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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Top hot and budget-friendly 2009 destinations

Covering nearly one-square mile, the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the most haunting reilgious edifices in the world and it is one of this year's hot travel destinations.
Photograph by: Mark Stachiew/Canwest News Service, Canwest News Service

SYDNEY - Looking for somewhere new to visit this year that is not going to break the bank?

Frommers has released its list of top destinations for 2009, focusing on places that are affordable and interesting:

1. Washington, D.C., USA

There’s the influx of new blood and governing energy from Jan. 21 when Barack Obama is inaugurated as U.S. president, but the city is also one of the world’s great budget cities as almost every major attraction Washington has to offer --from the Smithsonian Museums to the National Monuments -- is free. New for 2009? the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

2. Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Located in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, Waiheke Island is located about 17.7 km (about 35 minutes by ferry) from Auckland. At the forefront of New Zealand’s massive wine and olive industry, Waiheke Island still retains a lot of the summer holiday, beach-quality Europeans and creative types come to expect, but there are plenty of deals to be found.

3. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA

Located 180 miles north of Sacramento, California, Lassen National Park is filled with hot springs, heat vents, sulfur ponds and dormant volcanoes. Open year-round, there’s only one place to stay within the park that’s not a campsite, of which there are 8, and everything from B&Bs to chain motels surround the park, all reasonably priced.

4. Istanbul, Turkey

Representing Istanbul’s up-and-coming and thriving arts scene, the European City of Culture 2010 has already started its build-up with street theatre, art and music galore. You can throw off that old image of a kebab-laden diet, with sushi bars that would do Tokyo proud and cocktails perfect for chic rooftop bars.

5. Civil Rights Trail, USA (Selma to Montgomery, Alabama)

The Civil Rights Trail both captures a moment in history through it’s many small museums -- both in Selma and Montgomery -- and in the journey visitors take to travel from place to place. For families, it’s a well-marked trail that offers changing views, numerous stops, and generational discussions.

6. Cartagena, Colombia

After years of violence owing to the drug cartel wars, Colombia has begun to emerge as a safe and vibrant travel destination. Cartagena has a highly developed tourist infrastructure and is only a 2- hour flight from Miami. With gorgeous 17th century colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, and an emerging foodie scene, there are activities for everyone.

7. Cape Town, South Africa

A city situated on the water where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, Cape Town will host the 2010 World Cup and promises to have one of the grandest venues for the event. Visit the African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach, along False Bay, or Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

8. Berlin, Germany

Whether you’re after nights filled with dance parties or sipping decadent cocktails in the born-again area of Kreuzberg, Berlin seems to offer something for almost anyone.Visit the vast Tiergarten park with lakes, canals, palaces and the eco-aware zoo that is home to superstar polar bear Knut. Tour Karl-Marx-Allee in an authentic Trabant car and walk the remaining stretch of the Wall at the East Side Gallery.

9. Belfast, Northern Ireland

In little more than a decade, Belfast has been transformed from feared city into hot destination. The army check points that once encircled the city center are a thing of the past and you can amble along the Golden Mile for relaxed drinks or enjoy Irish music in Cathedral Quarter bars. Try the Laganside for orchestral concerts at the riverfront Waterfront Hall and international cuisine from teppanyaki at Harbour View to seafood at Tedfords.

10. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Most people who go to Cambodia do so to visit to Angkor Wat, the famed ruins in the jungle, but cast a net beyond the limits of Angkor Wat and see a bit more of the country. Among the highlights are boat trips up the Mekong River and through the jungle to catch a glimpse of the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins or spend some time in vibrant, energized Phnom Penh.

11. Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton is the least-travelled of Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Parks and positively otherworldly, with its abrupt shift from prairie to mountain terrain, as well as its icy-blue lake that fills an ancient gully surrounded by mountains and glaciers. It’s one of the only places in the Canadian Rockies where you can feel apart from the modern world, and its relatively sparse traffic means most things are as much as 30 percent cheaper than Banff.

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Interview: Cambodia's stock market to be opened late this year: official

PHNOM PENH, (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Cambodia's securities and stock market will be in place by the third quarter or late this year, Ming Bankosal, director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) said on Wednesday. "The opening of the stock exchange is not only depends on the SECC side, it also depends on the issuing companies," Ming Bankosal said.

"We expect that by the third quarter of this year or by late this year we will have a stock trading in Cambodia," he said in the interview.

"When we have stock exchange we can share the economic growth to the Cambodian people and the government can collect more taxes as well as to create more jobs," he said.

"And then transparency comes to Cambodia and international investors will see Cambodia changing to international standard."

"Now we are ready and waiting for the companies to prepare themselves with all our regulations."

"So when they are ready with our requirements, they can issue the shares to the public. Then we will have the trading officially, " he said.

"So the game is not only depends on the government side, it also depends on the private sector who wants to list," said Ming Bankosal.

The country's Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia ( SECC) has opened Jan. 15, 2010 for companies -- which wanted to operate as dealers, investment advisors, brokers or underwriters -- to submit their applications till March 1, 2010.

Applicants must meet capital requirement along with human resource, he explained. "This is a very technical field... we need experienced people in the field."

Ming Bankosal wishes not to reveal the number of companies which have applied to be listed on the stock market, but said that there are a number of local and joint venture companies with foreign partners also showing their interest.

"Other foreign companies who operating their businesses here have shown their interests to go public," he added.

"We will then review and shortlist them in order to assess the company before we can issue them the licenses to operate,"said Ming Bankosal.

"We do not want to have too many companies to go public, but we want to see the quality's issuers. We need a good profile companies with good profits and they must be very experienced in good business sector along with good management to go public."

"They must be very corporate governance and transparency,"said Ming Bankosal.

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Cambodia culls bird flu-affected ducks

Cambodian authorities have begun a mass killing of ducks after confirming a fresh outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus.

The cull comes after more than 15,000 ducks died last week in the southern province of Takeo and samples tested positive on Tuesday for the H1N1 virus, commonly known as bird flu, said Kao Phal, an official of the Agriculture Ministry.

He said the sale of duck meat and its transport from the affected villages would be banned.

So far there have been no signs of human infection from the ducks, the official said on Wednesday.

At least seven Cambodians have died from the disease since the first reported outbreak in 2004.

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