Monthly Archives: July 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #179: Cultural Landscape of Bali Province

Posted by on July 12, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #179: Cultural Landscape of Bali Province

UNESCO World Heritage Site #179: Cultural Landscape of Bali Province

From the World Heritage inscription:

Cultural Landscape of Bali: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophyforms acultural landscape of five rice terraces and their water temples that cover 19,500 hectares. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that dates back to the 9th century. Included in the landscape is the 18th-century Royal Temple of Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.

I visited Bali in 2008. It was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage site list in July 2012.

That Bali should be a World Heritage site is without question in my mind. What I don’t quite understand is what exactly is considered part of the heritage site and what isn’t. It seems clear that the rice terraces are included, but I’m not positive if it includes some of the larger temples.

Regardless, Bali is a very unique place in the world and should have been added to the list much earlier.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #178: Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau)

Posted by on July 11, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #178: Rock Islands Southern Lagoon

UNESCO World Heritage Site #178: Rock Islands Southern Lagoon

From the World Heritage inscription:

Rock Islands Southern Lagoon covers 100,200-hectare and numbers 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. Many of them display unique mushroom-like shapes in turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral reefs. The aesthetic beauty of the site is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat. They sustain a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least 13 shark species. The site harbours the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere, isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers. They are among the islands’ distinctive features and sustain high endemism of populations which continue to yield new species discoveries.

I visited the rock islands of Palau back in 2007. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list on July of 2012.

There are few places that were more deserving of World Heritage status than the rock islands of Palau. Despite being one fo the smallest countries in the world, the rock islands feature some of the most unique landscapes on the planet. It is home to my #1 ranked dive spot in the world and my #1 ranked travel experience (swimming with jellyfish).

Not shabby for a country with under 20,000 people!

My only real question is why this wasn’t listed as a World Heritage site earlier.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #177: SGang Gwaay

Posted by on July 10, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #177: SGang Gwaay

UNESCO World Heritage Site #177: SGang Gwaay

From the World Heritage inscription:

At the village of SGang Gwaay llnagaay (Nan Sdins) the remains of large cedar long houses, together with a number of carved mortuary and memorial poles, illustrate the art and way of life of the Haida. The site commemorates the living culture of the Haida, based on fishing and hunting, their relationship with the land and sea, and offers a visual key to their oral traditions. The village was occupied until shortly after 1880. What survives is unique in the world, a 19th century Haida village where the ruins of houses and memorial or mortuary poles illustrate the power and artistry of Haida society.

SGang Gwaay (pronounced Skung Gwhy) is easily one of the most difficult World Heritage sites I have ever visited. Getting there requires a trip to Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) and then a 4-day zodiac trip to get to the island and back.

SGang Gwaay is one of three abandoned Haida villages which are protected by Parks Canada and the Haida Watchmen program. The others include Skedans and Tanu.

While SGang Gwaay is the best preserved of the villages, there is still remarkably little left from when the village was abandoned in the late 19th Century. As is Haida tradition, the poles are being left to return into the earth. As such, every year there is less and less which is visible. The only efforts which are being taken in SGang Gwaay in terms of preservation is removing moss and plant growth from the poles, keeping the area around the poles clear and propping some of them up. Beyond that, nothing is being done to stop the decay of the wood.

In other villages such as Tanu, there is almost nothing left. Other than some moss covered logs on the ground which happen to be parallel, it would be hard to guess there was ever a human settlement there. Many of the poles in the other villages (which are not part of the UNESCO site) have been completely taken over by the root system of other trees.

The remaining poles in SGang Gwaay are all mortuary poles, wich served as tombs for high ranking Haidas. A box was literally put atop the pole where the corpose of a person was put. It is believed that this way they are close to the heavens. Other poles, such as house poles and memorial poles, have been taken down and placed in museums.

Because of the Haida policy of letting the poles and longhouses revert back to the Earth, there will probably be little to nothing left of SGang Gwaay in 20 years. The other villages have almost disappeared and what little remains will probably vanish even sooner. If you want to see this last remnant of original native Northwest Pacific village culture, you had better act quick.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Monday Travel Update – Summer in Sweden Edition

Posted by on July 9, 2012

Gwaii Haanas National Park

Gwaii Haanas National Park

I’ve had a helluva week. It began last Monday heading out on a four day zodiac trip in Gwaii Haanas National Park. For those of you who don’t know what a zodiac is, it is one of those boats with the hard, inflatable hull. It is an exposed boat, which meant that even though the ambient temperature wasn’t that cold, I froze my ass off with the wind hitting my face off the chilly northern Pacific waters.

The end result of the four day adventure was SGang Gwaay, an abandoned Haida village from the 19th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of the 180 UNESCO sites I have visited, SGang Gwaay was easily one of the top three in terms of most difficult to visit. I’d put it on a par with Preah Vihear and East Rennell.
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Win a $1,000 Scottevest Shopping Spree!

Posted by on July 7, 2012

We’ve run quite a few contests for Scottevest products over the last several months. This month I wanted to do something extra special. I wanted to do the ultimate Scottevest give away!

This time I’m not just giving away a jacket or a shirt, I’m going to set some lucky winner up with an entire wardrobe of Scottevest gear! You will be able to deck yourself out for a trip of a lifetime with all the gear you will have. You can get a full suitcase of jackets, shirts, pants, dresses, boxers, shorts and hats.

There are multiple ways you can enter. Just select the entry method(s) in the widget below.

…AND if you use the special 20% coupon code which is available to all my readers, you can turn that $1000 shopping spree into a $1200 one!

Good luck!

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