China, Kazakhstan agree to develop permanent comprehensive strategic partnership

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China, Kazakhstan agree to develop permanent comprehensive strategic partnership

Xinhua
China, Kazakhstan agree to develop permanent comprehensive strategic partnership

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds a welcoming ceremony for visiting Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev before their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, September 11, 2019.

China and Kazakhstan decided Wednesday to develop a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership.

The decision came as Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with his Kazakh counterpart, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

When reviewing the achievements the People’s Republic of China has scored in the past 70 years since it was founded, Xi said such a process of moving forward has never been smooth, and stressed that no matter how the external situation changes, China will unswerving take care of its own business regardless of outside factors.

Xi said China will comprehensively deepen reform, expand opening-up and promote higher-quality development.

“We are fully capable of coping with various risks and challenges, and any difficulty or obstacle cannot stop us from moving forward,” Xi said.

“A stable, open and prosperous China will always be an opportunity for the future development of the world,” he said.

On China-Kazakhstan ties, Xi said China is willing to deepen all-round cooperation with Kazakhstan, seek synergy between the Silk Road Economic Belt and Kazakhstan’s Bright Path new economic policy, and strengthen connectivity.

He also called on the two sides to boost cooperation in industrial capacity and science and technology innovation, increase people-to-people and cultural contacts, and facilitate exchanges at sub-national level.

China and Kazakhstan should take a clear-cut stand in upholding multilateral-ism and an open world economy, so as to contribute to promoting a fairer, more just and equitable global governance system, Xi said.

Xi also encouraged the two countries to strengthen security cooperation, and jointly fight against the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism and separatism.

It is necessary to promote the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to play a more active role in regional and international affairs, he added.

Tokayev, who is paying a state visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday, expressed congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Tokayev said Kazakhstan is willing to take the decision of developing a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership with China as an opportunity to promote closer bilateral ties.

China’s reform and opening-up has brought opportunities to various countries including Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan firmly supports the Chinese government and people in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, he said.

Tokayev said Kazakhstan is looking forward to cementing high-level exchanges with China, and strengthening pragmatic cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, infrastructure, energy, 5G, science and technology, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative.

Tokayev said the two sides should closely communicate and coordinate within the frameworks of the SCO and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, jointly combat the “three evil forces,” and maintain regional security while opposing external interference.

The two heads of state signed a joint statement between China and Kazakhstan after their talks. They also attended a signing ceremony for a number of bilateral cooperation agreements.

Before their talks, Xi hosted a welcome ceremony for Tokayev outside the Great Hall of the People.

Mysterious Indus Valley People Gave Rise to Modern-Day South Asians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Mysterious Indus Valley People Gave Rise to Modern-Day South Asians

a photograph of an ancient skeleton buried in Rakigarhi in India

The skeleton of an individual from the Indus Valley Civilization whose fragile, ancient DNA revealed links to modern-day South Asian populations.
(Image: © Vasant Shinde)

Ancient DNA evidence reveals that the people of the mysterious and complex Indus Valley Civilization are genetically linked to modern South Asians today.

The same gene sequences, drawn from a single individual who died nearly 5,000 years ago and was buried in a cemetery near Rakhigarhi, India, also suggest that the Indus Valley developed farming independently, without major migrations from neighboring farming regions. It’s the first time an individual from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization has yielded any DNA information whatsoever, enabling researchers to link this civilization both to its neighbors and to modern humans.

The Indus Valley, or Harappan, Civilization flourished between about 3300 B.C. and 1300 B.C. in the region that is now covered by parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India, contemporaneous with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The people of the Indus Valley forged an impressively advanced civilization, with large urban centers, standardized systems of weights and measurements and even drainage and irrigation systems. Yet despite that sophistication, archaeologists know far less about the civilization than that of ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia, in part because the Indus Valley writing system hasn’t yet been deciphered.

Cracking Codes: 5 Ancient Languages Yet to Be Deciphered

a map of india, pakistan and afghanistan with sites where indus valley civilization archaeological finds havke been discovered

A map of the Indus Valley, or Harappan, Civilization. Rakhigarhi, the location of the burial that yielded ancient DNA for analysis, is highlighted in blue.

(Image credit: Vasant Shinde)

 Elusive DNA

Gathering ancient DNA from the Indus Valley is an enormous challenge, Vagheesh Narasimhan, one of the leading authors of the new research and a postdoctoral fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School, Live Science, because the hot, humid climate tends to degrade DNA rapidly. Narasimhan and his colleagues attempted to extract DNA from 61 individuals from the Rakhigarhi cemetery and were successful with only one, skeleton likely belonging to a female which was found nestled in a grave amid round pots, her head to the north and feet to the south.

a round, red, chipped pot found in an ancient burial from the indus valley civilization

A red pot found near the head of the Indus Valley skeleton that yielded ancient DNA.

(Image credit: Vasant Shinde)

The first revelation from the ancient gene sequences was that some of the inhabitants of the Indus Valley are connected by a genetic thread to modern-day South Asians. “About two-thirds to three-fourths of the ancestry of all modern South Asians comes from a population group related to that of this Indus Valley individual,” Narasimhan said.

Where the Indus Valley individual came from is a more difficult question, he said. But the genes do suggest that the highly agricultural Indus people were not closely related to their farming neighbors in the western part of what is now Iran.

“We were able to examine different associations between the advent of farming in that part of the world with the movement of people in that part of the world,” said Narasimhan.

Farming, Narasimhan said, first began in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East around 10,000 years ago. No one knows precisely how it spread from there. Did agriculture pop up independently in areas around the globe, perhaps observed by travelers who brought the idea to plant and cultivate seeds back home? Or did farmers move, bringing their new agricultural lifestyle with them?

In Europe, the genetic evidence suggests that the latter is true: Stone Age farmers introduced Southern Europe to agriculture, then moved north, spreading the practice as they went. But the new Indus Valley genetic evidence hints at a different story in South Asia. The Indus Valley individual’s genes diverged from those of other farming cultures in Iran and the Fertile Crescent before 8000 B.C., the researchers found.

“It diverges at a time prior to the advent of farming almost anywhere in the world,” Narasimhan said. In other words, the Indus Valley individual wasn’t the descendent of wandering Fertile Crescent farmers. She came from a civilization that either developed farming on its own, or simply imported the idea from neighbors — without importing the actual neighbors.

Both immigration and ideas are plausible ways to spread farming, Narasimhan said, and the new research suggests that both happened: immigration in Europe, ideas in South Asia. The results appear today (Sept. 5) in the journal Cell.

Complex populations

The researchers also attempted to link the Indus Valley individual to his or her contemporaries. In a companion paper published today in the journal Science, the researchers reported on ancient and modern DNA data from 523 individuals who lived in South and Central Asia over the last 8,000 years. Intriguingly, 11 of these people — all from outside the Indus Valley — had genetic data that closely matched the Indus Valley Individual. These 11 people also had unusual burials for their locations, Narasimhan said. Together, the genetic and archaeological data hint that those 11 people were migrants from the Indus Valley Civilization to other places, he said.

However, these conclusions should be viewed as tentative, warned Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, an archaeologist and expert on the Indus Valley Civilization at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the new research. Archaeological evidence suggests that Indus Valley cities were cosmopolitan places populated by people from many different regions, so one person’s genetic makeup might not match the rest of the population. Furthermore, Kenoyer said, burial was a less common way of dealing with the dead than cremation.

“So whatever we do have from cemeteries is not representative of the ancient populations of the Indus cities, but only of one part of one community living in these cities,” Kenoyer said.

And though the Indus individual and the 11 potential migrants found in other areas might have been related, more ancient DNA samples will be needed to show which way people, and their genes, were moving, he said.

Narasimhan echoed this need for more data, comparing the cities of the Indus Valley to modern-day Tokyo or New York City, where people gather from around the world. Ancient DNA is a tool for understanding these complex societies, he said.

“Population mixture and movement at very large scales is just a fundamental fact of human history,” he said. “Being able to document this with ancient DNA, I think, is very powerful.”

Originally published on Live Science.

5 Oldest Cities in Asia (Middle-East)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Oldest Cities in Asia

Humans have been building communities for a long time. A really long time. There are people living in places that have seen millennia of human settlement, particularly on the Asian continent, widely considered to be the place where civilization started. Ranking the age of some of these cities is going to be mind-boggling, to say the least, so we’d recommend trying to think about time less as a human would and switch more to a geological scale. It might make it easier. These are the five oldest cities in Asia.

Erbil, Iraq

Erbil, Iraq

Credit: sadikgulec/iStock

~7,000 Years

You may remember learning in elementary school that the earliest civilized people in the Fertile Crescent built their homes out of mud bricks. We do, anyway. We also remember thinking bricks like that can’t be as permanent as ours. Well, they aren’t, which is how the city of Erbil got its start. Roughly located in the center of the city is the Erbil Citadel, a massive fortified dirt mound on an otherwise flat plain. The mound is man-made and the result of thousands of years of settlements built on top of settlements built on top of settlements. The reason people were able to build on top of settlements is the wearing down of those mud bricks we mentioned earlier. Over time, the bricks disintegrate in place, adding a thin layer of dirt to the growing mound. Multiply that by a few thousand years and thousands of residents and Erbil grows from the result.

Byblos, Lebanon

Byblos, Lebanon

Credit: benedek/iStock

~7,000 Years

In Phoenician mythology, Byblos was founded by the god El at the beginning of time. While that might not be completely factual, the mythological truth of the statement can’t be denied. It’s a city so old it’s at least partially responsible for naming the Bible, thanks to its booming papyrus trade (the main thing the Bible was printed on at the time) and the Greek word for book, biblos. Before it accidentally named the second largest religion’s main publication, it was famous for its shipbuilding industry and enabled the Phoenicians to solidify their reputation as world-class sailors. Even before that it was an important port for Mediterranean trade, exporting prized Lebanese cedar to the powerful Egyptian empire. The city’s declined somewhat since its ancient glory, though Ernest Renan, a prominent French historian, contributed to its rejuvenation when he published the mostly forgotten history of Byblos in 1860.

Ray, Iran

Ray, Iran

Credit: mazzo1982/iStock

~7,500 Years

The true age of Ray is difficult, maybe impossible, to determine. A lot of the “archaeology” that went on in the city in the late 1800s and early 1900s amounted to little more than destructive treasure hunting, meaning the trace evidence that could prove the city’s true edge may have been permanently destroyed. But the city’s resilience proved more than treasure hunters could completely destroy. Excavations in the 1990s and 2000s turned up what would be classified as “horizon pottery of Češmeh Ali” and puts Ray’s founders among the very first settlers of the Iranian plateau around 5,500 B.C.

Today, Ray’s been incorporated into the larger metropolitan area of Tehran, no slouch of a city itself. But Ray still has the Iranian capital beaten by a few centuries at least.

Category IconHistory
3pts

Daily trivia question

Test Your Knowledge!

Where is the oldest synagogue in the world?

PLAY!Plane icon

Jericho

Jericho

Credit: Gosiek-B/iStock

~11,000 Years

Jericho’s roots grow so deep that the term “settlers” is more accurate than it is for other places. The earliest traces of human habitation around Jericho point to Mesolithic hunters who just decided to stay put one day. Like the hunters simply got tired and literally settled down. A thousand years after that, the hunters’ descendants started work on a huge stone wall around the town, with evidence of at least one huge tower incorporated into the wall. That’s 10,000 years of walled defense. So while Jericho might not be the oldest settlement in human history, its famous wall certainly is.

Damascus, Syria

Damascus, Syria

Credit: uchar/iStock

~10,000 — 12,000 Years

Twelve thousand years is a ridiculously long time, almost too long to conceptualize. To put it in some kind of perspective, Damascus possibly being 12,000 years old would put its founding during the Ice Age. During. Humans were settling down in Damascus at the same time half the Northern Hemisphere was buried under 4 kilometers of ice.

To make an even more of a dramatic statement of humanity’s ability to build cities, Damascus retains excellent examples from each of the major civilizations to contribute to its construction. Examples of Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic architecture are all on full display in the city, with the major examples being the Roman Temple of Jupiter, Roman walls and gates, and the Great Mosque built by Umayyad Caliphate. Essentially, what the city is today is a living, breathing Arabic city built on a hybrid Greek and Roman city plan in a location that’s seen human habitation since most of the Earth’s surface was made of glaciers.

Japan: Rohingya activist calls U.S. ban on Myanmar generals a first step

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAPAN TIMES)

 

ASIA PACIFIC / CRIME & LEGAL

Rohingya activist calls U.S. ban on Myanmar generals a first step

AFP-JIJI

A formerly imprisoned Rohingya activist said Wednesday that a U.S. ban on Myanmar’s top generals was a welcome first step but urged more action to support the long-targeted minority.

The State Department on Tuesday said that army chief Min Aung Hlaing, three other top officers and their families would not be allowed to visit the United States due to their roles in “ethnic cleansing” of the mostly Muslim Rohingya.

Participating in a high-level State Department meeting on religious freedom, peace activist Wai Wai Nu said it was critical to address the “decades-old impunity” enjoyed by the military in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

“Many of us in Burma welcome this decision of the State Department. However, we think this is a first step and we are hoping to see more concrete and efficient steps in the future,” she told reporters.

This, she said, should include an end to impunity in the country.

“The only way to move forward, I believe, is holding the perpetrators accountable and abolishing institutionalized religious and ethnic discrimination against ethnic minorities,” she added.

Wai Wai Nu founded two groups promoting inter-ethnic harmony and women’s rights. Along with other survivors and witnesses to abuses who are taking part in the ministerial, she met Wednesday at the White House with President Donald Trump.

Wai Wai Nu, whose father was also an activist, was arrested with her family in 2005 when she was a law student.

The family was freed in 2012 amid a political opening in Myanmar as the military junta reconciled with the West and eventually allowed civilian, elected leaders.

In 2017, Myanmar’s military launched a campaign against the Rohingya that led about 740,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh amid accounts of brutal attacks on whole villages.

The army denies wrongdoing and says it was responding to militant attacks.

The Rohingya are widely despised in the country and do not enjoy citizenship, with the government calling them “Bengalis,” suggesting they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

4 Terribly Designed International Cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Terribly Designed International Cities

When you’re putting together any kind of urban development project, there are going to be logistical hiccups. That’s completely forgivable. What’s not forgivable is when the plan is completely thrown out the window and buildings and streets just pop up without any kind of flow or guide. But plans are thrown out disturbingly often. These are four of the most terribly designed cities on the planet.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Credit: AsiaTravel/Shutterstock

Jakarta is the poster child of poorly planned and executed cities. It’s frequently ranked among the worst cities in the world to live in and regularly takes the top spot of Indonesia’s worst urban offerings. Traffic is horrible and constant, the city’s sinking as people extract more and more water from the ground, and a majority of the residents have some kind of respiratory issue thanks to the polluted air. Three things a city needs to conquer to offer even average quality of life for its citizens.

The main problem is that the city government let itself get overwhelmed by small issues, then didn’t properly research the solutions they implemented. For example, when the city tried to alleviate traffic by investing in mass transit, they chose buses. But when they built the bus lanes, they didn’t modify the roads at all, which meant the buses got caught in the omnipresent traffic, which was made worse by the lessening of available lanes. It’s like when they decided to build mass transit, instead of using a common sense solution used by cities all over the world, the Jakartan government left its common sense in the trash and doubled down on making everything worse. Then they did that for every other problem the city faced too.

Naypyidaw, Burma

Naypyidaw, Burma

Credit: Pipop_Boosarakumwadi/iStockphoto

Where Jakarta was poorly built for the amount of people they had, Naypyidaw was built for people no one can see. Everything’s empty everywhere. They have twenty-lane highways that are completely devoid of cars. And we’re not being hyperbolic to prove a point. When Top Gear went to Burma to film a special, they were able to stage a super-sized drag race in the middle of the highway.

On the same Top Gear episode, the three hosts talked about how Naypyidaw wasn’t a waste because it was built in anticipation of massive growth, though they admitted the growth wasn’t there yet. We’d disagree a bit and say it was at least a partial waste because the Burmese government built the massive city for growth without actually doing anything to enable growth in the country. The Burmese people are incredibly poor and it is highly unlikely any of them are going to be able to afford the lifestyle the city’s prepared for. The only people making any money are the ones building the city, and there aren’t enough of them to populate things the way it seems the Burmese government wants.

Chennai, India

Chennai, India

Credit: Jayakumar/Shutterstock

Chennai’s bad planning manifests itself in the fatal flooding the city has recently experienced. Back in November and December of 2015, the city saw a series of floods that claimed the lives of at least 90 residents. Urban planners maintain this was not a failing on their part, but was instead the result of haphazard planning executed by the local government. A man named RR Kuberan and his New Chennai Project submitted a redevelopment plan that turned Chembarambakkam Lake into a reservoir that would have supplied Chennai with plenty of clean drinking water, a transformation that would also have dried out surrounding land enough for development. But instead of going with that plan, the city allowed private developers to sell off land piecemeal and turn it into housing, which made water management next to impossible. It was a case of a city going for short term economic growth and urbanization instead of long term planning.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Credit: Lumenite/Shutterstock

The planning for Dhaka’s expansion is nonexistent, which makes sense when you consider the way it grew. It started as a simple town, then exploded in size after Bangladesh won its independence in 1971. When it did, the city started on a path that would see its population increase a hundredfold, turning it into one of the most densely populated cities in the world. In that explosive growth, Dhaka failed to implement any planning or ordinance laws, which means buildings are often private ventures completely free of regulation or zoning and can be thrown up wherever and wherever, often to the detriment and destruction of any kind of unified sense of community. The city is a sprawling mass of slums, private construction, and traffic traffic traffic. It’s chaos incarnate, though people are slowly starting to realize how destructive that chaos can be.

The Oldest Continually Inhabited Cities on Each Continent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Oldest Continually Inhabited Cities on Each Continent

On every continent we find some of the oldest cities that early human civilizations called home. Successful long-term dwelling habitation occurs from a blending of sources. The region needs a strong economy with quality and consistency in the creation of trade. A perpetual food and water supply, availability of work, enduring infrastructure and uninterrupted peace and harmony are classic explanations.

Maintenance of the ratio of birth and death rates, as well as immigration and migration, must balance the population. All these society-friendly conditions continue to come together in some of the oldest cities on the continents of North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

North America: Cholula, Mexico

Credit: Orbon Alija / iStock

In North America, the pre-Columbian city of Cholula is found in the state of Puebla, Central Mexico. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America, expanding from a settlement to a village and is now a regional city. The available data regarding the establishment of first-time inhabitants are conflicting, ranging from anywhere from 2000 B.C., between 800 B.C. and 200 B.C., and from the 7th century. The current thinking is that Toltec refugees settled in the area following the fall of Tula. However, other information indicates that the peoples were the children of one of the seven Aztec tribes.

Eighteen neighborhoods make up the city, and each one has a leader. This city is well known for the Iglesias de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary. The local economy continues to endure, thanks to visitors from all over the world.

South America: Quito, Ecuador

Credit: Andrew Linscott / iStock

In South America, the oldest inhabited city is Quito in Ecuador. Located at the Guayllabamba river basin, it is the capital of Ecuador. Sources cite varying dates for first-time inhabitants, stretching from the occupation of the Kingdom of Quito from 2000 B.C. to 980 A.D., or the 13th or 16th century.

Despite earthquakes, there is enough water for residential and industrial use that the city’s population continues to replenish itself. A renewing spirit of culture, economy and environmental resources has engaged the 2 million residents and their government. Rebuilding and renovation projects have included a new airport, the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, an ecologically sustainable Metrobus-Ecovia that links the northern and southern edges of the city and a new subway system.

Middle East: Jericho, West Bank

Credit: GA161076 / iStock

Based on archeological support, it is suggested that Jericho is among the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Destroyed, abandoned, re-inhabited and enlarged many times, the city dates back to 11,000 to 9000 B.C. with the walled defenses around 6800 B.C. Researchers have uncovered 20 successive communities.

Located below sea level, Jericho has the distinction of not only being the oldest inhabited, walled city, but also geographically the lowest, located 847 feet below sea level. Local springs found near the city from the nearby Jordan River are a welcome water supply to the nearly 20,000 current residents. Considered the oasis of the Jordan Valley, tourists make a pilgrimage to soak in the unique history of this biblical-era city.

Africa: Luxor (Thebes), Egypt

Credit: cinoby / iStock

The oldest continuously inhabited city in Africa, Luxor is home to about 500,000 residents and situated near the Nile River. Estimates place the time of habitation as 7200 B.C. to 3200 B.C. Luxor was established as a sacred religious capital, yet saw decline during the Roman occupation.

Today, visitors travel the globe to explore this ancient Egyptian city. Ruins and classical artifacts abound within the monuments of the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the West Bank Necropolis, and the ruins of the temples of Karnak and Luxor. Supported by the tourist economy, Luxor continues to contribute to antiquity art, culture and knowledge.

Europe: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Credit: NeonJellyfish / iStock

Assessments place the establishment of Plovdiv at 6,000 years ago. Rich in history, the city was a travel crossroads for the Roman Empire, connecting Western Europe and the Middle East. The survival of thousands of years of conflicts and occupations have left behind a vibrant cultural tapestry. Architectural landmarks, monuments, statues, art and education unite with the Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. Ethnic diversity is still seen today, as Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria, is home to 340,000 inhabitants of Roman, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Turkish heritage.

The world’s oldest cities evoke thoughts of faraway places and classical times. Archeological discoveries link us to our common ancestry, and there are many histories yet to be revealed. From the seven hills of Rome to the Americas, communities are the cornerstone of humanity.

The Tastiest Asian Dishes You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Tastiest Asian Dishes You’ve Never Heard Of

Everyone loves some good Chinese takeout on the right occasion, but there’s a whole lot more out there than Kung Pao chicken and beef-and-broccoli. Depending on where you travel in Asia, people eat just about everything that moves, and a big part of the secret is that they learned how to make it delicious. Without dabbling too far into the bizarre, there are a handful of absolutely decadent dishes within Asian cuisine across the continent that you’d do yourself a disservice not to try.

Nasi Lemak – Malaysia

Credit: bonchan / iStock

Nasi Lemak is the national dish of Malaysia. The literal translation of its name is “oily rice,” but “creamy” makes for a more accurate (and appetizing) contextual translation. The preparation of the dish starts with soaking rice in coconut cream before it’s steamed with pandan leaves. The fragrant rice is served wrapped in banana leaves with garnish of cucumber slices, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, and fried egg. This is a popular breakfast food.

Kare-Kare – Philippines

Credit: arvie caballero / iStock

This Philippine stew derives its name from the word “curry,” but it’s nothing like anything you’ve had at an Indian or Thai restaurant. The broth is made from stewed oxtail, beef, and tripe, though it can sometimes be made with seafood, vegetables, or offal. The broth is mixed with savory peanut sauce to make a thick and complex flavor profile.

Char Kway Teow – Malaysia

Credit: Kadek Bonit Permadi / iStock

If you don’t know about Asian pork buns, then you need to find your nearest dim sum restaurant as soon as possible—but this lesser-known Malaysian street food is just as delicious, though not quite as portable. The name translates to “stir-fried rice cake strips,” which is a somewhat straightforward description. The noodles are browned with soy sauce and served with meat, fish cake, egg, and sausage to create a stir-fried street-food delight.

Amok Trey – Cambodia

Credit: Zoltan Tarlacz / Shutterstock.com

To celebrate the Water Festival in Cambodia, the locals serve their traditional dish, Amok trey—a light and colorful dish. The preparation involves coating a fish with thick coconut milk and freshly ground spices known as kroeung, though many dishes offer variants served with chicken, beef, and other alternatives. It’s then steamed in banana leaves to form a thick curry that features noni leaves and fingerroot.

Gamjatang – Korea

Credit: fishwork / iStock

This spicy Korean soup uses a broth made from pork neck bones with red hot peppers. The high heat of the broth-making softens the meat to its ideal tenderness. Potatoes, cellophane noodles, radish greens, green onions, and perilla leaves are added to the soup to make a savory-spicy treat. Though it used to be nearly impossible to find the soup outside of Korea, these days it’s featured prominently in Korean restaurants in the United States and abroad.

Babi Guling – Indonesia

Credit: WEKWEK / iStock

There’s a hint of irony to be found in that one of the most delicious pork dishes has its origins in a Muslim-majority nation, but the Balinese know how to cook a pig. The slow-roasted pork is seasoned with ginger, galangal, turmeric, chilies, and shrimp paste to make a sweet, spicy, and savory profile that compliment the tender-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside porcine.

Rendang – Indonesia & Malaysia

Credit: asab974 / iStock

This food of the Minangkabau culture sits on the fence as to its status as a curry, but its classification has no bearing on its flavor. There’s a whole laundry list of ingredients that goes into rendang, including ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chili’s, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and lime leaves among others. The ingredients are slow-cooked until all the liquid is gone and the meat is well-done, which makes for hefty absorption of the intense flavors.

4 Largest Religious Monuments in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Largest Religious Monuments in the World

There might be one thing that most religions can all agree on: bigger is better.

Practitioners of all faiths have aimed to express the extent of their devoutness through the size of their temples and statues. Competition among the faithful has led to the creation of bigger and bigger monuments all over the world. Just take one look at the massive cathedrals of Europe, mosques in the Middle East, giant Buddha statues throughout Asia, or even modern megachurches across the Bible Belt, and you’ll see plenty of examples of grandiose religious architecture on display.

Case in point, here are four of the largest religious monuments in the world.

1. Karnak Temple Complex – Luxor, Egypt

Credit: nodostudio / iStock

One of the biggest religious monuments is also one of the oldest. The Karnak Temple Complex was constructed by the ancient Egyptians over the course of several centuries, beginning during the Middle Kingdom. Parts of the temple were used continuously for more than 2,000 years to worship a panoply of Egyptian deities.

The complex covers more than 200 acres and includes several temples and monumental halls. One of the most well-known sections is Hypostyle Hall, which is supported by 134 columns, each 72 feet tall. The hall was the setting for an iconic movie scene from “The Spy Who Love Me”, in which James Bond is chased by the vicious henchman Jaws.

2. Borobudur – Central Java, Indonesia

Credit: Timon Peskin / iStock

Located on the island of Magelang in Central Java, Indonesia, Borobudur lays claim to being the largest Buddhist temple ever constructed. It was built during the 8th and 9th centuries by rulers of the Syailendra dynasty. The dynasty ruled Java up until the end of the 10th century.

The temple, which is built around a natural hill, covers a total surface area of more than 26,000 square feet. At its center is a large stupa, a domed Buddhist shrine intended for meditation. Surrounding the main stupa are three circular platforms containing 72 smaller stupas, each with a Buddha statue inside. The base is made up of five square platforms, with the main foundation being 387 feet on each side. Symbolic carvings cover the walls and depict religious imagery, including the spread of Buddhism to the Indonesian archipelago.

Following the decline of the Syailendra dynasty, Borobudur was abandoned for centuries and overtaken by the jungle. The monument was rediscovered during a brief period of British occupation at the start of the 19th century. Thomas Stamford Raffles, the appointed governor-general of Java, heard tales of a massive temple hidden deep in the jungle. In 1814, a Dutch engineer sent by Raffles found Borobudur buried beneath vines and dirt.

The first restoration of the site did not start until 1907, after decades of continued decay and looting. UNESCO started a modern restoration of the temple in the 1970s and named Borobudur a World Heritage Site in 1991. Today the temple is a major tourist attraction, bringing in millions of visitors each year.

3. Spring Temple Buddha – Lushan County, Henan, China

Credit: Stacia020 / Shutterstock.com

At a height of 420 feet, the Spring Temple Buddha in China’s Henan Province is the largest religious statue in the world. Including its base, which serves as a Buddhist temple, the entire structure reaches a height of 682 feet—more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.

The statue opened to the public in 2008. Including the supporting structures, it took 11 years to build and cost around $178 million USD, according to Zhou Mingqi, an analyst with tourism consulting firm Jingjiang Consulting. It took 238 pounds of gold to plate the copper statue. Ironically the statue is located in one of China’s poorest counties.

4. Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Credit: tbradford / iStock

Built by the Khmer Empire in the 12th century, the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia is widely recognized as the largest religious building in the world. Spanning more than 402 acres, it was originally built as a Hindu temple in honor of the god Vishnu. It was designed to represent Mount Meru, the Hindu equivalent of Mount Olympus. Construction was a monumental undertaking. According to inscriptions, a workforce of 300,000 people and 6,000 elephants toiled to build the temple complex.

By the end of the 12th century, the temple converted to use as a Buddhist temple, as that religion became a stronger force in the region. Unlike Borobudur, Angkor Wat was never completely abandoned and remains an important site of worship for Buddhists to this day. It is also a major tourist destination, drawing more than 2 million people each year.

Trending on

You may like

Sponsored Links by Taboola

3 Things You Must Know Before Visiting Myanmar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

More from

3 Things You Must Know Before Visiting Myanmar

Myanmar is a beautiful country with a rich history that you could spend years exploring. Many of its people belong to the Buddhist religion, and almost every aspect of their culture reflects this. While most people from Myanmar are warm and welcoming to travelers, there are certain things that tourists should and shouldn’t do if they don’t want to seem disrespectful. Here are three things you must know before visiting Myanmar so that you and everyone else will have a calm, enjoyable time.

The Fork Is Not Your Friend

Credit: Milkovasa/Shutterstock

In America, we eat pretty much everything but soup with a fork. In Myanmar, though, forks are not usedfor the bulk of the eating. They are used, but not in a way that is familiar to us. Forks are held in the left hand and used to push food onto a spoon held in the right, which you then eat with. Knives are also largely absent in Myanmar, but this is a bit easier to get used to. Luckily, eating with a fork isn’t as serious as some other faux pas you could make, but it is always best to appear polite and observe the local customs whenever possible.

Money Exchange Can Be Complicated

Credit: Kyaw Zin Soe/Shutterstock

Myanmar has a closed money economy, meaning that the Kyat, its official currency, can’t be bought outside of the country. This means that you have to exchange your U.S. dollars inside Myanmar itself, but there are a few catches. The first is that the higher the value on your bill ($20, $50, $100, etc.), the more favorable your exchange rate will be, so the best course of action is to exchange high-value cash if you can. Also, your cash must be pristine. According to the Myanmar government, any marks, stains, or rips on your bills make them useless and worth nothing, so they will not accept them in an exchange.  To make things even more complicated, the U.S. dollars you are exchanging must also have been printed after 2003, and can’t feature serial numbers with CB, BC, or AB because of a counterfeiting scheme carried out by North Korea several years ago. The one good thing, though, is that most trains, boats, planes, etc. accept the U.S. dollar as currency, so you don’t have to exchange everything.

Watch Your Feet

Credit: Thiti Wongluang/Shutterstock

In America, we don’t tend to think much about where we point our feet. We just walk or stand and that’s about it. In Myanmar, though, it is considered to be extremely rude to point your feet at a person, a statue, or other object, because feet are considered to be “the most disrespectful part of the body.” Be mindful to point your feet in a neutral direction when you are talking to a person (especially a local), so as not to offend anyone. On this same topic, it is also important to remove both your shoes and your socks before entering one of Myanmar’s many breathtaking temples or pagodas. The Myanmarese fought very hard for their right to worship their religion in the way they feel is best and most respectful, so it is only right to follow their rules.

The Murderous Dictators Of: China And Kyrgyz Pledge To Promote Bilateral Ties

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA COMMUNISTS PARTY NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Chinese, Kyrgyz presidents pledge to promote bilateral ties

Xinhua
Chinese, Kyrgyz presidents pledge to promote bilateral ties

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping is received by his Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbay Jeenbekov upon his arrival in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 12, 2019. Xi arrived here Wednesday for a state visit to Kyrgyzstan and the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, met Wednesday evening, pledging joint efforts to promote bilateral ties.

Xi and Jeenbekov had a meeting at the presidential residence in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek right after the Chinese president arrived in the Central Asian country for a state visit and the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

Reflecting on the traditional friendship between the countries, the two heads of state discussed the future of bilateral relations with an in-depth exchange of views on issues of common concern.

Noting that it is his second visit to Kyrgyzstan in six years, Xi expressed the delight of visiting an old friend.

Substantial advances in bilateral ties have been made over the past 27 years since the establishment of the China-Kyrgyzstan diplomatic relationship, Xi said, highlighting the two sides’ strong political mutual trust, mutually beneficial economic cooperation, mutual reliance in security and close coordination in international affairs.

Xi expressed appreciation for Jeenbekov’s public remarks on safeguarding the China-Kyrgyzstan friendship on many occasions.

The Chinese side applauds Kyrgyzstan’s achievements in reform and development, and expects more progress of the country in safeguarding national stability and promoting economic development, Xi said.

China is ready to share experience in state governance with Kyrgyzstan to achieve common development and prosperity, Xi said, hailing the solid outcomes in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.

Xi called for concerted efforts to strive for more fruits in the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to benefit the people of both countries.

The two sides, he said, should step up coordination within multilateral frameworks including the SCO and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, stick to multilateralism, and oppose protectionism and unilateralism, so as to contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.

Jeenbekov said he appreciates the great importance Xi attaches to bilateral relations. He expressed warm congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and wished China greater achievements.

Recalling his attendance last week at a release ceremony for the Kyrgyz edition of the first volume of “Xi Jinping: The Governance of China,” Jeenbekov said the book is of great significance for Kyrgyzstan to learn from China’s experience and promote its own reform and development.

Jeenbekov stressed that Kyrgyzstan firmly supports the measures taken by the Chinese government in safeguarding peace and stability in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and cracking down on extremism. He also thanked China for its strong support and assistance to Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan, he said, values China’s influence in international affairs and is willing to deepen cooperation with China in various sectors within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, get on board the express train of China’s economic development, and push for leapfrog development of bilateral relations.