Thursday, October 8, 2015

Alcatraz Island


Alcatraz Island – National Recreation Area – National Historic Landmark

Alcatraz Island is situated in San Francisco Bay, about 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. The Alcatraz Island was developed with amenities like a lighthouse, military ramparts, a military prison as well as a federal prison from 1933 till 1963.

Towards the beginning of November 1969, it is said that the Alcatraz island had been occupied for over 19 months by a group of aboriginal inhabitants from San Francisco who seemed to be part of a movement of Native activism all over the nation with public protests during the 1970s.

Towards 1972, Alcatraz was the national recreation area, receiving the designation in 1986 as a National Historic Landmark. Presently, the amenities of the island are managed by the National Park Service, as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and are open to tours.

Tourist can reach the Alcatraz island through ferry ride from Pier 33 which is near fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. Hornblower Cruises and Events which tend to operate under the Alcatraz Cruises are considered to be the official ferry provider to and from the island.

Home to Abandoned Prison/Site of the Oldest Operating Lighthouse

Alcatraz island is home to the abandoned prison and the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, an early military fortification as well as natural features like rock pools and seabird colony. The federal prison on the island in the chilly waters of California’s San Francisco Bay had some of America’s most dangerous and difficult criminal during the years of operation from 1934 to 1963.

Those who served during the maximum security facility were the notorious gangster Al Scarface Capone and murderer Robert Birdman of Alcatraz Stroud.None of the inmate was ever successful in escaping `The Rock’ the so-called prison though several known attempts were made over the years.

When the prisons were shut down, owing to high operating costs, the Alcatraz island was occupied for two years by Native American activists and presently historic Alcatraz Island besides being the site of U.S. military prison from late 1950 to 1933, is also a popular tourist destination.In 1847, seventy-two years later, the U.S. Army noticed `The Rock’ and its value as a military fortification.

Discovery of Gold – American River, California

The typographical engineers started conducting geological surveys and towards 1853, U.S. Army engineers began constructing military fortress on the island together with the Pacific Coast’s first operating lighthouse. Towards 1848, the discovery of gold along the American River in California, attracted many miners from across the world to the West Coast in search of the valuable metal.

As the news regarding the abundant wealth in California spread all over the world, the United States Government summoned for security measures in order to protect the land as well as the mineral resources from being seized by the other countries. According to the documentary of 1971 on the History of Alcatraz the island is said to measure 1,675 feet by 590 feet and is 135 feet, the highest point at the time of mean tide.

But the Alcatraz island’s total area reported is 22 acres. The landmarks on the island comprise of the Main Cellhouse, Lighthouse, Dining Hall, and Library, the ruins of the Warden’s House together with Officers Club, Parade Grounds, Water Tower, Building 64, Recreation Yard, New Industrial Building and Model Industries Building.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lake Hillier, Australia


Lake Hiller – A Saline Lake

Lake Hillier, a saline lake is located on the edge of Middle Island. It is the biggest of the islands and islets which make up the Recherche Archipelago in the Goldfields Esperance area, off the south coast of Western Australia. It is specially known for its pink colour.

A long and thin shore tends to divide the Southern Ocean from the lake. The Lake Hillier is said to be 600 metres in length by around 250 meters wide. It is surrounded by a rim of sand together with dense woodland of paper-bark and eucalyptus trees together with a narrow strip of sand dunes which are covered by vegetation extricating its northern edge from the northern coast of Middle Island.

 The most appealing feature of the lake is its pink colour and the vibrant colour is said to be permanent. It does not seem to alter when the water is taken in a container. The best mode of transport to view the lake is by air. From space, the lake appears a solid bubble gum pink. Lake Hillier’s colour is appreciated best when seen from the air where it contrasts intensely with the lush forest surrounding it.

Pink Water Not Toxic

Travellers sometimes get dropped off on Middle Island by helicopters tours or cruise ships. The lake water looks more transparent though still very pink and even in a glass or a bucket; the pink hue of the water still tends to remain. The pink water is not toxic and due to its salinity one would bob like a cork.

No one is really sure why the lake appears to be pink and scientists are of the belief that the colour comes from a dye created by bacteria that lives in the salt crusts, while others are of the belief the source of the pink colour could be due to the presence of the organism Dunaliella salina.

The Middle Island’s pink lake dates back to 1802 journals of explorer Matthew Flinders who had climbed Middle Island’s highest peak in order to survey the surrounding waters when he had discovered the amazing lake. Middle Island and its pink lake are situated in the pristine wilderness and the only way to take a look of this lake is from the air. One could explore the islands and the wide life of the Recherche Archipelago from Esperance, on a cruise.

Important Bird Area - IBA

In good weather condition, the lake tends to turn a soft shade of pink due to the high concentration of algae in the water. The lake has been recognised by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area – IBA since it tends to support important number of native as well as migratory birds.

The Esperance Museum has on display material regarding the local history, which includes pioneer memorabilia, shipwreck items together with pieces of the US Sky Lab which had fallen on the earth in Esperance region in 1980, Aboriginal artefacts as well as antiques.

There is an artificial reef immediately off the end of the town jetty which seems to be a good spot for strolling or for fishing. Several countries around the world have pink lakes some of which are Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Senegal and Spain. The lakes are said to be protected national parks and are a sanctuary for migratory birds, divers, flora and fauna.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hashima Island


Origin of the Name Hashima Island

Hashima Island is nicknamed “Gunkanjima” or “Battleship” island because of the shape of the island and unique silhouette. It is situated around 15 kilometers (approx. 9 miles) from the city of Nagasaki, in southern Japan. The island's most prominent characteristics are the derelict historical concrete buildings, untouched except by nature, and the surrounding sea wall. The sea-walls earlier protected the local residents from Typhoons coming in from the sea.

History of Hashima Island

The Hashima island was well known for its undersea coal mines set up in 1887 i.e. during Japan’s industrialization and was home to a huge coal mining operation run by Mitsubishi, with 5,259 people living there resulting in an astounding 83,500 people per square kilometre, making it one of the most thickly populated places in history. Until the end of the Second World War; Chinese prisoners of war and Korean civilians worked under Mitsubishi as slave labourers with strict supervision of work and very harsh conditions. The treatment meted out to the workers was very brutal. During the World War II era, the island was purportedly called the "Jail Island" or "Hell Island" among Korean forced laborers.

When coal was replaced by petroleum in the 1960s, the mines on the Hashima island closed down and the island is now unpopulated with empty buildings. Mitsubishi officially declared the closure of the mines in 1974. Mitsubishi owned the Hashima island till 2002. The island has been included as part of Nagasaki city since the merger with the former town of Takashima in 2005.

Recent recognition of Hashima Island

Since the Hashima island has been gaining attention internationally for its modern regional heritage, and also for the intact housing complex remnants showcasing the period from the Taishō period to the Shōwa period, some of the walls in the exterior of the island have been refurbished with concrete. It has become the recurrent theme of debate among enthusiasts for ruins.

During the prosperity years of Japan around 1960; the island had 50 apartment buildings which housed a population of more than 5000, but that was 30 years ago. Now it is completely deserted. The complex of the mine was closed in 1974. The desolate place was open to tourists about 4 years ago with limited access. The island was opened for public visits as of April 22, 2009.

Japan’s request in 2009 to include Hashima Island as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was strongly opposed by South Korean authorities on the premise that Korean and Chinese forced labors were used in the mines on the island prior to and during World War II. North Korea also disapproved of the World Heritage bid citing the same reason.

However, in July 2015 South Korea withdrew its opposition after Japan's acknowledged this concern as part of the island’s history, particularly taking into account that there were huge hoards of Koreans who were brought against their will and made to work under cruel circumstances in the 1940s and that Japan was ready to include suitable procedures into the interpretive strategy to remember the victims such as the establishment of information center. Hashima Island was included on the UNESCO Heritage list as of July 5, 2015.

Popular showcases of Hashima Island

The Hashima island was broadcast in History Channel's ‘Life After People’ in 2009, first season episode "The Bodies Left Behind" as an example of the decay of concrete buildings. The island also featured in 2011 in an episode of a 3D production, ‘Forgotten Planet’ emphasizing the island's present condition, history and unlawful photos shot by urban tourists. In 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, the island served as an inspiration for the lair of villain Raoul Silva. A Japanese rock band also shot their music video there.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Log Cabins Offer Seclusion in the Wilderness

Beavers Bend Log Cabins are a great escape from the noisy and “busy” city life that is approximately three to four hours away from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, four hours from Oklahoma City, three hours from Shreveport, and 3 ½ hours from Tulsa.

Beavers Bend Cabin lodging takes you deep into the Kiamichi wilderness and puts you into the authentic surroundings of enormous hardwoods and towering pines on private acres.

The ten private rental cabins and community center are only five to ten minutes from Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma. There is a variety of accommodations to choose from and able to house a different number of guests. See unusual features such as one with a maximum occupancy of seven including children and with two private Master Suites, one with a deep soaking cast iron tub, one with a maximum occupancy of 8 to 12 with a Bunkhouse that sleeps four additional guests, and others.

The cabins have fireplaces for Winter use and outdoor fire pits for campfires. A small amount of firewood is provided for indoor fireplaces from late October through early March, but wood for outdoor fire pits may be purchased from local vendors or gathered from fallen trees.

The Beavers Bend Hideaway properties are an additional six cabins that have been added just north of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. They offer a private community center, trails, two privately stocked fishing ponds and more and are located on private 20 and 40 acre sections of land.

The cabins are spread out throughout the Beavers Bend area where you can also take advantage of fly fishing on the Lower Mountain Fork River, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking on over 15 miles of trails, horseback riding, and enjoy various local festivals and the magnificent scenery of Autumn foliage.

Fishing Platforms at Beavers Bend State Park 

The bridges that provide cars access over the river have been upgraded with their own separate spacious fishing platforms.

Beavers Bend Depot and Stables

Also in the State Park, this Depot offers rides twice an hour on a one-third-size miniature replica of a train built in 1863. It winds through Wahoo Hill and runs through a tunnel before coming back to the station. Also enjoy a one-hour trail ride through 2 1/2 miles of scenic terrain or go on a hay ride.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wisteria Flower Tunnel


Wisteria Flower Tunnel - Pastel Coloured Fairy-Tale Tunnel

Wisteria is considered to be a genus of flowering plants in pea family,Fabaceae, which comprises of ten species of woody climbing vines native to the Eastern United States and to China, Japan and Korea.

These vines tend to climb by twining their stems clockwise or counter-clockwise around anything that seems available to cling on. They can ascend as high as 20 m above the ground and spread out over 10 m sideways.

 One of the largest known Wisteria vine in the world is in Sierra Madre, California, measuring over 1 acre in size and weighing 250 tons, that was planted of the Chinese lavender variety in 1894.Wisteria is a plant which tends to grow all across Japan and has fascinated Japanese people for a long time.

At Kawachi Fujien Garden in Kitakyushu, Japan, one can enjoy the beauty of these amazing wisteria flowers. The flower tends to cluster and hang down for the tip of the plant’s long vines swaying beautifully in the breeze.

Kawachi Fuji Gardens is where one will find this pastel coloured fairy-tale tunnel, where the gardens are home to around 150 Wisteria flowering plants covering around 20 various species in a 10,000 square meters area. These are in white, blue, purple, violet-blue and pink due to which they appear so graceful.

Established in 1977 – Private Wisteria Garden

Kawachi Fujien established in 1977, is a private wisteria garden and is open only during the wisteria season when the leaves changes colours in autumn. Usually, wisteria is considered to be at its best, beginning of May and since it is in the warm southern climate of Kyushu, the most suitable time to visit this place is in late April.

There are various areas to explore in the garden which includes 2 types of wisteria tunnel, an 80 m long tunnel as well as a 220 m long tunnel, wisteria domes and wisteria fences. Wisteria tunnels became famous after they were introduced on a site in 2012 and is now a tourist attraction for visitors all over the globe.

Huge wisteria fences towards the end of the tunnel are seen with wisteria trees that are over 100 years old. Besides the Fuji, one will also find several other flowers, shops selling plants and local products and restaurants. Entrance fee is based on the season’s beauty and is about 1000 Yen for adult during the peak season.

Winter Illumination Display

Recently, the park has become famous in winter season for massive winter illumination display attracting a larger crowd each year.

The park is open every evening from early December to early February enabling tourists to explore through the decorative exhibition. At all corners of the park it has been decorated with multi-coloured LED lights, covering flower bushes, lining the walkways and are arranged into massive creative objects and set on an amazing scale.

Some of the appealing attractions comprise of various large continually changing LED screens that tend to cycle though creative imagery music synchronized light shows, light tunnels with a variety of fuji like LED chains that tend to hang from the same trellises the flowers hang from during spring.