Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sculpture Garden, Australia

Sculpture has most often been made to occupy open areas, in civic squares and in gardens, or to adorn the facades of buildings or mark sacred sites. The grounds that lie between the National Gallery of Australia and the shores of Lake Burley Griffin were configured to display the Gallery's extensive collection of sculpture.

This garden was planned and planted 22 years ago. Harry Howard and Associates and James Mollison, the first Director, designed this garden to complement the building. The diagonal of the main pathway and the floor plan of the garden repeats the triangular architecture of the main building.

Displayed in outside rooms are 26 sculptures made by International and Australian artists. Most of the sculptures were bought and placed in the garden during the early 1980s and reflect the abstract, industrial aesthetic of that time, however there are some works that are more evocative, for example the fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya and the Pukamani burial poles nearby.

The plants are native to Australia and were selected for their tolerance of Canberra's severe winter conditions and long hot dry summers. The seasons of the year form the main design structure with the Winter garden close to the building with warm winter slate and winter flowering acacias and the earliest figurative works of art. The Summer garden is the shady area beneath the Casaurinas and near the marsh pond. Tthe Spring garden, full of spring flowering Grevillias and Acacias is closer to the lake. The Autumn garden was never fully realised.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Turtle Island Park

Turtle Island Park consists of a number of uninhabited islands lying in the Sulu Sea, off the east coast of Sabah.The park comprises three small islands, Selingan, Gulisan and Bakungan Kechil. Selingan, the largest of the islands, houses the park's headquarters, a turtle hatchery, tourist accommodation and basic facilities. The other two islands are more for conservation activities.

Two species of turtles. Greens and Hawksbill are special festures of this park. Turtle landings usually occur after dusk. The park has a sensible policy of allowing visitors to see only one landing a night. This allows undisturbed nestings to go on throughout the night.

Whilst waiting for the evening's highlight, all that is left to do is to laze on the beach at sunset or snorkel. The west side of the island is ideal for this. It's clean, quiet, and offers some interesting coral and sea life. Wander around the island and you'll be surprised at how many turtles would have landed in the last few days; their tracks, like mini-tractors, remain in the sand for days.

The driest months and the calmest seas are between March and July. The peak egg laying season is July to October. The seas can get rough between October and February.

The nearest mainland town to the park is Sandakan. Your tour operator will organise a speedboat pick-up service to and from Turtle Island Park. It takes about one hours to reach the islands by boat.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Payar Island, which comprises of four uninhabited islands - Payar, Lembu, Kaca and Segantang - makes up Malaysia's oldest Marine Park sanctuary.

These islands, famous for the varied and colourful marine life that they support, offer the best diving sites on Peninsular Malaysia's west coast. Access is not a problem as speedboats and catamarans ply the route on a regular basis from Langkawi and Penang.

At Payar Island, the largest of the four islands, you will find the Marine Park Centre which was set up and operated by the Fisheries Department. Here, you'll find useful information on the do's and don'ts while visiting this marine park.

If you are not into water activities, do check out the two hiking trails that have been constructed to enable visitors to explore and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding sea and beyond. Gazebos, picnic tables, BBQ pits and restroom facilities are also available for public use. Although picnics and camping are allowed, cutting of trees and open burning are strictly prohibited.

Nearby is a jetty, and just a short distance away is a pontoon with facilities for easy access to the reef below.The waters of Pulau Payar have an additional attraction -- artificial reefs built from tyres, concrete blocks and old boats, which over the years have developed into mature reefs that are teeming with marine life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gilgit Baltistan

The Northern Area is the most spectacular and fascinating region of Pakistan. It is here that the world's three famous mountain ranges meet - the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Hindukush. The whole Northern Pakistan has come to be known as a paradise for mountaineers, climbers, trekkers, hikers and anglers of the most famous “Trout fish”.

In the northern regions of Pakistan, at a stone's throw from the Amu Darya, is” Bam-e-Dunya” (the roof of the world). This was the name given to the great Pamir plateau, apex of six of the mightiest mountain ranges of the world.

The historic Karakoram pass 5,575 metres, an ancient trading route between Kashmir and Xinjiang, gives its name to the range west of it that forms the watershed between the Indus and the Central Asian deserts. The eastern boundary of the Karakoram is the upper Shyok River from where it extends over 322 km. westwards to the Karumbar river and the Hindukush range. To the north the Shaksgam tributary of the Yarkand River and south by the Indus bound the Karakoram. Here, the Nanga Parbat 8,126 metres massif is the western anchor of the great Himalayan range which stretches in an arc 24,124 km. east to Burma, a boundary and barrier, "the razor's edge" which for centuries has determined the destiny of the Indian sub-continent.

Such is the setting of Karakoram Range, this remnant of a primeval ice age, "the third pole," with extensive glacier systems and the greatest concentration of lofty mountains in the world. Some of the largest glaciers outside sub-polar regions flow in the Karakorams. For its sheer mountain grandeur and breath-taking panorama of beauty, few places can match the superb landscape through which the Karakoram Highway snakes. A fantastic and unforgettable spectacle is the passage of the Highway along the Baltura glacier, rated among the worlds seventh largest.

The Khunjerab Pass, which the Highway crosses, and the nearby Mintaka Pass lie astride the fabulous ancient Silk Route that led from Europe to Asia and over which history's most famous tourists once travelled. These include the Venetian trader Marco Polo after who has been made the wild Marco Polo sheep in the thirteenth century, the Chinese Monk Fe Hien in the fourth century and the Arab historian, Al-Beruni in the eleventh century.

The Siachin glacier is 75 km, the Hispar, (52 km) joints the Biafo at the Hispar La 5,154 metres to form an ice corridor, 116 km. long.The Batura too is 58 km. in length. But the most outstanding of these rivers of ice is the Baltoro (62 km). This mighty glacier fed by some 30 tributaries constitutes a surface area of 1,219 sq. km. Of the fourteen over 8,000 m peaks on earth, four occupy an amphitheatre at the head of Baltoro. There are K-2 (8,611) second only to Everest, Broad Peak (8,047 metres) Gasherbrum-I (8,068 metres), Gasherbrum-II (8,035 metres).

Seen from a distance, the Baltoro appears smooth and beautiful but in fact it is a chaotic tumbling mass of rock and ice, troughs and hillocks and the debris of centuries.
It is a unique remote corner of earth. For here, in a frozen wilderness a crag, cornices and crevasses, raise towering spires of granite, great snowy peaks with fluted icy ridges and pinnacles that pierce the sky.In the Lesser Karakorams there are equally great peaks such as Rakaposhi (7,788 metres), the dominant giant in Hunza valley. Its north face is fantastic precipice - 5,791 metres of plunging snow and ice.

There are scores of over 7,000 m peaks in the Karakoram Range and hundreds of nameless summits below 6,000 metres, mere points on the map. The shapes, forms, sizes, colours provide tremendous contrast, which defy description. K-2, the undisputed monarch of the sky, Broad Peak, massive and ugly, Muztagh Tower, deceptively, sheer. Gasherbrum-II, the "Egyptian Pyramid" that even Cheops would have preferred for a tomb, Chogolisa, the "Bride Peak", in whose eternal embrace lies Hermann Buhi, the first man to climb Nanga Parbat. The Cathedrals of the Baltoro with their great knife-edge ridges, the sky cleaving monoliths of the Trango Towers and most beautiful of all - the Peak of Perfection - Paiyu, (6,600 metres) first climbed by a Pakistani expedition in 1977.

The Hindukush is also a mountain vastness containing hundreds of peaks, many above 7,000 metres including a Trichmir 7,705 metre that is the highest point of the range

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Health Tip: Tour Wisely

* Examine your hotel or motel for potential hazards, such as sharp corners on furniture, unprotected electrical outlets or shaky balcony railings.

* Allow children to take regular naps, as they normally would at home.

* Bring clothing that's weather-appropriate to make sure you and your family are protected and comfortable.

* Prevent sunburn by having all family members apply sunscreen. Also, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun when it's hottest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

* Make sure water is safe for swimming.

* Keep children away from unfamiliar animals.

* Make sure hands and toys are washed frequently with soap and water.

* To prevent ear discomfort while on a plane, provide young children with a pacifier or bottle. Bigger kids and adult can chew some gum.