa in Asia, offering a medley of pampering body treatments, massages and other wellness therapies, provides an unforgettable experience for many.The irresistible Asian spas at resorts and fabulous holiday getaways are based on the 5000 year-old oriental ayurvedic practices those are proved to give complete physical and spiritual healing. In this context, Dunham says, “The traditional systems of India, Tibet and Mongolia share the same basis of categorizing imbalances in the body by the three-element system of wind, fire, water-earth in contrast to the Chinese five element system”. Therefore, holistic ayurvedic treatment inside Asian health and beauty spas combines specific oils, herbs and traditional therapies to revitalize this three-element system and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul in the process.With new and quirky spa treatments (including various signature treatments offered), they act as several ways to bring deeper healing beauty into people’s lives. Given the stress and strains of the bustling city life, thousands of urban people (mostly the urban professional ladies aged between 30 and 50) today are enjoying the ancient therapeutic treatments of the Asian spas that restore inner calm, aid memory, balance emotion and rejuvenate the body.Signature treatments offered inside an Asia resort spa:
With exclusively designed spa products using herbs and oils from various parts of Asia, an Asia resort spa provides a highly professional massage service, reviving age-old traditions and techniques. These include:Aromatherapy massage offered in an Asia resort spa, with essential oil blends to help you relax, re-energize.Hot new treatments, including flower essences, traditional Chinese medicine, crystals and gem therapy, color, light and sound filtering through your body in the steam room.Spiritual and holistic treatments like Ayurveda, Yoga, Reiki and other healing sessions, including two ancient Asian therapies, Shirodhara (used for centuries to restore inner calm and balance to the emotions) and Udwarthana (used to reduce obesity, strengthen muscles and refresh the body, promote better skin complexion by cleansing, exfoliating, toning the skin).The famous cranial therapy, in which gentle movements applied to the skull and vertebrae balance the circulation of the liquid that surrounds the brain to release accumulated stress.Using kitchen ingredients as the food of your skin: Often, top Asia resort spas use natural facemasks, ranging from honey facemasks to papaya masks and sea-salt face-scrubs, natural supplements and healing herbs.Over the past few years, discerning cosmopolitan travelers have indulged in the extensive range of signature treatments offered by the top Asia resort spas, especially in Thailand, Bali, Singapore and Malaysia. According to recent articles on the Asian resort spas going global, the spa industry in Southeast Asia helps to pull in millions of international tourists each year (10 millions a year only for the spas in Thailand). Over the past few years, countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore etc. have pulled in high-profile tourists to soak in rose-petal baths and other luxurious delights of the Asian resort spas.Besides, independent researches have revealed that in 2002 and 2003, Thai spas attracted 2.6 million international tourists who brought in about US$85 million in revenue. Researches have also revealed that the Asian spa industry is growing at around 20 to 30 percent every year, with a lot of European and Asian visitors. With 80 per cent of total spa visits generated by international tourists, Thailand remains the ‘apple of the eye’ for those in the business of resort spas. In India, Kerala being the most favored destination for Asian spas, the enviable destination of the Himalayas also offer the serene tranquility of the spas in Asia. The leisure, lifestyle and business traveler can easily rediscover tranquility in the Indian resort spas, for which the spas are an increasing business in India too.Its no wonder, then, that that the tantalizing spa treats have appealed to the international tourists not only with their Asian aesthetics, but also with the rejuvenating spa experience that has brought back radiance to their body and harmony among their body, mind and spirit. On the whole, the Asian spas have worked as exclusive retreats for rejuvenation, meditation and for nourishing spiritual mindsets.