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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Do you have what it takes to Step Into the Void?

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Employees at “Step into the Void” 

On the top terrace of the Aiguille du Midi mountain peak, high up in the French Alps,  overlooking Chamonix, stands a five-sided glass structure named “Step into the Void.”  Inspired by the Grand Canyon’s glass-skywalk, the Chamonix glass room takes things to an entirely new level – the Void!.  Rather than looking over a railing, here guests stand 3,396 feet in a completely glass box,  hanging over the valley below.

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During Construction of “Step into the Void.”
Photography Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix

“Step into the Void” is made of three glass walls, a glass floor and glass ceiling panels,  offering spectators the opportunity to manage, their vertigo and experience “space,”  all while admiring the outrageous views from a rather dramatic perspective.

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Chamonix ‘Step into the Void’ – architect’s design. Credit Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix

Safety is clearly of utmost importance.  Each of the glass panels is custom built,  12mm thick, and consist of three layers of glass that have been bound together. According to creators, the structure can withstand winds of more than 220km/ h and a maximum temperature of 60° so a few humans hanging in the room aren’t too much stress on the structure.

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Credit Compagnie du Mont-Blanc Chamonix

Designed by Pierre-Yves Chays,  “Step into the Void”  is reached by The Aiguille du Midi cable car. The summit of Aiguille du Midi is the closest point you get to Mont-Blanc without climbing it.   The  Aiguille du Midi is the starting point for the ascent of Mont-Blanc to the Three-Mont-Blanc Route and many other sports such as off piste skiing in the winter season, or hiking, and paragliding in the summer and autumn seasons.

Brave enough to “Step into the Void”?  Visit Compagnie du Mont Blanc and make your plans to visit Chamonix, France.

Go Ski & Be Happy

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Photograph by  joedesperado ©2012-2013

“Planning a skiing vacation? The sheer pleasure and excitement that humans experience on skis, a snowboard or other downhill mountain paraphernalia,  undoubtedly enhances one’s happiness, producing more serotonin than perhaps any pill can.    This is based on personal experience, hitting the slopes with buddies.  Funny, how science often proves, what we know to be true, as really true.

It’s official.  Plan your ski vacation now and, barring any unforeseen circumstance, you’ll increase your happiness levels, according to an article published  in Springer’s Journal called “Applied Research in Quality of Life” by Hyun-Woo Lee and colleagues from Yonsei University in the Republic of Korea.

According to the release dropped this week   “… even one-off skiing trips can give you a valuable boost in pleasure and well-being.”  So there’s no reason to delay your ski-vacation,  even it’s the only one you are planning this wintery season.

How wonderful is life when science and skiing cross paths and participants get an all-inclusive, paid snowboarding vacation,  in resorts in the French Alps,  Switzerland’s St. Moritz,  Zermatt or Davos,  Colorado’s  Aspen,  Vail, or   Copper Mountains, or perhaps Mt Baker, Washington …… ok… that’s not in the study, though,  can’t we dream of the places that “science meets pleasure. ”   Where we get to go on vacation to prove something that we already know.   The bottom line is clear.  If you want your family to love you and feel that real holiday spirit, then plan your ski vacation now.

A slightly more interesting perspective, or prospective ski study, would be to figure out the difference between what your mood level is from the time you get to the ski-lift,  reach the top of the mountain,  select the black diamond, or not,  and make your way down the slope to the bottom.

Perhaps all you need is your Jawbone or some other monitoring device to do this.   There seems to be no need for MRI’s or fancy scientific equipment.  Perhaps just a simple questionnaire or voice activated recording,  with geo-location capabilities, of course,  that triggers you with a complex question, such as “how are you feeling right this moment.”  Say or press  “1” for ecstasy  “2”  excited  “3”  fearful  “4”  happy  …..  You get the idea.

Any info. on how to apply for a scientific grant to do this study?  I’m in the mood to ski.   What about you?   Think about it.   Each run is always different.   Perhaps we can study ski resorts around the world,  run by run,  resort by resort,  and then do an overall comparison of where people experience the most happiness on each mountain. More specifically we can propose to identify exactly where on each slope we felt the happiest.   Was it in Copper, while in one of the bowls, or in Vail as we finished one of the long, wide runs of Riva Ridge, Born Free, Simba,Lodgepole, or Bear Tree? You got the picture.

One thing is certain,  as long as you make it down the run,  you always arrive at the base a lot happier than you were when your first got into the line to go up the mountain.   It’s after the run that eyes are sparkling,  smiles are bigger,  and there is an overall sense of feeling really good.   And isn’t that what vacations are about anyway?

So how many runs would it take to turn that frown into a smile?   Perhaps just visualizing the run could do it as you avoid any possible frost bite,  standing in line,  strained muscles,  and freak accidents.

Nah, that’s not living.    To live,  as an adult, and be truly happy and fulfilled requires us to turn to a more child like state. “Adult playfulness can influence people’s happiness, while activities and socially convening around a sporting activity such as skiing have positive psychological outcomes and contribute to overall well-being,” said Hyun-Woo Lee.   Just writing this article and thinking about skiing has put me in a better mood.

Now what if we studied the impact of who you went skiing with on your happiness level.  I mean, would it make a difference whether you took the run with a lover,  your spouse,  your entire family, or a group of friends.

Happy Trails! Oh, and Holidays from VacationDiggs!

Grand Canyon Once-In-Lifetime Event Captured in Photographs

The last weekend of November 2013, witnessed a rare weather phenomenon at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Known as “temperature inversion,” it’s an event that occurs approximately every 10 years. The entire canyon was filled with fog. To make the scene, even more dramatic, the skies above were bright and cloudless.

A ‘temperature inversion’ occurs when warm air acts like a lid and seals the cool air below.   Condensation takes place as the warmer air cools and forms fog, that is  trapped in the canyon by the heavier cooler air.

Park Ranger Erin Whittaker who took many of the dramatic images featured below, told the Daily Mail that temperature inversions occur once or twice a year, though only fill up select areas of the Canyon.

To see more of these stunning images,  check out Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook.

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

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Photograph by Erin Whittaker/National Parks Service
via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook

Iconic Santorini’s Boutique Cave Hotel’s Iconic Beginning

Iconic Santorini,” a  new and unique boutique cave hotel that’s located in the village of Imerovigli on the gorgeous Greek island of Santorini, has  opened for bookings.  This special property is created to make guests feel as though they are in the private residence of a Greek friend and fits perfectly with its mantra of ‘unearthing the exceptional’.

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The residence sits on a spectacular hillside and is literally carved from Santorini’s volcanic caldera wall.  Offering guests a tranquil bedroom retreat with breathtaking views of the azure waters below.

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Each of the 22 individual rooms and suites is  designed with touches of the Greek-style that complement the historic Cycladic architecture.

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The magic of this spot is palpable throughout.  Relax in the infinity pool, sunbathe on the pool terrace, unwind in the spa.

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Less than 60 years ago these elegant accommodations were functioning homes.  The neighbourhood pathways still connect the hotel to the adjacent properties and what was once the village bakery is now The Iconic Suite, complete with the original stone baking oven.

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For those wanting to explore the island there are a number of cultural and adventurous activities available, including visits to museums and archaeological sites, wineries and wine museums, sightseeing and hiking and chauffeured tours and boat tours, all of which can be booked through the hotel’s concierge.

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The gym and spa has a range of professional exercise equipment and a private treatment room for individual or couples massages. After enjoying one of the relaxing treatments, guests can take pleasure lounging in the indoor grotto pool, soothing away any remaining stresses.

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Traditional Hellenic hospitality will ensure that each guest is welcomed as a special visitor to their island residence and cared for individually. The unrivalled service offers guests a truly timeless experience with idyllic options for a romantic getaway or relaxing escape.

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Accommodations range from EUR 495 (£425) per room per night on a Bed & Breakfast basis, including VAT to EUR 2995 (£2,571) for The Iconic Suite, which features a private indoor grotto pool.

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For more information visit Iconic Santorini

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or for other options check out Santorini Vacations

Top 10 Once-In-A-Lifetime Vacation Destinations

Choosing a vacation spot can be tricky at the best of times, let alone when you’re searching for a once-in-a-lifetime break.
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Whether it is for a honeymoon, an extended break or just satisfying your global wanderlust, we are blessed with a breadth of options.

Across every continent there are truly unique, must-see destinations you should consider for your next trip. From the historical, metropolitan capitals of Europe to the roving landscapes of rural Uganda, we take you through ten once-in-a-lifetime locations.

Barcelona, Spain
The Catalan capital, Barcelona is one of Spain’s most metropolitan places. Centuries of history hang on every street corner, and those with an interest in the arts will find plenty to see and do. From the spires of the Barri Gotic, and Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia, visitors can absorb the gothic grandeur that gives Barcelona its distinctive feel. Its beach has been ranked as one of the top ten beaches in the world, and with warm sunshine all year round, conditions are perfect for taking in everything this magnificent European city has to offer.


Maine, USA
One of the most scenic locations in the US, Maine has been a favorite destination for all manner of retreats for years. The wider New England area is one of the most desirable places to be in the US, on the north-eastern tip of the country. Its national parks, shores and harbors give you plenty to do and see. Bordering Canada on its northern front, Maine is a corner of the country far removed from the bustle of city life. For a relaxing retreat with an outdoors focus, Maine is definitely worth considering.

Pemaquid Lighthouse and Cliffs; Maine, USA


Donegal, Ireland
Ireland is renowned the world over for its friendly, welcoming people. Irish culture resonates with people of Celtic origin around the world, and for many visitors it can feel like a genuine homecoming experience. Donegal is one of Ireland’s most scenic counties, and one that shows off Ireland’s rugged natural landscape. The history, art and music of the region make Donegal a mecca for those with an interest in Irish culture and heritage. A must-see destination for any globetrotter, Donegal is located to the west on the Irish border.
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Machu Picchu, Peru
Few places on earth are as grand as Machu Picchu. Sited 2500 meters above sea level, Machu Picchu is located in Peru’s Urubamba Valley. Known locally as “The Lost City,” Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca settlement that still bears many of its original features to this day. Expeditions to Machu Picchu on foot can take several days of trekking through the valley, which houses the magnificent Urubamba river. For anyone who appreciates outdoor vacations, the trip to Machu Picchu is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

Paris, France
The famous “city of love,” Paris is an ever-popular destination for old romantics the world over. Of course, there’s so much more to France’s capital than its cultural connotations. A center of European art, cuisine, history and culture, Paris has streets that are paved with centuries of stories and intrigue. A historic hub of the continent, Paris tells the story of millennia of human civilization, through its art, architecture and period features. From middle-age castles and Châteaux to the famous Arc de Triomphe, Paris is famous the world over for its remarkable sights – both for couples and families embarking on a trip.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Formerly Brazil’s capital city, Rio De Janeiro today is one of the most frequently visited cities in the world. In the coming years, Rio De Janeiro will play an instrumental part in hosting both the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016. The city is known as the party capital of Brazil, and its beaches and scenery represent the country proudly. Nestled at the heart of one of the world’s few exploding economies, Rio De Janeiro is a vibrant, lively place to spend your vacation.
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Dubai, UAE
Dubai has boomed like few other destinations in the last decade, thanks to its increasingly liberal approach to trade and commerce and swelling oil revenues. Its perfect white sands and audacious skyline tell the story of this emirate’s recent past, and Dubai already welcomes tourists in their droves seeking luxury vacation stays. A portal to the Arab world, Dubai offers a unique experience for holidaymakers. Its stunning scenery mixes heritage with Dubai’s thoroughly modern, fast-paced style, creating a memorable destination for any type of visit.

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Bwindi, Uganda
The Bwindi nature reserve in Uganda isn’t a location many people will be familiar with. But it has more than enough appeal for those looking for an amazing life experience. A natural habitat for some of the world’s most stunning wildlife, the Bwindi region is famous for its wild Mountain Gorillas. Bwindi Forest is one of the most diverse habitats in Africa, home to many unique and interesting species. Safari trips to Bwindi are becoming increasing popular, especially among newly-weds and those marking special occasions with their vacation.

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Bali, Indonesia
Imagine perfect beaches, stunning blue ocean and an island paradise. Chances are, what you’re thinking of looks like Bali. An island in its own right, Bali has been inhabited for several thousands of years. Today, it relies heavily on tourism, yet it remains exclusive enough to retain the feeling of escape. Its local arts, culture and crafts make Bali an intriguing place to those from the West, and its temples and shrines are some of the most spectacular in the world.
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The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Few places have the draw of the Galapagos Islands, particularly for those with a fascination for animals and the natural world. Studied by Charles Darwin in his seminal works, the island is home to colonies of birds and other wildlife, including the famous giant tortoise population. Today, the Galapagos remains a popular destination for those choosing destinations for their vacation, in addition to an essential home for some of the world’s most endangered species.

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Out of these 10 which one would you pick?

Ibiza News

Ibiza

If you’re planning a little vacation this summer and Ibiza’s on your wish list, you may want to consider traveling in May during Ibiza’s 3 Day Medieval Festival event.  This  specular three-day event a true journey back in time which can be enjoyed by all ages and is completely free of charge.

The annual festival starts on May 10th in Dalt Vila and it’s become an international audience affair celebrating being granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1999 in recognition of the island’s special cultural significance to the common heritage of humanity, and in honor of its long and well-preserved history.

01Originally known as Ebysos, which translates as the Town of Bes (Bes is the Phonoecian God of dance, accredited with leading all of the poisonous animals off Ibiza), Dalt Vila was founded by the Carthaginians in 654 BC and became the nub of Mediterranean navigation due to the maritime commerce of the Carthaginian Empire.

The same walls that were built ages ago that protected Ibiza from the Romans and the Greeks still have the imprints of their history right from the earliest settlers through to the Renaissance Age due to the fact that, rather than destroying the earlier fortifications, these were actually incorporated into the newer architecture.

It’s no surprise then that UNESCO classifies Dalt Vila the best preserved coastal fortification in the Mediterranean area…and definitely cause for an annual festival!

There streets will be nicely decorated with market booths displaying their arts and crafts selling all types of exotic spices, leather goods, soaps, jewelry, and all kinds of goodies and treats to eat while you stroll the streets and enjoy the music of live entertainment.