Posts from the ‘Asia’ category

Plugging 19 UNESCO Heritage Sites Around the World

I’ve been fortunate to experience significant travel since 1995: first as a green graduate student on my first (of many) trips to Chile; followed by the opportunity to live and work in 3 countries on 3 continents inside a span of 10 years. I didn’t give much thought about their relative importance at the time, but I’m lucky to have visited a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS).

I’ve written previously about 5 UNESCO sites in Germany with a future upcoming post listing another five in the country. But here, I list and briefly describe here 19 additional UNESCO Heritage Sites from around the world.

  1. Australia: Blue Mountains (Katoomba)
  2. Australia: Sydney Opera House
  3. Argentina: Iguazú Falls, Iguazú National Park
  4. Brazil: Iguaçu Falls, Iguaçu National Park
  5. Brazil: Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves (Curitiba)
  6. China: Historic Centre of Macao
  7. Czech Republic: Historic Centre of Prague
  8. Czech Republic: Kutná Hora
  9. Denmark: Kronborg Castle (Helsingør)
  10. France: Historic Site of Lyons
  11. Italy: Cinque Terre
  12. México: Historic Centre of México City
  13. México: San Miguel de Allende
  14. New Zealand: Te Wāhipounamu (South Island)
  15. Spain: Alhambra, Generalife, & Albayzín (Granada)
  16. Spain: Spain: Cathedral, Alcázar & Archivo de Indias in Seville
  17. Sweden: Skogskyrkogården (Stockholm)
  18. United Kingdom: Old & New Towns of Edinburgh (Scotland)
  19. USA: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

Australia: Greater Blue Mountains Area

After moving to Chile in 2006, I traveled across the southern Pacific to Australia several times over the subsequent five years. My friends in Sydney were very kind to take me on the drive west from Sydney for a weekend in Katoomba and the Blue Mountains National Park. Surrounded by the eucalyptus mist, there’s good reason why there’s a big blue aura.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Katoomba, fotoeins.com

Kedumba View: Three Sisters and Kings Tableland, Katoomba (HL)

Australia: Sydney Opera House

I have to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (a.k.a., “The Coathanger”) whenever I’m in Sydney. They’re not going anywhere, but whenever I’m in the city, I always take the train to Circular Quay, because when I disembark onto the station’s platform, the view immediately assures me they’re still there

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Morning on the Opera House and the Coathanger, Sydney, fotoeins.com

Good morning to the Opera House and the Coathanger (HL)

Argentina: Iguazu National Park

Personal tip: spend at least two days, with the 1st day on the Brazilian side at Foz do Iguçu (Iguacu Falls), and the 2nd day on the Argentinian side at Las Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazu Falls).

•   UNESCO WHS listing, Argentina

Cataratas del Iguacu, Iguacu Falls, Argentina, fotoeins.com

Near the Devil’s Mouth, Iguazú Falls, Argentina (HL)

Brazil: Iguaçu National Park

Personal tip: spend at least two days, with the 1st day on the Brazilian side at Foz do Iguaçu (Iguacu Falls), and the 2nd day on the Argentinian side at Las Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazu Falls).

•   UNESCO WHS listing, Brazil

Foz do Iguacu, Cataratas do Iguacu, Brazil, fotoeins.com

Iguaçu Falls, Brazil (HL)

Brazil: Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves

Visiting portrait-and-fashion photographer and friend Paula in Curitiba in southern Brazil, I’m taken on a drive east from the city into the Atlantic rain forest next to the Serro do Mar mountains to Santuário Nhundiaquar and Morretes for an easy day-trip.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Santuário Nhundiaquara, Serro do Mar, Paraná, Brazil, fotoeins.com

Santuário Nhundiaquara, Serro do Mar, Paraná state (HL)

China: Historic Centre of Macao (澳門)

It’s less than one hour on the ferry from Hong Kong, and I’m in the other former European colony bordering China next to the South China Sea. In Macau, I see signs in Chinese, English, and Portuguese. Called 澳門 (“Oh-moon”) meaning “gates to the bay or inlet”, Macau is the other Special Administrative Region of the P.R.C.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

South view from the Ruins of St. Paul, Macau, fotoeins.com

South view of the city from the Ruins of St. Paul (HL)

Czech Republic: Historic Centre of Prague

I’ve visited this open-air museum of a city over a dozen times. When I’m away for too long, I ache for her, like a lost lover, and it’s why I wrote this love letter to Praha.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Morning moon over Prague Castle, Prague, fotoeins.com

Morning moon over Pražský hrad (HL)

Czech Republic: Kutná Hora

It might surprise some to know the famous “bone church” in Sedlec is not included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing for Kutná Hora. The listing includes the Church of St Barbara in the old town’s centre and the Cathedral of Our Lady in Sedlec (shown below).

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, Chrám Nanebevzetí Panny Marie, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Cathedral of Our Lady (Chrám Nanebevzetí Panny Marie) in Sedlec (HL)

Denmark: Kronborg Castle (Helsingør)

In the Danish town of Helsingør (Elsinore), Kronborg Castle keeps watch over the narrowest portion of Øresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden, and is the inspiration for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which gives this castle its unofficial name of “Hamlet’s castle”.

•   UNESCO WHS listing.

Kronborg Slot, Helsingor, Denmark, fotoeins.com

Elsinore’s Hamlet castle (HL)

France: Historic Site of Lyons

Lyon is a home of French gastronomy and the historical home to French cinematography with the Lumière brothers. As an introduction to southern France, I’m completely charmed by the city, her people and their neighbourhoods, and traditional French cuisine.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Fourvière, Louis XIV, Place Bellecour, Lyon, France, fotoeins.com

From Place Bellecour, Louis XIV looks over to Fourvière (HL)

Italy: Cinque Terre

After a week-long workshop in Rapallo on the Ligurian Riviera, I have the entire Saturday to travel along the Cinque Terre route and coastline by train and on foot. I’m at all five key stops: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; I easily envision spending a few days in each of the five villages.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy, fotoeins.com

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre (HL)

México: Historic Centre of México City

By all accounts, there are as many people packed into the metropolitan region of the Mexican capital city as there are people in all of Canada. It’s something to wrap around in my brain, until I realize there’s no other place I’d rather be when I think of Mexico, her living history, and satisfying early-morning munchies in a taquería in the city’s Coyoacán.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Ciudad de Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico, fotoeins.com

Zócalo, Plaza de la Constitucion (HL)

México: San Miguel de Allende

Thanks to my friends in the D.F., we take off northwest from Mexico City for a weekend in this historical town with beauty, charm, and a lot of expats from both Canada and the US.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Jardin Allende, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico

Jardin Allende (HL)

New Zealand: Te Wāhipounamu

Te Wāhipounamu (Māori for “the place of greenstone”) is located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island, and includes Westland National Park, Mount Cook National Park, and Fiordland National Park. For me, this place is pure magic, especially under clear skies, with her unbelievably deep blues and greens. Even now, I hear from afar her calls with anthems in both Māori and English.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Harrison Cove, Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Calm waters at Harrison Cove, Milford Sound (HL)

Spain: Alhambra, Generalife, & Albayzín (Granada)

One of my first introductions to Spain and Andalucía is Granada. What better way for me to see this place is the Alhambra illuminated in the golden hour with the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. I followed this view for some special magic with a nighttime tour of the Alhambra.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Alhambra, Sierra Nevada, Granada, Andalucia, Spain, fotoeins.com

Alhambra, Sierra Nevada

Spain: Cathedral, Alcázar & Archivo de Indias in Seville

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Cathedral, Sevilla, Spain, fotoeins.com

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede: largest gothic cathedral in the world (HL)

Sweden: Skogskyrkogården (Stockholm)

I’d been reading about Great Garbo, and it felt like a special moment to visit Stockholm’s forest cemetery and to pay silent respect at her final resting place.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Skogskyrkogarden, Forest Cemetery, Stockholm, Sweden, fotoeins.com

Stockholm’s forest cemetery (HL)

United Kingdom: Old & New Towns of Edinburgh (Scotland)

Were 2 days in Edinburgh enough time? The answer is a big no; I want a full week to explore more of the little side alleys, nooks, and crannies in the old town.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Calton Hill, Canongate Kirk, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland, fotoeins.com

Calton Hill from Canongate Kirk (HL)

USA: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

This was once parkland. This was once a paved highway. Now, it’s all covered by pahoehoe from a recent eruption and lava flow. It’s real, it’s happening; the Big Island is still getting bigger through powerful internal forces from inside our planet.

•   UNESCO WHS listing

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, fotoeins.com

Sitting on the pahoehoe lava, waiting for the afterdark glow: Ka Lae Apuki (HL)

Do you have a favourite or must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site? Please leave your comment below!

Sunday TravelerI made all of the photos above between 2007 and 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-nr, and is part of the Sunday Traveler series.

Fotoeins Friday: Andy Warhol says ‘hello’ in Singapore

Fotoeins Friday: Hong Kong’s Peak view to Kowloon

Then and now, on the tram across Hong Kong

It’s wrong to think this, but that vehicle looks like a death contraption. I’m not afraid; on the contrary, I’m excited to ride on a piece of transport history.

Kings Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Westbound tram to Happy Valley: King’s Road at Westlands Road, Quarry Bay

Des Voeux Road West at Sutherland Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Des Voeux Road West at Sutherland Street, Sheung Wan

Hong Kong Tramways, otherwise known as “香港電車” (literally, “Hong Kong electric car”), provides an inexpensive form of east-west travel across the northern part and former coastline of Hong Kong island.

I enter through the back, pushing through the small wooden swing-doors. It’s an instant trip back in time, looking now as it must have decades ago, with passengers squeezed into a tall thin wooden box, powered down the tracks by electricity.

On my way into the city centre, I’m stuck on the bottom deck in a full tram. The muggy mid-June afternoon means all the windows are open, but that’s more hot humid air blowing into the tram.

Old and young are present, seated or standing. Some are looking intently at their smartphones; some are buried in a book or a magazine; some are in animated conversation with each other or on the phone. Street noises mix with human voices; I’ll snatch pieces of conversation in between shrieks from the tram’s brakes. I understand Cantonese, one of the most common dialects spoken in Hong Kong, and I’m grinning at some of the gossip and exaggerated drama, filling the air and pushing both conversation and progress down the track.

On another ride, I snag a seat up top on the upper deck. Most seats are by the windows, and it feels like I’m riding high-shotgun with an especially “secret” view up and over the streets of Hong Kong.

With densely packed tram stops at an average separation of about 250 metres (820 feet), tram travel amounts to a slow “rock and roll” journey down the tracks. People come and go, jostling one another in between constant stop-and-go motion through unending traffic. In the cramped spaces, riding a tram is yet another reflection of everyday life in Hong Kong.

If you’re in Hong Kong Island and you’re not rushed for time, I highly recommend riding on the inexpensive tram for an unconventional view of the streets and measured observation of the city’s people.

Westbound tram to Kennedy Town, King's Road at Westlands Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Westbound tram to Kennedy Town: King’s Road at Westlands Road, Quarry Bay

Eastern terminus, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong

Eastern terminus at Shau Kei Wan

HK Tramways

Operating since 1904, the Hong Kong Tramways has operated electric trams along the north shore of Hong Kong Island. These trams have been the world’s only fleet of tall narrow double-decked wood-sided vehicles. Recent technological innovations now produce trams made with aluminum metal-alloys for improved operation longevity.

Trams on six routes operate from 6am to 12am with a frequency of about every two minutes during peak hours. Regardless of the distance covered, a single fare for an adult is $2.30 HKD ($0.30 USD), and is payable with either cash or the Octupus card upon exiting the tram by the front door. The map below sketches out the service area; check the website for routing updates.

HK Tramways map

An article from the NY Times’ “Hong Kong Journal” compares the historical trams on the streets with the modern MTR subway below ground.

I made the four photos above in June 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com, and also appears as part of the Sunday Traveler series.

Above Hong Kong’s Lantau Island on the Ngong Ping 360

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