Travelling

Iguazu falls is on the border between Brazil and Argentina. It is one of the widest waterfalls on earth. If you ever imagined an island coming out of the water and floating in the sky, this picture is for you. Though it does not actually leave the earth, it seems to play on the imagination of an island acceding.

The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Puerto Iguazú in Argentina and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, as well as from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, on the other side of the Paraná river from Foz do Iguaçu. The falls are shared by the Iguazú National Park (Argentina) and Iguaçu National Park (Brazil). The two parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1987.

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Travelling
Vibrant soil and a canvas of crops create China’s “Red Land” 

Lexiaguo is one of the places on earth that is hard to believe exists. The internet community has debated its reality, and its sweeping palette of farmland has dropped the jaws of many pragmatists, convinced the landscape has been photoshopped. But it hasn’t. Lexiaguo is actually that colorful, and that breathtaking, and truly exists in Southern China.

Known as the “Red Land” due to its striking colors, the base color of the earth in Lexiaguo is tinted with oxidized iron. Nearly saturated with the mineral, the dirt has taken on a dark brown and reddish hue. Yet the soil is only the beginning of the fantasy-countryside.

2600 feet above sea level atop the soil is an ocean of farmland and white flowers, splotched with patches of oxidized red dirt. Without much infrastructure or government organization, the region is largely comprised of unaffiliated farmers who plant individual crops on the terraced slopes of the province. Although the lack of organization has left the area underdeveloped, it has also caused the stark differences in color and crop in the swimming farmland of Lexiaguo, and has made the land a stunning natural portrait.

 

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Travelling
 
waverock1 The Wave Rock derives its name by its form, which looks like a giant ocean wave ready to break everything on its way. waverock2 Wave Rock is the part of a 160-hectare nature reserve, Hyden Wildlife Park. waverock3 A puddle at the top of Wave Rock. waverock4

The “wave” is about 14 m (47 ft) high and around 110 m (350 ft) long. It forms the north side of a solitary hill, which is known as “Hyden Rock.” This hill, which is a granite inselberg, lies about 3 km east of the small town of Hyden and 296 km east-southeast of Perth, Western Australia.

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Travelling

Petra is one of the most popular places to visit on the planet. Take a look at almost any traveler’s bucket list and Petra will be on it. Why? Because it really is amazing. But guess what. There is so much more to Petra than the Treasury, the iconic façade featured in every travel book and brochure about Petra.

Petra deserves two days to be seen properly. Yes, many people visit Petra on a day trip, spending only a few hours here, but they are missing a lot. To really experience Petra you need more time here.

 

WHAT IS PETRA

Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans from roughly 300 BC to 100 AD. The Romans took over in 100 AD, then several earthquakes destroyed much of the city and Petra was abandoned. For centuries, Petra was left untouched, until it was discovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812. Petra became one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2008 and since then has been making the bucket lists of travelers all over the world.

BEST THINGS TO SEE IN PETRA

Stretching out in a line from the town of Wadi Musa, visitors enter the park and then follow the trail into the Siq, the legendary canyon where tourists get their first views of the Treasury. Continue the walk past the Treasury, visiting the Royal Tombs and Roman ruins. Those with enough time and enough energy can continue onto the Monastery, another monument that rivals the Treasury in its splendor. There are numerous other side trips and interesting things to see in Petra, as well as rides on camels and donkeys if you so desire. Petra Map  
BAB AS-SIQ

Every visitor’s journey starts at Bab As-Siq, the trail that runs from the ticket booth to the Siq. There are tombs and monuments to see along the way, such as the Obelisk Tomb.

SIQ

The Siq is a gorge that was formed when tectonic forces broke the mountain into two pieces. It is a delight to walk through, a snaking path with rock walls towering high above your head. It is almost suspenseful…around every bend you expect to get that famous view of the Treasury.

Siq Petra
THE TREASURY

This is it, the view that draws so many visitors to Petra. Completely carved out of the sandstone mountains, the Treasury was built as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III. The Treasury is the highlight of Petra, but this is only really the start of a visit here. There is so much more to see.

Treasury View from Siq The Treasury Petra
STREET OF FACADES

From the Treasury, the journey continues. The path widens, taking visitors to a much more open area. Here are tombs and houses built into the sandstone mountains by the Nabataeans 2000 years ago.

This is the view from the hiking trail to the High Place of Sacrifice towards the end of the day.

Petra at Dusk is Beautiful
HIKE THROUGH PETRA

Not far past the Treasury, Mohammad took us “off-road” to unmarked hiking trails. The hiking trail is completely unmarked and almost impossible to follow if you didn’t know what to look for.

Hiking Petra Overlooking Petra Tombs on the hike Goats in Petra Petra Unique View   Making Bread
THE ROYAL TOMBS
Here lies a series of facades carved from the sandstone mountain, the tombs of Nabataean royalty. Royal Tombs Petra   This is the interior walls of the Urn Tomb, the most popular of the Royal Tombs.
Cave Walls of Petra
THE COLONNADED STREET
The Colonnaded Street is a reminder of the Romans who took control over Petra in 106 AD. Those Romans were masters at building, and their road still remains today, along with several columns lining the side of the road. Colonnaded Street
THE GREAT TEMPLE
This Nabataean Temple was built in 100 BC and is the largest freestanding building in Petra. Roman Ruins Petra
THE MONASTERY (AL-DEIR)

This you have to see. It is just as impressive as the Treasury. Good thing, because it requires quite a hike to get to it.

The hike to the Monastery has visitors climbing over 800 steps for a solid 20 minutes or more of hiking. It is an almost entirely uphill journey. Along the way visitors pass numerous stalls, worked by women, selling scarves, souvenirs, and jewelry.

Path to Monastery   Monastery Petra
BEST VIEW IN PETRA
From the teashop there were signs pointing us towards the “Best View in Petra.” Best View in Petra

To get to the “Best View of Petra” required going on another short, uphill hike.  What do you think? Is this the best view of Petra?

Monastery Petra Best View
HIGH PLACE OF SACRIFICE
  High Place of Sacrifice Petra   Dangerous View of Petra
PETRA AT SUNSET
Treasury Side View This is the last of the visitors, camels, and horse drawn carts before closing time. In front of Treasury Petra
 
  Looking Up at Petra Treasury
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Travelling

Tips on avoiding a bad exchange rate and high fees. With lower airfares and a stronger U.S. dollar, many Americans are traveling abroad. But once they get there, they need to be wary of exchanging money. It’s easy to get ripped off.

The first rule of thumb is to avoid foreign exchange kiosks and storefronts, says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

“The rate you are going to get simply isn’t what you can get through a credit card,” Schulz notes. Or even a debit card, for that matter.

Travelex, the currency exchange company that operates kiosks in airports around the world was offering an exchange rate of 1 euro for $1.26 in early October. On the same day, MasterCard’s exchange rate was 1 euro for $1.12, Schulz says. That may not sound like much, but it can add up. If you’re paying 500 euros for train tickets for your family and charge it to your MasterCard, it would come to $560. But if you exchange your dollars for 500 euros in cash at the Travelex counter, you’d end up paying $620, Schulz notes.

Schulz recommends travelers rely on two basic tools: a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees, and a bank debit card, which typically offers competitive exchange rates.

Here are some basic rules to help you get the best currency conversion rates while traveling outside the U.S.

Use your debit card if you need cash. You can use your debit card to make a withdrawal at a local bank ATM. It’s a good idea to research what your bank charges for foreign ATM withdrawals, however. Some tack on ATM fees of $3 to $5, as well as a debit transaction fee of up to 3 percent. If that’s unpalatable, consider opening an account at a bank that doesn’t charge such fees, such as Simple.

Charge purchases to a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign-transaction fees. Such a card can save you from paying fees that are as much as 3% of what you charge. There are many such credit cards available, such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, so research which rewards program would make the most sense for your spending habits. If you need to apply for such a card, be sure to do so at least six to eight weeks before your trip to ensure the card arrives on time.

Avoid currency kiosks. They rarely provide favorable rates when you exchange money. To see how much they vary, check rates at Travelex and MasterCard.

Don’t let foreign merchants charge you in U.S. dollars. This is one trap that credit card users sometimes fall into, Schulz says. If a merchant offers to charge your card in U.S. dollars rather than the local currency—also called dynamic currency conversion—don’t agree to the offer. The exchange rate is often poor, and the merchant may also add fees on top of that. It’s best to leave your charge in the original currency and let your credit card company provide you with its exchange rate.

Don’t use your credit card for a cash advance. Credit card companies may offer competitive exchange rates, but many charge high fees and interest rates. On top of that, the interest on a cash advance begins immediately when you take the money, instead of after the typical interest-free grace period for credit card charges.

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