Monthly Archives: December 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #12: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

Posted by on December 22, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #12: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

UNESCO World Heritage Site #12: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, it has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing. Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind; it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.

There isn’t much to say about the Peace Park in Hiroshima, which I haven’t said before.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Winter Solstice Housekeeping

Posted by on December 21, 2008

With the end of the year upon us, I wanted take the time to take some time and remind people that there are ways you can follow what I’m doing and support the site that you might not have been aware of.

The first thing is my map:



View Larger Map

If you have Goolge Earth installed, you can explore my route and the places I’ve been on a virtual globe. Just download the kml file. I love playing with my map. It is a work in progress and it is never complete. You can view it in Google Maps, but it isn’t quite the same thing. If you do explore it in Google Maps, make sure to move the map around or all the points wont show up. (If anyone knows how to format the pins in kml files let me know. I’d like to make it a bit more snazzy)

The next thing of course is Twitter. I’m pretty active on Twitter and I use it to post a lot of one or two sentence things which are too small to make it on the blog. If you weren’t on Twitter, then you would never know about the 2 hours I spent drinking with an expat Canadian who told me about his drug and hooker exploits. This is quality stuff!

If you don’t use Twitter, you can still get my messages on Facebook. You can add me as a friend, or follow me on my fan page. I suggest you do both, as the more people I have on the fan page, the more it helps spread the word.

As for me, I’m off to see the long necked tribal women tomorrow. I hope everyone is enjoying the cold and snow back in North America. Temperature here is in the low 70s (22C) with sunny skies. The beer is cheap too….not to rub it in or anything.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #11: Yakushima

Posted by on December 21, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #11: Yakushima

UNESCO World Heritage Site #11: Yakushima

From the World Heritage Inscription:

Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region.

Yakushima is a very special place. A about an hour ferry ride from Kagoshima, the interior of Yakushima (Yaku Island) is several thousand feet above sea level and often in the clouds.

Not only is it a beautiful place, but the food I had on Yakushima is some of the best I’ve experienced on my trip.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #10: Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

Posted by on December 20, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #10: Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

UNESCO World Heritage Site #10: Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

From the World Heritage inscription:

Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th-17th century) are represented by this group of sites and monuments. The ruins of the castles, on imposing elevated sites, are evidence for the social structure over much of that period, while the sacred sites provide mute testimony to the rare survival of an ancient form of religion into the modern age. The wide- ranging economic and cultural contacts of the Ryukyu Islands over that period gave rise to a unique culture.

Okinawa is geographically and culturally different than the rest of Japan. I usually explain it as Japan’s Hawaii. Its language is distinct from Japanese and the islands weren’t even formally part of Japan until the 1870’s.

Much of Shuri-jo Castle and other landmarks in Okinawa were damaged during the battle of Okinawa in WWII, which took the lives of over 100,000 Japanese and 13,000 allied soldiers. The current castle is mostly rebuilt and reconstruction is still ongoing.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #9: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Posted by on December 19, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #9: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #9: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

This park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river. One of the river’s distinguishing features is that it emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

First, I should note that the mayor of Puerto Princessa is Edward S. Hagedorn.

The underground river is really pretty cool. The river goes into the mountain about 6km, but the tours only go in about 1km. The inside of the cave has tons of stalactite and stalagmite formations, most of which are named after things they look like, which usually requires a lot of imagination. Outside the cave, I saw huge monitor lizards and macaque monkeys. The underground river on Palawan is the longest navigable underground river in the world.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Life in Chiang Mai

Posted by on December 19, 2008

I’ve been in Chiang Mai for two days now. It reminds me a lot of Phuket without the beaches. It is very touristy, and I mean that in the worst sense.

The night market area is just an endless row of vendors selling the same crap. Everyone I’ve been in SE Asia has some sort of tourist focus, I get that. What you see in Thailand is sort of a step beyond what you see everywhere else. You can’t set foot on the street without being barraged with tuk tuk drivers. (at least you don’t have the massage girls pestering you here like you do in Phuket). I know it isn’t as bad as some places, but I think the last few months in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos has lowered my threshold for this sort of stuff.

That being said, I haven’t gone out to do any of the real Chiang Mai type stuff yet. Tomorrow and the day after I’ll be going out to see the long neck village women and do elephant riding. The food here isn’t as good as what I had in Laos or Vietnam.

At this point I just want to make sure to get to Bangkok by Christmas, which I don’t think should be a problem.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #8: Historic City of Vigan

Posted by on December 18, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #8: Historic City of Vigan

UNESCO World Heritage Site #8: Historic City of Vigan

From the World Heritage inscription:

Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.

The above photo is of the Vigan Cathedral and the central plaza. The plaza area has small models of the wonders of the world as well as a map of the Philippines with models of the Filipino World Heritage sites on it.

Vigan is a very quaint city and you can tell it is different from most cities in the Philippines the moment you step off the bus. Many of the streets in the central area do not allow automobiles. Most of the old buildings have not be renovated so you get the feel of walking through a old Spanish city.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #7: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

Posted by on December 17, 2008

UNESCO Word Heritage Site #7: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

UNESCO Word Heritage Site #7: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is an outstanding example of an evolved, living cultural landscape that can be traced as far back as two millennia ago in the pre-colonial Philippines. The terraces are located in the remote areas of the Philippine Cordillera mountain range on the northern island of Luzon, Philippine archipelago. While the historic terraces cover an extensive area, the inscribed property consists of five clusters of the most intact and impressive terraces, located in four municipalities. They are all the product of the Ifugao ethnic group, a minority community that has occupied these mountains for thousands of years.

The Rice Terraces of Banaue are considered by many to the be the 8th Wonder of the World. The mountain sides of the area have been carved out to create terraces for rice farming over the last 2,000 years.

This photo is of a local Ifuago woman in traditional dress who let me take her photo for a few pesos. As I’ve seen other photos with her in it, I can only assume she makes money this way.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Off to Chiang Mai

Posted by on December 16, 2008

My short stint in Udon Thani is over. It was interesting for no other reason than Udon Thani isn’t on the normal tourist route. I did manage to sneak in a trip to World Heritage site #51 yesterday, the Ban Chaing Archeological Area. It was a nice museum, but like the other archeology site I visited at Sangiran, Indonesia, it wasn’t much to look at.

There are definately more cars here than what I’ve gotten used to in Vietnam. More than what I saw in Bangkok or Phuket earlier. Last evening I had a real American night out: dinner at the Sizzler and a movie….yes, they actually have a Sizzler in Udon Thani….and a DQ…..and a KFC.

I’m looking forward to Chiang Mai. This 12 hour bus trip should be my last really long one for quite a while. Chaing Mai has lots of adventure type things to do, the women with the really long necks, and good food. From there to Bangkok there are a few other places I’ll be stopping at, but they should be short hops.

It is looking like I will be in Bangkok for Christmas. Last year I was in Hong Kong and Macau for Christmas. Not being home for Christmas does suck, but so does freezing your ass off, so I guess there is a bit of a trade off.

I’m looking forward to reaching Bangkok. It is going to mark an end for this part of my trip. I’m looking forward to going to the Middle East.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #6 Baroque Churches of the Philippines

Posted by on December 16, 2008

World Heritage Site #5 Baroque Churches of the Philippines

UNESCO World Heritage Site #6 Baroque Churches of the Philippines

From the World Heritage inscription:

This group of churches established a style of building and design that was adapted to the physical conditions in the Philippines and had an important influence on later church architecture in the region. The four churches are outstanding examples of the Philippine interpretation of the Baroque style, and represent the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs to form a new church-building tradition.

The Church of San Agustin in Manila is the principal property in the Baroque Churches of the Philippines World Heritage Site. San Agustin is the oldest church in the Philippines. The current church dates back to 1607 but previous Spanish churches have existed on the spot going back to 1571. The church has survived several major earthquakes in Manila as well as both American and Japanese bombardment in WWII.

The photo is a seven exposure high dynamic range photo taken from the choir loft of the church.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.