Gadabout's Corner

Bird of passage

Tag: Cave

BRISTOL: The City on the Rivers

Bristol is one of the cities in England that has the best mixture of culture. By that, I mean it perfectly blends the modern cultures with the older ones. Visiting Bristol will help you get a better idea of English classiness and style. Plus, Bristol is a perfect blend of parks, waterfronts, architectures, and downtown areas.

There are many areas in Bristol to explore, so to make it easier, I come up with a list of where to go in each areas. It’s possible to walk within these areas and even to other areas. Though, to go from one end to the other could take a while because not all these spots are clustered in a short walking distance.

I. Area around the Suspension Bridge

All the main highlights of Bristol are in this area. You got Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve that you could enjoy some shades while having a picnic or take a walk around the park. There are few walking trails, starting from 1 kilometre to no more than 3 kilometres.

Once you get out of the woods, the next stop is Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a landmark of Bristol since Victorian time! You might wanna walk across the bridge and have a look at the Avon George that separates the forest and Hotwell Road.

Once you cross the bridge, Clifton Observatory is near. Paying 4 GBP for full access and you’ll be able to relax around the hill, try the Camera Obscura that projects the surrounding view inside the dark room and follow the tunnel into Giant’s Cave, which leads down to the cave balcony that is somehow almost 80 metres above the Avon George. At this cliff face, you’ll get a picturesque view of the bridge and the river. To be honest, it’s one of the most impressive experience in Bristol for me, because it’s so mysterious and adventurous.

Down the hill of Clifton Observatory, there is Christ Church, Clifton Down. It’s a small church with a 65 metres steeple and surrounded by nice green area.

II. Area around the Brandon Hill

  • Brandon Hill
  • Cabot Tower
  • Wills Memorial Building

Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol. It also comes with a small nature reserve. It’s the most popular picnic spot in Bristol and in some areas of the park, you could have a BBQ or just simply enjoy an ice-cream while admiring the view.

At the peak of the hill, stands the Cabot Tower. Even if you are lost walking around the hill, you’d still be able to spot this tower. You could go inside the tower and climb to the top for best views in Bristol. It offers you the view of the Bradford Hill, the waterfront and the downtown area. From the top of the tower, you could also see College Green, University of Bristol. But what’s outstanding is the Wills Memorial Building.

III. Area close to the River

  • Bristol Cathedral
  • Bristol Harbour
    • Hannover Quay
    • Spike Island
    • Brunel’s SS Great Britain
    • Waterfront Square
    • The Harbourside Market
  • Christmas Steps
  • St Nicholas Market

Now we are moving closer to the waterfront, but before we go there, let’s stop at the Bristol Cathedral, which is only 10 minutes walking from Brandon Hill. Bristol Cathedral has one of the finest interior. It’s beautifully designed with vaulting and windows. There is the Elder Lady Chapel, which was built in the 13th century. Then there is the Chapter House, which has a really complex and beautiful ceiling. And there are the choirs’ organs that stand out in the hall.

Just behind the cathedral, take the Cathedral Walk and follow the trail down the Hannover Quay. You’ll have the Spike Island in front of you. You’ll also be able to spot the magnificent Brunel’s SS Great Britain, a museum ship in a dry dock. Around this area, you’ll see the blended culture of houseboat lifestyles and colorful houses facing the river. To get a better look, you can take a ferry ride along the River Avon.

I’d recommend Bristol Ferry Boats. Their fares start at 1.50 GBP and it’s really convenience if you wanna go to some of these tourist attractions: Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Millennium Square, Castle Park and Temple Meads.

Spend some time in this area and you might share the same perspective of Bristol as a mixture of older and modern cultures. There are old bars, harbourside houses, modern pubs and you’ll see teens and elders relaxing just next to the river.

You could walk to Waterfront Square and cross the Pero’s Bridge or eat at the Harbourside Market. About 10 minutes walking from the market, you’ll reach one of the very historic street of Bristol, the Christmas Steps. It holds a great culture and it looks like a romantic movie setting. There are many cute shops here, including potteries, arts, furnitures and clothes.

There is one more market in this area and it is one of the best markets in England; the St Nicholas Market. Located in the middle of Bristol’s old city and with the ambience of over 50 food stalls, this is a perfect place to eat.

IV. Temple Meads Area
  • St Philip and St Jacob Church (Pip ‘n’ Jay)
  • Temple Church (Holy Cross Church)
  • St Mary Redcliffe
  • Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station

Within the Temple Meads area, there are so much to see, but the places you shouldn’t miss are as follow. Firstly, the St Philip and St Jacob Church or what locals call Pip ‘n’ Jay, is one of the older churches in Bristol.

Next, just across the Temple Bridge is the Temple Church or the Holy Cross Church. It’s a ruined church and what remains is the result of the bombing during World  War II. You can still see the vaulting, some memorials and bases of the pillars. Though, what’s interesting is the Leaning Tower.

Not far, is the most famous Parish Church in England, St Mary Redcliffe. This 800-year-old church is a tallest building in Bristol, with beautiful stained glass, unique Lady Chapel and nice organ. It’s stunning!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Attractions in MAE HONG SON

Mae Hong Son is a province up in the North of Thailand, known to have thousands and thousands of curves climbing up the mountain. It’s a bit colder up North on these mountains, which is good for when the heat becomes too much.

  Tribal kids

Top 5 Places to Visit in Mae Hong Son

    Tribal sisters

  1. Pai
  2. Tham Lot Cave
  3. Huay Nam Dang National Park
  4. Ban Rak Thai Village
  5. Pang Ung Reservoir

MHS is not a popular destination but there are many tourists and people are falling in love with it. The reason is because Mae Hong Son houses such an amazing place like Pai, which people think it’s another big city in Thailand. It isn’t. It’s just a small fun town hiding in between the valley.

I. What to do in Pai?

  • Ride the curves
  • Enjoy the Walking Street
    • 6.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.
  • Trek the Pai Canyon
  • Cross the Memorial Bridge
  • Relax at Tha Pai Hot Springs

Just within Pai alone, there are already so many things to do and see. Firstly, expert drivers will enjoy the road around Pai, especially bikers as it’s very challenging with all the sharp curves and steep hills. Don’t worry if you can’t drive or if your skill is not there yet, because there are many public transportation services taking you in and out of Pai.

The best street in Pai is the Pai Walking Street because there is everything. There are cheap food, bars, pubs, karaokes, restaurants, cafes, souvenirs shops and more. There are always a lot of people, selling interesting ideas and designs. This is an opportunity for you to absorb the culture, because there is live street music in different languages mainly Thai and English. There are also mini shows of Thai music and dances. It always has a very groovy mood here.

But if you want more excitement, definitely visit the Pai Canyon or Kong Lan. It’s good for trekking as there are narrow and elevated paths of different sizes and heights. There is no actual safety and the time you might end up spending there is around 3 hours so definitely bring a bottle of water. There is a small Pembok Waterfall in the area as well.

If you want a bit of an edgy vibe then check out the Pai Memorial Bridge. You are allowed to explore as much as you want on foot, which is a must as the wooden floorboards with gaps and holes are very interesting and also look great in pictures. There are bamboo rafting services taking you along the river as well.

Lastly for Pai, you should go to Tha Pai Hot Springs and relax there for few hours as there are many ponds filled with natural mineral water. These ponds have different temperatures for all preferences. There are also beautiful walking paths, with views of clear water and trees. However, if you want a bit of privacy, there are several private spas nearby too.

II. Tham Lot Cave

About 20 minutes driving from Pai, there is Tham Lot Cave. It’s a cave system with loads of stalactites and stalagmites in different shapes and forms. They also create rooms and halls for this cave system.

To explore the cave, there are local guides that will take you into the cave using bamboo rafts. You’ll be flowing along Nam Lang River that is filled with schools of Mahseer fish. They genuinely paint the river pitch black. You’ll also be welcomed by the distinct smell of bats and you’ll spot them if you look up to the ceiling of the cave.

The guide will also show you around the cave system and you’ll be able to spot some evidences of settlement like potteries and teakwood coffins in various spots as the cave used to house cave-dwelling prehistoric tribespeople from over thousand years ago.

III. Huay Nam Dang National Park
  • Viewpoints
    • Sea of Fog
    • Doi Chang
    • Doi Kio Lom
  • Waterfalls
    • Huay Nam Dang
    • Mae Yen
  • Hot Springs
    • Pong Dueat Pa Pae

Huay Nam Dang National Park is massive and it lies between 2 provinces; Chiang Mai and MHS. There are several facilities and camping areas throughout the park, including Lom Doi and Hill Pine Camp.

MHS

The best time to visit Huay Nam Dang is during winter as you’ll be able to witness the Frost Flowers and the Sea of Fog during a cold, early dawn. To get the most epic view of the Sea of Fog, you’ll have to be above them, so Doi Chang and Doi Kio Lom are best viewpoints. They are also great to watch the sun rising behind these mountains’ peaks.

Within the area of the park there are several waterfalls, but the one that you shouldn’t miss is the Huay Nam Dang Waterfalls. There are a total of 4 levels, waiting for you to explore.

Mae Yen Waterfalls is also great, especially if you want a bit of adrenalin. Here, you could enjoy a 4 hours of white water rafting, which the starting point is at the Ban Bang Pa Kha and you’ll finish at the Ban Sap Kai.

However, when the weather becomes too cold, you could always stop by the Pong Dueat Pa Pae Hot Springs. There are 4 big pools for you to relax and pamper yourself.

IV. Ban Rak Thai Village (Mae Aw)

Ban Rak Thai Village holds many history. Firstly, it was settled by a Chinese Nationalist, which explains why there are so many evidences of Chinese culture, including the people, architecture and food. There are many tea plantations and various types of Chinese tea for you to try, while relaxing at the lakeside. There are also many local shops that sell dried fruits and wine because there are few breweries in the village.

This village also used to be the controlling point for jade trading and army camp. There are evidences of these history throughout the village, which can be explored by walking as it’s only a tiny village with a lake in the middle. 

There are several homestays and camping areas, with great viewpoints for those who want to spend the night, watching stars and learn more about the Thai – Yunnan culture.

V. Pang Ung Reservoir

Not far from Ban Rak Thai Village, Pang Ung has one of the best campsites in Thailand. It used to be an opium plantation ground of hill tribes, which later turned into a Royal Project aiming to help those people by convincing them to switch to other plantation, like coffee.

The campsite is in the middle of pine forest by the water reservoir. There are many things to do and see here, such as admiring the misty morning, bamboo rafting by the lake, stargazing at night, horse riding, feeding the royal black swans, purchasing local products and trekking to the Nam Yot Cliff.

 

 

 

 

 

Chilean Patagonia: Torres del Paine and the Southern Andes (part 3)

patagonia 8

This is the last part of our trip to the Tierra del Fuego. We are getting so close to the Antarctica that I hope if I stare good enough in the right direction, I will be able to see that white continent.

We just left Torres del Paine National Park and now we are moving to Puerto Natales, which is where we disembark from our ferry. I’ve already mentioned that it’s better to see things if we travel by sea and the one I’d recommend is Navimag Ferries. They provide several routes and choices depending on your preference. I departed from Puerto Montt, travelling down, seeing loads of stuff for 3 days and disembarked at Puerto Natales. The price was 550 USD per bed and that already includes food. The facilities are really convenience and clean. There are shared bathrooms and toilets as well as the kitchen and other common areas like bar and dance floor. You might experience some seasickness as we have to navigate pass the areas where the surface of the water is really naughty, but there are medication service that will help you. Staffs are really nice and the food is really good as well.

Puerto Natales
  • Last Hope Sound (Última Esperanza)
  • Eberhard Fjord
  • Milodon Cave (Cueva del Milodón)
  • Navimag and Navy pier

Puerto Natales is a small waterfront town, with piers that bring people from every corners. It’s very classic, with old and colorful houses along the lakeside. One of the signature of this port town is the Última Esperanza, which is a spot to watch the sunset, flamingos and take cool pictures with old, ruin piers that reaches into the body of the water. It’s suitable to bike there along the shore of the Eberhard Fjord or treat yourself with another boat ride, which will bring you closer to waterfalls and animals. On the way, you will be visited by fellow sea lions as well.

You should also visit a cave that triggers the giants mysterious of the Fire Land. I’d recommend spending time around and inside Milodon Cave until it opens you to the great green scenery.

patagonia 5

You could also spend time relaxing by the pier, either at Navimag pier or if you want a bit a beach then there is the Navy pier for you. Also, if you are looking for a nice place to stay and relax, then you might wanna check out Remota Patagonia Lodge.

Punta Arenas
  • Magdalena Island (Isla Magdalena)
    • Penguins
  • Rey Jorge Island Natural Sea Park
    • Whale watching
  • La Cruz Hill Viewpoint (Mirador Cero de la Cruz)
  • Nao Victoria Museum (Museo Nao Victoria)
  • Punta Arena cemetery

A bit below Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas is one of the biggest city in this area. It has an airport, which you can fly back to Santiago instead of travelling back by sea. It’s the base for Antarctica expeditions in which you can buy tours or cruise trips from town centre. There are many islands in this area and one of the most known one is the Magdalena Island. It’s where you can get close to the Magellanic penguin colony. The other one is not as known , but you can spend time observing wild mammals like whales. It’s the Rey Jorge Island National Sea Park.

You could also go to La Cruz Hill Viewpoint that will allow you to see the whole city and it’s a great picture opportunity. And if you are interested in navigation history, then you should check out Nao Victoria Museum. Inside, there is the replica version of the first ship that successfully circumnavigate the world. However, if you want to know more about the history of Punta Arenas then you’ll want to go to Punta Arenas Cemetery. This place is known for their trimmed cypress trees that decorated the whole place.

patagonia 15

Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego
  • Porvenir
    • Cerro Mirador
  • White lake (Lago Blanco)
  • Camerón River
  • Navarino Island (Isla Navarino)
    • Puerto Williams
    • Los Dientes Circuit
  • Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos)

Tierra del Fuego is a very remote island, again owned by both Chile and Argentina. It’s so remote that it’s only a boat ride away for the Antarctica. The main town of this Fire Land is Porvenir. There is not much of the scenery to see, but there are loads of history awaited to be discovered as well as many animals. To have the best look of this town, you will have to go to Cerro Mirador. It’s the viewpoint this town can offer.

There is a great spot on this island that will allow you to spend time relaxing or fishing. It’s at the Lago Blanco. Here, you can catch yourself some fish and cook them fresh on spot. However, another body of water that you shouldn’t miss is the Camerón River. Again, you can spend time here, catching wild fish. But that’s not all, you could also stay at the Estancia Cameron Lodge and experience the whole Tierra del Fuego culture. There are many activities provided for fellow travellers, such as fly fishing, trekking, kayaking and bird watching.

To get yourself even more down south, you might want to stop at the Navarino Island. The main port of this island is the Puerto Williams, which is the southernmost inhabited settlement of the world. It’s a beautiful port city, with lots of boats and ships passing by or stopping by. It’s also decorated with white mountain range. It’s really peaceful and cold. I have to mention the cold. However, the beauty and what’s await allows us to easily forget about the weather.

You can easily get here from Punta Arenas via Transbordadora Austral Broom. Apart from taking you to Puerto Williams, there are other services as well, such as trips to Magdalena Island.

Just outside the town, if you are experienced and you are prepared, you might as well get yourself into one of the hardest hiking trail in South America. To complete Los Dientes Circuit, you will have to spare around five days, but you will definitely love what you see. The trail of the circuit is over 50 kilometres, so get your blood pumping.

Further from the Navarino, there sits the end of America. Cape Horn is reachable by sea and plane, but I would suggest the sea, even though it takes longer to get there. When you arrive there, you will see the sign that marks this legendary spot. It says “Armada de Chile, Alcaldia de mar, Cabo de Hornos.”

And finally, we are here, the end of this continent. We can’t go any further without having to move to Antarctica, in which I’m sure all of us would love to and we will.

 

 

 

 

 

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