Beacons of faith rise from the ruins; John Borthwick; The West Australian

John Borthwick joins other pilgrims to marvel at the history and spirituality of several temples in Central Java.

Source: Beacons of faith rise from the ruins


Mission Possible: Saving Kaas; Gangadharan Menon; Mid-Day

India – Western Ghats

Maharashtra boasts of the ecologically rich Kaas plateau, which is akin to Uttaranchal’s Valley of Flowers. Gangadharan Menon documents the efforts of select conservationists who are trying to sensitise villagers and tourists to preserve Kaas

Kaas is considered to be Maharashtra’s own Valley of Flowers. But unlike its namesake in the Himalayas which is accessible only after an arduous trek, Kaas is at an easily motorable distance. Located just 300 km from Mumbai, and a mere 40 km from Satara, it is this easy accessibility, that’s also been the bane of this floral heaven.

And, it is in this context that the conservation efforts of people like Dr Sandeep Shrotri of Ranwata Society become extremely significant. Apart from getting Kaas included among the 39 World Natural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO along the Western Ghats, he and his team are working day in and day out to conserve the place by sensitising the visitors and the villagers.

The Western Ghats are 1,600 km long, and run through six states from Gujarat to the peninsular tip of India, and is considered by geologists to be older than the Himalayas.

Read more

Stonehenge WAS built on solstice axis: Ice ridges inspired pre-historic…; Dalya Alberge; Daily Mail

Excavations have found meltwater ridges naturally point directly at the mid-winter sunset in one direction and the mid-summer sunrise in the other.

Source: Stonehenge WAS built on solstice axis: Ice ridges inspired pre-histori

Images of the devastation of Hue royal citadel; Vietnam Net

Viet Nam – Complex of Hué Monuments

Read more

Latitude Zero from underwater; Jorge Silva; Reuters

The Galapagos Islands are a dream come true for both divers and photographers, even more so when they are combined into one.

Source: Latitude Zero from underwater

Estonia: Of culture, Skype and staying power; Elizabeth Zach; Mercury News

Estonia – Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn

When I thought to visit Estonia, I came up short for guidebooks. I found collections on all three Baltic states, or else Estonia was lumped in with guides for Scandinavia.

It seemed to me, however, that this country deserved more, in part to recognize some intriguing contradictions. Estonia, I knew, was the birthplace of Skype technology. Tallinn, however, had last year been honored for its elegance and heritage, as a European Capital of Culture.

Then there were the stag parties I’d heard about, of Brits and Finns prowling Tallinn’s cheap bars, much like what one sees in Prague. Yet I’d also read that when you visit, you somehow feel the distress of Tallinn’s occupations, the triumph and thrill of its liberations. It’s on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and rightly so: Only one street of the Old Town was razed during German air raids in World War II, so much of what you see is what has been around since the 13th century, with careful restoration, obviously.

This city, in other words, has bones.

Source: Estonia: Of culture, Skype and staying power

Phong Nha: Ten years like a dream!; P Linh; VietNamNet

Viet Nam – Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

VietNamNet Bridge – Phong Nha – Ke Bang in Quang Binh province, incentral Vietnam, is preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary ofbeing awarded the UNESCO world natural heritage title.

This heritage began to be popular in 1991 when the British Caving Association came to explore this site. Since then, Quang Binh has been known internationally with extraordinary cave system.

The cave resources are the motivation to promote the image and sustainable development of Quang Binh.

Forests are everywhere in Vietnam and there are caves too. Any place that has limestone mountains, there are caves there. However, caves in Phong Nha – Ke Bang are unfamiliar with the other. They are exceptionally large, with magnificent stalactites, complicated structures, strange and mysterious about the length and the space.

Read more

Unique section of the Great Wall draws in visitors; Bai Yang; CCTV


As people all know what the Great Wall looks like but did you know that some of it is built over water? The Jiumenkou section of the wall in Liaoning Province in North East China is famous for just that.

Read more from source

Enchanted Islands: Charles Darwin and The Voyage of the Beagle; Michael Marshall & Clover Carroll; Crozet Gazette

Read more from source

Postcard: Hitting the wall; Fleur Bainger; Kiama Independent

I don’t sleep around. Except on very special occasions. Like when I took the Great Wall of China as my bedfellow, turfing out my fiancee so I could snuggle up to a mattress of solid rock.

Source: Postcard: Hitting the wall

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen… In Bergen, Norway; Yaya; Hand Luggage Only

Norway – Bryggen

One of the biggest sights I’d wanted to see in Bergen was the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen. I’d spoken about it on the blog before and so when we finally booked our flights to Bergen, this was something I’d put at high priority on my itinerary!

First things first though, we checked into our hotel – the Basic Hotel in Bergen and met up with Linn (who’s also a blogger and lives in Bergen) for a few drinks in the sunshine and some planning on what to get up to in Bergen. Linn also caught us up on the best places to eat, the  best views and where to head out to later that evening for a drink or two! We also got given our Bergen cards – which by the way, are a great way to see the city!

Read more

Australia Hosts Reef Live Event to Showcase Great Barrier Reef; Megan Snedden; HuffPost

Read more from source

Carved stone heads start of Easter Island adventures; Lucas Ackroyd; Vancouver Sun

Wild horses graze on the grass nearby as I finish up an invigorating hike on Easter Island, officially known today as Rapa Nui in the local Polynesian dialect. I’m transfixed by the site before me.

Source: Carved stone heads start of Easter Island adventures

Borobudur: A Reminder of Indonesia’s Buddhist Past; Jonathan DeHart; The Diplomat

Standing amid the jungles and rice paddies of Central Java, Borobudur embodies the island’s religious past.

Source: Borobudur: A Reminder of Indonesia’s Buddhist Past

Belovezhskaya Pushcha included into European Protected Areas Network; Belarus

Belarus – Białowieża Forest

BREST, 28 May (BelTA) – The Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park has become a partner of PAN Parks, the European wilderness protection organization, and has been awarded the Wilderness Diploma, BelTA learned from Vasily Arnolbik, deputy director general for science of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

PAN Parks (Protected Areas Network) is a European non-governmental organization which protects the most valuable wild territories by creating a network of wildlife parks for the development of sustainable tourism. It plans to unite into a single system up to 1 million hectares of pristine natural habitats and ecosystems in Europe by 2015. Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the first and so far the only specially protected natural area of Belarus included in this international network.

Under the terms of PAN Parks, only the areas that protect at least 10,000 hectares of pristine wilderness can become its partner.

Read more

Looking for the Siamese ruins in Thailand’s Ayutthaya; Moeena Halim; Mid-Day

Thailand – Historic City of Ayutthaya

Only a few hours away from Bangkok, is the ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya. A walk through the ruins takes you back four centuries to a time when the city was a flourishing trade centre, finds Moeena Halim

What will two girls do in Thailand?” laughed a male friend, when I announced our intention to travel to the neighbouring peninsula. He’d recently been there himself, and it seemed quite clear why he (and the host of other Indian men we eventually spotted waiting in the visa queue at Suvarnabhoomi airport) had made the trip.

Our plans did not include the obvious ‘girly’ thing to do either. And when girl friends began drawing up elaborate lists, we’d had to confess that shopping was not going to be part of our itinerary. We were in for another load of confused ‘but-what-will-you-do-there’ stares.

Read more

Ancient Gardens of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka; G Ryan Smith; Land8

Sri Lanka – Ancient City of Sigiriya

In 2003, I visited Sigiriya while on a field study abroad in grad school. At the time, I was struck by the formal similarities between it and the Renaissance gardens I was learning about in landscape history classes, despite Sigiriya having been built more than a millennium earlier. I was also struck by the apparent ingenuity and technical ability of these ancient builders in shaping the land and hydrologic systems. The gardens not only feature fountains that function to this day, but the surrounding area, which is located on the highlands in the central part of the island, features ancient aqueducts used to capture water for agricultural irrigation.

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation about the size of Ireland located in the Indian Ocean just offshore from India. It’s most familiar to modern-day Americans for its long-running civil war that ended in May of 2009 and for being the cultural homeland of London-born rapper M.I.A. Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the central portion of the island.

Source: Ancient Gardens of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka – Land8

Walking on Water; Dilip Bobb; Indian Express

Italy – Venice and its Lagoon


Read more from source: Walking on Water – Indian Express

Rock and awe: William Clift’s Shiprock and Mont St. Michel images; Michael Abatemarco; Santa Fe New Mexican

Any photographer can take a pretty picture of a place, but William Clift sees its timeless soul. One such place is Mont St. Michel, a tidal island connected at low…

Source: Rock and awe: William Clift’s Shiprock and Mont St. Michel images

Easter Island: Along an ancient path; Kenneth Kiesnosky; Travel Weekly

It goes by several names: Rapa Nui, Isla de Pascua and Easter Island. But whatever you call it, this isolated mid-Pacific outpost is one of the world’s most enigmatic, if not top-of-mind, destinations.

Source: Easter Island: Along an ancient path: Travel Weekly