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1995 eruption of Mount Rinjani

Mount Rinjani also known as Gunung Rinjani, is an active volcano on the island of Lombok. It rises to 12,224 feet or 3,726 meters,making it the second highest volcano in Indonesia. On top of the volcano is a 3.7 to 5.3 mile (6 by 8.5 kilometer) caldera, partially filled with water, that has become known as Segara Anak or Anak Laut (Child of the Sea). So called because of the incredible blue color of the lake. The astounding Gunung Rinjani National Park,is our 7th stop in the travel series A World Far and Away.

It is thought that the name Rinjani, comes from an old Javanese term for God.

Mount Rinjani as well as the caldera lake, are both part of the Gunung Rinjani National Park, which was established in 1997. Segara Anak Lake is near 6,600 feet (2000 meters) above sea level and is estimated to be about 660 feet or 200 meters deep.

Segara Anak, the volcanic crater on the summit of Rinjani.

This caldera also contains hot springs. The most popular among these is Aik Kalak, at the crater rim.

The park sits inside a major bio-geographical transition zone, known as Wallacea. It is where the tropical flora and fauna of Southeast Asia meets that of Australasia.

The Sasak tribe and Hindu people, profess that both the lake and the mountain are sacred. As a result, a number of religious ceremonies are staged in the area.

The Balinese come to the Segara Anak Lake and perform a ceremony called Mulang Pakelem. During the procession, jewelry is placed in the lake, as an offering to the mountain spirit.

View of Segara Anak from the crater rim

This annual Hindu ceremony at the crater lake, dates from the 18th century invasion of Lombok,by Balinese from the kingdom of Karangasem. It attracts hundreds of white clad participants

The Wetu Telu also regard the lake as sacred. They will come on full moon nights, to pray and commune, with the larger spiritual world.

Rising from the waters of the lake is a new volcano known as Mt. Baru, which is a result of a series of eruptions, that occurred during the 1990’s.

In addition, there are three well known caves at the park. These are identified as Gua Susu, Gua Payung, and dan Gua Manik.

Mount Rinjani at sunrise

Tourism to the area has grown increasingly popular. Most recently, it has been interrupted due to geologic activity at various intervals. The summit route was closed for a time in July 2009 and again in early 2010, through May of that year, as volcanic activity increased.

September 2016 was the last eruption witnessed on Mount Rinjani, but the entire area remains geologically quite active.

In April of 2018, UNESCO made the Mount Rinjani Caldera, a part of the Global Geoparks Network.

View from the summit of Gunung Rinjani

The Gunung Rinjani National Park is comprised of 159.6 square miles or 41,330 hectares. The protected area includes a further 250 square miles (66,000 hectares) of forest.

In 2004, Mount Rinjani had obtained the World Legacy Award from Conservation International and Traveler. It was also a finalist for Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in 2005 and 2008 from the World Travel Tourism Council.

In December 2010, a photo of eruption of Mount Rinjani, won the National Geographic Photography Contest.

Tourists looking for an outdoor adventure, can traverse the park or engage in a climb to the summit of the mountain.

The view from the top is widely regarded, as being one of the best in the entire country of Indonesia.

Around the slopes of Mount Rinjani are vibrant forests, with a variety of exotic birds and animals, sprinkled with waterfalls and surrounded by outstanding scenery.

For visitors to the park, the three day Rinjani trek route from Senaru to the crater rim and then down 600 meters (1969 feet) down to the Crater lake, then moving on to Sembalun Lawang village, is considered one of the best hikes in all of Southeast Asia.

Hiking Post on Tengengean, 1500 m height on Mt. Rinjani

For those more adventurous travelers, a trek to the summit of the volcano itself will take four days from Sembalun Lawang, finishing up in the village of Senaru.

From the absolute peak, travelers can see Bali to the west and Sumbawa to the east.

The surrounding communities have benefited from the increased tourism, due to the business partnerships between the public and private sectors. Revenue from visitor activities and entry fees, is used for conservation and management of the park. This model is unique in Indonesia, and is one of the best examples of Eco-tourism in the country.

Location

Most visitors arrive to the park, from the village of Senaru, which is located on the northern side of the mountain. This is closer to the main resort areas of the west coast, including Senggigi. The other point of access would be from the village of Sembalun, on the eastern side of the mountain, which is far closer to the summit.

Both of these villages can be accessed from the main north coast road.

Phone: +62 (0) 370-660-8874

Website: info@rinjaninationalpark.com

0 660 8874

Admission

The entry price to the park is Rp 150,000, the equivalent of $10.61 USD (United States Dollar), per person. From this fee, 13% is allocated to the park, 62% to the Rinjani Trek Eco-tourism Program and 25%, to support the Rinjani Trek operation and maintenance program.

Rinjani Park regulations, stipulate the use of a certified guide.

Tourists need to make sure when organizing a travel package, that it is made with the Rinjani Trek Management Board (RTMB). The RTMB has only one main office, located at the Lombok Raya Hotel in Mataram.

There are also representative offices at the Rinjani Trek Center in Senaru and Rinjani Information Center in Sembalun,both of which are located on the island of Lombok alone.

The official rate per person for a tour to the rim, consisting of two days and one night, with a twin share will cost $300 USD.

The trek to the Summit, which will take 3 days and two nights, will cost the equivalent of $350 USD per person, with a twin share.

A hike to the Lake, for 3 days and 2 nights, is available at $350.00 USD per person, with a twin share.

The Summit Lake trip at 4 days and 3 nights, is $380.00 USD per person, with a twin share.

Days and Hours of Operations

Typically, the hike to the rim involves two days and one night on the mountain. The longer ascent to the summit, can be done with just one extra night’s camping, but is often part of a longer trek of 3 to 4 days and 2 or 3 nights.

Lodging

  • Is available in the villages of Sembalun and Senaru.

Valuable Tips

  • Few tourists actually make the very strenuous effort required to reach the actual summit, but instead stop at the crater rim. To make the extra 1,000 meter (3281 feet) ascent to the very top, requires a far higher level of fitness.
  • Serious accidents and even fatalities have occurred, when just using a guide. Therefore, it is best not to try to make the trek alone. Go as part of an organized group.
  • Proper climbing or hiking boots are recommended.
  • A wind and waterproof jacket is a necessity.
  • A head lamp will also be needed.
  • If you are going all the way to the top, use of poles to use as walking sticks are highly recommended.

The post Incredible Mount Rinjani: The Second Highest Volcano in Indonesia appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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The Dark Hedges of Ireland catapulted to international fame, when they were used as a location, in filming a popular television series Game of Thrones. The Dark Hedges are a more than 200 years old avenue of beech trees, along Bregagh Road between Armory and Stranocum in County Antrim, Ireland. The mysterious Dark Hedges are the 6th stop in the series A World Far and Away.

The beech trees that make up the Dark Hedges, are the result of twisting branches that formed an arch over the road. Over the decades, an atmospheric tunnel, slowly came into existence.

The history of the trees can be traced back to James Stuart,who had them planted in about 1775. Stuart was building a new residence in northern Ireland, named Gracehill House, after his wife Grace Lynd.

The Georgian style Gracehill mansion remains in private hands to this day, but a portion of the original estate, now serves as an 18 hole golf course and The Hedges Hotel.

Over 150 trees were planted along both sides of the road, in the approach to the new estate. Today about 90 of the trees remain. The site is included in a list of the 12 best road trips in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

According to local legend, the Dark Hedges are visited by a ghost called the Grey Lady, who travels the road and darts across it from tree to tree.

Adherents to the story, say the apparition is the spirit of James Stuart’s daughter known as Cross Peggy. Others claim it is actually one of the house maids, who died mysteriously. Another group claims it is a spirit from an abandoned graveyard, beneath the fields.

Adding to the tale, is the belief that on Halloween, the Grey Lady is joined by other spirits from the graveyard.

In addition, to using the Dark Hedges as the King’s Road in the television series Game of Thrones, the trees were also seen in the 2017 Transformers film, The Last Knight.

Given the recent popularity of the Dark Hedges among tourists, a tree preservation order was put on the trees in 2004. In 2009 the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust was set up to better enable maintenance and preservation of the site.

A survey conducted in 2014, found that the trees are in various states of maturity and past their prime. Their overall health is at continuous risk during inclement weather.

Coast of Northern Ireland

In January 2016, Storm Gertrude was responsible in felling two of the beech trees and damaging a third one. Storm Doris in February 2017, took another tree down.

With the increasing number of visitors, the Department of Infrastructure decided in 2017, to close the road to traffic. This was done in an effort to further slow the damage and degradation, being caused by the growing crowds of tourists.

Beginning from October 30th 2017, a ban on traffic using the road between its junctions with Ballinlea and Ballykenver, was put into place.

Although the ban has been somewhat controversial, the Woodland Trust has stated, that high vehicular traffic levels, would of limited the longevity of the trees to just twenty years more.

Beech trees are surface rooting and therefore are more susceptible to environmental damage.

Graffiti and other examples of vandalism, have also become a major concern for conservationists of the Dark Hedges.

In an effort to preserve the trees, the branches have been pruned recently and the tunnel has become less impressive, but it still maintains much of its magic.

Over the years, the site has gained increasing notoriety, but the addition of using the Dark Hedges as a backdrop for the filming of popular television programming, has made the site into one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

There is a parking lot on the southern side of the trees, which will provide the best approach to the attraction. It remains the best venue for taking photographs.

Location

Address: Bregagh Rd, Stranocum, Ballymoney BT53 8TP, UK

Phone +44 28-2766-0230

Website: https://www.discovernorthernireland.com/The-Dark-Hedges-Armoy-Ballymoney-P27502

Admission

There is no fees to visit or photograph the Dark Hedges.

How To Get There

There are several different ways to reach the Dark Hedges, the one this writer recommends is from the Causeway Coast. It is only 13.6 miles (21.9 kilometers) away and will take you less than 30 minutes, to traverse the distance. A rental car will serve well, the interests of most tourists.

Days and Hours of Operations

Open 24 hours daily, throughout the year. It will be far more crowded during the summer months, when more people are on vacation.

Lodging

  • Hedges Hotel is a two minute walk from the Dark Hedges. There are coach/car parking facilities available at the hotel. Toilet (restroom) are also available to tourists.
  • Causeway Hotel is less than 30 minutes away from the Dark Hedges

Valuable Tips

  • It is best to arrive at daylight, and through the sunrise. This allows a beautiful and more personal experience, ahead of the crowds and tour buses. The latter arrive in the afternoon.
  • Sunset is another special time to visit the Dark Hedges, but there may still be more visitors than one might expect.
  • Look around first, to see where you will find your best photograph opportunities, before other tourists arrive.
  • The best photographs will most likely be from the South End of the Dark Hedges.

The post The Mysterious Dark Hedges of Northern Ireland appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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The Dinosaur Center located in Thermopolis, Wyoming is one of the few museums in the world, to have excavation sites within a short driving distance. Established in 1995, this world class facility displays, one of the largest and unequaled fossil collections in the world. It is the 22nd stop in the travel series Off The Beaten Path.

The Dinosaur Center can be found a short distance from Thermopolis, Greek for Hot City, home to numerous natural hot springs, which are mineral laden and heated by the geothermal process.

Thermopolis viewed from Roundtop Mountain.

Thermopolis  has claimed to possess the world’s largest mineral hot spring, called The Big Spring. It is part of Wyoming’s Hot Springs State Park.

The springs are open to the public for free, as part of an 1896 treaty signed with the Arapaho and Shoshone Indian tribes.

Many travelers consider the area to be the Gateway to Yellowstone Country.

With close to 50 mounted skeletons and hundreds of displays and dioramas, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center not only educates the visitor, but will also capture the imagination of all age groups.

It helps travelers revisit a time, when dinosaurs dominated the earth, which they did for some 160 million years.

Excavations at Warm Springs Ranch

The dig sites of the Dinosaur Center of Wyoming, found at Warm Springs Ranch, has some of the richest fossil bearing strata, in the western part of the United States. These were first discovered in 1993. Their very abundance led to the formation of a renowned museum, ongoing dig sites, a complete preparation laboratory and a spectacular gift shop.

This treasure for paleontologists came about, when fossil hunters were walking around the antediluvian rolling hills of Thermopolis, Wyoming. They soon discovered a variety of dinosaur bones,simply weathering out of the mountainsides.

Since that time, more than 10,000 bones have been revealed and excavated. Most of them are either on display or stored at the museum.

Among the most notable of the fossil collections, is from the Something Interesting or SI excavation site. It provides tourists a rare occurrence of both dinosaur trace fossils and body fossils. This includes footprints of many Sauropods and Allosaurus.

There are also skeletal remains from Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus and Diplodocus. These are three of the Sauropods, most commonly found in the Late Jurassic period.

An important find, was the fossils consisting of a young 30 foot long Camarasaurus that was scavenged by a number of Allosaurs. This has been determined by the presence of both claw and teeth marks on numerous bones belonging to the juvenile.

Supporting this theory, is an accumulation of over 100 teeth that belong to Allosaurs, found among the the bone debris.

Debra Jennings conducting research in 2006, determined the bones in the area, were accumulated when the site was part of a shallow alkaline lake.

Jennings made a further observation, that there are at least two separate layers of bone nearing material, created as the lake shrank and expanded over time, as the surrounding environment underwent change.

The Dinosaur Museum provides visitors a journey through history. The Walk Thru Time allows travelers, to trace the most widely scientifically accepted origins, of more complex life here on Earth.

trilobites

One can observe the rise of the arthropods and the mass expiration of the trilobites. There are early fish to see, including the Coelacanth, who is subscribed to be the predecessor of land vertebrates.

Following that, there are some early examples of vertebrates. This entire period comprises three quarters of the time, that there has been life on the planet.

Next the visitor arrives at the Hall of Dinosaurs. It is here where one can find the Supersaurus named Jimbo, one of the largest dinosaurs every mounted.

The replica skeleton on display is 106 feet long and is the first mount based on data, from the second and most complete Supersaurus ever found.

Jimbo

Jimbo was excavated from a quarry near Douglas, Wyoming and was donated to the Dinosaur museum in 2003.

One of the acquisitions to the museum is the almost 90% complete, composite skeleton of a Camarasaurus found on the property, by the staff and visitors. It had been excavated over the past 20 years.

Visitors will find Medusaceratops as well as various examples of Hadrosaurs and Stegosaurs.

There is also Stan a 35 foot T-Rex charging a Triceratops.

Included in the collection, is the only known Archaeopteryx known to exist, outside of Europe. It has been given the moniker The Thermopolis Specimen. It is the best preserved and most complete remains of the species to date.

Archaeopteryx at the Dinosaur Center

Most of the twelve specimens of Archaeopteryx in existence, include impressions of feathers. As a result, it makes the species a prime candidate, for a transitional fossil between birds and dinosaurs.

There is also a collection of real and replica marine reptiles, as well as flying reptiles. An impressive assemblage of pre-Mesozoic fossils, Devonian fish and invertebrates are also on display.

The museum contains a fully functional preparation lab. Both staff and visitors can be observed cleaning, preserving and repairing fossils. This is not only for those found on the property, but from other parts of the United States.

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center offers a number of programs that allow visitors, to participate in the excavation of fossils. Beginning in the middle of May, the Dig For A Day program begins. Digging starts at 8:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm, seven days a week. Weather permitting, tourists can help find fossils through mid-September.

Throughout the summer, many dates are available for the Kids’ Dig. Children aged 8 through 12, can learn the many different aspects of ongoing work at the Dinosaur Center. In addition to excavation, there is lab work, which includes casting and molding.

Other programs include Dinosaur Academy, Paleo Prep Program and a number of Senior Activities.

Location

The Dinosaur Center is located in northwest Wyoming. It can be found about 220 miles southeast from Yellowstone National Park. It will take about 3 hours to complete the trip traveling on WY-120.

Address

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center

110 Carter Ranch Road

P.O. Box 868

Thermopolis, Wyoming 82443

Phone Number (307) 864-2997

The toll free phone number is (800)-455-DINO

Dig For The Day (800) 455-3466

Fax (307) 864-5762

Email: wdinoc@wyodino.org

Website: http://www.wyodino.org/

Museum Admission

Adults $10.00 USD (United States Dollar).

Children 4 – 12, seniors (60 and over) and veterans $8.00 USD.

Children under 3 years and under are free.

Group rates and school groups are available at a lower price.

Dig Site Tour

Summer Season: May 15th to September 15th

Adults $12.50 USD

Children 4 – 12, seniors and veterans $10.50 USD

Children under 3 years and under are free

Combination Museum and Dig Site Tour

Adults $18.50 USD

Children 4 – 12, seniors and veterans $14.50 USD

Children under 3 years and under are free

Family Discount (2 adults and 2 children) $60.00 USD

additional children and seniors $12.00 USD

Dig For The Day

Adults 13 and over $150.00 USD

Children under 13 $100.00 USD

Shovel Ready

$50.00 USD per person

Days and Hours of Operations

Summer Season: May 15th to September 15th

8:00 AM. and 6:00 PM.

Open all season, 7 days a week

Winter Season: September 16th to May 14th

10:00 AM. and 5:00 PM.

Open 7 days a week

Closed for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day

Lodging

Is available in Thermopolis, just a few minutes from the Dinosaur Center.

Helpful Hints

  • Remember the sun can be intense during the day. If you plan to be outside for any length of time,dress appropriately and wear sunscreen (reapply as needed).
  • Use sunglasses, to protect your eyes in the bright sun.
  • Wear suitable footwear, for walking and hiking outdoors.
  • It can be cool during the early morning and evenings so a windbreaker may be helpful during the early and later portions of the summer season.
  • Jackets and coats will be necessary, during the winter season.
  • Stay hydrated, bring bottled water with you if you are going to be outdoors during the summer season.

The post The Amazing Dinosaur Center In Thermopolis, Wyoming appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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Kitakyushu is the northernmost city on Kyushu Island in Japan. In addition to Kokura Castle and the surrounding Katsuyama Park, known for its spring cherry blossoms, the area is famous for the wisteria tunnel located in Kawachi Fuji Gardens. Each spring, countless visitors flock to see this magical site. It is the 5th stop in the series A World Far And Away.

Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu is 5 hours from Tokyo, if you are taking the Nozomi, the high speed train out of the Japanese capital.

The Gardens encompass 10,000 square meters (less than an acre) and are privately owned. They were established in 1977. The site is located in the wooded hills south of central Kitakyushu.

Kawachi Fuji Gardens are home to 150 trees comprising 22 different varieties of wisteria. They start to bloom and reach their peak from the end of April to the middle of May. This will be when you will want to visit. It will be during the Fuji Matsuri or Wisteria Festival.

The main attraction of the Kawachi Fuji Gardens, are the wisteria tunnels. These structures combine architecture and nature known as arbortecture. One is 80 meters long (263 feet) and the other is a total of 220 meters long or 722 feet long.

Thanks to the flexibility in the wisteria vines, the resulting flowers can be used to create some mystical designs, including the long and winding tunnels that stand in the gardens.

The wisteria vines can grow up to 65 feet above ground and 33 feet laterally.

Tourists passing through the wisteria tunnels, are greeted with alternating illuminating flower paths, of various shades of blue, pink, purple, red and white.

There are huge wisteria trellises at the end of tunnels and one can see wisteria trees which are more than 100 years old.

The wisteria flower panicles have become famous across Japan, with festivals found throughout the country in the spring.

The famed Great Wisteria Festival in Ashikaga for example, gives visitors a view of 350 wisteria trees, dating back some 150 years.

The wisteria vines and trees, flower around the same time as Japan’s famed cherry blossoms, so late April and early May is the height of the season, for those wishing to see spring flowering gardens. The ideal time is Golden Week from April 21 and May 6.

There is a Wisteria Festival known locally as the Fuji Matsuri, at the end of the Golden Week.

In Japan, these varieties bloom in this order. Usubeni fuji (light pink) Murasaki fuji (purple) Naga fuji

(long) Yae kokuryu (double-petaled black dragon), and Shiro fuji (white).

A view point at the top of the hillside offers incredible views of the flowers. One can also see the surrounding valley, which is known for its abundant bamboo groves.

Wisteria tunnels gained world wide attention after their introduction on a website in 2012.

In addition, to the beautiful wisteria displays, Kawachi Fuji Gardens are known for the abundant autumn colors, that line the maple trees in the fall.

Location

Address: 2 Chome-2-48 Kawachi, Yahatahigashi Ward, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture 805-0045, Japan

Phone +81 93-652-0334

Website: https://kawachi-fujien.com/

Admission

The price is either 500 yen or $4.68 USD (United States Dollar), 1000 yen ($9.35 USD) or 1500 yen ($14.03 USD) depending on the state of the season.

Visitors up through middle school are free.

Tickets purchased in advance always cost 500 yen, and the eventual difference to the actual admission fee will be paid at the garden.

It is important to note, that advance reservations are required during the peak season (April 21 to May 06, 2018). These will provide for a specific date and time slot.

Outside of the peak season, same day tickets can be purchased at the gardens.

Online reservations and purchase of tickets will be possible through Japanican.

Alternatively tickets may be purchased through ticket machines at Family Mart and 7-Eleven convenience stores from March 15. An important fact is there is no English interface in the use of the machines.

How To Get There

If one is using public transportation, the best route for access to the Kawachi Gardens is from JR Yahata Station. It is 15 minutes from Kokura Station and will cost 280 yen or $2.62 USD each way.

A rental car may seem easier, but it is likely to be congested on weekends and any holidays, especially if your visit is during or close to Golden Week.

There are 200 free parking spots located near the entrance of the wisteria garden and the nearby Ajisainoyu bathhouse that can be used by visitors. These will be insufficient on both weekends on holidays.

The access road from the south tends to be somewhat less crowded and features two additional parking lots about a 15-20 minute walk from the Kawachi Gardens.

During the peak season a shuttle bus runs between Yahata Station and the Kawachi Wisteria Garden.

The Nishitetsu bus number 56 runs about once per hour from Yahata Station to Kamishigeta, the final stop along the line. It will take 20 minutes and a cost of 260 yen or $2.43 USD.

It will require 45-55 minute walk to the garden.

Days and Hours of Operations

Wisteria Season (mid April to mid May) 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (18:00) daily.

Autumn Color Season (mid-November to early December) 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (17:00) daily.

The best time to visit Zhangye National Park is from June to September, when the weather is comfortable. The combination of a strong sun and a little rain, brings out the colors more. Do not go when it is raining or cloudy, as sunshine is needed for the best viewing of the color gradations.

The rest of the year is quite dry. The Park is well below freezing and windy in the winter. Visiting is not recommended at this time of the year.

The best time to visit is in the morning and especially in the evening, where the color variation changes continuously. Sunset is at 7:30 pm local time in the spring and autumn and 8:00 pm in the summer.

It will be far more crowded July and August and on Chinese holidays. During the height of the tourist season, some 20,000 tourists visit daily.

Tourists typically spend between one and two hours in the gardens.

Lodging

  • Is available in nearby communities and in the city of Kitakyushu.

Valuable Tips

  • There are no restroom (toilet facilities) in the gardens, visitors need to use the one provided at the entrance to the gardens.
  • Photography is permitted, but professional equipment setups are not.
  • You will need to take your meals at designated areas.
  • The use of walking shoes, will make your excursion through the park far more enjoyable.

The post The Magical Kawachi Fuji Gardens Wisteria Tunnel, In Kitakyushu Japan appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of the destination events for the Pacific Northwest. It is held during the entire month of April, on an annual basis. During this time, millions of tulips will flower, in a parade of endless color in Mount Vernon, Washington. The Skagit Valley has now officially welcomed visitors from around the world for 34 years, to partake in a driving tour. It is our 21st stop in the series Off the Beaten Path.

It is the largest festival in the state of Washington, with hundreds of thousand of visitors arriving annually, from 93 different countries, to see the interminable acres of flowering bulbs.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was selected as the number 1 street fair in KING TV’s Best of the Northwest awards in 2010.

Tulips have been farmed in the Skagit Valley, since the early 1900’s. The evolution of bulb planting in the region, can be traced back to 1883, with the arrival of George Gibbs from England. He settled in Orcas Island, where Gibbs at first raised apples and hazelnuts.

Nine years later, Gibbs would purchase five dollars worth of flower bulbs. He would dig them up just two years later and would discover, that they had multiplied considerably. Gibbs would soon realize the full potential for growing bulbs, in the region of Puget Sound.

Gibbs contacted planters of tulip bulbs in the Netherlands, to make an inquiry of their business practices. He found them to be largely non-communicative, about their industry.

Once Gibbs sent a number of bulbs to them, the impressed Dutch growers soon traveled to see for themselves, the prospective idea of raising tulips, outside of Holland.

In 1899, Gibbs would write to the Department of Agriculture in the United States. It was in regard to the possible commercial prospects, of growing flower bulbs in the region on a large scale . Officials of the American government were quite interested, given the glowing report sent by Gibbs.

In 1905, the department sent Gibbs a total of 15,000 imported bulbs from the Netherlands, to grow as an experiment. The contract was so successful, that officials from the agency decided to establish their own 10-acre test garden near Bellingham, Washington in 1908.

As a result, the Bellingham Tulip Festival would appear, starting in 1920. It was created to celebrate the success of the new and rapidly growing bulb industry, throughout the region.

In response to the Great Depression, this particular festival would soon come to an end after a ten year run.

A number of bulb freezes that occurred in 1916, 1925 and again in 1929, also brought about heavy financial losses to the local growers. Subsequently, these growers would migrate further south, into Skagit County.

The industry would end up growing far larger on the whole, with the arrival of William Roozen to the United States in 1946. He left behind a successful bulb growing business, that had lasted for six generations in the Netherlands.

Roozen spent a number of years, working on several different local farms. He started his own Skagit farm in 1950 and in 1955, bought the Washington Bulb Company. This made him the leader among the four flower-growing families in the area.

William Roozen 1920 – 2002

The Washington Bulb Company became the leading grower of tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs in North America from then on.

The company farm operates a public display garden and a gift shop known as RoozenGaarde. Along side the DeGoede family’s Tulip Town, these form the major tourist attractions during the Tulip Festival.

Local tulip growers had already showcased their bulbs through display gardens for many years, prior to the creation of an official festival in the 1980’s.

In 1984, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce first established the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, as a three day event. It has grown over time to now include, the entire month of April. It also coincides with art shows, barbecues, bike tours, photo contests, street fairs, wine tastings and a number of sporting events.

RoozenGaarde is a popular location for tulip viewing during the festival.

In addition, to its famous tulips RoozenGaarde in Mount Vernon also features an authentic Dutch windmill.

Tulip Town has trolley rides, to escort visitors through the gardens. These run from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, weather permitting.

During the Tulip Festivals, professional kite flyers showcase their kites in the fields at Tulip Town.

RoozenGaarde consists of a five acre Display Garden, planted with nearly 500,000 bulbs, with an additional 25 acres of tulip fields and 22 acres of daffodils. There are over 150 types on display, which are labeled, if you wish to purchase any of them. The full color catalog, actually offers free tulips.

RoozenGaarde Gift Shop

In Tulip Town, view the enhanced Veterans Memorial Garden and World Tulip Summit Society Garden. There is also the windmill garden with a pond, featuring unusual tulip varieties and the waterwheel garden, filled with newly hybridized tulips.

Tulip Town also encompasses a Garden Shop, Art Gallery, an Espresso Bar, Tulip Cafe and a number of gift shops. One should visit the indoor massive display of various tulip bouquets.

Location

Skagit Valley is adjacent to Interstate 5. The gardens are 60 miles north of Seattle and 70 miles south of Vancouver, Canada.

Address

Administration Office and Store

P.O. Box 1784

311 West Kincaid Street

Mount Vernon, WA 98273

The phone number is (360)-428-5959

Email: info@tulipfestival

Website: www.tulipfestival.org

Addresses & Phones:

Roozengaarde 15867 Beaver Marsh Rd., Mount Vernon, WA, 98273. Phone number (360) 424 – 8531

Tulip Town: 15002 Bradshaw Road, Mount Vernon, WA, 98273. Phone number (360) 424 – 8152

Admission

RoozenGaarde $7.00 USD (United States Dollar).

Military personnel with proper identification $6.00 USD.

Children under 5 years are free.

Tulip Town $7.00 USD.

Children under 5 years are free.

Amenities

Parking is free at both gardens. RoozenGaarde parking is on Beaver Marsh Road and Tulip Town parking is on Bradshaw Road. Both sites have overflow lots for days when there are far more tourists.

Getting Around the Festival

In addition to taking a simple driving tour, tulip enthusiasts can also rent bicycles. Tulip Country Bike Tours rents bikes, that come with self guided tour maps.

Another option is to join an actual guided tour. Tulip tours are organized by Roads2Tulips Adventures, Shutter Tours and Skagit Guided Adventures.

Photography

Bring a camera to capture the beauty and abundance of flowers. However, drones are not permitted to fly above the fields and gardens.

Days and Hours of Operations

The Administrative Office and Store is open Monday through Friday

The times listed are 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

During the month of April the office is open 7 days a week.

The times listed are 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

RoozenGaarde is open from 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM during the month of April.

Tulip Town is open from 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM even later, if weather permits during the month of April.

Lodging

Is available in the local nearby communities. There are a number of hotels, casino-resorts, bed and breakfasts and motels in the area. It is advisable to book accommodations well in advance, given the increasing popularity of the Tulip Festival, from tourists from around the world.

Helpful Hints

  • Remember mother nature actually determines the bloom cycle, so it remains hard to predict the peak bloom days of the flowers.
  • Be prepared for potentially rainy weather, by bringing a raincoat and proper footwear (rubber boots). The fields can become quite muddy during rainy weather.
  • Abide by the signs, which are there for a purpose. Walking between the rows of flowers, can easily damage the bulbs.
  • Arrive before 10:00 A.M. to beat the crowds,this is especially the case on weekends. Weekdays are far less crowded, which will allow one to better enjoy the beauty of nature alone.
  • No pets are permitted in the gardens and fields.

The post Skagit Valley Tulip Festival In Washington State appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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The colorful Zhangye Danxia National Geopark is one of the most beautiful landforms in all of China. Known for its vivid kaleidoscope of rock formations, these striking hills can be found in the northwest part of the country. Comprising some 322 square kilometers or 124 square miles, the Zhangye Dankia Geopark is the 4th travel adventure in the series A World Far And Away.

The Zhangye Danxia National Park is located in the northern foothills of the Qilian Mountains, in the counties of Linze and Sunan. This is under the administration of the city of Zhangye in Gansu province. The main areas of the Danxia landform, are in the Kangle and Baiyin townships.

The naturally formed landscape is alive with shades of blue,emerald, green, orange, red and yellow. There is a full seven differentiations of color. The feature has been given the monikers the eye candy of Zhangye and China’s Rainbow Mountains.

A vast area of color can be seen in the endless valleys punctuated by a number of waterfalls, that continue for miles. The numerous scenes often reminds visitors of an impressionistic painting, with a riot of distinct variations.

The Geopark at Zhangye took over 24 million years to form and can be dated back to the Cretaceous age. Formed from red-colored sandstones and conglomerates, the entire area is a unique illustration of petrographic geomorphology.

The special geological structure combined with long-term desert conditions,freeze-thaw peeling as well as water and wind erosion created the incredible features seen at the Rainbow Mountains.

Zhangye was formed under special geologic conditions, which involves various erosion activity, oxidation and tectonic plate activity. The effect is similar to a layer cake. Rain, wind and eons of time sculpted exceptional shapes, that include pillars, ravines and towers with endless patterns and sizes.

The numerous rock formations resemble a assortment of imaginary shapes like mythical creatures, castles, palaces and distant cities. Their peaks looking through the clouds and mist at times, display a mirage like scenery, of fantastical pavilions and mountains.

Six of the landscapes in the park were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

Today Zhangye Danxia Geopark has become a major tourist attraction. Recently, a series of access roads and boardwalks, have been constructed to allow greater tourist exploration of these rock formations.

In 2014, for example, an additional 100 million yuan or $15.8 million USD (United States Dollar) was spent on upgrading tourist access.

It is important to note for all visitors that after rainfall, the colors become even more vibrant.

There is also a mineral museum at the park entrance.

The park has become far more restricted in recent years and is limited to specific areas. For many visitors, the best places to observe the landforms, are from the four viewing platforms. These are spread out over 8 kilometers or about 5 miles.

The first platform is about a 10 minute walk from the main gate. The second is a further 10 minute walk. The third is about another 8 minute walk. Here you will see the famous Seven Color Fan.

The fourth is just a bit further. It will take a 3 to 4 minute bus ride. Bus service is regularly available for all travel, between the platforms. By bus, the viewing areas, are between 30 seconds to 4 minutes apart.

The second and fourth stations, are the most popular ones. The fourth platform allows one to see the Seven Color Mountain (Qicai Shan), with the best time for viewing at sunrise or sunset.

For those visitors who would like to see more of Zhangye park, one can rent the services of drivers who operate licensed sightseeing cars. The total distance between the platforms is about 5 miles or 8 kilometers. It will take about two hours, to finish the whole trip.

Location

The Danxia National Park is about 30 minutes west by car, in the northwestern portion of Gansu Province.

Admission

The fee is 40 CNY to enter and 20 CNY for the sightseeing bus, 60 CNY ($9.47 USD) total.

Children between 1.2 (3.94 feet) and 1.5m (4.92) in height.

Children under 1.2m is free.

How To Get There

One can take a bus from Zhangye to the park which are quite reasonable, or hire a taxi.

Days and Hours of Operations

May to October 6:00 am to 8:00 pm (20:00)

October to April 7:00 am to 7:00 pm (19:00)

The best time to visit Zhangye National Park is from June to September, when the weather is comfortable. The combination of a strong sun and a little rain, brings out the colors more. Do not go when it is raining or cloudy, as sunshine is needed for the best viewing of the color gradations.

The rest of the year is quite dry. The Park is well below freezing and windy in the winter. Visiting is not recommended at this time of the year.

The best time to visit is in the morning and especially in the evening, where the color variation changes continuously. Sunset is at 7:30 pm local time in the spring and autumn and 8:00 pm in the summer.

It will be far more crowded July and August and on Chinese holidays. During the height of the tourist season, some 20,000 tourists visit daily.

Lodging

Is available in the nearby community of Zhangye. One can also stay in the nearby yurts, just 600 meters from the entrance, if one is feeling adventurous. They are known as the KaoShan Luxury Tents.

Valuable Tips

  • Take a coat for morning and evening visits. Temperatures drop rapidly at night.
  • Bring bottled water.
  • A face mask or scarf may be helpful, on more windy days.
  • Wear sunscreen to deal with the intense sun
  • A hat is recommended
  • Sunglasses should be used on sunny days.
  • Wear walking shoes, especially if you are taking an extended tour.

The post The Colorful Zhangye Danxia National Geopark, Rainbow Mountains of China appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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The iridescent Marble Caves can be found near the border of Argentina and Chile, on General Carrera Lake in Patagonia. It is the fifth largest lake in South America. These amazing natural wonders, are a unique geological formation, featuring a number of caverns, tunnels and pillars, in monoliths of marble. It is the 3rd travel adventure in our new series A World Far And Away.

The people of Argentina refer to the body of water there as Lake Buenos Aires. Renamed General Carrera by the Chileans in 1959, in honor of one of their founding fathers, the lake itself is of glacial origin and is surrounded by the Andes mountains.

General Carrera Lake or
Lake Buenos Aires

The original name for the lake was Chelenko, provided by the first inhabitants of the area.

The existence of the lake was first reported by the Argentinian geographer Carlos Moyano, during an exploratory excursion through this area of Patagonia in the 1880’s. He named it Lake Buenos Aires.

The entire lake covers a surface area of 1,850 square kilometers, of which 970 square kilometers are inside of Chile. It is identified as the largest lake in the country. Carrera Lake has a maximum depth of 586 meters.

The remaining portion of lake, some 880 square kilometers belong to Argentina. It is known as the fourth largest fresh body of water in the nation. It remains a well known destination by fishermen, for both salmon and trout.

Carrera Lake drains to the west, towards the Pacific Ocean through Chile, via the Baker river.

The weather in the area is generally cold and humid. However, due to the moderating influence of the lake, the few settlements around it enjoy a sunny micro-climate.

The 1971 and 1991 eruptions of Hudson Volcano, did however, have a severe impact on the local economy. This was especially the case, with the prevalent sheep farming, that takes place around the lake.

The marble caves, the most famous being Marble Chapel and Marble Cathedral are located near the west shore of the lake in Chile. These geologic wonders were created by wave actions of the lake, over the last 6,200 years.

Marble Chapel

Some travel enthusiasts consider these cave formations, to be among the most beautiful in the world. The iridescent color variation from deep blue to turquoise, largely depends on the weather and time of year.

Geologists attribute the incredible shades of blue exhibited by the waters of the lake in the cave, to finely ground glacial silt.

Since the amount of light and the water level of the lake are constantly changing, each experience in visiting the Marble Caves by boat, will be slightly different.

In early spring for example, the water of the lake is at its lowest point, due to the fact that the surrounding glaciers, have not yet started to melt.

Later in the year, the level of the lake inside the Marble Caves, will be 1 meter or over 3 feet higher.

The marble rocks were made over 370 million years ago, when the mineral formations of calcium carbonate were laid down.

The existence of the Marble Caves was documented for the first time, by the Italian-Argentinian explorer Clemente Onelli. In his book Climbing The Andes, he relates to their discovery in a survey down in 1896 and 1897.

The trip was being financed by the Argentine government, as part of a series of exploratory work that was being lobbied for, by the famous borders expert Francisco P. Moreno. The latter being recognized by having the now celebrated Moreno Glacier named after him, which is also located in Patagonia.

Perito Moreno Glacier

The cave formations have been declared by Chile to be Nature’s Sanctuary, which is one of the protected categories available, through their National Monuments designation.

Marble Chapel is located in one of the three islets and it stands alone like a sentinel. For many visitors it will be the first stop on their journey. Marble Cathedral and additional caverns will soon follow.

Tourists will be taken by boat, through both narrow and wide corridors of water. These will be iridescent shades of blue and turquoise. They will be treated to different themes of texture and color, including the gray, pink and white reflected from the cavern walls, as long as there is daylight.

Traditionally, access to the Marble Caves was through Argentina, from the well known Route 40. This road follows the ancient trails, used by the native Tehuelches.

From Argentina, access to the caves was from the town of Los Antiguos, which is located just 3 kilometers, less than two miles from the Chilean border.

From Los Antiguos you pass over to Chile Chico. You will then need to drive an additional 180 kilometers (112 miles) on an unpaved road that borders the southern and western part of Lake General Carrera. From this road you will reach Bahia Mansa, just a few kilometers from Puerto Tranquilo.

Operating in the town, there are a number of companies, that will bring you by boat to the caves.

The Chilean side of the lake remained isolated for most of the 20th century. It was accessible only by boat or plane. Finally, in the 1990’s, the government of Chile funded the construction of the Carretera Austral (Southern Road), which opened up the region to far more tourism.

If you are coming from the south in Chile, Cochrane is 116 kilometers (72 miles) to Puerto Tranquilo. From the North through Coihaique it is 215 kilometers (134 miles).

Location

As aforementioned, the Marble Caves can be found in Patagonia, located on the Chilean side of Lake General Carrera/Buenos Aires, depending on which side of the lake you are on.

Admission

Varies depending on the tour package that you purchase, or if you choose to just hire someone on an individual basis. It is the ride to the caves, that needs to be purchased. You can expect to pay the equivalent of $15.00 USD (United States Dollar) per person. An individual kayak can be rented for around $50.00 USD.

How To Get There

Most travelers coming from outside Chile or Argentina, will fly to Santiago, which is the capital city of the former. From Santiago one will fly 800 miles south, to regions largest city, identified as Coyhaique

From there one must either hire or drive on quite challenging roads, an additional 200 miles south.

Boat tours leave during daylight hours, from Puerto Tranquilo, Rio Ibanez. Due to the smaller size of many of the passages in the caves, you will be traveling in a small boat or kayak.

There is a car ferry that operates between Puerto Ingeniero Ibanez and Chile Chico, in the Chilean sector of the lake. This may assist you in getting around the lake. The small airport of Puerto Ingeniero Ibanez can also be used by some tourists to avoid a longer car trip.

Days and Hours of Operations

You will be able to see the Marble Caves, during daylight hours only. A tour is dependent on the weather, when the waters of the lake are mostly calm. The tours finish usually about 6:00 pm, during the main tourist season.

Lodging

Accommodations and a number of restaurants, are available in the communities that surround the lake.

Valuable Tips

  • Wear clothes layered, so you can adjust to your comfort level throughout your visit.
  • A windbreaker is especially helpful in the caves, as it can be quite chilly at times.
  • Bring more than one device for taking pictures,accidents and malfunctions do happen.
  • Wear appropriate footwear, for walking and getting in and out of the boat or kayak.

The post The Iridescent Marble Caves of Chile On General Carrera Lake in Patagonia appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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The Potala Palace in Tibet, is the former home of the present and 14th Dalai Lama. Built nearly 400 years ago, it has been considered the spiritual capital of the country for centuries. Used as a winter residence for the leaders of Tibet since the 17th century, this architectural wonder, is the 12th stop in our series Journeys to Discovery.

This practically surreal complex of buildings, was listed by USA Today, an American national newspaper and the American television show Good Morning America, as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World back in 2006.

The Potala Palace covers over 13 hectares or 32 acres in its entirety. The interior space comprises an amazing 130,000 square meters which is more than 426,509 square feet.

It also has the distinction of being the highest palace in the world. The name originates from the mythological Mt. Potala, which is said to be located in southern India.

No building in Lhasa today, is allowed to be higher than the Potala Palace. This rule of construction is followed by developers, as a sign of respect to the holy site.

Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso was the 5th Dalai Lama, & 1st Dalai Lama to wield effective temporal & spiritual power over all Tibet.

The 5th Dalai Lama started construction of the Potala Palace in 1645, after one of his spiritual advisers, saw the site as an ideal location, for a new seat of government. The new construction would be situated between the Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa.

The construction of the White Palace was completed in 1648. The Red Palace would be built between the years 1690 and 1694. The latter construction took the work of over 7,000 manual laborers and 1,500 artisans and craftsmen.

The Potala Palace is a virtual treasure house, of splendid artwork and artifacts, which can be traced back through many centuries. It has earned the nickname heaven of arts. The most outstanding art is the 698 murals on the walls, that tell the history of Tibet.

In 1922, the 13th Dalai Lama made a number of renovations to the complex and added two floors to the Red Palace. Recent renovations occurred from 1989 to 1994 and again in 2002. 

Songtsen Gampo was the 33rd Tibetan king and founder of the Tibetan Empire

Legend has it that the new building took place over the former fortress and royal residence, known as the Red or White Palace. This fabled structure was supposedly built in 637 by Songsten Gampo. It was built as a gift, for his future wife.

The original palace would be largely destroyed in the 9th century. It would remain mostly deserted, for the next 800 years.

Gampo is known to be the founder of the Tibetan Empire and is traditionally credited, with the introduction of Buddhism to the area, as well as the Tibetan alphabet.

According to Tibetan convention, the three main hills of Lhasa represent the Three Protectors of Tibet.

These are Chokpori (Iron Hill), just to the south of the Potala Palace. It is the soul mate of Vajrapani, who was the guide and protector of the Buddha.

Pongwari is the second hill, associated with Manjusri and the third is Marpori, the hill where the Potala itself sits on. It represents Avalokitesvara.

The Potala Palace measures a total of 400 meters (1,312 feet) east to west and 350 meters (1148 feet) north to south. Sloping stone walls average about 3 meters (9.84 feet) thick and 5 meters (16.4 feet) at the base of the structure.

An ingenious addition to the stone foundations, as a way to help with earthquakes, was to pour copper into them.

The Potala Palace rises 13 stories high a total of 384 feet or 117 meters on top of Marpori (the Red Hill). The latter rises more than 1,000 feet or 300 meters in total, above the valley floor.

14th and present Dalai Lama, in exile as of 1959

The complex of buildings are comprised of over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 spiritual shrines and some 200,000 religious statutes.

Following the departure to India of the Dalai Lama, during the Tibetan uprising of 1959, the Potala Palace would itself, be turned into an official museum.

The Potala would later be made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cataloged as the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa in 1994,extensions to listing would be made in 2000 to include the Jokhang Temple (monastery) and in 2001, to encompass the Norbulingka area (Summer Palace).

The Jokhang Monastery meaning House of Buddha, was originally built in 647 and the Summer Palace was built in 1755.

Jokhang Monastery

The best time to view the Potala is first thing in the morning. When one arrives for the first time at the Potala Palace, as the mist separates from the mountain, an almost heavenly vision greets the visitor.

This seemingly mythical place, captures the imagination of most tourists and allows them to envisage a different time, when Tibet was viewed by outsiders, as a mysterious place, the home to Shangri La.

Built at an altitude of 12,100 feet or 3,700 meters, the Potala Palace with its vast inward sloping walls broken only in the upper parts by straight rows of many windows and its flat roofs at various levels, is much like a fortress in appearance.

At the south base of the rock, is a rather large space enclosed by a wall and a gate. There are porticos on the inner side. There exists a series of staircases, broken by intervals of easy ascent, which eventually leads to the summit of the rock. The whole width of this, is occupied by the palace.

The Red Palace

The central part of this group of buildings, known as the Red Palace, rises in a huge polygonal shape to a great height and ends in gilt canopies.

Contained within are the principal chapels, halls, libraries and shrines of the past Dalai Lamas. They are characterized by decorative paintings, intricate carvings, jeweled work and other ornamentation.

The Red Palace is devoted to Buddhist prayer and religious study. There are a numerous passages, that follow a complicated layout. These lead to a complex of smaller galleries, used for various spiritual purposes.

A Dhvaja (victory banner) on the roof of the Potala Palace.

It also contains the sacred gold stupas (the tombs of eight former Dalai Lamas) an assembly hall for the monks, as well as numerous chapels and shrines.

The main central hall of the Red Palace is the Great West Hall. It consists of four great chapels that are dedicated to the 5th Dalai Lama. The hall is famous for its fine murals depicting the life of the Dalai Lama. The most famous scene located on the east wall outside the entrance, pictures his visit to the Shunzhi Emperor of China.

The Great West Hall’s numerous columns and pillars, are all wrapped in special cloth imported from Bhutan.

The tomb of the 13th Dalai Lama is located west of the Great West Hall. Built in 1933, the giant stupa is 46 feet high (14 meters) high. Elaborate murals, depicting the events of the life of the Lama, during the early 20th century, can be found here in abundance.

Thubten: 13th Dalai Lama
Reign July 1879 to December 1933.

On the north side of the Great West Hall is the Saint’s Chapel. This chapel like the cave below it, date from the 7th century. On the floor below, a low dark passage leads into the Dharma Cave, where Songsten Gampo is believed to have studied Buddhism. It is decorated in historical images from that time period as well.

The North Chapel is centered on a crowned Buddha on the left and the 5th Dalai Lama on the right. On the far left of the chapel, is the gold stupa tomb of the 11th Dalai Lama.

The South Chapel is centered on Padmasambhava, the 8th century Indian magician and saint.

The East Chapel is dedicated to Tsong Koopa, the founder of Goplag tradition.

The West Chapel contains fine golden stupas. The central stupa is 49 feet high and contains the remains of the 5th Dalai Lama. Built of sandalwood, it is coated with 3,721 kilograms of gold, the equivalent of some 4.102 U.S. tons. It is then studded with 18,680 pearls and semi-precious jewels.

Trinley 12th Dalai Lama, reign was from 1860–1875

On the left is the funeral stupa for the 12th Dalai Lama and on the right the 10th Dalai Lama.

Tourists can also view three main galleries. The First Gallery displays magnificent murals, that show how the Potala Palace was built in great detail. The Third Gallery also contains fine murals and enormous collections of bronze statues.

The Second Gallery along with giving access to the central pavilion, is where visitors can purchase various refreshments and souvenirs.

The White Palace ( in Tibetan Potrang Karpo) is the part of the Potala, that comprised the residence of the Dalai Lama. The original portion, was built during the life of the 5th Dalai Lama. He moved himself and his government there in 1649.

The White Palace

It would be extended to its present proportions by the 13th Dalai Lama, in the early part of the 20th century.

The White Palace contains in addition to living quarters, a seminary, a printing house and various other offices.

There is a central courtyard (Deyangshar) painted yellow, that separates the living quarters of the Lama and his monks, from the Red Palace.

The yellow building at the side of the White Palace, in the courtyard between the main palaces, is where one could find giant banners, embroidered with holy symbols. These were hung across the south face of the Potala, during New Year festivals.

The former quarters of the Dalai Lama. The figure in the throne represents Tenzin Gyatso, the incumbent & 14th Dalai Lama.

The Potala Palace was only slightly damaged, during the Tibetan uprising against the invading Chinese forces in 1959.

Unlike most other religious buildings, the Potala was not ransacked or destroyed by the Red Guards in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This was due to the timely intervention of Chinese premier Zhou En Lai. He supposedly sent his own troops, to protect it during the Cultural Revolution.

Every year, just before the 22nd day of the 9th month of the Tibetan calendar, people will paint the walls of the palace. The actual paint is created out of milk, sugar, honey, and some herbs mixed with white lime. Centuries ago, this process would take more than a month to complete. In modern times, it is done within 10 days.

How To Get There

The Potala Palace is 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the Lhasa Gonggar Airport and 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the Lhasa Railway Station.

The Potala Palace is located 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) north of the Lhasa river, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) south of the Sera Monastery, 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) east of Norbulingka and 2 kilometers west of the Jokhang Temple.

Location

No. 35 Gongqian Alley, Beijing Middle Road, Cheng Guan District, Lhasa 850000, China

Website http://www.potalapalace.cn/

Hours of Operation

Sunday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The typical tour time is one hour during the peak tourist season (June to August) and two hours during the off season.

The time required to climb the more than 1000 steps, from the South Gate to the top of the Palace, is not included, as part of your tour time.

Admission And Entrance Fees

200 yuan $31.54 USD (United States Dollar) from May 01 to October 31

100 yuan $15.77 USD from November 01 to April 30

Free for children under 1.2 meters or 3.94 feet.

Discounts are available (30%) for disabled veterans and retired cadres, with proper documentation.

Visitor numbers are strictly limited. Only 2,300 can be bought per day in groups of seven. Tickets are usually sold, the day before visitation. Tickets sell quite quickly so, one must plan well ahead. Of the total, 1,600 are provided to travel agencies and only 700 for individuals.

It might well be to your advantage to book a tour of the Potala Palace, as part of a package, to avoid disappointment in visitation. Your travel agent will book a time slot, several days in advance. You will exchange that voucher for a ticket, halfway up at the entry booth.

Helpful Hints For All Travelers

  • Tourists will find themselves at an altitude of 3,750 meters or 12,300 feet. Depending how long you have been in Tibet, and your own physical condition, will determine the extent of altitude sickness. Medicines are available to assist one with the problem, two weeks before or upon arrival.
  • Bring identification along with your ticket, on the day of your visit.
  • There is no lift or elevator up to or inside the Potala Palace. Visitors must reach the top by climbing steps for 300 feet or 100 meters. It is advisable you traverse the distance slowly, to avoid additional discomfort.
  • Travelers will need to submit to a security check, to remove prohibited items. This will include cameras of any kind, as well as any food or any liquids.
  • No photography or video recording is permitted inside the palace.
  • The site is seen by Tibetans as being sacred. This implies visitors should arrive dressed respectfully. Hats are not allowed. You might consider bringing a coat, it can be rather cool inside the palace.
  • Do a bit of research before you visit, so you will have somewhat of an idea, what the tour guides will be explaining.
  • The best places to photograph the Potala Palace is Chakpori Hill, Zongjiao Lukang Park, and of course, the Potala Palace Square.

The post The Divine Potala Palace Of Tibet, Former Home Of The Dalai Lama appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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Evergreen Plantation located in Wallace, Louisiana remains today, as one of the best historic examples of plantation life, as it existed in the early 19th century. The main house was constructed in 1790, with extensive renovations being done in 1832, by owner Pierre C Becnel and architect John Carver, giving the building its current Greek Revival style. It is the 20th stop in the series Off The Beaten Path.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992, for its affluent architectural legacy. In addition, it had been placed on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places, already in 1991. Evergreen is also included among the first of 26 featured sites, on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

Drawing by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Evergreen Plantation has the country’s highest historic designation, in being granted landmark status for its agricultural acreage, along with Gettysburg and Mount Vernon.

Evergreen is one of the most famous of the River Road Plantations, located in Louisiana on the west bank of the Mississippi River. It is only one of the eight major Greek Revival style plantation homes, still remaining on this famous lane. Its importance as a connection to the past, cannot be underestimated.

Evergreen is one of only a handful of plantations, that more closely resemble, what life was like in the Antebellum period of American history.

In most cases, only the main house of the planter’s family, will have survived the turbulent change, that has descended upon this part of the United States.

Evergreen is unique, in that far more of the entire plantation complex remains. It has become one of the best preserved plantation in both Louisiana and the American South.

Evergreen remains a privately owned, working sugar cane plantation.

A total of 37 contributing buildings still remain. All but 8 of them, were built before the American Civil War, that took place from 1861 to 1865.

One can still visit a double row of 22 slave cabins. These are situated between two avenues of oak trees, known in French as an allee. Nearby are the overseer’s house, a guesthouse, the kitchen, a carriage house, the stables, a privy and a number of barns.

A tourist can also view the even more rare two garconieries, which were places where guest’s of the family, would house younger men or bachelors, upon their visit to the plantation.

An example of a pigeonnier

In addition, there are two pigeonniers. These structures were employed by the upper class French, for housing larger collections of pigeons.

The historical crop for Evergreen Plantation was sugar cane. It continued in full operation until 1930. Along with many other American businesses, the arrival of the Great Depression bankrupted the plantation. It subsequently led to the abandonment of the house.

Although, under the direction of the bank that took ownership, the growing of sugar cane would continue. This partly explains, the ultimate preservation of so much of the plantation.

Uncle Sam Plantation, main house in 1936.

The house itself was extensively restored in the 1940’s. Some 300,000 period bricks, were used in the process, from the nearby demolition of Uncle Sam Plantation, which had occurred in 1940. The latter had also been constructed in the style of Greek Revival, between the years 1829 and 1843.

Uncle Sam Plantation, originally known as Constancia, was another largely intact farming complex. Unfortunately, it all had to be dismantled, along with all the out buildings, to make way for a new river levee.

It was recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey, prior to its destruction.

According to records, as the demolition was nearing completion, the United States Army Corps of Engineers office in New Orleans, received a telegram from the director of the National Park Service, asking that the order to destroy the site, be delayed.

The postponement was to allow for an investigation, if the site might indeed then be given either National Monument or Historic Site Status. However, the request had arrived too late.

slave cabins

Over the many years, some the most serious changes to the plantation, has been the extensive work done in the slave quarters.

Many original features like doors, shutters and chimneys still remain, but over a century’s worth of repairs and reconstructions, have indeed caused some alterations.

Yet, the fact that the slave homes retain most of their original appearance and double row configuration, through all these decades, is truly amazing.

They remained fully occupied by sugar workers, until 1947.

There is actually, very little real documentation that was kept about the slave quarters.

It is known, that they are truly from the Antebellum period. The 1860 census identifies 103 slaves and 48 dwellings owned by Lezin Becnel and his brother.

The only known historic map of the cabins, is dated back to 1876. It places 22 structures in the same location and configuration.

Visitors may well recognize that parts of Quentin Tarantino’s movie Django Unchained, were filmed at the plantation. Evergreen was part of the movie set in 2012.

Location

Address: Evergreen Plantation 4677 Hwy.18, Edgard, LA 70049

The phone number is (985)-497-3837

Website: evergreenplantation@gmail.com

Admission

Adults will be charged $20.00 USD (United States Dollar).

Tours for children under 18 is $6.00 USD.

Children under 5 are free.

Discounts are offered for students, military and seniors

Groups of 10 or more will need to call for special discounts and times.

Smaller groups and individuals do not need reservations.

Visitors need to join a guided tour, in order to view the plantation.

The walking tour will last one hour and 30 minutes, it will include the main house and the slave quarters.

Further information is accessible at: http://evergreenplantation.org/

Amenities

Includes free parking

Photography

No photography is permitted indoors.

How To Get There

Evergreen Plantation is located off State Highway 18 in Wallace which is between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana.

Driving from New Orleans it is 44.7 miles away via I-10 West and LA-3127N. It will take approximately 57 minutes.

If you are coming from Baton Rouge, it is 49 miles via I-10 East. It will take approximately 55 minutes

Days and Hours of Operations

The main house is open for tours, Monday through Saturday

The times listed are 11:30 am. and 2:00 pm

Gates are open from 10:30 am. to 2:15 pm

Evergreen Plantation is closed for the following holidays

Lundi Gras

Mardi Gras

Easter: 3 days

Independence Day

Labor Day

Thanksgiving 6 days

Christmas 2 days

New Years Eve

New Years Day 2 days

Lodging

Is available in the local nearby communities,as well as, New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The post Historic Antebellum Evergreen Plantation In Wallace, Louisiana appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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Kuang Si Falls 1

Kuang Si Falls also known as Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls, is a short distance south, of the ancient capital of Luang Prabang in Laos. One of the most famous water feature in Southeast Asia, Kuang Si is a three tier waterfall,with the main cascade dropping some 200 feet (60 meters). It is the second travel adventure in our new series A World Far And Away.

The local legend on their creation tell a story of how an old sage was able to summon the water by digging into the earth. The tale goes on to explain how a deer made its home under a rock sticking out from under the new aquamarine waters.

This narrative provides the origination of the name Kuang Si. Kuang means deer and si equates to dig.

The Kuang Si Falls begin with shallow pools atop a steep hillside.

Kuang Si Falls pools

The falls are accessed through a trail to the left of the falls.

As one approaches this magical place, there is a feeling that you have entered a surreal reality. The tropical trees that surround the falls, allow filtered light to penetrate to the water, giving it an almost dreamlike ambiance.

The water that makes up Kuang Si Falls, collects in turquoise blue pools as it flows further downstream. The numerous cascades of water are typical of travertine waterfalls.

Kuang Si Falls 2

Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often found at the mouth of a hot spring or in a limestone cave.

In the United States such type of springs are found in Yellowstone National Park at Grand Prismatic and Mammoth Hot Springs. They are also to be found at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis also in Wyoming.

Other American states where they can be viewed include Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

More examples of travertine springs are to be found at Pamukkale, Turkey and Huanglong China. Further sites are in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico and Spain.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

One of the most famous group of falls of this variety can be seen in Croatia, at the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park.

The local living in this area of Laos, do charge a nominal fee to visit Kuang Si Falls.

At the bottom of the falls,there is a winding trail where you will begin your ascent. You will first pass an enclosure that houses a number of Asian black bears, which have been rescued from poachers.

The pathway continues through the woods until you reach the first set of pools. The falls here are only 15 to 20 feet in height.

The falls are well maintained with a number of bridges and walkways, making it quite accessible to tourists.

Almost all the pools are open to swimming by tourists, except one which is deemed to be sacred by locals.

Tourists can avail themselves of the changing rooms and picnic areas located at a number of the smaller pools. The areas is mostly shaded and cool. The water from the spring, will be surprisingly cold.

One will witness, travelers and locals jumping off the shorter cascades of water. Others will try their luck at jumping from a number of trees, with limbs that extend out over the area of water.

Kuang Si Falls 3

For those visitors who wish it, the hike up to the top waterfall is well worth it. The trail is steep and quite slippery. At the top of the falls one can cross over the waterfalls and look at the pools of water below. There is a deck area up here and a number of benches.

The walkways are not as well maintained at the top of the falls.

From up here it is far less crowded and one is afforded an incredible view. The visitor is able to see a vast expanse of green that seems to go on for ever. That is one of the advantage of traveling to Laos, so much of the country remains unspoiled and in its natural state.

There is a less well known pool that is to be found at mid-level. It can be accessed by following a small path in the forest. It is partly blocked by a barbed wire fence with boards attached. Tourists are not really welcomed here, but many visitors once they here of its existence, insist on seeing it.

Since far fewer people come to this pool, it affords one a more individual way to enjoy this really spiritual place. A visitor almost expects to see, a sprite or fairy to appear among the dense tropical vegetation, as sunlight attempts to enter the realm.

Location

Kuang Si Falls are located about 18 miles or 29 kilometers south of Luang Prabang. It will take you approximately 50 minutes to one hour from Luang Prabang to the falls.

Admission

Cash only and it is 20,000 kip (local currency) which is the equivalent of $2.50 USD (United States Dollar)

There is no real accessibility featured for the disabled.

How To Get There

Transportation is available by bus as part of a tour. However, given the inexpensive cost of local taxis known as tuk-tuk, it is recommended to hire one of these for your trip out to the falls. The price is negotiable. The cost should be between $5.00 and $7.00 USD, for a half day rental.

Days and Hours of Operations

Kuang Si Falls are open daily, throughout the year.

Other Accommodations

There is a variety of food, that can be purchased ready made, that line the road in an out of Kuang Si Falls. It is quite tasty and usually safe to eat, since most of it is made fresh daily. It is very reasonably priced. You can have a quick lunch for under $5.00 USD.

Lodging

Is available in the city of Luang Prabang,the former royal capital of Laos until 1975. It is well known for its many Buddhist Temples.

Valuable Tips

  • The weather is quite hot and humid so leaving in the early morning, will make the trip more comfortable.
  • If you plan to swim at the falls, which most tourists do, it is advisable to bring your own towel.
  • You will need proper footwear, especially if you plan to make it to the top of the falls safely.
  • You will need some type of insect repellant. There are merciless in this part of Laos.
  • Allow yourself at least 4 hours to enjoy the falls.

The post Kuang Si Falls In Luang Prabang, Laos appeared first on WanderingTrader.

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