5 Lakes That Are Disappearing Before Our Eyes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Lakes That Are Disappearing Before Our Eyes

Most people know that water is a precious resource. Between climate change and the needs of the world’s ever-growing population, water is vanishing more and more rapidly. Many bodies of water around the world aren’t what they once were. You may even be aware of water shortages in your area. And while some water sources are gradually diminishing, other cases are much more dramatic. The following are five lakes that are tragically disappearing before our eyes.

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The Dead Sea — Israel and Jordan

The Dead Sea — Israel and Jordan

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The Dead Sea is a remarkable place for many reasons. Tourists flock to the area because you can swim in the sea and float due to the salinity of the water. The salt and mineral-rich mud are known for their health benefits, another big draw. The Dead Sea is also the lowest place on Earth at 430.5 meters (or 1,412 feet) below sea level!

Unfortunately, the water level is decreasing by about a meter per year. The water loss is primarily due to the fact that one of its main water sources, the Jordan River, was dammed in the 1960s. As the population grows, water from this river goes to maintaining crops and supporting the human community in the region. And because of the tense political climate, the potential solution of creating a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea has been hard to implement. There’s still a lot of water left in the Dead Sea, but if you want to see this anomaly of nature and float in the water yourself, you might be smart to go sooner rather than later.

Lake Poopó — Bolivia

Lake Poopó — Bolivia

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Lake Poopó is a tragic example of what can happen when humans divert too much water from a lake. This lake was once the second-largest lake in Bolivia, but now it’s all but completely dried up. Some stark aerial photos from NASA show the lake is virtually gone. This is a huge loss considering the lake saw highs of up to 3,000 square kilometers (1,200 square miles). Since the lake was always shallow, the locals are used to fluctuations in the size of the lake.

The current disappearance is not good news for the local communities that rely on the lake for fish. However, those who have been in the area for a long time have seen this before. The lake dried up entirely in 1994 because of drought and evaporation, and eventually replenished itself. So there is hope that the lake will fill back up, and the ecosystem will eventually rebuild. The rainy season in Bolivia is from December to March, so if the drought doesn’t drag on, the lake could potentially fill back up.

The Aral Sea — Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

The Aral Sea — Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Credit: Daniel Prudek/ Shutterstock

This sea that lies on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan used to be the fourth-largest lake in the world, with only Lakes Superior, Victoria, and the Caspian Sea being larger. But when the water was diverted in the 1970s, the lake slowly began to dry up, and now only 10% of the water remains. The disappearance of the water is especially distressing for communities that used to live off of the fishing industry. The BBC describes the demise of this sea as “one of the most dramatic alterations of the Earth’s surface for centuries.”

A visual reminder of the death of this lake, perhaps for people who weren’t alive before the 1970s when the lake was full, are the stranded ships that accidentally ran ashore as the water levels dropped. The mud dried, and the landscape became a desert, with the boats as relics of what once was. People who used to farm and fish in the region have had to look for other means of income, and many have struggled to do so.

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Poyang Lake — China

Poyang Lake — China

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Poyang Lake was once China’s largest freshwater lake. The size has always been hard to define due to the fluctuations throughout the seasons. Now, however, Poyang Lake is nearly gone due to drought and the diversion of the Yangtze River. Unlike some of the other disappearing lakes, the former lake is now an eerie grassland instead of a desert. However, if the drought continues, the land could quickly turn to sand and dirt like we’ve seen in the Aral Sea.

Some aerial photos reveal bizarre paths in the grass from people cutting through the lake bed. The disappearance of the lake certainly affects the logistics of the surrounding cities and towns. For example, the city of Nanchang used to sit right on the water’s edge. Now the shoreline is over 15 miles away. And all this change has happened in just the last century. Animal activists are especially concerned about the impending extinction of a finless porpoise that mainly lives in Poyang Lake.

Lake Chad — Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon

Lake Chad — Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon

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Lake Chad in Africa is another story of a once-enormous lake shrinking because of irrigation, climate change, and a steadily-growing population. This African lake has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s and is the water source for 20 to 30 million people. Is there any hope for restoring its waters?

Some propose routing water from the Congo River. The main problem with that is that the river is over 2,400 kilometers away (1,500 miles), and the governments of the four countries who share the lake (Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon) are having a hard time coming to a consensus. Proponents of the plan suggest that if they can refill the lake, it would ease the crisis of nearly 11 million people in the region who need humanitarian aid to survive.

7 The Most-Visited Cities of the Decade

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 The Most-Visited Cities of the Decade

We live in a great era for travel, equipped with phones that can guide us through far away countries and abundant, affordable airfare. As our world changes, the planet’s big cities get even more exciting and accessible, becoming better vacation destinations every year. Here are the seven most visited cities of the last decade.

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7. New York City, United States

Aerial view of New York City metropolis showing skyscrapers and density, New York, USA
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The Big Apple is the most-visited city in America and in the entire Western Hemisphere. A haven for culture, art, fashion, and food, New York City is a destination for travelers from around the world and from within the United States.

A visit to New York could include a wide variety of activities, from visiting world-famous art galleries such as the MOMA and the Guggenheim to a stroll through Central Park or around Times Square. Nicknamed “the city that never sleeps,” New York offers a different adventure to everyone.

6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Aerial view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia city skyline
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The capital of Malaysia is the first of many Asian cities in the top seven most-visited cities of the decade. Despite being the sixth-most-visited city in the world, Kuala Lumpur is still considered something of a hidden gem for vacationers.

In Kuala Lumpur you can visit architectural wonders such as the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, or take in a panoramic view of the city from the top of the Menara Kuala Lumpur. You can also see wildlife up close at the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve or the Aquaria KLCC.

5. Singapore

Aerial view of skyscrapers in Singapore
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Considered one of the safest destinations for tourists in Asia, the island city-state of Singapore is the fifth-most-visited city in the world. Singapore is a very wealthy city, and you can see it in the impressive public works projects that are reinventing this center of futurism. Take a stroll through Gardens by the Bay to see some of the most beautiful arrangements of natural fauna, lights, and architecture that can be found anywhere in the world.

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Aerial view of Dubai Palm Jumeirah island with skyscrapers and blue waters
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Another modern city with iconic buildings and one that has seen many public improvements completed over the last 10 years, Dubai is the world’s fourth-most-visited city.

In Dubai you can find some of the wonders of the architectural world, such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It is also home to some of the best theme parks, with attractions featuring Disney and Marvel characters. Currently under construction is what will be the largest water park in the world when it opens in 2020.

3. London, United Kingdom

Aerial cityscape view of London and the River Thames
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In constant competition for the number-two spot of most visited places for a given time period are London and Paris. And while London received a boost from hosting the Olympics early in the decade, Paris managed to surpass it in the end, making London the third-most-visited city of the decade.

As a center of western civilization, London has tons of things to take in on a visit. You can see some of the most iconic structures in the world, such as the Big Ben clock tower or the Tower Bridge. You can also explore history at the British Museum, which has one of the best collections of ancient artifacts in the world.

2. Paris, France

Aerial view of Paris at sunset with Eiffel Tower in the center
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As one of the most prized vacation destinations on the planet, Paris secures the number two spot on the list of most-visited cities in the last 10 years.

World famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, which holds some of the most important art ever created, draws millions of visitors to the French capital every year. In addition to a world-renowned culinary scene and vibrant nightlife, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the City of Lights.

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok city at sunset, over looking Taksin Bridge
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The most-visited city of the 2010s is Bangkok. The capital of Thailand draws almost 2 million more visitors per year than Paris, receiving a boon from the large number of Chinese travelers who flock to it.

The city has many opulent shrines and ancient temples that you can explore. It also has a vibrant nightlife and is the entry point for the dense Thai jungle, a popular vacation destination.

6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)
6 Things You Never Knew About Mount Rushmore

Western South Dakota isn’t lacking in incredible sights. There are the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills, and those are just the starters. But the highlight of any trip to this land of Native American history and odd rock outcroppings is a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial where giant carved heads of four former presidents keep vigil.

The majestic sculpture celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016, though its stony faces remain much the same as they did when its construction was completed in 1941. The 60-foot-high granite monument features the towering head portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few things about Mount Rushmore you might not know.

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Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

Presidential Images Were Not the First Choice

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Mount Rushmore was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson who was moved to memorialize and carve iconic historical figures into a mountainside. He wanted to promote tourism to a region of the state that was otherwise mostly ignored and came up with the idea of the massive project in 1923. Robinson’s initial plans did not include the political figures admired at the monument today.

Robinson thought a carved tribute featuring Western heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Lakota leader Chief Red Cloud was the perfect choice for the location. He enlisted the help of renowned American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who convinced him the monument would be better received if it had a more national focus. They settled on four presidents who they felt best represented the country.

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

It Was Built Using a Lot of Dynamite

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Visitors to Mount Rushmore stand in awe of its grandeur and scale. Little do they know of the enormity of Robinson and Borglum’s pet undertaking in real-time. The project employed over 400 men and took fourteen years to complete. Most of the men were miners who had come to South Dakota in search of the promised gold in the Black Hills.

An incredible 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed for the project. It was decided the best way to do this was with dynamite, so 90 percent of the monument was carved in this way. Once the blasting was completed, the finer details of the sculpture were attended to. This entailed lowering finishers down the 500-foot face of the mountainside in bosun chairs. It was dangerous work, yet thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed.

It Has Been Known by Several Names

It Has Been Known by Several Names

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The mountain containing the carving has been known by several different names throughout the years. The Sioux called it Six Grandfathers after the earth, sky, and four cardinal directions. American settlers in the area referred to it as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, or Keystone Cliffs. It wasn’t until 1930 that the beloved icon became officially named and recognized as Mount Rushmore.

The mountain was actually named after New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who passed through on his way back from a business trip. When he found out the mountain had no official designation, he thought it would be a good idea to name it after him. The wealthy investor eventually got his way.

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Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

Mount Rushmore Is a Controversial Monument

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The Lakota Sioux were promised an area that included the Black Hills in perpetuity by the U.S. government in the Treaty of 1868, but forever only lasted until gold was discovered in the 1870s. The land was subsequently taken back by force, adding to the ongoing conflicts of the time between the government and the Plains Indians. In South Dakota specifically, the Battle of Wounded Knee was a grievous defeat for the Native Americans.

The Sioux still consider the Black Hills area as sacred ground. To some, the monument represents the oppression faced by the Native Americans. Visitors to South Dakota can pay homage to the history of the area by also visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, a still-in-progress sculpture that, once completed, will be the world’s largest sculpture at 641 feet long and 563 feet tall.

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

The Monument Once Had Its Own Baseball Team

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Gutzon Borglum’s son Lincoln, who also worked on the project, was a big baseball fan. He socialized with the daily workers by talking baseball and sharing friendly banter while keeping up with the scores on the radio. Their common love for the sport prompted the Borglums to organize an amateur team. Workers became vetted for their ability to handle a baseball bat as well as a jackhammer.

The local community enthusiastically cheered the newly-formed baseball team called the Rushmore Drillers. The team was good enough to make it to the semi-finals of the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in the late 1930s. Even though they placed third, Borglum hosted both the Drillers and their opponents at his home for dinner and more sports talk. The team disbanded when work on the monument was completed.

It Has a Secret Room

It Has a Secret Room

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Borglum wanted to add a secret room behind the monument where important documents and historical memorabilia could be stored. The so-called Hall of Records would be accessed by an 800-foot granite staircase with a giant bronze eagle over the door leading to the secret room.

Only part of the tunnel had been blasted when the funds ran out in 1939. The idea of a Hall of Records dwindled following Borglum’s death in 1941 and the official declaration of the monument’s completion. It was rejuvenated again in 1998 when the National Park Service finished what was started long ago and installed Mount Rushmore’s best-known secret. Items of interest continue to be placed there for future discovery.

6 States That Get the Least Snow

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 States That Get the Least Snow

If you love the sun and warmth, you are probably looking to avoid snow on your vacations at all costs. To secure the best odds of avoiding a chilly snowfall, consider planning a trip to one of the states below. These states receive the least amount of snow each year.

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Georgia

Georgia

Credit: Sean Pavone/ iStock

How much snow Georgia sees depends on what area you visit. Some locations in northern Georgia can see up to as much as three inches of snow each year. If avoiding snow is your goal, you are better off sticking to central and southern Georgia, where less than an inch of snow a year is the norm. The higher snow totals in northern Georgia are due to the Northeastern mountain region.

Mississippi

Mississippi

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

If avoiding snow is your goal, many areas of Mississippi are bound to deliver. The Gulf Coast and southern regions of Mississippi all see an average of half an inch of snow or less each year. Central Mississippi is most likely to get less than an inch of snow, but northern Mississippi can occasionally get up to two inches.

The Gulf Coast of Mississippi is a popular vacation destination. The winter months offer high temperatures in the 60s. Cities throughout the Gulf Coast, such as Biloxi and Gulfport, offer a variety of holiday events throughout the winter months. Are you a country music fan? Consider checking out Martina McBride’s The Joy of Christmas tour that kicks off in Coastal Mississippi each year.

Another great winter event in coastal Mississippi is Mardi Gras. While the event may be more commonly associated with Louisiana, Mardi Gras has a 300-year history on the Gulf Coast. There are numerous Mardi Gras events that take place beginning in January and into February.

Alabama

Alabama

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The Alabama Gulf Coast and southern Alabama are a great escape from winter flurries. Most cities in these regions average .2 inches or less of snow a year. When it comes to Mother Nature, however, surprises are always possible. Some cities in Alabama have seen record snowfall amounts of over 13 inches.

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Louisiana

Louisiana

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

Average snowfall throughout Louisiana is an inch or less, making this a consistently snow-free destination. Winter highs are likely to hover in the mid-60s. In addition to its temperate climate, Louisiana has one impressive draw for winter traveling: Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras has been openly celebrated in New Orleans since the 1730s. The Mardi Gras traditions began in France and then spread to French colonies. It was brought to New Orleans by a French–Canadian explorer in 1702. The traditions and celebrations have slowly grown overtime to become what New Orleanians call the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.”

The Carnival season begins on January 6, or King’s Day, kicking off a long stretch of celebrations and events. The date of Fat Tuesday changes every year and is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Bacchus and Endymion are two of the biggest parades of the season and happen the weekend before Fat Tuesday.

Florida

Florida

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

Summing up the average snowfall in Florida is pretty straightforward: none. In fact, it has only snowed in Florida 16 times in the entire 21st century. The reason snow is rarely seen in Florida is because the temperatures don’t drop low enough. The average high is in the mid-60s. The consistent weather and lack of winter precipitation make Florida a great destination for vacationing. In fact, Florida is the number one destination in the United States for Canadian transplants, and one in four residents in Florida are seniors.

Florida is home to a number of attractions that make it a desirable vacation destination. One of the most well-known is Disney World, and some of the winter months are the least busy at the park. Consider planning a trip in early to mid-December or January to mid-February. If you are looking for something a bit different, consider a visit to the Kennedy Space Center or Everglades National Park.

Hawaii

Hawaii

Credit: Shane Myers Photography/ Shutterstock 

Much like Florida, Hawaii’s average yearly snowfall is non-existent. It also boasts highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 60s. Weather like this should certainly make you consider saying aloha to Hawaii in the winter months. The only place you are likely to see snow in Hawaii is at the top of the state’s three tallest volcanoes.

The hardest decision about a winter trip to Hawaii is likely to be which island to visit. One big draw for Hawaii in the winter is surfing, with many popular competitions taking place along the North Shore in Oahu. Kauai, the Big Island, and Maui also offer great surfing opportunities in the winter months. If you are looking to avoid rain, consider visiting Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, Kihei on Maui, or Kona on the Big Island. These beaches are traditionally the driest during the winter season. No matter which island you choose, it is likely to be a pleasant tropical getaway in the midst of winter.

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

White Island volcano eruption: One dead, others missing in New Zealand

A photo from the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences showing the eruption Monday.

(CNN)At least one person has died and an unknown number are missing after a volcano on New Zealand’s popular White Island tourist destination erupted Monday.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, New Zealand National Operation Commander Deputy Commissioner John Tims said the fatality was a person who had already been evacuated from the island.
Tims said that there could be more than 20 people still on the island who had not been heard from since the eruption.
“At this stage it is too dangerous for police and rescue services to go on to the island… the island is currently covered in ash and volcanic material,” he said.
Tims said in a statement that fewer than 50 people were believed to have been on the island at the time of the eruption and about 23 had already been evacuated.
“Emergency services are working to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including rescue staff,” the police statement said.
About 20 tourists from the nearby cruise ship Ovation of the Seas were on White Island at the time of the eruption, New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive officer Kevin O’Sullivan told CNN.
“Our hope is that everyone will be recovered quickly and unharmed,” he said. The Ovation of The Seas is one of the largest cruise vessels in the world, according to operators Royal Caribbean.
Images of a crater on the island from cameras run by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences appear to show a group of people inside the smoking center just minutes before the eruption.
Speaking at an earlier press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was too early to say how bad the injuries were but added it was her understanding that a number of those affected were tourists.
Speaking to CNN-affiliate Radio New Zealand, St. John Ambulance said that up to 20 people are believed to have been injured in the eruption, adding that a mobile triage unit was on its way.
Tourist Michael Schade and his family had been on the volcano just 20 minutes before it erupted. They were waiting on a boat, about to leave, when the eruption occurred.
Schade took videos of the ride leaving the island, showing giant plumes of thick black smoke as the boat quickly departed.
“Boat ride home … was indescribable,” Schade wrote on Twitter. “Those are some of the people (our) boat picked up. Praying for them and their recovery. Woman my mom tended to was in critical condition but seemed strong by the end.”
Photos from New Zealand’s official geological hazard information site Geonet showed a huge plume of white smoke rising above the island on Monday afternoon, local time.
“Whakaari/White Island is erupting. More information soon,” announced GeoNet in a notice on their official Twitter.
Injured from White Island volcanic eruption are ferried into waiting ambulances in Whakatane, New Zealand, Monday.

Most active cone volcano

The White Island or Whakaari volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano according to the GeoNet website. It has been built up by more than 150,000 years of volcanic activity.
A cone volcano is the most immediately recognizable mountain-shaped variety, as opposed to shield volcanoes or calderas which are far more flat in shape.
A volcanic ash advisory was issued at 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET Sunday) by MetService, New Zealand’s meteorological service. New Zealand Police called for people in the affected ashfall areas to stay indoors.
The Volcanic Alert Level was raised to 4 shortly after the eruption, and the Aviation Color code is orange, according to GeoNet. Two hours later it was lowered to level 3, due to “diminished” activity in the area of the volcano.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said the eruption occurring at White Island is “hazardous in the immediate vicinity of the volcano” and that the agency is assessing the situation with scientific advisers to determine the severity of the threat.
Whakaari/White Island is dubbed “one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes” on a White Island Tours website, which offers ocean cruises near the island and a guided tour depending on the status of the varying volcanic alert levels.
According to the GeoNet website, more than 10,000 people visit the island every year.

China: Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Yang Jian
Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

About 1,000 citizens take part in a walking event on Saturday in Changning District.

About 1,000 citizens took part in a walking event on Saturday to visit historical streets and buildings along a 15 km route in Changning District.

Participants set off from Zhongshan Park in early morning and walked along the newly opened waterfront of Suzhou Creek near the East China University of Political Science and Law.

They were then guided to visit the historical Xinhua and Yuyuan roads along with the garden villas and former residences of celebrities on both roads.

The organizer of the micro-tourism event encouraged participants to pose with the historic buildings and scan the QR codes on each of the structures to learn their history and stories.

The route has been well designed to include the newly opened riverside attractions, old-time villas and historic sites related to the history of Shanghai and Communist Party of China, according to the organizer.

Over 20 heritage sites are open to the public in Changning where early CPC members and reformists carried out secret activities. They include an exhibition hall about revolutionary history in Changning on Yuyuan Road, which once served as the editorial department for an early key CPC publication titled Bolshevik.

People can also visit the former residences of missile and space scientist Qian Xuesen (1911-2009), writer, translator and scholar Shi Zhecun (1905-2003) as well as New Zealand-born writer Rewi Alley (1897-1987), who came to Shanghai in 1927 and was later involved in China’s revolution and reconstruction, in the tour.

The 1.5 kilometers of Xinhua Road between Huaihai Road W. and Yan’an Road W., built in 1925, also features a dozen heritage villas and former homes of dignitaries, such as American missionary Gilbert Reid.

A visit to the Columbia Circle compound is recommended to the participants. The site, owned by the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products on Yan’an Road W. near Panyu Road, has been converted into a complex with offices and shopping. Three historical structures — Columbia Country Club, the Navy Club and a villa built for Dr Sun Yat-sen’s son Sun Ke — are being preserved.

The event is part of a 100 km walking event in Shanghai this year. Similar walking activities have been held in other districts and will be organized across the city.

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

About 1,000 citizens took part in a walking event on Saturday to visit historical streets and buildings along a 15km route in Changning District.

Walking and admiring downtown historic streets

Ti Gong

Visitors to Hong Kong drop 43.7% on year in October

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

 

Visitors to Hong Kong drop 43.7% on year in October

Xinhua

The number of visitors to Hong Kong dropped 43.7 percent year on year to 3.31 million in October, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

The decline has been widening since July as tourism took the major brunt of social unrest. In the first 10 months, the number of visitors went down by 4.7 percent from a year ago.

The HKTB attributed the sharper fall in the last month to continued violent incidents and a high base a year ago, when the number of visitors was boosted by the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

In October, visitors from the Chinese mainland, accounting for about 76 percent of the total, slumped 45.9 percent year on year. US and Japanese visitors fell by 38.2 percent and 44.9 percent from a year ago, respectively.

The dropping visitor number has forced major carriers to adjust their strategy.

Hong Kong Airlines said in a statement Friday that it will suspend services to Vancouver, Ho Chi Minh City and Tianjin since February to focus on operating other priority routes under the challenging business environment caused by the ongoing social unrest.

6 Largest Churches in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 Largest Churches in the U.S.

Many people travel for an important reason: to savor new experiences that delight all of the senses. If you’re an experienced traveler, you often appreciate destinations of social, cultural, and historical significance. That said, a visit to a religious venue can be one way to explore your fascination with culture and history. Whether you love churches for their stunning stained-glass windows or historical artifacts, you’ll want to check out these churches below. Why? They are the six largest churches in the U.S.

Cathedral of St. Paul (St. Paul, Minnesota)

Credits: LawrenceSawyer/ iStock

The skyline of St. Paul, Minnesota, hasn’t been the same since the Cathedral of St. Paul held its first mass in 1915. On the exterior, you’ll marvel at the cathedral’s impressive dome, which measures a whopping 120 feet in diameter. The dome is made of steel beams, which are overlaid with clay tile and copper. Meanwhile, a 30-foot lantern sits at the apex of the dome. In all, the cathedral spans 306 feet in height, from its base to the top of the lantern.

The interior is no less impressive. The spacious sanctuary is the focal point of the cathedral and boasts a seating capacity of 3,000. Meanwhile, the marble altar is surrounded by an ornamental canopy called a baldachin. This majestic structure is supported by six columns of black and gold marble, each extending 24 feet high.

The building of the church was commissioned by Archbishop John Ireland in 1904. Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, a French architect trained in Paris, was chosen to design the Cathedral of St. Paul. Although the structure was usable in 1915, renovations weren’t fully completed until 1941.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City, New York)

Credit: GabrielPevide/ iStock

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is the largest Gothic-style cathedral in the United States. The cathedral is approximately 405 feet long and 274 wide, and it seats around 2,200 parishioners. Its stunning spires rise 330 feet above the street.

Construction on St. Patrick’s began in 1858 under the direction of Archbishop John Hughes, who commissioned American architect James Renwick to design the structure. However, the cathedral didn’t open its doors until May 1879 due to a pause in construction during the Civil War.

Throughout the years, additional elements such as the West Front towers, the Lady Chapel, and the great organ were added to make St. Patrick’s the awe-inspiring vision it is today. St. Patrick’s is also known for its Pieta statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ, which is three times larger than the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Each year, more than three million people visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral to light a candle, attend mass, or simply gaze in wonder at its impressive edifice.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Los Angeles, California)

Credit: benedek/ iStock

Of the largest churches in the U.S., Our Lady of the Angels is the newest. Work began on the modern 11-story cathedral in May 1999 and was completed in early 2002.

Our Lady of the Angels is not only famous for its size but also its contemporary design, which was conceptualized by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo. Our Lady of the Angels is also famous for its 300-foot nave and largest single use of alabaster windows in the U.S., which admits around 33,500 square feet of natural light on any given day.

Washington National Cathedral (Washington, District of Columbia)

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It took more than two centuries to complete the Washington National Cathedral. However, the result is a majestic Gothic structure. Nestled atop Mount Saint Albans, the cathedral sits 400 feet above sea level, making the top of its tower the highest point in Washington, D.C.

In 1792, George Washington set aside a plot of land for a national church in Washington, D.C. However, nothing happened for 100 years. Construction on the church, designed by Frederick Bodley (a British architect for the Anglican church), finally began in 1907 after President Theodore Roosevelt presided over its dedication ceremony. Although major construction work was completed and the first chapel opened for service in 1912, Washington National Cathedral didn’t come into its full glory until 1990.

Throughout the decades, the cathedral has hosted numerous funerals for U.S. presidents, such as Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Washington National Cathedral also hosts prayer services when new Presidents are inaugurated.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, District of Columbia)

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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the United States. It’s 459 feet long, 240 feet wide, and reaches a height of 329 feet. Construction on the church began in 1920, but reports in Massachusetts newspapers suggest that the idea for constructing this massive church was conceived in the 1840’s.

The church held its first public mass on Easter Sunday in 1924. Today, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception serves as a gathering place for Catholics from all over the world. Mother Teresa frequently visited the shrine, and many Popes have made trips when in the U.S.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City, New York)

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St. John the Divine is an Episcopal church and the largest cathedral in the world. It stands at an impressive 601 feet and is 232 feet wide; the church also boasts a spectacular 120,000 square feet of floor space. Today, the cathedral houses the third largest rose window in the world; The Great Rose Window in the Cathedral’s western wall is constructed from 10,000 pieces of glass.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1892, after multiple bishops broached the idea for construction in the late 1820’s. Although the cathedral is more than 120 years old, it remains unfinished. Despite that, St. John the Divine held its first services in 1899 and continues to be an active place of worship today.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine also holds a special place in history for hosting ecumenical services during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, Martin Luther King preached at the church in 1956, and more than 6,000 people attended a service in 1964 to call for an end to racial segregation.

5 U.S. Town Names That Will Crack You Up

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Town Names That Will Crack You Up

Have you ever wondered why some towns don’t have more appealing names? For example, there’s a city named Bland in Missouri and one called No Name in Colorado.

That said, you’re probably grateful that you don’t live in Slickpoo, Idaho, for obvious reasons. Regardless of where you make your home, you won’t be able to help smiling when you learn the names of these five American towns.

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Two Egg, Florida

Two Egg, Florida

Credit: TARIK KIZILKAYA/ iStock

This city is certainly a good egg – two of them to be exact. Two Egg is actually an unincorporated area in Jackson County, Florida. It doesn’t have a city government, so no one pays taxes or has access to municipal services.

The area was developed in the early 20th century, and one of its first businesses was a sawmill built by the Allison Company. In honor of the company’s contribution to the region’s economic growth, the city was named Allison. However, the newly-birthed city didn’t keep the name for long.

When the Great Depression hit, jobs began to disappear and people started to barter for their daily needs. As legend goes, a mother often sent her sons to trade two eggs for sugar at the general store in town. Eventually, the store came to be known as a “two-egg store.” As time progressed, even visitors began calling the town Two Egg.

The name, however, testifies to the resilience of the American spirit. At a difficult time in history, it represented the rugged optimism exhibited by the Greatest Generation. Two Egg officially made its way to the map of Florida in 1940.

In terms of popular culture, the city also has other claims to fame. Actress Faye Dunaway is from the region, and the area is said to be the roaming grounds of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

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The name of this town almost certainly gets laughs from everyone who hears it. While it may not be obvious from the name, this town sits in the heart of Amish Country in Pennsylvania. It’s surrounded by Amish farms, and the shops sell a variety of handmade Amish quilts, furniture, toys, and crafts. These attractions make it one of the top tourist destinations in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

However, none of the above explains how Intercourse got its name. Don’t fret; we’re getting to it. The town was originally known as Cross Keys. It didn’t get its more colorful moniker until 1814. There are three prevailing theories as to how Intercourse was named, although none are as racy as its name indicates:

Theory One: The town had an old racetrack named “Entercourse,” and in due time, the name evolved to “Intercourse.”

Theory Two: Intercourse may have been a reference to the town’s location at the intersection of Routes 340 and 772.

Theory Three: The city may have been named as a nod to the close fellowship enjoyed among its communities of faith. Such social cohesion was vital to the region and may have been reflected in the town’s name.

While the town of Intercourse is certainly worth a visit, you don’t need to go there to find out what it looks like. Instead, check it out in scenes from the 1985 movie “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis.

Humptulips, Washington

Humptulips, Washington

Credit: James Wheeler/ Shutterstock

This oddly-named town and its associated river is located near the Washington coast and gets a surprisingly high amount of traffic. Highway 101 passes through the town, taking tourists and travelers to Washington’s beaches or the Olympic National Forest. So, the odds are high that the name Humptulips has drawn many laughs from tourists over the years.

While the name combines two oddly-paired English words, its origins are not Anglo-Saxon. The name originated thousands of years ago and is actually a Salish word of the native Chehalis tribe. “Humptulips” actually translates to “hard to pole.” It was used to describe the Humptulips River, which was “hard to pole” or a challenge to navigate, due to downed timber in its waters. While this explanation makes sense, other sources claim the word really means “chilly region.”

So, if you ever find yourself in the city, let the name “Humptulips” remind you of the region’s proud native history — after you enjoy a good laugh, of course.

Hell, Michigan

Hell, Michigan

Credit: Sswonk/ CC BY-SA 3.0

It turns out that you can go to hell – you just have to plan a trip to Michigan to get there. Hell, Michigan, is actually located near Ann Arbor in the southeast region of the state.

The town was first settled in 1838; it only had a grist mill and general store then. The founder, George Reeves, was in the habit of paying farmers for grain with home-distilled whiskey. There are several legends about the name’s origin, however. The one embraced by locals is that farmers’ wives used to claim (tongue-in-cheek) their husbands had “gone to Hell again” when they visited Reeves during harvest time.

Meanwhile, others speculate that German visitors once described the town as “so schön hell,” which translates to “so beautifully bright.” Yet another theory involves Reeves, who allegedly said “I don’t know, you can name it Hell for all I care,” when asked what the town should be called. No matter the origin, the town officially became Hell, Michigan, in 1841.

Today, the town has fully embraced its notorious name and even leverages it as an important source of revenue. For example, anyone can pay to be the Mayor of Hell, Michigan, for one hour or one day.

Boogertown, North Carolina

Boogertown, North Carolina

Credit: Pgiam/ iStock

Sure, it’s a bit immature, but we’re willing to bet you couldn’t stifle a smile when you heard this one. While the name of this town sounds more like a playground taunt, it actually refers to the stories of boogeymen who haunted the forests of a North Carolina town.

No boogeymen ever existed, of course; it was just an invention of crafty bootleggers looking to keep townspeople and authorities out of the woods while they made moonshine.

So, where is this comically named town located? You’ll find it in Gaston County, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. The vibrant area boasts plenty of exciting events and activities for visitors and residents alike. If you’re game, consider hunting for boogeymen yourself at night.

5 Creepiest Places in the United States

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Creepiest Places in the United States

It’s almost Halloween. If you need a little adrenaline rush for this spooky season, consider visiting one of the five creepiest places in the United States. Each will scare you more than an old horror movie.

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Mütter Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

Mütter Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

Credit: LordRunar/ iStock

If you’re a science nerd or love learning about the human body, you’ll feel right at home at Mütter Museum. But the average visitor will most likely be creeped out. Why? Because it’s the home of human skulls, preserved bodies, cross-sections of Albert Einstein’s brain, and so much more.

The mission of the Mütter Museum is to “help the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.” And while that does sound like a noble cause, this museum is still not for the faint of heart. That collection of 139 human skulls — they all belonged to one man. He was a Viennese anatomist named Joseph Hyrtl, who lived in the 1800s.

Trans–Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Westin, West Virginia)

Trans–Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Westin, West Virginia)

Credit: BDphoto/ iStock

There is nothing creepier than a shuttered insane asylum. And that’s precisely what the Trans–Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is. For $100, you can stay overnight. Seriously. This asylum operated in Westin, West Virginia, from 1864–1994. Perhaps the origins of the shelter were altruistic, providing a safe, comfortable home for those not able to function in normal society. But over the years, conditions became more and more horrific. At one point during the 1950s, over 2,400 people lived in this facility built to house only 250.

Sadly, hundreds of people died here over the years. And staff, guests, and hosts from your favorite paranormal reality TV shows say they’ve seen apparitions, heard bizarre noises, and experienced strange things. The asylum’s website says they’ll leave it to you to decide if the place is haunted.

Villisca Ax Murder House (Villisca, Iowa)

Villisca Ax Murder House (Villisca, Iowa)

Credit: Laura Bernhardt/ Flickr/ CC BY-ND 2.0

The Villisca Ax Murder House is the site of a brutal murder scene. This horrible event happened in 1912, but the murder remains unsolved. Of course, after they found bodies, this small Iowa town was in chaos and just wanted to be able to go to sleep without worrying for their lives. But despite private detectives, police investigations, and several suspects, the case was never solved.

We can rest assured whoever committed these heinous 1912 murders is no longer with us. But that still doesn’t explain the reported ghost sightings and other hauntings at the Villisca Ax Murder House. If you really want to go check it out yourself, you sure can. You can even stay there overnight.

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The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)

The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)

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“Redrum, redrum.” If you’ve seen The Shining, you know exactly what we’re talking about. A stay at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, inspired Stephen King to write the hit book. The movie wasn’t filmed at The Stanley, but guests, staff, and visitors often report paranormal experiences, including feeling the ghosts of past travelers.

And while The Stanley is an incredibly stunning hotel and on the National Register of Historic Places, they do lean into their reputation. They offer night tours that emphasize the paranormal. And around Halloween, they have lots of extra-creepy events such as a murder mystery dinner and a masquerade party in the ballroom that is supposedly the most haunted space in the whole venue.

Clinton Road (West Milford, New Jersey)

Clinton Road (West Milford, New Jersey)

Credit: Jeffrey Oliver/ iStock

One of the myths of Clinton Road is that the ghost of a little boy haunts a particular bridge. Sometimes, if you throw him a coin, he will throw it back to you. Sounds silly enough, but how freaked out would you be if that happened to you? One legend has it that the boy was hit by a car while he was walking on the bridge when he bent over to pick up a quarter. So if you go there, see a coin on the ground, and try to pick it up, he will push you into the water to save you from being hit by a car too. So maybe he’s a friendly ghost.

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