In pictures: Afghanistan’s ‘safest province’; Ali M Latifi & Abasin Azarm; Al Jazeera English

Afghanistan – Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Bamiyan may not be wracked by violence, but it continues to suffer from poverty and years of underdevelopment.

Ringed by snow-covered mountains, Bamiyan has often been called Afghanistan’s “safest” province.

Its roads, paved for the first time in the central province’s history, make Bamiyan’s natural beauty and historical artifacts more accessible than ever. In interviews with Al Jazeera, residents of Bamiyan city and mountainside villages alike spoke proudly of their province’s safety compared to the rest of the nation.

But despite Bamiyan’s relative safety, poverty remains rampant. Nearly 70 percent of the province’s roughly 418,000 people live on less than $25 per month.

“We continue to struggle, so many people are without jobs,” said 19-year-old Zahra in Bamiyan city’s Titanic Market area.

The winter’s snow brings with it a host of economic and health problems.

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Former imperial citadel is masterclass in architecture, romance; VietnamNet, SGT

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Eat, pray, massage; Jules Quartly; China Daily

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Indonesia – Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

Bali deserves its reputation as the ‘Island of the Gods’, Jules Quartly decides, although being so popular has inevitably changed it over the years.

An abiding memory of my first visit to the cultured tropical island of Bali 25 years ago is being ferried around in army jeeps and kids on the side of dirt roads waving at us, wearing just shorts and huge smiles. Nowadays, it’s two-lane traffic jams and Buddha factories, beauty salon billboards and convenience stores. Abandoned constructions speak of unfinished business and the after-effects of the global economic crisis, while security checks at hotels, nightclubs and the airport recall the Bali bombing of 10 years ago.

But while much has changed, the magic remains and from the average tourist’s point of view, it has arguably been enhanced.

For instance, it’s no longer a problem finding a comfortable place to stay on the Indonesia isle, since there are about 2,200 hotels to choose from. Then there are all the mod cons, a service-friendly culture and plenty of luxury goods to shop for if you feel so-minded.

 

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TALLINN: A rich blend of off-beat and old world charm; Suvam Pal; Zee News

Estonia – Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn

It may not be a prominent place in a global traveller’s map but Estonia is certainly one of the youngest and most vibrant countries with its capital Tallinn being the centrepiece. With its mesmerizing blend of old world charm and modern day glitter and glitz, the Estonian capital comes as an elaborate and extensive platter for any travel connoisseur.

Old Town, eternal charm

A thousand year-old-settlement still standing tall even after numerous attacks, bombardments and having undergone several leadership changes with the Danes, Germans and the Russians taking over the fortified old town, the capital city is strategically positioned at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town, fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers, is Tallinn’s biggest draw. Time stands still when you walk down the twisting cobblestone lanes, surrounded by Gothic spires and colourful, gabled medieval buildings, half-hidden courtyards, towering, grandiose churches and Brobdingnagian walls, dotted with stone guard towers.

Source: TALLINN: A rich blend of off-beat and old world charm

Take a tour of the City of Light; Melo Villareal; Out of Town Blog

La Ville Lumière, or the “City of Light,” is one of many nicknames for Paris, France and was bestowed on the capital for two reasons.  During the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century Europe, intellectuals sought to promote science and the exchange of ideas, as opposed to intolerance and superstition.  Paris was regarded as a…

Source: Take a tour of the City of Light – Out of Town Blog

Białowieża Forest, Where Bison Have Come Back from the Brink; Mike Wheatley; Argophilia

Poland – Białowieża Forest

There are few travelers to Poland that won’t have come across the local variety of vodka, Zubrowka, at least once on their travels. Zubrowka is memorable not just because of its potency – which can knock the socks of even the most hardened drinkers – but also because of its distinctive label featuring a fearsome-looking bison, or zubr.

Sadly, few travelers are aware of just how precarious the European bison’s existence is today; nor do they realize that these magnificent beasts can actually be seen in the wild.

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La Alhambra is an Arab World Marvel Worth Queuing For; Tafline Laylin; Green Prophet

Around 7pm in autumn, a golden light cradles La Alhambra, a Moorish fortress and palace complex located in Granada, Spain. The reddish exterior walls and the…

Source: La Alhambra is an Arab World Marvel Worth Queuing For (Photos)

Getting Musical In Nova Scotia; Sharon Hoge; Huffington Post

Source: PHOTOs: Getting Musical In Nova Scotia

Experience China’s wonderwall; IOL Travel

Visitors now have the option of walking, hiking or sleeping on the Great Wall.

Source: Experience China’s wonderwall | IOL Travel

Korgalzhyn; Unesco

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Kazakhstan – Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan

Korgalzhyn, is Kazakhstan’s first biosphere reserve. Situated in the north central part of Kazakhstan, the site is a complex of freshwater and saline lakes embedded in the dry steppe zone of Eurasia. Environmental degradation caused by previously unsustainable management practices are now being addressed with a number of pilot projects.

Declaration date: 2012
Administrative authorities: Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve
Surface area: 1,603,171 ha
Core area(s): 543, 171 ha
Buffer zone(s): 90,000 ha
Transition area(s): 970,000 ha

Location:
Latitude: 49°54’N – 50°59’N
Longitude: 67°53’E – 71°01’E
Central point: 50º05’41″N – 69º12’09″E

Ecological Characteristics

The territory is characterized by elevated plains, hills, lake depressions and marked by an extreme-continental climate.

Korgalzhyn Biosphere Reserve is a natural complex of fresh and saline waters with coastal territories which include unique landscapes characteristics of the dry steppe zone of Eurasia. This makes it an important wetland site for migratory water birds. Potential fodder reserves of only one Tengiz lake are able to provide food for 15 million birds. The most Northern nesting population of Flamingo is located here; its population in some years may reach 50,000-60,000 birds.

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IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center celebrates 10 years and 1,600 animals saved; IFAW

India – Kaziranga National Park

An elephant calf injured in a village, a rhino orphaned by poachers, a full-grown tiger discovered in a well and a leopard found in a house! These are four of 1,600 animals and 150 species saved in the last ten years at IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Center in northeast, India.

Situated near Kaziranga National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the northeast Indian state of Assam, the center was opened in 2002 by IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org), in partnership with the Assam Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). Since then it has also pioneered hand-raising and rehabilitation of numerous species of wild animals including clouded leopards, rhinos, elephants, bears and birds like the greater adjutant storks and India’s only apes -the Hoolock gibbons.

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Aleppo’s Old Town: World Cultural Heritage Threatened by Syria’s Civil War; Claudia Mende; Qantara.de

Large-scale destruction is being inflicted on the unique historical and cultural legacy of the Syrian commercial metropolis Aleppo. And the people of the city had actually only just begun to show an interest in that legacy.

Source: Aleppo’s Old Town: World Cultural Heritage Threatened by Syria’s Civil War – Qantara.de

Climbing Sigiriya: On top and out of this world; Meg; Travelife

Sri Lanka – Ancient City of Sigiriya

Sigiriya was a good four-and-a-half hours away from Colombo via a single two-lane road that snaked through bustling trading towns and sleepy villages of traditional wooden houses and crumbling colonial-style cottages. It was going to be my second visit in 12 months, and it was on this long drive that I’d finally made up my mind to climb the mountain.

Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic images and the jewel of its set of eight UNESCO World Heritage sites – an impressive number for a fairly small island, with two more heritage sites being finalized as I write.

When seen from the top, its dramatic setting on a lush, virginal plain devoid of structures and stretching 360 degrees as far as the eye can manage, is truly a wonder to behold. Up close and personal, it is no less dramatic.

The kaleidoscope of colors that play on its rocky façade especially as the sun begins its slow descent for the day – turning the rock into varying hues of orange and purple – is the stuff that calendars are made of.

NOWHERE BUT UP

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Travel Desk assistance by United-21 grassland resort at Kaziranga; PRLog

India – Kaziranga National Park

Get the best assistance from the travel desk of United-21 grassland resort in Kaziranga. During your visit to Kaziranga National Park you can stay at one of the resorts near Kaziranga. Among many resorts at the destination, United-21 Grassland resort in Kaziranga provides nice accommodation near the park. This resort is dedicated to make use of tourism as the best means of conserving wildlife and ultimately the environment. The travel desk of the resort assists the visitors in selecting suitable Kaziranga wildlife tour or the Elephant safaris. Other assistance provided by the helpdesk is for guided tours or trekking in nearby beautiful trekking sites. This resort proves to be an ultimate guide while exploring the grasslands and forests of Kaziranga.

Kaziranga National Park, in Assam is the most deserving destination for the nature lovers and animal life enthusiasts.

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One Lake Under the Italian Sun; Sally Heard; Wessex Scene

Italy – Venice and its Lagoon

For the past few years my family and I have visited the beautiful Lake Garda (found in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto) and surrounding area for a few weeks during the summer holiday…

Read more from source: One Lake Under the Italian Sun

Kayaking the Rideau Canal; Pierre Home-Douglas; Postmedia News

Canada – Rideau Canal

A kayak trip from Kingston to Ottawa takes about eight scenic days.

Over the years, I have done a fair number of long-distance canoe and kayak trips. Most of them have been on northern lakes and rivers in Ontario and Quebec, where I had to carry all my food and provisions for a week or so at a time. Still, I have long had a hankering to do something closer to home – a trip that combines some history along with pleasant countryside.

The Rideau Canal seemed to fit the bill. The 202-kilometre-long route from Kingston to Ottawa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And with good reason: It was built in the early 19th century by a group of British engineers and Irish and French-Canadian labourers under the command of Colonel By, for whom Ottawa was once named (Bytown).

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A royal tomb: then and now; Thanh Nien News

 

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Real oasis in the land of bling; Margaret Turton; The West Australian

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UAE – Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas)

It’s quite wrong to assume that the United Arab Emirates, and the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have never looked back since the discovery of oil.

Founder and first president, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, believed a country without a past had “neither a present nor a future”. And that was very fortunate because, on June 28, 2011, the ancient city of Al Ain secured a UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Al Ain is a desert oasis about 120km south of Dubai and is a distinct alternative to the thrusting new cities.

It was once home to the late Sheikh Zayed and offers charm and originality, qualities immediately apparent at Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, his Al Ain residence from 1937-66.

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The Peoples, Languages, and History of the Pyrenees Region; Friedrich Edelmayer; Brewminate

Spain – Burgos Cathedral

Abstract

The Pyrenees region encompasses areas from the Kingdom of Spain, the Republic of France and the Principality of Andorra. It is also linguistically heterogeneous. In addition to the official state languages Spanish and French, Basque, Aragonese, Catalan and Occitan are spoken. All of these languages have co-official character in certain regions of Spain, although not in France. In the modern era, changes to the political-geographical boundary between the present states of France and Spain occurred in the 16th century, when the Kingdom of Navarre was divided into two unequal parts, and in 1659/1660 when northern Catalonia became part of France after the Treaty of the Pyrenees. However, the border area between France and Spain was not only a stage for conflict, but also a setting for numerous communication and transfer processes.

Introduction

There are three states today in the area of Europe which is dominated by the PyreneesMountains: the French Republic (République française), the Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España) and, in the middle of the (high) mountains, the small Principality of Andorra (Principat d’Andorra).

Source: The Peoples, Languages, and History of the Pyrenees Region

Postcard Perfect: Sunset at Mont Saint-Michel – Normandy, France; Rachel Greenberg; Nile Guide

The tidal island in Normandy, France where Mont Saint-Michel now stands had been used since the 6th century as a military fort, before becoming the home of the Saint-Michel monastery in the 8th century.

Source: Postcard Perfect: Sunset at Mont Saint-Michel – Normandy, France