A new vacation at Pandora Resort, Second Life

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

A little over a year ago, I had the pleasure of previewing Pandora Resort, the full region venture by Lokhe Angel Verlack (Jackson Verlack) and his Second Life partner, Miza Cupcake-Verlack (Mizaki) – see here, and then writing about it post-opening.  Given the passage of time since those visits, and having seen a number of group notices about the region, I thought Caitlyn and I should hop over and have a look.

Back in September 2016, Pandora Resort was a winter location, high in the mountains. Now it is a tropical paradise – in Miza’s words, “An exotic island resort just off the coast to India is open to cater to the needs of fun, warmth and relaxing experience exposed to vivid lush wildlife and other hidden paradise”, a description which certainly piqued my interest given the time I’ve spent in Sri Lanka and the deep fondness I have for that country.

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

A visit commences high over the region, on the upper deck of an airliner. Green arrows on the floor direct arrivals down to the lower deck and thence to the cabin door, where a teleport carries people to ground level, and a chance to debark the airliner.  Outside of the ‘plane is a tropical setting,  the “airport” sitting high on a plateau, sandy mountains visible on all horizons, a cobbled path leading the way past swimming pools shaded by pergolas on one side and an open-air dance area on the other, and on down to a reception lobby located part-way down the plateau’s east side.

The reception area offers an opportunity to rest and to look down on the lowland to the north and south. Ancient steps lead the way down through palm trees and lush grasses and along the side of the plateau and so to the to the beach in the south-east corner of the region. A portion of this is given over to a water-side pavilion – a bath house with outdoor seating, shaded baths and massage tables. Hot pools sit on the sands outside of the pavilion, and a path points the way westward, through a further spa area sitting in a rocky cleft, and on to ancient ruins on the west side of the island.

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

Here lies one of the places visitors need to take a little care. Tucked into the corner of these ruins is an Asian-styled house available for private rent, and off-limits to those not a member to the region’s group even when not occupied. The north side of the island, reached via a wooden board walk and east-side public beach, is similarly given over to private chalets available for rent and forming a discrete resort of their own.

It was here that I was put in mind of beach-side resorts in places like Sri Lanka; individual chalets with an open-plan layout; all it needs is for the landscape to be a little more lush and green, and it would be easy to imagine the essence of Sri Lanka had been captured here. The chalets sit out over water, and offer a  considerable amount of living space for those wishing to rent one. However, casual visitors should again be aware that when occupied, the chalets can be understandably off-limits – but the watery path between them does remain open to free passage.

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

The west side of the island offers two bays of shallow water, one of which cuts quite deeply into the land, ending in a small, secluded beach under the lee of the central plateaus. A second beach on deep cut of this bay, and located under an ancient, broken aqueduct, provides another area for swimmers to enjoy.

There are one or two incongruities with the region – the little airport with its huge jet, for example, or the fact that the island – whilst quoted as being off the coast of India – is inhabited by African elephants. However, the latter is likely to be down to the availability of elephants on the Marketplace, which is biased towards the African variety. The former doesn’t actually detract from a visit, simply because once within the region, the airport

Pandora Resort; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrPandora Resort – click any image for full size

For those of us facing the onset of winter, Pandora Resort – Namaste – offers a welcome retreat to reminder of sunshine, vacations and warm seas. It might even, for those fortunate enough to have travelled to tropical climes, open a doorway to past holidays and time spent at luxurious resorts.

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Autumn comes to La Vie in Second Life

La Vie; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrLa Vie – click any image for full size

La Vie has reopened! Please come pay a visit! And don’t forget to put your pics in the Flickr group. I can’t wait to see you and all of your art!

Thus read the invitation Krys Vita sent out to members her group a few days ago, inviting folk to drop into her homestead region of La Vie and enjoy its new look, and with an additional prod from Max and Shakespeare, Caitlyn and I hopped across to see how things had changed. The last time we were in the region, it was a tropical paradise designed by Krys and TreMeldazis; for this iteration, Krys has once again collaborated with Arol Lightfoot.

La Vie; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrLa Vie

“It was time for a change I think,” Krys said as we arrived. “La Vie has been around a long time!” Seasonal changes are not uncommon within Second life regions, and with this rebuild, Krys and Arol have embraced the look and feel of autumn – with just a hint here and there of Halloween, some obvious (such as the pumpkins dotted around), others perhaps not so (such as the ghost-like blankets hanging in the windows of a barn!).

On arriving, visitors find themselves close to a farm-house and the aforementioned barn. A pick-up truck and tractor are parked close by, just off the track running by the farm. This offers explorers a choice of directions in which to most obviously head: east or west. Follow it east, and it quickly curls to the north, taking you by grassy banks, a little stall perched atop of them selling apples, to a box bridge crossing the narrow vee of a sluggish stream.

La Vie; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrLa Vie

Another pick-up truck is sitting on the rack beyond the bridge, a trailer hitched to its tow bar, the track itself coming to an end a short distance beyond it. Across a short expanse of long grass and under the lee of gnarled trees, the old stone walls of a graveyard beckon – perhaps another nod towards Halloween, with the mist gathering about the aged tombstones and a raven keeping a cocked eye on those who visit.

The graveyard is overlooked by the back of a tree house with adjoining artist’s studio, both of which sit just above the ground on the splayed fingers of strong branches. Connected to one another by a quaint little wood and rope bridge, they look northwards across a quiet pond where swans and geese share the water with cormorant and heron. More rugged and wooded land lies westward of these tree houses, deer roaming beneath boughs still heavy with yellowing leaves, before the landscape opens a little, offering a quarter corner for a single trailer camp site, before the track resumes its meander back to the farm.

La Vie; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrLa Vie

This is a place of muted colour, where gulls wheel, fishing boats and nets lie offshore, and farm animals wander and graze. Away from the main track, explorers may find little nooks and places to sit – a little camp fire here, and old picnic bench there, or cosy tree hut hidden among branches and leaves, a swing slung beneath…

Saddled horses also roam the land, or sit and lie in the shade of trees. Touching any of them will allow you to haul yourself up into the saddle and then take a ride around the land; when you dismount, the horse will be content to wander or lie down once more.

La Vie; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrLa Vie

Finished with another fitting sound scape, Lie Vie in autumn is the latest in a series of wonderful designs by Krys and Arol, and a setting that shouldn’t be missed.

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  • La Vie (La Vie, rated; Moderate)

Tavana Island’s autumnal beauty in Second Life

Tavana Island; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrTavana Island – click any image for full size

I was drawn to suggest Tavana Island as a place Caitlyn and I should explore on the basis it is designed by Brayan Friller (Brayan26 Friller) and Elyjia (Elyjia Baxton). They were the couple behind the gorgeous Au Petit Jour (see here for more) and The Heart of the Sea (see here for more), so I was keen to see what they had cooked up with their latest design. As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones: digging into my inventory I found Shakespeare and Max had also sent me a landmark for the region!

If there is a word to sum-up Tavana Island, it has to be “exquisite”. This is a place we and I arrived in with the intention of having a leisurely exploratory wander – and ended up spending the better part of our evening within. It’s also a place with strong echoes of Heart of the Sea – so much so, that it was easy to imagine we’d just sailed from there aboard the schooner anchored offshore, popping over the horizon to arrive at Tavana Island and then row ourselves to shore via one of the rowing bows moored down by the beach.

Tavana Island; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrTavana Island

Visitors arrive on the largest – by far – of five rugged islands. It sits towards the north-east of the region,   four of the remaining islands sweeping in an arc from west to south around it. The landing point is set close to the southern cliffs of the island, near a set of iron gates. These point the way to a set of wooden steps leading down to the beach, which looks out towards the southern isles in the group, while a gravel path runs from the leading point in the other direction, offering a route around the major sites of interest on the island.

The most obvious of these is the Tuscan villa a short distance from the landing point.  This might be a holiday home or farm-house (there is a barn nearby and both horses and sheep grazing on the island). It looks out over the waters to the north, where two outcrops of rock rise from the sea, like sentinels standing guard.

Tavana Island; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrTavana Island

A short distance way along the path from the house is a little cuddle spot and an old chapel, while those following the path from the landing point to the villa might be tempted to turn aside and take the little junction leading the way up to a grassy plateau on the south side of the island. There is a gazebo here, complete with a dance machine (with another machine out on the grass) – and the audio stream featuring music from films makes for a perfect time dancing.

I’m not certain if either of the two islands to the south which show signs of habitation are open to the public – there is no direct way to reach them. With Au Petit Jour, Elyjia and Brayan did set a small island off to one side for private use, so this might be the case here. I haven’t been able to check with them if this is the case here, so it might be better to view them from afar rather than risk unintended intrusion. There’s certainly opportunities to this, either from the sun loungers on the sand or from the rowing boats moored by the little pier at the beach, or from the grassy plateau mentioned above.

Tavana Island; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrTavana Island

There is a natural beauty to Tavana Island which makes it an absolute delight not just to visit, but to spend time enjoying, be it sitting (on land or in a rowing boat), dancing, or simply wandering and looking. There’s a subtle sound scape perfectly matching the seasonal look for the islands, so keep local sounds enabled.

All told, another superb design by Brayan and Elyjia, one more than worth time to visit. Should you do so, and enjoy your time as much as we did, please consider a donation towards the upkeep of the region for others to enjoy as well.

Tavana Island; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrTavana Island

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Oh Deer: a taste of Heavenly Waters in Second Life

Oh Deer, Heavenly Waters; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrOh Deer – click any image for full size

Oh Deer is the name Bambi (NorahBrent) has chosen for her Homestead region of Heavenly Waters. Designated as “under construction” at the time of our visit, the region already demonstrates a charm and romance perfect for the Second Life photographer.

“What started as an intimate sweet café grew into an Autumn Dream,” Bambi says of the design, “with the leaves crackling under your feet and the wind blowing in your hair. It’s a place to enjoy this magical season.” And the leaves do indeed pattern the ground and swirl on the occasional gust of wind as this little corner of Second Life sits beneath a cloudy evening sky.

Oh Deer, Heavenly Waters; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrOh Deer

Visitors arrive in a small square lined on two sides by buildings and the third by a red brick wall. The fourth, reached via a short flight of stone steps, looks out over waters reflecting the evening sky towards a little group of islets and floating wooden walkways. A fountain splashes before this waterfront view, formed by a quay-like section of foot path running east-to west across the scene. Steps are also cut into the seaward side of the wall, suggesting perhaps moorings for boats might be added, and with them, a way to reach the offshore islets.

Of the buildings in the little square, these are split between commercial properties on the east side, sitting with portico’d town houses. More shops occupy the west side of the square, extending around to the north facing water front. Centre stage among this little parade, and facing the square, is a glass-roofed café with seating indoors and out. It is a delightfully cosy setting – cosy enough for someone to apparently be settled in for the evening, blanket and cushion draped on a chair, book and magnifying glass on the table alongside a huge mug of cappuccino and a rack of warm toast – and knitting awaiting attention in a carpet-bag occupying another of the chairs at the table.

Oh Deer, Heavenly Waters; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrOh Deer

The windows to the rear of the café offer an intriguing view out to a small alley and courtyard, dominated by the green and yellow flank of an old electric tram. But how does one reach it? There is no door from the café  to either the ally or the courtyard.

The answer instead lies in the florist’s next door to the café. Equally as cosy, and with doors flung wide, it offer a route through to the courtyard and a chance to examine the tram and wander the short distance to the door of what was called – at the start of our visit, at least! – Deer Beer, a micro brewery occupying the building directly behind the café. I say “at the start of”, because by the time we were ready to depart, the sign had vanished in a demonstration that things really were still under construction!

Oh Deer, Heavenly Waters; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrOh Deer

Beyond the high wall at the back of the courtyard stands a tall ribbon of woodland – doubtless the cause of the leaves which swirl and flutter their way across the stones of the courtyard and square. Many of these are eventually blown to the waterfront, where they fall to draft lazily on the calm waters below; islands without substance, drawing the eye to the little group of islets further out over the water.

At the time of our visit, these could only be reached by flying – although I hope a rowing boat or two (perhaps a rezzing system?) gets added for reaching them. Connected by wooden board walks floating serenely on the water, and which meander from isle to isle, this little group has much to offer, from cuddle spots and seating areas, to little climbs up hills –  and even a touch of gentle autumn rain.

Oh Deer, Heavenly Waters; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrOh Deer

Oh Deer is always an idyllic setting, even though apparently not yet complete. There are some minor little bumps that need smoothing, but nothing which detracts for the serenity of the setting, or which unduly protrudes into a visit.

For the photographer there are many opportunities to be found here, and rezzing is allowed (30 minute auto-return, but do please clear up for yourself afterwards!). Those who do take photos here are invited to share them on the region’s Flickr group. Should  you enjoy your visit, please consider a contribution towards the region’s upkeep via one of the tip jars scattered through the scene.

Oh Deer, Heavenly Waters; Inara Pey, October 2017, on FlickrOh Deer

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  • Oh Deer (Heavenly Waters, rated: Moderate)