Operation Street Food – Day 1 (Food Safety)

Preparing my lunch
Preparing my lunch
My first day of street food went surprisingly well. I focused on grilled meat products because….well…it was easy to order. Here is how the day broke down:

  • Breakfast – 3 pieces of chicken satay. 15 baht (US$0.45)
  • Lunch – 3 grilled chicken wings and chopped grilled pork. 40 baht ($1.21)
  • Dinner – Chicken with rice, soup and a mango/sticky rice desert and a sprite. 140 bhat ($4.24)

The first thing that should jump out at you is that street food is REALLY cheap. I’m sure if I could speak Thai, could hunt around for deals and haggle, I might be able to pay less. For less than the cost of a Big Mac value meal, you can eat for a day if you stick to the streets. My dinner was actually sort of extravagant and I could have easily eaten for only 40 baht
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

World Heritage Site #108: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: My 108th UNESCO World Heritage Site and my 16th US National Park

From the World Heritage inscription for Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a major North American refuge of temperate zone flora and fauna that survived the Pleistocene glaciations. The park includes the largest remnant of the diverse Arcto-Tertiary geoflora era left in the world and provides an indication of the appearance of late Pleistocene flora. It is large enough to allow the continuing biological evolution of this natural system, and its biological diversity exceeds that of other temperate-zone protected areas of comparable size. The park is of exceptional natural beauty with undisturbed, virgin forest including the largest block of virgin red spruce remaining on earth.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States, primarily due to its location near major population centers in Tennessee and North Carolina. In addition to its natural treasures, it also has historical significance. Churches and homes of many of the mountain people who lived in the area still stand today.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains. This mountain range in Tennessee and North Carolina is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This national park is the most visited out of all national parks in the US with an average of 11.3 million visitors per year. The famed Appalachian Trail also passes through this national park.

Fast Facts: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

As the most popular national park in the US, here are some interesting facts you need to know about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • This park consists of 800 miles of trails. These trails consist of rugged terrains and waterfalls.
  • This vast park straddles between Tennessee and North Carolina and covers more than half a million acres in terms of size.
  • It is also the most popular national park in the US, in terms of population count. The second most visited national park in the US, Grand Canyon, only has about half of its visitor count.
  • There are several entrances to the park such as via the Newfound Gap Road, Gatlinburg in Tennessee and Cherokee in North Carolina.
  • The rocks in the national park are dated to the Late Precambrian period. These rocks include phyllites, slate, schists, and metamorphosed sandstones.
  • There are several mountains that are located within the park. About 16 of them reach an elevation of more than 16,000 feet.

Attractions and Activities

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the US, not just because of its amazing views but also for the many attractions and activities in the area. In 2016, there are over 11 million recreational tourists that traveled to the park. There are two main visitor centers for the park: one is the Sugarlands Visitors’ Center in Gatlinburg and the other is the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, North Carolina. Part of the reason for its popularity can be attributed to the fact that there is no entrance fee required to get into the park.

Hiking is the number one recreational activity among tourists in the park. As mentioned above, there are 850 miles of trails to be explored. These trails are suitable for hiking and are composed mainly of unpaved roads. In fact, 70 miles of the whole Appalachian trail are enclosed within this park. Mount Le Conte is one of the summits that hiking enthusiasts explore in the park, which is also the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The Alum Cave Trail is the most heavily used path to get to the said summit.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If hiking is not for you, there are other activities to enjoy such as fly fishing and sightseeing. The waters in the park consist of a healthy amount of trout. Hence, fishing enthusiasts go to the park to try to catch some of them. There are several types of trout to be caught as well, such as rainbow, brown and brook trout. If fishing is not something that would entice you, you can try horseback riding, water tubing or bicycling.

Historic Districts

Before this land was developed to become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is also a historical significance to the land. It was once occupied by the Cherokees. They were settlers of the land prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Hence, there are several historic districts within the park that form part of what makes this an important UUNESCO World Heritage Site. There are four historic districts that are contained in the park, which are Cades Cove Historic District, Elkmont Historic District, Noah Ogle Place, Roaring Fork Historic District. There is also one archaeological site, Oconaluftee Archaeological District, which served an important role in the earlier days of settlement for the Cherokees.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 8:57 pm

Commence Operation Street Food

Khao San Road, BangkokIf you haven’t been to Bangkok before, it is arguably the best city in the world for street food. WIthin in one block of where I’m staying is a mall worth of sidewalk vendors all selling different types of food.

Starting tomorrow, I am only going to eat street food for an entire week. Every meal and every snack is going to come from someone selling food from a folding table, a pushcart or a modified motorbike. I’m going to log everything, including the price, and take photos of every thing I eat. I’m also going to try and get as much variety as I can.
Continue reading “Commence Operation Street Food”

Everglades National Park

World Heritage Site #107: Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park: My 107th UNESCO World Heritage Site and my 15th US National Park

From the World Heritage inscription for Everglades National Park:

Everglades National Park is the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent. Its juncture at the interface of temperate and sub-tropical America, fresh and brackish water, shallow bays and deeper coastal waters creates a complex of habitats supporting a high diversity of flora and fauna. It contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie and the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America.

It is amazing how abruptly the urban Miami area ends and how fast the Everglades begins. The Everglades is a sea of grass and if you visit, you will not have difficulty finding the star of the park: the alligator. I saw dozens of alligators sunning themselves on bike paths and in the water near the road. Despite their appearance, they really pose no threat to humans. If you are ever in South Florida, take a day to visit the Everglades as it is the premier natural attraction in the state.


Everglades National ParkEverglades National Park is a national park in Florida that is managed by the US National Park Service. This park covers more than 1.5 million acres of natural features; despite that, the park only covers 20% of the entire Everglades. It was designated as a natural UNESCO World Heritage property in 1979 and currently has nearly 1 million visitors per year. It was listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger in 1993 to 2007 until it was lifted. However, it was added back into the list in 2010 and is still presently considered in danger.

How to Get Here

There are two entrances that you can travel through in order to get to the Everglades National Park. The southern entrance to the park is via Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. It is located in 40001 State Road 9336 in Homestead, Florida. To get to the south entrance from Miami, you must drive for approximately 1.5 hours.

To access the northern entrance, you must drive through SW 8th Street/Highway 41. Keep driving until you reach the Shark Valley Visitor Center. The northern entrance, about an hour’s drive away from Miami, is the northern entrance to the park.

Important Facts: Everglades National Park

Here are a few things you need to know about the Everglades National Park in Florida:

Everglades National Park

  • There are two main seasons in the park. The first one is the dry season, which is from November to May. The dry season is also the busiest time in the park. The second one is the wet season, which is not too busy due to the constant downpour.
  • Swimming is prohibited at the park due to the presence of wildlife.
  • This park is the third largest in the lower 48 states. Only Yellowstone and the Death Valley are bigger in terms of size.
  • Aside from being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Everglades National Park is also an International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance. There are only two other locations that are also present in all 3 lists!
  • There are plenty of ways to tour and explore Everglades National Park. Canoeing is not allowed in the summer due to the heat. Make sure you only join in on organized tours that are authorized by the park for your own safety.
    If you are going to go on a hiking tour, make sure you bring a map with you, or ask a ranger for directions or help.

What to See or Do

Everglades National Park

When the Everglades National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was primarily to protect the ecosystems found within the park’s premises. Due to the fast rise in urban development and modernization in Florida, particularly in the cities surrounding the park, it was established as a national park in order to preserve and protect the constantly shifting ecosystem. It was the first time (when this park was established) wherein a park was created to protect flora and fauna species that were unique to the region rather than preserving a specific geologic phenomena.

Indeed, there are five different habitats that are comprised within the expanse of the Everglades National Park: Mangrove, Pineland, Hammock, Slough and Sawgrass. There are many wildlife species that thrive within the grounds and ecosystem of the park, however the famed Florida alligator is the one that tourists are most curious to see. These are dangerous and elusive creatures, which is why all tourists are advised to follow safety protocols during tours and when exploring the park.

The Florida alligator isn’t the only wildlife species that call the park home. There are also the following wildlife species: Florida Panther, America crocodile, white-tailed deer, manatees and bobcats.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Jun 27, 2017 @ 5:28 am