Kamis, 15 Januari 2009

Brunei-Muara

Contemporary luxuries abound. Rustic surprises await.

Though small in size, Brunei-Muara is of great importance to the nation as the district housing Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. As such, it is usually the first stop of any visitor to Brunei — and one of the most memorable. Outside the capital lie some of the nation’s most world-renowned attractions.

The golden spires adorning Istana Nurul Iman, home of the nation’s revered monarch, His Majesty The Sultan, form a striking backdrop for a spectacular Bruneian sunset. The lavish residence has achieved legendary status as the largest palace in the world and features a unique blend of contemporary and traditional Islamic architecture. But there is nothing traditional — or expected — about Brunei Muara’s other famous attraction, Jerudong Park Playground, the state-of-the-art amusement park that was once the playground of royalty.

Selasa, 13 Januari 2009

Salt Lake City

Title: A Couple Enjoying the Sunset over the Great Salt Lake
Posted by: Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sitting at the foot of the rugged Wasatch Mountains and extending to the south shore of the Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City has some of the best scenery in the country. The interface between city and nature draws residents and visitors alike to the Salt Lake Valley. There are few other places where you can enjoy urban pleasures and, within 20 minutes, hike a mountain trail or rest by a rushing stream.
The world headquarters of the conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you can hardly visit Salt Lake City without at least passing by Temple Square), Salt Lake City is surprisingly cosmopolitan, with the state's most diverse -- and most politically liberal -- population.
Contrary to what you might have heard, Salt Lake City has a thriving nightlife scene and yes, you can get a drink. There's an active arts community and no dearth of good restaurants. And if you're a spectating sports enthusiast you'll have no problem finding a game: Salt Lake City is home to major basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer clubs. Utah's largest newspapers and television stations originate here, and a significant feather in this city's cap was its terrific success as host to the world during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Senin, 12 Januari 2009

57th Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlinale Bear in the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz, Copright Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

The Berlinale - not only the city's largest cultural event, but also one of the most important dates on the international film industry's calendar. With more than 20,000 film professionals from 120 countries, including 4000 journalists the Berlin International Film Festival is among the top-events of the industry. On top of that it is the world's biggest public festival which shows films of all genres, lengths and formats. Among them are many world and European premieres. Seven international stars and film experts decide who can take home the golden bear and the silver bears. The Scottish actress and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton presides over the jury this year.
At the 59th International Film Festival visitors can expect lots of exciting films in the sections Competition, Panorama, forum, Generation, Perspective German Cinema, Berlinale Shots, Retrospective and Hommage. Interesting special series and the Berlinale Talent Campus complement the programme.

Scene from The International by Tom Tykwer Copyright: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

This year Tom Tykwer's "The International", a high-profile action thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts opens the festival. A Berlinale special series is dedicated to the End of the Cold War 20 years ago. "After Winter Comes Spring - Films Presaging the Fall of the Wall" Initiated by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Deutsche Kinemathek the series presents German and East-European films of the last decade before the Reunification. They presage in varied manners the upcoming, profound change.
The Retrospektive is all about the film format "70 mm". Under the title "Bigger than Life" it celebrates the stunning and powerful visuals as well as excellent sound of wide-gauge films which were emphasized from the mid 1950s in the big cinema palaces. It features amongst others "Lawrence of Arabia", "The Sound of Music" and the "West Side Story".
Food connoisseurs can indulge with all their senses in the successful film and event series "Eat, Drink, See Movies - Culinary Cinema". The films with corresponding food to enjoy deal with culinary topics. Discussion forums of film makers, food connoisseurs and food experts talk about film, food and ecology. The series opens on February 8th with the documentary "Food Inc.".

The Golden Bear, First Prize of the International Film Festival Berlin Foto: Ali Ghandtschi Copyright: Berlinale 2008

This year's Hommage is dedicated to the French, repeatedly Oscar-winning film composer Maurice Jarre. He is awarded the golden bear for his lifework as one of the most important and most popular composers. His musical influence can be enjoyed in films such as "Doctor Schiwago" or "The Tin Drum".
Children and youths will enjoy the Berlinale section Generation. More than 1000 films have been proposed for the competition - a record. The German contribution "Lippels Traum" by Lars Büchel has its world premiere at the Festival.
Just like every year the International Film Festival is accompanied by numerous receptions, parties, panels, discussion forums, workshops and art performances.
59th International Film Festival Berlin, February 5th - 15th, 2009

Contact and further Information:
Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
Potsdamer Straße 5
10785 Berlin
Tel. +49 (0)30 259200
Fax. +49 (0)30 259 20 299
The programme is available at www.berlinale.de from January 27th, 2009.
Advance Tickets can be booked from February 2nd, 2009.

Senin, 05 Januari 2009

Delhi

India’s capital city, Delhi is the second most widely used entry point into the country, being on the route of most major airlines. It is well linked by rail, air and road to all parts of the country. The remains of seven distinctive capital cities – among them Shahjahanabad and Qutab Minar – can be seen. Here, museums, art galleries and cultural centers attract the finest exhibitions and performances from India and abroad. Shopping encompasses virtually everything that can be bought in the country; hotels range from the deluxe to the more modest. Most fascinating of all is the character of Delhi which varies from the 13th century mausoleum of the Lodi kings set in a sprawling park Dehli on Nightto ultra modern chrome and glass skyscrapers; and from imperial India’s Parliament House and the President’s Palace to the never ending bustle of the walled city surrounding Jama Masjid. Delhi also makes the ideal base for a series of short excursions to neighbouring places, all connected by road.
The capital of India, Delhi blends an historic past and a vibrant present. The Imperial city planned for the British by Lutyens is set in parks and shaded avenues. Legend has it that Delhi, then called Indraprastha, was originally founded around 1200 B.C. by the Pandavas, the august heroesof the epic Mahabharata. Present day Delhi is built around the ruins of seven ancient cities.

Selasa, 30 Desember 2008

Pamukkale in Turkey

Senin, 29 Desember 2008

Three Perfect Days in Jeju

The beauty of seeing summer end and spending Chuseok on Jeju-do with a good mountain bike and a small book of traditional Korean poetry is marvelous. Getting back to nature, enjoying some outdoor exercise, taking the time to read and reflect is something that seems to get harder and harder to make time for. And with Chuseok being an extremely busy travel time, there’s a certain amount of anticipation and almost joy in busting out of the big city, leaving the cell phone behind and setting foot on pastoral Jeju-do — the “Island of Love.” Of course, as the Asian proverb goes, it’s not the arrival at the destination that matters most but how one gets there.
The KTX express train from Yongsan Station to the small fishing village of Mokpo is efficient and comfortable, that is if you’re not bringing a mountain bike on board. But the kindness of the staff and the curious gazes of kids watching as they chew on pink songpyeon (bean-filled rice cakes) while steadying the bike amongst cars and fellow passengers heading home for the holiday already makes bringing it along worthwhile. Down on the southern end of the peninsula, downtown Mokpo City has sort of a melancholy feel, with interesting architecture and many elevated points to observe the harbor shutting down for the night.
→ For more on the ferry information to Jeju from Mokpo / Busan / Incheon, click here!

After just 15 minutes of pedaling, hard work but bracing, I start to notice the touch of autumn on the skin of ripe pears and apples in the passing orchards. The smells of all the locally grown fruits are so invigorating, every deep breath is almost like drinking a cup of plum juice."

Taking to the High Seas

The morning is fresh and sunny, and all is ready on the New Sea world Express Ferry. The sea journey from Mokpo to Jeju is approximately five hours, but instead of wondering what time the ferry arrives at Jeju Harbor, it’s better to find a good spot on the ship's top deck. It’s a little noisy as the ferry’s engines roar and kaboom like a high school marching band welcoming you to open water. Everyone on board is energized and smiling in one degree or another. And finally, when the ferry is past sight of land and all around is sparkling blue and white breaking waves, well, you know for sure that you’re not breathing air from the big city anymore.
“Turning Left” and “U-Turn” are current phrases that Korean friends describe as lifestyle changes that some Seoulites are undertaking: to get out of the metropolis to live or summer or even just weekend in a place that is economically less pressurized, a place that also offers more living space and better connection to nature. Rolling my mountain bike down the plank way into Jeju City, this really makes a lot of sense. Jeju Harbor is basically in downtown Jeju City, which is just 10 minutes by taxi to an airport that offers dozens of flights to other airports scattered throughout the peninsula. That is, of course, a path for a different day as I mount the bike for a three-day Journey around the island. After just 15 minutes of pedaling, hard work but bracing, I start to notice the touch of autumn on the skin of ripe pears and apples in the passing orchards. The smells of all the locally grown fruits are so invigorating; every deep breath is almost like drinking a cup of plum juice.

True Hospitality, Jeju-Style

I don’t want to get too far into the island with the sun coming down, so I found a roadside yeogwan (a Korean-style inn) for a very modest price. The renowned fish restaurants were closed for this part of the Chusoek holiday, but I saw this coming and had ramyeon instant noodles and gimbap rice seaweed rolls (staples for Korean Jeju-do cyclists) in the backpack. The hospitality of island people who live away from big crowds is most likely a universal thing and the Jeju-do islanders are no exception. I showered and sat down to read some classic Korean poetry (sijo), and then the owner of the yeogwan came to my door with a piping hot bowl of beef ribs and vegetable stew. She must have spent hours preparing this holiday dish for her loved ones, yet she took a moment to see how far I had traveled and how hungry I was. Adding to her consideration, she saw that I was reading and just placed the food down and smiled, closing the door behind her. As I savored the delicious food, I noticed the open page of the book:

"Wondrous smells and colors keep flying by, yet once again it’s the genuine Jeju people who are the most refreshing part of the trek."

Life here is so simple
All I have
Is a few grape-vines and a single
Book of songs. I place my trust in
things that are beautiful

After such a day, the trip to Jeju has already been well worth it, but cycling around the island is another fun and rewarding accomplishment. I had already once resided in a four-month temple-stay at the glorious Yakcheon-sa Temple, and knew I would have to spend the day on the bike along the National Highway 7 to get there again. Pacing myself, I try to pedal hard downhill in order to peddle less going uphill. The lack of traffic on the Chuseok holiday makes the cycling less strenuous and I can concentrate on the surroundings and not focus on avoiding automobiles. One thing for sure is that the charming bed & breakfast-style of accommodation is catching on in Jeju-do. The range spans he gamut from super new luxury hotels and the basic sleep-on-the-floor with a mattress accommodation available, but it’s the rustic way, the slow-down-the-pace and enjoy-the-space way that is so appealing. These B&Bs are often demarcated with grey medium height stone fences — once again, all natural.

The Kindness of Everyday Life

This trip was a mixture of athletic event and sightseeing, and I expect to reach the temple by sunset. Wondrous smells and colors keep flying by, yet once again it’s the genuine Jeju people who are the most refreshing part of the trek. When a man wearing a farmer’s smock watched me hop off my bike to fetch some water, he came over and offered me his black round sunglasses. I didn’t take them because I didn’t need them, but now for some reason, I wish I had taken them. I ask about Yakcheon-sa Temple and he smiles and points, and I’m on my way again. It wasn’t crowded, being the holiday, and when I approached the world’s largest main hall in a temple, once again possessed By a sense of wonder at its awesome structure and, more subtly, the gentle loss of time in everyday life. I was able to stay the night in my old room rereading some sijopoems and watching the moon:
Tiny object floating high
Lighting all the world
You see everything but say nothing:
You are indeed, indeed, my friend.

Last day, and I want an early start in the morning and to get to Hallim Park. By and large, it’s the effort of one very inspiring man named Song Bong-kyu. In 1971, he had kind of a vision and decided to build a huge nature park near his home. He cleared that land, brought in tons of fertile soil, planted, plowed and tilled for 10 years creating a magical place of caves, bonsai and water gardens, exhibition rooms — one massive vision that is completely inspirational and humbling at the same time. Maybe it shows how, if nature can be manicured the right way, then we humans can re-energize ourselves by appreciating its natural qualities while at the same time purifying our human minds. As Jeju-do’s future in tourism brightens, and modern people look for a way to keep their pace of life manageable and an appreciation of natural beauty and the infinite intact, spending a few days on the ferry ride, cycling to a temple and garden park while seeing stone fertility gods along the way, may be just the way to go.

Tucked into alleys near the school you’ll find the Gahoe Museum and the Knot Workshop, where you can watch talented artisans produce elaborate macrame. I stopped at the Hang Sang Soo Embroidery Museum where Ms. Hang, now in her 70s and designated an embroidery master by the government, still wields needle and thread to great acclaim, producing elegant wrapping cloths (bojagi) and wall hangings, among other designs.

Minggu, 28 Desember 2008

Classic Paris, unfamiliar Paris

* Paris... The capital is bursting with activity. Openings of new venues BM_20061123161819966.npf follow the re-openings of old ones: the nave of the Grand Palais, Quai Branly, new megastores on the Champs Elysées... Creativity is in a ferment and the face of the city is being transformed. Paris is also a capital that offers an excellent lifestyle. There is a wide range of accommodation options, lots of restaurants and plenty of different activities: you can take to the streets on a bicycle or on rollerblades, recharge your batteries in one of the parks and gardens, relax on Paris Plage (when the quays of the Seine are turned into a beach), follow the revellers in their thousand and one nights out...
* Not to be missed
- Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Champs-Elysées
- Arc de Triomphe
- Opéra National de Paris
- Louvre
- Musée d’Orsay
- Pompidou Centre
- Montmartre and Opéra districts
- Inauguration of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (March 2007)
- Inauguration of the new Immigration museum (April 2007)
- Re-opening of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (as of September 2006) WEB
- Inauguration of the new Arts premiers museum – Quai Branly. Open since June 2006. WEB
* Experience Paris...
The City Passport :make the most of Paris!
- The Tourist Office has selected 47 sites where you can enjoy special offers: special deals and discounts of 10% to 50% at sites and attractions of your choice: museums, excursions and walks, shopping… Designed in the form of a practical handbook, it includes a guide to all the venues you can visit, a map of Paris to help you find them and discount coupons. The Paris City Passport is not personal and is valid until the end of June 2007. € 5.
* Festive Paris
Find over 300 events every day (concerts, exhibitions, shows...) on our website WEB . In 2007, many prestigious cultural sites will be inaugurated while numerous major sporting events will take place.
* Getting there
2 airports: Orly and Roissy Charles de Gaulle, Europe’s most important transport hub
- 6 train stations (Lyon, Nord, St-Lazare, Est, Montparnasse, Austerlitz)
* Contact
WEB
OFFICE DU TOURISME ET DES CONGRÈS DE PARIS
25 rue des Pyramides
75001 Paris
33 (0) 892 68 3000
Other information desks : Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord, Anvers, Parc des Expositions

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