Travel

The Scenic View of Batanes, Philippines

When visiting places, it is not enough that we see the city – the tall skyscrapers, hustle and bustle of people, and man-made architectural beauty. We should try to immerse ourselves in the rural landscape – mountainous tops, hospitable native tribes, and natural beauty.

And in the Philippines one rural landscape that should be seen by both Filipinos and foreigners is Batanes.

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Hill in Batanes (1)

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Cows roaming the green hills in Batanes (2)

PROVINCE OF BATANES

The northernmost and smallest province in the Philippines is BATANES. It is an island province consisting of ten islands. Out of the ten islands, only three are inhabited which happens to be the largest islands in the area; these include the islands Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang.

The islands are approximately 162 kilometers north of Luzon Island (one of the three main islands in the Philippines) and 190 kilometers south of Taiwan.

CLIMATE

Batanes experiences a fair share amount of rain. The rainiest month is during August, while April is the driest month. Temperature ranges from 22 to 28.5 degrees Celsius.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The natives of the province are known as Ivatan – a mixture of Babuyan (natives from the Cagayan Valley, Philippines) and Tao people (natives from Orchid Island, Taiwan).

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An Ivatan woman wearing a vakul, an abaca fiber-made headgear for sunlight and rain protection (3)

There are two main languages in the province. Ivatan is used on Batan and Sabtang Islands, while Itbayaten is used in Itbayat Island.

Traditional homes in Batanes are made out of limestone. These are sturdy materials that could withstand extreme environmental conditions in the province.

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An Ivatan house: walls made of limestone and coral while rood is made from cogon grass (4)

TRANSPORTATION

The best way to reach the province is via place. There are two airports in the province: Basco Airport and Itabayat Airport. However there are limited number of flight from Manila (the country’s capital) and Tuguegarao.

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Basco Airport (5)

PLACES OF INTEREST

BASCO

Basco is the provincial capital of Batanes and located on Batan Island. One of the domestic airports could be found here. It is a main entry and exit point to the province. Majority of the people live here.

BASCO LIGHTHOUSE

The most notable landmark in Batanes is the Basco Lighthouse. The beauty of the surrounding blended with the magnificent lighthouse makes it a picturesque scene. The lighthouse itself stands at 66 feet or six-story.

The fifth floor is used as a viewing deck for tourists. From the viewing deck one could admire the scenery of the ocean, hills, as well as neighboring islands. Surrounding the lighthouse are Ivatan houses.

Basco Lighthouse is just one of the three lighthouses built in Batanes to guide seafarers and serves as an attraction sight. The other two lighthouses are located at Mahatao (Tayid Lighthouse) and Sabtang Island (Sabtang Lighthouse).

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Basco Lighthouse (6)

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Basco Lighthouse (7)

SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH

Aside from the city proper and the lighthouse, tourists should not miss Santo Domingo Church or Basco Cathedral. The church was built in dedication to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception but the name of the church was obtained from the patron saint of Batanes who was Saint Domingo.

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Sto. Domingo Church (8)

MOUNT IRAYA

Mount Iraya on Batan Island is one of the active volcanoes in the country. The place is perfect for mountaineers and adventure seekers.

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Mount Iraya (9)

SAN JOSE DE IVANA CHURCH

A famous church in Batan Island is San Jose de Ivana Church or simply Ivana Church. Spaniards had a large impact in Christianity to the province. Because of this influence, a roman catholic church in dedication to Saint Joseph was established. In 2008 the church is a National Historical Landmark.

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Ivana Church (10)

SAN CARLOS BORROMEO CHURCH

Another church in Batan Island is San Carlos Borromeo Church, also known as Mahatao Church. The church is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo whose feast day is celebrated every Fourth of July. In 2001, the church was declared a National Cultural Treasure.

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San Carlos Borromeo Church (11)

SABTANG

Sabtang is the southernmost island municipality in Batanes Province. Well-known attractions of the municipality include the lighthouse, churches, and white beaches.

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San Vicente Ferrer Church (12)

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White sand beach in Sabtang Island, Batanes, Philippines

VALUGAN BOULDER BEACH

Aside from fine white sand beaches, Batanes also offers a unique beach front. Instead of the usual fine white sand, tourists are greeted by boulders of igneous rocks. Swimming is not advisable in this part of the beach but, taking photographs during sunrise is perfect.

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Valuga Beach (13)

See more:

It’s More Fun In The Philippines – Batanes
http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/batanes/

Beautiful Batanes: 10 Things To Do
http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/30732-batanes-10-things

Batanes Islands
http://www.philsite.net/batanes.htm

Ecstatic Globetrotter

REFERENCES:
“15 Must Visit Spots in Batanes.” Of Trips and Travel Notes. 3 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <https://banebanerbanest.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/15-must-visit-spots-in-batanes/>.
“Batanes.” Its More Fun in the Philippines RSS. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/batanes/>.
“Batanes.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batanes>.
“Pinoy Adventurista : THINGS TO DO IN BATANES: Batan Island North Tour – “Amazing Places to Visit, Tourist Spots and Attractions in Basco, Batanes”” Pinoyadventurista.com. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://www.pinoyadventurista.com/2014/01/things-to-do-in-batanes-batan-north-tour.html>.
“Places to See | Your Personalized Tour Operator for Batanes. ” We Make Everything Affordable” | BCTA.” Your Personalized Tour Operator for Batanes We Make Everything Affordable. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://batanestravel.com/discover-batanes-2/places-to-see/>.
“Province of Batanes Tourism.” And Vacations: 19 Things to Do in Province of Batanes. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g1189840-Province_of_Batanes_Cagayan_Valley_Region_Luzon-Vacations.html>.
“Twelve Sights in Batanes You Shouldn’t Miss.” GMA News Online. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/224115/lifestyle/twelve-sights-in-batanes-you-shouldn-t-miss>.

IMAGES:
1. Bingbing. Hills in Batanes, Philippines. April 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
2. Bingbing. Cows roaming the green hills in Batanes, Philippines. April 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
3. Jimenez, Anne. An Ivatan woman. April 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
4. Jimenez, Anne. Oldest house in Ivatan, Batanes. April 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
5. Tharty. Basco Airport. June 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
6. Bingbing. Basco Lighthouse, Batanes, Philippines. April 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
7. Bingbing. A lighthouse in Basco, Batanes, Philippines. April 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
8. KisekiLacroix. Sto Domingo Church, Batanes. May 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
9. Davocol, Ardie. Mt. Iraya Batanes, Philippines. September 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
10. Ivana Church. September 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
11. KisekiLacroix. San Carlos Borromeo Church. May 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
12. Rjruizii. San Vicente Ferrer Church. September 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.
13. Jimenez, Anne. Rocky shore in Valuga Beach. April 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 22, 2015.

Green Pastures in New Zealand

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Milford Sound in New Zealand – a famous tourist destination

From time to time, New Zealand has been named as a must-visit country. There are a lot of different reasons to come and visit this place. There are limitless green pastures that can take ones breath away.

The coastlines are stunning and give a panoramic view of the exquisite beaches and crystal clear seas. Other sights to see are the extraordinary geysers and majestic snow-capped mountains. Let us not forget about the forests, oceans and all its inhabitants including but not limited to the penguin, whales, and seals.

The citizens show great discipline that they can maintain cleanliness and preserve the natural beauty. It is a tourist-friendly country. The people are very welcoming and accommodating to anyone.
So come, let us travel to a beautiful country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean named NEW ZEALAND.

OVERVIEW of NEW ZEALAND

GEOGRAPHY

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Whanganui River on the North Island (1)

The beautiful island country of New Zealand could be found in southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is approximately 1500 kilometers east of Australia. It is a long and narrow island, about 2,000 kilometers long and a width of 400 kilometers at the most.

The total land area is 268,000 square kilometers; and the coastline extends up to 15,000 kilometers. There are two main islands: North Island or Te Ika-a-Maui and South Island or Te Waipounamu.

These two islands are separated by Cook. There are also surrounding smaller islands such as Stewart Island, Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island, d’Urville Island, and Waiheke Island. The islands compose of mountains, volcano, lake.

CLIMATE

The best time to travel to New Zealand is the months October to April which is considered summer. Winter time in New Zealand is also popular due to winter sports and activities such as skiing and snowboarding.

DEMOGRAPHY

Majority of the population, 74 percent are European descendants. The remaining percentages are Asians and Pacific peoples. The citizens are called New Zealander or Kiwi.

Almost all could speak English, with a few who can speak and understand Maori and Samoan. Other languages spoken include French, Hindi, Yue, and Chinese.

The predominant religion in the country is Christianity including Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, and Methodism. The minority include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.

TRANSPORTATION

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Transport infrastructure from Wellington, New Zealand (2)

The best way to get in is via plane. There are a total of 113 airports in the whole of New Zealand. The main airport is at Auckland Airport which is an international airport that serves millions of tourists annually. Other main airports include Christchurch Airport and Wellington Airport. The national airline and flag carrier of the country is Air New Zealand and caters to flights to 15 countries.

New Zealand is an island country with a long coastline, due to this water transportation is very common. One example of water transportation is between the two main islands: North and South Island. Although the Cook Strait measures 24 kilometers wide, this would require a 70 kilometer ferry trip to transverse.

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Cook Strait ferry (3)

Ferries are also available at the Bay of Islands, Rawene, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Marlborough Sounds, Lyttelton, Bluff, and Halfmoon Bay.

Railroad system in the country is comparable to other first world countries. Trains in New Zealand can travel from one city to another.

But for those under budget, travelling by buses is the most affordable and easiest.

PLACES TO SEE

Tourism is very important to the government of New Zealand. The tourism slogan of the country is “clean, green” adventure playground. With all the green pastures and panoramic scenery, the slogan is apt. A few of the beautiful and must see places are listed here.

MILFORD SOUND

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Mitre Peak, Milford Sound (4)

On South Island one could find Milford Sound a fiord. It encompasses Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, and Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. Peaks can reach as high as 1,500 meters. A few of the wildlife that could be found in the area includes seals, penguins, dolphins, whales, and birds. In 2008 it was awarded by TripAdvisor as Travelers’ Choice Destinations.

TOTARANUI

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Totaranui, Abel Tasman National Park (5)

New Zealand has a few of the best coastlines in the world, one of which is Totaranui. This is a one kilometer long beach and a popular campsite. Tourists love the beach due to the sands golden color.

BAY OF ISLANDS

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Dolphin watching by the bay

Bay of Islands could be found on North Island. It is very famous a fishing and sailing area. It is also a popular destination to see and watch dolphins.

TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING

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View from the summit over the Emerald Lakes, across the Central Crater to Blue Lake (6)

Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the tourist destinations in Tongariro National Park. It is one of the most popular hiking areas. Hiking on this area can lead tourists to the multi-cratered active volcano in Mount Tangariro. One must be physically fit when taking this hike since it is 19.4 kilomters long.

WAITOMO CAVES

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Ruakuri Cave entrance at Waitomo (7)

Another attraction on North Island is Waitomo Caves. It is a popular place for those seeking adventure and willing to climb through caves.

MOUNT COOK

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Mount Cook (8)

The highest point in New Zealand is at South Island and named Mount Cook with a height of 3,724 meters. It is a perfect place for mountaineers.

LAKE TEKAPO

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Lake Takapo (9)

Another must see at New Zealand are the lakes. There are three parallel lakes in South Island; the second largest lake is Lake Tekapo measuring 83 square kilometers. The hotels and resorts surrounding the lake give a perfect and relaxing view of the place.

NINETY MILE BEACH

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Ninety Mile Beach (10)

The country also offers numerous beaches, one of which is the Ninety Mile Beach in North Island. The actual length of the beach is 55 miles or 90 kilometers. Tourists visiting the beach would love the sand dunes.

See more:

New Zealand Travel and New Zealand Business
http://www.newzealand.com/

New Zealand Official Tourism Site
http://www.newzealand.com/us/

New Zealand Travel Guide
http://wikitravel.org/en/New_Zealand

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References
“New Zealand.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand>.
“New Zealand Travel | Places to Visit in New Zealand.” Places to Visit in New Zealand. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/australasia/new-zealand/>.
“Places to Visit in New Zealand – Plan Your New Zealand Vacation.” New Zealand Destinations: Auckland, Wellington. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.newzealand.com/int/destinations/>.
“Touropia.” Touropia. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.touropia.com/tourist-attractions-in-new-zealand/>.
“Tourism in New Zealand.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_New_Zealand<.

Images:
1. Shook, James. The picture shows the Whanganui River on the North Island of New Zealand. January 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
2. Capper, Philip. Transport infrastructure from Wellington, New Zealand. April 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
3. Dignan, James. The Cook Strait ferry. February 2000. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
4. Maros Mraz. Mitre Peak, Milford Sound, New Zealand. January 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
5. Hillebrand, Steffen. Totaranui, Abel Tasman National Park. 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
6. Yogi de. View from the summit over the Emerald Lakes, across the Central Crater to Blue Lake. 2004. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
7. Shook, James. Ruakuri Cave entrance in Waitomo. October 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
8. C.M. Lynch. Mount Cook. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
9. Price, Adrian. Lake Tekapo. January 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.
10. MartinRe. Ninety Mile Beach. May 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 21, 2015.

Adirondack Park

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The Adirondack Park is a openly shielded, oval-shaped field including much of the northeastern lobe of Upstate New York, United States. It is the biggest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark. From sparkling sunrise to alpenglow sunset – experience one of the most action-packed winters on the East Coast in New York’s Adirondacks.

This is where rolling fields and wooded trails are second homes to cross-country skiers and snowshoers, where snowmen are made, and snowball battles waged. This is where, regardless of skill or experience, you can become the skier or rider you were meant to be.

Adventure awaits on the slopes, on the ice and at festivals long-cherished and much anticipated. The Adirondack Park is the only wild lands preserve in the U.S whose fate is decided by the voters of NY, the state which it resides in.

History

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Native American Tribes, such as the Iroquois, Huron, Algonquian people, and Mohawk people, hardly occupied the Adirondack Mountains for most of the 1500-1700s, battling for authority of the land particularly for hunting intentions.

Even though there is a proof to back up the European associate with nationals through the fishing trade, the first documented European contact with a native group was a French trailblazer by the name Jacques Cartier in 1534. The Adirondack Park is a very exclusive parcel of land, and has been for a couple of years.

The Adirondacks are the only mountains in the eastern part of the United States that are not geographically Appalachian. In the late 19th century, it was acknowledged as the most distinguished resort field in the country.

In the 1900s, the Adirondacks evolved into the only area in the western hemisphere to anchor two Winter Olympic Games. The first gathering of the Adirondack forests started quickly after the English replaced the Dutch as the landlords of New Netherlands and alternated its name to New York.

Deforestation movement produce resources, opened up land for agriculture, and detached the lid that brought a sanctuary for Indians. This devastation of Adirondack forests became a growing concern after 1850, as the continued depletion of watershed woodlands reduced the soil’s ability to hold water, hastening topsoil erosion and exaggerating periods of flooding.

Lumbering was not alone in depriving the forest: the tanning industry exhausted the hemlock; the paper industry used spruce and fir; and the charcoal industry absorbed wood of all sizes and shapes. 1885: The Forest Preserve “Had I my way, I would mark out a circle of a hundred miles in diameter, and throw around it the looking after protection of the nature.

I would make it a forest forever. It would be an offense to hack down a tree and a crime to clear an a piece of land within its borders.”

Climate

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the Adirondack Mountains screens 6.1 million acres of densely forested tops, sweeping valleys and charming lakefront locals. The region has four different periods and though the weather can be cool during much of the year, inhabitants and guests don’t let cold temperatures keep them off the backpacking tracks.

The weather alters related with climate change — a more unpredictable but normally warmer climate year round in the Adirondack Park — put at risk ecological processes, usual neighborhoods and local worldly and marine groups in the Adirondacks. Summers in the Adirondacks are warm but not hot.

What to do in Adirondack Park

The Adirondack Park presents brands of recreational and amusing leisure which can additionally discovered in Tourism and recreation in the Adirondack Mountains.

• Museums

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• Mountain Biking to Micro-Breweries

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• Coast Regional Attractions

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• Lake George Regional Attractions

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See more:

Official Adirondack Region Tourism Site
http://visitadirondacks.com/

About the Adirondack Park
http://apa.ny.gov/about_park/

Adirondack Park – National Geographic magazine
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/adirondack-park/klinkenborg-text

Archie Fegidero

Visiting Melbourne, Australia

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Night skyline of Melbourne (1)

There are a lot of beautiful places to see in the “land down under.” In two previous articles we have mentioned Sydney the central business district as well as the surrounding. Now we would proceed a little bit to the south of New South Wales to the state of Victoria.

VICTORIA

Victoria is located on southeast of mainland Australia. With a land area of 237,629 square kilometers, making it the smallest state on the mainland. Despite the size Victoria is a state packed with a lot of adventures, attractions and cultures. There is a lot to do, from the beaches, national parks, forests, lakes and many, many more.

With all these, it is no wonder that there is a sudden population increase in the state. In 2014, the state had a total population of almost 6 million, making it the second most populated state. Majority of the people could be found in MELBOURNE, the capital of the state.

MELBOURNE

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Melbourne Central Business District (2)

Melbourne is a city well-loved by both locals and tourists. It has a huge impact in terms of culture; Australian dances, film industry, impressionist art, and television industry began here.

UNESCO declared Melbourne a City of Literature which is only one of five in the world. Aside from art, Melbourne is a colorful community, lined with delectable restaurants, relaxing cafes, fashionable clothing stores, and hip bars.

Melbourne is a city like no other. So get ready to immerse yourself into something unique.

OVERVIEW OF MELBOURNE

TRANSPORTATION

The city could easily be accessed by tourists through Melbourne Airport also known as Tullamarine airport. The said airport is the second busiest in the country. Other airports in the city that tourists could fly in and out are Moorabbin Airport, and Essendon Airport.

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Air traffic control tower of Melbourne Airport (3)

Another point of entry is at the Port of Melbourne.

Getting around the city is easy, thanks to the broad and extensive transport network. Trains, suburban stations, trams, and buses are located across the city that makes commuting in the city easy.

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Tram on Swanston Street

CLIMATE

Melbourne generally experiences oceanic climate. There are sudden whether changes from time to time; be prepared and bring an umbrella and jacket.

The hottest months are from December to February with an average temperature of 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. The coldest months are from June to August with an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Majority of the residents (63.3%) in Melbourne were born in Australia. The remaining residents are from United Kingdom, India, China, Italy, and New Zealand.

Aside from English, residents speak other languages such as Greek, Chinese, Italian, and Vietnamese.

There is no specific religion in the city. Although majority of the population are Catholics followed by Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Buddhist, and Muslims.

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St. Paul Church (4)

PLACES TO SEE

MELBOURNE MUSEUM

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Melbourne Museum (5)

One could appreciate natural and cultural history at Melbourne Museum. Construction was finished in 2001. The museum is a place for learning about Melbourne’s history, culture and society.

To date, the museum is the largest in the southern hemisphere. There are a total of seven main galleries, a children’s gallery, and a temporary exhibit gallery. Aside from these galleries there is an amphitheater, theater, discovery center, café, and souvenir shop.

ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDING

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Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building (East Side)

The Royal Exhibition Building is located adjacent to the Melbourne Museum. It was built in 1880 to hold the Melbourne International Exhibition. In 1901, it served to host the opening of the first Parliament of Australia. UNESCO declared the building as a World Heritage Site in 2004.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA

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National Gallery of Victoria (6)

The National Gallery of Victoria was built in 1861 making it the oldest public art museum in the country. Art collections came from all across the globe: both donated and bought. There are more than 70,000 artworks exhibited here.

AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART

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Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Malthouse Theatre on the right (7)

Aside from classical art pieces, Melbourne showcases contemporary art as seen in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). This one of a kind architectural building was completed in 2002. ACCA is used for various performances and exhibition spaces. In 2003 the building was awarded with the Institutional Architecture Award and National Award.

SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE

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Shrine of Remembrance from the north displaying the eternal flame

The Shrine of Remembrance was built in 1934 in memory to those Victorians who died in World War I. It is one of the largest war memorials built in Australia.

In front of the memorial is an eternal flame which signifies eternal life. It is permanently lit whole year round. Twice a year (ANZAC Day on April 25 and Remembrance Day on November 11), citizens are gathered at the site in remembrance of those who died.

SEA LIFE MELBOURNE AQUARIUM

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Melbourne Aquarium (8)

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is an attraction in Melbourne that is suitable to all ages. There are more than 550 species with at least 10,000 sea animals.

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET

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Façade of Queen Victoria Market

There are a number of shopping destinations here in Melbourne. One of which is Queen Victoria Market or the locals call is Vic Market. The market covers a large area of seven hectares making it the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere. The marketplace was built in the 19th century and still stands to this date. The market is listed under the Victorian Heritage Register.

PRINCESS THEATRE

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Princess Theatre (9)

Another prominent attraction is the Princess Theatre along the East End Theatre District. It was built in 1854 and has a seating capacity of 1488. This building is listed in the Victorian Heritage Register and National Trust of Australia.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Home – Tourism Victoria.” Home – Tourism Victoria. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.tourism.vic.gov.au/>.
“Melbourne.” Travel Guide. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Melbourne>.
“Melbourne.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melbourne>.
“Melbourne, Australia – Visitmelbourne.com – Official Travel and Accommodation Site.” Tourism Victoria Home. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.visitmelbourne.com/>.
“Victoria (Australia).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_(Australia)>.
“Victoria (state).” Victoria Travel Guide. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Victoria_(state)>.
Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/>.

Images:
1. Glickman, Alfred. Night skyline of Melbourne from Brighton marina. April 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
2. Donaldytong. Looking across Hobsons Bay towards the Melbourne central business district. May 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
3. Wongm, Marcus Wong. United Airlines Boeing 747 taking off at Melbourne Airport in front of air traffic control tower. June 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
4. Woozifi. St. Paul Church near Flinders Station. March 14. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
5. Melbourne Museum. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
6. Donaldytong. National Gallery of Victoria. September 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
7. Donaldytong. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Malthouse Theatre on the right. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
8. Corneschi, Christopher. Melbourne Aquarium. January 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.
9. Connolley, Mat. Princess Theatre, Melbourne, Australia. August 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 18, 2015.

Bangalore, India: a Pensioners Paradise

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Bangalore (1)

Bengaluru, most popularly known as Bangalore, is a place worth exploring in India. It was once known as the city as the “Garden City” and “Pensioners Paradise.” It was once the greenest city in India; it had numerous spacious gardens, parks, and, natural landscapes.

However, in recent years things change. From being the greenest city in the country, it became a city of high-tech industry. For gadget lovers this is a “techie’s paradise,” “Silicon Valley of India,” and “IT capital of India.” There are a number of IT (information technology) companies based in the city. Today there are museums and temples within the area that stood the test of time.

OVERVIEW of BANGALORE

GEOGRAPHY

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Hesaraghatta Lake (2)

Bangalore could be found at the southern region of India in the state of Karnataka. The city is located on top of Deccan Plateau which is at 900 meters above sea level. It occupies a total of 721 square kilometers.

There are no major rivers in the city. Lakes were constructed in the 16th century to contribute and meet the city’s water requirement.

CLIMATE

According to the Koppen climate classification, Bangalore experiences a tropical savanna climate. The warmest months occur from March to June; while the coolest is from December to January. Rainy season occurs from August to October.

DEMOGRAPHICS

In 2011, Bangalore had a total population of almost 8.5 million people (the third most populated city in the country and 18th in the world). Majority of the population, 79.4%, are Hindus. It is followed by Muslims (13.4%), Christians (5.8%), and Jains (1.1%). Languages spoken in the city are Kannada, Urdu, Indian English, Tamil, Telugu Malayalam, and Hindi.

TRANSPORTATION

Getting In

By plane

KempeGowda International Airport, formerly known as Bengaluru International Airport is the nearest airport in Bangalore. This is approximately 40 kilometers from the central business center of Bangalore and 30 kilometers from Bangalore City Railway Station.

The said airport is one of the busiest and most modern airports in the country. Ten (10) domestic airlines and 21 international airlines operate in the airport and could reach 50 different areas in the world. Some airlines include Air India, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Thai Airways, AirAsia, Dragonair, and many more.

By train

Despite the low cost of travel, the trains in Bangalore are efficient. Just take some patience since travel is slower.

By bus

Another way to reach the city is via bus. Without traffic, buses can travel at a faster rate compared to trains. There are a number of buses (government and privately owned) that travels in and out of the city and connects Bangalore to neighboring towns and major cities. Bangalore bus stands serves as the official terminal for all intercity buses.

Getting Around

By bus

The most common and most affordable way to travel the city is via bus. Bus fares vary in price depending on comfort (air-conditioned vs non air-conditioned and seating).

By auto-rickshaws

A travel to India would not be complete without trying their native ride – auto-rickshaws. It is a three-wheeled vehicle that can comfortably accommodate three persons.

By taxis

Taxis are also available but for a higher cost.

WHAT TO SEE

CUBBON PARK

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Cubbon Park (3)

The park originally opened in the year 1870 and had a total land area of 100 acres. In succeeding years, the land area expanded to 300 acres. Within the park are different flora and fauna – natural rock outcrops, trees, bamboos, and flowers.

To allow tourist to explore the park freely, walkways were built to cross the park; making it a perfect jogging area. There are also a number of buildings within the area and at the sides including Central Public Library, Government Museum, the Indira Priyadarshini Children’s Library, Venkatappa Art Gallery, Aquarium, YMCA, Yuvanika — the State Youth Centre, Century Club, Press Club, Jawahar Bal Bhavan, Tennis Pavilion, Cheshire Dyer Memorial Hall, and Ottawa Chatter. Statues in the area are the statue to King Edward and Chamarajendra statue.

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Karnataka High Court (4)

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Library Cubbon Park (5)

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Sheshadri Iyer Statue (6)

BANNERGHATTA NATIONAL PARK

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A Bengal tiger in Bannerghatta National Park (7)

Bannerghatta National Park was declared a national park in 1974, three years after its foundation. Inside the park one could find a zoo, petting corner, animal rescue center, butterfly enclosure, an aquarium, a snake house, and a safari. The national park is also used as a trekking site.

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A leopard in Bannerghatta National Park (8)

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A Bengali white tiger (9)

FREEDOM PARK

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Entrance to Freedom Park (10)

In November 2008, the former Central Jail was converted to the Freedom Park. Inside one could see statues of people known as Freedom Fighters.

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Sculptures of Freedom Fighters at the Freedom Park (11)

THOTTIKALLU FALLS

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Thottikallu Falls or TK Falls or SwarnaMukhi Water Falls

Thottikallu Falls is often referred to as TK Falls or SwarnaMukhi Water Falls. It is a well-known trekking and mountain hiking place. There is also a temple in the area.

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The Muneeshwara Swamy shrine near TK Falls

ULSOOR LAKE

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Ulsoor Lake (12)

Another natural landscape that should not be missed is Ulsoor Lake – one of the biggest lakes in town. The lake measures at least 50 hectares and includes several islands.

BANGALORE PALACE

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Bangalore Palace (13)

Bangalore Palace was built in 1862 and was headed by Rev. Garrett. The palace had a total floor area of 4200 square meters and grounds measuring 454 acres.

British officials bought the palace in 1873 and the palace undergone renovation. The palace was inspired by Tudor architecture; fortified towers, battlements, and turrets were added.

Tourists are allowed to enter the palace for a fee. Palace rooms are currently used to display clothes of the royal family. The ballrooms could be rented for private functions.

The outside palace grounds were used for performances such as Aerosmith, Backstreet Boys, Enrique Iglesias, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and many many more.

HALASURU SOMESHWARA TEMPLE

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Halasuru Someshwara Temple (14)

Halasuru Someshwara Temple was built in honor of the Hindu god Someshwara. The temple dates back to the Chola period, making it the oldest temple in the city.

SRI RADHA KRISHNA TEMPLE

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ISKCON Temple at Bangalore (15)

Sri Radha Krishna Temple is one of the largest ISKCON temples in the world. Construction and inauguration was finished in 1997 and officiated by Shankar Dayal Sharma.

BAGMANE TECH PARK

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Bagmane Tech Park

Bangalore is the IT capital of India. It is only natural to see international IT companies here. At Bagmane Tech Park, a software technological park, one could find the companies Informatica, Cypress Semiconductor, Motorola, Yahoo!, Lenovo, HSBC, and so on.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Bangalore.” Travel Guide. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Bangalore>.
“Bangalore.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore>.
“Bengaluru (Bangalore) Tourism and Vacations: Best of Bengaluru (Bangalore).” , India. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g297628-Bengaluru_Bangalore_Karnataka-Vacations.html>.

Images:
1. Karim, Muhammad Mahdi. Bangalore City as viewed from a vantage near the Corporation Circle. 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
2. Nikkul. Hesaraghatta Lake. June 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
3. Binu, Augustus. Cubbon Park. October 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
4. Karim,Muhammad Mahdi. Karnataka High Court. April 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
5. Binu, Augustus. Library Cubbon Park. February 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
6. Binu, Augustus. Sheshadri Iyer Statue. January 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
7. Karim, Muhammad Mahdi. A Bengal tiger in Bannerghatta National Park. May 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
8. Karim, Muhammad Mahdi. A leopard in Bannerghatta National Park. May 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
9. Karim, Muhammad Mahdi. A Bengali white tiger in Bannerghatta National Park. May 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
10. Diham. Entrance to Freedom Park. September 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
11. Diham. Sculptures of Freed Fighters at the Freedom Park. September 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
12. Ramesh NG. Ulsoor Lake. March 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
13. SMit224. Bangalore Palace. November 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
14. Dineshkannambadi. Halasuru Someshwara Temple. June 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.
15. Svpdasa. ISKON Bangalore Temple. April 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 8, 2015.

Galapagos Island: a Wildlife Sanctuary

When I think of vacation the first thing that comes into my mind are beaches. I could imagine myself walking along white, fine-powdered sand; the heat of the sand as it tickles my feat.

And not far away is a crystal clear ocean with gentle waves; a perfect place to go for a swim or some surfing. Oh, let us not forget about taking a swim with fishes.

These are my dream and ideal vacation place. Luckily this dream can be a reality at GALAPAGOS ISLAND.

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Baltra Island (right) and Santa Cruz Island (left) (1)

Galapagos Islands are archipelago islands at the eastern Pacific Ocean. It occupies a total of 50, 000 square kilometers with 18 islands. It is located 906 kilometers east of Ecuador, which it is part of.

It became famous because of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection. Aside from this, the group of islands is well-known as the home of various endemic species and wildlife. Within its territory is a national park and biological marine reserve.

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Galapagos Islands with the name of its islands

Below is a list of the notable things on Galapagos Islands.

• Baltra (South Seymour) Island

Baltra Island is located at the center of the group of islands. Because of its strategic geographic location, an airport (Baltra Airport) was built. This is one of the two airports serving the area.

• Bartolome (Bartholomew) Island

Bartolome Island is considered to be one of the younger islands in the area. It is currently home to the Galapagos Penguin and green turtle.

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Bortolome Island with Pinnacle Rock on the right (2)

• Darwin (Culpepper) Isalnd

The island has a total area of 1.1 square kilometers and is the home to fur seals, frigates, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, and Nazca boobies.

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Darwin’s Arch at Darwin Island (3)

• Espanola (Hood) Island

Espanola Island could be found at the southernmost area. It also dates back to 3.5 million years, making it the oldest island in the area. The total land area of the island is 60 square kilometers. One could find lava lizard, mockingbird, and tortoise in the island.

Tourists can stay at Gardner Bay or Punta Suarez. Gardner Bay is famous for its beach which is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Punta Suarez on the other hand is great for encountering animals and wildlife.

• Fernandina (Narborough) Island

Fernandina occupies a total land area of 642 square kilometers on the westernmost section of the archipelago. The island is considered to be the youngest among the 18 islands.

On the said island one could find Punta Espinosa, a perfect place to sight marine iguanas. Other species that one could find include the flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, pelicans, Galapagos sea lions, and Galapagos fur seals.

• Floreana (Charles or Santa Maria) Island.

The island has an area of 173 square kilometers. The island has a rich and colorful history. Furthermore, tourists would love the sight of flamingos and green sea turtles. A species that is uniquely found on the island is the Galapagos petrel.

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Floreana Island (4)

• Genovesa (Tower) Island

Genovesa Island is also known as the “bird island.” This is because of the numerous avian species living on the island. A few of the species that you could find are frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies, noddy terns, lava gulls, tropic birds, doves, storm petrels, and Darwin finches. You should not also miss the Palo Santo forest on the island.

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Frigate bird (5)

• Isabela (Albemarle) Island

The largest island on the archipelago is Isabela Island with a total land area 4,640 square kilometers. The island is a merger of six large volcanoes forming a seahorse shaped island. Just like the other islands there are numerous animal species living on the island.

• Marchena (Bindloe) Island

The island has a total land area of 130 square kilometers and is the home to Galapagos hawks, sea lions, and the endemic Marchena lava lizard.

• North Seymour Island

This is one of the smallest island in the archipelago. One could find animals such as the blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and frigate birds.

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The beach at North Seymour Island in the Galapagos (6)

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Blue-footed Bobby

Some pictures of Blue-footed Bobby
http://www.oiseaux.net/birds/photos/blue-footed.booby.html

• Pinzon (Duncan) Island

This is one of the smallest island with a total land area of 18 square kilometers.

• Pinta (Abingdon) Island

The island has an area of 60 square kilometers. Like neighboring islands, this is the home to sea lions, Galapagos hawks, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, dolphins, and Pinta tortoise also known as Lonesome George.

• Rabida (Jervis) Island

Rabida Island is distinct from neighboring islands due to high amounts of iron in the lava making it color red. Animals on the island include white-cheeked pintail ducks, brown pelicans, and finches.

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Rabida Island (7)

• San Cristobal (Chatham) Island

San Cristobal Island was the first island Charles Darwin visited. The island is home to frigate birds, sea lions, giant tortoises, blue- and red- footed boobies, tropicbirds, marine iguanas, dolphins, and swallow-tailed gulls.

Aside from interacting with a wide variety of species, one can see and admire the beauty of the largest freshwater lake in the archipelago: Laguna EL Junco.

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San Cristobal Island (8)
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Tourists at the Mann Beach with sealions (9)

• Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island

On the island of Santa Cruz one can find the town of Puerto Ayora – has the largest population in the whole archipelago. Furthermore, the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park Service are located here; these two places are a breeding center for tortoise.

Other famous offerings of the island are the Black Turtle Cove – wherein sea turtles, rays and small sharks live, Cerro Dragon – the flamingo lagoon, and Tortuga Bay.

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Puerto Ayora (10)

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Tortuga Bay (11)

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Galapagos tortoise on San Cristobal Island

• Santa Fe (Barrington) Island

Aside from a diversity of animals, the island also has a forest of Opuntia Cactus.
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Prickly pear cactus and Swallow-tailed Gulls on Santa Fe Island (12)

• Santiago (San Salvador, James) Islands

The island is home to a number of species including marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, turtles, flamingos, dolphins, and sharks.

• Wolf (Wenman) Island

Similar to other islands, it is home to numerous species such as fur seals, frigate birds, Nazca and red-footed boobies, marine iguanas, sharks, whales, dolphins, swallow-tailed gulls, and vampire finch.

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School of Hammerhead Sharks at Wolf Island (13)

Other islands are Daphne Major, South Plaza (Plaza Sur) Island, Nameless Island, and Roca Redonda.

In 1978 the whole Galapagos Islands were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 1985 it was then declared as a biosphere reserve; and in 1986 and 2001 a marine reserve. In 1990, it became a whale sanctuary.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Galapagos Islands.” Travel Guide. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Galapagos_Islands>.
“Galápagos Islands.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galápagos_Islands>.

Images:
1. David Adam Kess. Baltra Island (right) and Santa Cruz Island (left). December 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
2. Pete. Bartolome Island view, Galapagos Islands. Pinnacle Rock on the right. May 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
3. Movera. Darwin’s Arch. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
4. Muggmag. View of Floreana Island, Galapagos Islands. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
5. Andreas Bjärlestam. Frigate Bird. 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
6. David Adam Kess. The beach at North Seymour Island in the Galapagos. December 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
7. Stephen Montgomery. Rabida Island. January 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
8. Benjamint444. Panorama of the Island San Cristobal. January 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
9. Iris Diensthuber. Tourists at the Mann Beach with sealions. 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
10. David Adam Kess. Puerto Ayora. December 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
11. Alvaro Sevilla Design. Tortuga Bay. December 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
12. Prickly pear cactus and Swallow-tailed Gulls on Santa Fe Island. June 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
13. Clark Anderson. School of Hammerhead Sharks, Wolf Island. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.

Charming Chiang Mai

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Chaing Mai

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Buddha

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Chiang Mai Sightseeing

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Dhara Dhevi

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Doi Inthananon Temple Thailand

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Largest Buddha Statue

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The White Temple

WAT E KANG VIEANG KUM KAM CHIANG MAI THAILAND
Chiang Mai

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Elephants

In a previous article here titled “Exploring Exotic Thailand” we had mention about Chiang Mai. Now we get a closer look at this rich historical city at Northern Thailand.

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A street in Chiang Mai

OVERVIEW OF CHIANG MAI

Chang Mai had gained popularity through the years. In 2014, TripAdvisor, an online travel guide, ranked the city as one of the “25 Best Destinations in the World.” Some have also dubbed the city as “Rose of the North” because of its size, location and surroundings.

With a total land area of just over 40 square kilometers, it is the country’s fifth largest city. At an elevation of 316 meters, it stands a top of a peaceful village with abundance of greenery and vegetation.

The city of Chiang Mai dates back to the year 1296. Since those years, Chang Mai could only be reached via Ping River or an elephant trek.

Due to this difficulty in reaching the city, it had preserved its charm and uniqueness. And in the year 1920’s things changed. The city became more accessible and tourists were able to see this unique and charming city.

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Chiang Mai

WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM THE CITY?

One could expect nothing but the best from this charming northern city. Tourists will get to see the walled ruins and temples dating back to the city’s establishment.
Here are just a few things that should not be missed.

Ancient Walls

The first thing could see are remaining walls. Although portions of the wall had been destroyed it still remains a vital part of the city in terms of tourism.

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Ancient City Wall and Moat (1)

After seeing the ruined walls, one must see the temples. There at least 30 temples within the city, each having a distinguishing style such as Burmese, Sri Lankan, and Lanna Thai styles.

Each temple is adorned with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

The most sought after temple is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep also known as Doi Suthep. This Theravada Buddhist temple could be found on the slopes of Doi Suthep Mountain and overlooks the city of Chiang Mai. A few pf the things that could be seen include the Golden Buddha Statue and Green glass Buddha Statue.

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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (2)

Wat Chiang Man

On the other hand, Wat Chiang Man is a Buddhist temple complex built also in the city. The first temple was built in 1383 making it the oldest standing temple in the city.

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Wat Chiang Man (3)

Baan Haw Mosque

Another religious place in the city is Hadaytul Islam (Baan Haw) Mosque. This is located at the Night Bazaar (which could be read more in a while). The façade is a mixture of Chinese and Arabic styles. Aside from being a mosque, the place also serves as a school every Saturday and Sunday. There is an average of 20 students enrolled here every year.

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Baan Haw Mosque (4)

Chiang Mai Night Market

On the eastern side of the city one can spot Chiang Mai Night Market. Here one could purchase handicrafts, paintings, jewelry, toys, clothing, CDs, and DVDs. This is the place to buy souvenir items for yourself, family and friends.

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Night Market (5)

But Chiang Mai is not all about temples, mosques, and shopping. No. It is more than that. There are a number of festivals celebrated here. Listed below are some of the well-known festivals:

Loi Krathong or Yi Peng

The festival of Loi Krathong is celebrated every November. It is tradition that decorated krathong (floating banana-leaf containers) is drifted along waterways. This tradition is done as worship to the Goddess of Water. At the same time sky lanterns are launched in the air in belief that it would drive away troubles.

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Sky lanterns during Loi Krathong Festival (6)

Songkran

Songkran is a celebration of Thai New Year during mid-April. During this festival there are other activities like citywide water fight, parades, and a beauty competition.

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Water fight during Songkran Festival (7)

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Every first weekend of February, a three-day festival is done called Chiang Mai Flower Festival. This is the time of year wherein flowers are in full bloom.

These are just some of the things to visit and experience at the charming city of Chiang Mai.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Chiang Mai.” Travel Guide. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Chiang_Mai>.
“Chiang Mai.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Mai>.
“Chiang Mai, Thailand – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/chiang-mai-province/chiang-mai>.
Images:
1. Aubrey, Jonathan. Ancient City Wall and Moat, Chiang Mai, Thailand. September 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
2. Kovacheva, Alex. Golden mount in Thailang Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. November 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
3. Damm, Heinrich. Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. October 1986. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
4. Iceway12. Baan Haw Mosque, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. June 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
5. Adbar. Night Market on Wua Lai Road in Chiang Mai. April 2003. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
6. Takeaway. Sky lanterns during Loi Krathong Festival. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
7. Takeaway. Water fight during Songkran Festival. April 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.

Touring Two Provinces at Central Philippines: Cebu and Bohol

“It is more fun in the Philippines!”

This is the tourism slogan of the country that had attracted thousands of tourists to the country. Some of the top tourist destinations include Boracay, Palawan, Ilocos, Surigao, Davao, Cebu, Bohol, and many more.

And there is a good reason why foreigners are attracted to these islands. The hospitality of the Filipino people, good food, beaches, blend of culture, and history have contributed to the increase number of foreigners to the country.

One of the most famous tours and vacation itineraries is a trip to Cebu and Bohol.

Cebu

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Cebu City

Cebu Province consists of more than a hundred islands and islets. On the largest and main island, one could find Cebu City – the oldest city in the country.

On an adjacent island, Mactan Island, one can find Mactan-Cebu International Airport – second busiest airport in the country.Other popular islands in Cebu include Bantayan, Camotes, Malapascua, and Olango.

The province has been dubbed as the queen city of central Philippines wherein all commerce, trade, education and industry occurs.

But aside from being a business center, Cebu had been dubbed as the 7th best island destination in the Indian Ocean-Asia region in 2007 by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.

It was also awarded the best Asian-Pacific island destination in 2004 (ranked number 7), 2005 (ranked number 8) and 2009 (ranked number 7).

Tourists have a chance to immerse in a rich cultural history, get a chance to stay at world class hotels, interact with whales, and many more.

Bohol

A neighboring province is Bohol that consists of 75 islands and islets. The post popular island, aside from the main island is Panglao Island. Panglao is linked to the main island by a bridge.

Visiting the province one could see century old churches, pristine beaches, diving and snorkeling spots, resorts, the famous Chocolate Hills, and of course the endangered tarsier.

Location of Cebu and Bohol

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Map showing proximity of Cebu and Bohol (1)

The two provinces, Cebu and Bohol are separated by the Cebu Strait. Cebu could be found on the west and Bohol on the east.

One could travel between the two provinces via ferry. There are several ferry companies operating within the two provinces.

What to see and do

Both provinces offer a lot. There are important landmarks, historical sites, and exciting activities that one could enjoy. Definitely boredom could not be felt when touring these places.

And to fully enjoy these provinces different tour packages are offered. Of course one could also create their own itinerary. Here are some things that could be done in both cities.

Cebu

Basilica Minore del Santo Nino

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Basilica Minore del Santo Nino (2)

Basilica Minore del Santo Nino or Minor Basilica of the Holy Child or simply Santo Nino Church could be found at the heart of Cebu City.

This church is known to be the oldest Roman Catholic Church in 1565 when Spanish explorers brought the image of Santo Nino de Cebu.

The church was inaugurated as a basilica in 1965 by Pope Paul VI stating it was “the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines.”

Magellan’s Cross

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Magellan’s Cross (3)

In 1521 when Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan reached the islands they brought a Christian cross and erected it in what we call Magellan’s Cross.

Years later, a chapel was built to protect the said cross. Currently it stands adjacent to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino.

Cebu Taoist Temple

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Cebu Taoist Temple

Another attraction in Cebu City is Cebu Taoist Temple which was built by the Chinese community. The most distinguishing feature of the temple is the entrance which mimics the Great Wall of China.

Because the temple is located on elevated ground, one gets a splendid view of downtown Cebu. The temple is open to public.

A ritual is performed including washing hands, walking barefoot inside the temple, and dropping two blocks of wood.

The orientation of the block of wood would determine if the prater is granted; if the two blocks of wood are facing up then the prayer is granted, else it is not.

Fort San Pedro

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Fort San Pedro

Fureza de San Pedro or Fort San Pedro was built as a military defense structure against Muslims in 1738. However, it also became the fortress of Filipino revolutionaries in the 19th century.

Currently it serves as a landmark along Plaza Independencia near the pier.

Lapu Lapu Shrine

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Lapu Lapu Shrine (4)

The Lapu Lapu Shrine at Lapu Lapau City was erected in honor of the Philippines first hero. It is a 22 meter statue made of bronze.

Magellan Shrine

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Magellan Shrine (5)

Another memorial place which is located at Mactan is Magellan Shrine. This shrine was built in 1866 to pay tribute to Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugese explorer who rediscovered the country. The shrine is the same place where he died.

Sinulog Festival

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Sinulog Festival 2009 (6)

The whole country in general has various festivities and one of the most famous is the Sinulog festival celebrated every third Sunday of January.

It is done in honor of the Holy Child Jesus of Cebu. The whole festival lasts for nine days and on the ninth day there is a Mardi-Gras like grand parade.

Aside from the Sinulog there are other festivals being celebrated at other citieslike Pintos Festival in Bogo, Karansa Festival in Danao, Panagtagboo Festival in Mandaue, and many more.

Bohol

Chocolate Hills

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Chocolate Hills (7)

Bohol is famed for the Chocolate Hills. No, it is not a mountain of chocolate rather it is a natural wonder made of corals and limestone.

Corals and limestone have been covered with grass that during summer it becomes dry turning to a brown color, hence the name Chocolate Hills.

For years it had attracted thousands of tourists. There is a viewing deck and souvenir shop at one of the hills.

Tarsiers

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Phillipine Tarsier (8)

The tarsier is the world’s second smallest primate and could be found within the forests. In Bohol there is a conservatory (Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary) dedicated in protecting and taking care of them.

Guests are prohibited from taking flash photography and making any noise within the conservatory because these can cause disturbances to the tarsiers.

Loboc River Cruise

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River cruise on Loboc River (9)

Another famous activity in Bohol is the Loboc River Cruise. Passengers get the chance to dine and be serenaded while cruising the river.

There are several stations in which children sing, while adults sell different native products. The whole cruise takes around an hour.

Blood Compact Shrine

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Blood Compact Statue (10)

The Blood Compact Site was the venue of Sandugo which was a historic moment in Philippine history. It was the first treaty of friendship between Spain and the Philippines.

Panglao Island

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Panglao Island

While in Bohol do not miss staying at Panglao Island. The island only occupies 80.5 kilometers and is connected to the main island by a road. It is divided into two parts: Dauis and Panglao.

On Panglao side one could find all the best beaches. One should not worry because there are numerous world-class hotels, budget accommodations, restaurants, and activities.

Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park and EAT Danao

These two adventure parks are the newest attraction in Bohol. It features extreme activities for adventure seekers.

Century old catholic churches

Bohol in general has hundreds of century old churches. Since the colonization of Spaniards churches were built that stand until this day.

The most famed church in Bohol is Baclayon Church. In 1995 the said church was proclaimed a national historical treasure.

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Baclayon Church (11)

Another historic church is Daius. It had gone renovations but still maintained the unique Spanish architecture. The most unique feature of the church is the well situated at the center of the altar.

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Dauis Church (12)

Along Loboc River one could find Loboc Church with the unfinished bridge. It is declared as a National Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.

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Loboc Church

Aproniana Gift Shop

Before leaving the province do not forget to buy some souvenirs. And the best place to shop is at Aproniana Gift Shop at the town of Baclayon. The store offers shirts, plush toys, food, keychains and magnets.

However, in 2013 a strong earthquake with magnitude 7.2 devastated Cebu and Bohol causing massive destruction of infrastructure including old churches and buildings.

Two weeks after a typhoon battered the same regions causing more destruction and loss of lives.Currently, more than 1 year after the natural disasters, the people are coping up and returning to their lives. Business and tourism are also back.

Beaches, hotels, and parks are renovated to make a comfortable stay for their guests. Although historic buildings are still in rumbles, tourists are still visiting the provinces to see what was once the grandeur of central regions of the Philippines.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“2013 Bohol Earthquake.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Bohol_earthquake>.
“Bohol.” … Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/bohol/>.
“Bohol.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohol>.
“Cebu.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cebu>.
“Cebu, Philippines – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines/the-visayas/cebu>.
“Province of Bohol, Official Website!” Province of Bohol, Official Website!Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.bohol.gov.ph/>.
“Typhoon Haiyan.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Haiyan>.
“Welcome to Bohol, Philippines.” Bohol.ph. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.bohol.ph/>.
Welcome to Province of Cebu – Cebu Provincial Government.” Cebu Provincial Government. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.cebu.gov.ph/>.

Images:
1. Magalhães. Locator map of Cebu Island, Philippines. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
2. Gonzalez, Mike. English: Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines. February 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
3. Editor999999. English: Magellan’s cross in Cebu City. April 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
4. Alpapito. English: The statue of Lapu-Lapu. April 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
5. Quebrado, Jayps. English: The Magellan Shrine. July 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
6. Rapayla, Marcelino Jr. Sr. Sto Nino Annual Fiesta Sinulog Festival 2009. January 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
7. P199. Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines. April 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
8. Kok Leng Yeo. English: Philippine Tarsier. November 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
9. Ericlucky290. English: River cruise on the Loboc River. February 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
10. P199. English: Blood Compact Statue. April 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
11. Pinay06. Baclayon Church. November 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
12. Pinay 06. Dauis Church. November 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.

This 2015 Visit Bhutan

There are different types of travelers. There are those seeking parties, nightlife, and beaches. But there are also those looking for a sense of nature and spiritual growth. For those wanting the later, they could try travelling to Bhutan.

Bhutan offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas. This famous mountain range is known to be one of the hardest mountains to climb but the climb is worth it. Portions of the mountains are used as a retreat.

It is a perfect haven for those seeking spiritual growth. Aside from the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayas, the country has various festivities, temples, monasteries, and palaces.

Come let us explore a land bounded by other nations and yet stands out.

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Bhutan

GEOGRAPHY and CLIMATE

Bhutan belongs to South Asia. It is surrounded by other countries such as Tibet on the north, India on the south, east and west and Nepal on the west. A part of the Himalayas is located on the within the borders of the country.

The whole country is generally mountainous. Peaks could rise up to 7000 meters; the highest is Gangkhar Puensum at a height of 7570 meters. In between the mountains are valleys with rivers following the contours of the mountains. The country’s geography makes it a nice habitat for animals and vegetation.

There are five seasons in Bhutan: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring.

GETTING THERE

The main mode of getting to Bhutan is by plane. There is only one international airport in the country, Paro Airport. There are also three domestic airports namely Yongphulla Airport in Trashigang which would be ready for use in 2015, Bathpalathang Airport in Bumthang District, and Gelephu Airport in Sarpang District.

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Paro Airport (1)

Travelling between cities and towns is by road. The roads are interconnected allowing one to reach their destination. It is also very common to see people walking and riding their bikes. There are no trains linking the cities to each other.

PEOPLE

People residing in Bhutan are Called Bhutanese and they are divided into groups: Ngalops or the Western Bhutanese, Sarchops or Eastern Bhutanese, Lhotshampa or Southerners that make up 45% of the whole population.

Vajrayana Buddhism is the country’s state religion. Approximately 75 percent of the whole population are Buddhist. The second largest religion is Hinduism.

The citizens speak Bhutanese or Dzongkha. Although some could speak and understand English.

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Bhutanese people (2)

PLACES TO SEE

When we talk about Bhutan, we can easily associate it with mountain ranges, one is Jomolhari or Chomolhari which is part of the Himalayas. It could be found between the borders of Tibet, China and Bhutan.

It has a height of more than 2700 meters which had been climbed by a number of experienced mountaineers. Tibetan Buddhists consider the mountain sacred. On the slope facing Bhutan is the sacred Jomolhari Temple at a height of 4150 meters. These temple serves as a retreat for those looking for spiritual growth.

The topography of Bhutan consists of mountains with heights as high as 7000 meters high. The highest mountain is Gangkhar Puensum at a height of 7570 meters. The name of the mountain means “White Peak of the Three Spiritual Brothers.” It is said that no one had been able to reach the summit of the mountain. Climbing beyond 6000 meters is prohibited because of their spiritual beliefs.

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Gangkhar Puensum (3)

Tucked on the slopes of the Himalayas is Paro Taktsang also known as Taktsang Palphug Monastery or Tiger’s Nest. This is a sacred Buddhist temple within the jurisdiction of Paro. The temple was built in 1692 against the steep slopes of the mountain at a height of 3120 meters.

It surrounds the Taktsand Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhaya prayed for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours during the 8th century. Within the complex are four main temples, residential shelters, eight caves (four of which serves as access to the temples), and images of Bodhisattvas.

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Taltshang Monastery (4)

Another Bhutanese monastery worth visiting is Kyichu Lhakhang, which is famously known as Kyerchu Temple or Lho Kyerchu. This Himalayan Buddhist temple, located in Paro has deep history and spiritual connection dating back to the 7th century.

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Kyichu Lhakhang (5)

Tashichhoedzong located at Thimpu, Bhutan is worth exploring. It is a two-storied whitewashed building. There are also four three-storied towers with triple-tired golden roofs on each corner of the building.

At the center is a large tower called utse. It was once used by the head of Bhutan’s civil government, the Dharma Raja as office in 1952. Currently is used as a throne room, and offices of the king, secretariat and ministries of home affairs and finance.

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Tashichhoedzong (6)

Approximately 7 kilometers to the north of Tashichhoedzong one could find Dechencholing Palace. The three-story palace is surrounded by willow trees, lawns and ponds. Architectural design was inspired by traditional Bhutanese style.

The palace was built in 1953 by the third King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk as royal residency. Currently the palace is used to host international delegates, luncheons and banquets. It is also the home to the king’s family expect the present king himself. The present king resides in Samteling Palace or Royal Cottage.

The most magnificent infrastructure in Bhutan is Punakha Dzong or Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong which means “the palace of great happiness or bliss.” The building was constructed in between the years 1937 to 1938 in Panukha District as an administrative center.

This is the second oldest and second largest fortress in Bhutan. Until the year 1955 it was the administrative center and seat of government in Bhutan. Currently there are sacred relics on display here.

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Punakha Dzong (7)

Aside from mountains, temples, monasteries, and palaces, one should also visit the National Museum of Bhutan. This cultural museum was built in 1968 in Paro and is home to the best of Bhutanese art. There are at least 3000 Bhutanese art on display here, all of which is a reflection of Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.

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National Museum of Bhutan (8)

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References
“Bhutan.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan>.
“Eastern Bhutan.” Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website). Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.tourism.gov.bt/>.
“Kingdom of Bhutan | Bhutan Travel | Bhutan History, Culture | Bhutan Tourism.” Kingdom of Bhutan | Bhutan Travel | Bhutan History, Culture | Bhutan Tourism. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/>.
“TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN BHUTAN – Traveller’s Tales.” Travellers Tales. 12 June 2013. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.panoramicjourneys.com/wp/index.php/top-10-places-to-visit-in-bhutan/>.

Images:
1. Shoestring. English: Paro Airport, the only airport in Bhutan. May 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
2. Reeve, Michael. English: Bhutanese people at the Wangdi Phodrang festival. September 2004. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
3. Dhaag23. Gangkar Puensum. March 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
4. McLaughlin, Douglas J. Taktshang Monastery, Bhutan. September 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
5. Fynn, Christopher J. Kyichu Lhakhang, Paro, Bhutan. July 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
6. Fynn, Christopher J. English: Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu, Bhutan. 2001. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
7. Hullot, Jean-Marie. Puntang Dechen Phodrang Dzong in Punakha, or “Punakha Dzong” , Bhutan. April 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
8. Davidow, Emily. National Museum of Bhutan, Paro. October 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.

Sights to See and Foods to Eat at Poland

Through the years, Poland had gone through a lot. There was constant struggle to maintain independence. And after the Second World War, much of the country was destroyed. Luckily, with the help of the people, Poland was able to regain and build itself to what it is today.

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Poland has a lot of interesting places worth exploring. There are natural wonders such mountain ranges, lake, and rainforests. Aside from these there are also man-made architectures that have a large cultural impact to the world. These combined creates a place like no other. Because of these uniqueness travelers all across the globe visit the country.

GEOGRAPHY

The humble country of Poland lies in Central Europe. It is bounded on the west by Germany, on the south by Czech Republic and Slovakia, on the east by Ukraine and Belarus, and on the north by the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad Oblast, and Lithuania. With a total land area of 312,679 square kilometers, Poland ranks as the 9th largest country in Europe.

DEMOGRAPHY

There are almost 40 million people residing in Poland. Out of this, majority (94 percent) are Polish. The remaining 6 percent are a mixture of Silesian, Belarusian, German, Ukrainian, and Kashubian. The most spoken and official language is Polish; other languages use include English and German. The country respects religious freedom

PREPARATION

Before entering the beautiful country of Poland here are a few reminders:

• Prepare your passport. Poland is one of the countries who have agreed to the Schengen Agreement. This means, a Schengen Visa is required prior to entry.

• Always prepare cash. The currency used in Poland is Zloty.

• Learn their language. Although citizens could understand English and German, it is nice to know and have knowledge of basic Polish words. This gives you an advantage when haggling prices and talking to locals.

• Know the climate. Poland is generally a temperate country. But temperatures vary on the month and location. Southern and eastern regions are warmer compared to those on the northern and western section.

TRANSPORTATION

Getting In

Once you have all those prepared, you are ready to travel to Poland.

There are different modes of transportation to get to the country. The most popular way is via plane. There are twelve (12) major airports: Warsaw-Modlin, Krakow, Katowice, Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Szczecin, Rzeszow, Bydgoszcz, Lodz, and Lublin.

These airports are served by the following flights: LOT Polish Airlines – the country’s official carrier, WizzAir, EasyJey, Germanwings, Norwegian, and Ryanair.

If you have time to spare, another alternative to reach the country is by train. There are railroads connecting Poland to countries like Berlin, Amsterdam, Kiev, Vienna, Prague, and Moscow.

Other ways to travel include bus, boat, and car. The benefit of travelling by car would allow tourists to have their own vehicle throughout their stay.

Getting Around

Once you are there are different ways to get around. The best and fastest way to travel between cities that are far away is by plane. Affordable means of travelling include the train, buses, and trams.

Be cautious when travelling on trains, some may offer cheaper prices but travelling conditions are poor. A better option would be the bus. Buses are more comfortable. Getting around using a private car is also possible just be wary on road signs.

Taxis are also widely used. But if you are athletic and wish to have a more pleasant and relaxing view of the surroundings would be by bicycle.

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A highway in Krakow Poland (1)

PLACES TO SEE

After knowing the basics on Poland: geography, visa, currency, and transportation, it is time to know what one could do. Architectures were inspired by Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau.

top the hills are medieval castles and ruins. There are also fortresses and wooden churches.

Here are a few of those impressive infrastructures:

1. Wawel Castle at Krakow

The most historically and culturally important area in Poland is Wawel Castle. Architectural deisgn was inspired by the Goths. It was once the home to the great kings of the country and now a premier art museum.

Included in the collection of artworks are Italian Renaissance paintings, sculptures, textiles, tapestry collection, goldsmith’s work, armor, ceramics, and furniture.

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Wawel Castle (2)

2. Chojnik Castle

Chojnik Castle could be found at a hill in southwestern Poland. The place of the castle gives it a scenic view of the valley below. Part of the castle had deteriorated but is still a tourist destination. As a matter of fact, some areas of the castle (areas that have not been damaged) are used as a hotel and restaurant.

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Chojnik Castle

3. Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa

This monastery is a well-known Polish shrine in dedication to the Virgin Mary; it is a common pilgrimage site for most devotees. The image of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa (Our Lady of Czestochowa) is the distinguishing feature of the monastery.

In 1994 the place is considered as one of the national Historic Monuments.

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Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa (3)

Aside from these castles there are 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are widely visited by tourists. These sites include unique infrastructures and parks.

1. Malbork Castle

The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, or commonly referred to as Malbork Castle is the brick largest castle in the world. Teutonic Knights (German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders) commissioned the castle to be built as an Ordensburg fortress. In 1994 the castle was declared as a Historic Monument.

The nearby museum with the same name was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997.

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Malbork Castle

2. Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland

Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland is a collection of churches that used horizontal log technique during its construction in the medieval times.

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Old church in Sekowa

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15 century St. Dorothy Church in Trzcinica

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1672 St. Catherine Church in Gogolow

3. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Park

In the year 1999, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Park was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is also one of the Historic Monuments in Poland.

The park was built during the 17th century as a Counter Reformation and was a very popular pilgrimage park. Included in the park is the Basilica of St. Mary, Ecce Homo Chapel, Chapel of the Crucifixion, and Heart of Mary Chapel.

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Church of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (4)

4. Muskau Park in Leknica

Just between the borders of Poland and Germany is the famed Musau Park. 3.5 square kilometers of the total park area is under the jurisdiction of Poland and the other 2.1 square kilometers is under Germany.

The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004 by UNESCO. According to the organization, the park is “an exemplary example of cross-border cultural collaboration between Poland and Germany.” The same year, the park was included in Poland’s Historic Monuments.

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Muskau Park (5)

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Muskau Park, Germany in the foreground and Poland in the background (6)

5. Bialowieza National Park

Bialowieza National Park is another national park in Poland known as the “last untouched wilderness of Europe.” It measures a total of 152.2 square kilometers. It is famed for preserving the Bialowieza Forest which is the home to the European bison.

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Białowieski Park Narodowy (7)

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European bison in the natural habitat

Nature lovers would be glad at the solitude of the mountains. One could always go on a hike through the luscious forests and take a tip at rivers and lakes. There are a total of 23 national parks across the country. Here we have listed a few of the parks worth visiting.

1. Eagle’s Path in the Tatra Mountains

Orla Perc or Eagle’s Path is located at the southern region of Poland. This park is considered to be one of the most difficult and dangerous parks. Only experienced trekkers and mountaineers are allowed to walk these paths. It takes approximately 6 to 8 hours to complete the trek.

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Eagle’s Park (8)

2. Masurian Landscape Park

A protected area in northern Poland is Masurian Landscape Park. It was built in 1977 and covers a total land area of 536.55 square kilometers, including Lake Sciardwy, the biggest lake in Poland.

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Seksty Lake viewed from Kaczor Peninsula (9)

3. Bory Tucholskie National Park

Bory Tucholskie National Park was established in 1996 with a total area of 46.13 square kilometers. The park includes forests, at least 20 lakes, meadows, and peatlands. Within the park one can spot different species of fishes and birds. One can enjoy a yacht ride, use a bike, or simply stroll along the path.

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Bory Tucholskie National Park (10)

4. Wolin National Park

Wollin National Park could be found on the island of Wolin, northwest of the main island. It covers a total land area of 109.37 square kilometers. Tourists visiting the place could get to see various species of animals, plants and vegetation.

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Turkusowe Lake

5. Slowinski National Park

Slowinski National Park could be found at the northern regions of Poland, just along Baltic coast. It consists of lakes, forests, and a dessert. This is the only dessert place in Poland with sand dunes as high as 30 meters. Sand dunes were due to the waves and wind carrying the sand inwards. The place was declared as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1977.

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Dune in Słowiński National Park (11)

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Signpost in Słowiński National Park (12)

FOODS TO TASTE

Aside from the spectacular sites, one has got to taste the food. Their dishes involve the use pork, cabbages, mushrooms, beetroot and onion. And their desserts and pastries are simply delectable.

They serve various meals such as soups, stew, stuffed dumplings, and many more. Popular Polish dishes include Pierogi – similar to stuff dumplings, and Bigos – hunter’s stew.

They also added a twist to famous international food like baguette -they call it zapiekanka. The added Polish twist is the baguette being opened and covered with toppings of choice.

A traditional alcoholic drink is called mead. This is made from brewed honey. The most popular drink would be tea and coffee. Each cup of coffee is made to perfection.

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Traditional foods from Poland (13)

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References
“5 Awesome Places to Visit in Poland (besides the Obvious).” Snarky Nomad. 8 Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://snarkynomad.com/places-to-visit-in-poland/>.
“Poland.” Travel Guide. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Poland>.
“Poland.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poland>.
“Poland – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/poland>.
“Welcome to Poland! – Poland’s Official Travel Website – Poland’s Official Travel Website.” Welcome to Poland! – Poland’s Official Travel Website – Poland’s Official Travel Website. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://www.poland.travel/en/>.

Images:
1. Halun, Jakub. English: A4 Highway in Krakow, Poland. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
2. Olszewski, Lukasz. Polski: Wawrl, widokz mostu Debnickiego. May 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
3. Aw58. Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa. June 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
4. Piwowarski, Cezary. Church of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Poland.N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
5. 32X. Park von Muskau, seen from the border bridge in south direction: Leknica and Bad Muskau are separated by the Lusatian Neisse. September 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
6. SchiDD. Deutsch: Englische Brücke im Muskauer-Pückler-Park. October 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
7. Karczmarz, Jacek. Białowieski Park Narodowy. 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
8. Hochlik. Polski: Orla Perc. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
9. Ghalas. English: Seksty Lake viewed from Kaczor Peninsula. July 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
10. Merlin. Bory Tucholskie National Park. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
11. Jones, Tony. English: Dune in Słowiński National Park. August 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
12. Jones, Tony. English: Signpost in Słowiński National Park. August 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
13. Silar. Deutsch: Die Ikonen der zeitgenössischen Volkskunst in Sanok. July 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.