Showing posts with label UNESCO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UNESCO. Show all posts

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania is one of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property. This former convict settlement is Tasmania's top tourist attraction.

The Australian Convict Sites are eleven convict colonies that represent the thousands of penal settlements established in Australia between 1787 to 1868. This eighty year period saw the transportation of over 166,000 men, women and children, condemned by the British justice system to Australia. Five of the sites are in Tasmania, namely Brickendon and Woolmers EstatesDarlington Probation StationCascades Female FactoryCoal Mines Historic Site, and the Port Arthur Historic Site which I got to visit.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Driving from Hobart to Lake St Claire in Tasmania

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was one of the places in my bucket-list for my visit to Tasmania, Australia. It's a vast property composed of several national parks. I had inquired with the Tasmanian Travel & Information Centre if there were day trips available from Hobart. Unfortunately, there were none.

The World Heritage property includes the Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Devils Gullet State Reserve, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Hartz Mountains National Park, Mole Creek Karst National Park, South East Mutton Bird Islet, Southwest National Park and Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

There was a tour that went to Cradle Mountain from Launceston. But it required a two-night stay there due to limited public transport between Hobart and Launceston. The only option then was to rent a car to be able to get to one of the national parks.

I ended up renting a car in Tasmania, which is a challenge for anyone used to driving on the opposite side. The good thing though is that outside Hobart, there are less cars, making the drive much more manageable. As soon the car rental office opened, I picked up the car and I was off.

The drive took me through the fantastic scenery of Central Tasmania. As soon as you leave the Hobart area, it becomes a two lane highway making it difficult to stop to admire the view. The towns I passed by on the way, dots on the map, were really small rural communities, many of them villages. There was Hamilton and Ouse. The highway takes you through the center of town. Other villages like Tarraleah are off the highway.

In Tarraleah, there is a view point for the Tarraleah Hydro-Electric Development. Tasmania is the leader of renewable energy generation in Australia. More than ninety percent of Tasmania's power comes from hydro-electricity. The Tarraleah Hydro-Electric Development was commissioned in 1938, utilizing the waters of Lake St Claire & the Derwent River.

Before reaching Tarraleah, there was a road block at Wayatinah saying the road was closed (only four-wheel and cars with tire chains were allowed). The area still had snow and the road closure was a bummer since I had already driven two-thirds of the way. I tried to find some information in Wayatinah. But the coffee shop and facilities were closed since it was winter. The village seemed deserted!

I chanced upon the Wayatinah Lakeside Caravan Park and drove to it hoping to ask for information. Good thing the owner David was very helpful. He made calls to confirm that the road had already been cleared and that we were waiting for the police to remove the road sign. The caravan park is right beside Wayatinah Lagoon, a fishing lake.

The snow was starting to melt. Had I arrived a day earlier, I may not have been able to proceed. So it's best to ask the Tasmanian Travel & Information Centre to check during the winter months if there are road closures.

Along the way were so many lakes. I stopped by Bronte Lagoon which was just by the roadside. I finally reach Derwent Bridge, the gateway to the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

From there, it's another five kilometers to the Lake St Clair Visitors Centre. If you are driving, make sure to purchase your park pass, a scratch card which you need to place on your dashboard. They are sold at the Tasmanian Travel & Information Centre in Hobart. And it's best to purchase them there to be sure. You can also purchase them at the park visitors centre.

Lake St Clair is Australia's deepest freshwater lake. They have scenic cruises with spectacular views of southern mountain peaks.

If there was more time, I would have wanted to see Cradle Mountain. That's one of Tasmania's Big Three, the other two being Port Arthur and Wineglass Bay. You always have to leave something for a return trip!

Tasmanian Travel & Information Centre
20 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7001
Phone No. +61 (3) 6238 4222
Fax No. +61 (3) 6224 0289

Wayatinah Lakeside Caravan Park
David and Diane McMillan
Phone No. +61 (3) 62893317

Monday, May 12, 2014

Scotland: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Harry Potter and more from the Scottish capital

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
A medieval fortress dominates the skyline of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle stands at the head of Old Town, one of two distinct historic districts of the city. The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh are inscribed in the World Heritage List.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Old Town, with its medieval street plan and Reformation-era buildings, is the oldest part of the city. St. Margaret's Chapel, built in 1130 and the oldest building in the city, can be found in Edinburgh Castle. A visit to Edinburgh will not be complete without a trip to the castle (£16 entrance fee for adults).

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
View of New Town from Edinburgh Castle
The castle, once a shelter to Scottish royalty, also has several museums, the Scottish National War Memorial, and the Scottish Crown Jewels. The crown, scepter and sword are the oldest in the British Isles. One gets a great view of Old Town and New Town from Edinburgh Castle.

Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
From Edinburgh Castle, a road called the Royal Mile (approximately one Scots mile long) leads down to Holyrood Palace. It's actually a succession of streets that include Castlehill at the top, followed by Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and finally Abbey Strand. Many of Edinburgh's historic landmarks are located on these streets.

Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
Canongate Tollbooth was built in 1591 as a tollbooth, courthouse, burgh jail and meeting place
Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, make sure to turn right at George IV Bridge, which is between Lawnmarket and High Street, to visit The Elephant House. This café is the birthplace of Harry Potter since it's one of the café's where J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter novel.

Scottish National Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland
In front of Holyrood Palace is the Scottish Parliament Building, designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles, who passed away before it was completed in 2004.

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland
Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland, and has been the main residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century.

The ruins of Holyrood Abbey are adjacent to the palace.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland
Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland
The former royal hunting estate is now Holyrood Park, a 260-hectare royal park with many hills, lochs, glens, ridges and basalt cliffs. Arthur's Seat, a 251-meter hill, provides fantastic views of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, Scotland
View of Old Town from Princes Street in New Town
New Town was built between 1765 and 1850, a showcase of neoclassical and Georgian period architecture. Princes Street is the main shopping street in Edinburgh where you'll find some of the most popular names in fashion. Buildings are located on the north side of the street. The south side is mostly trees and open space, which allows beautiful panoramic views of Old Town and Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is a perfect introduction to Scotland. I had my first taste of haggis, Scotland's national dish, in Edinburgh. Haggis is a savory pudding made from sheep's heart, lungs, and liver minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices.

We also had our introduction to bagpipes and traditional Scottish music in Edinburgh. Check out the videos I took.

Part 1: Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Harry Potter and more from the Scottish capital
Part 2: Eilean Donan Castle and Loch Ness
Part 3: Exploring the Isle of Skye
Part 4: Glencoe, Glenfinnan, spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands
Part 5: Glasgow's George Square at night

Also check out my photos of England, Scotland and Wales.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Instagram: Idukki (Thekkady & Munnar) in Kerala, India

Tea plantations in Munnar, Kerala, India
After the backwaters, we drove up the Western Ghats to Thekkady and the hill station town of Munnar. In Thekkady, we visited the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, a World Heritage Site as part of the Western Ghats, where we went on a boat safari on Periyar Lake. We got to see wild elephants (Elephas maximus), sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), gaur or Indian bison (Bos gaurus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), a striped-necked mongoose (Herpestes vitticollis) and many species of birds.

We then moved on to the hill station of Munnar. Around the town are the largest tea plantations in Kerala which create a spectacular cultural landscape. Munnar itself is a busy mountain town with an even busier local market. For more photos, follow @ivanhenares on Instagram.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park, Kerala, India
This is what we saw at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, India! Wild elephants!
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park, Kerala, India
Sambar deer, gaur (Indian bison), elephants, wild boar, a mongoose and different species of birds were among the animals we saw at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, India
Tea plantations in Munnar, Kerala, India
Fantastic cultural landscape at Munnar, Kerala's tea country!
Tea plantations in Munnar, Kerala, India
Kerala's tea plantations in Munnar with the Western Ghats as a backdrop are so picturesque! Every turn was another beautiful scene to enjoy! Indeed this is God's own country!
Munnar Market in Kerala, India
An auto rickshaw makes its way through a busy street of Munnar Market in Kerala, India

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thailand: Si Satchanalai Historical Park in Sukhothai Province

Si Satchanalai Historical Park is one of three ancient towns included in the World Heritage inscription Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns. If Sukhothai was the political and administrative capital, Si Satchanalai served as the spiritual center of the kingdom, with its many temples and Buddhist monasteries. The town is 90 kilometers from Sukhothai.

As part of the tourism workshop we attended in Sukhothai, the plan was to bike all the way to Si Satchanalai. But plans were changed and we took a van to Sawankhalok, and did the bicycle tour to Si Satchanalai from there. The 40-kilometer bike trip ended at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, a first class royal temple three kilometers outside the Si Satchanalai wall.

Other major temples and sites are located within the old town of Si Satchanalai. Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo is one of the most beautiful temples of Sukhothai Province. Its features include a main chedi and 33 subordinate chedis. The temple is believed to have kept the cremated remains of the Sukhothai royal family.

Wat Chang Lom's main landmark is a bell-shaped chedi on a platform supported by 39 stucco elephants. Between the chedi and the platform are niches with statues of Buddha subduing Mara.

Delicate stucco reliefs have survived on one of the walls of Wat Nang Phaya. The wall is protected by a roof to prevent further damage from the elements.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thailand: Sukhothai Historical Park

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai, Thailand was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam during the 13th and 14th centuries. Most of the ruins of this ancient city are located within the Sukhothai Historical Park. Together with Si Satchanalai and Kampaheng Phet, they form the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns, a World Heritage Site. And since it is a World Heritage Site, it was definitely on my bucketlist!

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
During my first visit, despite the gloomy skies, I still went ahead with the seven hour bus ride from Bangkok to Sukhothai just to visit its famed temples. I had learned upon my arrival that much of Sukhothai was submerged under water just a few days before. In fact, there were sandbags all over the place and you could see that the water level of the rivers was high. On the way to the park, it was still raining. But when I arrived, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun came out later in the day. So I was lucky!

While it's not difficult to walk around the park, you can rent a bike or hire a motorbike or tuktuk to speed up your pace visiting the ruins scattered around the park. I hired a motorbike with driver from my hostel to take me around.

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Last year, I was back again in Sukhothai for a workshop of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee. This time, the weather was beautiful and the sun was out! Wat Mahathat was the largest and principal temple of Sukhothai. The wat is surrounded by a wall that is said to represent the outer wall of the universe. Around the wall is a moat representing the cosmic ocean. The large Buddha images and chedi spires in the lotus-bud motif are iconic images which adorn many photos from Sukhothai. If you look closely, you will see that some of the original bas relief details layared with stucco can still be seen at Wat Mahathat.

There are so many ruins and historical sites in the park. And depending on your level of interest (for some, if you've seen one, you've seen them all), you can try to visit all the major ones, about twenty or so, or select the more interesting sites if you want to take it slow.

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Another famous temple is Wat Si Sawai which features three Khmer-style towers. It reminds me of Angkor Wat, and was in fact, built by the Khmers as a Hindu temple. Wat Sa Si is a temple that is built on an island in the middle of Traphang Trakuan Pond.

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Then there is Wat Si Chum which features an eleven-meter Buddha image covered in stucco seated inside a brick Mandapa building. This 13th century temple is also known as the Temple of the Bodhi Tree. I had a photo taken right beside the Buddha's large hand that has been covered in gold leaf offered by devotees.

I can't remember how many temples I got to visit. I tried to visit them all since it's a single ticket for all the temples within the inner city, and another ticket for all those outside. Hopefully you don't get all templed-out before seeing them all because each Sukhothai temple is definitely worth a visit.
Related Posts with Thumbnails