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Archive for asia

The World’s Highest Monastery

By Linda Tancs

Tibet’s Rongbuk monastery is the highest monastery in the world, located just miles from Mount Everest’s base camp. As you would expect, it’s the perfect locale to see eye to eye, as it were, with one of the highest mountains on earth. Along with its colorful flags and golden stupas you’ll find an observation deck there to take stunning photos. April, May, September and October are great months for a visit.

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It Flows in Takachiho

By Linda Tancs

In Takachiho, Japan, one might say you go with the flow. After all, it’s famous for Takachiho Gorge, formed from lava from Mount Aso that over time eroded to create towering cliffs of volcanic basalt columns complemented by plunging waterfalls. But it’s also considered the birthplace of nagashi-somen, a noodle rite involving catching ice-cold somen noodles with chopsticks as they float down a chute. Be grateful for the colander catching errant noodles at the end. A summertime tradition in most of the country, it’s practiced all the way to the end of November in Takachiho.

China’s Water City

By Linda Tancs

Some might say China invented canal culture, boasting the longest man-made waterway in the world, the Grand Canal. Stretching over 1,100 miles from the city of Beijing to the city of Hangzhou, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was built over 1,300 years ago to supply agricultural products to major cities like Beijing. Liaocheng was a key commercial port along the route, one reason why it’s known as the “water city.” Not surprisingly, its prominent association with this famous canal is highlighted at its Canal Museum. The city is also dotted with lakes, the centerpiece being Dongchang Lake. The museum is located within its scenic district. Liaocheng is about four hours away by train from Beijing.

Canal Adventures in Bangkok

By Linda Tancs

Chao Phraya River, Bangkok’s aquatic roadway, provides a leisurely and scenic alternative to touring Thailand’s capital city. A day-long teak boat tour provides an English-speaking guide along a visit to the temples, markets, an orchid nursery and even an artists’ colony dating back hundreds of years. A Thai lunch is included. Wear appropriate clothing for temple visits.

A Cliffhanger in China

By Linda Tancs

Nestled in the cliffs of the Taihang Mountains, the Chinese village of Guo Liang Cun would be cut off from the rest of the world were it not for Guoliang Tunnel. One of the world’s steepest and most dangerous roads, it was chiseled into the side of the mountain by local villagers without aid of electric equipment or large machinery. Needless to say, it took years to complete back in the 70s. Enjoy the thrill ride in Henan Province, with more than 30 “windows” providing spectacular vistas.

World’s End in Sri Lanka

By Linda Tancs

The Horton Plains are located on Sri Lanka’s highest plateau, providing the most extensive area of cloud forest still extant in the country. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1969, it became a national park in 1988. The biodiverse environment includes over 50 species of flora, more than 20 species of mammal and nearly 90 species of birds. Visitors ply the six-mile loop for enviable views, including features like the famous World’s End, a thrilling escarpment boasting a 3,700 foot sheer drop that offers fabulous views of the tea estates below. Best time for a visit is in the morning on a weekday. The whole country also basks in sunshine this time of year.

The Bamboo Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Located three hours from Cambodia’s capital, Kampong Cham is arguably an overlooked city along the Mekong River. A bit understated with some French colonial architecture, one of its greatest charms is its bamboo bridge to Koh Pen. As you might suspect, it needs to be rebuilt after each rainy season, so its appearance is only seasonal. In the past, it did accommodate vehicles (bamboo does, after all, possess tremendous tensile strength), but that ceased when the new concrete and steel bridge was built downstream. Now it’s used by pedestrians and bicyclists. Let’s hope there’s enough foot traffic to keep the quaint bridge going.

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