Really Get Away From It All: The World’s Most Remote Hotels

Sometimes we all need to get away from it all; sometimes the further away the better. When you're usual holiday destination will not suffice (out of boredom or a need to put as much distance between yourself and your everyday life as possible), there are a host of hotels around the world that will meet your needs. Some of them offer extreme luxury amid exotic surroundings, while others offer entirely new experiences in locations you would never have dreamed of visiting. Read about the top five most remote hotels in the world and start planning your next holiday.

Bloomfield Lodge, Cairns, Australia

Bloomfield Lodge is located in Queensland's far north and trips guests to not one but two World Heritage Sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. The lodge is recognized as one of the most exclusive luxury resorts in Australia. Only 34 guests are permitted at a time, so you can sure that your every need will be promptly met.

According to Forbes's list of remote hotels, to reach the lodge one must first charter a plane, then one has to drive through the Outback for a few hours and finally cruise some way down the Bloomfield River. When you ever arrive, however, you will find that all your troubles were worth it.

For starters, the lodge is nestled on the very edge of the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef is just across the bay. There are guided tours of the forest or you can follow some self-guided trails if you prefer. You can also go on guided bird watching tours, enjoy some relaxing fishing or more adrenalin infused tropical fishing out at sea, and laze in the seclusion of Kangaii Beach. Activities based around the lodge include an outdoor Jacuzzi, freshwater pool, spa and well stocked library with paperbacks and a selection of books and journals devoted to the ecology of the rainforest and region's local history. There is also a two-hour guided river cruise that will take you to the local Aboriginal community at Wujal Wujal, while giving you an opportunity to look out for birds and crocodiles.

Kokopelli's Cave, Farmington, New Mexico

If you want remote but do not want to travel to the ends of the earth, Kokopelli's Cave might suit you. The cave, which is not a natural formation and is privately owned, is rather difficult to reach; even the owners recommend that you only try it if you¡¯re physically fit. But if it's seclusion you're after sleeping 70 feet below the earth is ideal.

The cave is located near the Mesa Verde National Monument in New Mexico and if you climb to the top of the cliff you'll be able to see all four states of the Four Corners area. It is only accessible by dirt roads and they are rough. They can be traversed by ordinary cars (up to a point), but 4x4s are recommended. If you're in a conventional car you will have to park it at the upper parking lot and walk the rest of the way, 4x4s will get you quite a bit further. If you're footing it, you'll have to follow a marked trail that leads steadily downward. The way out is even more difficult because it's all uphill.

You'd be well advised to note that no meals are served at the cave, although you can arrange for special occasions to be catered. There is a fridge and some cabinets that provide breakfast things and some fruit, but you'll have to bring everything else. There are all the creature comforts you could want, including a Jacuzzi and waterfall shower, but there are only two local TV channels, so be prepared to entertain yourself.

The Andean Cottage, Peru

Staying at the Andean Cottage has been likened to a spiritual experience. Aside from a butler, who is on call 24 hours and who appears at night to light the two wood-burning chimneys, guests are truly alone. The Andean Cottage is the only one in the area and guests have the lakeside beach all to themselves. You'd better be prepared to embrace rustic living, as there are no cars and no electricity (which means no TV).

What you get is a spacious two-bedroom home with a lake all to yourself. The master bedroom boasts a super king bed size and a large bath which provides open views of the lake.

You get there via speedboat; the trip takes 4.5 hours and the boat leaves daily from the private pier at Casa Andina, Puno. On the way you stop at the Uros Floating Islands as well as the traditional Alsuno community of weavers on Taquile Island, before arriving at Suasi. Alternately, guests with their own vehicles (4x4s strongly recommended) can drive to the dock in Cambria and go the rest of the way in the lodge's Zodiac dinghy.

In terms of things to see and do, you can go on a number of nature walks, canoe on Lake Titicaca, visit the cultural hut, which serves as a museum and library, trek up Itapilluni Hill to admire the sunset and enjoy stargazing such as you will never experience in the city.

Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia

For an authentic Mongolian experience you can do no better than Three Camel Lodge, which offers a taste of a rugged nomadic lifestyle but with luxury Gers (traditional nomadic tents) and five-star dining to fall back on. The Deluxe Gers come with private bathrooms, king size beds and felt slippers and Mongolian bathrobes, as well as locally produced toilets. The more traditional Gers are furnished with wood-burning stoves, felt carpets, hand-painted wooden beds and ceilings that provide an unobstructed view of the stars.

The lodge is located in the heart of the Gobi desert and was built according to environmentally and culturally sustainable methods; electricity is provided by solar and wind power. The lodge offers guests a number of opportunities to explore the vast Gobi desert, including Bactrian camel tours, four-wheel drive excursions, hikes (which provide an intimate glimpse into the ecology of the region including its plant, animal and bird life) and overnight field explorations. It's also possible to remember dinosaur fossils, as a paleontologist from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences takes guests out to dig sites and supervises the expedition.

Getting there is an experience in itself. First you will need to take a two-hour flight from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar (alternatively there is a three-hour flight from Seoul), then you will need to board a prop-plane for a further one-hour flight to Dalanzadgad, followed by an hour-and-a-half drive on a rough dirt road. The chance to meet local nomadic tribes, dine on local produce at the Bulagtai Restaurant and bask in the stars more than makes up for the inconvenience.

Hotel Arctic, Greenland

For possibly the most extreme experience of your life, you can not beat the Hotel Arctic, which is the northernmost 4-star hotel in the world. The hotel is located on the edge of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord, which is a World Heritage Site. It's not all that difficult to reach; almost all major European cities have flights to the airport at Kangerlussuaq, which is in turn a short 45 minute hop to Ilulissat, but it is actually at the end of the world.

The Ice Fjord is the region's primary attraction. It covers 3000 square kilometers and contains one of the largest and most active glaciers in the world. The glacier moves approximately 20m per day, and is described as a park full of sculptures that are constantly changing.

There is also the opportunity to stay in an igloo on the edge of the fjord. The igloos are not made of ice, mores the pity, but that means you are assured of all the modern conveniences.

Work and Study

The relationship between work and study should not be underestimated.

It is important that youngsters in general, and teenagers in particular, get real life experience of what it takes to succeed in the ‘real world’, what it takes to make money, and how hard dad or mum have to work to earn those extra few cents.

Recently a dad talked about the problems of getting his son to study; the family is wealthy and the son saw little need to make any effort to revise, do well in his forthcoming exams, and move onto a university and undergraduate subject with prospects of a rewarding career.

He saw his parents, particularly mum, as a ‘soft touch’.

The harder the concerned parents tried, the more obstinate the son became; the inverse law of proportionality seemed to be at work, or perhaps the law of diminishing returns. Necessity was definitely not the mother of invention!

‘Man he is a Lazy B…!’ complained the father.

At school, the youngster seemed to have learnt a lot about his ‘rights’ – but little about responsibility.

He didn’t realise that ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ are the same bedfellows – they both start with the letter ‘r’!

The current situation was inevitable…

Things changed, however, after our recommendation that the son spend time working in the kitchens of one his father’s famous restaurants over the summer holidays (well, what else did he expect given his parents’ gentler efforts?).

Washing plates to earn his pocket-money was no fun; it didn’t take long before the grades started to improve.

Study was clearly a better option than washing plates in the kitchen.

Take Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world.

Warren has a wise head on his shoulders and drives the same old car and lives in the same old house as he did at the start of his career; his common sense has to be respected since his actions reflect his words.

He can afford to live in mansions, drive better cars but through his example has made clear that he intends to give most of his wealth to charity.

Warren believes that his children must learn to earn a living, make their own way in the real world.

The last thing he wants is to ‘handicap’ his progeny by handing over his billions.

Some of the smartest students at The University of Oxford in The Business Management School often spent their summer holidays waiting at tables before they got First Class Honours.

They are now CEOs of major companies, earning a very healthy living.

Consider another example from the world of tennis, the William sisters where Venus and Serena dominated the women’s game for many years.

Their early history is one of being introduced to the ‘Bronx’ by their dad where gang bullets were not uncommon whilst they trained.

The William sisters soon realized that working for success in tennis was a better option than living in ghettos.

Where cajoling fails, direct experience often succeeds.

If you want your children to study more effectively, let them work for it!

Sand From the Beach – How to Clean & Keep the Sand Out of Your Home & Car From the Beach!

Sand belongs on the beach and not in your car or home. Everyone loves the beach, but unfortunately the sand loves to follow you when you leave. Though it is virtually impossible to keep every grain of sand on the beach and not in your car or home, a few basic steps can tremendously lower the amount.

1. Always wear sandals on the beach and not shoes that can trap sand.

2. Always carry toys, magazines, snacks, towels and other beach accessories in a mesh bag to allow the sand to fall out verse getting trapped in the bag to eventually end up in your car or home.

3. Place a tote in your trunk to place all beach bags, towels and chairs. The tote can be taken out of your car when you get home to wash off everything inside it.

4. Keep a small hose with attachment to wash feet off before entering your home.

5. Keep a bowl with water by the door and a towel on a hook. Clean your feet off before entering the house when coming home from the beach by sticking your feet in the bowl. Remember to put fresh water daily in the bowl to prevent bugs from attracting like mosquitoes.

6. Consider buying the Hoover Nomad Cordless Pressure Washer. Great to keep in your trunk to hose off feet, toys or chairs before getting into the car. This small unit holds 3.5 Gallons of water and is great at the beach, sporting events and anything imaginable outdoors. Long hose, 90 PSI and long battery life.

7. Keep your doormats by your home clean and new. Doormats do a tremendous job in attracting dirt when newer. Shake out regularly and spray down with a hose periodically. Keep your indoor mats clean daily and wash them weekly.

8. Consider an outdoor changing area to allow sandy bathing suits to stay outside and not inside a bedroom or bathroom. Rinse off the suit before bringing in a home.

9. Have a good stick vacuum near your entry areas to the home to capture the sand quickly. The three best stick vacuums are the Hoover Platinum Stick Vacuum, Oreck Rechargeable PR8000 and Karcher Sweeper.

10. The best vacuums indoor for capturing sand once inside the home are the Oreck XL 2000, Hoover C1404 and Koblenz Upright Vacuum.

The beach can be a very relaxing experience. Following these steps can make leaving the beach less stressful by bringing less of the beach sand home with you.

Learning To Speak Mandarin – The Road Ahead

When we talk about studying Chinese what we mean by that, in 2010, is really studying Mandarin, also known as standard Mandarin. Compared to Cantonese, which is the second most spoken out of around 50 languages ​​in contemporary China, Mandarin is far larger. Cantonese is pretty much confined to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Mandarin on the other hand is also spoken in both these areas, and the entirety of the rest of the country. This did not come about as an accident. 100 years ago there were more languages ​​and Standard Mandarin was not known as standard. The Mandarin of today is an amalgamation of different dialects but is mostly made up of the old Beijing one. The reason that it is so common today is that it has been artificially promoted by the central government for obvious reasons: one modern nation needs one common mode of communication.

When we talk about Mandarin language studies people often say that they are rather tricky. They are not a walk in the park, but it is my sincere belief that people make it out to be a much more difficult task than it is in reality. The thing we need to remember is that Mandarin is very different from languages ​​that have been derived from Latin or the Germanic branch of European languages. But once those differences have been deal with, learning the rest of the language is much less tricky than it would seem when you are just setting out on that particular journey. These initial bumps in the road can be categorized into two distinct groups; the difficulties of writing Chinese Mandarin and the difficulties of speaking Chinese Mandarin. I write difficulties but in reality it is less about difficulty and more about differences.

The first of these two categories, written Chinese, is mostly hard because there is no alphabet. Instead you need to memorize a great deal of pictures, aka characters. The key to success in this matter lies in not thinking of them as pictures when you try to commit them to memory but rather thinking of them in terms of their underlying structure. The two golden nuggets of information that you need to become familiar with is the building blocks that make up the vast majority of characters, called radical, and the way that these radicals are written, the stroke order. Once you have these two concepts firmly logged in your head you will begin to see the characters as a process of writing and not as a finished product. The picture is complicated but the way that it is formed is as easy as pie. It is a bit like riding a bike really – once you get up and going you will cover a lot of ground very quickly and you will never loose that initial effort you put in while learning the first couple of hundred or so the right way.

The second of the categories, spoken Chinese Mandarin, is mostly different in terms of pronunciation. The grammar really is not that hard. Chinese Mandarin pronunciation, however, is. It is hard because as we know Mandarin lacks an alphabet. Instead of being made up of letters that make a sound when put together we have pictures which give little or no indication regarding how the words sound when spoken. To muddle things up even more the Mandarin language is not only dependent on syllables, it also involves modulation of the pitch. This is what is more commonly known as tones, and it makes Mandarin a tonal language.

However, both the difficulties with getting to grips with Characters and their radicals and stroke order, and the trick to wrapping your tongue around tonal modulation while speaking, can easily be dealt with in a small class size. Learning Mandarin without the individual attention of a teacher is very hard, but once you have someone to correct your pronunciation and show you what you are doing wrong when writing, you are on the home stretch, speeding ahead to proficiency in the language that holds the key to the greatest paradigm shift of our century – the rise of China as economic and political super power.