The Giant Buddha in China

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The Giant Buddha is the largest carved stone Buddha in the world and is located in the Mount Emeri Scenic Area of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, by three rivers, namely, Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. This stone statue was built during the Tang Dynasty in 618 and ended in 907 when it was ruled under the Tang Emperors. It was during this time that it was the most powerful and prosperous country in the world.  Today Leshan City is still well known because it was one of China’s most famous period when its culture and military strengths was at its all time high.

In December of 1996, the Giant Buddha was included by UNESCO on the list of the World Heritage sites.

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The statue dates back to the year of 713, it took 90 years to build ending it in 803 even though thousands of workers had exhausted their efforts and wisdom on the project.

Paysage panoramique du mont Emei, incluant le paysage panoramique du grand Bouddha de Leshan

It measures 233 feet high, and 92 feet wide which is about the size of a basketball court.  His feet along are big enough for 100 people to sit on.

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Buts not all about size when you see this enormous figure, it’s the architectural beauty that stuns us.  His coiled hair is made up of 1,021 buns. Each bun has been skillfully embedded in the head. The skill is so beautifully unique that the 1,021 buns seem integral to the whole.

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Another  architectural highlight is the drainage system as it’s structure design was made up of hidden gutters and channels, scattered on the head and arms, and behind the ears and in the clothes. The structural design helps displace rainwater and by keeping the inside dry, which plays an important part in the protection of the Buddha. The large pair of ears, each measures 23 feet long, is made of wood and is decorated by mud on the surface.  Being these were craftsmen of thousands of years ago, it could not have been so easy to fix these to the stone head to where they would fit perfectly.

Having such a long history Chinese government did begin repairing any work needed to maintain its history beauty as it does bring in tourist from all over the world.

How would you get there?

Presently there are not airports in the city. Though you can fly to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport which is about 93 miles away from Leshan City.

If you happen to traveled to China, would you include the “Giant Buddha” in your must see list?

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Romantic Getaways That Light Up Your Nights

Imagine you and that special someone admiring millions of stars along with bright dancing lights in a glass igloo above the Arctic Circle, in the Northern corner of Finnish Lapland.
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You get to choose from either a snow or glass igloo to stay in.

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Completely surrounded by snow you’ll start to notice the silence becomes enchanting while the lights mysteriously begin to shadow your interior walls.  

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Moreover you’both have the opportunity to admire what’s known as the “Aurora Borealis”.  These lights are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earths atmosphere and is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

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No need to worry about the cold. These igloos are made with thermal glass walls that insulate the interior and keeps it cozy enough for both of you. You don’t have to worry about the views staying clear even when the temperature dropping to -30 degrees Fahrenheit as you’re glass igloo won’t smog up your views as there built with modern technology.

Besides the romantic nights you’ll enjoy watching the best ice sculptors in the world come together at Kakslauttanen’s Arctic Resort to participate in the international ice-sculpting week at Igloo Village.  Their marvelous ice creations remain displayed during the rest of winter for viewing.

There creations include a Bar made of Ice, an Ice Chapel and the World’s Largest Snow Restaurant.

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What do you think?  Could you stay in an igloo tonight just for two?

Nude Beaches, Free-Spirited or Therapy?

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”   –Isak Dinesen

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Is baring it all considered taking a walk on your wild side?  No not always, in fact some people consider it a form of therapy as it can relieve stress and depression.  Think about it a little.  It takes you out of your everyday routine “for sure”, and gives you a chance to explore the outside world from a different view especially when you’re not in your everyday attire.  Theres scientific evidence that the salty sea air has many health benefits especially those that suffer with seasonal allergies.  Whatever the case may be it surely gets you out of what ever funk you might be in.  But would you? Could you? ….and where would you?  How about for Therapy?
Don’t most of us all enjoy and love the wonders of the sea? Is it because it has some potent power to make us think things we’d like to think about.  Does the waves enable us to reflect on deeper issues that allow us to see clearly or is it just plain fun and thats what makes it all worth wild.  In any case the beach is a good place to be and if you dare to bare it then heres a few places you might want to consider.

Baker Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA.

Bakers Beach right outside where the little cable cars climb halfway to the stars right outside of San Francisco.
If you’re out there early in the morning the fog may chill the air, but you won’t care because its San Francisco.  Views of the Golden Gate included.  What else could anyone want?  Except maybe a great body so the view isn’t only one sided. 😉

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Ochos Rios beach in Jamaica has 635 miles of coastline with warm, crystalline waters; rugged black-sand shores and tranquil waters with sugary coves perfect for little swimmers.  Sounds more like a delicious fat-free recipe. Maybe good enough to take the plunge.
This place just might want to touch you rather fancy while exploring it.
After all it’s not far from where Stella got her grove back.

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On the east end of Crete’s Plakias Beach is a favorite for nude beach-goers though if your not ready to let it all hang out, then this beach might not be for the shy.  However since it is pretty popular there are showers all along the beach and many parking spaces. Don’t forget the boom-box and sunscreen.

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The striking red sands of Red Beach in Santorini, Greece, welcomes those with a free-spirit.  The  volcanic island, Santorini is known for the red sand and its  horseshoe-shape with steep slope.  On the other side you’ll see a gentle downward slope to the sea, giving it the natural beauty look. Add yourself to the picture and it just might be a master piece of delight.

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Vancouver, British Columbia, is home to Wreck Beach, and is considered to be one of the world’s busiest beaches where clothes are optional.  The reason it’s so popular is because its right next to the British Columbia University campus and it’s quite typical to see close to 14,000 visitors flock for the right to bare arms, legs, and anything else that feels good.
I bet you don’t see to many students with books out there.

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If you’re searching for an all-inclusive nudist resort then look to the southern tip of the Riviera Maya.  Tulum Beach in Mexico would be the place to be.  This beach has limestone sands and crystal blue waters. The name Tulum comes form the word wall, and its beach ruins will have you looking up in wonder at the ancient pyramid-shamed Mayan ruins.   If the beach isn’t enough to keep you interested then the surrounding walls that are over 1,000-year-old sure will. That history lesson alone is something to marvel at. How did they build that place anyway?

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The nudist resort at Cap d’Agde, France, welcomes folks willing to bare it all.  The beach is sandy and beautiful and some ares very clean.  Though these waters can be very cold even during the month of June. However, it’s a great beach for the kids as there is very shallow waters for miles and lifeguards are often seen which makes it excellent for families. The far left side of the beach attracts a large number of gay sunbathers and the central part tends to attract a more youthful crowd which makes that side of the beach a little livelier.

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Samurai Beach, in Queensland, Australia is a perfect escape, for nature lovers and naturists.

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I can go on and on when it comes to this beach but no need to as these two picture alone speaks a 1000 words.  I mean….really?   It doesn’t get much better then that!

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Black’s Beach, a secluded beach in San Diego beneath the bluffs of Torrey Pines is the largest nude beach in the US.  Its quiet and lovely though you won’t see any  lifeguards and its the regulars that take care of the area and clean up in order to ensure its natural beauty.  Theres easy trails to get to the beach from the parking area and everyone keeps to themselves unless you ask for help.
Nature took a hold of its beauty as the view is amazing no matter where you’re standing.  Watching the cliffs, the hang gliders, all make the experience worth wild and special.
And if your suit doesn’t fit just right then toss it.

A few unspoken etiquette rules you should know before you visit a nudist beach.  It can keep you out of trouble.   

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Hey…just because my shell is bigger then most doesn’t mean you have rights to my pearl.

  • Clothing is optional when visiting a resort as it was designed for people to shed their clothes and it’s what they want to do there. But staring is never an appropriate thing to do.
  • No taking photos or videos of other people or you just might be looking down at the sand. Most resorts are strictly against it and if your are caught doing this, expect staring down at the sand before you could say “holy-Sh!# Batman, why did you do that?”
  • You may take a picture of yourselves and even with your partners or group of friends if your party is at ease and willing.
  • Depending where you stay there are several laws banning any sort of lewd or crude behavior so be aware of them.
  • If is expected that you place a towel or something similar to it when siting down at a seat or in a bar or restaurant. This is for hygiene and is another one of those unspoken rule that everyone always follows.
  • Like anywhere else respect others and their privacy.
  • Remember that others are here to relax just like you so don’t worry so much about what everyone is doing. If it’s you’re first time no one knows but you and possibly your partner.  If you need a few hours to gather your bravo side then do it its all good.

Trains Converted Into Vacation Diggs

Train buffs know that many converted rail-road  cars are available for rental.  As a kid I loved traveling by train, walking from car to car,  sitting in the dining room and watching the South African landscape pass by.

There were the occasions,  when the train simply would stop for no apparent reason —  sometimes for minutes and other times for hours, though nobody seemed to mind.    It was brilliant fun on these trains.   Now, years later, some of these older trains have been converted into  “non-moving” vacation rentals, leaving no reason to wonder when you’ll arrive at your destination.

Here are a few particularly intriguing and fun rail-way car into vacation accommodation conversions.

1926 C&O Caboose
Vacation Rental at Natural Bridge, VA.

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A rail geek’s dream, this 1926 Caboose has been lovingly restored.  Sitting incongruously amongst Virginia’s hilly farmland,  the caboose’s owner has decorated the interior in cherrywood and outfitted it with a double-bed, satellite TV, and AC.   The patio area is fittingly lit with railroad-style lanterns, and upon arrival a railroad crossing sign flashes.   How cool is that?

The Travelling Post Office – St Germans, Cornwall

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The Travelling Post Office no 841 started off life as a narrow gauge body on broad gauge bogies, with three passenger compartments, a sorting area, gangway, net and four delivery arms. It was numbered 2086. In 1896 the compartments were removed to increase the sorting area, and the vehicle was renumbered 841. In 1904 it made history by being pulled behind the City of Truro when it made its record-breaking 100mph run.   More regularly it was used for the Bristol to Penzance runs until it was taken out of service in 1934, after which for many years it formed part of a house in Wales.

The current owners have combined authenticity with all the comforts one could wish for on a “Travelling Post Office” vacation.   The interior has been designed reflect its original purpose as a mail coach, and includes the “Railholiday touches,” such as our Cornish welcome pack and variety of interesting games and railway books are included.

The railway station at St Germans was built in 1858 and the platform is still in use – served by over 20 stopping trains per day.

Gypsy Caravan ‘Rambling Rose’ near Lostwithiel in Cornwall

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‘Rambling Rose’ Gypsy caravan was built in Penzance in the 1930s and has been wonderfully restored to its former glory by a talented Cornish craftsman using traditional methods passed down through generations.
This Romany caravan contains beautiful authentic features –  including some of the original paintwork on the  pot box at the back of the wagon.  The owners,  talented artists,  have painted the wagon using traditional art techniques to show stunning scroll work.  Located nearby the medieval town of Lostwithiel,  in the Fowey River Valley, a place knee deep in history and home to a lively and vibrant community.  Rambling Rose is the ideal base to explore the breathtaking countryside and discover the many unspoiled beaches of Cornwall.

Redcaboose Getawaym Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula in Sequim

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Experience the “Romance of the Rails” in your own private caboose! Not “just a room in a house” or hotel but your own private luxury railroad car- A CABOOSE.   When staying at Redcaboose you’ll enjoy gourmet breakfasts that are elegantly served in a 1937 Zephyr private dining car.  No worries that this caboose isn’t on the tracks as it’s ideally situated on a shy 3 acres around a central duck pond with short travel distance to the Olympic National Park, Hoh Rain Forest, wild Pacific Coast beaches and only a short ferry ride to Victoria, Canada. As seen on TV’s EVENING MAGAZINE & N.W. BACKROADS, THE FOOD CHANNEL, Published in BEST OF THE NORTHWEST, SEATTLE PI NEWSPAPER, THE LONDON TIMES, NEW YORK TIMES,SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE ,COASTAL LIVING & SUNSET MAGAZINES, & recommended in FODORS GUIDE.

Livingston Junction Cabooses, Eureka Springs, AR

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Spend your vacation in a luxury historic Caboose fashioned from actual rolling stock and furnished in quaint elegance. Romantically nestled on the mountainside with marvelous views of the historic site of railroading as it was in days gone by.  The name, Livingston Junction, combines the name of the “hollow” viewed down below the cabooses and the intersection where the original railroad from Seligman, Missouri headed south to Harrison, Arkansas and beyond. It spurs off to Historic Eureka Springs.

“J.J.” Caboose” bordering Glacier National Park, in Essex, Montana

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Named for James Jerome Hill, the Empire Builder of the Great Northern Railway, Luxury Caboose “J.J.” offers a cozy and inviting Western retreat.   J.J. blends wood, leather and stone to reflect Montana’s rich flora, fauna and landscape. Walls of turquoise aspen and rustic barn wood, accented with recycled chocolate leather, warmly envelope the soothing leather furnishings. The kitchen boasts a full refrigerator, gas range, microwave and copper sink. Lotus granite countertops, glazed hickory cabinetry, and the blue pine eating bar compliment the rich wood interior. The bedroom is walled in spalted birch and barn wood, accented with recycled leather. The queen size bed has a denim duvet adorned with a Glacier Park Pendleton and Hudson Bay pillow shams, echoing the theme of Great Northern’s sleeping cars.   JJ is a truly remarkable way to experience Glacier Park.

“Santos Express”,  Santos Beach, “the Garden Route”, Mossel Bay, South Africa

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What a view?  Known as `The Train` by locals, and situated at Santos beach,  in the heart of South Africa’s gorgeous Garden, Santos Express,  must win the award for a converted train, located in the most beautiful spot.  When you vacation at Santos Express you’ll enjoy the unique and romantic experience of staying on a real train only 30 meters from the magnificent Indian Ocean.   I’m making reservations….

Cancun’s Underwater Museum

Back in 2009 a most bizarre and unusual project began to take form in the Mexican Caribbean, off the coast of Isla de Mujeres and Cancún. Man hand picked 400 Sculptures life size figurative sculptures and placed them underwater in the oceans seawater.  It’s now referred to as Cancun’s Underwater Museum.

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Not just any sculptures either these sculptures were created and made with special artificial reefs from pH neutral clay that enables  marine life to grow.  The corals attract marine life to breed and take shelter in order to boost the local ecosystem. The beauty in all of this is that as time goes on the sculptures will naturally change as the coral grows as marine life inhabit the structures.
carHow these pieces help marine life to breed:

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Corals build the rampart that shelters the landward provinces of mangrove and sea grass. The reef’s calcium carbonate city teems with species, among them this spiny-headed blenny.
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Within a few years these crystal clear waters will be home to one of the largest underwater museums on the planet.
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Today divers and snorkelers (as there are shallow sections just for snorkeling),  come from all over the world to admire this underwater museum.  Depending on what operation you go with the prices range from $55.00 – $65.00 US dollars.  That include one tank dives and your gear along with your boat ride that takes you to your destination.
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The big news is that the artist and founder of this project Jason de Caires Taylor who’s gained international recognition for his unique work, plans to add 63 new pieces to the museum this coming July.  One of pieces will be a unique kinetic sculpture boasting wings made of living fan coral with a listener feature device that allows you to hear near by sounds.
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That should be some sight to see that you don’t want to miss if you happen to be vacating anywhere near the Isla de Mujeres in Cancun.  AND if you’re worried about diving or snorkeling don’t be, because after a few lessons it’s so easy that I’ve heard even the local pups can do it.
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Cancun has everything you need to have the time of your life.  Situated on the south-east coast of Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula. Warm clear white powdery sand beaches and turquoise crystal clear waters await you with famous Mexican hospitality helps this make this a place like no other!

See the vacation rentals in Cancun