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Archive for asia

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.

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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.

Eye Kandy

By Linda Tancs

Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka, so famed for its sacred Buddhist sites that the entire metropolis is designated a Sacred City by UNESCO. The highlight is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, housing a tooth of Buddha. From that hub springs a feast for the eyes, like man-made Kandy Lake and its breathtaking views from the walking and jogging paths. Also nearby are the Royal Palace, home to the monarch of the Kingdom of Kandy until the early 1800s, Udawattakele Forest Reserve and the famous orchid collection at Royal Botanical Gardens.

Vietnam’s Premier Nature Reserve

By Linda Tancs

Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam and is its premier nature reserve. Located on two limestone mountain ranges about 75 miles southwest of Hanoi, its rich ecosystem includes a fossilized sea reptile hundreds of millions of years old. Here you’ll also find over 2,234 vascular and non-vascular plants, 122 species of reptiles and amphibians and 135 species of mammals, such as the critically endangered primate Delacour’s langur. Trekking is a popular activity, and popular trails will lead you to several ancient trees, caves and villages of the minority Muong people.

The Roof of Indochina

By Linda Tancs

A trekkers’ paradise, Sapa is a small, Vietnamese mountain town close to the Chinese border abounding in iconic rice paddies. It’s where you’ll find the nation’s largest mountain peak, Fansipan. At over 10,000 feet, it’s commonly referred to as the “roof of Indochina.” It’s easier than ever to reach the “roof” thanks to the cable car, but intrepid trekkers might enjoy the multiday tours from Hanoi anyway.

Bath of the Gods

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest public bath houses in Japan is Dōgo Onsen Honkan, built in 1894 during the Meiji Period. Two public baths are available to visitors, the Bath of the Gods on the main floor and the Bath of the Spirits on the second floor. Different tour packages provide access to one or both baths and relaxation rooms. A tour of the emperor’s bathing facilities is also available. The facility is a four- minute walk from Dogo Onsen Station, the terminus of three tram lines. Just in front of the station in Hōjōen plaza is the Botchan Karakuri Clock. Built in honor of the baths’ centennial in 1994, it comes to life for several hours daily with mechanical figures featuring characters from the famed novel, Botchan. Get to the baths before January when planned renovations will close parts of the facility for several years.

Purple Mountain Majesty in China

By Linda Tancs

An easy getaway from Shanghai, Nanjing is home to Purple Mountain, so-named for the color of the clouds often seen at its peak. Part of Zhongshan Mountain National Park, it’s regarded as one of the most famous mountains in southern China. A cable car ride up the mountain will reward you with great views of the Yangtze River and the city. Pick a sunny day for the best views.

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