Jetting off again

Flag of Tunisia

Flag of Tunisia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The change of pace continues with another package holiday, this time to Tunisia. Another country to tick off, but another resort to stay in with minimal interaction and travel around the country proper.

Hopefully, with time, the kids will grow older and want to explore as I did and these brief experiences will encourage them to do just that. We only have one excursion booked – a three cities tour towards the end of our time away – but I’m looking forward to it. If there’s decent diving and a trustworthy shop (something I’ve not been able to find online) then there may be the chance to enjoy a brief underwater session.

Other than that, it’s going to be a week of sunshine, ice cream and lazing. By “lazing” I of course mean being run ragged chasing after kids!

New posts

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Temporary pause (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a while since I popped up any actual travel-related posts and I hope to address this soon. We had a family holiday in Greece recently and I’d like to get a little something up about that, but it’s all down to time.

Also, my holidays have changed since I settled down and we now have three kids in tow so expect the content and pace of the posts to change! Of course, this does mean that the posts could be relevant to a slightly different audience. Gone are the backpacking days (except possibly the occasional long weekend with the wife if I can convince her, although we won’t be using shared dorms…), but the travel bug is still there.

Don’t get me wrong, my other half loves the idea of travel almost as much as I do, but family has to come first and the kids just aren’t ready for roughing it through South America (top of my travel bucket list) as yet!

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The History of Bingo

Bingo Page

Bingo Page

Bingo has been around for hundreds of years. Whether you’re a bingo buff, or a complete novice, find out some of its fascinating history.

Bingo has an amazingly long history and the game has been played the world over for centuries. It’s had a bit of resurgence recently and has very much updated its image. Essentially though, the game is still played in the same way today as it always has been. You wait for your numbers to come up in a form of lottery and when you match the winning numbers you’ve won. Bingo! Millions of people play it in different forms and on different media the world over. It has a longevity and appeal unmatched by other games. If you’re a bingo fanatic, or a relative newcomer, read on to discover the history of this fascinating game.

In the Beginning

The first recorded version of the bingo game was in Italy in 1530. Bingo is descended from Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia, the Italian state lottery which has been played every week since then and is still played every Saturday today, though commercial bingo was only legalized in Italy a few years ago! It was introduced to France in the 16th Century and was very much the province of the wealthier French who called it Le Lotto. The Germans took it on board and created their own version in the early 19th Century, but their game was much more focused on education rather than recreation. They used it to teach their children all about maths, spelling and history. Presumably, there was no money involved, as schools don’t tend to teach children how to gamble at the same time as learning about probability and chance!

Changing Over Time

The word ‘bingo’ is thought to come from the early 20th Century. When the game reached America in 1929, it was known as Beano. Hugh J Ward standardized the game and eventually had the Bingo copyright. An American toy salesman, Edwin S Lowe, was interested in the game and was thought to have overheard a player shouting ‘Bingo’ instead of ‘Beano’ by mistake. He decided that this was a much better name for the game and clearly it has stuck. He went on to produce lots of Bingo games, and even apparently employed a maths professor, Carl Leffler,  to help him come up with as many number combinations as possible. Sadly, Leffler went insane, but who knows if this was down to the numbers? A preacher came up with the idea of using bingo helping to raise church funds and started the trend of playing in church halls that has carried on through to the present day.

Modern Day Bingo

The principle is the same with modern day bingo but the execution of the game has changed radically over the last century. It has had quite a stuffy image over the last couple of generations, but contemporary bingo has become exciting stuff. Celebrities love it and you can play in many forms from online to your iPhone. There are large sums to be won with some of the more recent wins topping £5 million on Butler Bingo! It’s played in casinos all round the world and millions of people enjoy it in its various forms. Modern day bingo is big business, and its showing no signs of slowing down, so it’s safe to say that bingo will be part of our future as well as our past. Lucky for some!

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List of Places Where You Can Play Bingo

Bingo Adventure in The Philippines
List of Places Where You Can Play Bingo

The Philippines is often overshadowed by Singapore and Macau when it comes to gambling, but do you know that this lovely archipelago has more than 200 bingo halls? No wonder many online bingo companies are starting to eye this country because it already has a stable market for this game. Even hotel and recreation firms such as Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) have plans of expanding their bingo facilities in the Philippines. LRWC is set to open a megacasino worth 1.3 billion US dollars (or approximately 841,696,700 British pounds) in 2014. In a recent interview with the president of LRWC, Reynaldo Bantug, he said that “We also have growth in core projects like the bingo boutique. LRWC, which will roll out more bingo boutiques, is enjoying brisk revenues from its electronic bingo machines.”

Looks like we can expect more bingo action happening in the Philippines for the following years. What makes bingo appealing to the masses is its low stakes because bingo cards can be bought per piece in certain bingo halls. This traditional game is also very accessible especially with the arrival of many online bingo websites. Do you know that as of 2011, there are more than 30 million people in the Philippines that uses the internet? Imagine how many of those play at and other reputable bingo sites. According to Statcounter Global Stats, 52% of Filipinos have a computer with a high-speed internet connection right in their own homes. Those who don’t have any internet at home can find an internet café in almost every corner of Metro Manila.

For serious bingo players, there are several venues where you can play this game. Here are some of my top picks:

Bingo Fiestas at Casino Filipino Hyatt

For a different setting, attend the Bingo Fiestas at Casino Filipino Hyatt in Manila. This 5-star hotel is known for giving away huge rewards so make sure to purchase a ticket for their bingo games in advance. Their jackpot prizes range from a brand new car to one million Philippine pesos (or 14,802 British pounds).

Fun Bingo at Resorts World Manila

You can win as much as 100,000 Philippine pesos or approximately 1,480 British pounds daily at Resorts World Manila. Aside from huge cash prizes, you can also take home cool prizes like movie passes at the Newport Cinemas, iPod Nano, and gift certificates. Fun Bingo is held at Bar 360 and there are four bingo sessions each day.

Dolphin Cove

Friendly warning (c) Iain Purdie

Billing itself as “Jamaica’s #1 Attraction”, Dolphin Cove offers more than just the chance to meet one of nature’s coolest mammals. As we visited two days after the hurricane, a few of the attractions were unavailable but it was still a very enjoyable day out.

Whenever there’s a tourist attraction involving animals, there are always some negative comments or concerns for the animals’ welfare – we heard none at all regarding this place and every single person on the resort who’d been came back gushing with praise. So I’ll start by giving you one downside (and really the only major one) – it’s not at all pushchair/pram friendly.

The entrance itself is at the top of a hill with about 40 steps to get down to the check-in. You continue down several more flights before getting to beach level, and even there the trail is rock-strewn with the occasional step. As long as you can lift your pram around a bit, it’s not the end of the world but it’s something worth being aware of.

2012 is the Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence, and many hotels and companies are offering deals as a way of celebrating this. For instance, our resort has wiped the charge for internet access and the Ocho Rios shopping shuttle (usually $7) amongst other things. Dolphin Cove were upgrading every entry ticket to the next highest. Usually there’s an entry fee, then another charge to do a Dolphin Touch. An upgrade takes you to a Swim and more money gived you an Encounter.

Each offers you more time and activities with the creatures, and their deal for this year is to offer the Touch with the entry fee, Swim for Touch price and Encounter for Swim price. Given the prices, this is a damn good saving. Most of our party went for the middle ground one, but as Little Mister was too young for anything else I volunteered to hold back and just do the Touch with him.

The resort itself is nicely haggard, with a light-hearted pirate theme. The decor is just right and very weather-worn, and there are even a few “pirates” wandering around scaring the clientelle with surprise “YARR”s. Little Mister wasn’t phased, just staring at them and blowing raspberries in rebuke.

We got to feed lovebirds, hold makaws and a huge iguana then watch the staff feed the sharks (I didn’t find out what kind of shark, but definitely not Great Whites!) before we had some very expensive drinks and ice cream. Just after midday, those on the Encounter were packed off for their briefing and we watched the start of their activities before heading to the other side of the resort for our own.

Fortunately, before we actually met the dolphins, Gillian made her way over to take charge of Little Miss – and also brought Little Miss with her. The winds had picked up and the choppy waters had made it difficult for her to complete everything, so the staff had said she could do the Touch as well.

As myself and the two kids made our way down to meet Mitch, the bottle-nose, a member of staff walked past asking if a very nice Palladium ring belonged to any of us. Erm, yes, actually. It was my wedding ring!

I’d put it into the baby bag to keep it safe as you’re not supposed to wear jewellery while interacting with the dolphins in case it scratches them. Thing is, Gillian had managed to drop it out of the bag while recovering her own rings! Full marks for honest staff!

AAAAARRRR (c) Iain Purdie

The Touch itself was wonderful. Despite the number of things I have done in my travels, being this close to dolphins wasn’t one of them and the 10 minutes or so we got was fantastic.

Cupping our hands had Mitch swim up and place his beak in our palms, pose for a photo them accept a kiss on the nose. Little Mister was faultless. I honestly thought he’d be too nervous, but with just a hand to steady him in case he fell he did everything perfectly with the biggest grin on his face.

We next got a quick guide to the dolphin’s body with demonstrations of many of the “pieces” (fins and echo-location, mainly), followed by a quick swim-past by Mitch to allow us another chance to stroke him.

I enjoyed it – the kids absolutely loved it. We’ve already decided we want to come back and do the top package where you get lifted up in the air by two dolphins pushing your feet.

Even the burgers and chips we paid a small fortune for were good, and the souvenirs are the right kind of cheesy. We haggled over a photo/DVD package as we had a split group over two activites and got all the photos from both plus a DVD of the main group for $120. Not cheap, but still less than the $160+tax it should have cost.

Yes, while the initial entry fee isn’t bad they really do hammer you for the paid activities. They are good, though. Gillian wanted to do the shark feed and there’s also a chance to snorkel with sting rays but they weren’t on due to the repair work. If you’re only going to get one chance in your life to do this kind of thing, then this must be as good a place as you can to do it.

Expensive, yes? But can you put a price on a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience?

A really good day out made all the better by it being the day we returned to the Club resort after our brief re-housing at the Fun.

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