Friday, 30 January 2015

Old Pictures: Bagan

Plonked in the middle of Burma is the ruined city of Bagan. Once the capital of a kingdom, peaking in around the 12th Century, it went to ruin until all that remained were stone temples. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them, some big, some small. It's a simply splendid place to visit.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Country Review: Uruguay

Dates there: 10th to 13th February 2014: 4 days

Uruguay's Wonders: none

On the Longlist: Palacio Salvo, as I'm in a generous mood.

Wedged between Argentina and Brazil, just like a bogey between the nose and lips, is the little blob that is Uruguay. Oh dear, what a horrible introduction to poor Uruguay. It's a really nice country, I promise!

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Longlist: Cloud Gate aka The Bean

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, Chicago's Cloud Gate, aka The Bean.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Old Pictures: Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda has been around for over 2500 years, making it around the same age as the Parthenon. That's if you believe the founding myth, which involves a peculiar story involving merchants bumping into the Buddha and receiving eight of his magic hairs in exchange for some cakes. Things then begin to get strange. Trim away the myth, and it appears the pagoda, in some form, was around from the 13th Century. But the form it's in today doesn't emerge until the 18th Century. An earthquake in 1768 caused heavy damage to the former, 40-metre-high version, so the King of Burma, Hsinbyushin, built it bigger and better and into the 99-metre pagoda we see today.

And that was what Lieutenant Joseph Moore of Her Majesty’s 89th Regiment also saw in 1824, which as far as I can tell is as far back as images of Shwedagon Pagoda go. The British were kind of being dicks back then, and had got all shirty because the Burmese had the temerity to try and take back some of their own land. The first Anglo-Burmese war kicked off, including the 1824 Battle of Rangoon. During this battle, Lieutenant Moore made a series of drawings and paintings that were later to be made into a book, some of which included Shwedagon Pagoda. Here they are:


Friday, 16 January 2015

Country Review: Argentina

Dates there: 1st February to 9th February 2014: 9 days

Argentina's Wonders: none

Also visited: La Recoleta Cemetery

On the Longlist:  Palace of the Argentine National Congress

Nine days isn't very much for Argentina. It's a country with a lot to offer - wine, steak... I could stop there and we'd already have a winner, but it's also got grand colonial cities, the tango (if you like that sort of thing), and astonishing natural features such as otherworldly mountain ranges, glaciers, and one of the biggest waterfalls in the world. There's a lot here to take up a lot of your time - the country is over ten times larger than the UK. But there's one thing it doesn't have, and that's a World Wonder (oh, it doesn't have the Falkland Islands either, but they don't need reminding of that as it's a non-stop constant reminder when you're there. Come on Argentina, you must have something better to do? Oh, it distracts the public from government ineptitude in handling the economy? Fair enough).

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Longlist: The Megalithic Temples of Malta

What's the Longlist? It's the list for all the other great man-made spectacles in the world that haven't quite made my shortlist. I don't feel the need to research them or visit them, but as long as this blog is about the world's best man-made structures, they deserve some kind of mention. Today, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

When you think of ancient civilisation, you probably don't tend to think of Malta. Well, you'd be wrong. Predating the Egyptian pyramids by over a thousand years, and almost the oldest man-made constructions on Earth, are the Megalithic Temples of Malta.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Country Review: Chile

Dates there: 8th January to 31st January 2014: 24 days

Chile's Wonders: Easter Island

Also Visited: Humberstone, Gran Torre Santiago

Some countries look like things. Italy looks like a boot, North and South Korea unified looks like a rabbit (though they manfully insist it's a tiger), and as if you ever doubted it, the UK of course looks like a witch riding a pig. So what does Chile look like? It reminds me of the fat from a pork chop.