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Archive for March, 2006

Kites in Pakistan

Kites in Lahore

AHORE, Pakistan – Hundreds of kites filled the skies of Pakistan’s cultural capital on Saturday, the opening day of a traditional spring festival, despite a ban that followed the deaths of seven people killed by glass-coated or wire kite strings. The two-day festival of Basant has been celebrated in the eastern city of Lahore for centuries, culminating with thousands of kites soaring into the night and boisterous rooftop parties. Basant means “yellow” in the Hindi language, a reference to the fields of blooming yellow flowers that grace the area as spring approaches. On Saturday, police swiftly raided homes where kites were seen flying from backyards in scattered parts of the city. Some people cut the strings as police approached and denied they had defied the ban, witnesses said. From mid-January to mid-February the clear blue skies over Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat in India, and Lahore in Pakistan, come alive with the gaiety and colour of paper kites – in all hues, shapes and sizes. Kite flying in the Punjab is associated with Vasant Panchami – the onset of spring. It is also commonly known as Basant. The yellow of mustard flowers and the Amaltas trees is the first colour to be sighted after the severe winters of the north. Traditionally, on this day- 5th of the lunar month of Magh – children and women wear yellow – and men folk in Rajasthan wear yellow turbans. Spring heralds new beginnings and the colourful kites in the sky are a statement of this joyous awakening. Basant had its beginnings as a Hindu festival but as different religions came to India they participated in the joy of the occasion and Basant became a truly secular festival – the kites in the sky know no boundaries. Many a musical raga and raagini have been inspired by Magh (Spring). Poets have penned romantic verses, and artists, both of the past and contemporary, have painted the Basant skies.

Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan
Kites in Lahore Pakistan

Ancient skull found

Skull Ethiopia

DDIS ABABA, Ethiopia. FOUND: A fossil skull from a site called Gawis in Ethiopia is apparently intermediate in form between Homo erectus and our own species, Homo sapiens. Nearby, in the same stratigraphic level from which the skull came, scientists found stone tools made in the Late Acheulean tradition and fossils representing pigs, zebras, elephants and cats, among other species. In this photo released by the Stone Age Institute, Gona Project member Ashmed Humet, holds the newly discovered skull of a small human ancestor on Feb. 16, 2006 in Gona, Ethiopia. Scientists in northeastern Ethiopia said Saturday March 25, 2006 that they have discovered the skull of a small human ancestor that could be a missing link between the extinct Homo erectus and modern man. The hominid cranium, found in two pieces and believed to be between 500,000 and 250,000 years old, ‘comes from a very significant period and is very close to the appearance of the anatomically modern human,’ said Sileshi Semaw, director of the Gona Paleoanthropological Research Project in Ethiopia. (AP Photo/Stone Age Institute, Sileshi Semaw, HO).The find hails from the Middle Pleistocene, a relatively poorly represented time period as far as human fossils go. The discovery team, led by Sileshi Semaw of Indiana University, is working to determine the age of the skull more precisely.

Map Skull

Zip slide


sun city zip slide

uests to the North West can look forward to an exciting new adventure activity:  A ride on the PRONUTRO ZIP 2000, the longest zip slide in the world. The zip slide is 280 meters high, two kilometers long, reaches a speed of approximately 140 kilometers per hour and guarantees a four minute unadulterated adrenalin rush. “With Bloukrantz bridge’s bungi reaching the Guinness World Book of Records as the highest jump in the world, the possible zip slide entry as the longest zip slide is sure to secure South Africa on the international adventurers list of countries to visit”, says Tim Dawson, General Manager of Unreal.

he zip slide adheres to all necessary safety standards. Secured in a harness and suspended below a free running trolley that is attached to a steel cable one experiences the feeling of flying and acceleration as you descend down the wire. At times 100m high and at other times only 4.5m above the ground. The cable runs from the top of the 280m high koppie and the other is attached to the top of a mast 2km away. Towards the end of the ride, your decent is slowed as you go uphill, then roll back to the lowest point on the wire where you dismount the ride.Solo and tandem slides are available so this ride has an appeal for even the most amateur adventure junkie.

nlike many other adventure activities, this experience is open to young ones from the age of 12, making it a fun activity for the whole family.The start of the zip slide is on the top of a koppie, 5-minutes from Sun City.  Departures to the zip slide are Tuesdays to Sundays, every two hours. Tours depart the Welcome Centre at 09h00, 11h00, 13h00 and 15h00.  Ten riders and six spectators can be accommodated per tour. “With adventure activities being one of the fastest growing markets within the leisure industry, the zip slide is bound to be a big draw card to the North West Province as well as Sun City Resort, securing Sun City a spot on the adventure tourist’s map”, says Tim Dawson.

uring my trip to South-Africa last week, I have experienced the ‘Zip slide’ myself …… and yes …. it was SUPER!! It was exciting but fantastic …. at the moment you spread your arms while you’re speeding down … it feels like you’re flying like a bird for a few minutes!!
Just look at the following pictures ……..

sun city zip slidezip slidezip slide 2

Pilanesberg NP


lion 2

ast week I made a short trip to South Africa. I visited the Pilanesberg NP. The Pilanesberg National Park borders on the entertainment complex of Sun City. The park is 55.000 hectares in extent. It is almost perfectly circular because it comprises the area of a 1200 million years old volcano crater with a small lake in the centre. This very scenic terrain lies in the transition zone between Kalahari and Lowveld, and both types of vegetation are found here.

he Pilanesberg National Park was opened in 1979. In the “Operation Genesis”, the largest game resettlement project in the history of South Africa, in the early eighties more than 6,000 animals from other parks were settled here. In 1993 lions from the Etosha National Park (Namibia) were introduced to the park, despite grave concerns of the surrounding communities. Since, the lions have been thriving and nicely multiplying in the park. A similar action with cheetahs from Namibia unfortunately failed. In the Pilanesberg National Park today live virtually all the animal species of southern Africa, including, lions, elephants, white and black rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. Over 300 bird species were counted.

he roads in the park (some 200 kilometres) are not tarred, but very well maintained and can be travelled with a normal vehicle. There are various types of accommodation available in the park: two restcamps with chalets, three restcamps with safari tents and some luxurious lodges and hotels. The park offers a number of wonderful picnic spots, numerous hides for game watching, huge walk-in aviaries, safe hiking trails, safari drives at night and flights over the park in a hot-air balloon. I had a great time in the Pilanesberg NP. Because of the rainy weather, we didn’t spot as much animals as we hoped, but nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience. Have a look at the following photos I took there….

impala gazelle 2
impala gazelle

Picture fun

Now that’s multiculturalism :


Don’t take it unless you mean to finish it … :


A four-legged two-wheel drive vehicle in China…:

China car

Best stop reading the sign, then. As seen in Xiamen China. …:

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