Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Brazilian city with mighty waterfalls

Think Brazil and the majority would be instantly transported to a land of pristine beaches, tormented by gorgeous figures, the hedonistic carnival, samba drums, the magnificent Christ The Redeemer and maybe the notorious favelas. 

It's what we've all imagined Brazil to be like, courtesy Hollywood and lately, a bunch of reality TV shows. once spending a large quantity of your time in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, I might vouch for all of the on top of. however beneath the glitz and funk, i used to be determined to search out a lot of soul, a lot of journey, a lot of of the important Brazil that we do not get to visualize back home. And with that firm belief in place, variety of road journeys ensured. 

First among them was Foz Do Iguacu, alittle city South of Brazil that shares its borders with each Argentina and Paraguay. I spent future ten days within the company of a childhood friend of mine that created the full expertise all the a lot of exciting. 

Without a lot of ado, we have a tendency to launched on our journey from Sao Paulo, stopping in Rio for a handful of days, moving to Curitiba for an additional 2 days before hopping on to future out there bus to Foz do Iguacu. the maximum amount as we have a tendency to each loved speed, we have a tendency to did not need to rush our journey. Buses in Brazil are very snug and overnight buses even have a rest room onboard. you may got to ignore the actual fact that it prices the maximum amount as an air price tag. 

After concerning fourteen hours, we have a tendency to were at Foz do Iguacu - a quaint very little city that thrives mainly on tourism because of the favored 'cataratas' (waterfalls). we have a tendency to selected a hostel near the falls and wasted no time in heading out to them. With a complete day before us, we have a tendency to were excited to explore the national park where they were all located. 

From the hostel, we have a tendency to took a bus that took us right up to the gate of the Parque Nacional do Iguacu. we have a tendency to paid the entry fees to the national park and were immediately ushered into yet one more open roof double decker bus with daring animated characters painted on it. The 15-minute journey zigzagged through lush vegetation and was accompanied with ambient sounds and an earthy smell, it had been a pleasant ride. At one purpose we have a tendency to zipped through a colossal array of presumably a thousand butterflies. Where the bus stopped, a lot of wildlife awaited - iguanas, monkeys and plenty of grasshoppers. From now on, we have a tendency to had the falls in sight. 

Interestingly, the Foz Do Iguacu waterfalls don't seem to be solely taller than Niagara - they're conjointly twice as wide! As we have a tendency to walked past the 'trilha' - the trekking path, the sheer expanse of the falls was captivating and images simply could not do justice to what we have a tendency to had in sight. nearer to the middle of the falls lies an extended viewing gallery that permits you to soak within the expertise (and yourself) within the screaming roar and brilliance of the majestic falls. 

We noticed some vultures circling nearby and took it as a symbol to continue our journey towards lunch. remember to wave to the nice people in Argentina waving at you from the opposite aspect of the border though. 

After a hearty full course buffet, we have a tendency to were raring to travel. As soon as we have a tendency to got out of the national park we have a tendency to headed straight to the Itaipu Hydroelectric Power plant. I've forever marveled at Brazil's superb industrial may and this was an excellent chance to induce a better check out it. Run as a joint venture between Brazil and Paraguay, the dam at this location - because of the may of the Iguacu falls, powers ninetieth of Paraguay and 2 hundredth of Brazil. currently those are some spectacular facts. The structure's price conjointly makes it one amongst the foremost expensive manmade structures ever designed. the complete tour and museum was well worthwhile and that we stood in awe of each nature and man. On our resolution, we have a tendency to lucked out by recognizing the Parque Das Aves, a bird sanctuary that housed a number of the world's most exotic birds. 

Some of these winged people were thus friendly that you just might usually spot a random toucan prodding, pecking and jumping around with guests. they appear like they need a wacky sense of humour however i am unable to make certain. 

All in all, it had been an ideal day spent exploring one amongst nature's most gorgeous wonders. to not mention the man-made mega structure that manages to power up an oversized chunk of 2 nations.

Getting there - native 
From Rio de Janeiro, buses ply often to the town of Foz do Iguacu. it's common information that a significant a part of the falls are on the Argentinian aspect whereas Brazil enjoys a much better read. If doable, attempt to expertise it from each side. Border crossings are nearby and simply accessible. don't settle for to hold any bags or material for co-passengers. I nearly fell for this, had it not been for the alert bus driver who warned me that it can be counterfeit or smuggled product being moved across borders! 

From India 
There aren't any direct flights to Brazil from India. you will fly via Dubai/ Johannesburg/ London, etc. Reach Rio de Janeiro town and fly/ take the bus to Foz do Iguacu. 

Pint of beer (cerveja): R$2.50 (Rs 40) Budget Hostel: R$40 (Rs 800) - R$50 (Rs.1,000) Hotel: R$100 (Rs a pair of,000) onwards 

Worlds Top 10 Airports

Kashgar the opposite face of China

The lady sitting next to me gripped the perimeters of her seat, shut her eyes and began mumbling some prayers because the plane rocked from aspect to aspect. Elsewhere within the cabin, folks started screaming. Not precisely the prospect I had in mind once I booked my flight from Urumqi to Kashgar in China's remote western province of Xinjiang. 

A turbulent journey 
The day had started promisingly enough. contemporary snow had simply fallen on Urumqi, giving the industrial-looking town a fairytale sheen. however the primary hint of hassle came once I fell upon the airport at seven am. The flight to Kashgar had been postponed to an indefinite time owing to robust winds. as long as the choice was a twenty five hour train journey, I had very little alternative however to attend. it had been a relief when the bottom crew finally announced that the primary flight to Kashgar would embark at a pair of pm. Somehow, amidst the mad scramble, I managed to induce a coveted seat. 

But I had rejoiced too early. once an aborted commit to land, since the plane started swaying and plunging on its descent to Kashgar, the pilot announced that he was returning to Urumqi - a 2 hour flight away. By the time I finally arrived in Kashgar once the pilot created yet one more commit to fly there once he arrived in Urumqi, it had been already nine pm. 

I was exhausted, bedraggled and grouchy. Not the proper mood to start out a vacation. however as I caught the primary glimpse of the legendary oasis town of Kashgar and elements of its 500-year-old town wall, my excitement came. 

Are we have a tendency to still in China? 
Kashgar, whose terribly name evokes exoticism and journey, was a very important trading town throughout the times of the Silk Road and continues to be one even nowadays. Being nearer to Bishkek and Almaty than Beijing, the town is seen as China's gateway to Central Asia, and this proximity provides the town a particular Central Asian flavour. 

In fact, if not for the Chinese characters on signboards and road signs, it does not even feel like China. Uyghur bazaars, tea homes and faces dominate the streets. and lots of of the ladies are veiled. 

However, since the deadly ethnic clashes in many areas of Xinjiang in 2009, Kashgar has been place below serious police surveillance. it's finally the Uyghur's heartland. however whereas some residents told me that there was still some animosity between the Uyghurs and also the Han Chinese, it will not hinder you from exploring the town. Nor can it stop you from interacting with the city's hospitable folks - one amongst whom even volunteered to send a Uyghur song to my mobile via Bluetooth once I asked him concerning the song he was being attentive to. 

A changing landscape 
However, Kashgar won't stay the manner it's for for much longer. Though its previous city has been hailed because the bestpreserved example of a standard Islamic town to be found anywhere in Central Asia, the Chinese authorities have started tearing down huge chunks of it. By some estimates, some eighty five per cent of the structures at intervals the previous city are razed eventually. and also the reasons cited for doing thus are that several of the buildings are at risk of collapse in a very seismic event. Some question, however, if different motives could also be at play because the space is at the guts of the Uyghur culture. 

Regardless of the explanations, the move is lamentable because the demolition works, once completed, can't be reversed. For now, most of the remaining elements of the previous city, with its labyrinthine alleys and mud-and-straw homes are on each side of Jiefang (Liberation) Road. Here, one will still catch a glimpse of how Kashgar used to be. On one street corner, there will be coppersmiths hammering away on their bowls, pans and jugs, whereas on another, ladies in their headscarves are haggling over the cuts of mutton hanging on meat hooks. and each once in a very whereas, donkey cart drivers may be heard shouting the warning Posh! Posh! as they navigate the slim streets. 

The friendly locals 
It was in one amongst the aspect streets of the previous city that I came upon an amicable middle-aged Uyghur girl who invited me into her house for tea. She had seen me snapping footage of the ochre-coloured alleys and archways outside her house within the biting winter chill. it had been a pity we have a tendency to couldn't communicate as there have been several queries I would've asked her. What are her thoughts on the destruction of the previous Town? How will she feel concerning the ethnic clashes? 

From her house, I headed to the magnificent yellow-tiled Id Kah Mosque that lies at the guts of the present previous city. in-built the fifteenth century, the mosque is one amongst the most important in Central Asia. each Friday, it homes nearly ten,000 worshippers, and on special occasions, it will accommodate up to twenty,000 people. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter outside of prayer times, giving a peek into its distinctive Islamic design infused with Uyghur components. The serenity of its inner courtyard with its majestic poplar trees and ponds provides a refuge from the bustle outside. 

The inimitable sunday market 
I later plunged headlong into the madness that's Kashgar's Sunday Market. it's said that Kashgar's population swells by fifty,000 each Sunday as folks everywhere Central Asia stream in to the market, that sells nearly everything below the sun - from exquisite carpets to ancient Uyghur daggers to fashionable appliances. I could've spent hours exploring this fascinating market that is at its peak on Sundays. 

Equally attention-grabbing is that the Livestock Market that lies southeast of the town. it had been abuzz with patrons and sellers from all across Central Asia. raise that, a mixture of thousands of bleating sheep, dozens of cattle and camels, the aroma of cooked meat wafting across from the nearby makeshift food stalls and also the swirling clouds of ochre-colored mud. It's as if i used to be transported back to the times of yore. 

But for how long can this previous World charm endure? For the longest time, its remoteness has sealed it from the massive changes sweeping across China. maybe its time is up. maybe the wave of modernity can render it unrecognisable 5 years from currently. I hope i am being overly pessimistic.

The cost of living in Kashgar is far below within the wealthier jap provinces of China. you ought to be able to live comfortably on US$50 each day. Take note, however, that costs are usually negotiable thus be ready to cut price arduous, though in a very good-natured manner. 

Best time to go to 
With a comparatively short winter and a protracted cool summer, temperatures in Kashgar are pleasant most of the year. The coldest month is January (average temperature of -6 °C), whereas the most popular month is in July (average temperature of twenty seven °C). the most effective time to travel is between could and October, however do time your visit to coincide with the livestock market on Sundays. 

Easter Island myth and reality of a culture

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Travel lightweight and right

We offer you tips about a way to keep your baggage lightweight. 

 opt for a giant bag: 
 the primary issue you must continuously keep in mind is to hold no more than 2 suitcases. Ideally, you must inspect for one giant suitcase to accommodate everything. certify the suitcase isn't too serious and is simple to cart along, wherever you go. 

 don't overload the toiletries: 
 you'll be able to simply purchase some a lot of whereas you are out there or borrow from your co-travellers. So, don't complicate things by packing unnecessary things. assume simple; carry an everyday toothbrush and not a giant electrical one and conjointly a smaller towel. 

 Where to draw the line? 
 lots of individuals do not know when to draw the road when it involves packing clothing and shoes. the primary issue to recollect is that you are not immigrating to the place and hence you do not have to be compelled to empty out your entire closet into your suitcase. List the amount of days you're visiting an area and pack your garments accordingly. do not be afraid to repeat your garments, finally it's simply a visit. do not be cautious concerning doing the laundry by yourself. 

 Keep It Simple: 
 you will be tempted to pile your luggage with a lot of books. Don't. the simplest possibility is to photocopy the pages you would like thus you do not ought to carry around serious books all day. Carry along maps and necessary addresses. 

 produce Space: 
 Roll clothes up into tight tubes to avoid wasting packing area. 

 strive talking to different travellers who have visited a similar locations within the past. This way, you'll be told concerning what you must ideally carry along.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Top Visited Sacred Sites in the World

Pilgrimage has always been one of the greatest reasons for travel. Be it the Hajj or the Kumbh Mela, religion and travel have gone hand in hand for longer than we can imagine. The travel magazine Travel+Leisure recently drew up a list of the most visited travel sites in the world.

While the good folks at Travel Leisure did not attempt to differentiate between the devout and secular -- largely because most of these sites are open to public and it is therefore impossible to put an accurate figure on the reasons for people travelling there – they also restricted their search to holy places associated with only the major religions that are being practiced in the world. This struck temples of Greek Gods, Mayan pyramids and Stonehenge.

Also struck off the list were gatherings like the Kumbh that is said to draw more than 60 million visitors every 12 years as well as the Shroud of Turin that is shown only every few years since they 'focused on actual, physical structures'.

While two Indian sites found their way into the top ten, Amritsar's Golden Temple couldn't because they 'couldn't get a reliable confirmation for India's Sikh Golden Temple of Amritsar, suggested to receive 10,000 visitors daily' also missing from the list is the 'Temple Square in Salt Lake City because 'because the site's representative wasn't able to give (them) a official number of annual visitors -- just the statement that 'millions' pass through annually'. They did acknowledge however that 'the Mormon site purports to be the No 1 tourist attraction in Utah'.

Here are some of the sites that topped the list:

Dazaifu Tenmangu, Japan
Built over the grave of Sugawara no Michizane, a poet, scholar and a man who has been called the god of calligraphy and literature, the shrine has over 6,000 Asian plum trees of 167 varieties as well as 1,500 year-old camphor trees and fields of iris.

To the right of the honden or the main shrine stands a tree known as Tobiume which according to a legend, Michizane yearned for so muchm it was uprooted and brought here after he left Koyoto in exile!

Annual Visitors: 6.6 million

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
One of the holiest Catholic site that features some of the most beautiful paintings, marble columns, statues and works of some of the greatest Renaissance artists including Raphael,  Bernini and Michelangelo among others, St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City is ranked number 11 in the list of the most visited sacred sites in the world.

Annual Visitors: 7 million

Ise Jingu, Ise, Japan
A Shinto shrine dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami the Ise Grand Shrine is located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. Ise Jingu is a shrine complex that has a number of shrines that surround the two main shrines -- Naikū and Gekū.

Said to be one of holiest and most important sites, the shrine is also said to be home to the Sacred Mirror (that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan). Access to the shrine however is limited with visitors being permitted to see little beyond the thatched roofs.

According to the rule, the high priest or priestess must come from the Japanese imperial family and must watch over the shrine.

Annual Visitors: 8.5 million

Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji Temples, Kyoto
Offering panoramic views of Koyoto's city centre, the Kiyomizu-dera or 'Pure Water Temple' ranks number seven in Travel+Leisure's list of the most visited sacred sites. 

Dating back to 778, the present buildings of the Kiyomizu-dera were constructed in 1633, during a restoration. It takes its name from a waterfall within its temple complex.

Most fascinatingly, there isn't a single nail used in the construction of Kiyomizu-dera.

Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan that has been designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape. Attracting millions of visitors annually, the Kinkaku-ji is known amongst Apple users as 'Golden Palace' as it appears in a photograph in the desktop picture art of Apple's OS X computer operating system.

Tied at number seven are Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in the Chiba Prefecture and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan.

Annual Visitors: 10 million and 6 million

Sacre Coeur Basilica, Paris
Located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. Designed by Paul Abadie, its construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. After the end of World War I in 1919, it was consecrated and attracts millions of visitors, in part we suspect fro the stunning views it offers of Paris.

Annual Visitors: 10.5 million

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Known as the Notre Dame Cathedral or quite simply Notre Dame is one of the most prominent landmarks of Paris. Considered to be one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture the cathedral was vandalised during the French Revolution when most of the religious imagery was destroyed.

The Notre Dame is one of the most-visited tourist site in France and has several statues of saints, angles and stained-glass windows depicting biblical stories.

Annual Visitors: 13.65 million

Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams Temple, Andhra Pradesh, India
Said to be one of the richest religious shrines in the world the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams Temple recently crossed a record-breaking collection of Rs 5.73 crore after a devotee from New Delhi contributed Rs 2 crore to the temple.

The temple is located in the hill town of Tirumala in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh with Lord Venkateswara, a form of the Hindu god Vishnu being its presiding deity. 

Annual Visitors: 18.25 million.

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City
A pilgrimage site since 1531-32, The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic church and the National Shrine of Mexico.

Built at the place where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the Basilica is an important site for Catholics with over 20 million people visiting it each year.

December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the day when it sees the most number of visitors.

Annual Visitors: 20 million

Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, India
Dedicated to Lord Shiva and located in the ancient city of Varanasi, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is said to be one of the holiest temples for the Hindus that every Hindu is expected to visit at least once in his/her lifetime. The temple is worth visiting as is the city that is known to be one of the oldest living city in the world with at least 3500 years of documented history.

Varanasi is also known as Kashi and the presiding deity of the temple is known as Vishwanath or the Ruler of the Universe -- hence the name Kashi Vishwanath.

Annual Visitors: 21.9 million

Meiji Shrine and Sensoji-Temple, Tokyo
The thing with Japan is you really won't ever run out of temples and shrines to visit. The Meiji Shinto shrine is built to honour the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken built in 628 while Sensoji has been dedicated to Bodhisattva Kannon.

Located in Tokyo, the Meiji Shrine is surrounded by a heavily wooded forest that houses a traditional teahouse, two museums, a self-pumping well and a lot more.

The Sensoji Temple and its surroundings perhaps represent best the architecture and charm of old Tokyo so much so they have become emblematic of Japanese culture for the world outside. Besides hosting a temple, the block has a market, a large pagoda and numerous shrines.

Annual Visitors: 30 million each

Summer Vacations Destinations 2012

If you're planning a trip for the summer holidays, here is our list of top destinations to choose from with some emphasis on health. 

We believe that the way to enjoy a holiday is to infuse it with healthy activity and food, and these destinations provide you all the activity required to keep you on the move this summer. You may take a break from your health routine but on these healthy vacations it won't hinder your health and weight goals much. So here are the top 5 summer vacation destinations:  

Healthy Destination - Bhutan or Nepal 
Enjoy the crisp mountain air if you decide to go for a trekking holiday in one of these fabulous mountain destinations. Not only will you get unpolluted air to breathe for a few days, but also since you are going trekking, your holiday will be filled with activity and movement. No sitting around and eating here. Not only is this great for your body, but the solitude that trekking provides you with, even if you go with friends or your better half, is great for your mental health too as you won't be bombarded with the constant sounds and incessant chattering of people, colleagues, and pressures back home. You can go trekking to Ladakh, Sikkim, and many other Himalayan destinations. 

 Scuba diving in Thailand 
Thailand has a lot of great diving sites like Phuket, Ko Tao, Similian islands and the Surin islands. Infact you can learn scuba diving nearly anywhere in this country and it's a perfect destination for scuba diving experts and learners alike, with a lot of courses for beginners and for those who want to get certified. Another reason to visit Thailand is the food. The method of cooking seafood ensures that the seafood is fresh, and you will end up eating a lot of real food, and green vegetables instead of junk food.  

Andaman and Nicobar islands 
Not only are they close by, but these nearby islands are packed with activities. Do water sports, swim, snorkel, dive, and eat the abundant fresh seafood and lets not forget, basking in the vitamin D that we get so little off at home. A perfect way to spend a healthy family holiday. 

Coconut being the chief ingredient in most Kerelite food, God's own country already has an advantage. Not to mention coastal food, greenery, which will take you away from polluted city air, opportunities galore to escape from the din and the hustle bustle of modern life, and the world famous spas and Ayurveda treatments. If it's rest and relaxation you're looking for, then look no further. 

The Mediterranean 
Take your pick from Southern Italy, Spain, or Greece. If you love eating, then this is the place to go, as for the most part you can want all you want and still eat healthy (provided you don't overdo the pizza). The history and the culture accompanied with this visit will ensure that your brain gets as much exercise as your body as you will be walking, walking, and walking, without even feeling it.