February 26th, 2010

Kaatsheuvel is a village in the province Noord-Brabant, located in the south of the Netherlands. The village lies north of the larger city Tilburg and belongs to the municipality Loon op Zand. The village also is close to municipalities Waalwijk and Drunen and it is close to the larger cities ‘s Hertogenbosch to the north and Breda to the west.

The name Kaatsheuvel consists of two words: Kaats and Heuvel. It is not completely sure where the name comes from. The word Heuvel means hill. The word Kaats could come from St. Catharina or ‘kaatsen’, a popular Dutch game. It is however more likely that the name of the village is a deterioration from the word Ketshoeve, the name of a former guest house.

For a long time the people of Kaatsheuvel lived from the shoe industry. The circumstances for producing shoes were ideal thanks to the oak barks and the many stream-lets. Most households even had their own small shoe factory. The village thrived mainly on the shoe industry before the mayor in the 1950s decided to attract other industries to its village. That resulted in the build of theme park The Efteling on 31st May 1952, the largest theme park in the Netherlands. The tourist industry soon replaced the importance of the shoe industry.

The Efteling is the absolute main attraction of Kaatsheuvel. You can easily spend a whole day here. It is fun for everyone, young and old. It can be pretty busy during summertime since there are a lot of tourists that visit the park. During the winter the park is transformed into a real wonderland winter theme. In Kaatsheuvel you can also see the mill The Eendragt and the corn-mill The Couwenbergh. This last mill was restored in 1995 and is now home to a restaurant.

The area of Kaatsheuvel is popular for hiking and bicycling trips. Travelers to the village need a valid passport and visa. American citizens are allowed to stay up to 90 days without the use of a visa. The best time to visit the village is during daytime summer from July till August. You can also visit the village during winter for enjoying the Winter Theme of The Efteling.


February 26th, 2010

Hilvarenbeek is a municipality in the south of the Netherlands near the Belgium border. It is located in the province Noord-Brabant and it lies south of the larger city Tilburg. The municipality includes the six villages Hilvarenbeek, Baarschot, Biest-Houtakker, Diessen, Esbeek and Haghorst. Every village has its own impressive church. When entering Hilvarenbeek you will see the tower of the Petrus church. The municipality has a population of around 15 thousand people.

Hilvarenbeek is surrounded by nature. There are young and old forests everywhere. The area is perfect for bicycling and walking. There are plenty of recreation routes that you can follow. The protected Vrijthof has a 300-year-old lime tree and many cozy terraces. The biggest attraction of Hilvarenbeek however is safari park the Beekse Bergen. This park consists of a safari park with African, Asian, European and Australian wildlife, an amusement park and camping opportunities. There are also museums and historical monuments for anyone that likes culture. Or enjoy different theater and music groups.

Hilvarenbeek offers plenty of accommodations through bungalow parks, campsites, camping farms, group accommodations and hotels. The municipality is also close to the Efteling, the Autotron and the Kempen.

Travelers to Hilvarenbeek need a valid passport and visa. American citizens are allowed to stay up to 90 days without the use of a visa. The best time to visit the village is during daytime summer from July till August.


February 26th, 2010

The northeastern area of the mainland of Australia is home to the state Queensland. It borders with the states Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales. Queensland has many world heritage sites, landscapes, vibrant cities, golden beaches, clear blue waters and warm temperatures. The state is named in honor of Queen Victoria. Its nickname is the Sunshine State.

The capital city is Brisbane, which has a lively atmosphere. Other cities are the popular Cairns in the north, Mount Isa, Charleville, Townsville, Port Douglas, Bundaberg, Caloundra, Noosa, Mackay, Hervey Bay, Gladstone and Rockhampton. Each city and town in Queensland has its own atmosphere but you will always enjoy real hospitality from the citizens. To the south of Brisbane lies the Gold Coast, a popular tourist area with beaches and resorts. To the north of the capital city lies Sunshine Coast, an area with many different cities.

Queensland has many amazing landscapes and natural treasures. You can visit the Great Barrier Reef, one of the great wonders of the world. It is home to more than tens of thousands of species, including colorful fish, coral, dolphins, whales and turtles. Another great site is the Daintree National Park with rain forest, swamps, beaches and mangroves. You can follow walking tracks to see this nature. In the southeast of Queensland lies Gondwana Rainforest, an extensive area of rain-forests. Bloodjamulla Lawn Hill National Park also has many rain-forests.

Other great national parks are Fraser Island off the Hervey Bay coast, Bunya Mountains National Park and Carnarvon National Park. You can also visit the Great Dividing Range with waterfalls and picnic areas, the Glass House Mountains, Cape York Peninsula, the white sandy beaches of Whitsunday Islands and Hinchinbrook Island.

The state of Queensland offers everything for every tourist. It has the most beautiful nature of the world, including rain forests, lakes and beaches. The people are friendly and most of the time laid-back. The climate offers warm temperatures with a subtropical to tropical climate in the east and arid climate to the west. The north has a wet season. The best time to visit Queensland depends on your destination.

Travelers to Queensland need a valid passport and visa. Citizens of America, Canada and Europe automatically after application receive a tourist visa that is valid for 12 months. It permits multiple entries into Australia for a stay of up to 3 months on each visit.


February 23rd, 2010

Scheveningen is a seaside resort and it is a district of Den Haag, in the province Zuid Holland, Netherlands. Scheveningen is best known for his wide sandy beach and the refreshing sea air. But it has also unique attractions, beautiful museums and numerous events. Scheveningen has a lot to offer, you can, for example sailing, surfing, fishing or diving. Along the beach there are up against seventy-five beach pavilions, each with their own atmosphere and character, like:

Strandclub Wij, described the past four years as “The best spot of Scheveningen” and “the best beach club in the Netherlands. Steakhouse Peukie a stylish beach club, with good food, fine wines, cocktails, and lively festivals. The Beach Restaurant Waterreus whit his beautiful view of the North Sea and the Pier of Scheveningen.

The Pier is around 1900 in conjunction with the Kurhaus designed, a bridge from the Kurhaus terrace across the boulevard, to the main entrance of the octagonal platform. It was 380 meter long walk. In 1991 the Pier was taken over by the Van der Valk group, for the symbolic sum of 1 guilder. The Pier became the attraction of seaside resort of Scheveningen. Now the Pier also has a covered area and diverse range of restaurants, casino, cafe, leisure shopping, children entertainment and events. Visiting the Pier is free and dogs are allowed.

The historic Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen is an impressive building. The history of the Kurhaus Hotel begins in 1818, when Jacob Pronk founds a wooden bathhouse, which by his success soon develops into a real hotel. already in 1885 it became the Kurhaus Hotel. Holland Casino allows you to combine relaxing and tension. There are Roulette, Punto Banco, Poker and Black Jack Tables. There is also a bar and a restaurant.

In the Fortis Circus Theater are concerts, cabaret and family shows. In the past 15 years attracted legendary musicals as The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Elizabeth, Aida and The Lion King millions of visitors. In one of the busiest tourist centers of the Netherlands lies the Museum Beelden Aan Zee. It is built around the old Pavilion ‘de Witte’, a quiet place with images of man, large, small, bronze, stone, sad and happy images.

Sealife-Center on the Boulevard displays in more than forty-five aquariums the amazing underwater world. From the North you can see the mackerel and herring, but also various types of rays and sharks. You can walk through the underwater tunnel and just above your head you see the sharks, turtles and schools of fish swim. In Amazonia you see a real tropical forest with a spectacular waterfall.

On the boulevard there is a fun train, that makes a tour Scheveningen from Monday to Sunday. The starting point is the Pier. The route goes along the port and the village and takes about 35 minutes. There are also music festivals, cultural activities and sporting events in Scheveningen. Like the International Fireworks Festival with breathtaking fireworks.

Beekse Bergen

February 17th, 2010

The Beekse Bergen is located in Hilvarenbeek in the province Noord Brabant. It has been built from three components: a safari park, a fun park and a campsite. It is the biggest wildlife park in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The park is open all year.

In Safari park the Beekse Bergen you can enjoy the African wilderness. Go on an adventure with roaring lions, running zebras and curious giraffes. There are 1.500 animals, all in their natural environment. There are rhinos, cheetahs and chimpanzees and Calimero, the biggest elephant of Europe also lives here.

Experience a safari in the summer with the sunset or experience the safari in the winter when the animals behave quite differently. Beekse Bergen Safari Park you can explore four different ways: walking , with the safari bus, the safari boat or by your own car. The safari options are to combine. The bus, boat and walking come together in the back from the park near Congo restaurant , where you can change. On the tour by bus and boat rangers tell interesting facts. And there are useful maps indicate which animals you encounter during the various safari tours. The animals are all a strict diet. Therefore it is not permitted to feed the animals. This is to prevent animals falling ill.

Beekse Bergen Safari Park also organizes special ranger camps. When the last visitors have left the park, guests are treated to an African braai meal with exciting African stories. Then follows a walk through the twilight. So the guests discover how the lions, giraffes and zebras behave at night. After a good night sleep in the tent camp, the guests will be awakened by the roaring lions and the sounds of the elephants, then there is a farm-fresh breakfast. Even before the park opens the doors, takes an experienced ranger his guests along for a ride past the awakening animals.

Speelland Beekse Bergen is a fun park for children with a lot of attractions, safe swimming water and white sandy beaches. Next to the large playground in Speelland Beekse Bergen you can enjoy playing on and around the swings, trampolines, mini-golf and balls mountain. You can enjoy activities such as go-karts, water bikes and bouncy castle or roller–skating and tennis, and you can also hire boats and bikes. There are water slides and the Aqua shuttle, which launches you from a great height. It is a fantastic experience trying a ride with the Wave rider, it is a carousel in the water and you can determine your own speed.

This part of the park will be closed during the winter.

The Campsite is a most unusual park connected with the fun park and the safari park. The park also offers delightful nature trails and a lakeside beach that’s ideal for swimming or sunbathing. At the end of the day, you can always relax and talk about the day’s adventures in the terrace bar, or over a quiet dinner in the park’s own restaurant. It is a unique holiday experience, you will be awakened by the roar of lions and have free access to the amusement and safari park.

MBK Center

February 16th, 2010

MBK Center (มาบุญครอง) also known as Mahboonkrong is an large shopping mall situated in the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok, located on Phayathai Road in the Patum Wan district nearby the more luxurious shopping malls Siam Center, Siam Discovery Center, CentralWorld, Gaysorn and of course Siam Paragon. You can easily access the MBK center by the BTS skytrain junction and terminal nearby.

The MBK Center is different from the other shopping malls in the Patum Wan district, most of them are luxurious, with high-end brands only while the shops at MBK offer copies of high-end brands for low-end prices. And because of this very reason, it can get quite crowded in MBK, with an average of 100 thousand shoppers a day 7 days per week.

The shopping mall MBK has an total of 8 floors, with about 2000 stores, restaurants and entertainment including a 4 floors Tokyu department store. As every other large mall in South East Asia, the MBK center also has an food court, supermarket, fast-food joints, an entertainment plaza and cinema to watch movies. Shops include just about anything imaginable from clothes, bags to accessories for computers till hair, electronics, barber shops, ice cream vendors to high end restaurants. There’s several floors dedicated to electronic devices as cellphones, PDA’s and computers.

One of the unique factors about this mall is that you can actually discount your products on the higher levels/floors. It seems that the prices get cheaper as you go up. This is because most of the vendors sell similar goods as on the street markets where the price is also negotiable, but most important because regular Thai people shop here mainly.

Opening Hours Mon- Sun 10 am – 9 pm

MBK Center
444 Phayathai Road
Patum Wan 10330
Bangkok, Thailand
+66 0 2620 9000


February 16th, 2010

The Efteling is the largest theme park in The Netherlands and has received over 100 million visitors. In 1992 Efteling received the IAAPA Applause Award for Best Amusement Park in the World. Efteling is located in the town of Kaatsheuvel, in the municipality of Loon op Zand. The Efteling opened in 1952 and it is one of the oldest theme parks in the world.

The Fairy Tale Forest, designed by the famous Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck, was home to some ten different fairy tales, all of them brought to life using ingenious movements and lighting and sound effects designed by the Dutch film maker Peter Reijnders. In over fifty years the park has evolved from a nature park with playground and a Fairy Tale Forest, into a full-size theme park. It is twice as large as the original. Nowadays, Efteling appeals to both young and old with its cultural, romantic and nostalgic themes and its variety of amusement rides.

There are many attractions in the Efteling, here’s a few described.

The House of the Five Senses is the impressive main entrance. The 52- meter high wooden construction has the largest reed roof (48437 square feet/ 4500 square meters) in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The five peaks of the roof symbolize the Five senses, which stand for experiencing the Efteling. Besides the entrance, customer service, a souvenir shop and a toilet group are located in the building.

The Pagode has been taking off from the Efteling since 1987. This flying temple of Thai design, slowly revolves while it is up in the air. The temple extends up to 45 meters above the ground and has a diameter of 16 meters. You can see it rise above the trees when you are on your way to the Efteling and when you are approaching the park. Even if you are afraid of heights, you shouldn’t miss this spectacular view . As you sit down on one of the long benches, the Pagode calmly and very gradually takes you up and the temple twists full circle. The Efteling looks incredible from up there!

Panda Droom was officially opened by Prince Bernhard in 2002. This attraction was created in close cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund. Panda Droom was a gift to the visitors to the park to mark the Efteling’s 50th anniversary. The 3D film Panda is an unforgettable experience, it shows you just how beautiful nature really is. You can feel the wind and the spray from the ocean, so real.

The Vogel Rok landed in the Efteling in 1998. This indoor roller-coaster rides in the dark and moves at a speed of 65 km/h. The ride takes 1.41 minutes from start to finish. In Carnival Festival figures from all over the world will take you on an exciting journey to explore their countries, their national dress and to find out how they make music. You’ll get a taste of China, France, England, Alaska, Mexico and so on. You pas 15 different countries and 270 different dolls at a speed of 1.8 km/h. The ride is 240 meters long and takes 8 minutes.

Besides the amusement park is also the theater, the four-star Efteling Hotel, build in 1992, with fairy tale rooms, the 18-hole golf course and the new holiday park with bungalows.

De Efteling
Europalaan 1 5171 KW

Siam Paragon

February 16th, 2010

Siam Paragon (สยามพารากอน) sometimes also spelled as Syam Paragon is one of the biggest luxurious shopping malls in Asia situated in the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok, located on Rama I Road in the Pathum Wan district, next door to Siam Center, Siam Discovery Center and opposite Siam Square nearby MBK Center. The elevated walkway beneath the BTS Skytrain SIAM Station links Siam Paragon to the Ratchaprasong intersection where the malls, CentralWorld, Gaysorn are located.

Despite the fact Siam Paragon can be crowded at times the mall remains fantastic high-end shopping mall located in the heart of Bangkok surrounded by many sightseeing attractions. The spacious stores and walkways make it comfortable walking around even during peak times. Siam Paragon offers anything imaginable for sale spread over 6 floors, besides regular department stores, shopping facilities, a grocery store and restaurants it also offers entertainment at many levels, such as the multiplex movie theater (average price per ticket 140 baht, about $4,25us) consisting of 15 large size theaters, which of the main theater has largest screen and biggest seating capacity in Asia. As well the Siam Ocean World (underwater world) located beneath the Siam Paragon shopping mall which holds the largest aquarium in South East Asia, the mall even has its own exhibition hall and a Thai Art Gallery, as well an opera concert hall. On the top floors, there’s several entertainment centers where you can play games and win toys, a large bowling alley and karaoke center named Blu-O Rhythm & Bow.

When going to Siam Paragon for grocery shopping, or a quite bite enter upon street level for the food court and the huge gourmet supermarket. There’s not many supermarkets in Bangkok that compete in size. For a more convenient way of entering the mall, walk the spacious elevated walkways of the BTS Skytrain, for easy access to the Siam Paragon elevators. Be prepared to walk through metal detectors prior to entering the mall with security checking bags.

A few of the exclusive products sold in the Siam Paragon mall are expensive jewelry, watches, clothing and even cars from high end international brands such as Gucci, Hugo Boss, Burberry and Ferrari just to name several. As earlier mentioned the mall has a total of 6 floors, here’s a complete breakdown (in the back of the building there’s the Siam Paragon Department Store, covering all floors).

Basement floor: Siam Ocean World
Ground floor: Food Court, Gourmet Supermarket.
M floor: Beauty Hall, The Luxary
First floor: Fashion Venue, The Lingerie Salon.
Second floor: Paragon Men, Sports Mall Global (as well public showrooms Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari cars).
Third floor: Read and Write, Paragon Kids.
Fourth floor: Paragon Mall Ultra, Paragon Living, A passage to Asian Arts and Crafts, IT City.
Fifth floor: Multiplex Movie Theater, Paragon CinePlex, KrungSri IMAX, Blu-O Rhythm & Bow, Edutainment Center.
Sixth floor: Siam Opera, Edutainment Center.

Spread out over the five actual floors (the Siam Opera isn’t part of the actual mall) with Siam Paragon, in-between and next to luxury shops you will find literally hundreds of restaurants, from fast-food joints, ice cream vendors to high-end restaurants with about any international cuisine you can think of.

Opening Hours Mon- Sun 10 am – 10 pm

Siam Paragon
991/1 Rama 1 Rd, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.
Tel: (+66) 0 2690 1000


February 16th, 2010

Bergeijk is the main village in the municipality Bergeijk. The other connected villages are Luyksgestel, Riethoven and Westerhoven. Bergeijk is located in the province Noord Brabant, the area is also known as the Kempen. The village of Bergeijk has 18 thousand citizens. It has an total area of 39 square miles of which over a quarter forest and nature. Originally it was an agricultural town, but today tourism and recreation has taken a significant place. Bergeijk characterized by the beautiful surroundings and sociability.

At the edge of Bergeijk is a campsite known as: Camping de Paal. Camping de Paal was crowned in 2009 as best European children camp and was named best Eurotopcamping of Europe for 2010. It has a subtropical indoor water playground and there is also a heated outdoor pool. There is a playground called the: Biebelebontse Paalbergen, a wide dune landscape of 323 thousand square foot sand dunes and water. Around the camp are playgrounds and areas for sports and games. There are also a petting zoo, a theater and much more.

There are also a number of interesting buildings and artworks in Bergeijk. One of the most famous is the factory building of Weverij de Ploeg, built in 1957 designed by Gerrit Rietveld. It is a building with lots of glass, what was important to assess the color of weaving Ploeg Fabrics, but whatever the employee gave a sense of working outside in a park. To the west you will see the beautiful backdrop effect of the diagonally placed walls with shed roofs. The factory closed in 2007, but the building is a national monument. The building is surrounded by the Ploegpark, that was designed by the garden architect Mien Ruys, there are very special trees. This park features a clock on a pillar and in the village there is a bus shelter, also designed by Gerrit Rietveld.

In Bergeijk is also a windmill, which since the 15th century stands on a burial mound. It is a mill with a 3 meter high wheel, which moves the grindstone. The mill is newly restored and runs almost every Saturday. In front of the mill you’ll see a statue, De Kempense Haan, made by Toon Slegers.

In the center you can see an old church, named Hofkerk or Sint-Petrus’Bandenkerk which is over an thousand years old. A gothic cruciform church with no tower, but with a small cross tower. The big tower collapsed in 1650 and was never rebuilt, instead was made a bell tower in 1669, called Luihuis. In the Luihuis hangs a bell from 1367, which was cast by Jacobus van Helmond About 35 years ago the church became a national monument, and it was restored. The bronze artwork in front of the church, image with the three musicians , named ‘t Hermenieke van Bergeijk, symbolizes the harmony between the parts Bergeijk village ‘t Hof / ‘t Loo and Weebosch.

Then there are the Old Town Hall, from 1923 and the Doctor House, with brick motifs, from 1893. The oldest house of Bergeijk, Het Teutenhuis, of 1722 that belonged to the Teuten, was once a farm. Previously it was also an inn, but now you find there the VVV office.

In Bergeijk is also a cultural center, named De Kattendans, a bronze artwork in front of it, also called Kattendans, is based on folktales, the cats were at night, to dance the burial mounds. There is still much more to see in Bergeijk, as Eicha the museum, the fish ponds, the flow fields, beautiful nature like De Maai, Cartierheide, De keersop etc. Of course Bergeijk also has restaurants, cafes, snack bars, hotels and shops to enjoy local Dutch cuisine.

Pantip Plaza

February 15th, 2010

Thailand’s capital Bangkok City is full of luxury shopping malls offering anything from clothes, entertainment to even cars for sale. But if you’re looking specifically for technology and computer items there’s only one place to go: the IT mall Pantip Plaza. Situated nearby the Platinum Mall BTS opposite the Amari Watergate Hotel on Petchaburi Road.

The 6 floors shopping center offers a wide selection of stores, selling about any electronic or computer related accessories including printers, digital cameras, MP3 players, cellphones and TVs. What Pantip Plaza is (in)famous for, is it’s piracy of DVDs, games and software being offered for 100-150 Thai Baht (about $3.00 to $4.50us) per CD, starting the moment you walk into the mall.

When looking for a specific item such as an wireless mouse, webcam or USB stick it’s advised to take a stroll and compare prices from the many vendors within the mall, allowing yourself to find the best deal. It’s also an handy stop when your having issues with electronic devices while on travel, as most of the shops offer instant repair service on no cure no pay basis. Spread within the mall, next to and in-between the many hardware shops are the restaurants of Pantip Plaza. Just as in every Bangkok mall there’s literally tens of restaurants from fast-food, food-court, ice cream vendors to complete restaurants offering À la carte menus.

Pantip Plaza is an great place for buying electronic devices, although as an traveler you need to be aware that products such as new laptops, phones and cameras will only be a fraction of the costs less than elsewhere in Asia, Europe or North America. Think ahead of time when buying electronic devices on your holiday as you will most likely inquire problems when required after sales assistance back home.

Store, vendor and restaurant owners in Pantip Plaza are free to operate own hours within the Pantip Plaza opening time, therefore most of the stores close down by 7:30 PM to 8:00 PM. Although you might not be a techno-freak, it’s defiantly worth visiting for it’s high fascinating value.

Opening Hours Mon- Sun 10 am – 9 pm

Pantip Plaza
604/3 Petchaburi Rd. Petchaburi Ratchathewee
Bangkok, Krung Thep Mahanakhon 10400, Thailand