Around the World: Nanxun Old Town

Around the World: Nanxun Old Town

Shanghai, China

This is one of the most well-preserved cultural heritage sites. Get a glimpse of ancient village life, including travel by canals. Originally called Xunxi in the 9th century, it was renamed Nanxun in the 13th century. 15 old bridges still remain from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The layout of traditional streets has been preserved. One of the best known sites is the Little Lotus Garden, built by three generations of the Liu Yong family over 40 years. As the name suggests, this area of the garden features a lotus pool that covers 5,400 square feet.

A THRIVING ECONOMY

This town was important to the distribution of farm and other products by water. As time went on, it became one of the first entrepreneurial regions south of the Yangtze River. Production of silkworm and silk reels flourished as the silk trade developed. Shanghai may be known for its modern lights and skyscrapers, but this is the place to go to see traditional Chinese life.

HOW TO GET THERE

Nanxun Old Town is located 119 km southwest of Shanghai. By car, that’s about 1 hr. 40 min. away and is pretty much a straight shot along two major highways. For flights to China, trust Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to China. Call or email us today to get started!

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

Photo Credit:

By The original uploader was TIY at Chinese Wikipedia – Transferred from zh.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3498363

Around the World: Fundo Yerba Loca

Santiago, Chile

 Activities

This park offers a variety of activities. Ice climbing on the waterfalls is a popular activity in the winter. Experts claim this is the best spot in South America for this activity. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can trek 9 hours to La Paloma Glacier. If the full hike is not feasible, there are many valleys along the way where you can camp for the night and head back. Or you can go horseback riding! Horse rentals are available for the day or multi-day walks and are relatively inexpensive.

Ice climbing. Photo Credit: By Bernhard - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36837
Ice climbing. Photo Credit: By Bernhard – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36837

 Flora and Fauna

Over 500 species of plants live here, as well as foxes, rabbits, hares, and birds. Rodents are the main inhabitants of the park, however, including the coruro and degu. In the highest reaches of the park, it is possible to observe eagles, condors, and other predatory birds.

A degu, one of the many rodents who make their home in the park. Photo Credit: Degu - By Markus - NagerUploaded by snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17632214
A degu, one of the many rodents who make their home in the park. Photo Credit: Degu – By Markus – NagerUploaded by snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17632214

 Fundo Yerba Loca Archaeology

There are over 100 archaeological sites scattered throughout the park. These sites include ancient workshops, stone walls, and tacit stones.  Artifacts found indicate a human presence as far back as 6,000 years ago. However, due to the climate conditions, the people here likely did not establish permanent roots, but instead used this area as a temporary dwelling place.

One culture that lived here were the Chiquillanes. They inhabited the area after 1500 AD. This culture was nomadic hunter gatherers who survived on fruits, tubers, and animals.

The culture with the most impact on the area were undoubtedly the Incas. For them, this land was sacred. Human sacrifice victims have been found fully persevered, due to the cold climate. One of the most famous examples, and one that happened to be found in the park, was the Plomo Mummy. This mummy was that of a boy who was left in the cold as a sacrifice to the sun god, Inti. The practice of human sacrifice was called qhapaq hucha in the Incan language. This was done to stop natural disasters or during major festivals at ceremonial sites.

Plomo Mummy (replica on display at the National Museum of Natural History– By Jason Quinn - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6859937
Plomo Mummy (replica on display at the National Museum of Natural History– By Jason Quinn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6859937

 HOW TO GET THERE

By car, the park is accessed by Route G-21, the road to Farellones, and then exit 15 where you’ll find the entrance to the reserve. It’s about two hours east of Santiago. For flights to Chile, trust Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to Chile. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

Around the World: The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco

Cusco, Peru

 The mission of this museum is to preserve ancestral weaving traditions and Andean textiles. Working with local villagers, the museum aims to keep the tradition alive.

History of Andean Textiles

For thousands of years, weaving has been an integral part of the Peruvian culture and the dominant art form. Weavers developed original styles and designs, some of which are unique to the Pre-Columbian cultures who first inhabited the Andes.

Mantle, Paracas, 100 BCE-200 CE, plain weave camelid fiber with stem-stitch embroidery. Photo Credit: http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/pre-incan-textiles-inventing-a-tradition/
Mantle, Paracas, 100 BCE-200 CE, plain weave camelid fiber with stem-stitch embroidery. Photo Credit: http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/pre-incan-textiles-inventing-a-tradition/

Ancient textiles are often discovered fully preserved due to the dry mountain climate and the manner of burial customs used by ancient Andeans.

Headband, Wari, 600-850, camelid fiber and cotton; interlocked tapestry weave. Photo Credit: http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/pre-incan-textiles-inventing-a-tradition/
Headband, Wari, 600-850, camelid fiber and cotton; interlocked tapestry weave. Photo Credit: http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/pre-incan-textiles-inventing-a-tradition/

Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Spanish, weaving was nearly lost completely. When the Inca state fell in 1533, the infrastructure – including textiles – also fell. The Spanish shut down the weaving centers because they did not want competition for weavers back home in Spain. During this period, the quality of Andean textiles decreased dramatically without the oversight of Inca weavers. Some indigenous people still produced traditional clothing and wore them out of loyalty to their Incan heritage. This small act of defiance to the Spanish government would help fan the flames of the later revolution that granted Peru its independence in 1826.

 Weaving Classes

Classes on weaving, spinning, knitting, and braiding are available. The classes will instruct you on techniques that the Incan ancestors would have used. Visitors work side by side with indigenous weavers and learn not only about weaving but also about their culture and tradition. Classes are taught in Quechua and Spanish, but the instructors know some English and English instruction packets are provided. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in another culture, make new friends, and learn a new skill!

 Weaving Museum and Shop

In addition, the museum documents important aspects of the art. The finest textiles from the Cusco region are on display there. It’s truly amazing to see how the tradition has thrived despite the major cultural upheaval 500 years ago. The shop sells handmade crafts for visitors to purchase including shoulder bags, ponchos, and hats. This is a true hands-on Peruvian experience!

An Indigenous weaver making items to sell. Photo credit: http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/museum-shops/
An Indigenous weaver making items to sell. Photo credit: http://www.textilescusco.org/index.php/museum-shops/

 HOW TO GET THERE

The museum and shop are located in Cusco itself. Weaving demonstrations and classes are taught in Chinchero, about 45 minutes from Cusco. Whichever aspect of the center you choose to visit, it’s easy to reach by car. When it’s time to book a flight to Peru, trust Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to Peru. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

Around the World: Parque Nacional Pre-Delta

Rosario, Argentina

Pre-Delta Biodiversity

There are a variety of places to see the diverse flora and fauna, including:

Spot La Cage – Great for camping, hiking, and boat excursion

Spot La Mangas – Location of a wharf, walking trail, and gazebo

One of the park’s great attractions are the large lily pads called Irupés. These aquatic plants are unique to South America. Though not as large as their cousins in Brazil, these plants are more resilient to lower temperatures. For this reason, the Irupé has been cultivated in manmade ponds for centuries. Its ability to withstand a substantial amount of weight and its purple and white flowers are its claim to fame.

The Victoria Cruziana flower that grows on the lily pads. Photo Credit: De USDA - http://www.usna.usda.gov/graphics/usna/home/adv101202.jpg, Dominio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1001857
The Victoria Cruziana flower that grows on the lily pads. Photo Credit: De USDA – http://www.usna.usda.gov/graphics/usna/home/adv101202.jpg, Dominio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1001857

Animals of the park include a large number of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Kingfishers, capybaras, catfish, otters, frogs, and 182 species of fish all make their home here. Everywhere you look, nature is brimming with activity.

Green-headed Tanager - a common bird species in the Pre-Delta. Photo Credit: By Lars Falkdalen Lindahl (User:Njaelkies Lea) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14528500
Green-headed Tanager – a common bird species in the Pre-Delta. Photo Credit: By Lars Falkdalen Lindahl (User:Njaelkies Lea) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14528500

HOW TO GET THERE

The Parque Nacional Pre-Delta is about 2 hr. and 11 min. north of Rosario by car. When it’s time to book a flight to Argentina, trust Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to Argentina. Call or email us today to get started!

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

 

Around the World: Kerala Folklore Museum

Kochi, India

This museum is dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of southern India. The architecture of the museum itself has historical significance. It is a mixture of 17th-20th century traditional design. Inside, over 4,000 artifacts capture the spirit of the region. For those wishing to do more than browse displays, special live performances are available, as well as an on-site café that features traditional cuisine. All facets of anthropology are represented here, from linguistic to sociocultural, archaeology to physical anthropology. It truly is the best place to soak up the flavor of southern India.

Models of men from different castes and tribes wearing traditional face painting and head coverings. Photo Credit: http://keralafolkloremuseum.org/anthraGallerys.php?id=19
Models of men from different castes and tribes wearing traditional face painting and head coverings. Photo Credit: http://keralafolkloremuseum.org/anthraGallerys.php?id=19

History of Kerala Folklore Museum

The Kerala Folklore Museum is the only architectural museum in Kerala and documents over 1,000 years of history. Its founder, George J. Thaliath, had 35 years of experience in antiquities and interactions with different tribes, castes, and indigenous peoples. He developed an appreciation for all walks of life and made his dream of opening the Folklore Museum a reality. As such, the museum endeavors to bring this love of humanity and reverence of culture into its exhibits.

Photograph on display at the museum. Photo Credit: http://keralafolkloremuseum.org/anthraGallerys.php?id=19
Photograph on display at the museum. Photo Credit: http://keralafolkloremuseum.org/anthraGallerys.php?id=19
Traditional Dancing. Photo Credit: http://keralafolkloremuseum.org/anthraGallerys.php?id=19
Traditional Dancing. Photo Credit: http://keralafolkloremuseum.org/anthraGallerys.php?id=19

HOW TO GET THERE

The Kerala Folklore Museum is located in Kochi itself. A six-minute car ride or 4 km walk will take you there. To book a flight to Kochi, India, trust Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to India. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

Around the World: Arikamedu

 

Pondicherry, India

The Roman empire stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Near East, from the shores of Africa to northern England. It may surprise you to learn they had a trading post in India. Originally founded by the Greeks, this post traded with Indians and Romans for about 200 years, from roughly the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD. Eventually, it was conquered by the Romans.

Entrance to the site. By Jayaseerlourdhuraj - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21295694
Entrance to the site. By Jayaseerlourdhuraj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21295694

Silk Road Trading

Archaeologists believe this was a stop on the Silk Road as well as a major seaport, as evidenced by the remains of an ancient harbor. Major imports to Arikamadu included wine and olive oil from Rome. Exports heading back included glass and stone beads, semi-precious gems, and glass and shell bangles. Artifacts found at the site suggest a wide array of goods were exchanged, though beads seem to have been one of if not the most popular commodity. In fact, beads  were so plentiful that locals claim you can still find beads on the nearby beaches after a heavy rain.

 

Grey pottery with engravings found at Arikamedu. Photo Credit: By PHGCOM - self-made photographed at Musee Guimet, 2007, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3598599

Grey pottery with engravings found at Arikamedu. Photo Credit: By PHGCOM – self-made photographed at Musee Guimet, 2007, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3598599

World Heritage Site

Arikamedu has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has contributed much to the understanding of cultural exchange in the ancient world. One of the most significant historical finds at the site, aside from the popular glass beads, are black and red megalithic stones known as Pandukal, Tamil for “old stones.” These structures have been used as grave markers prior to the Roman occupation and represent an important part of the Tamil region’s history.

 HOW TO GET THERE

Arikamedu is only a 12-minute car ride from central Pondicherry. It is also accessible by walking 4.4 km, about an hour. Flights to Pondicherry are available through Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to India. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

 

 

 

 

Around the World: Dodda Aladha Mara

Bangalore, India

 When visiting India, you should definitely see the forests. Not only are they the inspiration for stories like The Jungle Book, they are some of the most unique forests on the planet. In fact, the “forest” of Dodda Aladha Mara is really a forest of one plant. That’s right: a single tree appears to grow as a forest.

The Magic of Banyan Trees

Banyans start off as epiphytes, which means they grow upon another plant, like a tree, without harming the other plant. This may sound borderline parasitic, but epiphytes only use their plant companion for physical support. In short, Banyans get by with a little help from their friends. Being a fig tree, banyan seeds are typically dispersed by fruit-eating birds.

You may be wondering how a tree could grow so large and wide and it appears to be a forest. Banyans have special roots known as “prop” roots. They grow into thick trunks and become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Older banyans, like Dodda Aladha Mara, can spread out laterally and use their roots to cover a wide area.

Prop roots allow banyan trees to grow laterally. Photo Credit: By Kiran Gopi - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5 in, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15023516
Prop roots allow banyan trees to grow laterally.
Photo Credit: By Kiran Gopi – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5 in, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15023516

Big Banyan Tree

This is what Dodda Aladha Mara translates to, and it’s not hard to see why. Covering 3 acres (12,000 m2 ) makes Dodda one of the largest banyan trees in the world – quite a lot of ambition for a tree! At 400-years-old, it’s still going strong, though the main root was lost to disease in the early 2000s. Without the main root to visually connect the prop roots, the tree seems to be a forest of many banyans.

Mischevious Monkeys

A large number of monkeys make their home in the Big Banyan, and while they are cute, visitors should exercise caution. Be sure to secure valuables like cameras, food, and hats.

HOW TO GET THERE

A 50-minute car ride will get you to the car park, which has space for about 30 vehicles. In addition, there are bus routes which will drop off visitors right beside the tree. For flights to Bangalore, we’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to the India. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

 

 

Around the World: Gentse Gruut Brewery

GHENT, BELGIUM

Belgium is famous worldwide for its beer brewing. In fact, the Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has repeatedly been rated the world’s best beer. And yes – the beer is still brewed by monks. With so much good beer around, it’s hard to choose which breweries to visit.

Whether your clients are very much into craft brew or simply looking for a good ale while in Belgium, Gruut is the place to go. It was only established in 2009 and while reviews are very good, it’s not as well-known or crowded as older breweries.

HISTORY OF GRUUT

Gentse Gruut was established in 2009 by Annick De Splenter. She has a history of brewers on both sides of her family. Some of these ancestors even worked for well-known brands. When she was older, Annick decided to become an independent brewer. This was not easy. She wanted to try a medieval style of brewing that does not make use of hops. After extensive research and a biochemistry course, she finally had what she was looking for: five varieties of gruut.

MEDIEVAL BEER

If you’re not familiar with Belgian history, the country has always had two dominant cultures: French and Flemish. French language and culture tends to dominate the southern part of the country while Dutch is found in the northern part. In medieval times, the river Leie divided the city of Ghent into these two cultures. In a sense, Ghent was a microcosm of the country as a whole. The right bank of the river used traditional ingredients like hops while the left side, which was controlled by the French, used a mixture of herbs and spices called “gruut.”

A HEALTHY BEER

Consuming too much hops can have negative side effects, including an estrogenic effect similar to consuming too much soy. Unfortunately, the main source of hops is in beer, especially IPAs, which makes avoiding hops a difficult undertaking. Gruut however does not use hops.

TYPES OF GRUUT

There are five types of gruut brewed here and each one has unique characteristics:

  1. White – aromatic, fruity, and hint of creaminess
  2. Blonde – barley aroma with a cloudiness
  3. Amber – A deep copper color with a smooth finish
  4. Brown – A rich, nutty flavor
  5. Inferno – Golden ale
20141031105559594-glas-en-flesje-wit.jpg-square
Gruut White Beer Photo Credit: http://www.gruut.be/en/Bieren/Index/194/gentse-gruut-white

MAKE YOUR OWN BEER

For a small fee, visitors who wish to go beyond the tasting experience can actually create a bottle of their own brew. Expert brewers will instruct visitors on how to practice “beeralchemy” as they call it – mixing ingredients and finding which ones work best together. Once satisfied, visitors may take home a bottle to share with friends and family. The brewery will actually create and bottle a visitor’s recipe in larger quantities. However, keep in mind that bottling orders come in very large quantities and are expensive.

  • 1000 bottles: 5.5€ a bottle
  • 500 bottles: 6€ a bottle
  • 250 bottles: 7€ a bottle

HOW TO GET THERE

Ghent is a very walkable city and so the fastest way from downtown is a 10-minute jaunt. It’s only a few hundred feet from the river Leie and just south of Baudelopark. When it comes to airfare, we’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to the Netherlands. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

 

Around the World: Wereldmuseum

Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Dutch Golden Age lasted approximately from the 17th century until the end of 19th century. During that time, art, science, and trade flourished in the Netherlands.  So it’s not surprising that a country that traveled to exotic lands would begin to collect artifacts from other cultures. Thus, the Wereldmuseum was born.

Wereldmuseum

More than 1,800 objects, representing cultures from all over the globe, are displayed at this museum. Its purpose: to illustrate the development of Rotterdam as a world city by offering glimpses into other cultures. 160 years of collecting and 2,000 years of history combine to make this magnificent museum what it is today. The artifacts showcase aspects of everyday life including food, beverage, clothing, war, religion, art, weapons, trade, horticulture, and more. Free guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Some of the beautiful artifacts on display on shown below:

Photo Credit: Wereldmuseum.
Photo Credit: Wereldmuseum.

Sioux Moccasins from North America

 

Photo Credit: Wereldmuseum
Photo Credit: Wereldmuseum

Artifact from Holland

Marquesas Islands
Photo Credit: Wereldmuseum

 Conch shell, Polynesia 

 

HOW TO GET THERE

From the city center, the path to the Wereldmuseum is only a 14-minute walk. To get across the ocean, trust Sky Bird Travel & Tours. We’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to the Netherlands. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!

 

Around the World: The Green Ranch

Kumasi, Ghana

 

The Green Ranch

There’s no better way to see the countryside of Ghana than on horseback from the Green Ranch. This place specializes in horseback tours by certified expedition guides. The friendly staff provides delicious vegetarian dishes and the ranch offers the chance to stay on-site in one of three comfortable, handcrafted rooms. Horseback tours are available from 1 hour to a 10-hour full tour of the nearby lake.

Photo Credit: http://www.greenranchlakebosomtwe.com/photo

green ranch 1
Photo Credits: http://www.greenranchlakebosomtwe.com/photo

Lake Bosomtwe

The Green Ranch is on the shores of Lake Bosomtwe, the only natural lake in Ghana. It is situated within an ancient impact crater about 6.5 miles in diameter. Estimates have placed the age of the crater at 1.07 million years old.  Local Ashanti people consider Lake Bosomtwe to be sacred. Should your clients opt for the 10-hour horseback tour, they will be guided around this lake and the surrounding rainforest.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Lake_Bosumtwi%2C_Ghana.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Lake_Bosumtwi%2C_Ghana.jpg

Lodging

Three rooms are available for guests who wish to remain on-site. These rooms are handcrafted from a mix of natural materials including wood, mud, and rocks. Guests will enjoy the comfortable, cool feel of the rooms. Laundry is also available upon request.

 

How to Get There

A little over an hour by car will bring guests to the ranch. As for flying to Ghana, we’re partnered with over 90 airlines, so no matter their city of departure, we can get your clients there. As a top airfare consolidator, Sky Bird Travel has the lowest net fares to Ghana. Call or email us today to get started!

 

Are your clients looking for something off the beaten path? Are they not interested in tourist traps? Stay tuned for our Around the World series. Several times a week, we share interesting things to do in exotic places. Give your clients a new experience in old places!