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Archive for asia

Singapore’s Southern Ridges

By Linda Tancs

Part of the Southern Ridges, Mount Faber Park is one of Singapore’s oldest parks. Its hilltop is covered by a secondary rainforest, a unique green space in this thriving financial capital. You’ll enjoy a panoramic view of the southern part of Singapore and the southern islands from the cable cars heading to Sentosa, Singapore’s island resort. Alternatively, view the terrain from the telescopes at one of the many lookout points that are situated at various sides of the ridge. The Southern Ridges Guided Walk begins at the park, where visitors can learn about its history and natural heritage.

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Azaleas Bloom in Tokyo

By Linda Tancs

Every year between early April and early May, Tokyo’s Nezu Shrine is ablaze in color as 100 varieties of azaleas bloom in its garden. And so marks the Azalea Festival, where visitors are treated to some rare varieties such as Fuji-tsutsuji (tiny bean-size flowers), Hanaguruma (pinwheel-like flowers) and Karafune (black azalea). Along with the flowers, there’s a plant fair, an antique fair, festive stalls and a special timed viewing of Sanjuroku kasen-e paintings.

The Path to Wisdom

By Linda Tancs

Located in Lantau, Hong Kong’s largest outlying island, Wisdom Path follows a series of 38 wooden steles (upright slabs) containing verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra — one of the world’s best known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. Rendered in Chinese and based on the calligraphy of famous contemporary scholar Professor Jao Tsung-I, the monuments are arranged in a pattern representing infinity. It’s a short walk from the largest outdoor seated Buddha statue in the world known as Big Buddha and the accompanying Po Lin Monastery.

Sri Lanka’s Center of Pilgrimage

By Linda Tancs

A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, Dambulla cave monastery is the largest, best preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka and one of its most popular historic sites. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, its assets include the 2,000-year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha and a collection of 157 statues of his image. Of its five sanctuaries, the Temple of the Great King is the largest, measuring 170 feet from side to side, 75 feet from front to back and 22 feet at its highest point. It’s dominated by an overwhelming mosaic of frescoes. Located in the central part of the nation, the site is about 92 miles east of Colombo.

A Sea Candle in Japan

By Linda Tancs

An inverted cone tower overlooking the scenic Shonan beaches of Enoshima Island is one of the largest lighthouses in Japan. Known affectionately as the Enoshima Sea Candle, the nearly 200-foot-high tower completed in 2003 was built for the 100th anniversary celebration of Enoshima Electric Railway. Take the elevator to the top if you must, but the circular stair climb gives lingering views of sites like Mt. Fuji, Izu Peninsula and the mountains at Hakone. In addition to the spectacular panoramic view at the top, the lighthouse is illuminated at night, a sight that’s viewable nearly 30 miles away.

Aglow in Toyama

By Linda Tancs

Just like lightning bugs, hotaruika are squid with a natural fluorescence that causes them to glow in the dark. Unlike those insects, however, millions of firefly squid in Namerikawa give off their hue (blue) along the sea, providing a twinkling light show rivaling a planetarium. Taking place generally between March and June, you’ll need to head off during the wee hours for a boat ride in Toyama Bay, Japan, to witness this unique event. Tours book quickly; April is regarded as the best time of year for viewing. If you can’t make the tour, maybe you’d like the live squid show at Hotaruika Museum in Namerikawa, the only museum in the world dedicated to this luminescent cephalopod.

Summer Capital of the Philippines

By Linda Tancs

In the summer months of March, April and May, residents of and visitors to the Philippines flock to Baguio where the weather is demonstrably cooler. Of course, that’s not the only reason to visit this mountainous region of the Cordillera. Its lively thoroughfare, Session Road, provides ample shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities. Quieter pursuits avail at Burnham Park and the serenity of Baguio Cathedral, noted for its rose-colored hues. It’s only a 50-minute flight from Manila.

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