1/3/19

13 Mighty Historical Cities That Once Ruled the Ancient World







Did You Know?



When Spain invaded South America, they chanced upon the abandoned, ancient, Peruvian city of Chan Chan, and came upon several treasures, including a silver covered doorway, which today is worth over USD 2 million.

Until the time agriculture became mainstream, our human ancestors rarely had permanent settlements. Their nomadic groups made it easy for them to scavenge, hunt, and support each other on the move. However, once agriculture did arrive, wanderers became settlers, the groups increased dramatically in size, and not having to invest a lot of time in searching for food created other interests; entire cities and empires were born.

Depending on circumstance, location, and a bit of luck, some of these cities were much more successful culturally and economically, gaining military strength and political influence, which affected civilizations from all corners of the globe. We present 13 such cities that once ruled the ancient world.
Veliky Novgorod
Veliky Novgorod
This city in present-day Russia, whose name means Novgorod the Great, actually was true to its name between the 12th and 15th centuries. Although the city was constantly under threat by the Swedes and Teutons, the people of Novgorod successfully defended it under the leadership of their prince Alexander Nevsky. Eventually, though the city was defeated by the Mongols, it still managed to negotiate and retain a large degree of its independence, and soon reached its peak of prosperity.

In the 14th century, Novgorod had a huge population of over 400,000 people, and was arguably the busiest port city in all of Europe. With the settlement thriving as a center of commerce, the Novgorod empire expanded dramatically, eventually extending all the way from the Arctic circle to the Ural mountains.

Unfortunately, the fortune of the city could not last. The leaders of the neighboring kingdom Muscovy (Moscow) were very envious of Novgorod's fortunes, and the city's close ties with the Catholic Lithuania caused heavy friction with Muscovy's largely orthodox population. Finally, in 1478, Muscovy, under Ivan the Great, attacked Novgorod, which robbed the city of most its riches. The city struggled to hold on to its former glory. However, its fate was eventually sealed when a hundred years later, Ivan the Terrible attacked it, executed huge numbers of its citizens, burned much of the city down, and destroyed priceless records. The city never recovered fully from this blow. Muscovy became the new center of politics and society in Russia.
Karakorum
Karakorum
The Mongols, once a group nomadic tribes, established the biggest contiguous empire in human history, under the leadership of Genghis Khan. Until the Mongolian conquest was active, the Mongols were constantly on the move, building temporary yurts, and traveling from place to place on horseback. However, once the Mongol empire was largely established, Genghis Khan started the construction of Karakorum, in the year 1220, which was to be the capital of his empire and the central base of operations.

The city was constructed near the Orkhon river, more than 200 miles from Ulaanbaatar (current capital of Mongolia), which made it an important stopping point along the silk road, providing travelers and traders with security, and also a place of worship. However, it was only after the death of Genghis Khan and the rise of his son Ogodei, did the development of the city really pick up pace. Although the city was a small one of only 10,000 people, the influence it had on the immense Mongol empire brought in people from across the globe, who wanted to serve or build political relations with the Khan. The city diminished gradually under the reign of Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, who moved the capital to Khanbaliq, present- day Beijing. Karakorum was mostly destroyed by the Chinese in 1388.
Thebes
Thebes
Ancient Egypt was a civilization which reached the peak of its glory when most other people in the world were still following the nomadic way of life. The Egyptians produced numerous artifacts, monuments, and other priceless pieces of history. Egypt was socially and economically one of the biggest forces in the world at the time. With time, kings, governments, capitals, and religions of this great nation were constantly changing. However, one thing remained constant. The city of Thebes was always maintained as the cultural center of ancient Egypt. Currently known as Luxor, the city of Thebes housed both, important religious structures and buildings meant for secular purposes. It controlled the Egyptian empire from its inception till the decline of the civilization, making a permanent impression in the history of the nation.
Eridu
Eridu
Eridu in ancient Sumerian means 'The Home of Gods', and the city is considered to be the first to be built in the history of man. It was founded in 5400 B.C. near the banks of the Euphrates river in present-day Iraq. Considering that it was the only sign of advanced civilization at the time, the people of Eridu built great structures, both, for public and religious reasons, in dimensions which can be considered large even by today's standards. It is not clear why, but the city was abandoned around 600. B.C. With the ravages of time, most of Eridu is now gone, leaving behind only traces of windswept ruins and an empty desert.
Trowulan
Trowulan
Today, despite being in a largely Islamic nation, the island of Bali is filled with ancient Hindu temples. These architectural work can be traced back to the great Mahapajit empire of Java and Indonesia, who around the year 1200 controlled most of the sea in the Indian ocean, obtaining large amounts of goods or money from any kingdom wishing to use the sea routes in this area. These huge tributes made the empire extremely strong in economic terms and world politics. The city/town of Trowulan is believed to be the capital of the empire.
From here, King Hayam Wuruk ruled his kingdom, with the able assistance of his prime minister Gaja Mada and despite him being Hindu, Buddhism also flourished without any conflict. Eventually, with the decline of the Majapahit empire, Trowulan lost its significance. However, many of the people in Bali today still consider themselves to have descended from the Majapahit.
Caral
Caral
The ancient city of Caral was discovered in 1994 near the western coast of Peru. Archaeologists who first studied the area were stunned to find an extremely well-developed city, including remains of pyramids, plazas, amphitheaters, and residential plots. The site was eventually dated to have been created around 2600 B.C., which meant that the Olmec civilization, which was till then believed to be the first great civilization of the Americas, came more than a thousand years after Caral.
What is unique about the site is that, there were no signs of weapons of battlements, which indicated that the people of this city did not come together for warfare or defense, but for trade. It is now believed that Caral might have been the capital of an empire which stretched across northern Peru.
Venice
Venice
After the fall of the Roman empire in the 4th century, all of Europe was thrown into chaos. Tribes and clans of all types were pillaging, murdering, and creating havoc across the towns in northern Italy. Left with no option, the Italian people sought refuge in some marshy islands in the Adriatic sea. Although the islands gave them security from the murderous tribes, they were not suitable for making a permanent residence, as there was no source of freshwater.
And as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. The islanders found that they could create potable water as well as salt when they boiled sea water. Salt, known as 'edible gold', due to its high value at the time, become an essential commodity for the Venetians, providing them with money for sustenance. The next problem was that, it was very difficult to build houses on the island, which was mostly made of mud and sand. To solve this issue, the Venetians inserted thousands of wooden pillars in the ground, which created a stable foundation for sizable buildings, even palaces.

Soon, the people of the Islands became experts in building ships and traveling sea routes. Funded by selling their salt, Venice soon turned into the trading capital of the Mediterranean area. After sacking Constantinople in 1204, it became the wealthiest city in Western Europe.
Xi'an
Xi'an
Of the six capitals of ancient China, Xi'an is the most well-known, as it was home to both, the Han and Qin dynasties. It was behind the walls of this city that Emperor Qin Shi Huang had the famous army of terracotta soldiers built
Historians believe that most of China's important inventions, such as paper, gunpowder, currency, and silk were created while Xi'an was in power. The city was also the starting point of the Silk Road, which connected China to the Western world. Caravans from the city carried a large variety of goods and materials, but they also played the important role of sending out and bringing in new ideas and technologies, which improved the standard of living for the whole world. In fact, the Silk Road brought Xi'an so much trade and fame, that in the 8th century, the city held a population of 2 million people, a world record for the time.
Vijayanagara
Vijayanagara
For around 300 years, from 1336 to 1646, the Vijaynagar empire ruled southern India. Chroniclers from all across the world marveled at the size, architecture, and cultural diversity in the city. The city thrived with a population of over 500,000 citizens, especially during the reign of King Krishnadevraya, when the empire managed to fend of several Muslim invasions, and trade peaked, with connections all across Asia and Europe.
However, after the death of the king, his son-in-law usurped the throne, conspired to get the neighboring sultanates to fight amongst themselves, giving him an opportunity to attack when they were weakened. However, the plan backfired, and the sultanates forgot their rivalries and came together to destroy Vijayangar. The armies of the once magnificent city were routed, the new king executed, and the city was pillaged, with murders and looting going on for nearly six months, leaving plain ruins that were a mere shadow of the great empire. These ruins of the city are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Chan Chan
Chan Chan
The Chimu kingdom ruled over northern Peru from around 800 to 1500. Chan Chan was the capital of the kingdom until 1470, when it was captured by the Incans. The city was the largest of pre-Columbian America, and was made entirely out of adobe bricks, and consisted of nine citadels, each with its own temples, gardens, palaces, water reservoirs, etc.
When the new Incan capital of Cuzco was built in the 13th century, the people gradually moved out of Chan Chan, eventually abandoning the city completely. Today, the ancient site is at risk of completely disappearing, because the old adobe bricks, are very vulnerable to rain and wind. So, archaeological expeditions are making efforts to preserve the structures for as long as possible.
Burgundy
Burgundy
At the height of the 15th century, the province of Burgundy was one of the most richest and powerful kingdoms in Europe, encompassing the city of Burgundy, Lorraine, Flanders, and also Holland. Trade from across the continent, and a thriving population, saw the kingdom grow leaps and bounds.
However, Burgundy's intense rivalry with France became its downfall. The sudden death of the Duke Charles the Bold in 1477 became a huge issue. The duke had only one daughter, who was to marry into the French Royal House. However, she married Maximilian the First, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Head of the House of Hapsburg in Austria instead. In the race of acquiring Burgundian lands, the city of Burgundy dissipated between Austria, Spain, and France.
Hattusa
Hattusa
The Hatti people were the first to build and inhabit the city of Hattusa, in 2400 B.C., in present-day Turkey. They were defeated by the Hittites in 1700 B.C., and the city was rebuilt into a vibrant metropolis, bustling with traders and travelers from far-flung places. The Hittite empire lasted until the 12th century B.C., when Phrygians attacked and burned most of the city to the ground. The site was then abandoned till the 7th century, when the city was partially repaired and restored. However, it never regained the fame and glory of its past.
Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe
When the nations of Europe were on a colonization spree, explorers in Eastern Africa found an immense stone building in the heart of what is present-day Zimbabwe. Due to the racial prejudices of the time, credit for building the structure was wrongly attributed to a number of other civilizations, excluding native Africans, as the archaeologists assumed that Africans were not capable of building such a structure by themselves.
However, recent studies of the complex indicate that the structures were built by the African Shona tribe around 1100 A.D. It was deduced that the place acted as the kingdom's capital for more than 400 years. Other clues show that the city of Great Zimbabwe was a prosperous one, housing over 25,000 people, supplying items such as ivory, wood, gold, etc., to trade in the areas of the Indian ocean to countries such as Arabia, China, and India. Why Great Zimbabwe was abandoned still remains a mystery, but the city is testament to the heights of Africa's mysterious past.
These were some of the settlements of the ancient world which acted as international centers of commerce, culture, and politics. If you think any other place deserves a mention, please share your inputs in the comments section below.
Source(s) : buzzle.com
                   penpaland.com

12/28/18

20 Fascinating Places in Asia you Must Visit Once in your Life

Sources:penpaland.com
               buzzle.com

There are innumerable places to visit in the largest continent Asia. Actually, every country, state, or city has its own beauty and culture. In this Buzzle article, we have enlisted 20 places in Asia that are a must-see.

Awesome Asia!
  • Asia has both the highest and the lowest points on earth; namely, Mount Everest (8,848 m) and the Dead Sea (-395 m).
  • 9 out of 10 of the world's tallest buildings are in Asia. Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the first and Shanghai Tower is the second.

Asia being the largest and the most populous continent, has many hidden treasures of beauty. It covers almost 30% of the earth's land area and also has the largest coastline of 62,800 km. Because of such a huge area, it has diverse climates. It has everything from forests, and high mountain ranges like the Himalayas, to arid deserts and beautiful beaches. The exquisite flora and fauna found in this continent, are an addition to its natural beauty.

If you're thinking of places to visit in Asia, you have come to the right place. We have compiled some of the most fascinating places in Asia that are worth visiting at least once in life.

Places to Visit in Asia

Tiger's Nest Temple, Bhutan

tigers nest in Bhutan, Asia

This monastery is also known as Paro Taktsang. It is located on a cliff of the Paro valley in Bhutan. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) came here on a flying tigress and introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, which gives it the name. In the 8th century, the Guru meditated here for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours. This sacred temple is located on 3,000 ft above the Paro valley so we can surely imagine the scenes. The slopes are very steep but all is worth the effort.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

siem reap in Cambodia Asia

Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in Cambodia. It is a beautiful place with many different attractions. The Angkor Wat temple is the most popular attraction there. Apart from that, there are many museums, the Old Market, handicraft shops, silk farms, rice paddies, and plenty of options for you to soak in the Cambodian culture. Just roam around the town and enjoy whatever interests you. There are many attractions around the town too.

Danxia Landform, China

danxia in China Asia

These unique and colorful landforms are seen in southwest, southeast, and northwest China. These have this beautiful red color and steep cliffs. The red color is because of the red-colored sandstones and the other colors are because of the deposition of different minerals. The steep cliffs are a result of weathering and erosion, over years. A total area of 6 landforms in south China was regarded as a World Heritage Site in 2010. These beautiful formations are a must-see, just imagine the color blending with the sunset, and you'll know what beauty is!

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

ha long bay in Vietnam Asia

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Vietnam. This bay is home to almost 2,000 islets (small islands), which cover an area of almost 1,553 km2. The beauty lies in the limestone islands, 14 endemic floral species, and 60 endemic fauna species. Experience the magic of this place with the localities living on houseboats. Also, there are various caves ready to be explored! Great views and the weather makes it a dream place for any traveler.

Rainbow village, Taiwan

rainbow village in Taiwan Asia

This place in Taichung, Taiwan is like a kid's drawing board. It's filled with bright color paintings done by an old man named Huang Yung-Fu, often called "Grandpa Rainbow". Maybe he thought that the village lacked color, so he started painting and he has been successful in painting the whole village by himself. This is a must-see because this is like a dream which you surely want to be in! No words can describe the colorful ambiance. Go check it for yourself!

Taj Mahal, India

taj mahal in India Asia

Taj Mahal is a white marble mosque located on the Yamuna river bank in the city of Agra, India. This is considered as an exquisite piece of art, which was made by Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor, for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It was built in the years 1632 to 1653. This beautiful symbol of love is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Also, it has beautiful gardens around, which add to the beauty.

Great Wall of China

great wall of China Asia

The Great Wall of China is a wall made of stone and other materials, that stretches from east to west across the northern borders of China. It was built to protect the empires from raids of some nomadic groups. It is the largest wall in the world, but unfortunately many parts are damaged and are not accessible currently. Go there and get fascinated by the huge area and the beauty that it has preserved.

Yolyn Am, Mongolia

yolyn am Mongolia Asia

Yolyn Am is a deep and narrow gorge, which is a part of the famous Gobi desert. It is situated in the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains and is also known as the Valley of the Vultures or Valley of the Eagles. This gorge is known for its thick ice field. In the olden days, this ice used to be there for the whole year but now it is seen disappearing after September. It is like a small oasis area in the desert.

Bali, Indonesia

bali in Indonesia

Bali is the perfect meaning of the words "Tropical Paradise". It is a beautiful island and province of Indonesia, known as a perfect tourist destination. The place is famous for its beautiful beaches, the temples, the caves, and the culture. It has a great climate which helps you enjoy the vacation to the fullest. Go there, rest, take a walk through their culture, and refresh yourself!

Daehan Dawon, South Korea

daehan dawon tea plantation

Daehan Dawon is the largest and the most famous green tea plantation in Boseong, South Korea. It is a tourist attraction where you can take walks through the plantation and there are some cider and bamboo forests too. If you love hiking, you can climb up. These slopes are said to be quite steep but the view is worth all the effort. Try the green tea ice cream to beat the heat of the day!

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

mekong delta in Vietnam Asia

The Mekong river in Vietnam is the most productive region, and plays an important role in fishing, agriculture, and even for selling the crops in the region. This beautiful river is used to travel along and sell the crops produced. You can take a boat ride and enjoy the great weather and scenes. You can even get down at any point to get fascinated by the temples.

Phewa lake, Nepal

Fewa lake in nepal

Phewa or Fewa lake is the second-largest lake in Nepal and is a freshwater lake. It is a must-see because of its serene location. It is only 28 km away from the famous Annapurna range. Also, you can take a floating ride while enjoying the reflections of mountains like Machhapuchhre, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri. The lake also has an island with the Taal Barahi Temple, which is an important religious monument. You can also visit Baidam, from where you can visit the touristic city of Pokhara.

Banaue, Philippines

banaue rice plantations in Philippines

Banaue is a small town in Philippines which is famous for huge areas of rice terraces. These are said to be 2,000-year old and are thought to have been made by hand by the ancestors. These terraces are at almost 5000 ft above the sea level and are till date used for cultivating rice and vegetables. There's nothing much you can do other than sight seeing, but that itself is enough! You just have to go there and stand in awe of the beauty of the place.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

shwedagon pagoda in myanmar

The Shwedagon Pagoda is a 325 ft tall pagoda on the Singuttara hill, in Myanmar. The amazing thing is that it is fully covered with gold plates and varied gems, which reflect the rays, making it even more beautiful. It is said that it is 2,600 years old (still debating on the date) which makes it the oldest pagoda. All these factors make it a must-see!

Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan

sagano bamboo forest in Japan

This bamboo forest is located on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. The tall trees sway in the wind and the sunrays pass through all of them, which will give you scenes you can never forget. It is one of the great woodlands. The entry to the park is totally free, which invites crowds. So, try to avoid going on weekends and go there early in the morning or late evening to enjoy some alone time. Plus, you can also visit Tenryu-ji Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some Other Places You Can Visit


  • annapurna base camp in Nepal, Asia
  • Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal
  • maldives beaches in Asia
  • Maldives
  • borobudur temple in java
  • Borobudur, Java, Indonesia
  • sigiriya lion's rock
  • Sigiriya (Lion Rock), Sri Lanka
  • detian waterfalls in China
  • Ban Gioc - Detian Falls, China
previous
next


Still Some More...
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Bokeo Nature Reserve, Laos
  • Shinjuku Gyoen, Japan
  • The War Memorial of Korea, South Korea
  • Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia
Travel as much as you can because this world is never going to stop surprising you! Explore the world and live your life to the fullest!

12/23/18

Here's How to Plan a Jaunty and Budgeted Vacation to Tokyo

Sources: penpaland.com
               buzzle.com

Placing the words 'Tokyo' and 'cheap' together seem to be a perfect example of an antithesis. Let us, however, tell you that doing Tokyo on the cheap is possible. Here are some tips to plan an affordable vacation to the Japanese capital.

Tokyo is too close up to see, sometimes. There are no distances and everything is above your head - dentists, kindergartens, dance studios. Even the roads and walkways are up on murky stilts. An evil-twin Venice with all the water drained away.

― David Mitchell, number9dream

One of the most dynamic cities in the world, with over 12 million inhabitants, Tokyo is a sheer delight to see. Not that it is among the world's most beautiful cities, but it definitely strikes a chord with its subtle balance between the past and the present. Take a stroll in any direction, and you are sure to stumble upon something most unusual and weird―something that you never knew existed. And yet, you will find the Japanese people being passionate about it, speaking of it with an intense sense of belonging.

In fact, the Japanese are passionate about everything, from their traditions and culture to all things new. And this is precisely the reason why the Japanese capital comes across as a complete package―a classic example of 'old meets new'. Plus, the warm and ever-helping nature of the Japanese people will urge you to extend your stay, and make you regret if you don't.
Tokyo on a Budget
It is a well-known fact that Tokyo is expensive. In fact, according to the recent Business Insider survey (2014), Tokyo has been ranked as the 19th most expensive city in the world after Melbourne, Australia. Owing to this, it is but obvious that a vacation to the Japanese capital will make you shed a lot of bucks; however, those traveling on a tight budget, need not be disappointed. Buzzle brings to you some useful tips to help you plan a vacation to the capital of the shōgun without having to burn a hole in your wallet. Here's how.
When to Go
◆ Tokyo's high season and low season depend largely on its weather.

◆ However, this is also the season when most accommodations around the city are full, and very expensive as well.

◆ Winter (December to February) and summer (June to August) comprise the city's off-seasons.

◆ In winter, temperatures often drop below the freezing point, and summer is very hot and humid. Moreover, the city experiences torrential rains around late-June, and August is still worse.
◆ Most tourists opt to travel to the city either during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November). During these two seasons, the weather is very favorable―pleasant, warm days and of course, beautiful cherry blossoms and dramatic foliage all around.

◆ While these seasons witness a much less tourist influx, these are great times to be in the city for budget travelers (if you are ready to face the adversities of the weather, that is).

◆ You will not only be able to escape the crowds, but also get the best possible bargains on accommodations, and maybe even crack an affordable last-minute deal.
Where to Stay
Capsule hotel
◆ As a form of budget accommodation, the concept of capsule hotels is very famous in Tokyo (and in the other Japanese cities). These are low-budget lodgings, made of modular plastic and/or fiberglass blocks in the form of small capsules, placed one above the other. Each of these capsules can accommodate only one person at a time, and are equipped with basic amenities like a sleeping mattress and a small television set.
◆ It, however, needs to be noted that capsule hotels lack basic safety standards, and are mostly men-only, but few also accommodate females. On the contrary, hostels often prove to be cheaper and more comfortable places to stay, even if they mean compromising a bit on one's privacy.

◆ While hostels located in and near the city center and popular spots can be a bit pricey, look for those located on the outskirts instead. These will offer you the same kind of facilities at lower prices.

◆ For those planning to spend a majority of their time within the city center, opt to stay near it, in order to save money and time on transportation, which is also on the expensive side in Tokyo.

◆ Budget travelers, looking for a homely atmosphere may also opt for a hospitality exchange. You get to stay with a local family for free, and there are also ample opportunities to meet and interact with the other locals. Hospitality exchange is particularly popular with youngsters, traveling on frugal means.
How to Get Around
Shibuya shopping
◆ By far, the cheapest way to get around Tokyo (or any city, for that matter) is by foot. It is lovely walking around the city―take any random lane, and you can discover some of the most unexpected, yet exciting things about the city. And, it is needless to say that strolling is free-of-cost.
People in subway
◆ The Tokyo Subway System, the city's extensive network of underground rail routes, is also a pretty inexpensive mode of transport, by Tokyo standards. However, you are charged according to distance so, the longer the distance, the pricier will be your ticket price. But they are tourist-friendly, in that there are a lot of signboards and announcements in English language. Nonetheless, there are some cons as well. These trains are very crowded, especially during peak hours, so much so that the crowds may deter you from getting onto one of them. Moreover, each of these metro stations closes down at about 1am and starts operating at about 5am in the morning so, time your travel so that you do not get stranded; isolated stations can be unsafe.
Toei bus
Buses are also cheap, but if you do not have basic knowledge of Japanese, it may get extremely difficult for you to navigate. Especially, communicating with the bus conductor gets very tough, as more often than not, he will not know English or any other foreign tongue. Plus, like trains, even buses are crowded, but they are well-connected and can take you to literally any corner of the city.
◆ Another good option to travel around Tokyo on the cheap is to rent a bike. Cheap bike rentals are available in different parts of Tokyo and its suburbs, and they are very convenient, in that you can plan your own custom biking tour across the city.

◆ Unless extremely necessary, never ever go for hiring a taxi. Taxis in Tokyo are indeed very expensive, so much so that a single taxi ride can completely destroy your budget.
Where to Eat/Drink
Street market
◆ Eateries and restaurants located in downtown Tokyo and in the city's popular parts tilt towards the expensive side. For a wholesome budget meal, head to one of the blue-collar areas of the city such as Ueno or Ikebukuro.
Harajuku district
◆ Areas with large populations of youngsters and students, like Yoyogi and Harajuku, are also good places to find food on the cheap. You will find numerous fast-food joints in these areas, alongside several cheap restaurants, offering full, good quality meals.
Sushi appetizer
◆ The conveyor belt sushi restaurants are located in several parts of the city, wherein you can choose your own sushi from the conveyor belt. These are often busy, owing to their inexpensiveness and fast service, but you will get some really tasty meals in there.
Vending machine
◆ While in Tokyo, you cannot ignore the numerous vending machines, found in large numbers, everywhere around the city. These coin-operated machines sell hot beverages, juices, sodas, cans of beer, apart from typical Japanese meals (curry and rice) and ready-to-eat soups.
◆ A good number of Japanese curry houses, fast-food, and ramen shops are spread across the city, even in the city center, from where you can buy small, but filling budget meals.

◆ Tokyo is famous for its street food, which offers delicious local flavors at affordable prices. Budget travelers can also buy packaged meals from grocery stores, which cost much less than restaurants.
What to See/Do
Tokyo city
In the clockwise direction, starting from top-left―Rainbow Bridge, Minato, Tokyo; Tokyo Imperial Palace, Chiyoda, Tokyo; Tokyo cityscape with illuminated Tokyo Tower; Yoyogi Park, Shibuya, Tokyo.
◆ While most attractions in Tokyo charge an admission fee, the good news is that there are several cheap and free things to see and do in and around the city. As mentioned before, a free stroll can give you an insight into some of the most fascinating aspects of the city and its culture. But, there is more!

◆ Most shrines, temples, and palaces of Tokyo do not have an entry fee. This also includes, apart from the other attractions, the Tokyo Imperial Palace, which may be accessed free if you plan to take a self-guided stroll, rather than a guided tour.

◆ Moreover, the Sensō-ji temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, can also be accessed without any charge by all the visitors. There is a 200-meter-long shopping street in front of the temple gate, which has several O-mikuji (fortunes written on strips of paper) stalls, visited by a good number of tourists. You can also try out your luck here!

◆ Furthermore, the fourth-largest urban park in Tokyo, the Yoyogi Park, is also a free attraction. It is a great place for a quick morning jog and to listen to live performances by street musicians.

◆ Another great place to be, especially if you are a fish lover, is the Tsukiji fish market. It is located very close to the Tsukiji train station, and so is an easy walk up there. Every morning, at about 5 a.m., there is a tuna auction held here, which is quite an interesting experience. Though you can visit the auction for free, remember that they let a limited number of tourists in each day, and so, you have to reach the spot really early. However, if you miss out on the auction, you can still roam around the market, and gorge on some delicious sushi and sashimi for breakfast.

Harajuku boasts of a very lively shopping and entertainment scene. There are a lot of specialty stores around the area from where you can buy items such as books, electronics, and souvenirs for cheap. Apart from these, Tokyo also has a good number of open-air antique and flea markets operating on the weekends near major shrines.
Other Money-saving Tips
◆ Bowling alleys and cinemas in Tokyo tend to be on the expensive side. Instead, head to the Sony Building in the city's Ginza ward, and indulge yourself in some free console games.

◆ Most cinemas and museums in Tokyo offer discounted rates for students, seniors, and children. Keep looking for such offers to save money.

◆ If you are planning to city-hop from Tokyo, purchase the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) well in advance before you leave home. It is meant for long-distance train travel, and can be used only by foreign tourists. It comes with the validity of 7, 14, and 21 consecutive days, and is not available for sale in Japan.
Though people always find it oxymoronic to spend a budget vacation in Tokyo, it is possible to do the city on the cheap. Planning ahead and wisely is the key, and one of the most expensive cities in the world can turn out to be an affordable package. So, if you thought that Tokyo probably wouldn't fit into your budget, it's time you think again, and get going to one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

12/22/17

Top 10 Places You MUST Visit In London Without Doubt

Sources: penpaland.com / buzzle.com

Want to fit the best of London in your two-week vacation? Here is a list of the best places you must visit in London. Without visiting these, a trip to this city is more than just incomplete.
Did You Know?
The London Underground is globally the oldest underground railway network.

Understand
When we say just 'London', it can mean either the City of London (1.12 sq mi in area) or Greater London, which is an administrative area that exceeds borders of the city. In this article, we talk about Greater London.

1. Buckingham Palace
Perhaps the most famous palaces in the world, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. State rooms are open to visitors only during the Palace's Summer Opening, which takes place in most of August and September. However, if you are heading to the palace at a different time, you can witness 'Changing of the Guard', where the guard is changed daily from April to July, and on alternate days from August to March.

2. British Museum
This museum showcases works from the birth of human civilization to the modern age, and has contributions from all continents of the world. The main attractions include the much debated Parthenon Marbles (Elgin Marbles), Mummy of Cleopatra from Thebes, and the Rosetta Stone. Entry to the museum is free.

3. London Eye
The 32 capsules on the London Eye, carry almost 10,000 visitors every day. Due to its 360°-rotation ability, you can almost see the entire city of London, when you reach at the top. Until the Shard's privately-operated deck opened in 2013, The London Eye was the tallest public viewing point.

4. London Zoo
The world's oldest scientific zoo, The London Zoo consists of more than 16,000 different types of animals and birds. This is also one of the best places for children, as you can book a VIP encounter with the animals for them. And what's more? You can also stay overnight at the zoo in Lookout Lodge.

5. Sir John Soane's Museum
Other than shopping in the streets of London, one of the best things to do is to check out Sir John Soane's Museum. Sir John Soane was an architect and an avid collector of curios. During the time he lived, he has collected some of the best antiquities from all the four corners of the world. These antiquities can now be seen in the museum, which was the architect's former home. Visit the museum on the first Tuesday evening of every month; the house is lit by candles.

6. Madame Tussauds
At Madame Tussauds, you'll see some of the world's greatest icons face to face. From Queen Elizabeth to Michael Jackson, you'll meet the world's most influential personalities from the field of sports, history, entertainment, etc. Sing along with Madonna, play football with Beckham, and click a photograph with her majesty Queen Elizabeth.

7. Elizabeth Tower (Nickname: Big Ben)
The great bell of the clock at the Palace of Westminster, the Big Ben is one of the most prominent symbols of London. In 2012, it was renamed from 'Clock Tower' to 'Elizabeth Tower', during the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. On 17th April, 2013, during the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, the bells were silenced to mark 'profound dignity and deep respect'.

8. Tate Modern
A modern art gallery, you can reach Tate Modern via the wobbly Millennium Bridge. This can be quite a controversial visit because it has exhibitions of all kinds. Some are for art lovers and some of them are completely for adults. It is globally the most-visited modern art gallery; expect a lot of surprises.

9. Kensington Palace
This magnificent palace has been home to the royal family for more than 300 years and some parts of the palace still exist as private residences. The beautiful state apartments and Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, which contains the dresses worn by Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana are open to the public. It is now the official royal residence of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George of Cambridge.

10. Westminster Abbey
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is where all monarchs are crowned, buried, and sometimes married, since 1066. The last wedding to take place at the site was of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

With a look at these top places to visit, you must have realized that London is a traveler's delight. Make sure you at least get a glimpse of these wonders while in the city. Happy Traveling!

8/13/17

Antarctica Facts - Uncover the Secrets of This Icy Land

Sources: penpaland.com / buzzle.com

Looking for some 'cool' Antarctica facts and information? This icy land has many interesting facts that will surprise you. The following article on Antarctica will uncover some secrets of the white icy planes.

Antarctica is a continent right at the bottom of the earth. It is the fifth largest continent on the earth and has a total area of 14 million km2. The South Pole lies in Antarctica and it is the coldest place on earth. The lowest temperature of Antarctica that has been measured till date was -128.6 ºF in 1983. Even the summer temperatures range -40 to -94 ºF in the inland and -5 to -22 ºF on the coastal areas. Scientists believe that once Antarctica was a part of the southern continents, that is the Gondwanaland and had warm climates. It broke off from the mainlands and drifted towards the south pole. The scientists can say this because of the fossilized plants and animals found in Antarctica.

Antarctica soil is covered with over 98% of ice and contains 70% of the freshwater in its icecap. You will be surprised to know that Antarctica is bigger than Australia and Europe. It is about one and a half times the size of United States and is the fifth largest continent on Earth. Because of the extreme cold climate of Antarctica, only a few insects survive in the interior regions. Penguins and seals live on the coast of Antarctica. There aquatic life is full of different species of fish and whales, which migrate to the Antarctica waters in summers. Antarctica has a hostile climate. The only humans found in Antarctica are researchers, scientist, biologists, etc. During the warm months many tourist folk to the icy lands of Antarctica.

Let us see some more interesting Antarctica facts for children with images.


Iceberg Landscape
Iceberg Landscape
Arch Shaped Iceberg
Arch Shaped Iceberg
Sunset In Antarctica
Sunset In Antarctica
Icebreaker Ship in Antarctica
Icebreaker Ship in Antarctica
South Pole
South Pole
Killer Whale in Ocean
Killer Whale in Ocean
Weddell Seal
Weddell Seal
Penguins and Seals
Penguins And Seals
Crabeater Seal
Crabeater Seal
Penguin Couple
Penguins
Elephant Seals
Elephant Seals
Chile Flag in Antarctica
Chile Flag in Antarctica

Fast Facts About Antarctica

You will be surprised to know, Antarctica has been discovered just 191 years ago. The ancient Greeks did not figure out Antarctica on their maps. It was only in 1820, when explorers stumbled upon this icy mass. An Estonian-born captain of the Imperial Russian Navy, Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen was the first person to sight Antarctica on 27 January 1820.

However, there is a dispute as to who set foot on the continent first. The first person to set foot on this continent was John Davis, an American sealer (on 7th February 1821). It is said, the first man to ever set his foot on Antarctica was Henry Bull and his party in 1895. Before Henry, no man had ever set his foot on the cold lands of Antarctica at Cape Adare. The first women to visit Antarctica was, in 1935, Catherine Mikkelson, who was the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain. However, they were supposed to be unknown to the fact that John Davis had claimed to walk on the Antarctic Peninsula earlier in 1821! The first ship to reach the geographic South Pole was Fram in an expedition led by Norwegian polar explorer, Ronal Amundsen. He reached the South Pole on 14th December 1911.

The 'white continent', in spite of containing 70% of the world's freshwater content, is the driest place on earth. It is a desolate, windy and remote continent that has a rich marine life. The recorded gusts of winds of Antarctica are up to 327 km/hr, making it one of the windiest places on earth. There are hundreds of penguins living off the coast of Antarctica and 6 different species of seals that share the white lands. The water is home to 9 types of whales and many species of birds, like the albatrosses who are found living on the coast of Antarctica.

The region of Antarctica that is below 60 degrees south has 1 longest day and night every year. The day and night are so long, that the sun rises in the month of October and sets in the month of March! Antarctica is supposed to be the windiest continent and has the highest elevation in the world. It is considered to be a desert with only 1,000 to 5,000 people residing on its land. These people are mostly explorers and scientists who live in research stations. The Mawson station is said to be the windiest place on earth. The average wind speed is calculated at 37 kmph (23 mph) and the maximum gust recorded was about 154 mph.

The warm-blooded animals like whales, penguins and seals living on and off the coast of Antarctica have thick layers of fat called blubber. This blubber helps insulate these animals from the bitter cold. An interesting Antarctica fact is about the Emperor penguin. It is the only warm-blooded animal to live in Antarctica during the harsh winters. The female lays one egg in June and goes off to the sea for the entire winter. The male penguins stays back on land and keeps their eggs warm. The eggs are kept warm in a peculiar way by balancing the egg on their feet and covering it with a flap of their abdominal skin. The male penguins survive the extremely inhospitable conditions without food and water for 9 weeks! The females return just in time when the eggs hatch. The krill is one of the most important animals of Antarctica. This tiny crustacean is the main source of food for seals whales and penguins.

Antarctica glaciers are giant ice waves that flow towards the sea very slowly. Antarctica is the highest continent in the world averaging about 2300 meters above sea level. This is due to the massive ice cap covering the entire white land. Vinson Massif, with a height of 4900 m, is the highest peak of Antarctica. The continent is extremely cold because 80% of the radiation from the sun reaching Antarctica is reflected back in space. This refection is due to the ice and snow covering Antarctica. The other 20% is absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected by the coverings of clouds.

Antarctica does not belong to any particular country. Twelve nations had signed a treaty called 'The Antarctica Treaty' that helps regulate the research activity, economic exploitation and territorial claims in Antarctica. There is no official language of Antarctica and no official currency. There are no legislative bodies or advisory committee of Antarctica. Ships are the major source of transportation. The best place to study meteorites is Antarctica. They are clearly visible on the white sheets of ice. The meteorites do not get covered by vegetation and get trapped into the ice, thus making it very easy to study meteorites in detail.

Well, these were a few Antarctica facts and information that must have amazed you. Antarctica is the biggest laboratory of the world with over 4000 scientists working on different projects. Another fact that is always a point of confusion is that polar bears and Eskimos are native to the Arctic and NOT the Antarctica. I hope you have found many useful and cool facts, and information about Antarctica in this article.