Friday, April 20, 2012

Watarrka National Park Australia Trip

Watarrka National Park, synonymous with Kings Canyon, includes the western end of the George Gill Range. This scenic landscape of rugged ranges, rockholes and moist gorges acts as a refuge for many plants and animals. This makes the Park an important conservation area and a major visitor attraction in Central Australia. The traditional custodians of this land, the Anangu, believe the Central Australian landscape was created at the beginning of time by their ancestors. Their descendants have been protecting these sacred lands for thousands of generations since.

1.  The Park is located southwest of Alice Springs and can be reached via a number of routes:

2. via Larapinta Drive through the West MacDonnell National Park. A Mereenie Loop pass
is required to travel this route and is available from the Alice Springs Tourist Information
Centre, Glen Helen Resort and Kings Canyon Resort.

3. via the Stuart Highway, Ernest Giles Road (4WD essential) and Luritja Road.

Watarrka National Park TripsThe Watarrka National Park is accessible all year round. The cooler months (April to September) are the most pleasant. Overnight camping in tents or campervans is not permitted in the National Park. Commercial motel and camping accommodation is the only option available for visitors wishing to stay overnight at Watarrka.

Before undertaking any of the following walks, consider your personal health, fitness and
available time. Visit the Safety Information Shelter and check the temperature gauge at the start of the Canyon walks.

The Kings Creek Walk 
(2.6 km, one hour return). The gentle slope of the track meanders up Kings Creek to a lookout point. This walk is suitable for families. Wheelchairs can access the first 700 metres.

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk(6 km loop, 3-4 hours). After an initial steep climb the walk offers spectacular views from the
Canyon rim. Along the way are the weathered, buttressed domes of the ‘Lost City’ and the sheltered ‘Garden of Eden’ with permanent waterholes and lush vegetation. This walk is suitable for fit, experienced walkers. For safety reasons, the track must be walked in a clockwise direction. This minimises traffic congestion, track erosion and vegetation degradation.

Kathleen Springs Walk 
(2.6 km, 1.5 hour return) leads to a delightful spring-fed waterhole, suitable for families and accessible to wheelchairs.

The Giles Track
 (22 km, 2 days) traverses the top of the range from Kathleen Springs to Kings Canyon with a halfway entrance/exit point at Reedy Creek/Lilla. Notify a reliable person of your intended walk plans and ensure they know to contact police if you do not return by the arranged date. Carry a satellite phone or personal locator beacon.

Western Macdonnell National Park and MacDonnell Ranges

Newhaven Station has many of the characteristics of the remote Great Sandy Desert and yet it is very accessible. The area is extensive, complex and intact. It is home to at least 15 nationally threatened species of animals and plants. It boasts ten vegetation communities and a wide array of landforms, none of which are well represented in existing reserves.

Whilst enjoying the Western Macdonnell National Park and Western MacDonnell Ranges, we will be bush camping at Redbank Gorge for three nights. Tents or swags are available - please advise the office of your choice. As this tour itinerary has consecutive nights of bush camping at Redbank Gorge, there will be glorious nights of relaxing camp fires and lots of starry nights guaranteed! It is considered a rigorous 4WD tour and therefore people that book on this tour need to be tolerant of remote outback conditions.

Alice Springs is an iconic Outback town, surrounded by a red desert the size of Europe and framed by the MacDonnell Ranges. Alice Springs played a critical role in the construction of Australia’s first overland telegraph line. Its history is populated by a colourful cast of characters that include gold-diggers, outback pioneers and Afghan cameleers. This is also the home of the Royal Flying Doctor Service the first aerial medical organisation of its type in the world.

To the east and west of Alice Springs are the MacDonnell Ranges. This japed and rocky spine stretches for hundreds of kilometres, harbouring gorges and permanent rock pools carved by prehistoric rivers. The Traditional owners of this area, The Arrernte people, believe Giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye became the MacDonnell Ranges – entering this world through one of the dramatic gaps in the escarpment.

The Larapinta Trail is a walking track that extends more than 220 kilometres along the West MacDonnell Ranges, crossing steep ranges and deep chasms. The Red Centre Way is a magnificent Outback drive that connects many of the Red Centre’s natural wonders. From the early 1900’s, fortune-seekers searched the Central Australia desert for rubies and gold. Natural riches of all kinds exist in this ancient landscape: you just have to know where to look.

Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park Aboriginal Cultural Landscape

Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is part of an extensive Aboriginal cultural landscape that stretches across the Australian continent. The park represents the work of Anangu and nature during thousands of years. Its landscape has been managed using traditional Anangu methods governed by Tjukurpa, Anangu Law. Within Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is Uluru, arguably the most distinctive landscape symbol of Australia, nationally and internationally. It conveys a powerful sense of the very long time during which the landscape of the Australian continent has evolved. Far from the coastal cities, and with its rich red tones, for some it epitomises the isolation and starkness of Australia’s desert environment.

When coupled with the profound spiritual importance of many parts of Uluru to Anangu, these natural qualities have resulted in the use of Uluru in Australia and elsewhere as the symbolic embodiment of the Australian landscape. As a consequence, Uluru has become the focus of visitors’ attention in the Central Australian region, while other parks offer a complementary range of experiences.

The park is owned by the Uluru–Kata Tjuta Aboriginal Land Trust. It covers about 1,325 square kilometres and is 335 kilometres by air and about 470 kilometres by road to the south-west of Alice Springs. The Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara adjoins the park’s northern boundary. Both the park and the resort are surrounded by Aboriginal freehold land held by the Petermann and Katiti Land Trusts.

Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is a cultural landscape representing the combined works of Anangu and nature over millennia. The importance of Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park’s cultural landscape is reinforced by the inscription of cultural and natural values for the park on the World Heritage List and also on the Australian Government’s Commonwealth and National Heritage Lists. The listed World Heritage values for the park are described in Appendix B to this plan, National Heritage values in Appendix C and Commonwealth Heritage values in Appendix D.

Cultural Values Aboriginal People of The Park
Anangu is the term that Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal people, from the Western Desert region of Australia, use to refer to themselves. Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara are the two principal dialects spoken in Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. Aboriginal people and their culture have always been associated with Uluru. According to Anangu, the landscape was created at the beginning of time by ancestral beings. Anangu are the direct descendants of these beings and they are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of these lands. The knowledge necessary to fulfil these responsibilities has been passed down from generation to generation through Tjukurpa, the Law.

There is strong and powerful Aboriginal Law in this Place. There are important songs and stories that we hear from our elders, and we must protect and support this important Law. There are sacred things here, and this sacred Law is very important. It was given to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers, our fathers and mothers, to hold onto in our heads and in our hearts.

Tjukurpa unites Anangu with each other and with the landscape. It embodies the principles of religion, philosophy and human behaviour that are to be observed in order to live harmoniously with one another and with the natural landscape. Humans and every aspect of the landscape are inextricably one. According to Tjukurpa, there was a time when ancestral beings, in the forms of humans, animals and plants, travelled widely across the land and performed remarkable feats of creation and destruction. The journeys of these beings are remembered and celebrated and the record of their activities exists today in the features of the land itself. For Anangu, this record provides an account, and the meaning, of the cosmos for the past and the present.

When Anangu speak of the many natural features within Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park their interpretations and explanations are expressed in terms of the activities of particular Tjukurpa beings, rather than by reference to geological or other explanations. Primarily, Anangu have a spiritual interpretation of the park’s landscape. In traditional terms, therefore, they speak of the park’s spiritual meaning, not just of the shape its surface features take.

Tjukurpa prescribes the nature of the relationships between those responsible for the maintenance of Tjukurpa and the associated landscape, their obligations, and the obligations of those who visit that land. The central attributes of these relationships are integrity, respect, honesty, trust, sharing, learning, and working together as equals.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town and Zhujiajiao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town located in a suburb of Shanghai city, Zhujiajiao is an ancient water town well-known throughout the country, with a history of more than 1700 years. Covering an area of 47 square kilometers, the little fan-shaped town glimmers like a bright pearl in the landscape of lakes and mountains. Zhujiajiao is a lovely town. It is about 1 hour West from Shanghai; the cheapest way is to get the bus from the Southern side of People's square, costs 12RMB, although buses are quite local and if you don't know Chinese, can be a pain to find.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town is a water village on the outskirts of Shanghai, and was formed about 1,700 years ago. Archaeological findings dating back 5,000 years have also been found. 36 stone bridges and numerous rivers line Zhujiajiao, and thousands of ancient buildings still line the riverbanks today. Many centuries-old stone buildings are home to residents today, as they were for many dynasties in the past. From the Zhujiajiao bus station, it is a 10 min walk to Zhujiajiao itself. There is a tourist information centre, where you can buy tickets, a 80RMB ticket gets you admission to all the attractions, plus a short boat trip (recommended), although most of the town is easily walkable. There is no traffic in the town, which is a blessing.

The five-arch Fangsheng Bridge built in 1571 in the Ming Dynasty is still standing there. Inscriptions on the weather-beaten steles by the side of the river tell people to do good things and accumulate merits for the after life. There are altogether 36 bridges in the town and each has a name and possibly a story, which will speak itself when the tourist sits on the bridge, staring at the mosses growing out of the gaps in the stones or the river on which boats pass by. After visits of participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meetings held in Shanghai in 2001, the town became more famous and frequented.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland officials wouldn't say when the park will open or how much it will cost. The company stated in a press release that theShanghai park will include "characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region," but a spokesperson declined to elaborate on what types of rides or attractions might be on offer. The Shanghai government has already reserved an estimated 1,000 acres near Shanghai's international airport in the city's Pudong district. Some speculate that the Chinese government's sudden announcement that Disney could go ahead may be timed to precede U.S. President Barack Obama's first visit to China Nov. 15-18, which will include a stop in Shanghai. "It's a huge investment," says Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group in Shanghai. "By allowing this now, it gives face to Obama and really shows that China and the U.S. need to work together to get out of this financial malaise."

Although theme parks made up less than a third of Disney's total revenue of $38 billion last year, Shanghai Disneyland still figures to be a key addition to the business because it will boost the company's visibility in one of the world's fastest-growing markets. Due to government rules aimed at protecting the public from what are perceived to be unwelcome foreign cultural influences, awareness of the Disney brand in China lags that of the rest of the world. Unlike in the U.S., where Disney operates a 24-hour TVchannel and radio station, the company's presence in China is limited to a dozen hours of programming a week on local stations, five Disney-branded English-language schools in Shanghai and sales of Disney merchandise. In the past two years, Disney has produced two children's films for the mainland, The Magic Gourd and Trail of the Panda. China limits the number of foreign films that are allowed to screen in theaters to 20 a year.

The approval for park construction comes amid China's ongoing efforts to develop its tourism sector, which is expected to increase 3% this year. As disposable income in the country grows, amusement parks have proliferated throughout the country by some estimates there are as many as 2,000 but the quality of the attractions is uneven. Earlier this year, a sex-themed park in the central Chinese city of Chongqing called Love Land was torn down before it could open to the public. Shanghai, however, could be on the verge of a tourism boom. The city will host the World Expo starting in May 2010.

Since mainland Chinese make up a third of visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland, some fear that the Shanghai park will siphon tourists away from the former British colony, which is part of China but has a semi autonomous government (mainland tourists must obtain visas to visit Hong Kong). Since opening four years ago, Hong Kong Disneyland has underperformed due to its small size at 300 acres, it's the smallest of any Disney park as well as high ticket prices and competition from a nimble competitor called Ocean Park.

Shanghai Disneyland officials dismissed concerns that a new park in Shanghai will steal Hong Kong customers. "We see that Hong Kong Disneyland and the Shanghai park as complementary," said an official in an e-mail. "We believe the Greater China market is large enough to support multiple parks."

Terracotta Warriors History Of China

Terracotta Warriors In 1974, villagers digging for a well near Xi'an in central China accidentally discovered one of the world's most astonishing archaeological sites. Buried beneath their feet was an army of over 8,000 life-size warriors and cavalry in full battle formation. The figures were made of terracotta and were once painted in life-like colors and carried actual weapons. This was the discovery of the funerary army of China’s first great emperor, Qin Shi Huang, buried over 2,200 years ago. Qin Shi Huang was the Chinese emperor who founded the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. He united all of the smaller kingdoms in what is now known as China into a single empire.

His name means “The First Emperor” and the word China itself is derived from the name of his dynasty. Qin Shi Huang was an all powerful tyrant. Using the limitless labor of his subjects he consolidated many smaller walls into the Great Wall of China. He used that same limitless labor to prepare his burial site and the TerraCotta Army.

The terracotta warriors are remarkably realistic sculptures. Most figures are about six feet tall. Each head was individually sculpted to reflect the personality of the soldier. Originally the figures were painted in bright colors but most of the paint has been lost and the warriors appear a light brown over a black fired finish. This is the color that we know them by today. A small collection of the original warriors has toured the major cities of the world. A number of television shows and magazine articles have featured the warriors. The most notable of these were by the National Geographic Society.

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Tiananmen Square Beijing China

It has been more than three months since the events of the beginning of June 1989, when the Chinese army clamped down on the students at Tiananmen Square. In the early hours of that tragic Sunday morning, the democratic hopes and aspirations of the Chinese people were crushed by the “People’s Liberation Army” with tanks and gunfire. We mourn for those who died.

One fortunate aspect of the course of events was that the world was witness to what happened in Peking, thanks to courageous correspondents like the BBC’s Kate Adie "Goddess of Democracy" at Tiananmen Square and many others. Images like those of the lone student holding up a column of tanks are inedibly etched into the memory of the world community.

After “Tiananmen” there have been many articles and comments in the international press on the impact of the crackdown on China itself, its relations with the West, and on Hong Kong. However, surprisingly, there has been hardly any discussion of the impact of “Tiananmen” on the relations between Taiwan and China. On the following pages we present an assessment from the perspective of the Taiwanese.

Firstly, the tragic events in Peking show what the Taiwanese people have known for a long time: that Chinese leaders will revert time and again to repressive measures to maintain themselves in their position of power. This is why the Taiwanese have advocated a free and democratic Taiwan, separate from mainland China, and have always rejected “reunification”, whether under the rule of the Kuomintang authorities in Taipei or the Communists in Peking.

The Taiwanese have never believed Peking’s promises that Taiwan can maintain its own political and economic institutions under the “one country, two systems”. The experience of the Tibetan people after 1949 shows how empty these promises are. The Tiananmen Square events show even more clearly that the Chinese rulers do not hesitate to use brutal force against anyone daring to challenge their power, even against their own people in their own capital, let alone against people far removed from the center of the “Middle Kingdom.”

The massacre at Tiananmen Square and the atrocities following the “February 28 Incident” are separated by four decades. But the roots of the government behavioral pattern Chinese political culture can be traced to ancient times. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” may be the often-quoted words of Mao Tse-tung, but the statement has rather accurately reflected the mentality of the Chinese ruling class of any ideology. Dynasties may change, but the ruthlessness and cruelty with which each government rules China has remained pretty much the same since antiquity.

Chinese rulers have long used history to justify their mandate to rule. Each dynasty has had an official historian to write and compile the history of the previous era to justify the imperative of the present rule and the correctness of the present ideology. In the process, documents and interpretations that challenged the government version were twisted, if not destroyed, and their authors severely punished. The Chinese-style “education” that stressed memorization, uniformity and obedience has been used in part to help perpetuate the government’s twisted interpretation of history.