…just so you can plan your travels wisely!
The historic town of Samarkand, located in a large oasis in the valley of the Zerafshan River, in the north-eastern region of Uzbekistan, is considered the crossroads of world cultures with a history of over two and a half millennia. Evidence of settlements in the region goes back to 1500 BC, with Samarkand having its most significant development in the Temurid period, from the 14th to the 15th centuries, when it was capital of the powerful Temurid realm.
The historical part of Samarkand consists of three main sections. In the north-east there is the site of the ancient city of Afrosiab, founded in the 7th century BC and destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, which is preserved as an archaeological reserve. Archaeological excavations have revealed the ancient citadel and fortifications, the palace of the ruler (built in the 7th century displays important wall paintings), and residential and craft quarters. There are also remains of a large ancient mosque built from the 8th to 12th centuries.
To the south, there are architectural ensembles and the medieval city of the Temurid epoch of the 14th and 15th centuries, which played a seminal role in the development of town planning, architecture, and arts in the region. The old town still contains substantial areas of historic fabric with typical narrow lanes, articulated into districts with social centres, mosques, madrassahs, and residential housing. The traditional Uzbek houses have one or two floors and the spaces are grouped around central courtyards with gardens; built in mud brick, the houses have painted wooden ceilings and wall decorations. The contribution of the Temurid masters to the design and construction of the Islamic ensembles were crucial for the development of Islamic architecture and arts and exercised an important influence in the entire region, leading to the achievements of the Safavids in Persia, the Moghuls in India, and even the Ottomans in Turkey.
To the west there is the area that corresponds to the 19th and 20th centuries expansions, built by the Russians, in European style. The modern city extends around this historical zone. This area represents traditional continuity and qualities that are reflected in the neighbourhood structure, the small centres, mosques, and houses. Many houses retain painted and decorated interiors, grouped around courtyards and gardens.
The major monuments include the Registan mosque and madrasahs, originally built in mud brick and covered with decorated ceramic tiles, the Bibi-Khanum Mosque and Mausoleum, the Shakhi-Zinda compound, which contains a series of mosques, madrasahs and mausoleum, and the ensembles of Gur-Emir and Rukhabad, as well as the remains of Ulugh-Bek’s Observatory.
Today is really easy to be a tourist. Just go into any tourist agency in the world, say your destination and go. To be a traveler is a little bit harder, but imagine how it was hard to be a traveler before all the technology and information available in just a second.
It is the story of how an Australian nurse switched from regimented hospital routine to become an award-winning travel writer and photographer. It is a colourful record of her experiences defined by travel and frequently against all odds.
‘We don’t know who you are,’ she was told on arrival in London in 1974. ‘To get a name here, you need to write a book.’ Which is what she did. Publication of The Gulf States & Omanin 1977 brought commissions on the Middle East. Books followed on Jordan and Pakistan. In 1979 she was accredited to the Buckingham Palace press corps to cover Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s historic tour of Arabia.The Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein invited her to Baghdad in 1981. Her experiences in Iraq, Ethiopia, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Morocco and other exotic places, are rounded off with letters to her mother who had never left Australia.We join Christine foiling bandits in Yemen, dining with skeikhs in Dubai, and feeling the breath of death on top of the spiral minaret in Samarra, in a racy account of her adventures when only one of a thousand and one problems, was that she was a western woman freelancing her own.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Christine Osborne is an award winning journalist and photographer who has contributed to many prominent newspapers and magazines. First leaving the then cloistered shores of Australia in the 1960s, she came to prominence in 1970 when she received the Pacific Area Travel Writers’ award for articles on south-east Asia written for “Signature”, the Diners Club magazine in Melbourne.
For many decades Osborne explored the Middle East and Africa from her base in London. Following publication of The Gulf States & Oman in 1977, she fulfilled writing and photographic commissions throughout the East. Her haunting pictures of starving children taken during the devastating Ethiopian droughts of the 1970s were published in a number of European newspapers, including The Times.
One of her many assignments was interviewing Joy Adamson, the Lion Woman, in Kenya in 1973. In 1979 Osborne was the only woman photographer accredited to the Buckingham Palace press corps to cover Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s historic tour of the Arab States. The Queen of Jordan wrote the introduction to her second book, An Insight and Guide to Jordan.
Osborne saw many of the world’s most pristine places before the advent of mass tourism, her ground breaking work taking her to many of the world’s most beautiful and dangerous places. In 1981 she travelled to Iraq, invited to Baghdad by the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein. An intrepid traveller throughout her career, Osborne has spent a lifetime on the road. She has written fifteen books and hundreds of articles, including on Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Malaysia, Oman and the Seychelles and Comoros islands in the Indian Ocean.
Her self published book about her unique experiences is published in Australia as a paperback.
To order via Paypal visit: www.travelswithmyhat.com.
E-book will be available in February. Christine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mudskipper
The Black Canyon of the Colorado is the canyon on the Colorado River where Hoover Dam was built. The canyon is located on the Colorado River at the state line between Nevada and Arizona. The western wall of the gorge is in the El Dorado Mountains, and the eastern wall is in the Black Mountains of Arizona. The canyon formed about 15 million years ago during the Miocene Basin and Range uplift. Black Canyon gets its name from the black volcanic rocks that are found throughout the area.
Located in the Marieta Islands, about 20 nautical miles from Puerto Vallarta, lies an idyllic beach paradise hidden underneath a hole in the ground. Called the “Hidden Beach” or “Playa de Amor” (Beach of Love), this one-of-a-kind natural wonder has remained untouched by human hands for many years. Within its natural cavernous shell, crystal-clear turquoise waters peacefully lap against its powdery white shores, out of sight and out of reach from the rest of the world. Only recently when its photos spread virally across the internet did it become one of the most popular beaches in Mexico.
However despite its fame, the Hidden Beach still remains unsullied due to the difficulty of getting to it. Besides being hoisted down from a helicopter, the only known way to access it is though a very small opening on the tidal side of its cavernous walls. This short tunnel, measuring fifty feet with only 6 feet of air space between water and rock, can only be traversed by swimming or scuba diving, and only during low tide.
The origins of this secluded marvel comes as a surprise. It is said to have been formed in the early 1900′s by the Mexican Government as a bomb site in preparation for the First World War. The Marieta Islands were evidently the government’s target practice site, and these controlled bombings were discovered to have formed several unique caves and rock formations, the most picturesque of which is Playa del Amor.
These islands known as the “Galapagos of Mexico,” are in themselves an ecological gem. Formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption, the Marieta Islands now house a spectacular array of terrestrial flora and fauna as well as marine species like humpback whales and manta rays which earned it its title as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The islands are protected by the government of Mexico, and visitors who intend to enter the reserve must have a permit.
Daedunsan is a small provincial park located in Jeollabuk-do. Its main draws are its elaborate rocky peaks which protrude high into the sky from the land below. This sets the scene for some breathtaking trips up staircases bolted onto mountain sides and a hair-raising bridge suspended over two peaks. Another superb place to observe Korea’s crimson autumn leaves.
Daedunsan is easily one of Korea’s most dramatic and memorable mountains to climb. Its collection of craggy peaks are joined together by a network of steep and narrow hiking trails set amongst almost impossible rock obstacles such as ravines, pinnacles and huge outcrops. A cable car hastens the trip to (near) the top, providing stunning vistas of the picturesque and intimidating summit Macheondae 마천대. Once you’ve disembarked, a torturous route takes you to the top (follow our DDN01 course for the shortest trip to the top), passing through two of the most famous hiking obstacles in the country – the shaky Geumgang bridge and the intimidating Samseon stairway. And yet, Daedunsan is relatively obscure in Korea, and largely unknown to foreigners – bar long term residents or hiking enthusiasts. This is a crying shame given the fact that Daedunsan is one of the best mountains to visit in the whole country – no exaggeration.
Where is Daedunsan Provincial Park?
Daedunsan is at the centre of a large provincial park that bares its name. The park is in northern Jeollabuk-do, around halfway between Daejeon and Jeonju – the two cities that are the best transport hubs for getting to Daedunsan. If you’re looking to incorporate it into a holiday in Korea we would recommend combining it with a visit to Jeonju; mostly because there are (relatively) frequent transport options from there (see our guide for times, fares and bus frequencies) and Jeonju is endowed with an interesting hanok village and countrywide famous cuisine.
What peaks are there to climb?
Daedunsan is a part of a large provincial park and features a plethora of routes. They can get almost labyrinthine at times, with new route marker posts showing new places you’ve never heard of cropping up all the time. Essentially, most people who come here and ride the cable car aim to ascend to the park’s highest peak, Macheondae. You can be one of these pilgrims by following either of our DDN01 or DDN02 routes. You can follow the course featuring the aforementioned obstacles or not, it’s up to you. Once at the peak, you can follow the short way back to the cable car (DDN01) or the long way (DDN02), which features the Yongmun Cave – an interesting site.
What is the landscape there like?
Despite the lack of ‘ak’ (rock) in its name, Daedunsan is an extremely steep and rocky mountain. Its crags bear resemblance to Seoraksan and its paths feature lots of rocks and plenty of staircases because the inclines are so uneven and severe, people would hurt themselves. The ascent to the peak is only 650m from the cable car, yet it’s very, very steep. Come here expecting plenty of elevation changes and a tough path.
Are there any dangerous parts?
Definitely. If an accident is going to happen anywhere, it’s here. However, the numerous dangerous rock obstacles, the slippery rocky paths, and the Samseon stairway mean most people are paying extra attention to where they are putting their feet and so accidents here are probably few and far between. That said, we would only recommend undertaking the Samseon stairway if you are confident you can definitely do it. On the staircase you can see an awful long way down through the metal grid steps. There are enormous views either side. Finally, the stairway feels a lot longer than it looks and the steps are quite steep. We didn’t attempt going down it, though the people we did see were going backwards. Whilst admiring this awesome metal construction, we watched several people attempt it both ways, stop and turn back. So think before you try it. We can’t think of anything worse than choking midway up the staircase!
When is a good time to visit?
The vast majority of the tourist literature on Daedunsan shows the place in spectacular autumn colours or winter snow. You don’t have to come between October and February to witness the beauty this park has to offer – it’s fantastic all year round. We would recommend the temperate months of May to June and September to October being the most comfortable and scenic times to visit. The later in the month of October you can make it, the more beautiful the colours. In Winter, Daedunsan looks striking – however, you will be in the interior of Korea – where the temperatures plummet way below zero. You will need to bring crampons and many layers, although the rewards for hiking in the season are high.
What other interesting sites are there in Daedunsan Provincial Park?
Doing the cable car of Daedunsan is a must. We’ve incorporated it into both our hiking routes because of the impressive ascent, and also because it takes out over an hour of difficult climbing. The cable car is large, accommodating up to 51 people, and travels high above the steep slopes of Daedunsan. As you approach the summit, you get knock out views of Daedunsan’s rocky crags. Even if you don’t want to hike here – doing the cable car is essential.
Daedunsan is better known for its crags than its temples. The cable car ascent and descent essentially removes the usual entrance temples from our routes. However, if you are looking for peace and serenity, follow our DDN02 route and you can enjoy the Yongmun Cave, which is located towards the end of the route. More of a narrow opening through a series of huge rocks, the ‘cave’ leads to another stunning Daedunsan viewpoint and some close up views of enormous rocks. —> Read more
Italian scientists came to the conclusion that in the result of quite severe weather conditions there appeared some untouched places on our planet. And the most desert area on the globe is the spot in the mountains of Tibet. It’s situated at the height of more than seventeen thousand feet. The road here takes no less than 21 days. This terrain is very difficult because of the bad landscape. However, let’s read this list of places that are more accessible and quite fascinating:
The sacred mountain, which is still considered as an unsubdued top, is situated in a remote locality of western Tibet. Also, in every tract it is said that the mountain can keep only gods and the others are to be thrown off. Moreover, millions of pious people are against its conquest and they’re supported by U.N.O. For the reasons given above tourists can’t climb this mountain.
Actually it is the tetrahedral pyramid and its sides point to the cardinals. The cupola is covered with ice and southern wall has a straight crack which turned into a cleft. People believe that those who walk around this mountain will get an absolution.
The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The beauty and originality, rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape that is what you’ll see if you visit this marvelous place.
Old Yak Bazaar
This is an alternative trading company bringing you the best in handcrafted, fair trade and upcycled products from tucked away back alley workshops across the world. They actually have a map that shows where their products are made, and links to organizations they partner with, so you know exactly where your goodies are coming from.
Don’t buy souvenirs if you don’t know their appropriation, especially, if they have occult nature. Looking through the market rows, your eye can be drawn by some interesting things, but be careful, you can choose very ancient accessory which went through the many hands and was used in rites. Such things can play a trick on you in a very spiteful way.
The Tibet’s first Buddhist temple is located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. It was first constructed by King Songsten Gampo probably in 642. This temple has remained a key center of Buddhist pilgrimage for centuries. It was sacked several times by the Mongols, but the building survived. In 1966, the monastery was sacked and desecrated by Red Guards during the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Thousands of Buddhist scriptures were looted and burned.
It’s a Tibetan Buddhist monastery which lies near the base of the north side of Mount Everest. Rongbuk is claimed to be the highest monastery in the world. It was destroyed completely in 1974 but in 1983 it went through the reconstruction. An amount of books and costumes were sent to the Tengboche monastery but all of them were lost because of the conflagration there. Nowadays tourists are allowed to visit only two floors out of five.
There is a hotel and restaurant not far from the monastery. If you go a little bit further, you’ll see camping of climbers.
About the author: Melisa Marzett is a talented young woman who is fond of writing articles on different topics. Her main interests are traveling, environment and technology. Melisa adores blogging and chatting with interesting people. She will gladly communicate with you on Google+|writing essay help.
People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.
Of course, single travel has its perils too — such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.
Why Travel Alone?
Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you can rest when you want and pour it on when you’re feeling ambitious. Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There’s no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner’s day; it’s your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience. Also, you can do exactly what you want to do — all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it; there’s no one sitting on the beach bored while you have the time of your life. Have no desire to see Niagara Falls? Just drive right by.
Perhaps the foremost concern of the solo or single traveler is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, as well as simple health worries. But the saying “safety in numbers” isn’t necessarily true — a solo traveler can blend in more easily than a group, and not drawing attention to yourself as a tourist is one way to stay secure. Here are a few tips:
- Know how long it takes and how much it costs to get from the airport to your hotel or to the city center. Solo travelers are more likely to be “taken for a ride,” so ask the taxi driver how much it will cost before you leave. If it’s considerably different from what you know to be true, take a different cab.
- Find out if hotels at your destination are open late, so you don’t end up sleeping in your car or worse.
- Be your own best counsel; if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- Carry good identification, in more than one place.
- Keep to open and public places, especially at night.
- Exude confidence and walk purposefully.
- Avoid appearing like a tourist. Ditch the Disney T-shirt and don’t walk around with your face in a guidebook.
- Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy clothes or jewelry.
One of the best reasons to travel alone is to meet new people, but this also makes you more vulnerable. It’s okay to hang out, travel and share with new friends, but you might not want to ask them to hold your money. Scam artists can often be the most charming companions you’ll find; you want to be open-minded, but keep your guard up enough to ensure your safety.
Read more at Independent Traveler
Carved out by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon (nearly 1,500 m deep) is the most spectacular gorge in the world. Located in the state of Arizona, it cuts across the Grand Canyon National Park. Its horizontal strata retrace the geological history of the past 2 billion years. There are also prehistoric traces of human adaptation to a particularly harsh environment.
The Grand Canyon is among the earth’s greatest on-going geological spectacles. Its vastness is stunning, and the evidence it reveals about the earth’s history is invaluable. The 1.5-kilometer (0.9 mile) deep gorge ranges in width from 500 m to 30 km (0.3 mile to 18.6 miles). It twists and turns 445 km (276.5 miles) and was formed during 6 million years of geologic activity and erosion by the Colorado River on the upraised earth’s crust. The buttes, spires, mesas and temples in the canyon are in fact mountains looked down upon from the rims. Horizontal strata exposed in the canyon retrace geological history over 2 billion years and represent the four major geologic eras.
Widely known for its exceptional natural beauty and considered one of the world’s most visually powerful landscapes, the Grand Canyon is celebrated for its plunging depths; temple-like buttes; and vast, multihued, labyrinthine topography. Scenic wonders within park boundaries include high plateaus, plains, deserts, forests, cinder cones, lava flows, streams, waterfalls, and one of America’s great whitewater rivers.
Grand Canyon is an exceptional example of biological environments at different elevations that evolved as the river cut deeper portraying five of North America’s seven life zones within canyon walls. Flora and fauna species overlap in many of the zones and are found throughout the canyon. The five life zones within the canyon are represented in a remarkably small geographic area. Grand Canyon National Park is an ecological refuge, with relatively undisturbed remnants of dwindling ecosystems (such as boreal forest and desert riparian communities), and numerous endemic, rare or endangered plant and animal species. —> Read more…
Deep in the belly of New York’s subway system, a beautiful untouched station resides that has been forgotten for years with only a limited few knowing of its existence. Stunning decoration with tall tiled arches, brass fixtures and skylights run across the entire curve of the station, almost a miniature imitation of Grand Central Station… But it sounds like something straight out of Harry Potter, right?
It was opened in 1904, with the hope of making it the crowning glory of the New York subway system in elegant architecture and a place for commemorative plaques to honour the work that had resulted in such a successful underground mass transit system. It was to be the original southern terminus of the first ‘Manhattan Main Line’; however the station was closed and boarded up in 1945. The gem of the underground began gathering dust, forgotten by the general public, as passengers were forced off at the Brooklyn Bridge Stop before the train continued on to the terminus to make its turnaround.
The reason for its closure was that newer longer cars were required to match the demand of passengers that passed through the system. But as the stations tracks were severely curved, a dangerous gap between the train doors and the platform was formed making it an unsafe area. This combined with the fact that only about 600 people used it, resulted in its closure with only mythical plans of turning it into a transit museum. But this was never followed through.
However, now you don’t have to take my word that the secret City Hall Station exists, as the 6 Train will now allow the passengers who have been enlightened with the knowledge of its whereabouts to stay on the train during its turnaround and see the Station. You won’t be able to get off, but you’ll be taken for a slow tour of the platform and see what a beauty it was in its heyday!
And if that isn’t enough, The Underbelly Project has turned it into a kind-of off-limits art gallery. They are a group of street artists who have painted the walls of the unattractive concrete areas with their art in a spooky art exhibition that will be witnessed only by urban explorers who prowl the deep train system at night and Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers.
Over a hundred murals have been accumulated over time by graffiti artists, namely PAC and Workhorse (infamous NYC graffitists), who discovered the bare walls and invited others to add their art.
But if you want to go and view these art works, you will most definitely run the high risk of being arrested as venturing the tunnels is both highly illegal and dangerous! I’ll just stick to seeing the photographs as I’m pretty sure my search for art would turn into a horror story down in the black tunnels… or I’d get hit by a train.
Image 1 via Nag On The Lake, image 2 via Visual News, image 3 via gothamist, image 4 via 2nd Ave Sagas, image 5 via Chasing Ray, image 6 via Co.Designs, image 7 via Telstar Logistics, image 8 via Gizmodo, image 9, 10 and 11 via E-Junkie.
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