Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yemen's Shibam: Oldest Skyscraper

asia travel spots, Shibam

Hardly recognized as a tourist attraction, Yemen is rich in architectural and historic landmarks and edifices making it's mark in UNESCO's cultural heritage site. One of those is Shibam, an old town located at Hadramawt in Eastern Yemen. The walled-city was occupied by 7,000 inhabitants and 500 independent houses built together. This 16-century old city was tagged "Manhattan of the desert" due to it's tower-like structures built in the cliff.

asia travel spots, ShibamMost houses were made out of mud making amusing because it lasted for almost 2,000 years most of them rebuilt to gain it's original form. Meanwhile, tower houses built in the city rise from 5 to 11 stories high with floors comprising one or two apartments. It is a tactic of the residents to protect themselves against various attacks. It is also a car-free town because the alleys are too narrow to even pass a simple car.

asia travel spots, ShibamSome of the attractions in the city are Al Mukalla, Al-Hajarrah and Wadi Dhahr. The best site is Al Mukalla because the edifice stands beneath the shore. Far from distance, you can have the view of somewhat city emerge in a body of water. The next time you think of Yemen, think Shibam. Are your bags get packed?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

China's Yunnan Stone Forest

asia destinations, Yunnan Stone Forest

We could only think of forest consisting of mainly flora and fauna. Don't get me wrong because in China, there is a forest that consist of stones. You read it right, this one of-a-kind nature's marvel can be found in the district of Kunming in Yunnan, China. Known locally as Shilin, this region of karst formation covers 400 square kilometers that includes big and small stone forests making it the most important attraction of the entire province.

asia destinations, Yunnan Stone ForestResearch shows that 270 million years ago, the Stone Forest was a shallow sea before. As time goes by, lithosphere elements move that causes the water to retreat and the emerging of these limestone landscapes. Erosion of these elements mainly cause the existence of the modern-day Stone Forest. That mainly explains the existence of underground river, karst lake, underground stone forest and other attractions found here.

asia destinations, Yunnan Stone ForestSpeaking of attractions, Stone Forest has a lot to offer it's yearly visitors and tourists. There is the Subterranean Stone Forest, Strange Wind Cave, Long Lake, Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest and Naigu Stone Forest. One of much-awaited events here is the Torch Festival which is held every lunar year of June 24. In this festivity, Sani people (natives of the place) along with the expectators take part in the traditional events such as wrestling, bull fighting, pole-climbing, dragon-playing, lion-dancing and the A-xi Moon Dance. This is also the best time for young men and women meet their future spouses. No other place like Stone Forest offers the best of both worlds: tradition and natural wonder.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Indonesia's Kelimutu National Park

asia travel spots, Kelimutu National Park

Famous for it's coloured crater lakes, Kelimutu National Park also gain it's cool climate and panoramic view. It is still a puzzle for both scientists and locals how the lakes gained it's color and eventually change from time-to-time. The color of the three lakes are red, blue and white which eventually turns into black-brown, light green and black. The former red and blue lakes where separated by 200 centimeters wall of earth and located side-by-side while the former white lake is located to the west.

asia travel spots, Kelimutu National ParkDeclared as a national park on Feb. 26, 1992, this 1,051,000 square meter area not only consists of lakes but also mountains. It has Mount Kelibara as the highest peak and the whole area is located at East Nusa Tenggara, in the island of Flores, Indonesia. Rich in nature's diversity, the park became the haven of various species of birds, plants and endangered animals. This park is not only rich in natural resources but also in their cultural heritage as evidently showed in the local's traditional houses, weaving and dances.

asia travel spots, Kelimutu National ParkLocal folklore tells that the three lakes are gateways to different kinds of spirits. The first, having the name Tiwu Ata Mbupu is for the old people's spirit. The second, named as Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai is intended for the spirits of young people. The third, intended for evil sprits and fortune tellers is called Tiwu Ata Polo. The best time to visit the lakes is between the months of July to September or in spring time. Pack your bags now and head way to Indonesia to see another nature's wonder and asian destination.

(special thanks to IndonesiaLogue and Departemen Kehutanan Republik Indonesia for the information I used to make this article possible.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maldives' Filhalhohi Islands

asia destinations, Filhalhohi

Tagged as the "Island of Dreams", Filhalhohi is the one of Maldives' secret island getaway. A 35 kilometer drive from Male, this islet measures about450 meters in length and 250 meters in width so small that you can tour the whole island in the span of 15 minutes. You can be barefoot the whole time since this island got the finest house reefs and coral white sand. With it's crystal clear water and untouched marine ecosystem, this is also a haven for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.

asia destinations, FilhalhohiThe island's summer ambiance is captivating and so are the activities that you can enjoy aside from snorkelling and diving. There are watersports such as windsurfing, canoing, water-skiing, parasailing and banana riding. Eventhough the house reef is bad in condition, you will be amazed by the marine life you will find there such as fishes, rays and sharks of different types and colors. There is also a small lagoon where children can swim apart from enormous palm trees that gives shade to the vicinity.

asia destinations, FilhalhohiIn general, it is a painting came to life and the best part is with all it's royal look and treatment from the locals, it is budget-friendly. Reviews of this island always banner the cost of your stay here is absolutely wonderful. Any plans of summer fun in December, get in here at Filhalhohi and experience what it's like.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bangladesh's Sundarbans Mangrove

asia freeport, Sundarbans mangrove

With it's luscious mangrove trees and abundant flora and fauna, Sundarbans established itself as the largest block of mangrove forests in the world. Placed at the heart of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India this asian tourist spot is also a UNESCO's World heritage site since 1997. It is measured to be around 4,143 sq km and the water area surrounding it is 1,874 sq km circling the rivers, canals and small streams. The rivers here is where the salt water coming from Bay of Bengal and freshwater from River Ganges meet.

asia freeport, Sundarbans mangroveWith it's diversified environment, it became the home of many birds and wild animals. One of which is Bengal tigers which is about 700 in population that males them the largest population of tiger population living in a certain area. There are other animals aside from tigers such as 270 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 35 reptile species and eight amphibians apart from freshwater sharks and dolphins inhabiting the waters. That's why Bengali's are doing all their efforts to preserve this and also to protect themselves against tiger and crocodile attacks.

asia freeport, Sundarbans mangroveJust like any other nature reserve, it is now in the danger state as climate change affects the stability of the mangrove park. This may cause erosion, accretion, tidal waves and the rising of Ganga delta's sea level. It is also reported that this may damage the mangroves as well as the diversified forests in Sundarbans. It's high time for us to act now and save this one of a kind gift because before we know it, it is vanished due to our irresponsible acts towards nature.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lebanon's Jeita Grotto

asia travel, jeita grotto

Torn between war and the calmness of nature, Lebanon strives hard to establish tourism in their country. As they solve issues against the ranged parties, the country never fail to be a home for their tourists. One of which is Jeita Grotto, a subterranean river located at the Valley of Nahral-Kalb north of Beirut. Being in the run to be one of New Seven Wonders of the World, Jeita Grotto shows various rock formations, stone curtains and vaults of stalactites and stalagmites. The grotto has two parts, the upper cave where the gallery is located and the lower cave where the underground river is found.

asia travel, jeita grottoDiscovered by Reverend William Thomson in 1836, this asian tourist spot was maintained by Mapas, a German company that renovate and maintains the cave. The cave was closed when the Lebanese civil war arise in 1978 leading the use of both upper and lower galleries to store ammunitions and the building outside the cave served as the office for military. It is opened again for public in 1995 and became one of Lebanon's treasured destinations.

asia travel, jeita grottoOne of the cave's attraction includes the Pantheon where you can write your name and your experience in touring the cave on a piece of paper, put it in a bottle, seal it then place it on top of the stalagmite. This stalagmite is found at the lower cave together with other stalagmites such as the Grand Chaos and the Shangri-la. In the upper cave, you will find the White Chamber where you can see the longest stalagmite in the world that measures 8.2 metres (27 ft) along with other formations such as columns, mushrooms, ponds, curtains and draperies. Once you get here, you will wonder how nature sculpted this one of a kind masterpiece.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Israel's Ein Gedi National Park

asia travel spots, Ein Gedi National Park

It's a common knowledge that Israel plays a major role in both religion and history. For religion, it's a fact that the founder of Christianism Jesus Christ was born in Nazareth in Israel. In the historical sense, Israel was been the land of the Jews and they fought for it to the extent of engaging in war to protect it. It is also considered the "Holy Land" due to it's strong emphasis in the bible. Despite it's religious significance, Israel is abundant in flora and fauna that tourists around the world can marvel.

asia travel spots, Ein Gedi National ParkOne of which is Ein Gedi National Park located in the caves of Qumran, near the Judean Desert and Dead Sea valley. Literally means Kid (young goat) Spring, this oasis is the biggest and most important as it supplies water in some parts of Israel. There you can find two rivers streams, the Nachal David and Nachal Arugot that is overflowing throughout the year. Together with other springs such as Shulamit and Ein Gedi, they can produce as much as three million cubic meters of water per year enough to supply a city all year round.

asia travel spots, Ein Gedi National ParkWhen you visit Ein Gedi National Park, aside from it's breath-taking springs, you can also find a kibbutz that is open for travelers to stay and relax. The kibbutz itself is a travel destination as it has the infamous botanical garden which homes 900 species of plants around the world. Aside from kibbutz, you can also see rare breed of animals in Ein Gedi such as Cape Hyrax (a small rabbit like animal), Nubian Ibex (a horned mammel) aside from migratory and resident birds being there through the migrating season. Whether you're into nature tripping or a simple pilgrimage, you can always include Ein Gedi National Park in your asian destinations list.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Iran's Chogha Zanbil

Chogha Zanbi,asia destinationsZiggurats are one of Persia's (now Iran) greatest contribution in the ancient world. This temple-tower facade serves as a place where sacrifice for the gods were being held. It is also believed that this is were the gods dwell to get close with humans. Unfortunately, some of this remarkable pyramids where destroyed by natural calamities and war but few of them still survived until now. In fact, one of which is Chogha Zanbil, the one that you can find in the province of Khuzestan. It is considered the most dramatic representation of the Elamite architecture and built in 1250 BC by the King Untash-gal of Elam.

Chogha Zanbi,asia destinationsChogha Zanbil was built to honor Inshushinak, one of Elam's great gods. It is composed of five towers of different height each constructed one side of the other. The inner area that occupies the main ziggurat is intended for the main god while the middle area which consists of eleven rooms s intended for the lesser gods. In the outside area, you can find royal palaces and funerary place where the five subterranean tombs are placed.

Chogha Zanbi,asia destinationsThe construction of the great canal to supply water from the river is still in use as water source is inadequate for the people's needs. The unused bricks left at the site only proves that Chogha Zanbil is left undone until the Assyrian invaded the city. Archaeological excavasions took place between 1951 to 1962 just to rediscover the fallen city. All their efforts were paid well as UNESCO declared Chogha Zanbil as a world heritage site in 1970. Visitors of this site try to relive the glory of the ancient kingdom as well as to be amazed by human creativity, that people of that era can think of this exceptional masterpiece.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Myanmar's Kyaiktiyo Pagoda

asian travel,Kyaiktiyo PagodaTravellers and Buddhist devotees will find peace and solace in this asian destination found in Myanmar. Tranquility plus wonder, that's what you will see and experience in Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. A haven for Buddhist worshippers and devotees, this 18 ft. pagoda is situated at the top of the golden boulder. This golden boulder is at the verge of the hill. As you can see it, it is somewhat like rolling down the hill and that adds up to its appeal to tourists.

asian travel,Kyaiktiyo PagodaLocated at Mon State, it ages 2500 years and legends says that Buddha's hair prevents the boulder from falling. The boulder is covered with golden leaves by which is believed to bring prosperous future for those who will place it. Men are only allowed to go near the boulder as they cross the short causeway to get access to the temple. Ovelooking the boulder you'll find candles lit as well as worshippers saying their prayers.

asian travel,Kyaiktiyo PagodaIn able to reach the pilgrimage site, you need to trek 10 miles so tourists tend to ride a car, jeep or truck to get there. You can test it's ability of not falling down by passing a thread underneath the boulder. People believe that the rock don't touch the base, it's floating miraculously. You won't believe it but you must not miss that chance to see this great religious wonder.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Laos' Plain of Jars

asia travel spots, plain of jarsConsidered one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, you may think that Laos has nothing to offer being a tourist destination. That didn't hinder tourists to discover this archaeological wonder that has the makings of being an asia travel spot. Haven't you heard, there's this historical landmark that consists of thousands of jars scattered in the highlands of Laos called Plain of Jars. Situated at Xieng Khouang plain, this Laos pride consists of thousands of stone jars big and small distributed in the place.

asia travel spots, plain of jarsIt is believed that this stone jars ages from 1,500–2,000 years and older. According to a local folktale, the emerging of jars began when the king of the giants Khun Jeuam fought and won a battle against the evil ruler Chao Angka. The king, whose fond of throwing parties brew and store huge amounts of lao lao rice wine in this huge stone jars. When the archaeologists studied the jars, they have found burned bones, beads and iron tools leading them to the conclusion that these jars were used as giant urns to bury the dead. Another mystery yet unsolved is how the jars are made. Locals believed that these jars were made from clay, sand, sugar, and animal products mixing together to form a cement-like mixture.

asia travel spots, plain of jarsSince the time of Pathet Lao-American war began, most of the jars were destroyed by bomb explosions leaving bomb craters and trench systems in the area. This makes the area dangerous until today due to unexploded bombs that was a result of massive bombardment of the recent wars. In fact only three sites of the plain is safe for visitors and locals alike. Aside from the huge stone jars, you can also found original artifacts like Buddhist statues, colonial items and scraps from the exploded bombs in the US war. Like no other, Plain of Jars is the mute witness of Laos' historical occurrence in the past and in the years to come.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Singapore's Night Safari

asian destinations, Night Safari Safaris always fascinates me as a kid and now that I grew up, I still have that interest to go to Africa to have a real encounter with the wild. Not now that I've learned about Singapore's own version of safari but this time, it has a twist. Who will ever thought that it was possible to have your wild park adventure at night? Yes you can in Night Safari as it is the first in the world that caters visitors at night. Awarded as Singapore Tourism Awards Best Leisure Attraction Experience since 1994 up to 2006, you'll be overwhelmed by the experience you can get just by touring here.

asian destinations, Night SafariEcologically it's a good thing specially for nocturnal animals as the animals here are not disturbed at daytime. You can take a closer look at over 1040 animals not to mention the endangered kind in action. This idea is rooted from a wide response of people towards night tours and wholesome entertainment. With the budget of 63 million (in Singapore dollars), this 40 hectares nocturnal zoo came to life. As of now, this open-air zoo is maintained by Wild Reserves Singapore and it is open for 5 hours every night.

asian destinations, Night SafariThe zoo's setting of humid tropical forest gives it an authentic look of a typical African safari and stimulate the animals natural habitat. Visitors may not worry as protected by natural barriers instead of cages while they watch the animals. It is covered by two stretches, the walking trail and the tram rides. Just like any other parks, they offer other attractions such as tribal dances, fire eating stints and a night show which showcases the animals in the Night Safari. Dining is never a problem as it has food outlets and restaurants to satisfy your growling stomachs. One of which is Ulu Ulu Safari restaurant which serves authentic Western and Asian dishes. What you can do next is have it your way here at Night Safari. It is a sure way to enjoy the wild and realize the value of taking care our mother nature as well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Azerbaijan's Gobustan Petroglyphs

asian travel, Gobustan Petroglyphs You may think that Azerbaijan didn't exist in your travel destination maps but its is. It has so much to offer and one of which is Gobustan State Reserve who happens to be one of UNESCO's heritage site. Established in 1966, it was declared a protected area since in the caves lies the ancient carvings and rock paintings that is believed to be more than 600,000 in number. The paintings are mostly images of what kind of life early settlers of Azerbaijan had as well as animals, primitive dances, bullfights and others dated from 5,000 to 20,000 years way back.

asian travel, Gobustan Petroglyphs
This nature wonder were only discovered through accident when a group of men go in there to quarry for stones in 1930. Since the area are abundant in boulders and rock formations, one quarry worker noticed the unusual carvings on the rocks. They also discovered these man-made caves where more of the drawings can be found. One of the scientist studied these paintings is the world-renowned anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl.

asian travel, Gobustan PetroglyphsApart from petroglyphs, there is also this musical stone known as Gaval Dash. It makes a tambourine-like sound when it is hit in different points. It is composed of big flat stones with 3 supporting stones. There are also cup-like hollows found there which is believed to be used to gather water, a vessel for preparing blood for sacrifice and others not to mention archaeological materials like hunting tools, utensils and animal bones. If you're into history mood, play like an archaeologist or geologist and plan your vacation here at Gobustan State Reserve particulary in it's caves and mud volcanoes. There's nothing like discovering the things we didn't know existed at that time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Egypt's Ras Mohammed National Park

asian travel spots, Ras MohammedEgypt was known for its majestic pyramid structures, high and mighty pharaohs and it's amazing sand dunes. Who will ever thought that a diver's haven will emerge here in a land of full of sand and scarce water supply? Yes, Ras Mohammed or Cape Mohammed is one of Egypt's important protected area. With a variety of flora and fauna's best, Ras Mohammed showcase marine life in different forms.

asian travel spots, Ras MohammedThis extra-ordinary setting lies in at the south extreme of Sinai Peninsula, facing Gulf Suez and Gulf of Aqaba and included in the tourist region of Red Sea Riviera. Declared as a park and protected area in 1983, this asian travel spot has a name that literally means Mohammed's head. The enormous wildlife is not only present in water but also in land as there are mountains and wadis, gravel and coastal mud plains and sand dunes that will satisfy your panoramic viewing.

asian travel spots, Ras MohammedThis place is not only suitable for diving but also in other activities like snorkeling, bird-watching and nature-tripping. In fact, there is the Mangrove channel where you can view migratory and resident birds. There's also the Eel Garden where you can find it's large population of garden eels and the Shark Observatory where you can have a close encounter with sharks of different kinds.
This park provides excellent and calm experience to their visitors. With this and other nature's reserves around the world, it made us think twice to save this place called Earth since this is the only place and paradise we can live in.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Philippines' Pamalican Island

asian destinations, Pamalican IslandWhenever we hear Philippines, we think of luscious forests, warm smiles of Filipinos and white sand beaches. Speaking of beaches, Boracay always comes to your mind as a beach-freak. Aside from the infamous Boracay, there are other white sand beaches in the tropics. Pamalican Island, apart from Boracay, is a small island that belongs in Cuyo Group of Islands located at the heart of Palawan and Panay. It is also the home of the high-end Amanpulo Island Resort.

asian destinations, Pamalican IslandHaving the name Amanpulo (which means peaceful) spells it's true meaning and added to that feature is it's alluring beauty and tranquility. However, to transport tourists from Manila to the island, there is always an airplane standing by. It is also used to transport goods and supplies to the island. The island can accommodate less than 100 people to stay. That is an assurance that the place is not that crowded compared to Boracay and Puerto Galera. The fact that it's so small you can tour the whole island in 3-5 hours walk.

asian destinations, Pamalican IslandIf you think walking around the island is boring, think again. The island has so many activities to offer just like diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, windsurfing, and beach combing. If you feel the romantic ambiance, try to arrange a barbecue night out with your date or simply grab your picnic basket and do your picnicking on the neighbor island. You can also indulge yourself in the island's casitas (bungalow) that goes with a personal buggy. So if vacation is what you have in mind, always include Pamalican Island in your list of travel destinations in Asia.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Japan's Sapporo Yuki Matsuri

asia travel spots, Sapporo Yuki MatsuriGodzilla captured on ice? How about an icy street? You will be fascinated by the glittering structures and dazzling ice carvings you can only find at Sapporo. As they celebrate the annual snow festival, several teams from around the world gather to exhibit their sculpting prowess by creating statues, edifices and landmarks. The streets of Sapporo turns into a white crystal dreamland that anyone of us would want to live in.

asia travel spots, Sapporo Yuki MatsuriOne of Japan's anticipated winter events, Sapporo's Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) was held in three venues: Odori Park, Susukino, and Sapporo Satoland. It's humble beginning started in 1950 when six local high school students crafted their own statues in Odori Park. Then followed by Japan Self-Defense Forces by creating a massive ice structures that made the simple ice carving to a huge festivity. The festival was held on the month of February and lasts for seven days.

asia travel spots, Sapporo Yuki MatsuriApart from feeding your eyes with these wonderful creations, you can indulge into various snow sport activities like skiing, snow gliding and snow boarding. After this freezing activities, savor the flavor of local hot ramen, a one of kind in Sapporo to ease the tingling sensation brought about by snow. You can also check out Susukino' s Ice Queen, a beauty contest held every year that showcase local beauties. Sights, fun and dine, that's what Sapporo has to offer. Who knows what will comes next?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

India's Kochi Backwaters

asian travel, Kochi BackwatersIf there's one greatest contribution India has in the world is it's backwaters. They are the only place in the globe where you can find this unique water landmark. Tagged as "Queen of Arabian Sea", Kochi or Cochin receive millions of visitors every year. Being Kerala's industrial and commercial capital, it's ports where the busiest from the transport of goods to every hour cruises of tourists in and around the metropolis. A cluster of islands surrounding Vembanad Lake, it is a picturesque port in ancient times putting Arabian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and British a good setting for trade and commerce.

asian travel, Kochi BackwatersDue to this, these foreign traders leave their own heritage in the island. One of which is Bolghatty Palace, a panoramic Dutch Palace that has a nice golf course and green lawns. Chinese also embarked their legacy by introducing their fishing nets which is only found in Fort Kochi. Aside from this, there's also Willingdon Island, a large man-made island which comprises of sand and dredged to the backwaters that will deepen the Kochi Port. There is also the Elephant Training Center in which you will see elephants in action.

asian travel, Kochi BackwatersYou can enjoy the serenity of this place as it has no pubs or nightlife. Instead, wines are served in the hotel lobbies but if you want to have a taste of their local wine, you can have it in little shops located in the city. So spend your vacation the Indian way and go to Kochi backwater. This is another one great chance we shouldn't dare to miss.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cambodia's Kompong Luong (Floating Village)

asia destinations, kompong luongWe can only think of Cambodia as the land of Khmers, it's famous Angkor Wat temple and their breath-taking beaches, but who will ever thought that they got a floating village? Kompong Luong is located in the lakes of Pursat. The village consists of five communities with a total of almost 1300 families and 7000 people living in the area. Fact is, Khmer, Chinese and Vietnamese are living together in Kompong.

asia destinations, kompong luongIt is considered as Asia's version of Venice but instead of gondolas, Kompong is known to their wide range of quality pottery wares. You can buy it there along with other items such as vegetables and handicraft products that will make your visit worthwhile. If you will take a cruise at night, the village is so beautiful it looks like giant lamps in the midst of the lake. Aside from stores, there are floating restaurants, petrol stations, convenience stores, hospitals, karaoke bars and even garages can be found there.

asia destinations, kompong luongSo if you want to experience great fun living above water, approach your travel agent today take your love ones in Kompong Luong. While your sipping your ice coffee or take your lunch in the boat, you can check out the friendly people living in the floating village.