Category Archives: culture

Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

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Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

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Alaçatı is a unique Mediterranean town on Turkey’s Çeşme Peninsula, on the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its beaches, old stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, vineyards and windmills.

 

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Alacati made its name in the world of windsurfing and kitesurfing, with its crystal clear water and consistently steady wind for over 150 years now. The Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA) Windsurfing World Cup is held here every year in August.

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What stands out the most about Alacati is that it is largely undiscovered outside Turkey, yet, many Turks, including several national celebrities, spend their holidays to escape the more touristy scene in Bodrum.

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Quiet and sleep a beach town it lays by day, but Alacati buzzes at night!

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The pictures do all the talking. Definitely something to consider adding to your 2018 travel itinerary!

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The best time to plan a trip is from the end of April through May or from September through October, when temperatures are still high (reaching over 20C), and prices are at their best value.

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-Karen Bahri

 

 

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The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

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The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

It’s the holiday season and so many cities around the globe are known to attract tourists as they deck the halls to the max! Many countries draw crowds for their own traditional holiday touch and Christmas markets are great places to discover provincial traditions, but no one does Christmas quite like Germany! Known as Christkindlmarkts (Christ child markets) or Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas, or Holy Night, markets), Germany’s holiday markets have been recorded as early as 1310! Here are 11 of the country’s can’t-miss markets.

Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt

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Widely considered by many Germans to be one of the most traditional markets in the country, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is an excellent spot for those looking for a hint of nostalgia! Known as one of the most beautiful markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market, comprises nearly 300 stalls,  is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Old Palace.

Munich Marienplatz Christmas Market

With over 20 different markets in Munich, there is something for everyone; from a medieval market with gospel choir, to the gay-friendly Pink Christmas Market, where wares are sold from pink and purple pagodas with added cabarets and shows. The Kripperlmarkt  specializes in all things Nativity. For something completely different, the Tollwood Market is an urban cultural festival offering a diverse range of international music, drama and cuisine. The main market in the city of Munich, though, is the Marienplatz Market.

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One will find a gigantic fir tree lit up brightly as the centerpiece of the market, with more than 3,000 lights! Dating back to the 14th century, this market remains quite traditional. Predominantly loaded with Bavarian produce, unique Christmas gifts and delectable treats, this market will undoubtedly fill you with the holiday spirit!. Concerts are played daily and you can look down on the sights of the market, well away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, from the balconies of the spectacular town hall.

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Few Christmas markets are as incredibly beautiful as the one in Rothenburg, a walled medieval city dating back to 950. Come December, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, and the market—which has been occurring since the 15th century—is its crown jewel! The Reiterlesmarkt is held on a medieval stage and Rothenburg is illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights! Unlike cosmopolitan Berlin and Cologne, Rothenburg has an entirely different feel, with smaller markets and a more intimate setting.

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Rothenburg’s Schneeball (snow ball) is a must-try for those with a sweet-tooth, made from strips of sweet fried dough covered in powdered chocolate or sugar.

Dresden Striezelmarkt

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With accounts dating back to 1434, Dresden’s Christmas Market, traditionally known as Striezelmarkt is the oldest in Germany. The Striezelmarkt boasts both the world’s tallest Nutcracker, and the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid. The highlight of the market is the Stollen Festival on the second Saturday in Advent.

Leipzig Christmas Market

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Second only to Dresden, Leipzig otherwise lays claim to the oldest Christmas market in Germany, tracing its origins back to 1458. Here, in front of the Old Town Hall where Johann Sebastian Bach signed his employment contract, you’ll find everything from a ferris wheel to a Finnish village!

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

In front of the impressive backdrop of Cologne’s landmark cathedral, this market has all of the expected bells and whistles: your glühwein, your crafts, your twinkling lights. One thing that stands out, however, is its entertainment, which comprises more than 100 stage performances through the duration of the festival.

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Apart from the Cathedral, the Alter Markt is the place to go for children — with a Santa’s grotto, puppet theatre and stands filled with toys. The Rudolfplatz will transport children to the world of the brothers Grimm, with fairytale figures and festive illuminations.

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Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

With the majestic Alps to the south and the medieval Imperial Castle perched proudly at the top of the Old Town hill, Nuremberg is a spectacular back drop for one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. The Kinderweihnacht, or Children’s Market, provides plenty of family fun, featuring an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, steam train and Nativity scene trail.

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Over 180 traditional stalls, blanketed in red and white cloth, ensure that this extremely popular market remains authentic. Modern and mass-produced goods are strictly prohibited and officials police the stalls to ensure that the vendors are offering the visitors hand-crafted wares in keeping with the tradition of the market.

Konstanz Christmas Market

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This sprawling market runs from the town center to the shores of Lake Constance, Germany’s largest lake. Tuck in to traditional Käsespätzle, freshly made pasta with cheese; and spend some time on the ‘Christmas Ship’ moored in the harbor. Just be sure to bring extra layers!

Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market

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The snowy Black Forest is picturesque enough come wintertime, but this market in its midst manages to be even more Instagram-worthy. Here, over 40 stalls proffer handmade Christmas wares, while even more can be found nearby at the Hofgut Sternen Inn, where the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once stayed.

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Germany’s financial center taps into its inner medieval market town every holiday season with a Christmas market that dates back to 1393! Traditionally held with orchestras of carols chanting with religious mystery plays. These days you’re more likely to hear live music. Make sure to peek inside the 300-year-old timber Honey House, which sells pretty much any imaginable honey-related products. Fun fact: Poet Goethe was a fan of the Frankfurt market’s famous Bethmännchen, or marzipan cookies.

Freiburg Rathausplatz Market

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On the edge of the Black Forest, Freiburg’s medieval center looks straight out of a Brothers Grimm folk tale! The fair’s merchants, around 115 in total, sell their wares (beeswax candles, cuckoo clocks, blown glass) in the shadow of a 380-foot Gothic spire. The market opens every year with a ceremonial cutting and distribution of a giant Lebkuchen, or gingerbread loaf, to the waiting crowd.

 

 

Karen Bahri

 

 

Kazan, Russia’s Temple of All Religions:

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Kazan, Russia’s Temple of All Religions:

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The Temple of All Religions, or the “Universal Temple”, is an architectural complex in the Staroye Arakchino Microdistrict of Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia.

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As one reviewer on tripadvisor stated:

How much longer are we going to be divided by different religions? God equals Good. Here is one creation in the name of Greater Good.

Clustered tightly on a small plot of land, the complex consists of several cupolas, minarets and spires representing the religious architecture of 12 major religions of the world. There is a Christian cross, the Muslim crescent, the Star of David and the Chinese dome.

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Because it is not a functioning temple, no ceremonies are actually performed inside. The building is basically a cultural center which also serves as the residence of its owner – Ildar Khanov, and his assistants. Khanov is a local artist and philanthropist who practices spiritual healing upon willing subjects. Khanov is known for his efforts in the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction, and various other diseases. His former and current patients help him to maintain and develop the Temple, either by direct involvement in the construction work or through sponsorship.

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Khanov believed that all religions are equal, and the Temple of All Religions was his way to bring them all under one roof. It was started in 1992 and still currently under construction.

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As the story goes, Ildar Khanov, a graduate from Kazan Art School, was an eccentric individual who claimed he met Jesus when he was just three years old. It was during the difficult years of the Great Patriotic War. Khanov almost died of starvation when Jesus saved him and showed him heaven and hell. According to him, it was then that he embarked on his journey as an artist and healer.

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The Temple has become a popular landmark in the city of Kazan, which takes pride in the peaceful combination of different cultures including Islamic Tatar, Orthodox Russian, and others. Khanov describes its mission, a “temple of culture and truth”. The Temple is visited both by tourists and by people seeking Khanov’s healing touch.

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-Karen Bahri

 

18 of the World’s Strangest town names

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18 of the World’s Strangest town names

Whenever I travel to England, my flight typically goes over Ireland (I’m the type to always have the map on to see where I am traveling over) and I always notice this one town name that makes me laugh – Kilkenny, Ireland. LOL! What a name! I recently met someone from Ireland and asked him if he’s ever been to Kilkenny. He told me it’s actually a very beautiful place! I couldn’t agree more.

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Here is a list of more odd city/town names around the world:

1. Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll and Butte, Scotland

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2. Moron, Mongolia

Fine. it’s actually “Mörön”

3. Silly, Belgium

The name of this town derives from its stream called the Sille (French) or Zulle (Dutch) and has no relation to the English world (But tell that to an American!)

4. Hot Coffee, Mississippi

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5. Egg, Austria

6. Eek, Alaska

7. Gogogogo, Madagascar

8. Disappointment Islands, French Polynesia

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Sparsely populated group of coral islands which are arid, and not especially conductive to human habitation.

9. Drama, Greece

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Dramatically stunning!

10. Monster, Netherlands

11. Christmas Pie, Surrey, England

12. Come By Chance, Canada

13. Chicken, Alaska

Chicken, Alaska is a community founded on gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska.

14. Gofuku, Japan

15. Crapstone, UK

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16. China, Japan

Not to be confused with China, China 😛

17. Butthole Road, Doncaster, England

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Do you know anyone from there?!

and finally…

18. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales

Yes. A small village in Wales calls itself by a name with more letters than residents…

 

~Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

Maarkah New York Fashion Week Show

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Maarkah New York Fashion Week Show

New York Fashion week was last week and I had the pleasure of attending a few shows. One of my favorites – if not my favorite – was the Maarkah New York Fashion Week Show, by Runway Prestige. Maarkah is an Arabic word for Brand – which makes it the perfect name for this show as it is aimed to show off amazingly talented designers from the Middle East and Africa!

Runway Prestige is ran by Rabab Abdalla – who is an extraordinarily talented, sweet, amazing woman!

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I came to the show to see Houda El Fechka Eddiouane – who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Couture shows last year. I also wrote an article about her work from last years show: http://www.hautedvie.com/houda-el-fechka-eddiouanes-debut-couture-fashion-week-new-yorks-25th-season/

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She showcased two of her collections at the show. I would describe her 1st collection as modern and elegant.

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I would describe the 2nd collection as traditional and dazzling!

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She is an amazing Moroccan designer from the Netherlands. She is definitely one to follow on social media. Her Instagram is houdaee and her facebook is https://www.facebook.com/houda.elfechka

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The show lasted about 2.5 hours and there were designers from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America! The entire show was amazingly captivating! I could keep talking but the pics speak for themselves! Also, if I were to post all the pics from all the designers – we would be here forever! Also, I ran out of storage space!! (LOL) So here are juust a few of my favorites (before I ran out of space on my phone!!)

It would be tough for me to decide because ALL the outfits and models were stunning, but the first 3 are my top 3 favorites! For more (photos and videos) – go to my Instagram: karenskaleidoscope and lastly please follow Maarkah & Runway Prestige on Instagram, FB and Twitter (Runway Prestige only on twitter)! This was the first of MANY shows, so stay tuned for lots more from Runway Prestige!!

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The Queen of the Night!! #arabiannights ❤

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~Hi My name is Ms. Fabulous but you may call me “Ms. Fierce”~

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to add this Rainbow colored Indonesian village to your Bucket List!

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Time to add this Rainbow colored Indonesian village to your Bucket List!

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Just when you thought the world was becoming dull and lifeless, you discover a rainbow colored village in Indonesia!

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There has been a colourful makeover in the town of Kampung Pelangi, which literally translates to “Rainbow Village”, in Randusari, Indonesia. It’s bringing in tourists in flocks – and it’s all for a great cause!

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The town, originally called Kampung Wonosari, is home to 223 houses which have all recently been painted a minimum of three bright colors and decked out with fun, artistic murals which are so much fun to pose against and post up all over your instagram page! It’s an artists paradise!

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All this color has been provided thanks to funding from the government, who were hoping to banish it’s slum status as well as boost the tourism to the area. It’s certainly working, Instagram is filled with pictures of travellers in front of the colourful buildings and giant murals with their fun and creative poses!

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This project has greatly increased the economy in the village and has turned it from a slum to a thriving tourist destination you should definately add to your bucket list!

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-Karen Bahri

Travel back to 1910 England at the Black Country Living Museum!

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Travel back to 1910 England at the Black Country Living Museum!

I just returned from the UK and all I have to say about that was it was cold! Didn’t get to really do much unfortunately but I did get a chance to go to the Black Country Living Museum! It was actually a surprise and I didn’t know where I was being taken, and once we got there, I was explained in full detail of what exactly it was, because for an American, the name doesn’t really sound like what it actually is about! Haha!

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The Black Country Living Museum is an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings in Dudley in the West Midlands of England. It is located in the center of the Black Country conurbation, 10 miles west of Birmingham  (England’s 2nd largest city). The museum occupies 105,000 square meters (26 acres) of former industrial land partly reclaimed from a former railway goods yard, disused lime kilns and former coal pits.

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The Museum opened to the public in 1978, and has since added over 50 shops, houses and other industrial buildings from around the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton (collectively known as the Black Country); mainly in a specially built village. Most buildings were relocated from their original sites to form a base from where demonstrators portray life spanning 300 years of history, with a focus on 1850-1950.

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The museum is close to the site where Thomas Dudley first mastered the technique of smelting iron with coal instead of wood charcoal and making iron enough for industrial use. Claimed to be “the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution”, the Black Country is famous for its wide range of midsteel-based products from nails to the anchor and anchor chain for the Titanic. I actually saw them make a nail!

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The site’s coal mining heritage is shown by an underground drift and colliery surface buildings. I was asked several times if I wanted to go inside the tunnel as you can but you have to wear the hardhat and it’s dark and creepy. I’m not so fussed about the dark and creepy part but more so about wearing the hat and getting hat hair! Lol! INSTEADDD..I really enjoyed peaking inside all of the home and seeing whst typical homes looked like back in the day!

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Another cool section of the museum was the theme park, or “fun fair” as they say in the UK! With old school rides, slides, swings and candy. Btw they call Cotton Candy “Candy Floss” lol.

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Oh yes, there was a tiny corner barn too, filled with pigs and chicken. 🐖🦃20170412_141145 20170412_141156

In addition to the barnyard crew, there were a couple garages filled with antique cars! What a treat!

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One thing I forgot to mention is the accent in this area is very different and distinct! Definately hard to understand for us “yanks” lol but fun to hear and it took me back to watching those disney christmas films from old school England (you know, Scrooge McDuck!!! Duhhhh!!) Here are a few more pics for you to enjoy! This museum is definitely worth the visit if you enjoy history and traditional village settings! I definately say check it out if you are ever up around the west midlands!

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-Karen Bahri

Thailand’s Pattaya Floating Market!

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Thailand’s Pattaya Floating Market!

Thailand is a place high on my list of destinations I want to travel to! From the beaches to the bustling city life, the rich culture and tasty food all appeal greatly to me. Can’t forget the hot weather either!!!

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I recently discovered some information on the Pattaya Floating Market – yes, that’s correct! A bazaar over water! If Pattaya wasn’t beautiful enough, and if you wanted a little break from lounging on the beach this is definitely worth the experience!

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Pattaya Floating Market the biggest floating market in the world covering an area of 100,000sqm. The Floating Market is separated into four sections – each representing and selling items from the four major parts of Thailand (north, northeast, central and south). Expect to find many eateries, fruit stalls, souvenir shops and some art galleries.

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There is also a cultural show every afternoon, with such performances such as a classical dance, martial art demonstrations, as well as water boxing, where the fighters perform on a horizontal pole above the canal. Painters do show their artificial work, like umbrella and portrait painting. For those needing a little pampering, you can even get a traditional Thai massages, head or foot massage, facial, etc.

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The 350 million baht market has over 114 shops and water vendors selling authentic Thai food, desserts and specialties from all over the kingdom. Truly eye-catching are the small floating kitchens. With a lot of skill these vendors navigate, cook, serve drinks, offer snacks and make small meals all at once!

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For the ultimate floating market experience, hire a man-powered boat to get around and discover the richness of the surrounding Thai architecture and riverside life. Typically, the boat is big enough for four people and can be hired for a small fee for around 30 minutes. This definitely sounds like a fun once in a lifetime experience while traveling in Thailand! Everywhere you visit has it’s markets and bazaars filled with souvenirs, arts & crafts, shows and food, but a floating market you don’t run across very often!

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Entry fee is Baht 200 and the market is open 08:00 to 20:00 daily, with shops open 09:00 to 19:00. The market is not to far out of town and visitors can reach the market by buss, taxi or baht bus (song thaew).

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-Karen Bahri

Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed temple on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu,Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagodamission.

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The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

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The views – the stunning views over Leh in fact, are the greatest attraction! Sunrise & Sunset views are best viewed from here; and it is completely illuminated with lights at night time! One should make the breathless 15-minute climb up from Changspa when golden afternoon light still illuminates the city as the steps are already bathed in cooling shadow. Breath-taking! There’s a small, simple cafe at the top of the stairway where you can go sit, chill and take in all the glory.

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The Shanti Stupa features the photograph of the current Dalai Lama with the relics of the Buddha at its base. It was built as a two-level structure. The first level features the central relief of Dharmachakra (basically this symbolizes the teachings of Buddha) with deer on each side. A central golden Buddha image sits on a platform depicting the “turning wheel of Dharma” (Dharmachakra). The second level has reliefs depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating. Both levels feature a series of smaller meditating Buddha reliefs.

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The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. It was built by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists as it is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.

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-Karen Bahri

Sharjah Light Festival

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Sharjah Light Festival

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The Sharjah Light Festival (SCTDA) is a nightly art exhibit with local and international artists that takes place in public places. The festival, which is the first event of its kind in the region, runs for nine nights in the month of February using the latest graphics and lighting techniques and 3-D technology.

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Just some background info – Sharjah is the third largest and most populous city in the UAE and has land on both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Sharjah City borders Dubai to the south and Ajman to the north, and the three form a conurbation.

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The SCTDA is a culmination of art, culture, science and the renaissance movement initiated by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

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Over the years, the Sharjah Light Festival has succeeded in attracting thousands of visitors. Last year’s edition drew more than 560,000 visitors from the UAE and abroad while social media channels recorded 2.8 million interactions, according to Google Analytics.

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The festival covers 14 different locations across the emirate, including architectural landmarks, mosques and historic buildings, which are brought to life with dazzling light displays and musical performances to create innovative three-dimensional designs on mosques, key landmarks and heritage buildings.

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The Sharjah Light Festival is definitely something to check out in the UAE! It’s such an astonishingly colorful festival, as you can see from the many photos I have added to this blog post! I couldn’t help myself! What a spectacularly magical event! It’s worth the excursion if you are traveling to Dubai.

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-Karen Bahri