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Photo of the Day – Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Located in the Italian town of Pisa just an hour’s drive from Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is known around the world for its gravity-defying tilt. Construction of this freestanding bell tower in Pisa’s Cathedral Square began in 1173 and continued in three stages across nearly 200 years. The tower’s tilt became evident almost immediately due to an inadequate foundation on one side that was unable to support the structure’s weight. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, engineers built the upper floors with one side taller than the other resulting in a structure that is actually curved. From 1990-2001, engineers worked to strengthen the internal fortitude of the tower and today visitors are even able to climb it. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is widely considered one of the most remarkable architectural structures remaining from medieval Europe.

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Photo of the Day – Hong Island, Krabi Thailand

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Hong Island, Krabi Thailand

Set against the spectacular backdrop of Phang Nga Bay, the four small islands that make up the Koh Hong group are widely considered to be some of the area’s most beautiful. A part of the National Marine Park, the largest of the four islands is the superbly-scenic Hong Island. This uninhabited island features soaring limestone cliffs and a vast interior lagoon (the “chamber” from whence its Thai name, “Hong” originates). The deep emerald green of the lagoon is accessed through a dramatic cliff passage and best explored by kayak or longtail boat. And don’t forget to bring a few slices of bread to feed the schools of tropical fish that will eagerly eat right out of your hand just a few steps from shore. The closest beach to reach the islands is Klong Muang, where I stayed recently. A longtail boat from this quiet beach will have you stepping off the dock onto Hong Island in just under 30 minutes. But if you want to capture this image you’ll have to go early (we arrived a little after 8:00am) as tour boats begin to show up in force from 10am and continue throughout the day.

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Photo of the Day – Maya Bay Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – Maya Bay Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

As part of Thailand’s Krabi Province, the stunningly-gorgeous Phi Phi Islands are one of the country’s most sought after destinations in the Andaman Sea. Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest of the archipelago but tiny Koh Phi Phi Ley has become the most popular with visitors. A ring of steep limestone hills surround two turquoise bays, Maya Bay and Loh Samah, and a shallow inlet with a small coral reef at the entrance called Pi Ley rounds out the island’s natural assets. Koh Phi Phi Ley rose from relative obscurity to overnight fame when it served as the setting for the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach. Controversy arose during production of the movie when 20th Century Fox altered some sand dunes, added foliage and cleared coconut trees to make the beach more “paradise-like.” But the 2004 tsunami washed away much of the added landscaping, widened the bay and helped to restore the natural ecosystem. Today, the island is part of Phi Phi National Park and visitors are charged a fee of 200 baht to set foot on its sublime shores. Many boat trips visit Maya Bay Phi Phi from nearby Krabi daily but only local longtail boats and smaller speed boats are able to actually bring visitors ashore. Larger boats anchor in the bay and allow guests simply to snorkel, dive or enjoy the panoramic views.

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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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