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
25 rue des Pyramides
75001 Paris
33 (0) 892 68 3000
Other information desks : Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord, Anvers, Parc des Expositions

Sabtu, 20 Desember 2008

Welcome to Beijing

body_photo As the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing is the nation's center of government, economy, culture, and international activities, as well as serving as a transportation hub to the entire country. With a population of 11 million people, Beijing contains 18 districts and counties covering an area of 10,450 square miles. The suburbs contain: Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu, Chongwen, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, and Shijingshan. An outer suburban area consists of: Fangshan, Mengtougou, Changping, Tongxian, Shunyi, Daxing, Huairou, Miyun, Pinggu, and Yianqing.

Beijing City is an independently administered municipal district located in the northeastern part of China at an elevation of 143 feet above sea level. Beijing has a continental climate. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit. At an average temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, July is the warmest. The best time to visit Beijing is May, September and October.

Beijing has a long history. As early as 500,000 years ago, ancient "Peking Man" lived at Zhoukoudian 30 miles southwest of Beijing. King Wu was the first to declare Beijing the capital city in 1057 B.C. Established in 1045 B.C., Beijing is an ancient cultural city, serving for 800 years as the capital of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

Beijing was also known as Peking by the Western world before 1949. In the early nineteen twenties, Beijing became the cradle of China's new democratic revolution. The May Fourth Movement against imperialism and feudalism began in 1919. On October 1st, 1949, Chairman Mao announced to the world the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Beijing is also known as a tourist city for its many places of interest, including ancient architecture, royal gardens, mansions, towers, temples, palaces, and modern structures. It is a gathering place of artists and other talented people.

Airlines connect Beijing to more than 110 cities at home and abroad while the city boasts a fine railroad and highway system for local travelers. Urban construction has brought new changes to Beijing, building a unique combination of ancient civilization and modern metropolis.

Jumat, 19 Desember 2008

Sightseeing of Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji is the most famous mountain in Japan. The area surrounding Mt. Fuji is a most attractive tourist route for there are all kinds of sightseeing spots as well as resorts. To climb Mt. Fuji, you will need to plan an overnight visit. If, however, you wish to go on a day trip, we recommend a bus tour that will take you to the Fifth Station of Mt. Fuji and well-known sightseeing spots in the environs such as the Five Lakes of Fuji known as 'Fuji-go-ko' and Hakone. In fine weather, you will be able to command a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji.


Katsushika Hokusai (C) Hagi Uragami Museum

A sacred mountain captivating people since ancient times

The highest mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji is 3,776 meters above sea level, and is located more or less in the center of Japan, stretching over Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. Its elegant conical form has frequently been depicted in many paintings and literary works since ancient times. Many Japanese dream of standing on the summit at least once in their lifetime, and Mt. Fuji is visited by some 300,000 climbers every year. The mountain officially opens only in summer; the climbing season runs from the beginning of July to the end of August. If time permits, why not aim for the summit? From the mountain top, you will command an exquisite view of a field of clouds spreading endlessly into the distance under the indigo sky. In particular, the early morning scene of the sun rising from the sea of clouds is of an inexpressible beauty, and this sunrise is regarded as a deity and worshipped by the Japanese who call it 'Goraiko'. The sun rising up on New Year's Day known as 'Hatsu-hinode' or 'the first sunrise of the year' has a symbolic importance, attracting many tourists to Mt. Fuji.

On the mountain top, there is a mail box, so you can send letters with your impressions upon reaching the summit.
Every year, there is an increasing number of foreign hikers coming to Mt. Fuji, and the hiking routes are now marked with signboards in English, Korean and Chinese.
Other than the joys of mountain climbing, Mt. Fuji offers the delights of appreciating scenic beauty. There are various tourist spots in the vicinity, where you will be able to fully enjoy the pretty landscapes of each of the four seasons.

History & Faith

ancient times, Mt. Fuji has been the object of awe and admiration as a sacred mountain and a divinity of fire. Some myths depict Mt. Fuji as a deity, most frequently as a goddess.
Moreover, there remain countless legends about superhuman beings flying in the air and climbing on horseback to the summit, or walking on the sea waters from an island and climbing up Mt. Fuji on foot every night, and so on. Fuji senken jinja shainAnd in fact, there emerged ascetics who went into the mountain to undergo training so as to be inspired with divine power.

Jinja ShrineLater, the emergence of Hasegawa Kakugyo (1541 to 1646), who performed all kinds of religious austerities such as climbing up Mt. Fuji more than a hundred times, and going on a fast that lasted 300 days, led to the formation of 'Fuji-ko' which was an Fuji-ko (Mt. Fuji worship) association of people worshipping the deity dwelling in Mt. Fuji.
Kakugyo was followed by the charismatic ascetic Miroku (1671 to 1733) who stimulated the ordinary people's worship of Mt. Fuji all the more. Miroku fasted in Mt. Fuji, and is believed to have died in the form of a mummy while offering prayers for the happiness of all living people. People became so fanatic in their worship of Mt. Fuji that this faith Hatomori-hachiman Jinja Shrinecame under a ban by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The members of Fuji-ko (Mt. Fuji worship) not only climbed up the mountain, but also piled up lava rocks from Mt. Fuji to make miniature-sized Mt. Fuji called 'Fuji-zuka' mounds, and built shrines, where they paid visits of worship. Although miniatures, some were 10 meters high and quite impressive. Moreover, Fuji-ko was not merely an association of a religious nature, but also played the role of an organization of mutual help in the local community centered around Mt. Fuji.
Photo(C)Fujiyoshida Museum of Local History


Ando Hiroshige Many artists have been captivated by the diverse expressions shown by this mountain depending on the season, or depending on the time of the day, whether in the morning or early evening. It is widely believed that Mt. Fuji is unparalleled worldwide as a mountain that has so frequently been narrated, sung in verse, and drawn.
Tsurunoyu (Sendagaya,Tokyo)Photo (C) Hagi Uragami Museum
Of the numerous paintings of Mt. Fuji, people were above all moved by the Tokaido goju-san tsugi (Fifty-three stages of the Tokaido) by Ando Hiroshige and Fugaku sanju-rokkei (Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji) by Katsushika Hokusai in the 19th Century. Hokusai's dynamic composition, in particular, influenced Vincent Van Gogh. Composer Claude Debussy was also inspired by Hokusai, in his composition of The Sea, Symphonic Sketches for Orchestra.
For the people living back then, these paintings also served as guidebooks. Looking at the landscapes depicted in these works, they could familiarize themselves with Mt. Fuji, and were able to feel as if they had actually traveled there.
Representative works of the modern age include Nihon-ga (Japanese-style paintings) by Taikan Yokoyama and oil paintings by Ryuzaburo Umehara.
Also, huge pictures of Mt. Fuji were drawn on the walls of many sento public bathhouses of Japan.
Moreover, Mt. Fuji has been a popular motif in literary works. The Man'yo-shu (A collection of a myriad leaves) which is the earliest Japanese collection of waka, or Japanese poems, compiled in the 8th Century, is especially well known. Once in the modern age, the novelists Osamu Dazai, and Jiro Nitta who had the experience of working at the local weather station of this mountain, selected Mt. Fuji as the motif in their works.

Science & Nature

Formed approximately 100,000 years ago, Mt. Fuji is a composite volcano (volcanic cone). After repeating volcanic activities, it became the largest mountain in Japan. The eruption in 1707 continued for as long as 16 days, and there remain records that massive amounts of volcanic ash and lapilli traveled as far as present-day Tokyo area 100 kilometers away.
And this eruption led to the formation of Mt.Hoei-zan (2,963 m) which is a parasite volcano of Mt. Fuji. Mt.Hoei-zan's huge mouth of the crater can be seen from Shizuoka Prefecture.
Other products of this eruption include the numerous caves located in Aoki-ga-hara, also known as the Sea of Trees (Jukai), which is a 3,000-hectare virgin woodland growing over the lava flow. Also formed at the mountain foot were five lakes which are known as Fuji-go-ko, or the Five Lakes of Fuji. These lakes are considered to share the same subterranean water veins, and at times of heavy rainfall, a sixth lake called Aka-ike (Red Pond) sometimes emerges.

Mt. Fuji is also blessed with abundant spring water. The piled-up snow takes many years to be filtered through the layers of earth, producing mellow water with high mineral contents. Especially famous for abounding spring water flowing from Mt. Fuji are the eight ponds known as Oshino Hakkai in the village of Oshino-mura in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Rabu, 17 Desember 2008

Spa in Thailand

1.  Introduction

The word ‘spa’ probably comes from the name of the town Spa in Belgium.
East meets West, a spa is a place to go to treat and heal your mind, body and spirit using a variety of different techniques such as massage, scrubs, yoga, acupuncture, reike, reflexology, nutrition and body wraps etc.

Back ground / History of Spa in Thailand

Introduced in the early 1990s, spas in Thailand are a relatively new phenomenon – but one though, which has only very recently sky-rocketed in popularity. Not only are spas popular and fashionable with foreign tourists and expatriates, but the local Thais are also enjoying this new alternative therapy, one which is often ideal to ensure a smooth natural balance. A balance that has been rocked in Bangkok in particular by the unhealthy, serious life-styles and polluted environs. At first, spas were only to be found in 5-star hotels but they have now mushroomed everywhere.

Thailand: Asia’s Spa Capital

Thailand is a destination to indulge in this pastime therapy. The country prides itself in countless spas offering the highest world-class services at extremely reasonable rates. Much of the recent success of this therapy is due to the tremendous support given by the Thai Spa Operators Association. Not only have they assisted in the training of therapists to international standards, but they have also trained them in keeping methods traditionally and distinctively ‘Thai-style’. And it is this kind of service along with the one and only Thai Smile that are the key factors for so many visitors to revisit a Thai spa. Furthermore, most clients walk away from the spa with their head held high in the air with a feeling of rejuvenation and a well-being of mind, body and soul. Thai spas are not only quantity, but also quality. Spas can be found at all the major tourist destinations in Thailand such as: Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Ko Samui, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin.

Facts and Stats

During the years 2000-2002, the growth of the spa industry in Thailand rocketed by an exhilarating 64% and since 1999 Thailand has secured itself a top-5 world rating. In fact, Thailand is the second highest ranked spa destination of the world with an overall grade of 93%+ (just slightly behind Australia).
Chiva Som International Health Resort located in Hua Hin, is ranked number one in the world while the Regent Chiang Mai Resort and Spa is ninth.
During the period June 2001 – June 2002, 230 operators serviced 2.5 million international clients, creating revenue of $85 million. This amount well exceeds that of competitive countries, such as Singapore ($35 million) and Australia ($15 million). In total, 79% of all clients were foreigners.

Services and Hospitality

Thailand is a friendly country and a must-go for all those who enjoy nothing more than a rejuvenating spa. The country is famed for its world-class natural healing techniques and especially Thai massage. For those who appreciate the authentic Thai way of life, there are numerous home-stays, including those in the unique hill tribe villages of the north.
Thailand, home of Theravada Buddhism, is the ideal location to do a bit of spiritual soul-searching and reap the benefits of Vipassana meditation, a technique which has exploded in popularity in Western countries. Then, there is the sumptuous cuisine to wine and dine on, with cooking classes available too.

2. Reasons for Thailand’s spa popularity

Well, for one, they are rather different to the ones found in the West. The spas in Thailand are based on the deep-rooted harmony of Buddhist teaching, so creating an inner spiritual calm, complementing the equation of mind, spirit and body. Meditation is also used. Spas in Thailand have an altogether very Thai touch embodied upon a time-honoured healing tradition based on herbal and holistic remedies and generations of folk wisdom.
Thailand also offers award winning service at reasonable rates and makes a beautiful spot for a holiday vacation.

Reasons why most people go to a spa in Thailand

Thailand prides itself as having some of the finest spas in the world offering services at extremely competitive rates. Since Thailand has never been colonialized, the original culture has remained embedded within society and foreign visitors will find the Thais very hospitable and friendly.
Not only does Thailand, boast some of the most dazzling islands and beaches in the world, but also year-long sunshine; perfect for those who wish to get a lovely shiny suntan.
Thailand has an abundance of reasonably priced top quality accommodation where for the equivalent price of a completely basic home-stay in Europe, visitors to Thailand can enjoy the luxury of a four-star hotel. Then to top that off, they can soothe their aching minds with ancient Buddhist a meditation technique, qi gong, tai chi, solar bath and yoga.

3. Thailand’s Spas

There are numerous different types of spa services in Thailand which focus heavily on Thai massage. They are categorized as massage for health, massage for beauty and traditional massage.
The myriad variety of spas in Thailand is quite phenomenal and is found at almost every destination in Thailand. They are:
     - Destination spa, Destination spa, the famous destination spa in Thailand is no doubt, the one and only Chiva Som which attracts floods of visitors from all around the world who come to Thailand specifically to be pampered there.
     - Hotel spas / Resort spas / Retreat spas: Popular spas like there can be found at the top hotels in the major tourists destinations such as: Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Bangkok, Ko Samui and Chiang Mai.
      Popular Hotel and Resort Spas are:

               Bangkok -
The Oriental, Imperial Queen’s Park, JW Marriott Hotel, Marriott Royal Garden Riverside, The Regent Bangkok, Peninsula Bangkok, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Sofitel Central Plaza, Thavorn Beach Village, The Westin Banyan Tree

               Phuket -
Amanpuri Resort, Banyan Tree Phuket, Central Karon Village, Diamond Cliff Resort & Spa, Dusit Laguna Resort Hotel, The Evason Phuket, Pearl Village, Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket

               Koh Samui -
Central Samui Beach Resort, Central Samui Village, Health Oasis Resort, The Samui Dharma Healing Center, Santiburi Dusit Resort, The Spa Resort and Health Center, Tamarind Retreat

               Pattaya -
Central Wong Amat Beach Resort, Royal Cliff Beach Resort

               Hua Hin
- Chiva-Som, Melia Hua Hin, The Evason Hua Hin, Royal Garden Resort, Royal Garden Village, Sofitel Central Hua Hin Resort

               Chiang Mai - The Regent Resort Chiang Mai (Lanna Spa)

Christmas In The Tropics 2008

CIT08VSEvent Dates:
15th Nov 2008 to
2nd Jan 2009

Orchard Road and Marina Bay

Light-up, Light-up, Light-up



This Christmas will be the sweetest one yet, as the Sweet Family welcomes you into their home of sumptuous candies and magical lights. Streets are transformed into a candy land dripping with gumdrops, liquorice, candy canes and jelly beans, as Christmas carols fill the air with festive cheer. Expect bold colours, sweet smells and enchanting lights, all set to ignite your senses.
At the centre of the celebration, the Sweet Family is busy making merry this joyous season. Take a photo with them in-between shopping for the perfect holiday gifts for loved ones, hop on an open-top bus for a tour of the Christmas light-up, visit the Night Safari, see Singapore in a new light from the Singapore Flyer, take a trip around town in a traditional trishaw or countdown to the new year at Marina Bay. There is something for everyone this joyous season. What's more, kids holiday for free at more than 30 participating attractions and restaurants, while clubbers get to party for free at 10 hottest night spots in Singapore this festive season*! So come join us for the sweetest Christmas yet!
*Terms and conditions apply

Getting There
Orchard MRT Station (NS22)
City Hall MRT Station (EW13 & NS25)

Selasa, 16 Desember 2008

Mount Zion

Zionmount This sanctity of Mount Zion to all faiths can be seen from afar in its monuments, prominent on the Jerusalem skyline. But the significance of this hill just south of Jerusalem’s Old City walls begins with its name: Zion is one of the Bible’s earliest names forJerusalem, mentioned when David first established the city (2 Sam. 5:7) as his capital. In fact, the ancient Tomb of David on Mount Zionhas been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. The building that houses it has served over time as a church, a mosque, and now a synagogue honoring King David, the “sweet singer of Israel” and the ancestor of the Messiah.

In another part of this ancient complex is the Upper Room, whereZionGate Christian tradition marks the Last Supper (Matt. 26:18–35) and the events of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4).
Across from it is the Dormition Abbey, built in 1898 by the German Benedictines, with a triangular roof that is a city landmark. This is the place where Catholic tradition marks the Assumption of Mary to Heaven. The church sanctuary is not only spiritually inspiring; it is the venue for special concerts that attract Jerusalemites of all faiths.

1557 One of the Old City’s eight gates, the Zion Gate, opens onto MountZion. On a segment of the Ramparts Walk that begins at the Tower of David Museum visitors get a fascinating birds-eye view of MountZion, and can then descend at Zion Gate to visit its sites.

Minggu, 14 Desember 2008

Surfing in Bali

Surfing has really gained popularity in today's Bali. As the sunbaligif approaches the horizon, you can see line of young Balinese men approaching the beach on their surfboards, controlling them with the same gracefullness as in their traditional dances, mastering the waves and penetrating the tubes.


Kuta is one of the most popular sites; you can now find basically any surfing equipment there. As the sun approaches the horizon, you can see lines of Balinese approaching the beach, controlling their surf-boards with the same gracefulness as their traditional dances, mastering the waves and penetrating the tubes. Even in Kuta Beach and the area around it alone there are places for difficult surfs. It's best to talk to the locals so you won't get into trouble.


On the southern tip of Bali, Uluwatu is also high on a surfer's destination list. The road to the beach is pretty well-hidden, off the road to the temple of Uluwatu (which in itself is an amazing three-court temple on top of a few hundred feet cliff). You can't reach it by car - rent a motorcycle or walk for about two miles to get there. The site is very popular among serious surfers.

Nusa Dua.

On the south-eastern tip of the island, the Nusa Dua peninsula has some nice reef that provides good waves for surfing. You can stay on any of the most sumptuous hotels in the world spread around the area, and surfing is readily available within walking distance, from a beginner's level to a challenging one for the serious surfers.

Jumat, 12 Desember 2008

Christmas Market Valkenburg

During the five weeks before Christmas, the international Christmas Market Fluweelengrot in Valkenburg, in the very south of the Netherlands, will open its doors again. This spectacular marlstone cave with its magical atmosphere is without a doubt the most famous Christmas market location in The Netherlands.

The atmosphere of the cave will bring back the ancient and almost forgotten legends and memories of the city of Valkenburg. A walking tour of the market will lead you through a romantically lit up Christmas Cave with a 18th century chapel, impressive mural carvings and sculptures. Twinkling lights and magic illumination that reflect the soft marlstone walls break through the rustic darkness of the cave. Gentle Christmas music breaks through the (normally) every day serene silence.

A tour of capricious passages will lead you past caverns, decorated niches, stalls with various Christmas items and Christmas gifts for sale (various Christmas decorations, cribs, candles, jewellery, crystal, Belgian chocolate, candy, fantasy figures, marlstone decorations...) and a few stalls that demonstrate old Dutch trade & (handi)craft.

Don’t forget to visit the enchanting catering garden in the ‘heart’ of the cave, to have a bite to eat and experience the famous Christmas drink ‘Glühwein’ (sparkling hot wine)... And of course, don’t forget to taste our local specialties: vlaai (pastry), 'poffertjes' (little pancakes) and pea soup!

Relax in the natural paradise of Noosa

With a laidback vibe and no buildings higher than the trees, the sub-tropical paradise of Noosa is a place where you can really relax. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do here. Noosa brings international resort glamour to its pristine beaches, national park and lush hinterland.  

9.12_QLD_Noosa_highlight(1) Wherever you stay in Noosa - just 90 minutes drive north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast – you’ll be close to nature. See koalas and exotic birdlife in the trees near your accommodation, fish from the beaches, rivers and canals or swim, surf and hike in Noosa National Park, the most visited in Queensland. Its many walking trails wind through the bush and along the coast, offering breathtaking views.              

It sounds remote, but the national park is just over the hill from the elegant boutiques, restaurants, bistros, nightclubs and beachfront apartments of Hastings Street. This is the place to people watch, dine out, shop up a storm, pamper yourself with a spa treatment or spend an idle hour in a café. Stroll this strip of sophistication before relaxing on famous Main Beach or the scenic spot of Noosa Woods.      

9.12_QLD_Noosa_highlight(2)Good food and holiday relaxation go hand in hand, and Noosa’s gourmet scene is world renown. Savour the sub-tropical flavours and produce on a cooking course, bought fresh from a local farmers’ markets or at a restaurant table with a view.  

If you’re into water-sports, there’s fishing, jet-skiing, water-skiing, surfing, sailing, and some amazing diving and snorkelling once you’ve digested. Bring your own boat or hire one along the river. Discover a virtually unexplored reef system just beyond Noosa Heads or dive the wreck of the HMAS Brisbane.      

Just outside of Noosa, don’t miss the picturesque villages with their open-air markets, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and friendly pubs. Check out the famous Eumundi markets - open Wednesday and Saturday – selling clothes, furniture, jewelry and local foods and wines. Welcome to Noosa, where you can swap city stress for beachside glamour and all-natural relaxation.

Rabu, 10 Desember 2008


Zürich offers gentle hills, peaceful woods, unpolluted lakes and rivers, picturesque villages - and all this, just a stone's throw from the Alps. zurich3 Zürich is the ideal starting point for all kinds of varied excursions. Enjoy the pretty Old Town, the trendy new Zürich West district and the glorious Zürichsee ( Lake of Zürich). With opera, ballet, theatre premieres, shows, musicals, art exhibitions in over 50 museums and 100 galleries, time never drags in Zürich. The famous Bahnhofstrasse and the Limmatquai are a shopper's paradise. Over 1,700 restaurants and bars serve both traditional Swiss dishes as well as exotic specialties. The evenings will leave you with unlimited choices: indoors or outdoors; anything is possible as far as the nightlife in Zürich goes. The city offers various bars and dance clubs that cater to all kinds of tastes. Zurich by night offers a world of cozy pubs, dance clubs, lively bars and jazz clubs!! For culture lovers, there is ample variety of live theaters, dances, opera and classical music concerts.

5 Good Reasons to visit Zürich

  • Zürich never sleeps; the city is famous for its nightlife.
  • Zürich is a shopping paradise; the Bahnhofstrasse is one of Europe’s top addresses. It doesn’t matter what you are looking for, you will find it in Zürich.
  • Eating out in Zurich’s restaurants one can do a culinary tour of the world. With over 1,700 restaurants and bars ; there is enough variety to satisfy ones taste.
  • The Zürichsee ( Lake of Zürich) is the meeting point for the youth and the old; especially in the summer. You can go for a swim, walk along the shores of the lake or sit and relax while enjoying a drink in one of the numerous cafes.
  • Thanks to the train system Zürich is a good spot to start and end your trip thru Switzerland. All the major cities are reachable within 3 hours.


How to Get There
From the Zürich-Airport it is only a 10 minute train journey to the Zürich main station. There are at least 4 trains an hour leaving the Airport to the city and there are as many trains from the Zürich main station to the Airport.

Zürich has a lot to offer as far as the sightseeing is concerned. Activities can range from a scenic boat trip on the banks of the lake or just a day spent shopping at the Bahnhofstrasse. There are plenty of museums in Zürich, like the Kunsthaus (art museum) or the Swiss national museum. For those interested in sacred buildings there are the twin spires of the Grossmünster church, the Fraumünster church with the stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall or the St. Peters church which boasts the largest clock face in Europe. The Opera House is renowned throughout the world for its opera and ballet productions. When walking through Zürich, a visit to the Lindenhof is a must. The Lindenhof is an oasis of peace and tranquility in the heart of the Old Town , and a meeting place for passionate chess players.

Insider Tip
The Uetliberg is Zürich’s local mountain, from which stunning views of the Zürich area can be enjoyed. The Uetliberg is reachable by trains which leave the Zürich main Station from platform number 2 every half an hour, the journey takes 23 minutes. On the top of the Uetliberg there is a hotel which offers beautiful suites for a romantic evening.

Gunung Mulu National Park

Mulu Caves National Park is home to one of the longest networks of caves in the world. Here lies the world’s largest underground chamber, the Sarawak Chamber, capable of accommodating forty Boeing 747 airplanes.

In Mulu, you will also find the world’s biggest cave passage, big_Mulu2Deer Cave, which can fit five cathedrals the size of Saint Paul’s in London. Another key attraction is Clear Water Cave, the longest cave in Southeast Asia. The massive caves here are home to millions of bats and cave swiftlets that swarm out into the jungle in great clouds every evening at dusk!

The outdoorsy type will be pleasantly surprised by some of the best examples of tropical limestone weathering in the world, including enormous razor-sharp pinnacles, deep-cut canyons, appropriately named The Pinnacles. There are tough but rewarding multi-day hikes available from the resort. A guide and porter are recommended.

Key Tips

Arrive at the viewing platform in front of Deer Cave by 6 pm to witness the fantastic spectacle of countless bats exiting the cave, headed out for a night's prowl of the jungle. Set your camera to ASA 800 to capture the 'show' sharply as flash won't work in this situation.

How to get there

By Air
Malaysia Airlines operates three daily flights from Miri into Mulu (30 minute flight). Recently, an airline called FAX, which is a subsidiary of Air Asia, has started flying to Mulu as well.
By Boat
You can also take the express boat from Kuala Baram (three hours) to Marudi. From Marudi, take a commercial express boat to Kuala Apoh or Long Panai on the Tutoh River (a tributary of the Baram River). The express departs Marudi at noon daily and returns to Marudi in the early morning of the next day. The trip takes about three hours.

Who to contact

For more information, please visit

Accommodation Overview

Besides the main resort at the centre of the park (Royal Mulu Resort), there are also hostels, cabins and even an air-conditioned longhouse to choose from.

Central Java

History has left its footprints across Central Java, an area rich in culture and tradition descending from a powerful Hindu and Buddhist past, and more recent Islamic influences.

 Under the Saliendra and Old Mataram kings in the 8th and 10th centuries the Hindu-Javanese culture flourished, and it was during this period that Java’s most remarkable religious monuments were built such as Borobudur, the most magnificent monument to Mahayana Buddhism in the world; the enormous Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, and the ancient site of the oldest Hindu temples in Java on the Dieng Plateau.

Tourist Office

Jl. Madukoro Blok BB/1D, Semarang 50144, 
Phone. (024) 7608570-2, 7613180, 7613181 Fax. (024) 7608573 
Website: http//

Getting there

An extensive network of good roads and railway links major cities and villages. Airport both in Semarang and Solo and the major seaport in Tanjung Emas, on the north of Semarang and a natural harbor in Cilacap provide national and international access. Door to door travel minibuses are available to and from Java and Sumatra Island.

Tourism Events=]

  • Wayang Kulit (Leather Puppet Shadow Show) from 9.00 pm every Saturday until dawn in Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) Jalan Achmad Yani Semarang. It takes episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabarata epics.
  • Wayang Orang (Javanese Opera) performed every night from 8 pm to 10 pm in Sriwedari auditorium Solo Sunday closed.
  • Waisak Ceremony, Magelang, Central Java. The “Waisak” is religious event observing the birth of Sidarta Gautama held on June’08 at Mendut and Borobudur temples. This ceremony is first started with religious praying in Mendut.
  • Sekaten Fair, Solo, Cental Java. A traditional fair held on Apr’08 annually during the islamic month of Rabiul Awal or maulud (Javanese Calender) to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. The fair takes place at Alun-alun Utara of the Kasunanan Palace’s North Square and open for visitors day dan night.

Places of Interest=]


Semarang is situated on Java’s northern coast and it is the capital of Central Java. From Candi Hill you get amazing views of the port, the lowlands and green paddy fields, the city itself and the surrounding mountains. The environs around Semarang are perfect for day trips and side-excursions.In the older part of the city, near the harbour, you can still find an interesting collection of buildings dating back to the Dutch colonial era and the Dutch East Indies Company. The city offers evening performances of Wayang drama played by live actors, actresses and dancers at Ngesti Pandowo Theatre. For sport fans there are tennis courts in all major hotels and 2 golf courses located in the town’s suburbs. For short trips out of Semarang within a radius of about 60 km, the following places are recommended: Jepara, northeast of Semarang, is surrounded by white sand beaches, and is also famous for its wood carving industry. An ancient Portuguese Fort can be found to the east of Jepara. Kudus, about halfway between Jepara and Semarang, is home to the Minaret Mosque, which was built in the 15th century. Also known with its kretek (traditional cigarette) industries. Demak has the oldest mosque in Central Java.

Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple

Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple. This is a holiday resort on the slopes of Mt. Ungaran, about 900 meters above sea level. Gedong Songo (nine buildings), a group of small 8th century Hindu Javanese temples, can be reached either by car or on horseback from Ungaran. Built at about the same time as the temples of the Dieng complex, Gedong Songo is one of the most beautifully temple complexes in Central Java. The views alone are worth the trip.

Tlogo Plantation

Tlogo Plantation has cool air and beautiful view with various plantation such as coffee, rubber, nutmeg and cloves. It is located 6 kms or only 10 minutes drive from The Ambarawa Railway Museum. (

Dieng Plateau

Dieng Plateau. About 4 hours from Semarang is the Dieng Plateau, the site of some of the oldest Hindu temples on Java. These 50 foot high monu-ments stand on a crater floor amidst sulphurous fumes. The road to the Dieng Plateau passes through tobacco plantations and beautiful mountain scenery.


Baturraden. Central Java’s most outstanding resort, approximately 14 kms north of Purwokerto, an administrative town in the southern of Java island. It is occupies a fine site on the slopes of Mount Slamet, 650 m above sea level, feel the coolness air, nice gardens, pines forest, hot springs, ponds and bungalow-style hotels.

Jatijajar Cave

Jatijajar Cave, a magnificient cave near Pantai Ayah (Ayah Beach) 170 km from Solo. It is also has along beautiful tunnel with many stalagnit and stalagtit. A diorama of the legend of “Lutung Kasarung” (a Prince that changed to a Monkey) and some lakes and river in the cave wait to be explored.

Sangiran, The Land of Mystery

Sangiran, The Land of Mystery. In 1891, Eugene Dubois, a French anthropologist discovered fossils of Phitecantropus Erectus, or ‘Java Man’. 1930 and 1931 marked the discovery of fossils of a man from the Pleistocene Period. In mid 1980, scientists were startled by the discovery of a complete 4 m tall elephant. It is located only 18 km from Solo.

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple. The name “Borobudur” is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words “Vihara Buddha Uhr”, (Buddhist Monastery on the Hill). The Borobudur Temple was built in the eighth century by the Cailendra dynasty and is located at Magelang 90 km southeast of Semarang or 42 km northwest of Yogyakarta. One of the world’s most famous temples, it stand majestically on a hill overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Borobudur is built of grey andesite stone. It rises in seven terraces, each smaller than the one below it. The top is the Great Stupa, standing 40 meters above the ground. The walls of the Borobudur are sculpted in bas-relief, a total length of six kilometres. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit, each scene an individual masterpiece.


Solo. A pleasant city with a lively character, Solo is also called “The City That Never Sleeps“. One can always find something to eat or buy, as vendors of all kinds and small foodstalls remain open 24 hours. Home of two royal houses with centuries of power and influence over the city, Solo today remains distinctly Central Javanese with and elegance all its own. It is one of the major centres of batik, and souvenir hunters may find old Javanese antiques. Becak (trycycle ricksaw) and Andong (trad-horse carriage) are the most flexible type of traditional transportations within the city and are available everywhere.

Kasunanan Palace

Kasunanan Palace. The royal residence of King Pakubuwono in the 17th century, the palace has an art gallery exhibiting royal heirlooms, antiques and other invaluable objects in a genuine royal Javanese atmosphere. Open from 9 am to 2 pm, Friday closed.

Pura Mangkunegaran (Mangkunegaran Palace)

Pura Mangkunegaran (Mangkunegaran Palace) Another palace built 1757, with typical Javanese architecture consisting of “Pendopo” (an open front hall to receive guests), “Pringgitan” (an porch to hold leather puppet shadow play) and private apartments. Two sets of 17th century Javanese gamelan instruments are exhibited and played every Wednesday in the Pendopo. The palace also exhibits complete collection of masks, wa¬yang orang costumes, leather and wooden puppets, religious articles and jewelry. Dancing practise in Mangkunegaran Palace : Wednesday from 10 am to 12 pm.


Tawangmangu. Located 40 kms east of Solo, this recreational resort offers fresh weather, scenic views, swimming pools, bungalow style hotels and restaurants. It lies on the slopes of Mt. Lawu, at an elevation of 1,300 m above sea level. Other features include nearby temples, a national park and the 40 m high waterfall of Grojogan Sewu.

Sukuh Temple

Sukuh Temple. Not far from Solo is the Sukuh Temple, the pyramid “Inca” looklike decorated with wayang stone carvings of Hindu origin, and erotic symbols. The temple is located only 34 km from Solo.

Kemuning Tea Plantation

Kemuning Tea Plantation. Between Sukuh and Ceto Temple, there is a 300 hectares rug of green tea plantation.

Ambarawa Railway Museum

Ambarawa Railway Museum Fifty kms south of Semarang, Amba¬rawa has locomotives of various types and ages, and it is still possible to ride on a cog railway between Ambarawa and Bedono, a village nearby. Prior arrangements should be made for groups. Also of interest are a collection of antique telephones and other instruments used for railway communication. Visit Rawa Pening (Clearly Swamp), the cool water lake near Ambarawa.

Mendut Temple

Mendut Temple Located only 3 kilometers from Borobudur, Mendut is said to face toward Benares, India, where Buddha Gautama taught his five disclipes. The smaller temples of Mendut, which house the great statue of Buddha and the Pawon temple, form an integral part of the Borobudur complex. The three-metre tall Buddha and the two Bodhi¬satva figures of Lokesvara and Vajrapani are among the greatest manifestations of Buddhist thought and art.

Gong Cave Gong Cave

Gong Cave Gong Cave, has incredible ornament which is about 256 m underground with 12 rooms 7 spring and one natural both, located about 7 km from Punung Market, on the way to Pacitan (70 km southern of Solo city). The people believed that on the certain day of Friday there is a sound o traditio¬nal drum instrument called “Gong” come from this cave until now.

Ceto Temple 
Ceto Temple, is located in western slope of Mt. Lawu, Gumeng Village Je¬nawi District in Karanganyar - Surakarta. It is located in hill 1400 m from the sea level. Ceto temple site of 13 stages, from the lower places to higher places ar similar to Hinduism temple. Relief status of Ceto Temple Symbolizes a human passion and a portrayal of human being’s soul purification. The hardest seduction in purifying in passions.

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