Kubur Pesawat (The Boneyard) ialah gelaran yang di berikan oleh masyarakat tempatan kepada Pusat Penjagaan dan Pembagunan Semula Aeroangkasa ke-309 (AMARG) yang menempatkan beribu-ribu bankai pesawat di kawasan gurun di tucson, Arizona, Amerika Syarikat (AS).
Terletak bertentengan dengan Pengkala Udara Davis-Monthan, ia merupakan tanah perkuburan pesawat terbesar di dunia. Nilai kira-kira 4,400 pesawat yang ditempatkan di situ ialah AS$85 bilion (RM108 bilion).
Selepas tiba di tanah perkuburan ini, bahan bakar, minyak dan cecair hidraulik akan dikeluarkan dari pesawat, begitu juga bahagian-bahagian yang berharga sebelum disimpan di tempat selamat. Pesawat itu akan dilitupi dengan lapisan cat pelindung yang dikenali Spraylat yang melindungi jentera itu daripada matahari.
While some are privately owned and operated, others belong to the military, such as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
After aircraft are put into boneyards, many are stripped of useful parts. Engines, most electronics, munitions, and wiring are removed to be recycled or to be kept in warehouses. These may serve as replacement parts for aircraft that are still flying or may be used for reconditioning if and when the aircraft are called back into active duty. These parts along with the stripped aircraft may be sold to other countries.
Depending on the demands of the military or for commercial purposes, an aircraft or a whole squadron of them may be put back into active duty. The aircraft have to be reconditioned and tested so they are safe to fly. The reconditioning process includes putting in new avionics, electronics, safety measures, testing and painting. Reconditioning of old aircraft is usually a cheaper way of getting more aircraft into service than buying new ones, and saves the United States billions of dollars annually.
Other nations’ central aircraft storage facilities include the Russian Air Forces’ Bases for Reserve Helicopters.
Secara kebetulan, lapisan pelindung itu berwarna putih lili sekali gus melambangkan ‘ketenangan selepas mati’ bahkan mewujudkan pemandangan yang agak menyeramkan pada waktu malam.
Keluasan kawasan ini ialah 1,000 hektar atau sama besar dengan 1,430 buah padang bola sepak.
Semasa dibina pada April 1946 fungsi utamanya adalah untuk menyimpan kapal terbang kargo dan pesawat pengebom Perang Dunia Kedua.
Objektif itu masih kekal apabila Eddie Romero mula bekerja sepanjang hari di situ pada 26 tahun lalu.
‘Operasinya masih kecil pada masa itu. Kami dihantar ke kawasan padang pasir untuk bekerja sepanjang hari dan pulang lewat petang.’ kata lelaki itu.
Perkuburan pesawat yang luar biasa dan jarang ditemui di dunia ini telah menarik ramai pelancong iaitu di antara 25,000 hingga 30,000 orang setiap tahun.
Di sebatang jalan yang panjang, dikenali sebagai Celebrity Row, tersergam sebahagian kapal terbang penting dalam sejarah AS, termasuk YC-44, prototaip kapal terbang kargo yang direka bagi menggantikan C-430 Hercules dan F-100 Super Sonic Sabre, pesawat pertama tentera udara AS yang berjaya memintas kelajuan bunyi.
Bahkan bagi mereka yang melihatnya setiap hari, kubur pesawat tersebut masih mendatangkan kekaguman. Jeffrey Gammel, seorang pekerja awam, masih teruja apabila datang bekerja dan melihat pesawat C-5 galaxy, salah satu pesawat tentera terbesar di dunia, diletakkan di situ.
“kadang-kala semasa memandu kereta, anda akan nampak seolah-olah C-5 sedang bergerak di landasan, ia memang pemandangan yang mengasyikkan,” kata Gammel.
Sesetengah pesawat cuma diletakkan akan terbang semula tetapi lebih 80 peratus item sedia dibekalkan sebagai alat ganti pada bila bila masa.
Pada Februari tahun lalu, imej setelit resolusi tinggi tapak perkuburan itu diedarkan buat pertama kali oleh google earth. Ia menunjukkan secara terperinci barisan pesawat yang menghuni kawasan lapang dengan latar gunung-ganang di belakangnya.
Antara pesawat yang ditempatkan di situ ialah pesawat pengebom B-52 daripada era Perang Dingin.
Turut dipamerkan ialah berdozen-dozen pesawat pejuang F-14 yang di berhentikan perkhidmatan daripada tentera AS pada tahun 2006 dan digunakan dalam filem Top Gun. Ia juga digunakan sebagai latar belakang beberapa buah filem seperti Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen.
Di samping menjadi tempat letak kapal terbang gergasi, AMARG juga bertindak membaik pulih pesawat hingga ia boleh terbang semula atau menyediakan kemudahan bagi memindahkan pesawat berkenaan melalui jalan darat.
Dalam tempoh 25 tahun lalu, lebih satu per lima daripada pesawat berkenaan kembali terbang, kata para pegawai. Sama seperti kilang kitar semula bersaiz besar, beratus-ratus pekerja awam ditugaskan untuk mengasingkan beribu ribu barangan terpakai.
“AMARG bukan pemilik kapal terbang yang disimpan di sini, ia masih milik agensi kerajaan dan tentera,” kata jurucakap pengkalan berkenaan.
“Sebahagian kapal terbang itu dipunyai oleh muzium-muzium penerbangan seperti Muzium Kebangsaan Tentera Udara AS, Muzium Kebangsaan Penerbangan Laut, serta Muzium Angkasa dan Penerbangan Udara Kebangsaan Smithsonian.
“Kawasan ini dipilih sebagai tempat letak pesawat terbesar di dunia kerana dua sebab. Pertama, cuaca kering Tucson meminimumkan kerosakan yang disebabkan penghakisan. Kedua, ia mempunyai lapisan tanah keras setebal enam inci.
“Di bawahnya pula ialah satu lapisan tanah liat. Tanah keras itu membolehkan pesawat ditarik dan diletakkan pada posisinya tanpa perlu membina landasan simen atau konkrit,” katanya – Sumber Agensi
The Christmas Island red crab, Gecarcoidea natalis, is a species of terrestrial crab endemic to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Although restricted to a relatively small area, it is estimated that up to 120 million red crabs may live there, making it the most abundant of the 14 terrestrial crab species on Christmas Island. Christmas Island red crabs eat mostly fallen leaves and flowers, but will occasionally eat other animals, including other red crabs if the opportunity arises.’, ‘Christmas Island red crab
The Christmas Island red crab, Gecarcoidea natalis, is a species of terrestrial crab endemic to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Although restricted to a relatively small area, it is estimated that up to 120 million red crabs may live there, making it the most abundant of the 14 terrestrial crab species on Christmas Island. Christmas Island red crabs eat mostly fallen leaves and flowers, but will occasionally eat other animals, including other red crabs if the opportunity arises.
Christmas Island sees a major spectacle every year, around the beginning of the wet season (usually October / November).
100 million red crabs of Christmas Island begin their march, leaving the forests, heading towards the coast driven by the basic instinct: to reproduce.Tides of red carapaces, enough to be seen from the air, suddenly begin a spectacular migration from the forest to the coast, to breed and release eggs into the sea. The rainy seasons offers the right humid conditions for crabs to make their long and difficult journey to the sea.
The carapace is up to 116 mm long, rounded, and encloses the gills. The claws are usually of equal size, unless one becomes injured or detached, in which case the limb will regenerate. During that time, it will be the smaller of the two. The male crabs are generally larger than the females, while adult females have a much broader abdomen and usually have smaller claws. The broader abdomen of the female Christmas Island red crab only becomes apparent in the third year of growth.
Christmas red crabs live in burrows, in order to shelter from the sun. Since they still breathe through gills, the possibility of drying out is a great danger for them. They are famous for their annual migration to the sea in order to lay their eggs in the ocean.
During the migration, the crabs cover the highway routes to the coast so densely that they can be seen from the air. Volunteers shovel the crabs off the roads and, although no harm is intended, some of the countless millions of crabs inevitably get injured.
Early inhabitants of Christmas Island hardly ever mentioned these crabs. It is possible that their famous large population size was caused by the extinction of the endemic Maclear’s Rat, Rattus macleari in 1903, which may have kept the crab’s population in control.
An exploding population of the yellow crazy ant, an invasive species accidentally introduced to Christmas Island and Australia from Africa, is believed to have killed 15–20 million red crabs in recent years.
The timing of this event is linked to both the rainy season and the phases of the moon.
The migration, dipping, mating, and egg-brooding sequences take place before the females spawn. All these events occur in the 4 weeks preceding spawning, and one cannot pinpoint the precise date of the beginning of the migration before spawning.
Some believe the phases of the moon also affect the timing of the migration, so that eggs may be released by the female Red Crabs into the sea precisely at the turn of the high tide during the last quarter of the moon. It is thought that this occurs at this time because there is the least difference between high and low tides. The level of the sea at the base of the coast and on the beaches varies the least and this means it is safer for the females approaching the water to release their eggs. All migrations are timed with the same lunar rhythm, even if they occur earlier or later.
The main migration can last up to 18 days. Tides or “streams” of thousands of crabs move towards the coast, crawling over all obstacles in their way, negociating the same precise route used the previous year for both the “outbound” and “return” journeys. The crabs must not be caught for long in open areas where it’s hot, because the heat causes them to loose water and die. They’re quite smart little buggers, so the top moving period is in the early moist mornings and late afternoons when the shade protects them and the temperature is lower.
Many crabs perish during the migration due to the impact of human activity, in particular by drivers.
The island has worked hard in coming up with measures to reduce the number of crabs killed every year: Road signs, Barriers, Road closures, Underground tunnels, Diverted traffic and a variety of “crab crossings” have all been introduced in the recent years.
Christmas Island Website: http://www.christmas.net.au/
Apabila bercuti, pastinya bilangan beg yang dibawa mencukupi. Jika percutian itu hanya dua atau tiga hari, satu beg memadai.
Bagaimana pula jika percutian itu mencecah seminggu atau dua minggu? Pasti beg yang akan dibawa lebih daripada satu.
Namun, dengan membawa bagasi lebih daripada satu ketika bercuti, ia pasti membuatkan percutian itu lebih rumit kerana perlu sentiasa menjaga beg-beg berkenaan.
Justeru, panduan ini mungkin dapat membantu anda yang akan melancong lama tetapi dengan hanya membawa satu beg pakaian.
Apabila melancong dengan kumpulan, anda mungkin boleh berkongsi barang-brang mandia seperti sabun, syampu dan lain-lain bersama rakan. Ataupun mungkin boleh menggunakan barangan mandia yang disediakan di hotel penginapan.
SUSUN RAPI PAKAIAN
Bagi menjimatkan ruang, lipat atau susun pakaian serta barang ke beg dengan kemas dan rapi. Dengan susunan yang betul segala brang yang anda mahu bawa boleh dimuatkan kedalam satu beg.
BAWA PAKAIAN SENANG KERING
Ada sesetengah individu yang suka membawa baju lebih daripada yang diperlukan. Tabiat itu akan menyumbang kepada pertambahan beg ketika melancong.
Jadi, untuk menjimatkan ruang, bawalah baju yang cepat kering dan mudah untuk dibasuh. Ia boleh membolehkan anda memakainya berulang kali sepanjang bercuti. Membawa pakai buang juga boleh membantu.
PILIH BEG YANG SESUAI
Pemilihan beg yang akan di bawa ketika bercuti turut memainkan pernan penting dan perlu mengikut kesusuaian destinasi yang dituju.
Jika percutian agak santai dan lama selain memerlukan anda sentiasa membawanya, beg galas jenos “Backpacks” adalah beg yang sesuai. Beg beroda juga sesuai bagi annda yang mungkin bekerja sambil bercuti serta tidak perlu membawa beg pakai setiap kali keluar dari hotel.
Beg yang mempunyai banyak komponmen juga sangat sesuai untu anda yang mahu bercuti lama. Dengan kompinen yang ada, pakaian yang dipakai boleh diasingkan supaya tidak berbau atau mungkin baju itu boleh dipakai balik.
BEG KHAS UNTUK DOKUMEN PENTING
Untuk tidak membebankan, menyimpan pasport atau dokumen penting dalam beg pakaian menjimatkan. Bagaimanapun, untuk keselamatan, adalah lebih baik anda membawa beg silang kecil untuk memasukkan ppasport atau lain-lain dokumen penting.
Jangan lupa buat salinan beberpa dokumen penting kerana jika hilang, anda punya maklumat ketika membuat laporan polis.
The SkyPark will be home to the world’s longest elevated swimming pool, with a 475-foot vanishing edge, perched 200 meters above the ground. While the water in the infinity pool seems to end in a sheer drop, it actually spills into a catchment area where it is pumped back into the main pool.
At three times the length of an Olympic pool and 650ft up, it is the largest outdoor pool in the world at that height.
Welcome to the Mae Klong railway market in small town Thailand. The town of Mae Klong is about 72 kilometres, or a casual 1 drive, south west of Bangkok. Mae Klong is the local name for Samut Songkhram, the capital of the Samut Songkhram province and district. The market right in the centre of town, the last 100 metres before the station. It’s quite surreal in a temporary sort of way, like a movie set. The only place to walk is in the centre of the rather narrow railway tracks. Small stalls line both sides, every available bit of real estate is used, low plastic trays of vegetables and vibrant Thai fruit including rambutans and mangosteens, are stacked right up to the steel rails. What happens when the train comes through?
The market is your veritable one-stop-shop. Spectacular fresh-cut flowers, every fruit and vegetable you can imagine, fragrant spices, cuts of meat, poultry and seafood so fresh, it was being persuaded to stop flapping about by an earnest man wielding a lump of wood. There are kids’ toys, clothes, lingerie, thongs of both varieties, dodgy DVDs – you name it. Makeshift awnings – tarpaulins, even a bedspread – cover the stalls. They combine to give the market a temporary roof that is quite low, so I had to stoop to walk through. It was fairly dark under the awnings, with a pungent buffet of unrefrigerated fish, meat and cut fruit, garnished with spices.
Some of the stalls are basic; others well set up. Some aren’t even stalls, just people sitting beside the tracks with fruit laid out at their feet. Then it happened, The shopkeepers calmly but quickly started folding down the awnings. Most were held up by poles, a simple but effective design. Trays of produce were dragged in; some more high-tech versions were on wheels. It happened in a chain reaction, odd because I hadn’t heard a train whistle or horn, but the timetable is adhered to fairly well.
The train rounded the corner and rumbled through the market. There were only inches to spare between the trainand the produce on the ground. The two carriages were past in a flash of grey and yellow and milliseconds later, the stallholders were on the tracks putting up the awnings, even before the train had disappeared from view. It was as though nothing had happened. The Mae Klong railway market raises plenty of questions.
Car: By far the quickest and simplest way is a day trip from Bangkok — but aim to arrive early in the morning.
Bus: Slightly more complicated. Mae Klong is on the Bangkok-Damnoen Saduak line. The first bus leaves from the stop at 5.40am then every 30 minutes between 8.30am and 9pm.
The trip takes about two hours and costs 80baht ($2.75).
Train: This one is even more complicated — it involves catching a train from Wong Wian Yai station in Bangkok to Samut Sakhon (which the Thais call Mahachai). The line ends here so you will need to catch a ferry across the Ta Chin River to Ban Laem. Then you need to catch another train to Mae Klong (Samut Songkhram). Allow a few hours or more. A word of caution, the timetables aren’t exactly synchronised.
The triumph of good over evil is celebrated by Hindus as they observe Deepavali (or Diwali). Commonly known as the Festival of Lights, its the victory celebration of light over dark.
It is celebrated here in Malaysia by the Hindu community – mainly consisting those of Indian ethnic origin – during the seventh month of the Hindu lunar calendar, which usually falls in either October or November. Throughout the country, prayers of thanksgiving and cleansing rituals take place at temples and household altars.
And it is not called the Festival of Lights for nothing, for it is celebrated with a joyful vivacity, with bright lights and even brighter smiles, as though to underline the traditional meaning and message behind it. Even the word “Deepavali” is etymologically derived from the Sanskrit word that literally means “row of lights“.
Deepavali owes its origins to the epic stories narrated in the Hindu religious scriptures.
Perhaps the most popular origin story is recounted in the Ramayana in which Lord Rama reunites with his wife Sita following a 14-year exile, and after having killed the demon king Ravana.
In the epic tale, the denizens of the kingdom of Ayodhya celebrated the prince’s triumphant return to his homeland and later, his ascension to the throne, by lighting up their homes and the streets with earthen oil lamps.
This happened on the night of the new moon and is commemorated hence, as the celebration of Deepavali. However, the story of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana is only one out of many that is said to have given rise to this annual celebration.
One other popular tale remembered during the occasion is that of the battle between Lord Krishna and the evil asura (demon) Narakasura. Krishna emerged victorious after a long and drawn-out struggle, and his victory was celebrated with the lighting of lamps.
Yet others believe that Deepavali marks the day when the prideful and evil Mahishasura was vanquished at the hands of the goddess Kali.
Variations notwithstanding, these stories share a common thread; that of the removal of evil, to be replaced by that which is good.
This sense of renewal is reflected in the way Hindus prepare themselves for Deepavali.
In anticipation of the celebration, homes as well as their surrounding areas are cleaned from top to bottom; decorative designs such as the kolam are drawn or placed on floors and walls; and the glow of lights, whether emitted from the traditional vilakku (oil lamps fashioned out of clay) or colourful electric bulbs, brighten up the abode of both rich and poor, signalling the coming festivities.
Temples are similarly spruced up with flowers and offerings of fruits and coconut milk from devotees, becoming more abundant and pronounced as the big day draws closer.
The spring cleaning and decorating are significant for they not only symbolise renewal but also prepare for the welcoming of Devi Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, who is believed to visit homes and temples on the day. It is said she emerged from the churning ocean only days after the new moon of Deepavali.
Besides the cleaning of homes and temples, Hindus also prepare themselves by cleansing their bodies and minds. Many among the devout fast, or observe a strict vegetarian diet, and spend hours during the preceding weeks in prayer and meditation.
The eve is usually spent making last-minute preparations for the next day. This is also the time when past quarrels are forgotten, and forgiveness is extended and granted.
On Deepavali morning, many Hindu devotees awaken before sunrise for the ritual oil bath. For some it is a symbolic affair (to signify purity) while others take full oil baths to remove impurities externally, as well as tone the muscles and nerves to receive positive energies. Then it’s straight to the temples where prayers are held in accordance with the ceremonial rites.
The rest of the day is taken up by receiving guests, as is customary here in Malaysia. Most devout Hindus tend to be vegetarian, but that doesn’t change the fact that Deepavali is the day to savour the many delicious Indian delicacies such as sweetmeats, rice puddings and the ever-popular murukku.
All of the ice hotels are reconstructed every year, and are dependent upon constant sub-freezing temperatures during construction and operation. The walls, fixtures, and fittings are made entirely of ice, and are held together using a substance known as snice, which takes the place of mortar in a traditional brick-built hotel.
Existing each year between December and April, the Icehotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi, about 17 km from Kiruna, Sweden was the world’s first ice hotel. In 1989, Japanese ice artists visited the area and created an exhibition of ice art. In Spring 1990, French artist Jannot Derid held an exhibition in a cylinder-shaped igloo in the area. One night there were no rooms available in the town, so some of the visitors asked for permission to spend the night in the exhibition hall. They slept in sleeping bags on top of reindeer skin – the first guests of the “hotel”.
The entire hotel is made out of snow and ice blocks taken from the Torne River – even the glasses in the bar are made of ice. Each spring, around March, Icehotel harvests tons of ice from the frozen Torne River and stores it in a nearby production hall with room for over 10,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow. The ice is used for creating Icebar designs and ice glasses, for ice sculpting classes, events and product launches all over the world while the snow is used for building a strong structure for the building. About 1,000 tons of what is left, is used in the construction of the next Icehotel.
About 10 km west of Québec City, and within the grounds of the Duchesnay winter resort, the first and unique Ice Hotel in North America is erected each January. It had 22 beds when it first opened in 2000. In its last iteration it had 85 beds, all made of ice but lined with deer furs and covered with mattresses and Arctic sleeping bags. Only the bathrooms are heated, in a separate insulated structure. The hotel is usually made (the architecture and size may vary from season to season) with 5000 tons of sculpted ice and 15000 tons of snow, forming arches over rooms with 16-foot (5 m) and larger and higher spaces for one art galleries a N’Ice Club, an Ice Café, a slide of 60 feet and a chapel where weddings are celebrated. The walls are more than 4 feet (1.2 m) thick on average. All of the furniture is made of ice. In addition to using ice glasses as in the Kiruna ice hotel, the bar (and room service) also serves cold cuts on ice plates.
Kirkenes Snow Hotel
Kirkenes Snow Hotel is situated in the eastmost town of Norway, close to the Norwegian-Russian border. The hotel had its first season during winter 2006/2007, the hotel had 20 rooms and the largest snow dome in Norway (8 metres high and 12 metres in diameter). All the rooms were individually decorated by the ice artists from Finland and Japan. The west Snow Hall was decorated by a local sculptor Arild Wara. A night in the snow hotel is combined with a special dinner prepared on an open fire, the visitors can also get a sauna before or after staying at the hotel. There is also a reindeer park and a husky farm in the hotel area.
The Ice Lodge is one of the largest in Norway and part of the Bjorligard Hotel. It has a longer season than most ice hotels because of its altitude (1,250 meters above sea level).
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta
Sorrisniva Igloo hotel, Alta has been rebuilt yearly since 2000. It is Europe’s northernmost ice hotel, as it is located in the Finnmark region and is approximately 250 km from North Cape. The 2000 square meter hotel has 30 rooms, including 2 suites and it is decorated with numerous ice sculptures and ice furnishings, including lighting systems which enhance the different types of crystalline formations. Besides the bedrooms the hotel also contains an ice chapel, ice gallery and ice bar where drinks are served in glasses made of ice. The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta has a changing theme every year. In 2004, it was a Viking theme, in 2005, Norwegian fairytales, and in 2006, the theme was wild animals of the region. The guests use sleeping bags that sit on top of reindeer hides.
In 2006, the first ice hotel in Eastern Europe was built in Romania, deep in the Făgăraş Mountains, at an altitude of 2034 m. Due to its altitude and remote location the Ice Hotel is only accessible via cable car in the winter.
This picturesque setting is next to Bâlea Lake, where each year local craftsmen wait for the lake to freeze, before using the ice to build the small 10 room Ice Hotel and its adjacent Ice Church. Local artists imitate sculptures by Romanian born modernist sculptor, Constantin Brancusi. Typically the hotel is completed in December and is open until it melts in late April or early May.
Bedding, furs, specialist sleeping bags are all provided, with bathroom facilities nearby. There are also two chalets within walking distance, which also provide accommodation. Activities such as skiing, sledging or perhaps a ride on a snow bike are on offer. For those who are more organised and adventurous you can even arrange heliskiing.
The Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel is Romanian owned, but has a relationship with a travel company Untravelled Paths Limited, based in the United Kingdom.
Lainio Snow Village
Snow Village is located in Western part of Finnish Lapland, in close proximity of Ylläs and Levi ski-resorts and easily reachable from the international airport of Kittilä.
The annual construction of the Snow Village begins when the temperature drops to about −10 °C (14 °F) which is usually at the end of October or the beginning of November. Approximately 1500 tonnes (1650 US tons) of snow and 300 tonnes (330 US tons) of crystal clear, natural ice are used for the construction. The constructors, specialized in using snow and ice as building material, are constantly developing new tools and instruments for snow construction and exploring innovative ways of taking this artform into new levels.
Snow Village is built entirely of snow and ice covering approximately an area of 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft). During the winter season, about 3,000 square metres (32,000 sq ft) of covered indoor spaces are built as a combination of different snow and ice structures. The architectural design and the themes of interior decoration vary from year to year. Visitors can find in there for example the biggest ice dome of Europe and an à la carte restaurant with ice carved tables and bar, in addition to snow galleries full of beautifully illuminated ice art.
At Snow Village the visitors can also spend a night in a room made of snow and ice. Because of the good insulating qualities of snow, the indoor temperature of Snow Village remains always between −2 and −5 °C (28 and 23 °F), regardless of the outdoor temperature. There are approximately 30 rooms, all made of ice and snow. Individually decorated suites with different themes are also available.
Kemi Snow Castle
The Mammut Snow Hotel is not an ice hotel per se as it is made entirely of snow. Many of its furnishings and its decorations, such as the ice sculptures, are made of ice. It is located within the walls of The Castle Courtyard, The Snow Restaurant and a chapel for weddings, etc.
The SnowCastle of Kemi is the biggest snow fort in the world. It is rebuilt every winter with a different architecture in Kemi, Finland. In 1996 the first snow castle drew 300,000 visitors.
The area covered by the castle has varied from 13,000 to over 20,000 square meters. The highest towers have been over 20 meters high and longest walls over 1,000 meters long, and the castle has had up to three stories. Despite its varying configurations, the snow castle has a few recurring elements: a chapel, a restaurant and a hotel.
The SnowCastle of Kemi also hosts such things as an adventure land for children, a theatre and ice art exhibitions with lights and sound effects. Many opera singers and dancers have performed in the SnowCastle of Kemi.]]>
Muslims celebrate the festival of Aidilfitri – popularly known as Hari Raya Puasa, or simply Hari Raya (Day of Celebration) in Malaysia – to mark the culmination of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting.
It is a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies a personal triumph, a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal.
Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is compulsory or wajib, whereby Muslims are required to abstain from satisfying their most basic needs and urges, daily, between sunrise and sunset. It is one of the five tenets of Islam; as is the paying of zakat (alms tax for the poor), which must be tithed by the end of Ramadhan.
In Malaysia, the period of fasting ends when the new moon is sighted on the evening of the last day of Ramadhan. The actual sighting is conducted by state appointed religious officials at various vantage points (usually at hilltops) throughout the country.
If the crescent is sighted, the following day is then declared the first day of Aidilfitri, which is also the beginning of the 10th month of the Muslim calendar Syawal.
Aidilfitri is celebrated for the whole month of Syawal, but in Malaysia, only the first two days are observed as public holidays. It is widely common however, to see Muslims taking the first week off from work.
Urbanites make their annual pilgrimage to their hometowns (this is popularly referred to as balik kampung), to be with parents, relatives and old friends. Thus, cities like Kuala Lumpur get relatively quiet during the festive season of Aidilfitri.
The Muslim community ushers in the first day of Aidilfitri by congregating at mosques for morning prayers. Everyone is usually decked out in their traditional best to mark the special occasion. Men are usually dressed in Baju Melayu, while the Baju Kurung, the quintessential Malay attire for females, is the prefered choice for the fairer sex.
Then it’s usually breakfast at home with the family, followed by a visit to the cemetery where deceased loved ones are remembered; graves are cleaned and cleared of overgrowth, and prayers are offered to Allah.
This is also a time to forgive and forget past quarrels. Asking for pardon is done in order of seniority. The younger members of a family approach their elders (parents, grandparents etc) to seek forgiveness, to salam (Muslim equivalent of a handshake), then kiss the hands of the older person as a sign of respect.
The usual greeting (that is uttered with the salam) during Aidilfitri is “Selamat Hari Raya”, which means “Wishing you a joyous Hari Raya”.
Children and old folks are given duit raya or gifts of money, in small envelopes. In recent years, many givers have opted for the Chinese practice of putting the money in ang pow packets; however instead of the usual red, the packets are green in colour.
Although the first three days are celebrated on a grander scale, many Muslims hold “open house” throughout the month, where friends and neighbours of other races are invited to join in the celebrations.
The joy of Hari Raya Puasa actually begins before the first day. A week or so before the big day, excitement mounts as the house is readied for the celebration with new furnishing and decorations.
Of particular interest are the last 10 days of Ramadan, where many keep vigil for Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Decree), the night when the Quran was sent down. It is believed that angels descend and shower blessings on that particular night, so homes are brightly decorated with oil lamps or pelita.
Mosques, as well as government and some commercial buildings, are also decorated and brightly lit to mark the auspicious day. The most predominant colour seen in decorations during this season is green which is commonly associated with Islamic items. It is often combined with yellow or gold.
As for motifs, by far the most frequently used symbol is that of the ketupat (rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves); it is invariably used on Hari Raya greeting cards, hanging decorative items, and as a promotional image for the season.
The ketupat is traditional Hari Raya fare and is often served with beef rendang (beef cooked with spices and coconut milk) and/or satay (grilled meat on a skewer).
Other festive delicacies include lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes), serunding (dessicated coconut fried with chilli) and curry chicken.
Welcome to mesmerising Malaysia with its alluring potpourri of fascinating cultures, languages, religions and cuisine. Centuries of cultural and social integration and interaction between the Malays, Chinese, Indians and the indigenous Kadazan, Dusun, Ibans and other ethnic communities, have resulted in a colourful melting pot of races living together in harmony.
One of the significant characteristics of Malaysian culture is its celebration of various festivals and events. The year is filled with colourful, exhilarating and exciting activities. Some are religious and solemn but others are vibrant, joyous events.
There’s never a dull moment as Malaysians come together to celebrate the myriad of festivals, traditions and cultural activities throughout the year. Renowned for their hospitality, Malaysians eagerly share their festive joy with friends and visitors alike. One interesting feature of the main festivals here is the ‘open house’ custom. This is when Malaysians celebrating the festival invite friends to come by their homes for some traditional delicacies and fellowship. For an eventful time, the time is now, the place is Malaysia.
Festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri are celebrated mostly in the villages or home towns of the urbanites. Every year, just before the festival, Muslims nationwide balik kampung or return to their home towns to meet their family and friends. These family reunions are also celebrated during other main festivals in the country. With people decked out in their traditional finery, these festivals are an integral feature of Malaysian society.
Here are some of the major celebrations & festivals in Malaysia.
As a constitutional monarchy, the nation celebrates the official birthday of His Majesty, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (the King of Malaysia) yearly on July 14. This auspicious occasion is marked by the bestowal of state honours and awards to those who have rendered exceptional service to the country. Highlights include the “Trooping of the Colours” by the armed forces and a host of cultural shows and exhibitions.
National Public Holiday, New Year’s Eve is usually celebrated by the urban community throughout Malaysia with lively parties to usher in the New Year. Sporting events, competitions, exhibitions and cultural performances by Malaysian multi-ethnic groups are held in various states.
Hari Raya Puasa (or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri) falls on the first day of the Muslim month of Syawal and is a joyous occasions for all Muslims. It marks the successful observance of fasting throughout the month of Ramadhan – the tenth month of the Muslim calendar. The celebration is determined by sighting of the new moon. After morning prayers at the mosque followed by visits to the graves of family members to pay respects. Open house or invitation for relatives and friends to come to their house is practiced.Plenty of traditional Malay delicacies are served during this festive season.
All mosques, homes, government and commercial buildings are decorated and brightly lit to mark the significant day. The celebrations last a month and although the first three days are celebrated on a grander scale, many Muslims have ‘open houses’ throughout the month to accommodate friends.
Hari Raya Aidiladha is another event observed by Muslim’s which starts on the 10th day of Zulhijjah. It is also the day after pilgrims end their annual pilgrimage, the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Celebrated throughout Malaysia by Hindus on the tenth month of the Hindu calendar. Thaipusam is a day for penance and atonement among the Hindu community. Thaipusam an extraordinary festival, is a time for Hindu devotees to fulfil a vow they have made to the Lord Muruga, also known as Lord Subramaniam. The displays of devotion are varied, but the most devout prepare themselves for weeks, purifying themselves by fasting and celibacy. In a state of religious ecstasy thousands of devotees carrying body piercing kavadis – a frame decorated with colored papers, tinsels, fresh flowers, and fruits as a form of penance, makes this a once in lifetime experience. They move through the town up the hill to the Batu Caves with the kadavis tearing at their flesh, but without appearing to feel any pain. Kuala Lumpur is probably the best place to enjoy this colourful and fascinating festival as this is where Lord Muruga’s jeweled chariot is led through the streets of the city, culminating at the Batu Caves in Selangor.
Celebrated over a periods of 15 days, beginning from the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, this is the most important annual festival for the Chinese community. Legend has it, Buddha invited all animals to his kingdom but only 12 attended. With that, Buddha dedicated a year to each animal. Each year is named after one of the 12 animals according to the Chinese Zodiac. Chinese New Year is celebrated with abundance of delicacies , family gatherings, & the lighting of fire crackers at midnight. Ang Pows or red packets of money are given to the young and unmarried while the symbol of prosperity, the mandarin orange, is liberally consumed. It is the time when offerings are made to appease the spirits and gods. Houses are cleaned and decorated to prepare for the big day. New clothes are bought and worn. The colour red is vividly displayed in many homes for ‘prosperity’ and ‘luck’. The traditional dragon and lion dances herald in the new year, amidst banging gongs and drums. Penang is the place to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Celebrated around May by Buddhists which marks three momentous events in Buddha’s life – his birthday, enlightenment, and achievement of Nirvana. As the most important figure in Buddhism his life is celebrated and revered. The celebration begins at dawn when devotees gathering at the temples to meditate on the Eight Precepts. The ‘Bathing the Buddha’ ceremony is often part of Wesak celebrations. Water is poured over the shoulders of the Buddha and serves as a reminder to purify the mind from evil. Donations, giving food to the needy, offerings of incense, joss sticks releasing of pigeons, ordination of monks and the offering of flowers normally takes place in temples. Chanting and praying are an important part of the Wesak celebration. At night, processions of floats parade the streets, with devotees carrying candles.
The indigenous tribes of the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut of Sabah celebrate their harvest festival in May. Grateful thanks are offered to the spirit of the paddy, called Bambaazon / Bambarayon, by the Kadazan Dusun. A dance is performed by a high priestess, or Boohizan, to search for the Bambarayon. Once found, a good harvest can be expected Agricultural shows, exhibitions, cultural programs, buffalo races, and other traditional games are held. There is much merrymaking and feasting with Tapai (rice wine) flowing freely throughout the festivities. A Unduk Ngadau ( Harvest Festival Queen ) pageant is held to seek the fairest maiden, honouring a sacrifice made by a maiden in legendary times.
Gawai Dayak, a festive celebrated in Sarawak on 1st June every year is both a religious and social occasion. It is a thanksgiving day marking good harvest and a time to plan for the new farming season or activities ahead for the Dayaks, which generally refers to the Iban, Bidayuh and the Orang Ulu communities in Sarawak. Their homes are cleaned and the graves of ancestors are tended to. Gawai is an occasion for parties, fun and games, processions and open houses. The Ibans working outside their village returned to the village for the celebration. Celebrations begin with a reunion dinner for the entire family. Here, the youngest member of the family will offer the parents a plate of specially prepared food. There is singing, dancing and considerable drinking of tuak or rice wine in the local longhouses. Livestock is also sacrificed to ensure a good harvest the following season.
Celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month by Buddhists and Taoist, it is believed according to Chinese tradition, that the gates of hell are opened to free the hungry ghosts who then wander to seek food on Earth. Some even think that the ghosts would seek revenge on those who had wronged them in their lives. The reason why the Chinese celebrate this festival is to remember their dead family members and pay tribute to them. They also feel that offering food to the deceased appeases them and wards off bad luck. Sacrificial offerings are made by burning fake money notes, which are also known as hell money and even paper television or radio sets. Some families also burn paper houses & cars to give to their dead relatives. The Chinese feel that these offerings reach the ghosts and help them live comfortably in their world. Religious ceremonies are also held at temples
Although its origins were founded in times of war in China where it celebrates the overthrow of the Mongols during the end of the Yuan Dynasty (120G- 1341 AD) in China. , the lantern and ‘Mooncake Festival’ or ‘Tang Lung’ has come more to symbolise a quiet celebration of peace and shared prosperity. Legend has indicated that the secret about a plot against the Mongolians was hidden inside the mooncake and the mooncake was distributed widely. Lanterns were used at night as signals from higher grounds and hilltop. Today Malaysians of all walks of life celebrates this festival with colorful lantern hanging on the house & enjoying the highly delectable variety of mooncakes available. These cakes are rich, round pastries filled with a mixture of sweet red bean paste, lotus nut paste, or salted egg yolk. Mooncakes are available throughout the country for about a month while lantern processions and competition are held around in some neighbourhoods.
Commonly known to Hindus as the Festival of Lights, Deepavali is celebrated during the 7th month of the Hindu calendar. Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, when Lord Krishna defeated Narkansura. Oil baths are taken in the morning, before donning new clothes and paying a visit to the temple. Homes are lit with oil lamps, called vikku, signifying victory over darkness. This is believed to invite Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth who will not enter an unlit house. As with all open houses in Malaysia, friends join in the celebrations by visiting the homes of Hindu friends and relatives to extend good wishes and to partake in the feasting and jollity.
Witness the Portuguese Settlement transformed into a spectacle of brilliant lights with beautiful decorated Christmas Trees in every house and the sweet sounds of carolling in the air. Midnight services are held in churches, to celebrate to birth of Christ. Christians in Malaysia celebrates by decorating Christmas trees, attending church services and carolling. ‘Open Houses’ are also held on Christmas Day, during which guests are treated to food and drinks. Exchange of gifts are popular. Roast turkey is a common and traditional dish.
Each year on August 31, Malaysia celebrates its Independence Day.This historic event is celebrated in joyous mood by Malaysians from all walks of life. Malaysians too, display their love for the country by proudly flying the Jalur Gemilang or the national flag. A host of activities is held in each state including parades, exhibitions of Malaysia’s history and fireworks displays, culminating in a grand parade attended by their Majesties, the King and Queen, the Prime Minister, dignitaries and the public.
United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Mulu National Park in Miri, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses incredible caves and karst formations in a mountainous equatorial rainforest setting. The park is famous for its caves and the expeditions that have been mounted to explore them and their surrounding rainforest, Gunung Mulu National Park is one of Nature’s most spectacular achievements and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Sarawak’s expanding network of national parks. It is also the largest national park, covering 52,865 hectares of primary rainforest, which is criss-crossed by fast flowing rivers and clear jungle streams.
Considering Mulu’s spectacular scenery and its biological significance, it was not surprising that Mulu was successfully listed as a World Heritage site in November 2000. To qualify for world heritage status a park must meet one of the four following criteria:
* Be an outstanding example of the world’s geological history.
* Be an outstanding representative example of on-going evolutionary processes.
* Be of exceptional natural beauty.
* Contain significant natural habitat for in-situ conservation of biological diversity and the protection of threatened species
Earth’s history and geological features
… Mulu’s concentration of caves, its geomorphic and structural characteristics are an outstanding resource, which allows a greater understanding of Earth’s history.
… Mulu provides outstanding scientific opportunities to study theories on the origins of cave faunas.
Superlative natural phenomena or natural beauty and aesthetic importance
… Mulu has outstanding scenic values, including the natural phenomenon of millions of bats and swiftlets leaving and entering the caves is a superlative wildlife spectacle.
Biodiversity and threatened species
… Mulu provides significant natural habitat for a wide range of plant and animal diversity both above and below ground.
World Heritage status has created renewed interest in the park and a genuine desire of the government and people of Malaysia to ensure it is adequately protected. Accordingly, the Sarawak Government has committed to developing world leading conservation practices and high quality nature-based tourism activities at Mulu and has committed considerable resources to ensure its goals are achieved.
Vertical cliffs and incredibly steep slopes reach summit ridges before dropping abruptly down to deep gorges and hidden valleys.
Jagged limestone pinnacles, bleached white, spear out of the lush green canopy.
Cave passages twist and wind their way through the mountains, opening into chambers so large they defy description and dwarf you into insignificance.
This system, a breath-taking natural wonder, contains a number of record breaking caves. With the world’s largest cave passage (Deer Cave), the world’s largest natural chamber (Sarawak Chamber), and the longest cave in Southeast Asia (Clearwater Cave), it is not surprising that Mulu is now world-famous. Over 200 km of cave passages have been surveyed but this is thought to represent just 30-40% of the actual total.
In landscapes like these, to understand what we see today, we must look to the past.
The oldest of Mulu’s caves started to form about 5 million years ago when sideways earth movements resulted in the formation of both limestone and sandstone mountains, lying side by side.
Many, many millions of years ago, new mountains pushed high above the earth’s surface were rapidly eroded by the heavy tropical rains. Eroding rock produced grains of quartzite sand, which were carried by rivers from the mountains into the sea. Here it settled over time to form layers of sandstone. Again, the earth moved and its surface buckled and lifted, and so, the island of Borneo was created.
In an ancient sea teeming with sea life, coral reefs developed to form lagoons between the reefs and this new island. Some 40 million years ago, these lagoons began to fill with layer upon layer of minute sea shells which compressed over the next 20 million years to become a layer of 1,500 metre thick limestone.
When the movement of the Australian and Asian landmasses caused the earth’s surface to buckle and fold about 5 million years ago, the land lifted once more. Tilting and cracking, the layers of limestone and sandstone were pushed up to create the mountains of Mulu.
The relentless process of weathering by the elements of rain and time now began to shape the landscape we see today.
Although limestone forms in sea-water, it has two very special features – it is porous, and it dissolves in fresh-water. As the rain falls on these limestone mountains, it passes through the soil and into the limestone itself through very small pores and cracks. Seeping and trickling through the limestone, the water gradually dissolves the rock, making these pores and cracks larger and larger to create a remarkable series of cave chambers and passages.
And here at Mulu you’ll find, the biggest caves in the world.
Within Gunung Mulu National Park is the world’s biggest natural enclosed space – Sarawak chamber, found in Gua Nasib Bagus. It is 2,300 feet (700 m) long, 1,300 feet (396 m) wide and at least 230 feet (70 m) high; according to the guides it is big enough to fit St. Peter’s Basilica, the area is bigger than 20 football fields or even few stadiums and 40 jumbo aeroplane inside. Other notable caves are Benarat Cavern, Deer Cave, Wind Cave, and Clearwater Cave, which exposes parts of a long underground river going through the park.
Deer Cave got its name as a lot of deer frequented the cave. It houses over 4 million bats, of several different species. This is not the most impressive thing about this cave, however. The sheer size of the cave is spectacular, whereby in contrast to the other caves it has the largest cave entrance and passage in the world. You can fit over five St. Paul Cathedrals in this cave’s main chamber! It truly was colossal and a most magnificent natural phenomenon, and we were blown away as we thought Niah Cave was impossible to beat. With millions of bats living in this cave, the smell of guano was quite strong and over-powering, and as we walked to higher elevations the smell seemed to get stronger. It has two entrances at both sides of the mountain.
At about 6 p.m.daily they all fly out for their nightly hunting. Mulu is delightfully free of mosquitoes, and people say the bats are to be thanked for that. They came out first in small clouds, like puffs of smoke made up of whirling black specks. Their individual movement appeared erratic, but as a pack they moved in concert, flying over our heads and out of sight behind the trees. They kept coming until we could no longer see any separation between the groups, and now the column of bats moved like chimney smoke on a day with just a little wind, snaking left and right but not breaking. They did not spread out across the sky but clustered together in a band, and they kept coming for an extraordinarily long time, until it became easy to believe there are 4 million of them.
Deer Cave and Lang Cave are close to each other. From the park headquarters, it is a one-hour walk (on a boardwalk) through the rainforest. Deer Cave is enormous and cavernous, whereas Lang Cave is deep, but narrow and intimate. The main attraction in Lang Cave is the great variety of fantastic limestone formations inside.
Langs Cave was named after its discoverer, and it was full of the most amazing stalactites (these grow down), stalagmites (these grow up) and helictites (these grow sideways against gravity). Apparently it takes approximately 50-100 years for 10mm of a “mite” to be formed and so you can imagine the age of the formations in these caves.
Clearwater Cave is a short 10-minute walk through the jungle to Cave of the Winds, and is one of the longest caves in the world, currently measured at 140km, but they are discovering more of the cave every year. You can see intricate formations about 100 m at the cave ceiling.
The Clearwater River runs for at least 108km of this cave. It was really cool to see the force and power of the subterranean river carving its path through the limestone rock in the cave. Legend has it that if you wash your face in the crystal clear waters of the river within the cave, you will be granted youth; of course we had to do that and we feel younger already! This underground river leads to other caverns and passages. It is, however, not advisable for tourists to venture along this completely dark waterway.
As literal as the name suggests, Wind Cave offers a cool breeze which comes from inside the cave. You can feel this cooling effect as you enter the mouth of the cave. At the entrance of the King’s Room i.e. at the “upper deck”, the cool breeze is even stronger, and it is extremely refreshing after the climb along the walkway from the river. Special walkways and lighting are constructed inside the cave. You can move with ease, which can prevent possible damage to the rock formations.
Sarawak Chamber is the world largest natural chamber measuring at 600 m long, 415 m wide and 80 m high. It is located in the south eastern part of Gunung Api, Sarawak Chamber. It resides Gua Nasib Bagus – Good Luck Cave. The chamber could easily house eight Boeing 747 aircraft lined up nose to tail.
The world famous Pinnacles consists of a series of 45 m high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation. It is mid-way up the slopes of Gunung Api. The trek to view them is one of the most popular in the park. But be warned, the Pinnacle Summit Trek is a tough and challenging one. The trail itself is very steep (near vertical in parts) and requires a certain level of fitness.
In Mulu, the heart of wondrous Borneo, you will be amazed by the rainforest around you. In the humid heat, plant life flourishes everywhere. Many thousands of species of ferns, mosses and flowering plants along with thousands of species of fungi thrive in this complex habitat.
52,000 Hectares of spectacular equatorial rainforest presents visitors to Gunung Mulu World Heritage Area with an outstanding diversity of flora and fauna. This is home to many fauna species from the world’s smallest mammal the Savi Pigmy Shrew to some of the largest insects on Earth. In the dense foliage secretive macaques, bearded pig, moon rats hide, blending in so well that we rarely see them.
Look up at the tall towering trees blocking out the sky with their dense canopy. Richly coloured butterflies glide among trees entwined with lianas, ferns and orchids. The ground is a thick mat of leaves and fresh new seedlings struggling to find their own space. The heartbeat of life is all around you, plants and animals, living, eating and dying. Strangler figs, spread by fruit-eating birds, begin life germinating high in the canopy. Growing quickly in the sunlight this parasitic plant creeps down and around the host tree. Becoming larger and stronger and clinging to every surface available, strangling the tree in its death grip. Finally, the tree will die and rot away, leaving the fig standing as a shell of the tree’s former shape.
Watch out for the rattan, a thorny vine reaching for the sun, it entwines its way for up to 100 metres through the trees. An important plant for local people used in weaving but for the unwary, it’s a painful meeting.
The air is rich with the perfume of 170 species of wild orchids. If you are lucky you will see the famous Slipper Orchids, or you may spot the curious shaped pitcher plants. Mulu is home to 10 species of these insectivorous plants which supplement their diet by eating visiting insects.
Some plants use animals in other ways. One species of ginger, flowers at ground level and exudes a pungent smell. Beetles rolling balls of dung, in which they will later lay their egg, are fooled into thinking there is fresh dung and eagerly seek it out.
The beetle gets no dung, but the flower does get pollinated.
The Canopy Skywalk is the world’s longest tree-based canopy walk. It is 480 m in length from one tree to another and hangs at 30 m from the ground. The local people built the Canopy Skywalk with guidance from experts. It winds among the lush treetops with a tranquil river running below and the soaring heights of nearby limestone cliffs above. The Skywalk follows a circular route suspended between 15 trees with a separate exit tower. It is one of the newly completed world standard visitor facilities at the National Park.
But why is Mulu so diverse? Well its topography ranges from just 50 metres above sea level near park headquarters to the peaks of Gunung Mulu at 2,377 metres, and let’s not forget the unique underground environments in the caves. Combine this with a geology of alluvial clays, sandstone and limestone formations to produce dozens of niches and specialist environments for both plants and animals.