I was very young when I watched the Gladiator movie for the first time. There were a few scenes which got etched into my mind forever. Especially those fight scenes which take place inside an amphitheater and where Russel Crowe emerges victorious.
Gladiator, Enya, and Celtic Music:
I always wondered. Was the stadium so big during medieval times? Taking some imaginary cues and clues from the Discovery channel and Nat Geo, my inquisitiveness even grew bigger as in how almost close to impossible it had been to erect such a magnificent building. The vividness of the architecture shown in the movie floated over my mind for days.
Years later, when I was doing my masters, that was the first time I got adequately introduced to the Celtic music and learned that “Enya” was one of those singers whose songs echoed in my mind in accord with the emotional resonance.
Those golden wheat fields as shown in the movie in the end and the background soundtrack sung by Enya called “Now we are free” would transport me emotionally into a completely different dimension.
Reaching Colosseum after years watching Gladiator:
During my internship in Berlin, in my last months, I decided to visit colosseum. Though my journey began with Venice but I was actually waiting for to arrive in Rome and see the Colosseum.
When enquired at the hotel about the Colosseum, we got to know that there would usually be a long queue at the entrance. ignoring that fact, we (I and Shayan) decided to go there and deal with our lifetime opportunity. So we arrived at the Colosseum.
Of course, there was a long queue but you beat the wait at the queue with the enthusiasm. The first far glimpse of the colosseum from a distance seems a giant structure from the ancient times. The big pillars, high walls touching the sky is a wonder in its own.
Colosseum does not seem to be engrafted with the beauty lying inside of it. From the outside, it just looks like an old rickety structure. When we entered inside, there were tier-level structures. The actual grandeur of that magnificent architecture can only be seen when you go inside.
There are tens of entrances to the colosseum. There used to be different entrances for the different class of people. For example, nobles had different entrance than the common man. Also, the sitting arrangement got used to get differentiated among the classes.
The higher hierarchy would sit on the top level while the lower class people used to sit at the lower sitting arrangements. There was also a common ground where gladiators used to fight. When I saw the main arena, that reminded me of the Gladiator movie.
You can still see the exposed part of the gates and alleys under the arena where gladiators used to stay back before entering the main arena. Those thick walls of small bricks, roman architecture and everything else would take you back centuries ago and force you to think the way it would have been then.
Colosseum in Evening:
It took us a lot of time to visit the colosseum. When the sun went down in the west, we did not realize. Once the darkness engulfed the sky, soon the pale yellow lights were being thrown at the outer walls of the colosseum. I and Shayan just decided to sit there for no reason.
Sky turned from dark blue to completely dark. The number of tourists abated gradually. Even the local by shops got closed. A few couples were walking hand in hand. And we just sat there on the rocks. I must insist that you should also experience something like that. Then, we again decided to take a round of the colosseum from the outside.
I don’t know what kind of experience I accumulated within me but that surely was something inexplicable. That was so mystifying in conjugation with the past and the movie Gladiator.
Taiwan is a small island nation in the East China Sea with modern cities, traditional Chinese temples, hot springs, and dramatic mountainous terrain. Many of us might not have heard of adventurous activities in Taiwan but there are endless opportunities for Taiwan Adventures and below we list all of them.
Adventures in Taiwan: 8 Outdoor Things to do
Cycling Adventures in Taiwan
Cycling activities can be arranged both around Taipei and Taroko Gorge. Experience some of the tough mountain rides in the foothills of Taipei, glide down through the canyon at Taroko Gorge or enjoy the sights with a ride down the east coast.
River Tracing / Canyoning in Taiwan
River tracing, sometimes called canyoning, is where we walk/climb/swim up a river. It is a refreshing, exhilarating and challenging experience. Taiwan is the perfect place for river tracing. The mountains are steep and stunning, and the rivers that run through them have crystal clear emerald colored water.
There are a large number of river tracing spots both around Taipei and Taroko Gorge that are suitable for a wide range of abilities and activities can be arranged for half to full day.
Kayaking Adventures in Taiwan
Carp Lake is located a short drive from Taroko Gorge, and it is the perfect spot for an introduction to kayaking. No kayaking experience necessary.Sea kayaking off the coast of Hualien is also possible depending on the season. Some kayaking experience is necessary for this activity.
High mountain Hiking: Trekking Adventures in Taiwan
Hiking on Taiwan’s high mountains is a world-class hiking experience. Taiwan has the second highest mountain range in eastern Asia. Many of its tall peaks are easily accessible on a weekend trip from Taipei and they offer some breath-taking views and challenging climbs.
- Hiking in Yushan’s (Jade Mountain) Southern Peaks, seen from Jade Mountain Main Peak and lit by a beautiful sunrise. Watch sunrise atop the highest mountain in Taiwan and all of north-east Asia. This popular hike is a once in a lifetime experience!
- Snow mountain hiking– A beautiful hike through a variety of ecosystems brings you to Taiwan’s second highest.
- The Wuling Sixiu hiking– A challenging hike to the top of 4 mountains in the Sheipa National Park. A very scenic and tough hike.
- Hiking in Dabajianshan– One of the most iconic mountains in Taiwan, Dabajianshan is a wonderful 3-day hike deep into the Sheipa National Park.
Paragliding Adventures in Taiwan
Paragliding at Luye Recreational Tea Farm
The plateau is the site of a paragliding base at the southern end of the tourist tea plantation area; the base is 150 meters above the plain below, and its fine geographic conditions and good weather make it one of Taiwan’s favorite spots for paragliding.
Paragliding in Pingtung County
Pingtung is home to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first National Park. Other visitor attractions here include the island Eden of Xiaoliuqiu, scenic forest-hemmed highways, Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area, and Taiwan’s best paragliding area, Saijia Air Park.
Coastal areas in Pingtung are excellent choices for coastal recreation, whether donning a snorkel to explore the beauty of the corals or hunting for shells on the beach.
Paragliding in Jibei Island
Jibei Island lies 5.5 kilometers north of Baisha Island; its size is about 3.05 square kilometers, and it is not only the sixth largest island in the country, but it is also the largest inhabited island among the 28 isles within Baisha village, except for Baisha Island itself.
Jibei is heaven for water activities, housing various types of recreational activities, including banana boat, dragged buoy, two-man speedboat, water motorcycle, under-the-sea sightseeing boat, paragliding and snorkeling
Surfing in Taiwan
Surfing at California B&B
Hotel California is a relaxed and laidback place decorated with surfboards and tropical plants. For the surfers out there, the hotel also stocks a good range of surf wears.
Surfing on Fulong Beach
Fulong Beach has clear seawater and long soft beach. It is perfect for surfing, sliding, and sailing. There is a spacious parking lot, camping area, restaurants and food court. It is the best-organized bathing beach in northern Taiwan. Every summer, people come here for a swim or to appreciate the beautiful ocean.
Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area
The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, which runs from Juifang south to Beigangkou in Yilan County, is noted for its natural beauty: reefs, rivers, terraced rice paddies, rolling green hills, lighthouses, and two of Taiwan’s best beaches. Recreational opportunities include camping, rock climbing, hiking along a 200-year-old footpath, and water sports, such as swimming, surfing,
Recreational opportunities include camping, rock climbing, hiking along a 200-year-old footpath, and water sports, such as swimming, surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving.
WindSurfing in Taiwan
Windsurfing at Shanyuan
Located 12 km north of Taitung City, Shanyuan is an excellent place for summer fun. This 1.5 km-long sandy beach is perfect for beach volleyball and making sand sculptures, and the coral reefs at the northern and southern ends of the beach are popular with divers.
The clear waters off Shanyuan are also ideal for sailing, surfing, windsurfing and swimming. Facilities include a wooded campground and outdoor restaurant area.
Mountain Biking in Taiwan
Moutain biking in Dongshan Area of Yilan County
While much of the county is taken up by mountains, in the northeast lies the Lanyang Plain—an alluvial delta stretched out in a triangle-shaped area of 300 square kilometers, formed as the Lanyang River squeezed its way between the Central Mountain Range on the south and Snow Mountain Range on the north to reach the Pacific.
Rivers and streams snake through the plain like the veins on the back of a hand, a natural state of affairs that provides kilometer upon kilometer of biking beside winding waterways, through fecund and (most importantly for cycling) flat countryside.
Ko Lanta is one of the biggest islands of Thailand situated in the south of Thailand. It is famous for beautiful beaches along its west side. Here is a complete Ko Lanta Travel Guide.
How to Reach Ko Lanta:
Ko Lanta is accessible from a lot of places like Krabi, Trang, Phuket, Phi Phi island using many modes of transportation like waterways or road ways. Below is a description of how to reach Ko Lanta from various place.
Krabi to Ko Lanta:
Krabi is one of the nearest airports to Ko Lanta. There are two ways to reach Ko Lanta from Krabi.
- Roadways or,
- By ferry
Reaching Ko Lanta from Krabi by Roadways:
There is no regular scheduled van service from Krabi Airport, although vans and taxis can be chartered to Ko Lanta for about 2,000 baht per vehicle (2,500 baht if you are going to the south end of Ko Lanta). The minivan ride takes around 3-4 hours to Ko Lanta as it also picks up and drops off people on the way.
If you get a bus from the Krabi airport to Ko Lanta then it should cost you more than 350 Baht. Alternatively, if you are taking a bus from the Krabi bus stand, it should not cost you more than 250 Baht to Ko Lanta. But the bus ride will be really long.
From Krabi to Ko Lanta by boat ferry:
If you want to come to Ko Lanta by boat from Krabi, you will have to take a bus or a minivan to the main pier in Krabi. The pier is called as Klong Jirad Pier. It is situated at the edge of the town to avoid the traffic. From the airport, it takes around half an hour to arrive on the pier.
One ticket from Airport to Krabi pier would cost you around 50 Baht to 100 Baht depending upon the transport type. The ferry can directly be booked at the airport itself. You can either book a regular ferry or a speed boat for the express transfer.
Tickets can also be booked online or bought at the airport itself. The ferry from Krabi to Ko Lanta takes around 2 hours and you get down at the Saladan pier which is situated at the Northern most point of the island. Most of the hotel guys offer a free pickup at the Saladan pier since the Ko Lanta island is very large in area.
Reaching Ko Lanta from Phi Phi Islands:
Boat takes around 1.5 hours from Phi Phi island to Ko Lanta. It costs on the average 300 Baht. There is a limited connectivity from Phi Phi island to Ko Lanta in terms of boats & ferry. Please make sure one day in advance that you book your ferry beforehand. During high season, ferry might not be available.
Also read: Phi Phi Island Travel Guide
About Ko Lanta:
Ko Lanta is a large island. It is around 30 Kms in length and 6 Kms in width. There are a total of 9 beaches that lie from North to South. Since these beaches lie on the western coast, most of these beaches are famous for the sunset views. Here is the list of beaches with their orientation from North to South:
- Kor Kwang beach
- Klong Dao beach
- Pra Ae or Long Beach
- Relax Beach – Pra Ae beach
- Klong Khong beach
- Klong Nin beach
- Kantiang Bay
- Ao Nui (Nui Bay)
- Bamboo Bay
More About these beaches can be read here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Ko_Lanta#Beaches
What to do in Ko Lanta?
Like other islands of Thailand such as Ko Phi Phi, Ko Samui, Ko Tao etc, Ko Lanta is not filled with so younger crowd. Here mostly people come to relax, watch sunset etc. There would not be so much of fun or party. Although, in the town, you can find such places.
Some of the activities that you can do on the island are boating, trekking, snorkeling, diving, Kayaking, fishing etc. More about it can be found here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Ko_Lanta#Do
Ko Lanta Snorkeling Tour:
Snorkeling tour around Ko Lanta is famous among the tourists. It is claimed that in the far islands you can even see sharks & sea turtles besides some of the amazing natural creations. The snorkeling tour is organized on the long-tail boat. It takes almost an entire day.
If you are in a group of a few people say five or more, you can hire an entire long tail boat. The snorkeling tour will usually start around ten in the morning and you will return by four in the evening. The price includes lunch, snacks, and national park fee.
The advantage of hiring a longtail boat is that it will be more kind of a personalized tour for all. There are four famous islands situated south to the Ko Lanta.
- Ko Ngai called as Ko Hai island
- Ko Muk island
- Ko Kradan island and,
- Ko Ruk island
However, Since Ko Ruk lies far away, there are generally two types of packages for the island trips from Ko Lanta:
- One without Ko Ruk island and,
- Another included Ko Ruk island
It is said that Ko Ruk island is really beautiful and you can see a variety of marine life over there. I do not know how much truth it holds. We did one-day island trip of which included three islands which included all the islands except Ko Ruk.
Ko Kradan island:
Ko Kradan would probably will be your first island that you visit on the island tour. There is a snorkeling place. Though shallow but that was interesting. There was tall white grass-like structure inside the sea. Also, there were some thorny animals.
Ko Muk island:
Ko Muk will be the next destination after Ko Kradan. Ko Muk is famous for the Tham Morakot or Emerald cave or Morakot cave. This cave is a part of the reserve forest. There is a cave of around 100 feet in length. Beyond the cave is an attractive, small, completely enclosed beach formed by a sinkhole.
The Emerald cave is only accessible during the low tide. Carrying a source of light is necessary. You will usually be given the life jacket by the tour guide itself. I would advice you to wear the life jacket because the current will be high and it will be dark inside the cave as well.
Once you swim across the cave, you will reach to a point where the cave opens up into an enclosed beach. You can relax there. As the name suggests, the water color is really emerald over there. Once we came out of the cave, we were served pineapple and watermelon. If you want to make the pineapple tasty, you can just dip that into the seawater and eat that.
Ko Ngai island:
Ko Ngai will be the last island where you will take a break and stop for lunch. Ko Ngai is famous for shallow beaches. The beaches are long and filled with white sand. You can walk on the beach for long hours. The water on the Ko Ngai beach is close to transparent and very shallow for tens of meters. You can really walk for almost tens of feet into the water on the beach and it will mostly be knee deep to a long extent.
Most of the long tail boat serve lunch on Ko Ngai. The lunch would mostly compromise of authentic styles Thai Dishes. While retuning, the weather might turn ugly. It started raining while we were returning. The waves will be higher but the journey was enjoyable.
Where to Stay in Ko Lanta?
Ko Lanta has a series of beaches extending from North to South. I would advice you to stay towards the southern part of the island. Most of the stays will have laundry services, motorbike renting shops nearby, Usually when you board a ferry to Koh Lanta, there will be people from different hotels or stays trying to convince you to take their stays.
There are a plenty of options. Enquire about the stay location and nearby area. The one where we stayed had a free pool table, bar, and even we used their deep freezer to chill our beer super quick. The pool service was free. The beach was also not so far. Watching the sunset was one of our favorite hobbies. When you encounter such guys trying to sell their services enquire about everything. And similarily, you can keep on bargaining.
Best Beaches to stay in Ko Lanta:
Below are some of the best beaches which I have listed out for a memorable stay:
Usually, the first few beaches like Klong Dao beach, Long Beach, and Klong Khong beaches will be crowded in high season. But they also have some of the best bungalows. New ones have also been coming in the southern part of Ko Lanta.
The most preferred stay should be at Nui beach, Kantiang bay, and Nui Bay beach. These are the perfect locations because they are neither too far from the pier and neither they are too far from the Southern part enclosed within reserve forest.
Towards the southern Part of the Ko Lanta island, there are some bay formation, a kind of depressions into the island which makes beautiful beaches. There are also some sunset viewpoints nearby. These locations are, moreover, perfect because you can go for night shopping, drive to the southern part of the island towards lighthouse etc.
Things to do in Ko Lanta:
- Take a long tail boat tour to the four islands
- Watch the sunset from light house in Ko Lanta National park
- Spend another evening at Noon Sunset Viewpoint
- Go to Tiger Cave
- Take Elephant Safari
- Do Kayaking in the mangroves
- Go for Trekking
- Visit Khlong Chak Waterfall
- Visit Old Ko Lanta town
Ko Lanta Photos:
Charles Bridge was not lesser than a local synonym for the “one of the must-visit places in Prague”. Intrigued by this catchy name, after doing boating in river Vlatava, I decided to spend some time walking on the bridge and try to understand what people love to do.
Some facts about Charles bridge, Prague:
So, following a tourist guide who was addressing Chinese tourists, I came to know that Charles bridge was the oldest bridge in Prague. While the most of the Prague settled on the west side of the river (towards old town square), the king somehow decided to build a castle on top of the hillock across the river Vltava called Petrin hill.
And that is how Charles bridge came into existence as it was the only way to commute from town to the castle. Well, all were not allowed to cross the river Vltava towards the castle side of the bridge. Also, this side housed the quarters of the people working for the castle.
From the protection point of view, Charles bridge, the only way to reach the castle has three watch towers. Two watch towers at the end of the bridge and one in the middle towards the castle side. When you enter from the old town square side, you can see that watch tower.
The story does not end here. One of the most flamboyant and noticeable thing for which Charles bridge was famous because of the two rows of the statues all along the bridge. On the both of the sides of the bridge, you can see statues of the saints and even the famous statue of the Cruxificaiton of the Jesus.
However, these statues were removed later and were replaced by the replicas of the statues. Also, the Charles bridge had to go through a lot of restoration work since medieval times only. These restoration works were mostly employed because of the medieval wars and natural calamities like flood. You can still see those restoration works on the bridge pillars.
Charles bridge in modern days:
Owing to that fact that Charles bridge was not capable of carrying the weight of the modern vehicle because of the number of restoration works it had to go through, the government decided to ban the transport movement across the bridge. So, this bridge is only open for the pedestrians now.
You can see a lot of artists making a caricature of the people on the bridge. You will have to pay for it. Yes, you can take an ice cream cone and stand on the sidewalks and watch the tourists crossing on the bridge.
What to see from the Charles bridge, Prague
Charles bridge is an awesome place to enjoy the view of the city along the banks of the river Vltava. The roof of the most of the buildings are red in color and it presents a kind of symmetric structures. Watching the couples walking hand in hand is just a treat to the eye.
If you really want to observe the microexpression of a human face, just stand behind a Skechers who is making a caricature of a person. You will surely love the way the zig-zag lines give a shape to a face. If you stand on the sidewalks, you can see tourists’ boats and ships floating slowly on the river. Though the water is not so clear but still that is something you can relish seeing.
The best time to spend some time on the Charles bridge would be a clear evening. Just stand on the bridge and watch the sun go down behind the Petrin hill and getting lost somewhere behind the castles. The show is not over yet. You stay there for some more town. The cold wind from the river Vltava may tempt you to smoke there or pull up the hood of your jacket and rub your palms together. Or, just enjoy music from a street artist.
In next half hour, the yellow lights of the Prague castle lighten up and certainly, the entire view has gradually turned from a sparkling heaven. It’s not just the yellow lights falling on the wall of the castle but look down at the bright shimmering shadow being formed over the Vlatava river. Those moments are really too hard to resist to not to take a picture of the Prague castle in the evening.
Your hands would automatically reach out for the camera and you would make sure that you do not move from there until you get the best shot of the castle.
Later in the evening, you can either decide to walk on the other side of the river or you can simply walk towards the old town square. I always preferred the old town square. That’s the place in the evening where you can sip Pilsner beer with Pomme Frites and watch the life pass by in front of your very eyes.
Also Read: Royal Palace, Budapest