The Star Malaysia - Star2

Football fatigue

Get away from World Cup fever with these travel escapades.

- By CHESTER CHIN star2trave­l@thestar.com.my

CAN’T tell Portugal’s jersey apart from France’s? Think Lionel Messi is an actor? Or perhaps you get annoyed whenever someone shouts “Gooooaaaaa­l!” while you’re enjoying your nasi lemak at the mamak?

If you’re not much of a football fan, chances are you would rather catch the flu than World Cup fever. It’s a good thing that there are some travel destinatio­ns for you to head to to get away from all the football frenzy.

Travel booking platform Agoda has come up with some places where you can insulate yourself from the roar of football fans and shrill of the referee’s whistle.

Koror Island, Republic of Palau

The South Pacific island of Palau is home to rich marine life, volcanos and breathtaki­ng waterfalls. It also doesn’t have any national football team. The pace of life is more provincial here. But the city still has some great restaurant­s and shops to be explored.

Culture enthusiast­s might also enjoy some of the cute museums on this island such as the Belau National Museum and Etpison Museum.

If you like a little local myth, then check out the Mother & Child Monolith. The stone is said to be the remains of a woman and her kid who were cursed after taking a peek into the village men’s home.

Baler, Philippine­s

You’re more likely to meet surfing fiends than football fans in Baler. It’s also known as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippine­s. The reputation is partly fuelled by a particular surfing scene in the 1979 American epic war film Apocalypse Now, which was filmed here.

If you’re not much of a surfer, then lounge by the white sandy beaches as you sip on some cocktails. In addition to that, Baler is also home to scenic winding mountain roads and hiking excursions that will keep the adventurou­s ones thrilled for days.

North West Cape, Western Australia

The North West Cape in Western Australia is home to the Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Reef. The phrase “games of two halves” will be the least of your concern as you encounter exotic wildlife. In fact, the region is one of the last true wilderness areas on Earth.

Find ancient gorges at the Karijini National Park and take a cruise along King George Falls, Western Australia’s highest waterfalls.

At the end of the day, take in the Cable Beach sunset from the saddle of a camel.

Galle, Sri Lanka

A different kind of sport reigns supreme here – cricket. Travel to this Unesco Heritage Site to enjoy the gentle pace and its laidback lifestyle. Located in the southweste­rn tip of Sri Lanka, Galle is a historic city that calls for travellers to explore by foot.

Walk past grand Dutch colonial buildings and ancient places of worship as you uncover some of the city’s historic gems. The Dutch Reformed Church has a floor paved with gravestone­s while the Flag Rock is where you’re likely to catch some local daredevils leaping into the sea from above the rocks.

Pangkor Island, Malaysia

Closer to home, how about escaping to the pristine island of Pangkor for some rest and relaxation. The island is secluded enough for one not to be interrupte­d by enthusiast­ic fan chants. This former pirate hideout hosts some interestin­g history as well as beautiful beaches.

Kota Belanda, or Dutch Fort, is a 17th century fortress that was rebuilt after it was totally swallowed up by the jungle. Be sure to also check out Batu Bersurat, carved with the symbol of the Dutch East India Company.

For a bit more exclusivit­y, head to the smaller Pangkor Laut island that offers complete privacy amidst gorgeous ocean views.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s least developed islands promises a truly off-the-grid experience. The lack of Internet and WiFi in the islands of Raja Ampat mean you will easily lose track of time – and would probably miss all online talk of football!

Here at the island chains, you will find more than just whitesand beaches and hidden lagoons. Take some time to explore spooky caves and weirdly shaped islets. The turquoise waters are also perfect for some diving where you are likely to encounter exotic and beautiful marine life.

 ?? — Photos: Agoda ?? Koror Island is home to rich marine life, volcanoes and breathtaki­ng waterfalls.
— Photos: Agoda Koror Island is home to rich marine life, volcanoes and breathtaki­ng waterfalls.
 ??  ?? Lounge by the white sandy beaches of Baler in the Philippine­s.
Lounge by the white sandy beaches of Baler in the Philippine­s.
 ??  ?? Galle in Sri Lanka offers a more laidback lifestyle for both locals and travellers alike.
Galle in Sri Lanka offers a more laidback lifestyle for both locals and travellers alike.
 ??  ?? Explore the wonders of Cape Range National Park in North West Cape, Western Australia.
Explore the wonders of Cape Range National Park in North West Cape, Western Australia.
 ??  ?? The island chains of Raja Ampat in Indonesia offers an off-the-grid experience.
The island chains of Raja Ampat in Indonesia offers an off-the-grid experience.
 ??  ?? Pangkor Laut island offers complete privacy amidst gorgeous ocean views.
Pangkor Laut island offers complete privacy amidst gorgeous ocean views.

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