‘We went to decorate the people’s house’ — Lincoln couple selected to help decorate White House | Local

Amber Conroy and her husband, Matt, have always had a pick-up-and-go lifestyle. 

Matt has served as an Air Force reservist since 2008, giving the couple an opportunity to travel around the country.

So, when the couple found out they had been selected, along with 225 other volunteers, to travel to Washington to help decorate the White House last week, the decision to go was a no-brainer. 

“It’s kind of our lifestyle to pick up and go,” Amber said.

The Conroys were the only Nebraskans selected. Amber first heard about the opportunity after somebody posted a link to it in a Facebook group. 

“Amber signed us up, with really no belief that the White House staff would choose us, so when she got the call, she immediately accepted the offer!” Matt said in an email. 

Amber and Matt Conroy

Amber and Matt Conroy of Lincoln were among volunteers from across the country selected to help decorate the White House for the holiday season.

The theme for this year’s decorations was “The Spirit of America.” That theme rang true, with the White House display featuring models of national landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Bell.

Additionally, the East Room featured decorations inspired by the U.S. flag, with mirrored stars and red-and-blue ribbons and a Christmas tree topped with a gilded eagle. 

Amber, the 2019 Whiteman Air Force Base Spouse of the Year award winner, said the theme was even represented in the volunteers. Her group, which was aptly named “Frosty,” included veterans and people who contributed to their community. 

Major disruption for King’s Cross station during Jan and Feb – ianVisits – London news and events

As part of the East Coast Mainline upgrade, King’s Cross station will close completely for two weekends in the early part of 2020, and be disrupted at weekends through most of Jan and Feb.

The two big closures take place over the weekends of 25th/26th January and 29th Feb/1st March.

No trains will be able to call at London King’s Cross, with passengers being advised not to travel to and from London on the East Coast Main Line to either King’s Cross, St Pancras or Moorgate, including the Hertford North line.

During this time, Network Rail says that it will work to construct an additional platform and install new track at Stevenage station. Work will also take place to upgrade the power supply and overhead line equipment in and around King’s Cross station and engineers will continue to relocate the signalling system to a centre in York. This work can only be carried out safely when no trains are running on this section of the railway.

There will also be five weekends of a reduced service on the East Coast Main Line, with passengers along the route asked to check before travelling and to allow additional time for their journey – or just simply try not to travel.

These weekends are:

  • 4th/5th January
  • 11th/12th January
  • 18th/19th January
  • 8th/9th February
  • 15th/16th February

Network Rail engineers will also be carrying out maintenance work which will affect passengers using services on the Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North lines to and from Moorgate. This will take place on on Saturday, 1 and Sunday, 2 February and Saturday, 22 and Sunday, 23 February, with those who use this route urged to check before they travel.

The upgrade will eventually provide an extra 10,000 seats a day for travellers.

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The Best Ski Bags For Flying

Skiers who travel long distances for their ski vacations understand that having the right ski bag is an essential part of their travel agenda. As opposed to renting skis at the mountain, which doesn’t always guarantee the proper feel and fit, most skiers have a special affinity for their own skis. As such, they prefer to check their skis along with their suitcase at the airport. The proper ski bag will ensure that their equipment arrives safe and sound and ready for the slopes. Ski bags are also popular for day trips to the mountain. Here are the top rated ski bags.

Fall Line Ski Roller Bag, Dakine

This sturdy, popular ski roller bag has all of the features skiers need to tote their favorite skis. Lightweight with room for two pairs of skis, a set of poles and a removable boot bag, it’s a great solution for every kind of ski trip, and it packs down tight for easy storage. Navigation through an airport is easy thanks to the tow handle with a rolling luggage bag, and the zippered external pocket keeps gloves, hats and travel papers easily accessible. $145

High Sierra Deluxe Wheeled Double Ski Bag

The main compartment holds two pairs of skis of up to 170 centimeters in length, making use of a padded center to protect the bindings and to keep your gear from being thrashed around en route. This ski wheel bag is made with a water resistant coating that helps keep your gear dry from unwelcome rain or heavy snow showers. There are adjustable compression straps on each end, and long webbing handles can be used as a shoulder strap. All in all a very versatile bag. $143

Salomon Extend 1 Pair Ski Bag

A new, more durable fabric coating that stands up to abuse. Auto adjusts and easily expands from 165 cm to 185 cm. A full zipper and auto adjust straps make it easier to access and carry skis. It’s designed with waterproof fabrics inside the sleeve and it offers stability and durability because the ski sleeve is reinforced at the bottom. $70

Unisex Racing Hero Ajustable Ski Bag

The Hero Ski Bag is a World Cup circuit, heavy-duty ski travel bag for two or three Alpine skis or four pairs of Nordic skis. Made with rugged Polyester and PVC coating, it features a convenient full-length zipper, adjustable shoulder straps which are great for shared use and compression straps. It easily fits skis up to 210 cm. It has one large compartment for skis and poles. $100

Transpack Hard Case Shuttle

Securely transports a single pair of skis, including wider skis, and poles. Constructed with a high density polyethylene, it features an adjustable length and securely accommodates skis from 114 cm to 208 cm. The front handle is ergonomically designed to comfortably hold the case while rolling. A variable length Notch Locking System allows for both a hitch pin and TSA lock at the same time. With rugged low-profiled wheels and molded handles, it offers easy lifting. A foam padding protects tips and tails. $140

Sportube Ski Shield

A wide variety of features along with high quality materials takes the hassle and worry out of traveling with your skis. A well-padded ski compartment protects your skis during flight, and durable and quiet inline skate wheels make for easy transport throughout airports. Other features include internal pockets for personal items along with external and internal load control straps. It comes in an array of striking colors. $240

Athalon Single Ski Bag

Constructed of high density polyester with waterproof backing, this bag holds one pair of skis up to 180 cm, and it contains adjustable cinch straps to keep them firmly and securely in place. It’s fully padded end to end for ultimate protection of your gear and has interlocking zippers. Athalon has been making quality ski accessories for many years and this ski bag is no exception. $70

Thule RoundTrip Double Ski Bag

This is a spacious, rolling ski bag that fits two pairs of alpine skis up to 192 cm in length plus poles. Skiers can store additional items such as goggles and ski hats in an internal zipped pocket. Unlike more cumbersome bags, you can easily transport your skis with smooth wheels and multiple grab handles on the ends, top and side of bag. Gear keeps from shifting with internal and external compression straps. $280

Travel Deal: Paris & Barcelona Escape w Flights From $499


Travelzoo reports that the following deal, for just $499 per person, includes all international airfare, daily breakfast and stays at well-reviewed hotels in both Paris and Barcelona.

This what they say:

We rarely see packages that bundle these two European cities together, and this one saves over $200 versus booking on competing sites.

This package stands out for a few reasons:

  • Both hotels are in the city centers, close to the action and easily walkable to major attractions
  • Extra nights in either city are easy to add, and start at +$50
  • With all your free time, experience why Paris continues to remain a bucket-list destination — take in its lively sidewalk cafes, famous art museums and scenic gardens.
  • In Barcelona, see famous Gaudi sites and spend an afternoon at the UNESCO World Heritage Sagrada Familia

Includes: Roundtrip flights from the U.S. to Paris, return from Barcelona; hotel accommodations (2 nights in Paris and 2 nights in Barcelona); flight between cities; daily breakfast.

Depart: Newark and NYC (JFK) select dates January-March (dates vary by city). October departures are $100 more. April-May, July and September departures are $200 more; June and August departures are $300 more.

Additional departures: Boston departures are $100 more; Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and San Francisco departures are $200 more; and Chicago, Miami and Orlando departures are $300 more.

Customize your trip: When calling to book, add additional nights or extend your trip by 2 nights in another European city with flights from $249 more.

Note: Restrictions may apply. Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a room. Local city tax is not included; you’ll pay at the hotel.

Book by Dec. 16. Click HERE for more info.

Cheap flights to New York guide including booking tips and best deals

New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town… until you see the sky high prices that can come with a visit to the US city.

The good news is that despite its reputation, it is possible to see the Big Apple when you’re on a budget.

In fact, there are cheap flight deals to be found – and if you pair that with a stay at one of New York’s best cheap hotels , that could leave you with some extra cash to explore the City That Never Sleeps. (You may want to check out our tips for sightseeing on a budget ).

To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a guide for finding cheap flights to New York including the best places for deals and the things you need to know before you travel.

Check out the guide below…

What to know before you book

  • You need to get a visa: Before you travel, you’ll need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) . Make sure to do this at least three days BEFORE you leave for New York.
  • There are two NYC airports for international flights: JFK International and Newark. Both are about a 45-minute drive from Manhattan, but are on opposite sides. When you book, make sure to double check which airports you’re flying to/from (especially for the return journey as you don’t want to be at the wrong departure point!).
  • Cheapest time to go: Mid-January to February. However the best time to go for warm weather is between April to June and September to November, either side of the summer heatwaves.
  • Book ahead: NYC is a big city so it’s worth planning parts of your itinerary ahead of time so you don’t miss out on the top attractions. Our New York City guide is packed with top tips on the best attractions, restaurants and more insider tips.

New York is one of the new destinations

Best places to find cheap flights

As the Big Apple is such a popular destination, the good news is that there are plenty of direct flights from the UK – and you can find some budget-friendly fares.

We take a look at the airlines with cheap direct flights to New York below…

British Airways: BA has direct return flights from £260pp to JFK International with London airport departures. It’s worth noting that the cheapest fares are often based on hand luggage only.

Read More

Exploring New York City

Virgin Atlantic: The airline has direct return flights from around £420pp to JFK International with both London and Manchester departures. It’s worth noting that the cheapest fares are often based on hand luggage only.

Norwegian:  Norwegian has direct flights from £139.90 each way to JFK International from London Gatwick.

If you’re not fussed about a stopover, then it’s worth checking out websites like Skyscanner where you can find return flights to New York from £228pp .

Thinking of a package deal instead? Lastminute.com and Expedia can be good sources for New York City breaks, while TravelSupermarket can be handy if you’re able to be flexible with your travel dates.

How to Protect Your Company Information When You Travel to China

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.

Former Walney resident publishes Spain travel guide

A FORMER Walney resident is publishing a book about one of Spain’s most commonly misunderstood regions.

Sarah Farrell, 55, who lived on Church Lane in Walney Island for over 8 years and worked as a sub editor at The North-West Evening Mail during that time, upped sticks in 2005 and moved to Dénia – a small port city between Alicante and Valencia, on Spain’s Mediterranean east coast – after holidaying in the area on several occasions.

Having lived and worked in Spain since then, Ms Farrell’s travel guide – entitled ‘Visit Alicante’s Myths and Legends’ – is largely drawn from years of personal and professional experience, as well as her own research.

“A lot of people think this area is just Benidorm. But it really has so much more! So the book is largely about encouraging people to venture a bit further inland when they come out this way and to visit these areas”.

In particular, her travel guide highlights the rich cultural heritage left behind by the Islamic Moors, who ruled and inhabited parts of the Iberian peninsula up to the Spanish ‘Reconquest’ that took place between the eighth and 15th centuries. The book also uncovers the stories behind some of the area’s stunning natural beauty spots.

“Even with Alicante, a lot of people just go through the airport – which is a real shame”.

Ms Farrell worked at The Mail when some of paper’s biggest stories in recent times broke, such as the discovery of Lady of the Lake murder victim’s body and the escape of a white rhino from Dalton Zoo in 1999.

As was the case with Furness, Ms Farrell was drawn to Alicante by the warmth of its locals.

The author also believes her new Mediterranean home shares something with her old one: “Walney is still a well-kept secret, with the castle and brilliant beaches.”

JetSet | ‘To travel is to live’: For the lucky ones, it actually becomes their livelihood |

Marielena Smith of San Francisco, California, was in medical device marketing for 12 years, working 70 hours a week.

Well-traveled, it was her dream to visit to her seventh continent in seven years–a trip to Antarctica–that inspired her to make the biggest change of her life in 2016.

“I was so inspired by the photographers and conservationists on-board, and people had said, ‘Oh, where can I see your work?’ And I said ‘Oh no, I work 70 hours a week, you will only see what’s on here.’ So after that trip, I got to thinking more about it, and I thought this isn’t even my target market and so many people said: ‘I’m really inspired. You’ve been to 65 countries, I’d like to learn more from you, you’ve inspired me to visit other places.’

“So two weeks later, I came back and resigned from my medical device marketing career to chase a dream with regards to travel photography and writing.”

But it wasn’t easy. For the first time in her life, Smith had no plan.

“It was funny, my CEO at the time had said, ‘Well, you’ve always had a five- or 10-year plan, what’s your five-year plan? And I said, for the first time in my life…I’m going to fly by the seat of my pants and see where this takes me, and it has been an absolutely amazing journey with the people that I’ve met, what I’ve learned, the way that I’ve grown. Every day is different, and you’re wearing 20 different hats as an entrepreneur and a travel blogger, but it’s the greatest career that I’ve had.”

But she used her public relations, writing, and marketing skill sets, and other people’s love of her photography inspired confidence in her.

Her adventure blog, Epic 7 Travel, was born the next year.

“Because the seventh continent played such a big role, and then the ‘Epic’ stands for empowering, propel, ignite, and connect with adventure-seekers all over the world.”

By then, she’d already visited 65 countries.

“So I’d had the opportunity to travel to London and Puerto Rico, but it was really studying abroad in Australia, when I was in college, and I met people on a gap year, which I’d never heard of, and that’s what really incited the travel bug.”

After graduation, she set off to see the world.

“And sampled Asia, Africa, and Europe, then it was ‘Where do I return?’ And then I had taken up scuba diving, so that continues to expand the pie.”

Her adventurous spirit has taken her to some other-worldly destinations.

“Papua New Guinea is one that, while we were there, my husband was questioning: ‘What are we doing?” Because there were carjackings at machete point that had taken place a week before we got there. But to me, I was like ‘What are the odds of that?’ I traveled many places that may be having security issues, and we didn’t have any issues while we were there. It was absolutely amazing, but it is like stepping back in time, the society was first discovered, if you will, in 1935, and the last documented case of cannibalism was in 1965…some of the articles that we had read or people had shared that during World War II, with cannibalism, they had developed a taste for Japanese meat, and my husband is Japanese, so that gave him a little bit of trepidation.”

“But people were absolutely wonderful, the festivals…the reason they started those festivals was to quell the warfare between the tribes, and so it’s wonderful in terms of how they bright people together and made that more to share that culture with the outside world with one another and kind of share and appreciate versus having that cause tribal issues.”

And she’s seen things under the water, you can’t even imagine.

“Two things–pygmy seahorses are my all-time favorite critters–they’re the size of a grain of rice; they’re teeny tiny so you need guides to point them out…and we were just in Raja Ampat in Indonesia in April, which is very off-the-grid. It took us about 50 hours to get back from there–it’s about four stops. But we had a sea fan that had 15 pygmy seahorses on it, so to see them jumping between the fan and moving around the fan it’s very special because some of these fans can be 100 years old, so they’re these beautiful, prolific fans under water. Then, whale sharks has been our other most special experience, so we just got to in Raja for the first time scuba drive with whale sharks–we snorkeled with them in four different places in the world, but this was our first time on scuba, which was really, really amazing, so we got kind of the silhouette shots that we wanted of them coming right at us, mouths open to see the gullet.

Divers pioneered the area, and when she went to Papua New Guinea for the first time in 2010, just 1,200 people a year were visiting, making the waters absolutely in great condition.

“It’s such pristine untouched rain forest, that there’s not the ability….at that point there were some oil companies coming in, so there were some roads being built, and some of the rain forest was being razed for that, but to be able to see that from above and see a truly untouched landscape is really special to see. But it does limit, in terms of travel, you’ve got to kind of fly place to place, it is very difficult to drive place to place, and of course, it’s an island nation so many of those places you’re going require a flight or boat.”

She’s had some close calls on her solo travels, too.

“My mom used to say you have nine lives, and I think I’ve used eight of them because I’ve had a number of close calls around the world. I’ve been extremely sick in a few countries…close to hospitalization. I now, as a result of that, I always travel with a SteriPEN…I haven’t used a plastic bottle anywhere in the world; I use my SteriPEN to sterilize water but it’s because one of the sickest incidents that I had was from supposed bottled water, so they had refilled a bottle, and I had severe food poisoning.

“I was in a near bus accident in Vietnam, and I messed up my knee in another one where we almost kind of flew off the side of a cliff so kind of teetering and looked at it, but I’ve always viewed it as part of the adventure.

“People have helped me out, complete strangers. I picked up a parasite in northern China–didn’t know that that’s what I had–and another traveler diagnosed me on a bus and gave me the medicine that I needed, so the kindness of strangers will amaze you, and I think that’s one of the continuing themes I’ve seen throughout the world that gives me a lot of hope in humanity.”

It’s all of these experiences combined that have fueled Smith’s strong desire to inspire others to travel.

“I’m very accident-prone, and I have no sense of direction, and so people are like ‘You can travel all over the world by yourself?’ And now I travel with my husband, but many of these countries were visited on my own, so it instilled confidence in others that they could do the same with those same challenges.”

“To me, it’s really, really rewarding, and one of things that I didn’t expect is the number of people who now reach out and say ‘I’ve decided to get certified in scuba diving because you’ve removed some of that fear and anxiety that I have surrounding it,’ and the photography, they said, is what put them over the edge of, ‘Wow I didn’t know a world like this existed under the water.'”

In 2020, Epic 7 Travel plans to offers intimate group tours to off-the-grid destinations in hopes of expanding opportunities for people who might be intimidated to go to certain destinations. Smith is scouting sites for the trip now.

“I will be doing groups of six. Bhutan is the first country I’ll be running in 2020…and I’m getting special access for festivals, monasteries, schools, with llamas, incredible view points, and so I’ve spent a lot of time really customizing that itinerary to make it special for those who join.”

That trip will cost about $7,000, but you’ve still got to get yourself to Bangkok. Fees for tourists, not including the cost of a visa, can be up to $290 a day in high season and $240 a day in low season, if you’re traveling alone, according to unusual traveler.

“Bhutan is an expensive destination. One of the things I find most exciting, it is the only carbon-negative country in the world, and they have a very strong sustainability focus, so my trip that I’m offering will be two-weeks, there will be a trekking add-on option, and for the trekking they weigh everything that’s going in, and then they have to weigh it coming back out, to ensure that every piece of trash that’s generated comes back off the trail so that there’s nothing left behind because the pollution in beautiful places like Iceland–people are just leaving places–Bhutan has done a great job. For every person that visits each day $65 goes towards education so every child is guaranteed education through high school as well as health care.”

Her tours will be cultural in nature, but she also runs photo and visual storytelling workshops

On tap for her 2020 travels aside from leading a trip to Bhutan, Eastern Greenland, photographing tigers in India, and Kwakas in western Australia.

“So they look like tiny little kangaroos, and they are always smiling, and everybody does selfies with them, but I learned about them on Instagram, and they are the cutest critters, so western Australia is high on the wish list as well.”

But for her, Antarctica will always hold a special place in her heart.

“I describe it, and particularly for me given what it led to, as awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, and life-changing, and it’s a pristine beauty like nothing you’ve ever seen, and I never thought that the grays and blues that you could see–I never realized that there’s that many different gradients that can exist within those spectrums, and it’s so silent, and so pristine, and being able to see the animals in such close proximity.

And the greatest wildlife spectacle I’ve ever seen is in a sub-Antarctic island called South Georgia, and you land on this beach…but 250,000 king penguins on one beach, and so the cacophony associated with that, the color, the sound, the smell is a little overwhelming, but it took a while, my brain was on overload trying to process what I’ve was looking at it. I posted these pictures on my blog and on Instagram, and people asked me, “Did you Photoshop and did you copy these penguins across?” I’m like no that’s what the scene looks like, and it holds a very special place in my heart because it’s what led me to pivot and say ‘I am so passionate about this, how can I share this with others?’ And make others realize it’s an achievable goal. We had saved for it for a number of years, but there’s ways you can do it on a discount if you’re down on your schway and it’s last-minute, and we’ve been fortunate to go back twice; we had said we’ll go back again in 10 years.”

Your travel guide to Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival

Dubbed ‘The Burning Man of the East,’ Wonderfruit Festival brings a welcome break to the out-of-season festival drought.

There’s nothing quite like it in South East Asia with its blend of hedonism, escapism and global music. Attendees jet in from all around the world; it’s a mix of the fashionable Bangkok set, dance music lovers from across Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore ex pats and the international festival tribe.

Wonderfruit is a sustainable pop-up city, set over the fields of the Siam Country Club near Pattaya. The festivals founder, Pete Phornprapha, started the festival with the aim of changing the world primarily by creating a ‘sustainable creative experience’ for the 20,000 festival goers and influencing them to take this ethos home with them. ​

Wonderfruit’s carbon footprint is neutral and its impressive stages are built from sustainable materials such as bamboo and hemp. Even using the simplest local materials the festival has created a spectacular backdrop for the four-day party.  

What to see

You cannot miss Polygon the spectacular 3D sound stage and with sound and visuals like you’ve never experienced before. The daily lineup begins with a beautiful and immersive sound bath followed by a range of live performances and underground DJ sets. Techno legend Be Svendsen will play at Polygon and will take you on a deep and experimental journey. Also keep an eye out for sets from Berlin’s Martha Van Straaten and London based DJ Hugo Heathcote and one of the founders of Polygon. You’ll find yourself continuously drawn back to this stage over the weekend and each time you return your experience will be completely unique.

The Quarry is a beautiful stage ‘where beats meet nature’ curated by tech house giant and founder of Houghton festival Craig Richards. Make sure you catch Craig’s own set as well as catching Sonja Moonear whose sets are often the highlight of any festival. Expect sophisticated minimal techno blended with deep, dubby house.

Packed up and sent over straight from the Black Rock Desert after its use at Burning Man, The Solar Stage is built using interlocking wooden panels which all balance perfectly with no need for screws or bolts. Still able to take the weight of hundreds of people dancing and relaxing on it, it’s the perfect spot for sunset and sunrise and has become the spiritual home of the festival. Don’t miss Four Tet’s set at the Solar Stage – it will be magical.

When you’re not listening to music or dancing there are endless activities. Open your mind and listen to perspective shifting talks at the Eco Pavilion or indulge in an alternative therapy session in the Wonder Ness, try Yam Khang also known as Thai Fire Therapy – not as terrifying as it sounds! You can also try an energy collecting session, a water ceremony, crystal gong bath, mystic meditation and so much more. 

Where to eat

Each evening you can attend a special communal dinner in the stunning restaurant Theatre of Feasts. On the first night Michelin Starred Bangkok restaurant 80/20 will serve a sustainable seafood supper.

The following evening Internationally renowned Bo.Lan restaurant in Bangkok will present a sumptuous Thai-Sri Lankan Wonder Feast and on Sunday you can join a plant-based brunch with Haoma using all low impact home grown and seasonal ingredients. Each banquet comes with free-flowing wine to get you loosened for the remainder of the day. If it’s more off the cuff eating you’re after, you’ll find every form of street food stall from burgers, Sri Lankan curries, the best pad Thai you’ll ever try and other local treats. 

Kamp Kerala

Where to stay

There is general camping or you can park an RV. With soaring temperatures, you’re likely to bake if you’re going to sleep in during the day so boutique is a comfortable option so you don’t have to wake up early. The standard boutique set up is a bell tent similar to those found at UK festivals but with much welcomed set of fans or an air conditioning unit (depending on what you book) with two double beds, luxury showers and loos. You’ll stay cool and happy in the tropical surroundings with the bell tents dotted in between palm trees. The setting is stunning.

Camp Kerala, Glastonbury’s most luxurious campsite, is also an option although it will set you back £10K for two people. This includes a 24-hour bar and room service and you’ll be staying in a beautiful tent made from materials which have been handmade in India. The famous campsite is family run and these Brits will look after your every whim, including ferrying you around the grounds and making you ice cold cocktails to quench your thirst.  

What to pack

It is boiling during the day and with so much going on at night (plus the jetlag) you may well become more of a night owl. Pack light clothes and comfy shoes for exploring the festival grounds. It’s a pretty relaxed and eclectic crowd, some people dress like it’s Burning Man, some like it’s Coachella and others in t-shirt and shorts. There’s no festival uniform as such. 

A kimono is ideal for the evening. Save some room in your bag for the little shopping village, and head to the kimono store where you’ll find some amazing handmaid pieces straight from Japan.

Insider tips 

Keep an eye out for Pearl & Celeste, a giant puppet ballet. You’ll find them dancing around the Solar Stage at sun set. 

Have a ride on one of the stunning horse bicycles designed by Attaphol Sudawannasuk, which are made from recycled and culturally significant materials dedicated to the Great Thai King of Thonburi.

Find The Cheese Shack if you fancy a bit of karaoke, it’s inside a tree and based on Tokyo’s underground karaoke bars.  

Wonderfruit Festival runs from December 12-16, 2019 at the Siam Country Club; 50 Moo 9, Pong, Bang Lamung, Chonburi 20150, Thailand. 


Ice-rain-snow to snarl travel across NJ Sunday-Monday-Tuesday

Welcome to December. And climatological winter. And New Jersey’s first winter storm of the season.

No matter what falls from the sky — sleet, rain, and/or snow — Sunday is going to be pretty messy.

And then Monday looks even worse for part of the state, with residual snow/ice impacts potentially lasting into Tuesday morning.

This weather blog entry is a quick update to the forecasts I’ve issued previously. For the most part, I’ve only made some nudges, tweaks, and number massages. For a full region-by-region breakdown of the timeline and impacts of this complicated storm, I recommend you skim through Saturday afternoon’s article first.

And just a reminder that our news, digital, traffic, and weather teams are fully mobilized until the messy weather is done.

Forecast Update

Snow and ice forecast for Sunday and Monday, as of early Sunday morning.

—Please keep in mind these two maps are cumulative. I decided to split the potential snow and ice accumulations into Sunday and Monday to make the forecast clearer, and give you a better idea of impacts and timing.

—I tweaked Sunday’s top contour slightly to cover more of Hunterdon County and less of Bergen County, based on current model and temperature trends. In this area, we’re still concerned about wintry mix (sleet and freezing rain) early Sunday, transitioning to a period of snow later on.

—A friendly reminder about precipitation types. Sleet is ice pellets. Freezing rain is regular rain as it falls, until it hits a cold surface and freezes on contact. Snow is flakes. We’ll likely to see all three in the state on Sunday.

—The big change to Monday’s map is the removal of a 1-2″ contour, now blanketing the area southeast of the Route 1 corridor with a 0-2″ snow forecast. That’s an uncomfortably wide range. But it’s deliberate — I believe this area is going to be “boom or bust”. Monday daytime looks pretty quiet for the southern half of the state. But Monday night, I believe there will be a chance for some quick, light snow accumulations. It’s not guaranteed, but probable.

—I have added the mention of Tuesday into the discussion, as snow may not fully taper off until early that morning. Especially in colder, snowier, icier North Jersey, there may be residual effects through Tuesday morning’s rush hour. School delays are possible.

—The overall bottom line has not changed. This is a North Jersey snow event. But no matter where you live, travel won’t be fun at all from Sunday morning through early Tuesday morning. That fact is especially important given the volume of post-holiday travelers.

Latest Timeline

—Sunday Morning… As of this writing (7 a.m.), our first bands of precipitation have arrived in New Jersey. For northern and western NJ, we start with an icy mix of sleet and freezing rain. Up to a quarter-inch of ice accumulation is possible, leading to very slippery conditions and potential power outages. Closer to the coast, it will be a cold and uncomfortable rain. By about 10-11 a.m., everyone in the state should see something falling from the sky.

—Sunday Afternoon… By about 1 p.m., most of the “ice zone” will transition to just plain rain. That rain will be heavy at times, keeping visibility and traction low. Areas generally along and north of Interstate 78 could remain cold enough to see a period of snow throughout the afternoon, with light accumulations possible. (Possibly up to 3 inches through the evening hours.)

—Sunday Night… On the backside of the main storm system, we encounter drier air and a relative lull in the precipitation. Scattered showers are still possible overnight. And with above-freezing temperatures, those would be rain showers.

—Monday Morning… Inland low transfers energy to powerful coastal low. As colder air drops down from the north, precipitation will once again surge into North Jersey starting around 8 a.m. This will be mainly snow to the north, with relatively quiet weather continuing for the southern half of the state.

—Monday Afternoon… More snow/rain bands. In the “snow zone” of North Jersey, road conditions will be pretty slushy and sloppy by this point.

—Monday Night… Falling temperatures overnight could allow all of New Jersey to taste some snow at the tail-end of this event. Yes, even south and coast. Light accumulations are possible.

—Tuesday Morning… Snowfall ends early morning, by around 4 a.m. So there won’t be precipitation falling during the AM rush hour. But there could be residual snow/ice impacts.


Winter Storm Warning=Pink. Winter Weather Advisory=Purple.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 1 a.m. Tuesday for Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties. A Winter Storm Warning also covers western Bergan and Passaic counties until 7 a.m. Tuesday. A warning means significant winter weather (generally 6+ inches of snow) will make travel conditions downright dangerous. This is the most likely area for school closings on Monday (and possibly Tuesday too).

A Winter Weather Advisory has been posted until 1 a.m. Tuesday for Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties. A Winter Weather Advisory has also been issued for eastern Bergen, Essex, and Union counties until 7 a.m. Tuesday. An advisory is less severe and urgent than a warning, but advises of slippery travel conditions (generally 3+ inches of snow and/or light icing). In this area, there will probably be a mix of school closures and early dismissals for Monday. Delayed openings are possible for Tuesday too.

There are no advisories for southern or coastal New Jersey at this time, as the forecast does not reach the technical requirements for an advisory, watch, or warning. That is subject to change as the storm continues to develop.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.