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Get lost in Angkor Wat

March 30, 2011

One of my biggest traveling regrets is that I didn’t head up to Cambodia and check out Angkor Wat while I was in Cambodia.(If I had a couple extra thousand dollars lying around I would’ve in a heartbeat).

But this temple looks like it is something out of a movie set; it’s hard to believe that it was built in the 12th century. And despite all the time that has past and all the new temples that have been built to hundreds of gods throughout the world this remains one of the largest religious buildings in the world.

 

I could say a lot about the history of this place, but the pictures are much cooler to look at!

Falling in South Africa

March 26, 2011

Bungee jumping seems like it would be a pretty scary thing to do just about anywhere, but what about in third world country? That’s just down right terrifying! But regardless of its Human Development Index, South Africa is home to one of the highest commercially operated bungee jump bridge in the world.

You only live once right? I read a quote somewhere that said “bad decisions make for good stories” and I think that jumping off a bridge in Africa would make for a good conversation starter.

Bloukrans Bridge is located in the Western Cape and was built in 1984. It stands 708 feet high above the Bloukrans River. There are tons of tour companies that run trips out to the bridge for bungee jumping. You will be bombarded by tour groups offering this in the Victoria Waterfront in Cape Town. It’s about a three or four hour drive from there so you would have to dedicate an entire day to this activity.

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Hostels from around the world

March 23, 2011

If you’re travelling on a budget you know that hostels are the place to stay. While most are pretty basic and act simply as a place to crash after a long day of exploring a new city, some hostels around the world are pretty unique. Here is a list of five of the craziest.

Drain Pipe Hostel

Hope you’re not claustrophobic. Dasparkhotel converted several huge drain pipes into pretty nice looking rooms. WIth electricity and a bed what else could you want…except maybe a bathroom

Exploranter- Overland Hotel


If you think sleeping is a waste of time than this hostel if for you. As you sleep the driver takes you through the back roads of Brazil and shows you something off the beaten path.

Capsule Hotel

If the drain pipe hostel looked too small for you, than you probably won’t like the capsule hotels in Japan. They are basically just stacked cubicles that act as your bed.

Jumbo Plane Hostel

Don’t let the picture fool you… this is actually a hostel, not a real plane. This Swedish plane was converted to offers a unique place to stay for tourists.

Tree House Lodge

This isn’t the tree house you made in your back yard. This hotel in Costa Rica offers every little kids dream, located right in the middle of the country’s beautiful rain forest.

Door of No Return: Ghana

March 21, 2011

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While traveling is supposed to be a chance for people to escape reality, there is no denying that some parts of life just can’t be ignored. The world is full of places that are home to crucial events in society’s history and when you visit these places, I feel like you should make the effort to learn more about their history.

The Elmina Castle, in Elmina, Ghana, is the oldest European building in Sub-Saharan Africa. While this is important, the castle is most known for the part it played in the Atlantic Slave Trade. It was a main spot where slaves sold to the Portuguese were held before being transported to other Portuguese colonies to be resold.

Growing up in America you learn a lot about slavery from an American perspective — the Underground Railroad, the Emancipation proclamation, the Civil War— but to see it from an African perspective is entirely different. A tour of the castle will take you into the tiny cells where hundreds of slaves were forced to live for months until they were transported, many of which died before leaving. You can walk through the “doors of no return” and see the dock where boats would be waiting.

While some things may be hard to hear or see, a trip to the Elmina Castle will open your eyes to the history of this great country.

Six Flags Great Adventure

March 18, 2011

With the uncanny success of MTVs Jersey Shore, Seaside Heights, the small beach town on the coast of the Garden State, has seen an influx of summer tourists. While the owners of Bamboo and Karma may love all the extra attention our state is receiving, some locals may be getting sick of the Bennys.

So if the club scene isn’t for you or you want to check out possibly the only part of Jersey that doesn’t have  a reality show, head to Jackson Twp. to experience Six Flags: Great Adventure.

Here are a list of the rides you MUST go on:

1. Kingda Ka– this is the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster and no matter how many times I have been on it, I still get butterflies while I’m waiting. Lines for this coaster tend to be VERY long, like hours long. But if you have the time to spend waiting around its worth it, although the ride itself lasts about 10 seconds.

2. El Toro – this roller coaster is made entirely out of wood and is considered one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world. The ride itself is long and exciting, and the wait in line usually isn’t that bad.

3. Nitro- this was the fastest and tallest roller coaster in the world for a while until Kingda Ka beat it out, but don’t let the loss in title fool you- Nitro is one of the best rides at the park. It runs very smooth and has a great build up as you reach the top of the main drop –

4. Superman: Ultimate Flight – For this ride you lay on your stomach so it feels like you’re flying. It’s not my personal favorite ride, but its a unique experience for a roller coaster.

The Ice Hotel is melting soon

March 15, 2011

I am extremely thankful that spring is about to be upon us. I hate the winter and I hate the cold. But as all the snow begins to melt from my front yard, I couldn’t help but think about the one travel experience I would go on that would lead me into perhaps one of the coldest nights of my life. A stay at the Ice Hotel.

 

The Ice Hotel is located in Jukkasjärv, Sweden, and you guessed it, is entirely made out of ice- 10,000 tons of ice and nearly 30,000 tons of snow. Now this isn’t just an igloo that you bunker down in for the night. The Ice Hotel comes complete with a bar (where even the glasses are made out of ice), a chapel, a main hall, a reception area and of course suites for nearly 100 guests.

If you want to spend the night in this amazing hotel you better plan your trip between December and April, because after the winter season this hotel is out of business as it slowly melts away. But no worries, a new Ice Hotel will be built next year, with a completely new layout and design!

Thoughts and prayers for everyone in Japan

March 13, 2011

Photo by Kate Bradley

When I went to Japan in 2009 I was lucky enough to do a homestay with an amazing Japanese family. They took my into their home and showed me what Japanese culture is all about- from eating seaweed soup for breakfast to getting fitted for a traditional kimono.

The experience lands at the top of the things I did while on Semester at Sea. In fact, all of my friends that did a homestay in Japan would probably say the same thing.

The people I experienced in Japan were gentle, kind and amazing. My prayers go out to all of those affected by the tsunami.