Territory Stories

katherine Times Wed 01 May 2013



katherine Times Wed 01 May 2013


Katherine Times; NewspaperNT




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Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Katherine; Katherine (N.T.) -- Newspapers

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North Australian News for Katherine Times

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v. 31 issue 16

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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North Australian News for Katherine Times



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14 KATHERINE TIMES, WEDNESDAY MAY 1, 2013 www.katherinetimes.com.au HOT DEALS APPLE OF THEIR ISLE Book APT's 12- day Royal Tasman escorted coach tour of Tasmania operating during the SeptemberMay season by July 31 and receive a discount of $500 a couple. The tour includes accommodation, 21 meals, airconditioned coaches with reclining seats and on- board bathroom, APT's Freedom of Choice local tours and dining options, entrance fees and transfers. There are overnight stays in Hobart, Port Arthur, Freycinet National Park, Launceston, Smithton, Cradle Mountain and Strachan. The tour is priced from $4545 a person, twin share, with the discount. aptouring.com.au THIS IS NOT A DAYDREAM Book three nights or more at Daydream Island Resort and Spa in the Whitsundays and save 65 per cent a night. Normally priced at $504 a night, this deal is from $175 a night for two people. It includes accommodation, buffet breakfast daily and lots of free guest activities, such as kayaking, movies in the open-air cinema, and the stingray and shark- feeding show. The offer is valid for three- night minimum stays until the end of June, or until sold out. Transfers are not included. wotif.com/hotelW2823. BRING THE KIDS BYOKids has an eight- night luxury Maldives family holiday package on offer. The package includes eight nights' accommodation at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa for a family of two adults and two children sharing a beachfront cottage, speedboat transfers from Mali Airport to the resort, breakfast and dinner daily, and economy airfares exeast coast of Australia to Mali and the Maldives. It is priced from $12,220 for a family of four and is valid for travel until December 23 or until sold out. byokids.com.au EXPLORE PHNOM PENH The Frangipani Living Arts Hotel & Spa in Phnom Penh is on a quiet residential street near the Russian Market. It is a hideaway in the Cambodian capital, with fresh, modern furnishings, balconies off all rooms, two swimming pools and a rooftop fitness centre. All guests can use the complimentary bikes to explore the city. Save 50 per cent on the room price via hotels.com, if booking two nights or more before April 24. Travel must be by September 30. Priced from $43 a night with the discount. hotels.com An Indian city with the right altitude In a land of mountains and monasteries, Leh offers Andrew Bain a fresh look at an ancient world. At a glance, the city of Leh seems a longway from India. Desert mountainsframe its outskirts, and Islamabad andTajikistan are nearer than Delhi or Mumbai. Step from a plane and it isn't noise, pollution or touts that greet you, it's the shock of altitude. Tucked into a side gorge of the Indus Valley, Leh sits on the Tibetan plateau, 3500 metres above sea level. Chortens and mani walls furnish the landscape, and Buddhist monasteries balance atop razorback ridges. The people look Tibetan, and the food tastes Tibetan. It's a small piece of Tibet, without the need to leave India. In three journeys to India, I've found Leh to be its most likeable city, a place where roads, mountains, cultures and religions meet. Look down from the old palace on the mountain ridge that looms above the city, and the architecture reflects the diversity, with the golden pagodas of the Buddhist monastery and the minarets of the Jama Masjid mosque standing together as twin-city centrepieces. First, however, you must climb to the mountain ridge, which at this altitude isn't necessarily easy. At this height, there's only 64 per cent of the oxygen you get beside the ocean. Every movement is an effort, with the scarcity of oxygen seeming to deflate your lungs and clamp at your temples. Step off a plane direct from Delhi and this short walk can be like an Everest expedition. By the time I climb the ridge, I've been at these altitudes for a few days, but still it's a struggle, zig-zagging above the city to the ruined palace as the morning call to prayer sounds across the city. Modelled on Lhasa's Potala Palace, Leh's nowdisused 16th-century palace is the same bare-rock colour as the ridge, so it looks like a geometric extension of the land. Inside, as it's being renovated over a course of years, it's a dark, unlit, empty warren of rooms and corridors. Narrow, vertiginous balconies provide views over the city worthy of royalty. From the palace, trails climb on to the even more breathless tip of the ridge, where prayer flags snap in the wind, sending their prayers out over the rooftops of Leh. Almost buried within the prayer flags are Tsemo Monastery and a disused fort, commanding the finest views of Leh. Opened to tourism only since 1974, Leh is a blend of contemporary and the conventional. Traditional dress - berry-coloured Ladakhi jackets - is still commonly seen, but so too are monks in flash runners and Gore-Tex jackets. Menus that once contained only Tibetan barley and wheat staples such as thukpas and momos, now have the likes of pizza, baked beans and chips. Off the palace ridge, there are places around Leh where the heights are primarily spiritual ones. The Indus Valley abounds with monasteries clinging to the rocky tips of ridges and spurs. Few are set more dramatically than Thiksey Monastery, which spills down like a cascade from a spur of razorback rock. Thiksey is about a 30 minute drive from Leh, and I leave the city in the pre-dawn, setting out to witness the monastery's morning puja (worship). When I arrive, the sound of trumpets is echoing through the valley, calling the monks to the prayer hall. Old men shuffle into the hall, small boys dashing around them, performing their tasks. I sit against a wall inside the hall, and for an hour I'm surrounded by the melody of chants and the smell of butter tea. Eventually I wander away, into the chilly morning air and into a side hall, where a two-storey-high golden Buddha stares out over the valley. On the other side of Leh, one enormous high remains. Forty kilometres north of the city is Khardung La, a mountain pass spruiked as the "highest motorable road in the world", sitting a disputed 5602 metres above sea level (GPS surveys suggest it may be as low as 5359 metres). The road to the pass is rough and unsealed most of the way, cutting stripes across the barren slopes. The pass is visible ahead almost the entire way, notched between towers of rock that stand like totem poles. It's a slow, grinding journey and, after climbing two vertical kilometres, the road finally crests the Ladakh Range, arriving at an altitude most people will never exceed. Atop the pass, Buddhist chants play out from among a forest of prayer flags. A small glacier seems almost within arm's reach, and the snow-tipped peaks of the Karakoram Range home to the world's second-highest mountain, K2 - in Pakistan stretch across the horizon. Though the pass stands above most of the world, it is not above hyperbole. Among the buildings at the roadside are the selfproclaimed highest cafeteria in the world, and the world's highest souvenir shop. Cross the road and a sign declares its not allowed to sacrifice any kinds of animals in the area of the pass. The very thought of it would make my head ache, if it wasn't already gripped by altitude pains. Andrew Bain travelled courtesy of Exodus Travels. Hig (Fr T M a an in Pho Bain hist monastery he Jama ding together eces. u must in rily ent t lhi b the se ys, , zigy to he er y. the ridge, where pray snap in the wind, sen prayers out over the of Leh. Almost buried prayer flags ar Monastery a disused for command finest view Opened to only since is a blen contem the con Tradition berry-co Ladakh is stil com see >> travel LOCALS ONLY SPECIAL - BOOK NOW LIMITED TIME

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