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The Peles castle in Sinaia, Romania
Naxis are one of the few tribes who continue to worship their deity and followed their customs, despite the disapproval of Chinese authorities. A day trip away is the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a must-visit for trekkers for its beautiful, unspoilt views. Hike through a mountain path that runs through farming villages for an escape from civilisation. Getting There: Take an Air China flight to Beijing from Delhi/Mumbai; from the Chinese capital, there are three flights a day to Kunming. Alternatively, take a train from Beijing for a fraction of the price, though it will take you two days.
ALONG THE BLACK SEA
Romania | Ukraine | Turkey Looking for a different vacation? How about exploring miles of white beaches, ancient monuments, modern-day resorts and walking through history lessons? We’re talking about the less-travelled western coast of the Black Sea. Start from Romania — no, not the birth place of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Romania we recommend is that of Eugène Ionesco, the father of the Theatre of Absurd. Visit the Romanian National Opera, in the capital Bucharest, for an insight into the best Romanian literature, or visit the painted monasteries in Bukovina, located in the Carapathian Mountains. The most famous Voronet Monastery was built to honour Saint George, when the 16th century Prince of Moldavia defeated the Ottoman
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Hike through mountain paths and farming villages in Yunnan’s beautiful Tiger Leaping Gorge
Turks. It is especially known for its intense coloured frescos. To get a taste of royalty, visit the 160room Peles Castle located in Sinaia (40 km from the city of Brasov). Built with wood, bricks and marble, this 19th century castle has seven terraces, and a luxurious interior decorated with paintings, statues, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, and a vast collection of weapons. But if you’re in the mood for some action (and even if you’re not, it’s almost sinful to skip it), take a drive on the
“World’s Best Road” – the Transfagarasan Road, personally vouched for by Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson. A global attraction for driving enthusiasts, it has the most dramatic turns and breathtaking views. The only buzz kill – the speed limit is 40 km per hour. The Black Sea is very deep (1,271m at the centre) and less salty than other oceans – making it a better beach destination. From Romania, you can trace the coastline of the Black Sea on to Odessa in Ukraine. Its mild climate, warm waters and sunlit beaches make it a perfect getaway. We also recommend buying traditional artwork in Kyiv at Andriyivsky Uzviz, but keep in mind that some items of historical importance are barred from being taken out of the country and can be confiscated. Use the cheap local transport, a mini-bus called Marshrutka, and visit some of the popular beaches nearby — the Dolphin beach with a “dolphinarium” or the nudist Chkalovsky beach. Caught between Europe and Asia, the Black Sea Coast of Turkey is a must-see – full of alpine forests, tea plantations and the world’s oldest cherry orchards. The cities of Sinop, Amasra, and Trabzon are never crowded, because of the grey skies and chilling waters, but are worth a visit. Getting There: Fly Jet Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines or Tarom Romanian Airlines to the capital Bucharest. Trains connect the rest of the country very well, and four-wheel drive cars are easily available to rent. ■