Category

Adventure

Glamping in Bali

Glamping is the newest way to disrupt your daily routine and shift your focus back to the things that matter. It is the way of celebrating a love of individualism, the nomadic life and being sustainable. After a short trip to the nature, you are expected to be more balanced and brimming with ideas due to the change in perspective!

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Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

Uganda is a landlocked country with a diverse landscape that encompasses the immense Lake Victoria and spreads all the way to Mt. Ruwenzori.  It is one of the few countries in Africa and by extension in the world with a wide range of wildlife to admire, most of which are rare species. But what really is it that makes the Pearl of Africa eccentric?

If Uganda is your destination, be ready to experience real adventure. Starting with the cool environment itself, going to the wildlife and other natural features, and flowering it all with Uganda’s cuisine. Many people have always wished they had planned to stay longer, while others planning for revisits. Some of the highlights of the country include the endangered tree-climbing lions and mountain gorillas. Other activities to enjoy are rafting on Lake Victoria, the source of the great Nile River, adventure in the mystical villages that are hidden in the mist and volcanoes among others. The question is, “what are the best places to visit in Uganda?”

Top Places to Visit near Kampala/Entebbe

Being the capital city of Uganda, it is most likely that your first landing in Uganda will be in Kampala if not Entebbe. Kampala has very interesting neighborhoods which include the Mabamba Swamp that is well decked with shoebill storks among other water birds. There is also the wildlife-rich Mabira Rainforest, Lake Mburo as well as Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and the Ssezibwa Falls, just to mention but a few. You will surely not lack something to admire adventure, do or experience in Kampala and its surroundings.

The Tree Climbing Lions & Chimpanzees

On the western side of Uganda lies Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s most visited game reserved. The intricate wildlife found in the game is a reason for its popularity with the tree climbing lions attracting the highest number of visitors. These are lions that are very rare in other countries but quite many in this park. Meanwhile, Chimpanzees are other rare species in the world and for those who want to have an experience with them; Kibale National park is the place to go.

Gorillas in the Mist

It seems that Uganda is a home to primates as can be seen from how abundant endangered primate species are all over the country. Other than the chimpanzees, endangered mountain gorillas can be seen in the country. With a rough estimate of about 700 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, they can only be found in Uganda, DR Congo, and Rwanda. A visit to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or the more popular Bwindi Impenetrable National Park will give you an ecstatic experience with the mountain gorillas. Almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi.

Rafting

Jinja is a town anyone would consider the “armpits” of Uganda due to its vast industries and other economic activities that have made this side of the Pearl of Africa to be a buzz. It is also well-known for the river Nile. The town is the source of the Nile River as this is where Lake Victoria lets its water out into the Nile. If you want to enjoy the best and first-class rafting, then you can’t fail to go to Jinja. With the Nile being verified here as one of the top 5 rivers, you will be offered with the best water rafting experiences indeed.

The Switzerland of Africa

Journey southwest from Kampala to a little town called Kisoro to experience some beautiful landscapes which include lakes, cultivated terraces, bamboo forests, a tropical rainforest, hills, and mountains. The most important thing you need when touring Uganda is an open mind as the country has very bad roads. You should, therefore, expect to be taken through shortcuts.

Ugandan Cuisine

There can never be a fan without food. As someone said that there is no love sincerity that supersedes the love for food, Uganda is an eating country. I say that Uganda is an eating country because of how readily available food is. In comparison with most countries where snacks are hawked in public transport vehicles, in Uganda, “five-course” meals are served.

The cuisine consists of modern as well as traditional dishes and cooking styles as well as practices. The cuisine features Asian, Arab and English influences thus variant in complexities ranging from the very basic roasted banana all the way to starchy filler in a sauce of meat or legumes. Since Uganda is a multi-tribe country, you expect a wide range of staples throughout the country with the main dish being the banana stew locally known as Matoke. Others are yams, arrow roots, vegetables, potatoes, tropical fruits, chicken and fresh fish.

An interesting unique dish commonly found in the Northern Uganda is vegetable stew in sesame or peanut sauce. This is taken with Kuon (Ugali-in Swahili), which is a carefully prepared bread-like food from maize, millet, sorghum or/and cassava flour. In Uganda, there are 101 ways of cooking bananas so come prepared to taste something unique you had never imagined you would ever taste.

Conclusion

There is a reason why Uganda was called the Pearl of Africa during its independence. The country is rich in resources and culture. In fact, the entire Africa has been condensed in this tiny east African country. It is very unlikely that there is something in Africa which misses in Uganda. This should be your next destination.

Best Dubai Vacation

“People don’t take Trips. Trips take People”. That is exactly what this desert city does to you. If you can think of a desert which has transformed itself marvellously and effortlessly into a place the world could never have dreamt of, it has to be Dubai. At first, Dubai appears like a vast expanse of desert broken only by huge hills. A second later you scramble to readjust your vision, as a glass and steel metropolis unfolds itself like a shimmering mirage in the Arabian Desert. For most of us the UAE is synonymous to Dubai, the sci-fi-esque city of iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and palatial beach resorts. An ideal place to vacation with your family as it provides all types of entertainment you are seeking.  The city remains architecturally and geographically unparalleled. Modernity and antiquity collide into this vibrant city. This is the best Dubai vacation.

If you are planning to spend a few days in Dubai be ready to visit a lot of places. Get your itinerary straight so that you can have a planned and hassle-free sight-seeing experience. The first day in Dubai, make sure to go for the Desert Safari. It will be the best part of this trip as it includes the best of Dubai. From dune bashing in the deserts to camel rides, trying out Arabian clothes, sipping on Arabic coffee, devouring Arabic dates, enjoying the famous Shisha (flavoured hookah), the night ends with a lip-smacking buffet dinner, a mind-blowing Jambura dance and a scintillating belly dance performance.

The next morning you can visit the Dubai’s landmark building, Burj Khalifa, which is at 829.8 meters and the tallest building in the world. For most visitors, a trip to the observation deck on the 124th floor here is a must-do while in the city. The views across the city skyline from this bird’s-eye perspective are just overwhelming. The 360-degree views out across the skyscrapers to the desert on one side and the ocean on the other. You could go either at sunrise or sunset to witness the various avatars of Dubai city while in light or in darkness with lights glittering the city all over. You should also visit the Burj Al-Arab, the world’s tallest hotel, standing 321 meters high on its own artificial island on the Dubai coastline. For those without unlimited credit, you can opt for dinner at the underwater Al-Mahara restaurant, which allows you to view sea life while you eat delicious Californian food.

For the remaining vacation days, it is best recommended to enrol into a hop on hop off bus tour like City Sightseeing, Big Bus and many local bus services. This way you get to see a lot of places without paying for cabs. Start your day by visiting the famous Jumeirah Mosque which is the most beautiful mosques in Dubai and a fine example of Islamic architecture. This stone structure is built in the medieval Fatimid tradition. A program consists of tours, lectures, Arabic classes, and cultural meals to extend better understanding of Muslim faith.

Plan a day to visit places like The Dubai Mall which is the city’s premier mall and provides entry to the Burj Khalifa as well as the Dubai Aquarium. The Dubai Aquarium houses 140 species of sea life in the huge suspended tank on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall. You can walk through the aquarium tunnels.at the Underwater Zoo. Different activities help you get a closer look at the sea life. Glass bottom boat tours are particularly popular. Cage snorkelling and shark diving activities are also on offer. There is also an ice-skating rink, gaming zone and cinema complex. But the main attraction here is The Dancing Dubai Fountain Show. It is a synchronized water movement that is brilliantly choreographed to a wonderful musical soundtrack and goes 500 feet above.

For history fanatics, the Dubai Fort is a must-watch. The fort’s walls are built out of traditional coral-blocks and held together with lime and the courtyard is home to several traditional boats and a palm-leaf house with an Emirati wind-tower.

Walk down the narrow lanes of Bastakia (Old Dubai), highly reminiscent of a bygone, and much slower, age in Dubai’s history. Bastakia occupies the eastern portion of Bur Dubai along the creek, and the coral and limestone buildings here, many with walls topped with wind-towers, have been excellently preserved. The Dubai’s architectural, cultural, and maritime heritage is showcased at the Heritage and Diving Village, with displays related to pearl diving and dhow building, two of old Dubai’s historic economic mainstays. Dubai Creek separates the city into two towns with Deira to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Boat tours and ship cruises on the creek gives a spectacular waterline view of Dubai.

For the shopaholics, the Deira lies on the northern bank of Dubai Creek. Deira is most famous for its traditional souks (markets), which bustle with shoppers at all times of the day. Deira Gold Souk is world-renowned as the largest gold bazaar in the world. The Deira Spice Souk sells every imaginable spice like paprika, saffron, sumac, thyme and much more.

Take your family to the awesome Dubai beaches and amusement parks. Jumeirah Beach is a strip of sandy white bliss and the number one beach destination for Dubai visitors. Hotels are strung out all along its length, with this being one of the most popular places to stay for tourists. The beach has excellent facilities, with plenty of sun loungers, restaurants, and water-sport operators offering jet skiing. South of Jumeirah beach is the Kite beach. It is renowned as Dubai’s premier destination for kite surfers and is home to an array of water sports operators.

While IMG World of adventure is about Marvel cartoon characters and rides, Wild Wadi and Aquaventure waterpark at the Palm Atlantis is all about adrenaline-rushing water rides. Bollywood Parks brings the world of India’s famous movie industry alive on its rides, and Legoland Dubai provides younger visitors with a fun-packed day out on its interactive rides. So, you have a whole lot of places to give your kids the best time of their lives.

For staying in Dubai, hotel prices start from 350 AED with a breakfast menu. The tickets to waterparks, amusement parks tickets cost 300 AED approx. Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab tickets start from around 130 to 500 AED. You will find very good restaurants in Dubai but the rates are on the higher side. So, it is best advised to plan a detailed itinerary according to your budget and stick to it.

Dubai is one of the most popular destinations in the world for holidays and tours and there are millions of travellers visiting the city every year. Shopping festivals, culinary delights, loads of adventure and much more is all entitled on your Dubai vacation. Whether you are visiting with family or friends, a vacation in Dubai will make you want to travel here again. Plan your next trip to this destination and revel in the marvellous man-made wonderstruck city Dubai.

Romantic Cruise to Nusa Lembongan

Bali is without a doubt one of the best wedding destinations in the world. However, it is where and how to get there is the most crucial decision that will lead to either a memorable or disaster honeymoon ever. A romantic cruise honeymoon getaway to Bali’s neighboring islands can be an option. There are a number of companies in Bali offering honeymoon cruise packages leading to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and the Gillis Islands. As much as there is a lot to enjoy and appreciate in these islands, the main romance must always be accorded while you are on the sail.

romantic cruise to nusa lembonganIdeally, most of the cruise packages available start with a breakfast before set out for the waters. This is more so the case in luxury cruises. And of course, for the honeymooners, you can expect to go the luxury way. Inside these vessels is fine comfort and sophistication. All the amenities are luxurious, starting with the washrooms, all the way to the ambience of the catering tables. In a normal vessel, there should be some tables for different groups with the possibility of offering a provision for bigger group eating on a single table. Enjoy your romantic cruise with drinks and music that blends with the stunning sea views. And because it is your honeymoon, everything is tailor-made as your request. Special décor, custom prepared cakes, flower arrangements together with other delightful ways are provided for anyone to give their significant other a surprise of their lives. Remember that you really want to pour your heart to your loved one during this cruise. Be assured of getting the real surprise of your life.

Lembongan is a village that anyone would easily spend the whole day in, admiring and appreciating the on goings in an ideal island village. The village has so much in store for you to do and see, yet it is such a small island indeed. Doing a village tour is a must-as this, imprints in your mind the best sense of what an ideal village life looks like on tropical islands.

Catching with the peaceful and quiet early morning ceremonies of Nusa Lembongan ensures you start your day on a high note. And along the main street of the island are a number of shops with some of them selling fresh fruits and super strong coffee, which you can give it a try with your loved one as you head downwards to the seaweed farms. Seaweed farming can easily be concluded as the hardest job within the island as it is tide reliant.

So many things can be done or seen on this island. This includes diving, visiting the underground village house and sailing between the islands. You can also just enjoy the stunning beach views. If you opt for luxury packages, your day’s trip will include total access to private beach. For accommodation, staying at Hai Tide Beach Resort can be another journey to meet people to exchange stories of this beautiful island. In the evening, enjoy the best part by the poolside as you get ready to be in touch with a romantic diner in the hotel. A pool-side romantic dinner is a great option for the two of you and the experience is one worth spending some extra ducks on.

Don’t let dreams be dreams. And when it comes to expressing love, the sky is the limit. To have a luxury experience doesn’t always end up with high budget that will hurt your pocket. You can create your own luxury moment with your own style.

An important note to remember for safety and comfort purposes, when having such cruises, wear as limited jewelry as possible, wear tight tropical clothes, head wear, swimwear, and sunshade and apply sunscreen & UV protection. Also be in flip-flops or sandals for wet landing.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Roving the great lakes of Bali

Bali is known for its achingly beautiful scenery and landscapes; an exploration into which is a spiritually awakening experience for many. Spending time in ‘natural Bali’ is filled with peace and tranquility, giving people the perfect environment to ponder life and widen their horizons as an individual. Besides the island’s beautiful underwater world, white sand beaches and unique culture, Bali hides a reservoir of beauty and charm that are often forgotten; these are the great lakes of Bali. These majestic lakes are well worth your time and effort, as they showcase the beauty of Bali that lies beyond the coast. Make sure your cameras are ready for what is truly a visual feast.

Lake Bratan

Let’s begin the adventure in central Bali with a visit to Lake Bratan. Situated in a crater of an inactive volcano, Mount Catur, Lake Bratan is the second largest lake in Bali and is back dropped by the majesty of Mount Bratan. Located in Bali’s central highlands of Bedugul, this lake is a favourite tourist attraction. Its high altitude allows visitors to enjoy respite from the hot and humid weather. The surrounding area is a natural spectacle offering splendid views of mountains and greenery. The lake is surprisingly shallow with a maximum depth of only 22 metres. Irises of numerous colours – yellow, fuchsia and magenta – dot the edge of the lake. The misty peak of dormant Mount Catur looms above.

Found around the lake are three 25-metre-deep caves excavated by the invading Japanese during World War II. There are also a few shrines worth exploring in the vicinity of Lake Bratan. Another popular sight is Bukit Mungsu Market (or Pasar Bukit Mungsu), located in Candi Kuning. Visitors can buy a variety of fresh spices, including nutmeg and turmeric, fruits and vegetables. Due to the cool weather there, you can also pick strawberries on the fields, a unique find considering Bali’s tropical climate.

There are so many activities you can do around the area. The surrounding mountains are popular destinations for hiking and trekking, offering routes of various levels of difficulty. Water sports lovers will rejoice with the abundance of water activities available. Rides on pedal boats, speedboats or traditional boats known as jukung are all available. Other types of water sports that you can enjoy include water-skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and paddle sports. Swimming is permitted, of course, only if you can stand the cold waters!

Lake Bratan is considered to be the most holy lake in Bali, as it is a home to one of the most famous temples, the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, which dates back to stories told in Balinese mythology. This beautiful 17th century temple of Ulun Danu, which appears to float on the water, is dedicated to worship Dewi Danu or the Lake Goddess. Offerings are made at the temple on special festive occasions, as it is believed this will bring economic prosperity to the area.

The lake is a very important source of irrigation for many farms and rice paddies in the Bedugul region. Because of its surrounding temperatures and irrigation system, the area around Lake Bratan is blessed with high fertility, and for that reason Lake Bratan is also known as the Lake of the Holy Mountain.

It takes around 2-hours to drive from Denpasar to Candi Kuning Village, Baturiti district, Tabanan, where the lake lies.

Lake Batur

Lake Batur is Bali’s largest and widest lake with an area of approximately 18 square kilometres. The large crescent shaped lake sits within the old caldera of Mount Batur and is surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim, with an active volcano of Mount Batur adjacent to it. Located in the mountainous area of the Bangli Regency on the southeastern side of the Batur caldera, the lake lies at the feet of two majestic surrounding mountains, Mount Batur and Mount Abang. The crater is situated approximately 500 meters above sea level, and a couple of hot springs can be seen surrounding the lake with one in the middle of the lake. The water is much cooler than the other lakes in Bali. Try to dip your fingers while boating in this lake to feel how amazingly cold (but fresh!) the water is.

On the journey to the lake via Bangli or Tampaksiring, the ashy residues and active hot springs reveal its volcanic history. As you get closer and continue over the last ridge, the massive outlining of the crater becomes visible; expect a large smile to peel across your face when you encounter this moment. You can continue along the road from Penelokan, it continues right around the rim towards Kintamani to circle around the crater. The majestic and spectacular view of Lake Batur can also be viewed from Kintamani.

The only boat access to the lake is through the Trunyan village, home to the Bali Aga people. These local indigenous inhabitants are true descendants of native Balinese and have been isolated from the other inhabitants on other parts of the island. They communicate in an ancient form of the Balinese language and to date still practice ancient traditional Balinese culture and religion. An interesting part of their culture is that when one of their tribesmen dies, they are neither cremated nor buried, but laid under a sacred tree, the Taru Menyan, inside their open air cemetery. The members of the tribe believe that roots and the branches of this sacred tree helps to mask and remove the odour of the rotting, decomposing bodies.

Lake Buyan

Lake Buyan is one of Bali’s unexposed and untouched attractions. Located in Pancasari Village, in Sukasada District, Buleleng Regency, the lake spans approximately 4.5 square kilometres just below the northern rim of the Bedugul caldera. Situated in a plateau region characterised by generally very wet and cool climates, Lake Buyan is surrounded by lush vegetation, featuring fog and cool air, which allows one to appreciate the authenticity of nature’s wonders. The sight of it alone has wonderfully soothing effects that help to temporarily take away the stress of daily life.

Getting to this lake is a bit tricky, involving a 3-hour drive from Denpasar and following the road winding up the hill, where you can see an increasing number of monkeys, before you arrive at the junction on the top of the hill. Turn left at this junction and continue to follow the quiet asphalt road which leads you to the lake.

A community pool, known as Telaga Aya, is connected to the lake via a narrow canal. Telaga Aya is located between the lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan, which are separated by a forest-covered hill. At the top of the hill, Asah Gobleg village is the primary vantage point with panoramic views of both lakes and the surrounding area. Make sure to get your perfect selfie with the lake in the background from the lookout at Asah Gobleg Village on the trek down to the lake.

Encircled by coffee and clove plantations, Lake Buyan has a camping site at its southern edge with the ground being flat there. However, the most common activities are boating or fishing. Hiking or trekking is doable, but best done with local guides, granting scenic views of the landscape. For those who are into mediation and yoga, Lake Buyan offers a perfectly peaceful, serene atmosphere, ideal for such activities. Nature lovers and eco-tourists should find the entire area as a whole an ideal getaway. With limited tourist activities and the absence of human intervention, Lake Buyan still maintains its natural, intact ecosystem through protection of its fragile environment and promoting eco-tourism.

Lake Tamblingan

Lake Buyan is closely related to Lake Tamblingan in terms of location and ecosystem, and therefore both lakes are generally referred to as Bali’s Twin Lakes. An interesting fact is that Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan used to be one whole lake until a landslide separated them in around the year 1800. Now they are separated by a ride almost 2 kilometres wide.

Lake Tamblingan exudes a mystical appeal and charm, with some regarding it as having the most unspoilt natural scenery in comparison to Lake Bratan or Lake Buyan. The lake is located in the heart of Bali’s farming area and the slopes are covered with coffee plantations, vegetable fields and rice paddies. Its official location is on the north slope of Mount Lesung, Munduk Village area, Buleleng Regency, about 3 hours from Denpasar. You will have the best experience just driving to this place with the cool wind blowing on your face and the feeling of pure, clean air all around you. It is advisable to pull over for a few photographs or have a small picnic by the road.

The entire lake area is protected land within the 4356- acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, which is a major reason that both Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan have become increasingly popular with mountain trekkers, adventure seekers, bird watchers and eco-tourists. And since the lake is located at such great heights, you will find that it is mostly covered in fog that casts a beautiful spell on tourists and locals alike. The depth of the lake and reflection of the surrounding trees creates gorgeous hues of blue, green and grey that shimmer across the water’s surface like a palette of paints.

Though motorized boating is not available on this lake, you can rent a rowing boat or bring along your kayaks to explore further. Fishing is also permitted. You can opt for a jungle tour, which involves crossing the sacred Tamblingan Lake by an old-style, hollow canoe. Near Lake Tamblingan, visitors can perform activities, like trekking in the tropical forest with a variety of distances, with trips ranging from 2 to 8 hours. The idea is to spend quality time in and around the lake, and absorb its breathtaking beauty.

There are a few sights worth visiting in the vicinity: numerous temples can be found on the outskirts of Lake Tamblingan, and the most popular one is Gubug Temple. This water temple, which uses the traditional ‘Subak’ irrigation system at the edge of the lake, is a must visit place if you are around the neighbourhood. It retains much of the architectural design, as Ulun Danu Temple, but is less crowded, offering you good photo-taking opportunities.

If you plan to explore ‘real Bali’ a bit more, these four lakes offer history, culture and nature in one experience. Nourish your soul in their stunning scenery, relax at the lakeside hot springs, stroll in the beautiful local villages, take a tour of the exotic plantations, or camp in the mountains and dense jungles. Very rightly said, that Bali is a true treasure trove of natural beauty. Why not see for yourself.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

An epic experience at Universal Studio Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a hot destination for families, group of friends, couples, or school-college trips. It is a destination for anyone who is looking forward to enter a whole new world and spend a day filled with adventure and excitement. The first and only Universal Studio theme park in Southeast Asia set up in the stunning Sentosa Island. It is meticulously designed to give you the best theme park experience in the world.

Universal Studios Singapore is categorically split into 7 major theme parks. Step onto “Hollywood Boulevard” framed by dynamic architecture, palm trees and the famous Walk of Fame, you will feel as if you have landed in the center of the entertainment universe. One inside “New York”, feel the spirit and energy of America’s biggest and grandest city as you stroll along the sidewalks and enjoy all the classic landmarks. Soak in the impressive city skylines, neon lights, and facades that set the scenes for big city fun and real-time movie production. For the science-freaks, the city of the future has arrived. Walk into “Sci-Fi-City” and experience the ultimate intergalactic battle of Good versus Evil, and visit a vibrant metropolis with all the ultimate modern conveniences. If you have always wished to explore the mysteries and legends of Egypt, then “Ancient Egypt” is definitely the place to be explored. Ancient pyramids and obelisks stand fast against the sands of time as you are transported to 1930’s Egypt, the Golden Age of Egyptian Exploration. Travel to an era when entire Pharaohs tombs were discovered, and their terrible curses unleashed. If you are a big fan of Steven Spielberg and his Jurassic Park movies, then the “Lost World” is your place. Divided into two themed areas, “Jurassic Park” and “WaterWorld”, this zone is for fans of the two blockbuster movies, as they can experience a dense tropical forest where dinosaurs lurk, then watch death defying stunts filled with thrills and spills. Especially designed for children “Far Far Away” the kids are exported to a world of talking movie stars, donkeys and other fairy tale animals. “Madagascar” which is based on the hit DreamWorks Animation film, brings you to a dense tropical jungle, filled with strange and wonderful animals like lemurs and foosas. Junior Roller Coaster rides, Ferris Wheel, Live Donkey Shows, 4-D Shrek movies, Beach Party Carousel, Boat-Rides ensures your kids are thoroughly entertained.

You may also want to explore the world beyond the screen and Ride the Movies by experiencing cutting-edge rides, shows, and attractions based on your favourite blockbuster films and television series like Puss in Boots, Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica, Transformers The Ride, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, and much more.

On special events like Halloween, Christmas, or New Year, a lot of rides and movies are upgraded to match the festive season and get you into the mood. You can be a part of these fun parties and enjoy till you drop in the Universal Studios experience.

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter