A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about ecotourism

Rovaniemi and Jyvaskyla

Reporting from Helsinki

sunny 18 °C
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I decided not to clog up the Christmas in July post with the other thing we did in Rovaniemi - and we weren't there long really, so went to one museum and for a short walk along the river...

It was a very interesting museum called Arktikum, which showed life in the Arctic Circle, and also had lots of interesting information about animals, trade and history. It was in a building with a long glass arch, and photos of it in winter makes it look like an igloo. In summer however, it is a greenhouse and was stifling hot under the arch.

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We had a long drive to get from Rovaniemi to Jyvasklya and so opted to get going early and have breakfast as a stop on the way. Our other reason for getting away early, was that the reason we were stopping overnight at Jyvaskyla on the way to Helsinki was to get to the Alvar Aalto Museum, which we realised was shut on Mondays, so in order to visit, we needed to get there with enough time to enjoy it and it closed at 6pm on Sundays! So with the museum plugged into our GPS, apart from breakfast, we didn't stop. We have hauled the camping stove with us, so were glad to get it out to make coffee at a stop on the side of the road! Cereal and bananas made a perfect break stop!

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The museum was really interesting. Alvar Aalto was a furniture designer and architect, renowned for designing Finnish summer homes using natural and environmentally sympathetic materials. He was also an inspiration for many of the stools and chairs in Ikea, such as the common Frosta stool and everyone's favourite the Poang chair. He looked to create furniture from sustainable woods, and pioneered the use of plywood layers and bending wood.

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Jyvaskyla was a quick visit, given we arrived at the museum at 4pm and left the following morning after breakfast. But we did sample some local beers and enjoyed a walk around the town, along this gorgeous rainbow road!

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Posted by aboo10 03:12 Archived in Finland Tagged children animals museum finland ecotourism family_travel midnightsunrun Comments (0)

For the First Time in Forever...

Reporting from Bergen

sunny 14 °C
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Now, if you have an eight year old daughter, like we do, you would know that the title of this blog post comes from the Disney movie, Frozen.

So for the first time in forever, we are the furthest north we have ever been - we are 60 degrees north, and this is much further north than Harbin, China which was only 45 degrees north, almost level with Paris! We are even further north than the top of the United Kingdom!

But also for the first time in forever, Disney, when making Frozen, which is a computer generated movie, set what is otherwise a generic fairy tale (based on The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Anderson) in Norway. The developers visited Norway and drew inspiration for many parts of the movie from genuine Norwegian towns, costumes and forests.

When we were in the Historical Museum in Oslo, we came across a model of a Stave Church, which was not too far off the route we were heading along to get to Bergen... so we thought we'd stop by to have a look... And in the first time in forever, the Borgund Stave Church we visited was the inspiration for the castle in Arendelle...
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For the first time in forever, we drove along through the stunning fjords, which were also inspiration in the movie, and at one point, Elsa freezes them all! And saw snow capped mountains
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For the first time in forever, we drove through the world's longest tunnel - the Laerdel Tunnel - 24.51km long. It has 3 caves hollowed out along its length to give drivers a break from the claustrophobic feel of the tunnel, and you are allowed to stop in them! We didn't, but they are illuminated with blue lights and also give something to look forward to!
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For the first time in forever, we got to Bergen, which is a UNESCO Listed Heritage Site, and was originally one of the Hanseatic Trading Ports, and so like in the movie becoming trading partners would have been desirable. The wharf area of Bryggen (where we had lunch and dinner!) is just gorgeous, with brightly coloured timber buildings, just like the township of Arendelle...
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For the first time in forever, the whole family went on a hike! We got the venicular railway up to a view point to see a stunning view of Bergen, and then we started following a nature trail, complete with trolls, and streams and then realised that we could walk back to our AirBNB apartment... so we did...
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and had a beer in the sun in the front garden.
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Posted by aboo10 14:13 Archived in Norway Tagged landscapes mountains buildings children history norway ecotourism family_travel midnightsunrun Comments (2)

My Son

Reporting from Ho Chi Minh CIty

sunny 30 °C
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Primarily our trip to Vietnam was for a beach holiday, but as I already said we thought we should visit the main cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well, and while we were at it thought we should see something near HoiAn that was historical and cultural. So we arranged for a trip to My Son Holyland- a religious centre from the 4th to 13th centuries before lapsing into ruins. It was discovered in the 1890s by French archeologists, and there were about 70 temples in the valley. Unfortunately during the Vietnam War the most impressive remains were destroyed completely by bombing.

We were up early for a big breakfast and to meet our driver at 7.30, to beat some of the heat of the day. The drive from our resort was a bit over an hour, and we were dropped off at the bottom of a trail to head up to the ruins.

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Then when we got to the top, the first thing we saw was a huge empty structure with chairs, a few electric fans and a stage. After a quick refreshing drink of water, the kids took to the stage and Didi in particular took to posing his arms similar to photos on the walls of traditional dancers. We realised there would be a show on in 15 mins and decided to stay exactly where we were in the front row of the seats. Didi and Jie Jie continued to dance around on the stage and then suddenly disappeared behind the curtain... and befriended one of the dancers in the show. When the show started she even waved secretly to them! There were four acts, which were apparently traditional from the original inhabitants of the My Son area.

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After the show we walked over to the first group of ruins, the groups of ruins here are imaginatively labelled with just a letter A-K. The first group, and the ones with the 'best' ruins are the BCD Group. The ruins in this area were temples and towers in this Holy City, with the oldest part being the main sanctuary built in the 4th Century. Largely the temples were made of brick, but also with some large stones for supporting structures, it all looks quite romantic as now many of the ruins are covered in vegetation.

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In this section as well there are two decent sized halls, which have withstood the ravages of time and now are galleries housing some of the best preserved pieces of Cham sculpture from the region. The Cham Empire was in place in Central Vietnam from the 2nd Century until its downfall in 1832, and most of what remains from the ancient kingdom is the art and architecture, which was most impressive between the 8th and 10th Centuries.

It was very hot while we were here, and there was little respite from the sun, and the kids found it quite tiring and heavy going. Mike and I probably could have stayed there for a bit longer, but the kids were exhausted, and even after a rest stop, and meanders around the ruins, I think they felt that once they had been inside one of the ruins, the rest were all the same. But we kept on and visited most of the groups, but kept moving, and alternately piggy backed the kids. But it was definitely a relief when we gave up our dreams of being Indiana Jones or Lara Croft and returned to the comfort of the air conditioned car and headed back to our resort.

The only thing that scared us was the warning in the guide book to stick to the paths as the area had been mined during the Vietnam War! The My Son ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it was a stunning adventure for us, and made us all the more keen to visit somewhere like Angkor Wat in the future. There is a lot of restoration and rebuilding work being undertaken at the moment, and the preservation of this historic site is important for future visitors.

Posted by aboo10 16:19 Archived in Vietnam Tagged landscapes buildings children temples ruins ecotourism family_travel Comments (0)

Standing on top of the world

Reporting from Shangri-La

sunny 15 °C
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As I said yesterday, the skies were blue, there was no rain so what did we do?? Our option 1, that we'd deferred from the day before of course! What was it?? A cable car up through Blue Moon Valley to the top of Meili Snow Mountain!
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How lucky are we?? We were standing at 4500m overlooking the most spectacular landscape! There is a boardwalk up the top, so we couldn't just go off and hike (phew), but it wasn't easy walking because at that altitude oxygen is thin, and there were still loads of steps to climb. Didi was carried by poor Mike in the carrier, and Jie Jie, trooper that she is, walked the whole thing, although bribed with chocolate koalas along the way! At the end didn't want to climb up to the highest peak again, which if the truth be told is actually higher than 4500m (maybe 4550m), but Mike went up again.

I'm not going to describe the view, because I really can't do it justice... I think this time the photos speak for themselves!! I've also put comments on the photos in the album, so check that out for narrative!

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Posted by aboo10 18:18 Archived in China Tagged ecotourism Comments (2)

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