Win a 5-night package at Chaa Creek luxury eco-resort in Belize

Chaa Creek, an eco-resort in the jungle of Belize, is giving away a 5-night stay for two to the winner of their Nature Quest Sweepstakes. To enter, you’ll need to write a 300-word essay on why you want to visit the lodge, and answer a series of questions about the property (the answers to which can all be found on the website). If you score 85% or above, you’ll be eligible to win the 5-night Inland Expedition package.

There are four additional prizes as well, which include a 5-night Inland Expedition package for one, or 50%, 40% and 30% discounts on 5-night Inland Expedition packages for two. The packages include round-trip transfers to the lodge from Belize City, a trip to the Belize zoo, all meals, and several tours and activities including bird-watching, canoeing, a trip to a butterfly farm and more.

The resort is set on a 365-acre nature reserve, has been operating since 1981, and has won numerous awards for its quality service and commitment to the environment. The 5-night Inland Expedition packages normally cost $1625 per person. Entries for the contest are due by October 30.

Gadlinks for Monday 6.15.09

Happy Monday! Glorious summer is in full swing across the nation. This means a lot of things — namely, summer blockbusters! I haven’t been much of a moviegoer recently, but with Tranformers 2 and the new Harry Potter coming out, you bet I’ll be found munching on some hurricane popcorn at Ward Theaters and enjoying a flick + air conditioning.

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening.

For past Gadlinks, click HERE.

Clean living in Stockholm

Scandinavians are recognized as being on the cutting edge of environmentally-friendly innovation. Nowhere is this clearer than at Hammarby Sjöstad, a community of apartments in Stockholm designed to reduce carbon footprint and generally enable clean living. Large windows make the most of sunlight, especially in the summer, and carefully planned logistics – down to trash pickup schedules – lead to lower emissions and a reduced environmental impact.

Once fully developed, the collection of 11,000 homes, which can be purchased or rented, take advantage of new technological developments to enable conservation without thinking. The consumption of water, for example, is lowered by showers that mix air with water to create the feeling of deluge without the environmental implications. Even raw sewage is converted to energy.

The flaw in most green initiatives – behavior modification – is present at Hammarby Sjöstad. Technology goes only so far, and people have to provide the final push. But, the residents surveyed said that living in there has inspired many to change their lifestyles.

The development is still new and remains a work in progress. The project is expected to be completed in 2015. But, early signs are positive. The home of the future will not resemble some Disneyland fantasy, it seems. Rather, it will reflect Scandinavian sensibility and an effort to keep the planet alive a little longer.

Why take the Buddha Bus?

I don’t understand why the OzBus is popular. Why would you want to spend 13-weeks on a bus, traveling with a rigid itinerary and a bunch of people you don’t know?

People say: it’s the most environmentally friendly way to travel, it’s the hippy way to travel (?), it’s a different experience. To me, just the thought is excruciating and exhausting. That’s just me though, no strings independent travel is more my thing and I can travel in an environmentally friendly way without being handcuffed to a bus.

Anyway, I bring this up as I read news of the launch of the Buddha Bus: a bus that will take you from London to China in 16-days. The first “Zen bus” will depart from London on September 6.

“To broaden the mind, to stimulate the senses; the perfect antidote to the stresses of the modern world,” is it’s philosophy. It plans to average about 800km a day (with the occasional rest days inserted here and there) — that’s at least 8-hours of daily bus journey. To me that translates to: a sore bum from bumpy roads, waste of time because of numerous bathroom breaks, 60-odd chattering strangers, traffic jams coming into and leaving the city, occasional overnight travel, departures at dawn — urrmm — how exactly is it an antidote to stress?

The longest time I have spent being on a road at a stretch is 4-days/3-nights on a train in India. It was air-conditioned, I was only with my family, the train had sleeper-bunks; it was a typically smooth ride, I can’t complain but I wanted to strangle my parents at the end of it, and other than green fields and a few dirty bathrooms at the train stations, I saw nothing.

I have not been on the OzBus, or any such journey — so it’s really not my place to rant. I’d love to think that the “environmental-friendly experience” is the whole and sole reason why people choose to take such long and organized road trips, but I have my doubts about that.

Have any of you been on a similar journey? Was it worth it?

Unicycle Tour of Vietnam

When I was a kid, I thought it would be swell to learn to ride a unicycle. There’s something magical about a unicycle –something circus-like. Here’s a tour of Vietnam that might give the people who live there the impression that the circus has come to town, and it’s a happening you can join.

If you do know how to ride a unicycle, or think you maybe could master it before March of 2008, you can hook up with Grasshopper Adventures’ unicycle tour of Vietnam. Starting in Hanoi, a group of 24 unicyclists will travel through Hue, Hoi An (my absolutely most favorite town), Quy Nhong, Nha Trang and end up in Ho Chi Minh City. So far, 20 unicyclists from various parts of the world have signed up. As of August 27, there were four slots left. If you want to see who you will travel with, check out the riders page. The youngest person is 18, and the oldest is 51.

Since the tour is mostly along the coast, this will make for a gorgeous ride. I’ve been to Vietnam 5 times and have traveled on the same road in a car. That was an adventure of another kind. Not once did I see a unicycle.