Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai Temples
Photo by: leozaza, Creative Commons

Thailand on your mind? Where do you start a trip to a land as vast and as enchanting as Thailand? If you desire sun, sand and solitude in the beautiful, unspoiled islands and beaches, Thailand will not disappoint. On the other hand, if you happen to be a visitor who desires to experience something mystical, then Chiang Mai’s temples that seem to be frozen in time with an old-world feel are a must-see.

Chiang Mai excites the senses with its spectacular scenery and centuries of history. That Chiang Mai is picturesque and exotic – with rolling hills, serene lakes and cascading waterfalls, and majestic mountains — is just the tip of the iceberg. The city also basks in the golden glow of temples. Add to these the savory cuisine, the amiable people, the relaxing boat villages (or pulsating nightlife), and you have all the ingredients for a pleasurable stay.

Chiang Mai’s temple attractions may best be described in one word: amazing. With its glorious sunset to the intriguing site where ashes of a previous royal family remain, to centuries-old Buddha metal images, Wat Suan Dok beckons. There’s also the ancient Wat Chuang Man that’s known to date back to 1296, where Chiang Mai’s sovereign founder resided. Another temple visitors shouldn’t miss is the Wat Phra Singh, which lies on a compound with a beautiful chapel with remarkable murals and woodcarvings. If you’re interested in authentic Thai history & culture, the Chiang Mai National Museum — with its ancient artifacts, art works, Buddha images and combat weaponry – will be worth visiting. Meantime, shopaholics will most likely be delighted with the quality handicrafts at the bustling city emporium or night market.

Indeed, Chiang Mai is a jewel waiting to be discovered by first-time visitors, or those who did not have the time to get past other popular destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui during their first sojourn.

January 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm | 1 comment

Orange Roman Theatre

Orange Roman Theatre
Photo by: Allie Caulfield , Creative Commons

If the thought of visiting one of the best preserved Roman monuments in France thrills you to no end, then you won’t go wrong traveling to Orange, France. This is where the Orange Roman Theatre, which is testament to the pomp and splendor of the Roman Empire (having been built in the first century AD under Emperor Augustus,) may be found. Visiting the popular tourist spot is like taking a trip back through time.

Unlike Greek amphitheaters nestled on natural slopes, Roman theaters were reinforced by a framework of piers and vaults. They were therefore constructed right in the heart of the city.

The Orange Roman Theatre in Rhone Valley reaped the distinction of being among the World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO. Reading about Roman monuments is riveting enough, but seeing massive theaters up close is awe-inspiring. An imposing structure that served as venue for entertainment for the masses and as an arena for political rhetoric or even propaganda, the ancient theaters at the town center of Orange was built to serve its Roman patrons, who sought to gain control of conquered territories.

Orange Roman Theater’s stage wall measures over 100 meters long and about 37 meters high. Niches, colonnades and statues comprise the stage wall’s facade, which aided in delivering great acoustics. Orange Roman Theater’s stage wall measures over 100 meters long and about 37 meters high. Niches, colonnades and statues comprise the stage wall’s façade, which aided in delivering great acoustics. The structure underwent restoration in the 19th century.

The ancient theater which drew a huge audience during Roman times continues to buzz today with musical events. When planning to watch special events at the theatre, you may opt to get settled at a charming hotel brimming with character nearby, before hieing off to the famous landmark and reminiscing about the golden years of the Roman Empire.

January 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm | 2 comments

Monument Valley

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Monument Valley
Photo by: Wolfgang Staudt, Creative Commons

Monument Valley is part of the Colorado Plateau composed of a cluster of iconic buttes; the largest one is about 1000 feet from the floor of the valley. This vast region is located on Utah’s southern border within the Navajo Nation Reservation. It is accessible via US Highway 163.

The floor of the valley is generally Cutler Red siltstone. Siltstones are deposited by the river, which carved the valley. The valley is colored red due to the oxidation of iron, which is exposed from the weathered siltstone. The dark, blue-gray rocks on the other hand acquired their color from oxidized manganese. Visitors of the valley will be able to see the clearly stratified buttes. One of the large stone structures found in the valley is the famous Eye of the Sun.

The monument valley is one of the top visitor attractions in the United States. At the park, a visitor center is provided with a small convenience store, which also serves as a souvenir shop. There is also a restaurant for the visitors. There are several tours available for the visitor. Visitors can choose from different services and route. You may choose to drive through the park on a 27-km dirt road, which will take around 2-3 hours.

Mystery Valley and Hunt’s Mesa however, are only accessible through a guided tour. There are also available horseback riding services inside the park and general Monument Valley area. The fees depend on how long you intend to go horseback riding. Another exciting adventure that visitors may be delighted with are the hot air balloon flights. They are available from May 1 to October 31. Sometimes there are also small airplanes to fly the visitors and witness one of nature’s great wonders.

January 16, 2010 at 11:53 pm | 1 comment

San Diego Zoo

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Welcome to the San Diego Zoo
Photo by: ConspiracyofHappiness, Creative Commons

You’ve seen one zoo, its just the same as all others. Suffice it to say, you must have not been to the San Diego Zoo. This zoo covers most of Balboa Park in San Diego, California and is one of the most progressive zoos on the planet.

The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals from over 800 species. The zoo is so large that guided tour bus operates within 75% of the park. If you want an aerial view of the zoo, you can take a gondola lift called Skyfari. Exhibits that are designed around specific habitat are commonplace, making the usual trip to the zoo more interesting. Aside from housing different animals, it also boasts of rare plant collections. In fact, it grows rare animal food that they use to feed their animals.

The zoo promotes special experiences by offering tours that allow you to ogle at animals up close; programs that will help in depth understanding of animals via expert lectures and encounters and special activities for kids. It can also cater to group events with knowledgeable tour guides. If you want a more special experience, you can stay over and see how the animals are after the crowds go home. Get this first hand experience with the help of their animal ambassadors.

A trip to the zoo can never be the same again once you have visited San Diego Zoo. It is animal planet up close and personal. Your appreciation for the other species will be heightened once you have met the animal in their most natural habitat. A trip to San Diego Zoo is more than just looking from cage to cage; it is a first hand wildlife adventure.

January 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm | 2 comments

The Wadi Rum

The Wadi Rum
Photo by: Paul Mannix , Creative Commons

The Wadi Rum of Jordan is a valley which has been cut and shaped from the granite and sandstone in the southwest area in the country. It is also the largest one in Jordan and accordingly the name Rum comes from an Aramaic word which means elevated or high. Historically, the place has also become the base for the campaigns of British adventurer T.E. Lawrence, also known in popular culture as Lawrence of Arabia. Incidentally, many Hollywood films have also been filmed in the area.

At present the moment, the place has been considered as one of Jordan’s key tourist attractions and gets increased numbers of tourist annually. Most people who visit the wadi are trekkers, mountain climbers, and day trippers, as well as people who have arranged for horse and camel safaris. If you plan to visit the area, the activities which you can opt to do include hiking, challenging yourself to difficult rock climbing in the unfamiliar trek, and camping during the night for thrill seekers. A high peak in the area is popular for mountain climbers because it is so high it can be covered by snow. The highest peak in Jordan is also in the area where the Saudi border and the Red Sea can be seen during a sunny day when the sky is clear.

The place has generally become wealthy and access to modern equipments such as wi-fi, mobile phones and other communication tools are available. Four wheel drives can also be rented to explore the place. Because of the influx of tourism, the place has become fairly developed and can supply modest necessities for tourists and visitors. For people who would like to arrange their visit, the locals are readily equipped to give the best service they can provide.
So if you plan to embark on another adventure, don’t forget to visit the Wadi Rum and you will surely have an experience of a lifetime.

January 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm | No comment

Azores Archipelago

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San Miguel Island of the Azores Archipelago
Photo by: Jsome1, Creative Commons

If you were given the chance to island-hop nine times and explore lands created by a volcanic eruption ages ago, would you grab it? If this idea thrills you, and would like to give it a try, then pack your bag and prepare to fly to Azores, Portugal!

The Azores archipelago is an autonomous region of Portugal scattered in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 930 miles from the European coast (Lisbon area) and about 2,400 miles from the North American east coast. This group of nine islands boasts of so many riches and much beauty that it was ranked as the second most beautiful archipelago in the world by the National Geographic Traveler in 2008.

The archipelago is divided into three groups based on their proximity: the Eastern, the Central, and the Western groups. The Eastern group is composed of Santa Maria and San Miguel. The Central includes Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico, Faial, and Graciosa. And the Western group consists of Flores and Corvo. The shortest distance between two islands is 3.7 miles (between Pico and Faial), while the longest is between Santa Maria and Corvo which is 372 miles.

As the archipelago lies on the Atlantic Ocean, oceanic conditions control the climate of the region. The average temperature is about 63 degrees Fahrenheit with the lows of 55-57 degrees during the colder months of January and February, and the highs of 72-73 degrees during the warm months of July and August.

If you are in search of magnificent landscapes with endless panoramic views, virgin nature, and unadulterated fauna, the Azores is really perfect for you. Each island has its own airport which enables you to hop from one island to another at your convenience. But since there’s so much to discover, make sure that you allot not less than two weeks for your getaway. Among the many things you can do here are whale watching, swimming with the dolphins, mountain climbing, fishing, scuba diving, golfing, boating, and everything else imaginable. This is truly a natural paradise.

January 16, 2010 at 5:30 pm | No comment

Los Glaciares National Park

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Los Glaciares National Park
Photo by:
Ricardo Martins
, Creative Commons

Los Glaciares National Park is the second largest national park in Argentina. Declared a national park in 1937, it’s also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Its name is derived from the giant ice cap in the Andes mountain range. This ice cap is the largest in the world excluding the ones found in Antarctica and Greenland. There are two lakes situated in the park – Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma. These lakes feed into the Santa Cruz River, which in turn flow into the Puerto Santa Cruz on the Atlantic.

The northern part of Los Glaciares is entered through El Chalten. People visit this side of the Los Glaciares mainly for the trekking and hiking. The mountains of Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are the most popular among climbers. The gateway to the southern part is El Calafate on Lago Argentino. On this side of the park, visitors can ride boats and go sight-seeing among the glaciers of Perito Moreno, Upsala, Spegazinni, and Onelli. While Perito Moreno can also be accessed by land, the last three can only be reached through motorboats.

Travel between the northern and southern parts is also an adventure. Hardy tourists can soak in the scenery while roughing it out on a four-hour drive over gravel and dirt roads. There are several tour operators who offer rides to make this trip but more adventurous travelers can opt to rent a vehicle and drive themselves. It is important to have sufficient gas, experience in driving on all-weather roads, and knowledge of vehicle maintenance if you wish to take this trip. There is only one stop between El Chalten and El Calafate, so proper preparations must be made. The best time to visit the park is from October to March.

January 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm | 1 comment


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Photo by: Esparta, Creative Commons

Mexico is the home to some of the most distinguished civilizations of the past – the Aztec and the Mayan. A lot of people want to visit places that allow them to relive the splendor of these cultures. One such place is Uxmal, a city belonging to the Mayan civilization in the Mexican state of Yucatan. This exotic sounding name is pronounced as “Oosh-mahl,” which is believed to be part of the old Mayan language which means “built three times.” These places in Uxmal are well preserved. In fact, it is one Mayan city where a visitor can get an idea of how the entire ceremonial center looked like in days past.

When in Uxmal, be sure to visit these places:
• The Governor’s Palace. This building is perched on a large platform and is a short but wide structure. It is considered to be Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica’s longest building.

• A former government palace in the Mayan era nicknamed by the Spanish as The Nunnery Quadrangle. This is the finest of Uxmal’s numerous quadrangles of long buildings. It has façades that contain elaborately carvings both inside and outside.

• The Adivino, which is also known as the Pyramid of the Dwarf or the Pyramid of the Magician. This pyramid structure is steeped with oval or elliptically shaped layers on its outside layers.

• There are a number of other monuments, temples, and other temples, with very animated names such as the House of the Doves, House of the Birds, House of the Turtles, South Temple, and Grand Pyramid.

• Check out the ancient pedestrian causeway linking Uxmal to the other ancient site of Kabah. Let ancient wisdom fascinate you!

January 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm | 3 comments

Phi Phi Island

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Phi Phi – boats await visitors to tour the area
Photo by: friedwater, Creative Commons

When setting out to enjoy a unique and rejuvenating Thai vacation with young family members in tow, there are plenty of things to do from exploring hip young haunts to water sports fun.

If you’ve decided to go on a backpacking adventure to Phi Phi Islands, you and your kid can relish the havens of luxury with only a few of your worldly possessions on your backs. You can begin a fun journey by checking in a villa or a bungalow in a hillside resort that offers panoramic views of the bay and islands.

Koh Phi Phi actually has two islands, the larger Phi Phi Don where beautiful beaches galore; and Phi Phi Leh which is noted for its cliffs, natural caves and water-filled canyon. Both islands are located in Krabi province, around 42 kilometers or about a 45-minute jaunt from the south of Phuket.

Phi Phi Islands (coined from the original Malay term Pulao Pi ah Pi) has an allure all its own. The tiny island oasis beckons not only as a snorkeling destination but as a day tripper’s trekking delight. From amazing coral reefs and limestone lookouts to the idyllic beaches to the immense Viking Cave (so named because it resembles ancient Viking ships but was later on renamed by an explorer who thought it looked more like a great serpent) which consists of a cave and sea lake formed by a clef between the two cliffs, Phi Phi Island is a revelation.

Check out the curving bay of Ton Sai in Phi Phi Don, where you may join other tourists (mostly nature lovers and environmentalists) in feeding the shoal of fish before heading off to other scenic spots.

In the northern end of Phi Phi Island, discover Chao Ley, a sea gypsy village whose dwellers emigrated from Koh Lipeh in Tarutao National Park. Whether you and your companion are keen on diving or swimming in the long beaches, or spelunking, you are in for a wonderful time at Phi Phi Island.

January 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm | No comment

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard
Photo by: Jeff Dlouhy , Creative Commons

Ever thought about traveling off the beaten path along the back roads of the breathtakingly beautiful countryside of Provence, France?

A must-see monument is the Pont du Gard, which was constructed by the Romans in the late 1st century BC in order to redirect water from a spring 50 kilometers from Nîmes. You’d be blown away by the structure’s sheer size and historical background. It also happens to be an amazing engineering feat. You’d think that after 2,000 years, buildings & structures categorized as Roman ruins would have been destroyed or supplanted already. Not with the Pont du Gard. The stable monument is partly due to the massive stones used in its construction. Built completely without mortar, the structure is held together by six-ton stones with iron clamps. The postcard-perfect bridge may look delicate but it’s robust, as proven by its long existence. Pont du Gard, which stands proudly above the Gard River, towers above all Roman aqueducts. It consists of three tiers of arches and at the top is the aqueduct itself. The bridge has a well-proportioned triple tier design and beautiful woodland setting.

Certainly one of the best-preserved showcases of Roman architecture in France, the Pont du Gard joined other awesome destinations designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1985. Today, millions of tourists flock to see the Pont du Gard annually. It’s only 25 kilometers from Nimes. Up close, the monument amazes many travelers who highly appreciate technical and artistic works of architecture.

Recent years have seen enhancements that lure even more visitors to the scenic spot. Pont du Gard is an amazing setting for multimedia exhibits highlighted by high-tech images & sounds. Situated on the left bank of the river is a national park. Climb the steep stone steps to marvel at the fantastic view from above. Others find the spot ideal for cycling and horseback riding.

January 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm | 4 comments

Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore
Photo by: jimbowen0306, Creative Commons

Mount Rushmore is a well-known visitor attraction not only in South Dakota but in the United States. There’s no mistake that it is more than a visitor destination for more than two million people every year, it is also a monument that stirs patriotism and love for liberty and freedom among American people. Mount Rushmore, with the faces of four great presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt) which are 60-ft tall and rise to 5,725 feet, is an effective way to communicate these ideals to the future generations.

The sculptures were made by Gutzon Borglum with the help of 400 workmen who used dynamites and jackhammers. It took 14 years to finish this amazing monument. On March 3, 1925, Mt Rushmore has been established as a US National Memorial. The whole area covers 1,278 acres.

There is a large available parking facility for visitors at the base of the mountain. From there, they go through the Avenue of Flags, which is a short stone walkway with beautiful buildings made of granite on both sides. These buildings house the visitor center, a museum and other facilities. The Avenue of Flags leads the visitors to the Grand View Terrace, which offers the best view of the monument.

Different programs are also being offered to the visitors by the memorial which includes exhibits, interpretive programs, and a film viewing at the Lincoln Borglum Museum. The rangers can also provide people interpretative talks and walks. Other programs being available also include walks to the Presidential Trail and Sculptor’s Studio, children’s activities in the afternoon and different talks.

There is also a lighting program at the park’s amphitheater every night at around 9 O’clock from May through September. Moreover, there is a wide range of other activities that visitors can do in the area. The Black Hills area that surrounds Mt Rushmore can provide opportunities for hiking and enjoying the beautiful and forested mountains.

January 15, 2010 at 11:53 pm | 9 comments

Kennedy Space Center

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Kennedy Space Center – Rocket Garden
Photo by: Stig Nygaard, Creative Commons

The Kennedy Space Center or KSC is the Launch Control Center for the space vehicles of NASA. It is located on Merritt Island in Brevard County which is in the State of Florida in United States. The site of KSC is near Cape Canaveral, which is between Miami and Jacksonville. It covers a total land area of 567 km2 where around 13,500 work to maintain the site. Part of the land covered by the Kennedy Space Center also serves as a wildlife sanctuary where visitors can observe natural flora and fauna of Florida in their natural habitat. Some of the features of the site include Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Indian River, Mosquito Lagoon and Canaveral National Seashore.

The John F. Kennedy Space Center is one of the major tourist destinations in Florida. There is a visitor center with guided public tours. It is the right place to visit to have an exciting experience and learn about America’s legendary space program. Visitors can have a glimpse into a real working environment of a space exploration facility. There are exhibits of historic events in space. People will be able to see face to face space missions of the past, present as well as future missions through 3-D IMAX films.

The tour around Kennedy Space Center also features the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame where visitors can see different astronaut memorabilia, displays and simulators. Some lucky visitors have also witnessed a shuttle launch or land, which is definitely an experience to remember. They also offer special programs such as summer camps which can provide children with worthwhile tours in special areas of the complex and experience astronaut training simulator.

There are plenty of activities that can fill your whole day at Kennedy Space Center. Visitors only need to take extra time planning in order to maximize the features of the site.

January 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm | 1 comment

Bryce Canyon

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Bryce Canyon Hoodoos
Photo by: Alaskan Dude, Creative Commons

In what seemed to be a desolate part of Utah, there lays a scenic spot that never fails to awe visitors. This is Bryce Canyon National Park, where the Bryce Canyon awaits you.

Despite being called a canyon, Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon, but a giant amphitheater naturally built from the water, ice and wind erosion of the sedimentary rocks that surrounds the park. Bryce’s hoodoos or distinct geological structures provide the rock’s red, white and orange color especially when sunlight touches it. This makes for a perfect background for a national park that is visited by over a million visitors and adventurers every year. The mere entrance sign of this vast geological masterpiece has welcomed thrill seekers to its natural sceneries.

The Bryce canyon point is perhaps the most scenic vista in the park. But if you are new to this place, be sure to head to the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center first so that you can get all the necessary information such as driving/hiking directions, up-to-date weather forecast, as well as park ranger guide program schedule before you embark on your journey.

Using the scenic drive, visitors can easily access 13 viewpoints that overlook the amphitheaters. Driving in between these viewpoints will give them different perspectives of the rugged terrain. But for those who have the knack for hiking, they can try one of the eight marked trails that can be completed within the day. Even novice hikers can join the fun as there are trails like the Bristlecone Loop on Rainbow Point that can be hiked in one hour. Those who want to conquer a more strenuous trail can opt for Peekaboo Loop at Bryce Point or Fairyland Loop at Fairyland Point as experienced hikers complete the trail anywhere between three and five hours.

January 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm | 2 comments

Cartagena Old Town

Cartagena Old Town
Photo by: Plexuz , Creative Commons

Cartagena Old Town is the fifth largest city in the country of Colombia. It is regarded as one of the safest and colonial-inspired towns in Colombia that its downtown. It is greatly influenced by colonial architectural style. In the pre-Columbian era, the old Cartagena is said to be the first documented town to gain inhabitants in the land.

Exploring this beautiful city will require some familiarization. If you’re planning to go to Cartagena Old Town, you might want to take a look at what many tourists have to say about this special place:

1. Cartagena Old Town is not like the rest of Colombia – Contrary to what is perceived about Colombia as the land where major crimes, trafficking, and narcotics prevail, this side of Colombia has more to offer. The town nestles hundreds of colonial residences, leisure parks, churches, and many more. The town being the location of the Unesco World Heritage ensures visitors a place where warm and friendly people reside.

2. The Santo Domingo Church – This is one of the famous religious temples in the town of Cartagena. Created by Colombia’s well known artist, Fernando Botero and can be found just across the Santo Domingo Square. If you want to catch a glimpse of both art and religion, the Santo Domingo Church is a must.

3. The Bocagrande – Your Cartagena Old Town visit will never be complete without stopping at the BIG MOUTH, one of Bocagrande’s most famous attractions. Here, you will be welcomed with a lot of shopping malls, art galleries, restaurants, resorts and beaches. The Bocagrande is just nearby the Cartagena bay and area’s central district, the Avenida San Martin. Traveling to the shore of the Caribbean is just 7 minutes away by boat, so for those who want to have an almost Caribbean feel, the beaches of Bocagrande is a sound entry point.

January 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm | No comment

Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad

Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad
Photo by: UNESCO, Creative Commons

You will be astonished to know that the largest country on the Mediterranean Sea has amazing sights to offer to civilization. Algeria, the country which is located on the northern part of Africa and the second largest of the African continent, has fossil fuel as the foundation of their economy. However, we will not be talking about the fuels here nor its economy but the ancient ruins that will truly surprise you as we unfold its history and splendor bit by bit.

Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad ruins is the remnant of the first ancient Muslim City in Algeria. It is the vestiges of a former mosque which consists of 13 aisles and eight coves as its main features. The location of the ruins is only a kilometer above sea level. For a person who does not know what the previous attraction looks like, it will just give them an impression of a plain structure in the midst of a vast dusty land.

In 1980, Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad was named to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Paris, France. The core attraction of this cultural spot is the square brick monument of the city accented at the middle of the ruins. If you would look closely at the structure, you can say that it is centuries old already and is entirely made up of bricks. It is highly acknowledged and cherished because it is the only structure which stood still while others are left as a broken piece of column. The winter season adds up tourists as the beauty of the structure enhances when snowflakes cover the field.

A flight to Algiers is limited and only a number of states offer this kind of travel which is mostly found on southern part of Europe. Visa is required as well as conservative clothing to give respect to Islamic custom and environment. Going to Algeria may cost an amount of money but the experience is truly one of a kind. So go ahead and witness the extremely rare occurrence that is about to happen right now!

January 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm | No comment

Deception Island

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Deception Island in Antarctica
Photo by: , Creative Commons

Mystery and adventure awaits you in Deception Island. Located in Antarctica, this island is one of the places most tourists love to visit. There are many things to do during your stay here and the first stop would be to say hello to the chinstrap penguins. They are such cute animals most especially when you see them burying themselves into the sand. They love both the water as well as land.

Tourists swear by the landscape view of the steaming beaches. But do you know the main reason why they are steaming? It is because it is within close proximity to an active volcano. Usually the water is indeed scalding but there are portions where the water has a mix of hot and cold just like what you have in the shower. What is great here is the presence of sulfur being emitted from the volcano. It has medicinal properties that cure skin ailments like Psoriasis.

Deception Island is indeed the destination to be since here you could very much commune with nature. The mystery is behind the geothermal activities that are happening within the city and the animals that freely roam there. There are whales too to further heighten your nature expedition!

Just make sure to know some mandatory guidelines when you visit Deception Island. They are many rules for tourists who tend to go on their own adventures and leave the group. Since there is an active volcano present, better check if there are any recent eruptions or even what kind of clothes or protection you need to wear should you take a dip in the water for you can suffer 3rd degree burns. Make sure not to bring home any plants no matter how pretty they are – it’s prohibited by the law.

January 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm | 3 comments

Rila Monastery

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Rila Monastery
Photo by: kevinzim , Creative Commons

The Rila Monastery, which is also known as The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, is the largest and most popular monastery of Eastern Orthodox in Bulgaria.

How the present-day’s monastery edifices look like was set by Aleski Rilets, the first Bulgarian architect. He planned the architectural design and led the creation of the north wing with its well-known monastery kitchen, the eastern wing and the western wing. This is portrayed by 3 plaques above the mill’s doors, the Dupnitsa and the Samokov entrances. Aside from his name, the plaques also include the names of Teodosii and Father Superior Yosif. Subsequent to the upsetting fire that took place in the year 1833, Aleksi Rilets guided the reconstruction of the wrecked wooden parts of the monastery with help from three thousand master builders, who were able to get it done within just ten days.

The whole complex is rather remarkable for its dimension. The residential part of four floors is consisted of not less than three hundred monks’ cells, four chapels, one abbot’s room, one kitchen, one library, and a couple of guest rooms for the donors. The kitchen in particular is really interesting because of its large cooking tools. The outside of the monastery is also as intriguing because of its harsh and high stone walls incised through by little windows, giving us a more military fort feel than a monastery.

If you happen to get inside the complex, visiting the monastery museum is highly suggested. It holds a special work of art called The Raphael’s Cross. This cross is named after its artist and is actually made of one whole piece of wood. The monk made use of a magnifying lens, little knives and fine chisels in order to carve 650 tiny figures and 104 spiritual scenes into the cross.

January 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm | No comment

Osorno Volcano

Osorno Volcano
Photo by: Bitterroot, Creative Commons

Osorno Volcano is said to be a replica of Mount Fuji especially when the aspect of appearance surfaces. It is also renowned as one of the most active volcanoes in the country of Chile. The volcano has reached its 11th eruption during the 15th and 18th centuries. But even if the volcano is anticipated to spew out its rage anytime, there are still loads of visitors coming in this Southern Side of Chile to experience first hand great adventure and fun.
Like any other active volcanoes around the globe, Osorno Volcano is dangerous with evident traces of eruption near its vicinity. Apart from this, slopes in close proximity to the volcano are still devoid of vegetation up until now along with other plant life. But what makes this volcano an interesting and special place to visit? Let’s try to find out what it specifically offers in the words that follow:

1. A close-up view of the volcano – As it is once said, the closer you get to your subject, the more you appreciate its beauty. And, you’ll only get to appreciate the beauty of the Osorno Volcano if you catch a close glimpse of it.

2. The ski lift part – You may have experienced riding on a ski lift countless times, but riding on it with the volcano as the background is another story. The thrilling experience it provides is incomparable and you are sure to crave for more rides to take.

3. Sit, relax and enjoy – The idea may stand out against the picture of the volcano in mind, but the setting changes into a more relaxing one as you allow yourself to just sit for an afternoon delight with a buddy and a drink in hand. The entire atmosphere is even heightened as you get a good view of other lakes like Puerto Vargas and Lake Llanquihue.

January 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm | 1 comment


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Lumbini, Nepal
Photo by: Argenberg, Creative Commons

Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site located in Kapilavastu a district of Nepal. The area is situated near the Indian border. Queen Mayadevi was said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama in this particular place. Siddhartha Gautama was the one who gave birth to Buddhist tradition.

Lumbini lies at the foothills of the Himalaya where the Buddha is said to have lived until the age of 29. Lumbini has many temples. In Puskarini or Holy Pond is where the Buddha’s mother took her ritual bath prior to her delivery and Buddha himself had his first bath in that very place.

In Buddha’s time, Lumbini was known to be a park located between Kapilavastu and Devadaha. Buddha was born there and pillars are made to mark the very spot of Asoka’s visit and Asoka’s gift to Lumbini. The park was previously known as the Rummindei. In 1896, Nepalese archeologists discovered a great stone pillar at the very site, it was believed that this pillar was created in honor of Emperor Ashoka.

As of 1997, Lumbini is known as UNESCO World Heritage Site which was specifically nominated for the International World Heritage Program. The holy land of Lumbini is bordered and protected by a big monastic zone law. Which no shops, restaurant, bars or hotels can be build in the said zone only monasteries are allowed.
There are actually two monastic zones: the eastern zone known as the Theravadin monasteries and the western zone known to have both Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries.

The holy place of Lumbini includes ruins of ancient monasteries such as the sacred tree called the Bodhi tree, the ancient bathing pond, the Asokan’s pillar and the Mayadevi temple. Mayadevi Temple is the precise birth place of the Buddha. From early morning to early evening, various people came and visit this place to perform their meditation.

January 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm | No comment

The Reims Cathedral

The Reims Cathedral
Photo by: Chi King, Creative Commons

Visiting a cathedral where kings have been crowned can be a unique experience.

The Reims Cathedral, which was built in 1211 and completed in 1311, stands today as one of the most remarkable architectural and artistic monuments. Architect Jean d’Orbais was the initial designer, while Robert de Coucy lent his expertise during the completion stage. The Gothic cathedral’s west front (which was added during the 14th century but inspired by 13th century design) has three portals with medieval statues, and highlighted by sculptured arches, classic rose windows of stained glass, and a couple of matching towers surrounding it. Two enormous bells can be found at the south tower.

In 1875, funding for the wide-scale repair of the façade and balustrades was approved. The end result was a beautiful façade which emerged among the most striking masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

There are many things a reflective traveler may find splendid when visiting Reims Cathedral. Some find viewing Russian painter Marc Chagall’s masterpiece a wondrous experience. Other people, who may be fascinated with the stories of French monarchs, will be delighted seeing stone effigies of France’s 56 kings at the Gallery of Kings at Reims Cathedral’s western façade. Reims had actually served as the site where the kings of France were crowned.

Also worth checking out is the Palais du Tau, which served as the archbishop’s home. Royal banquets for future kings were held at this palace just before their coronation. There’s also a museum that houses medieval works of art & carvings.

One has to behold the beautiful tapestries, the rose windows, the detailed sculptures, and the harmonious Gothic interiors to see just how breathtakingly beautiful they are. Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral, the former Abbey of Saint-Remi and the Palace of Tau were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.

January 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm | No comment

Aalsmeer Flower Auction

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Aalsmeer Flower Auction
Photo by: Tracy Hunter , Creative Commons

Netherlands equals tulips, right? But do you know that 10 miles from Netherlands you can find a small town called Aalsmeer. This place holds the largest flower auction in the world known as the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. The building is said to be the second largest building in the world. It covers a floor space of 10.6 million square feet. You can find different kinds of tulips, roses, lilies, daisies and many other kinds of flowers being traded daily in Aalsmeer facilities. These flowers came from different parts of Europe, Ethiopia, Columbia and many more.

Aalsmeer Flower Auction is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 11:00am. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays are when the auction is most active. 6:30 am is the suggested time to visit because this is where the action starts.

Catch a bus in front of Central Station. Choose bus 172 because this bus will bring you straight to the flower auction’s gate. You can purchase your bus ticket directly from the bus driver.

Above the main flower market is a walkway for visitors. You can see 13,000 types of flowers being assemble and loaded into little motorcycles. Take your time. You can even take pictures up there. It’s like you’re in a flower haven.

You can see large picture windows along the walkway. Take a peek into the auction rooms. You will find flower buyers sitting in a row and entering their bids electronically. Take note: Most Aalsmeer buyers are men.

Dutch auction is far different from the traditional auctions. The trick is to get the flowers at a good price. The bidding is done on decreasing amount basis. The auctioneer calls out the initial amount and the price automatically goes down until someone bids for the flowers.

An amazing piece of trivia about the Aalsmeer Flower Auction is that it is known to sell 20 million flowers every single day.

January 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm | 1 comment

Mesa Verde

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Mesa Verde “condo style dwelling”
Photo by: Alex E. Proimos, Creative Commons

Mesa Verde, means “Green Table” in Spanish is located in the county of Montezuma in Colorado. Mesa Verde features ruins of homes and villages of the Anasazi or ancient Pueblo people. In 1200 AD, Anasazi’s built their homes and stone villages within the the mountain. They also made spectacular cliff dwellings, which are structures built in the caves and under the outcroppings in cliffs. The Cliff Palace is known as the biggest cliff dwelling in North America.

For many years, Mesa Verde suffered from vandalism and the theft of artifacts by looters. In order to preserve the archaeological state of this historic site, the area was established as a U.S. National Park on June 29, 1906. In 1921, six buildings were built which represent the cultural traditions in the area for the purpose of explaining the concept behind the construction of this prehistoric dwelling found in the park. Then, it was designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on September 6, 1978.

Mesa Verde national Park covers a land area of 211 km2. The entrance is about 15 kilometers, east of Cortez community. From the entrance, the visitor area is another 24 kilometers. Chapin area, which is the most popular area in the park, is another 10 kilometers from the visitor center. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum in the park provides visitors information about the ancient pueblo civilization. There are numerous displays of artifacts, findings and artwork in the museum.

Visitors are allowed to have a tour around the cliff dwellings with the rangers as guides. Chapin Mesa is open to the public as well as Spruce Tree House. On the other hand, Cliff Palace and Balcony House are open except during winter season. Other cliff dwellings like Step House and Long House are 19.2 kilometers away from the visitor center. There are more dwellings found in the area but they are not open to the public. Aside from the tours, there are also available hiking trails, campground, and different facilities for food, fuel as well as lodging. However, these are unavailable during winter.

January 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm | No comment


The Jokulsarlon
Photo by: moohaha, Creative Commons

The Jokulsarlon is the most famous glacial lake in Iceland. It is also the largest among the numerous glacial lakes in the country. The Jokulsarlon or the Great Lagoon is so famous that several Hollywood movies were shot in this magnificent place. These movies include Tomb Raider, Batman Begins, and two James Bond movies, Die Another Day and A View To Kill. The lagoon was formed around 1984 when the Breidamerkursandur started retreating quickly. The 15-km lagoon in 1998 was originally 8 km in 1975. The glacier is still retreating.

The Great Lagoon is just filled with magnificent icebergs due the breaking off of the Breidamerkursandur, which is a part of a large glacier Vatnajokull. These blocks of ice are carried to the sea via a short river. What people can actually sea above the water surface is just an astonishingly one-tenth of the total size of the whole iceberg. These icebergs are constantly eroded by tides and winds until it can actually float on the ocean. Boat trips or cruising is the most famous activity to do in this place. This gives the tourist the opportunity to take a closer look and take pictures of the wonderful sight. Cruising between the white to crystal blue icebergs gracefully floating on the soft, cold water just makes every moment worth capturing. People can actually go near the ice bergs and even witness its calving off.

Jokulsarlon is also one of the favorite places of the skuas or big seagulls to visit. They are often seen during the summer where they build nests on the dunes around the area. Seals often swim in the cold water or play on top of the icebergs. One can never feel wrong with the majestic sight of the gigantic glaciers calving off to make another magnificent iceberg on the water, while seagulls, busy with their nests, and seals, enjoying diving, brings more life to what already exists in the Great Lagoon.

January 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm | 1 comment

Las Vegas

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Las Vegas Strip
Photo by: http2007, Creative Commons

Most people think that Las Vegas is only for gamblers who want to play some games of chance such as poker, craps and baccarat in numerous casinos, which are open 24 hours a day. Although it is one of the top reasons why people visit the place, there are more interesting things Las Vegas could offer for both gamblers and non-gamblers (or anyone in between) as well as those who just want to have fun.

Here are just a few attractions in Las Vegas that you can include in your shortlist:

  1. If you are looking for a great experience for the whole family, Mandalay Hotel’s Shark Reef is the best attraction for you. They feature different species of sharks, jellyfish exhibit, tropical aquariums, a few crocodiles, several invertebrate marine animals and rays. Tourists walk through a tunnel while the sharks surround them.
  2. There are also touch tank where you are allowed touch living sea creatures.
  3. Another ultimate must-see attraction in Vegas is the Manhattan Express Roller Coaster which is located at New York/New York. The ride will take you at 203 ft above the ground and drops to 144 ft with a speed that reaches up to 67 miles/hr. It’s definitely one thrilling ride.
  4. When you go to Vegas, it wouldn’t be complete if you did not visit The Stratosphere Tower. You should not miss going on top of the tower to see a great view, have a great dinner or ride the tallest roller coaster in the world.
  5. Who says, everything is expensive in Vegas, there are some attractions that you can surely enjoy without spending a single penny. Try to experience a free show in Downtown Las Vegas. The free shows in the streets usually start at 8:30 where you can enjoy loud music and dancing lights above your head.

The list of things to do in Vegas is endless. It’s a place where you can have genuine fun in anyway you want.

January 14, 2010 at 8:24 pm | 6 comments

Sagarmatha National Park

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Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
Photo by: Rick Mccharles , Creative Commons

Sagarmatha National Park is found in the eastern part of Nepal. It has both parts of the southern half of Mount Everest and of the Himalayas. The park was established July 19, 1976 and was inscribed as a National World Heritage Site in 1979. Sagarmatha originated from the Sanskrit word sagar which means sky and matha which means head or forehead. Currently, the famous Sagarmatha is known as the Mount Everest.

The area covers roughly around 1,148km square and ranges an elevation from its lowest peak of 2,845 at Jorsalle to 8,850m or 29,035 feet at the Everest Summit. Barren is a land 5,000m or 16,400feet. It is composed of 69% park, 28% grazing land and 3% forest. Because of the rising altitude, this park can be divided into four climate zones namely forested lower zone, alpine zone, the upper alpine zone which includes vegetation growth and the Arctic zone where no plants can live or survive.

The park visitor center is seen at the top of the hill located in Namche Bazaar the same place where Nepal Army is stationed to protect the park. The southern entrance can be found a few hundred meters north of Mondzo. Roughly around a day hike from Lukla.

Sagarmatha National Park is known to be the highest national park in the world. Located nearby are peaks of Lhotse, Thamerku, Ama Dablam, Kwangde, Pumori, cho Oyu, Kangtaiga and Gyachyung Kang. It was reported that more that 118 species of birds and 26 species of butterflies resides at this place. Among the endangered species that can be found or seen in this place are Wild Yak, Musk Deer, Snow Leopard, Red Panda and the Himalayan Black Deer. The best seasons to visit this place are during the month of October to November and December to February.

It was said that nothing can match the walker’s sense of thrill and excitement when they explore Sagarmatha National Park by foot.

January 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm | No comment