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Geography, Travel Inspiration

The mysterious Blue Holes

October 2, 2014

Blue Hole: Aerial view of the 400-ft-deep oceanic blue hole (Lighthouse Reef Atoll Blue Hole) located east of Belize.

Blue Holes are an amazing natural phenomenon occurring around the world in coastal regions. They’re usually underwater caves or sinkholes, and though they can be on land, the ones that formed in the water are obviously more spectacular.

The name comes from the dramatic colour contrast between shallow waters around them and the depth inside the holes. Most of the blue holes were formed during ice ages, when the water was level was lower than today, and they were initially caves. After the sea level rose, the caves sinked and formed the deep holes.

Blue holes are great diving spots which you can enjoy in many places around the world, though the most famous ones are in Bahamas, Belize, Australia and Egypt. Explore some of the greatest blue holes in the gallery below!

Edit: Recent studies showed that the blue hole in Belize held a clue to demise of Maya civilisation. Drillings in the hole’s floor showed that the period between 800 and 1000 A.D. was a time of unusual drought, which affected the whole civilisation and might have caused its collapse. More info here!

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Dean’s Blue Hole in Bahamas, the deepest underwater blue hole
Photo: Enn.Li

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Dahab, Egypt
Photo: Jacques de Vos

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Cat Island, Bahamas
Photo: Rudolf Kumeth

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Diving in a blue hole
Photo: Cris Hinlo

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Lighthouse Reef, Belize
Photo: Tony Rath

Art, Geography  • 

Aerial Archeology by Klaus Leidorf

September 12, 2014

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Klaus Leidorf has spent 25 years photographing aerial landscapes of Germany and parts of Europe from his Cesna 172. Farm fields, roads, cities and industrial sites have all been a subject of his “aerial archeology” – a term used to describe the process of documenting and analyzing the objects on Earth from a new perspective.

Leidorf’s perspective is so interesting I’ve spent a couple of hours yesterday browsing his huge archive on Flickr and website – try it yourself, it’s addicting!

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Geography

10 tallest statues in the world

September 9, 2014
Photo: Anek S

Photo: Anek S

If you think the Statue of Liberty is the tallest statue in the world – think again. 93 metres high, with a 47 m pedestal, it wouldn’t make it to the top of this list! Here’s a current list of 10 of tallest statues in the world (not including pedestals or other structures).

I was quite surprised that most of them are statues of Buddha – what surprised you the most?

10Grand Buddha at Ling Shan, China – 88 m

The Grand Buddha stands by the Longshan Mountain; with the picturesque lake Taihu and nearby Xiangfu Temple, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Wuxi province, China.

Photo: H Sinica

Photo: H Sinica

9Great Buddha of Thailand, 92 m

Located in Wat Muang monastery in Ang Thong privince, the statue is made of cement and painted gold. Visitors of the complex can also enjoy a “Hell Park”, with very literal depictions of buddhist hell.

Photo:

Photo: Anek S

8Peter the Great Statue in Moscow, Russia – 98m

Designed to commemorate the 300 years of the Russian Navy, it depicts Peter the Great on a large ship made of bronze, copper and steel. There’s actually a rumour that this statue was designed to celebrate 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbuses’ voyage, but no American investor could be found so they replaced Columbus with Peter. Either way, it has won some awards for the world’s ugliest building.

7Qianshou Qianyan, China – 99m

Fourth biggest statue in China, it depicts Guan Yin of a thousand hands and eyes and stands just behind another Guan Yin statue in Weishan.

6Sendai Daikannon, Japan – 100 m

This pure white monument sure stands out against the surrounding hills and buildings. There’s a hotel just by the statue (I suppose its guests feel strange when Guan Yin watches them when they sleep) and a lift to take you to the top for admiring the city of Sendai.

5Emperors Yan and Huang, China – 106 m

A construction that took 20 years and depicts two legendary Chinese kings, regarded as the ancestors of all Chinese people.

Photo: roosterltl

Photo: roosterltl

4Guan Yin of the South Sea, China – 108m

This statue of goddess Guan Yin stands on a platform by the sea in Sanya. It has three facades: one facing the inland, the other two facing the sea, to represent the protection by Guan Yin of China and the whole world.

3Ushiku Daibutsu, Japan – 110 m

Completed in 1995, it’s one of the most popular landmarks in Japan. The statue is made of bronze and it has a lift to a viewing platform at 85 m.

2Laykyun Setkyar, Burma – 116 m

Built on the hills near the city of Monywa in Myanmar, with the largest reclining Buddha in the world at its feet. It’s gaining popularity as Myanmar’s biggest attraction.

1Spring Temple Buddha, China – 128 m

The world’s tallest statue was finished in 2008 and stands on a buddhist monastery in Henan province, China. Its name actually comes from the nearby hot springs and a thousand year old temple nearby.

Earlier this year India announced that they’re starting to work on a statue even bigger, so maybe in a couple of years this post will need an update :)

Author unknown

Author unknown

By the way, it was pretty hard to find good pictures of the last couple of statues, so if you’re a traveling photographer, this might be a good project for you!

Geography, Travel Inspiration  • 

The mystery of sailing rocks finally solved

August 31, 2014

“Sailing stones” on Racetrack Playa in Death Valley have long been a mystery. Everyone who visited this place had their own theory why the rocks move on this flat and dry land.

Some thought they moved on rainy days, when the ground was slippery enough for strong winds to transport them. Others suggested that they sailed when the valley was covered in ice.

Almost all the theories suspected that strong winds were the cause of “sailing stones”, but as it came out, wind had little to do with it. A team led by Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography carried out a long and actually quite boring experiment involving rocks with motion-activated GPS units and some long camera lens. They sum up their discovery in this short film:

Here’s what they observed: on some winter days the playa fills with shallow water which doesn’t cover the rocks, but is deep enough to form very thin ice. When the sun comes up, the ice starts melting and breaking, at the same time pushing the stones slowly. This usually happens on sunny days with light breeze, but the movement is so slow that it’s very hard to observe.

Anyways, another scientific success! And though the sailing stones aren’t so mysterious anymore, they will continue to amaze and attract lots of visitors. Take a look at some of the most amazing shots of Racetrack Playa I’ve found.

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Photo: Dan Carr

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Photo: Max Vuong