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Photo of the Day – Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

Just 8 miles north of the busy Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, lays one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India – the Batu Caves. Dedicated to Lord Murugan, whose giant golden likeness guards their entrance, the series of caves and cave temples takes its name from the Batu River which flows past the hill. Created by limestone said to be 400 million years old and rising over 300 feet high, the entrance to the two largest caves – the Temple Cave and the Dark Cave – sits atop a steep flight of 272 stairs frequented by a fearless lot of macaque monkeys. Visitors can freely roam the ornate Hindu shrines of the Temple Cave but due to its delicate ecology access to the Dark Cave is restricted to paid, guided tours. The Batu Caves are one of Kuala Lumpur’s best sights and, thanks to convenient direct metro access from the city center, also one of the city’s least expensive attractions for visitors.

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Photo of the Day – Paraw Sunset Boracay, Philippines

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Paraw Sunset Boracay, Philippines

When visiting the spectacular island of Boracay in the Philippines there are a number of active pursuits to fill your days. But one of the absolute must-do activities on Boracay is to take one of the traditional “paraw” sailing crafts out for a sunset sail. The paraw is a double outrigger sailing boat native to the Visayas region of the Philippines. Each day around 4:00pm the local paraw boat captains swarm to the shores of White Beach to take visitors on sails lasting from 40 minutes to an hour depending on price. As you stretch out on the paraw’s netted wings with the waves lapping just beneath you to watch the sun descend toward the horizon you’ll quickly realize what makes the paraw sunset Boracay’s most romantic and relaxing experience.

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Photo of the Day – White Beach Boracay, Philippines

Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – White Beach Boracay, Philippines

While it’s just one of the 7,107 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago, the tiny island of Boracay is without a doubt one of the most popular with visitors. So much so that in 2012 Travel + Leisure magazine awarded it the coveted title of “Best Island in the World.” Located just off the coast of Panay island in the Western Visayas, tiny Boracay is just over 4 miles long and 2.5 miles across at its widest point. A wide stretch of soft white sand lapped by the turquoise Sulu Sea make White Beach Boracay’s most famous spot to enjoy the island’s natural beauty. In 2013, TripAdvisor named White Beach the “Best Beach in Asia” and it truly has something for everyone with hundreds of guest accommodations ranging in luxury from 1 to 5 stars. By day, White Beach is home to sunbathers and water sports enthusiasts but by night the restaurants and clubs that line its shores make the island a top choice for visitors looking for an energetic nightlife scene.

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Photo of the Day – Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

It was 1939 when Lakota (Sioux) Chief Henry Standing Bear sought out the talents of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create a monument of Crazy Horse in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculptor had first visited the area during work on nearby Mount Rushmore and in 1947 he accepted the challenge to create the world’s largest sculpture depicting a Native American icon. Blasting on the Crazy Horse Memorial began at a 1948 dedication ceremony and continues to this day with no end in sight. The first blast removed just 10 tons of rock from the mountain face. Following Korczak’s death in 1982, his wife Ruth and seven of their ten children took over the monumental project with the hopes of seeing his dream fulfilled. Today, you can see Standing Bear’s vision slowly becoming a reality. Crazy Horse’s face was finally unveiled with great fanfare in 1998 and in 2014, the crew is hoping to finish work on the hand and 219-ft high horse’s head. Korczak’s 1/300th scale model adorns the visitor center at the base of the mountain and a viewing platform offers visitors the chance to watch the painstaking work continue while gaining an appreciation for the project’s eventual spectacular result.   

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Photo of the Day – Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Carved between 1927 and 1941 by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and a crew of more than 400 workers, Mount Rushmore is a larger than life memorial to the history of America. The massive project in South Dakota’s Black Hills was first envisioned in the early 1920’s by State Historian Doane Robinson. In 1924, state officials sought out Borglum, who had recently completed work on a Confederate memorial at Georgia’s Stone Mountain. The sculptor decided that the most fitting subject for the project would be four presidents representing the first 150 years of American history. Borglum pronounced the original proposed site too fragile and after exploration with local guides settled on Rushmore Mountain near Keystone. A multitude of challenges (from financial to safety) plagued the project but within a decade the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln began to emerge from the mountain. After Borglum’s death in 1941, his son Lincoln attempted to bring the project to completion. But the escalation of WWII and a lack of funds kept him from completing the figures down to their waists as originally intended. Despite the fact that it was ultimately never finished, Mount Rushmore plays host to more than 3 million visitors from around the world each year.

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Photo of the Day – The Blue Grotto Malta

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – The Blue Grotto Malta

Located along the island’s southern coast, a stunning natural cave formation surrounding bright cobalt waters makes the Blue Grotto Malta’s top visitor attraction. Named by a British soldier who thought it favored Capri’s famed Grotta Azzurra, Malta’s Blue Grotto has found a fame of its own and was even featured in the 2004 Brad Pitt movie “Troy.” The site attracts more than 100,000 tourists per year who take in the views from the shoreline, by tour boat or even underwater with a dive. Divers are able to fully appreciate the phosphorescent colors of the submerged flora when the sunlight reflects off the chain of caves created by centuries of persistent waves. This spectacular natural grotto is a sight to behold and like the Azure Window on neighboring Gozo Island, it’s a must-see on any visit to Malta. During my winter visit to Malta on Round the World #7, it was too cold for a dive but but I thoroughly enjoyed the sweeping views from the coastline.

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Photo of the Day – Banje Beach Dubrovnik, Croatia

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Banje Beach Dubrovnik, Croatia

Famously described by George Benard Shaw as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the charming Old Town of Dubrovnik was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1979. Just outside the historic City Walls, you might even have picturesque Banje Beach all to yourself if you visit during the mild winter months (like I did on RTW #2). In the scorching months of summertime, however, you’ll be lucky to find a spot on the sand as Banje Beach is the place to see and be seen for the European jetset. But whether you spend your days lounging seaside or walking the City Walls, Dubrovnik is a city that never fails to inspire. And for my money, the blissfully uncrowded winter months are the best time to visit.

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