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Archive for December, 2007

Iraq – Craddle of Civilization

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fter thousands of years as a hunter/gatherer, man built the first cities 5,000 years ago on the banks of the Euphrates in Southern Iraq. Civilization began. City life transformed the human race with the glorious cultures of Mesopotamia such as Ur, and Babylon. It may be down right now, but this picturesque country’s not out for the count. The aftermath of war, severe food shortages, lawlessness and the lack of essential medicine throughout the country hamper the nation’s chances of prosperity any time soon. If you don’t want to wilt, avoid summer in Iraq as it’s fiercely hot (May to September); the average summer temperature in Baghdad is 34°C and in Basra 37°C, but daytime temperatures can soar well above that. The north is slightly cooler, while in the south there’s debilitatingly high humidity. Winter can be cold and the mountains can become covered with snow. The average winter temperature in Baghdad is 11°C and in Basra 14°C.
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Polynesia – The Wayfinders


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ncient Polynesians settled 10 million square miles of the Pacific by navigating sailing canoes from island to island. But their tremendous story was almost lost. Can a single sailing canoe from Hawaii restore the pride of the Polynesian culture after years and years decay and denial? Centuries before European explorers ventured beyond their shorelines, the ancestors of today’s Polynesians had sailed to every habitable island in the far corners of the Pacific. This ancient Polynesian sea voyaging tradition comes to life again in “Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey.”A journey to the ancient Inca’s sacred Andean peaks, wayfinders in Polynesia, a spiritual odyssey in the Himalayas of Nepal and vanishing ice’s impact on Inuit life in the Arctic are all explored by Canada’s only National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis in the four-part documentary series “Light at The Edge of The World” airing weekly, beginning February 7, 2007 on the National Geographic Channel.

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Profile Wade Davis.

“You know, the year that I was born, there were six thousand languages spoken on earth,” says anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, at the beginning of the 90th Parallel’s four part series Light at the Edge of the World.

“And of the six thousand languages spoken on earth, fully half aren’t being taught to children, which means, that effectively, unless something changes, they’re dead.”
“Half of humanity’s repertoire will be lost in a generation or twoan unprecedented pace of change.
I don’t think this has to happen.”- Wade Davis

You can find Himalayas – Science of the mind over here….

Christmas reunion

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ouis Theroux’s Weird Weekends is a television documentary series, in which Louis Theroux gives viewers the chance to get brief glimpses of things they wouldn’t normally come into contact with. In most cases this means interviewing people with extreme beliefs of some kind, or just generally belonging to subcultures not known to exist by most or just frowned upon. It was first shown in the UK on BBC2. In this episode Louis is reunited with some of the people he met in earlier programmes.

1000 Places to see before you die – Brazil

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Which is wilder – the jungle or the people?

Brazil is South America’s giant, a dazzling land of pristine beaches, steamy jungles and manic metropolises. Music and dancing are as integral here as eating and sleeping, and you’ll find as many regional styles as there are shades of people, from samba’s sensual rhythms to Bahia’s axé-charged beats.

While it may not be the Eden of popular imagination, Brazil is still a country of staggering beauty. There are stretches of unexplored rainforest, islands with divine tropical beaches, and endless rivers. Then there are the people themselves, who delight visitors with their energy and joy.

The weather is worth considering when planning a trip to Brazil, as it can have a significant bearing on how you enjoy certain regions of the country. For example, the Amazon region is one of the world’s rainiest places, making travel exceedingly difficult between January and May. Similarly, if you plan to go to the Pantanal, do so during the dry season. The rest of the year, roads are washed out and travel is a nightmare. The south has the most extreme temperatures and during the coldest winter months snow is even possible – but rare.

During summer (December-February) many Brazilians are on vacation, making travel expensive and frequently booked out, and, from Rio to the south, the humidity can be oppressive. However, summer is also the most festive time of year, as Brazilians take to the beaches and streets. School holidays begin in mid-December and go through to Carnaval, usually held in late February.

Brazil’s low season corresponds to its winter. Rio temperatures hover around 23°C (73°F), with a mix of both rainy and superb days. With the exception of July, which is also a school-holiday month, this is the cheapest and least-crowded time to visit the country.

Packed with recommendations of the world’s best places to visit, on and off the beaten path, 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE is a joyous, passionate gift for travelers, an around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of beaches, museums, monuments, islands, inns, restaurants, mountains, and more. There’s Botswana’s Okavango Delta, the covered souks of Aleppo, the Tuscan hills surrounding San Gimignano, Canyon de Chelly, the Hassler hotel in Rome, Ipanema Beach, the backwaters of Kerala, Oaxaca’s Saturday market, the Buddhas of Borobudur, Ballybunion golf club-all the places guaranteed to give you the shivers.

The prose is gorgeous, seizing on exactly what makes each entry worthy of inclusion. And, following the romance, the nuts and bolts: addresses, phone and fax numbers, web sites, costs, and best times to visit.

This hefty volume reminds vacationers that hot tourist spots are small percentage of what’s worth seeing out there. A quick sampling: Venice’s Cipriani Hotel; California’s Monterey Peninsula; the Lewis and Clark Trail in Oregon; the Great Wall of China; Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Western Samoa; and the Alhambra in Andalusia, Spain. Veteran travel guide writer Schultz divides the book geographically, presenting a little less than a page on each location. Each entry lists exactly where to find the spot (e.g. Moorea is located “12 miles/19 km northwest of Tahiti; 10 minutes by air, 1 hour by boat”) and when to go (e.g., if you want to check out The Complete Fly Fisher hotel in Montana, “May and Sept.-Oct. offer productive angling in a solitary setting”). This is an excellent resource for the intrepid traveler. (Sept. 23) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

1000 Places to see before you die – India

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Whirl your mind, dazzle your eyes and fall in love with India’s extremes.

India will sideswipe you with its size, clamour and diversity – but if you enjoy delving into convoluted cosmologies and thrive on sensual overload, then it is one of the most intricate and rewarding dramas unfolding on earth, and you’ll quickly develop an abiding passion for it. Inspired by Patricia Schultz’s best-selling travel book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die chronicles the journey of a young couple who put their lives on hold to travel the world for 14 weeks. othing in this country is ever quite predictable; the only thing to expect is the unexpected, which comes in many forms and will always want to sit next to you. India is a litmus test for many travellers – some are only too happy to leave, while others stay for a lifetime.

Climate plays a key factor in deciding when to visit India. Keep in mind that climatic conditions in the far north are distinctly different to those of the extreme south.

Generally, India’s climate is defined by three seasons – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool, each of which can vary in duration from north to south. The most pleasant time to visit most places is during the cooler period: November to around mid-February.

The heat starts to build up on India’s northern plains from around February, and by April or May it really hots up, peaking in June. In central India temperatures of 45°C and above are commonplace. South India also becomes uncomfortably hot during this time.

Late in May the first signs of the monsoon are visible in some areas – high humidity, electrical storms, short rainstorms and dust storms that turn day into night. The hot season is the time to abandon the plains and head for the cooler hills, and this is when hill stations are at their best (and busiest).

When the monsoon finally arrives the rain comes in steadily, generally starting around 1 June in the extreme south and sweeping north to cover the whole country by early July. The main monsoon comes from the southwest, but the southeast coast (and southern Kerala) is largely affected by the short and surprisingly wet northeast monsoon, which brings rain from around October to early December.

Things don’t really cool down: at first hot, dry and dusty weather is simply replaced by hot, humid and muddy conditions. It doesn’t rain all day, but it generally rains every day. Followed by the sun this creates a fatiguing steam bath environment.

Around October the monsoon ends for most of the country. This is when India sees most tourists – however, it’s too late to visit Ladakh (May to October is the optimum period). During October and November it’s generally not too hot and not too cool (although October can still be hot and/or humid in some regions). In the thick of winter (around mid-December to mid-January), Delhi and other northern cities can become astonishingly cold, especially at night – and it’s bone-chilling in the far north. In the far south the temperatures become comfortably warm during this period.

It’s worth checking the dates of particular festivals – you may be attracted or repelled by the chaos (and jacked-up prices) that attend them. There are virtually no festivals in May/June. The wedding season falls between November and March, when you’re likely to see at least one lively procession through the streets.

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