Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean

18 March 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Environment, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  19 minutes

Aldabra Giant Tortoise © Trisha M Shears

Aldabra Giant Tortoise © Trisha M Shears

Aldabra is the world’s second-largest coral atoll. It is situated in the Aldabra Group of islands in the Indian Ocean that are part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, with a distance of 1,120 km (700 mi) southwest of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. Aldabra atoll has, besides the four larger islands, some 40 smaller islands and rocks, all inside the lagoon, as well as a few very small islets at the West Channels between Grand Terre Island and Picard Islands, the largest of those being Îlot Magnan. A small scientific research station of the SIF is based on La Gigi village on Picard Island. The permanent staff (currently 12) conduct research to study Aldabra’s biodiversity. Aldabra is not easily accessed. No airstrips, helipads or landing jetties have been permitted to be built on the atoll. The nearest airfield on Assumption is 50 kilometres (31 mi) south-east of Picard Island. Supply ships operating from Mahé provide food and other essentials once every two months to the scientists and staff at the research station. Cruises are operated by several companies along with dive boats which may visit the atoll on expedition tours. Visits to the island by people other than the scientists and staff of the SIF are strictly controlled and only guided tours are provided with prior permission., an average of 900 tourists visit the atoll a year. Within the atoll, paved walking paths exist from the village of La Gigi, which leads to a promontory from where scenic views of the large lagoon (during low tides) and the mangrove species are seen.   read more…

Theme Week Thailand – Chiang Mai

29 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Tinsulanonda Library © FreeGenius

Tinsulanonda Library © FreeGenius

Chiang Mai, sometimes written as Chiengmai or Chiangmai, is the largest city in northern Thailand and the capital of Chiang Mai Province. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok near the highest mountains in the country. The provincial capital is the economic and cultural center of the north. The city is also called the Rose of the North because of its scenic beauty. Chiang Mai is the center of Thai handicrafts. Wood processing, textile production and the processing of jade jewelry in particular are important branches of the economy. In addition, tourism is an important source of income for many people. Chiang Mai hosts many Thai festivals. In early December 2017, Chiang Mai was awarded the UNESCO title of Creative City. In 2015, Chiang Mai was on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage inscription. Chiang Mai was one of two tourist destinations in Thailand on TripAdvisor‘s 2014 list of “25 Best Destinations in the World”, where it stands at number 24.   read more…

Theme Week Thailand – Surat Thani

28 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Marinapark © - Ralf Schmidt/cc-by-sa-3.0

Marinapark © – Ralf Schmidt/cc-by-sa-3.0

Surat Thani is a city in Amphoe Mueang Surat Thani, Surat Thani Province, southern Thailand. It lies 651 km south of Bangkok. It is the capital of Surat Thani Province. The city has a population of 130,000, and an area of 68.97 square kilometers. The city’s population density is 1,858.47 inhabitants per km².   read more…

Theme Week Thailand – Nonthaburi

27 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  7 minutes

Wat Chotikaram © Archy36/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wat Chotikaram © Archy36/cc-by-sa-3.0

Nonthaburi is the principal city of the district and province of the same name in Thailand. It has city municipality (thesaban nakhon) status and covers five subdistricts (tambon) of Mueang Nonthaburi District: Suan Yai, Talat Khwan, Bang Khen, Bang Kraso and Tha Sai. As of January 2012, it has a registered population of 259,000, making it the most populous city municipality in Thailand (excluding Bangkok). Due to its location close to Bangkok the city is considered a suburb of Bangkok, part of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area, or Greater Bangkok. Nonthaburi is served by public transport systems including the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority bus system, the Chao Phraya Express Boat, and the newly opened MRT Purple Line.   read more…

Theme Week Thailand – Hat Yai

26 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  10 minutes

Klong Hae floating market © Fisher -

Klong Hae floating market © Fisher –

Hat Yai is a city in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border. It is 946 km (588 mi) south of Bangkok, and has a population of 159,000 in the city itself and about 800,000 in the greater Hat Yai area. Hat Yai is the largest city of Songkhla Province, the largest metropolitan area in the south, and the third largest metropolitan area of the country. It is often mistaken for being the provincial capital. In fact, Songkhla is the capital and the center of administration and culture while Hat Yai is the business center. The name “Hat Yai” is a short version of “mahat yai”, meaning big mahat tree, a relative of jackfruits in genus Artocarpus.   read more…

Theme Week Thailand – Udon Thani

25 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  7 minutes

Chinese Shrine © Stefan Fussan/cc-by-sa-3.0

Chinese Shrine © Stefan Fussan/cc-by-sa-3.0

Udon Thani is one of the four major cities (Khorat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Khon Kaen) of the Isan region, Thailand, (known as the “big four of Isan”). It is the capital of Udon Thani Province. Udon is approximately 560 km from Bangkok. Udon is a major official and commercial center in northern Isan, Thailand, and the gateway to Laos, northern Vietnam, and southern China. Some of the revenue from tourism is related to tourists going to and/or coming from the archaeological site Ban Chiang (forty-seven kilometres from the city).   read more…

Theme Week Thailand

24 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Bon voyage, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  12 minutes

Yaowarat Road, the centre of Bangkok's Chinatown © - Ninara/cc-by-2.0

Yaowarat Road, the centre of Bangkok’s Chinatown © – Ninara/cc-by-2.0

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese Peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km² (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world’s 50th-largest country by total area and the 22nd-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. It is a unitary state. Although nominally the country is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup, in 2014, established a de facto military dictatorship under a junta. Thailand is an emerging economy and is considered a newly industrialised country. Thailand functions as an anchor economy for the neighbouring developing economies of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.   read more…

Lamu Island in Kenya

3 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  11 minutes

Lamu Town © - Erik (HASH) Hersman/cc-by-2.0

Lamu Town © – Erik (HASH) Hersman/cc-by-2.0

Lamu Island is a port, city, and island just off the shore of Kenya in the Indian Ocean approximately 150 miles from Mombasa. It is a part of the East African country of Kenya. Lamu was founded in the 12th Century. Lamu is one of the longest established, and best preserved remaining settlements of the Swahili tradition in east Africa that remains today. The island has continually been inhabited for over seven hundred years, and continues to be an important center in eastern Africa. In 2001, Lamu was designated a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO site. Centuries ago the island of Lamu was highly dependent on the function of slavery in its economy, since abolishment of slavery the island has looked for other ways to bring wealth back into its economy. With the diverse cultural and colorful design of Lamu, it is a place of interest for tourists drawn to the East African Coast.   read more…

Theme Week Bangladesh – Dhaka

31 August 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  10 minutes

Rose Garden Palace © Bazaan/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rose Garden Palace © Bazaan/cc-by-sa-3.0

Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world, with a population of 18.89 million people in the Greater Dhaka Area. Dhaka is the economic, political and cultural center of Bangladesh. It is one of the major cities of South Asia, the largest city in Eastern South Asia and among the Bay of Bengal countries; and one of the largest cities among OIC countries. As part of the Bengal plain, the city is bounded by the Buriganga River, Turag River, Dhaleshwari River and Shitalakshya River. The city is located in an eponymous district and division.   read more…

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