Friday, December 31, 2010

World Heritage: 2010 in Review


Last year, I said
"I don't anticipate a big haul next year, but one conference near an iconic World Heritage Site (on the level of Stonehenge) intrigues me. Stay tuned..."
Well, the conference originally was supposed to be near the Pyramids, then got moved thousands of miles away. To top it off, it didn't look interesting enough to go, and it was too close to the boys' birth for me to travel.

So the lack of a big haul was prescient. My two trips out of the country, to Montreal and Singapore, were not sufficiently close to the locations of any World Heritage Site. So I didn't visit any new sites this year.

But that doesn't leave me empty handed. On further review, the inscription of Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes in 2007 appears more interesting. It consists of three sites: Geomunoreum, Seongsan and Mount Halla. Digging through my photos from my first trip to Jeju, in 2001, turns up one labeled, "Me, on top of Sunrise Peak". A little searching leads me to the discovery that "Sunrise Peak" is the English name for Seongsan.

With the new sites inscribed this past summer (none of which I've visited), my total is now 47 out of 911, or 5.2%. It's a rounding error away from last year's percentage (which should have included Jeju, but didn't).

What does 2011 hold? The most promising item is a return trip to Korea, where two World Heritage sites look to be within public transportation of the conference site.  There's also the possibility of picking up one in Hungary, if a conference there turns out to be worth the trip.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Where's Jon? Singapore Edition

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It's time for the slightly less exciting version of "Where's Waldo?" in which I try to find myself in pictures that people have posted of conferences I've attended. (I've labeled similar posts so you can view all of them here.)  The clearest shot (reproduced above) is here.  I'm also on the right in this picture from the rump session.

I have no idea who any of these other people are.  Also, I don't like fisheye lenses because they make people (in particular me) look like they have hunchbacks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Maybe There's a Third of a Century Club I Could Aim for?

In 2003, I posted about the Traveler's Century Club (and updated in 2006).  Basically, it's an organization of people who have visited at least 100 countries (and have a pretty loose definition of what constitutes a country).  Since 2006, I have visited 8 more:

  1. Bahamas
  2. Estonia
  3. Japan 
  4. Netherlands
  5. Sarawak
  6. Singapore
  7. Spain
  8. Turkey in Europe (Istanbul)

Also,  Jeju Island (South Korea) was added to the list this year, so I have a total of 31.

My pace of two a year was helped by the fact that I attend two particular conferences every year, one of which rotates around Europe and the other around Asia. Each, however, rotates entirely among countries I've already visited for the next two years. This year, though I missed the European one, it repeated also, so I visited no new countries this year for the first time since 1999. I might go to one in Hungary next year, so there's always the chance to add to the total through other conferences.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

930 Places Left to See

 In 2004, I posted a list of the 49 places from the book 1000 Places to See Before you Die that I had seen.

Here are the places I've seen since then:
That's 21 more, for a total of 70.

What prompted me to revisit the list?  I wrote a review of this book for the site Goodreads.  Goodreads offered to let me post the review to my blog.  In order to have the content in a more open place (and to provide more content for this blog), I've decided to start doing that with some of the reviews.  (I'm also posting some to Amazon.)

1000 Places to See Before you Die by Patricia Schultz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's an intriguing concept, and kinda fun to page through, but way too heavy on $300/night hotels, spas, etc. Let's say I'm going to Dublin (to open to a section at random). She recommends a festival, the Book of Kells and the pubs (possibly in conjunction with St. Patrick's Day). All good. But she also recommends a $65/plate restaurant and a $300/night hotel. I could forgive the restaurant if there was less of that kind of stuff.

I prefer to use the almost-1000-long World Heritage List. Maybe it's just as arbitrary in its own way, but at least it's the product of a consensus, and it's heavier on cultural and natural must-sees.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pictures from Singapore

Perhaps you can view this as a sequel to this post and this one from 2007.  Then I had two layovers comprising about 30 hours in Singapore.  This time Singapore was my actual destination, and I had about 80 hours total.  Of course, this time much of that was taken up by the conference, so I feel like I didn't do as much, oddly enough.

I did throw back a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, visit the National Museum of Singapore, and enjoy some chili crab at a place called Gluttons Bay.  Pictures of these and more are shown in the album below.

Singapore 2010