Finding Peace at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine

A few white robed monks were silently raking the gravel, and there was no sound but birdsong. We were in the Outer Precinct of the Meiji Shrine, a massive forest with trees of every species. The morning was bitterly cold, and there was hardly anyone about. A far cry...

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Springtime in Tokyo’s Shinjuku National Garden

According to ancient tradition, Spring in Japan begins at the start of February. We had seen people with their cameras, eagerly snapping pictures of early narcissi, but this did not stop the snow from tumbling down. The snow was still on the ground when we visited the...

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Tokyo: Urban Sprawl or City of Beauty?

It is said that the Japanese have a great sense of beauty, but no sense of ugliness. I pondered this as I took the airport train to Tokyo, a brief stopover on my way to New Zealand. From the window I could see a hotchpotch of houses, some elegant and well designed,...

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Jantar Mantar: Delhi’s Open Air Observatory

Jantar Mantar, also known as Delhi Observatory, is a group of large red and white stone structures (or yantras) built in the 18th century to perform astronomical and astrological calculations. It was designed by Jai Singh II, ruler of Jaipur, and was the first of five...

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Exploring Singapore’s Chinatown

Singapore’s Chinatown dates back to 1819, when Sir Stamford Raffles established a British colony on Singapore and decided that separate areas should be set aside for each of the ethnic communities who moved onto the island. In the early days Chinatown was full of...

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Cave Temples of Southern Thailand

The practice of excavating caves to create temples originated in India several centuries ago and spread across Asia as far as China. They were often established in sites of outstanding natural beauty by passing monks who stopped for worship or meditation, and they...

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Bukit Timah: Singapore’s Last Rain Forest

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is Singapore’s last patch of primary rain forest. When it was first accessed by British colonialists in 1827 it took them many hours to hack and climb their way through miles of jungle and swamp to the modest 163m summit of Bukit Timah Hill,...

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Sightseeing in Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca, on the south-west coast of Malaysia, has a rich and varied history. It occupies a strategic point on the Malacca Strait, which runs between Malaysia and Sumatra, and has been home at various times to the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British. In the middle...

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Pirates of the Malacca Strait

The Malacca Strait, which runs between Malaysia and Singapore and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, has been a favourite haunt of pirates for over a thousand years. The problem persists to the current day, with 40% of the world’s pirate attacks taking place in this...

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