Category Archives: Things to Do

Muir Hut

Traveling the World One Cabin at a Time

The world that we live in is full of an assortment of beautiful sights and locations.  While the sweeping hills and mountains of Kashmir Valley are beyond majestic and the crystal-blue waters of Lau Archipelago in Fiji  is certainly stunning, some of the best views and vantage points in the world comes from a structure that you might not have given much thought to.

Cabins and other structures constructed from the Earth’s arsenal of naturally occurring materials have long been an integral part of the evolutionary chain as cultures become more developed.  While on a whole, the world has largely departed from the continuing construction of cabins and cabin-like homes, there are still several spots around the world that are capable of stealing your breath in an act of sheer beauty and tranquility.  Still not sold?  Take a look at some of the cabins below and perhaps you will have a change of heart.

Stone and thatch cottage; Pescaglia, Italy 

A 486785

Photo courtesy of Tommaso Meschi

Located in the heart of Tuscany, the small municipality of Pescaglia is home to a series of three valleys that offer citizens of Italy as well as destination travelers picturesque views and the opportunity to visit a number of unique vineyards scattered across the province.

Located on a small hill in the Pedgona valley portion of Pescaglia, this stone and thatch cottage looks like it was lifted straight from the pages of Beowulf.  Secluded several hundred kilometers from any other structures in the area, a visit to this cottage will put you at one with the beautiful green carpeted rolling hills and valleys that make up the surrounding area.

The structure is currently privately owned so an overnight stay is currently not possible.  Visitors and hikers will instead have to settle for a stroll by this fantastic piece of architecture.  If just a walk by wont suffice, many services offer a number of stone and thatch cottages throughout Europe that offer guest a chance to inhabit their walls, for a set fee that is.

Muir Trail Hut, Kings Canyon National Park, California

Muir Hut

Photo courtesy of  http://www.hikejmt.com

Situated at the peak of Muir Pass along the John Muir Trail, the Muir Trail Hut is as rich in history as it is in its architecture. During the 1930’s an organization known as the California Conservation Corps constructed this shelter as a reprieve for hikers and climbers who were looking for a pardon from the elements during a strong storm or foul weather system.  The Corps, originally part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program has since gone on to be a thriving organization of young adults, but their endeavors at the peak of the Muir Trail definitely mark a high point among all of their projects.

The structure itself is constructed from materials and stone from the nearby mountains, and from a distance, almost appears to blend in with the rest of the rocky landscape.  While hikers are urged to not sleep inside of it anymore, if you find yourself hiking along this gorgeous trail, you’ll be sure to want to take a few moments to stop, sit down and enjoy the wonder of this beautiful stone structure.

Sod Hut, Geiranger, Norway

Sod Hut

Image credit cabinporn.com

This history of the sod house is one that is both rooted here States-side as well as in areas of Europe and Iceland.  These structures came into being through the lack of traditional building materials that existed in areas of these countries.  For the United States, the majority of sod houses sprung up during the Homestead Act which states that a set portion of land could be given to an individual if they built housing, farmed and maintained the area.  Trees for lumber weren’t exactly plentiful in these parts so large chunks of sod had to suffice.  The results were these sod homes.

Norway and Iceland also took advantage of these naturally occurring resources and thus, the result is the cabin pictures above.  This one, located in Geiranger Norway is a marriage of both traditional lumber cabins and the sod variety.  With a foundation of stone from nearby mountainsides and a traditional sod roof, this cabin is truly a unique coming together of the elements.  The Norwegian countryside is full of similarly crafted structures.  If you are going to be in the area and want to experience one of these cabins first hand, make sure to inquire with one of the staff members of VisitNorway.com to find out which trails can offer you a glimpse at one of these unique structures.

Have any other unique cabins that you have visited or seen? I’d love to hear from you below.

David Bryce

David Bryce is an online publisher and he often writes on the topics of travel, vacation and the in's and out's of the world of golf. He can usually be found writing in his cabin in Branson.

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Bangkok’s top 5 off-the-beaten-path attractions

Getting off the tourist trail in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the world’s biggest, and most bustling cities. It goes by several names, including the official Thai name “Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit” (no joke!). This is the longest city name in the world, or just “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon” for short, translating to City of Angels. Curiously enough, the more westernized name is almost opposite of this, as it is referred to as the “Sin City of Asia” with reference to the busy night life. Being one of the oldest Asian trade cities in dealing with the West, it has had a long term standing accommodating foreigners. This has brought about many popular attractions, and some at high tourist prices!

So what can you do that’s fun, interesting, and not really on the beaten-path? Being such a massive metropolis, there’s hidden gems around every corner in Bangkok. Here’s some of my favourite discoveries:

Forensic Museum

The forensic museum is not your run of the mill museum. This off-the-beaten-path museum is located at Siriaj Hospital, in central Bangkok. This place is crazy… and certainly not for the faint of heart! The Forensic and Pathology Museum takes you through a variety of different exhibits, examining different elements of the CSI related science, and it’s use in Bangkok. The exhibits include coronary studies, head injuries, a Tsunami 2004 exhibit, and even the mummified cadaver of the most infamous serial killer in Thailand. It’s not your run of the mill attraction, but certainly brings with it a heap of information and an inside look at this interesting study.

Thai Barbecue

Perhaps not best to combine this with your day at the Forensic Museum, this is a very popular Thai activity. Similar to a Korean BBQ, the Thai version incorporates a bowl at the bottom of the grill for making a soup with noodles, greens, wontons and of course some drippings from the meat being cooked on the grill above. It’s a do-it-yourself activity, and all you can eat. The typical Thai BBQs run about 120 Thai Baht, and often don’t have time limits dictating your stay. The buffet is immense, with tons of tasty food to try – including salads and desserts! Best if you go with some friends so you have some company to engage with while waiting on your meat to cook to your liking! They can be found all over the city – my personal favourite is Pla Thong located centrally in Bangkok near the Victory Monument sky train station!

Go to the Cinema… in bed

Going to the movies in Thailand may not seem like such a big deal. Sure there’s lots of English choices available, but they’re no different from the movies you can watch back home… except for one detail. A few theater complexes have developed VIP theatres. If you’ve got an extra evening to kill, and you really want to check out that new film your friends back home have been raving about – this is an experience in itself. Often with 3 different seating options, you can choose between the front gallery, where you’ll sit comfortably under the screen in body fitting bean-bag chairs. Moving up a notch going up the sides of the theatre, you will be watching the movie with the comfort of home, in a leather recliner chair – equipped with a blanket for maximum comfort.

And then.. the cream of the crop – Check out the fully reclinable ‘bed’ seats. These ones go up the centre of the theater for the best seating. They have enclosing walls so you and a friend don’t get the distracting sounds from people chatting around you. They also happen to recline almost completely horizontally for the effect of laying in bed. Equipped with pillows and a blanket, this is the ultimate comfort in movie watching.

This is like flying first class, minus the turbulence, and with a giant state of the art screen and surround sound system, to comfortably transport you to a far away land. Oh.. and did I mention they deliver popcorn and drinks directly to your seat? The seating runs about 300-1000 Thai Baht – cheaper than a night out back home, and in much more class and comfort. The Paragon Cineplex in central Bangkok is perhaps the most state of the art if considering this fun option.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This is about as full on as markets get. At the very end of the sky train and subway lines, it’s easy to get to from nearly every central point in Bangkok. This market is probably the largest of it’s kind that I’ve ever been to. It’s definitely the biggest in Bangkok. It’s so big in fact, there’s maps available showing you the different areas to visit, and how to navigate to them. It’s roughly 4 city blocks in size, and easy to get caught up in and just spend the day browsing! You can get just about anything here – from clothing, to food, to art work, and even pure bred puppies! Once you’ve finished your shopping, or just need a break, there’s a massive park right next to it that you can go and lounge in and examine your loot! You’ll find some of the best prices here, and is a great option for buying souvenirs.

Visit Refugee Prisoners at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC)

Now this can be a tough one for some people. It doesn’t exactly sound like the beaches and temples vacation you had originally planned on doing, but may be one of the most rewarding off-the-beaten-path experiences in Bangkok. There are countless people who have been imprisoned for overstaying their visas or living here illegally as refugees. They live with very little, and lack some basic necessities, such as vitamins, carbohydrates and hygiene products. There are a few NGOs in Bangkok who, for a very small fee of about $15, take you to visit some of the refugees and bring them these products with your donation. When you get out of your comfort zone and try to help others in need, you quickly learn the benefits of love and adventure that come from changing people’s lives for the better.

Ian Ord

An explorer since birth, Ian has now spent the better half of his life travelling. Spanning all 7 continents, and leaving no stone unturned, he continues to pursue discover new cultures, festivals, foods and all the other riches the world has to offer.

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White Temple - The Main Temple

Chiang Rai’s White Temple: This is a Must-See in Thailand!

The White Temple of Chiang Rai

There is a general ‘tourist trail’ that most people follow when heading to Thailand for the first time. This usually includes a trip to the beaches in the south, pit-stops in Bangkok, and a trip up to one of the northern provinces of Chiang Mai. It is a fair bit less common for people to venture much beyond that, as the city of Chiang Mai holds so many relics and activities already. This being said, for those adventurous enough, a short 3 hour bus ride to the northern most province of Chiang Rai can be well worth the time. Amongst the mountains, rice patties and natural beauty, amidst the ancient history and old cities, there lies another incredible – and bizarre – attraction: The White Temple.

White Temple - The Main Temple

The White Temple

Locally known as Wat Rong Khun, the unconventional temple is a tourist attraction for locals, foreigners, and even monks alike. Though completely different from the usual temples you may see in the north, it is still considered a place of spiritual worship for practicing Buddhists and should be treated as such.

White Temple - Buddha's everywhere

Buddha’s everywhere

Before  arriving to the gates, you can already tell that there’s something truly spectacular about this place! The immense complex of the White Temple is, as the name states, almost entirely white, with small reflective mirrors ornately decorating it.  It’s is a beacon of light to all those within even the slightest bit of an eye-shot away from it, luring them in with it’s beaming glow.

White Temple - Guardians of the bridge

Guardians of the bridge

This modern temple began it’s construction in 1997. You may say it’s a work in progress, as you can see new structures going up even to this day. With that said, however, there are already a myriad of temples and stupas found on the holy grounds which already completed.

The reason the White Temple is a little ‘different’ from your traditional temples is because it has completely modern elements, which lack in the older temples you may visit. It brings in an unusual contrast of good vs evil. Evil being represented largely in part by sins, modern warfare, and funny enough – Hollywood movies.

White Temple - Crossing Over

Crossing Over the bridge of Purgatory

With a mixed bag of appearance such as Neo (from the Matrix), Superman, Osama Bin Laden, and even Sponge Bob Squarepants, there is no shortage of recognizable characters in the stories being illustrated. Completely decorated with murals, statues, and even bridges crossing over purgatory, you find yourself becoming part of the journey to enlightenment.

White Temple - Still a place of worship

A place of worship

To anyone thinking of visiting outside the regular tourist trail, this is a highly recommended, and unique, destination to consider. You should give yourself about 3 hours to walk around, and another 30 mins in each direction getting to and from the temple from the city of Chiang Rai’s centre.

Please note: You should dress appropriately while visiting the White Temple. Although it’s bizarre, it is still a place of worship, and should be treated as such.

Ian Ord

An explorer since birth, Ian has now spent the better half of his life travelling. Spanning all 7 continents, and leaving no stone unturned, he continues to pursue discover new cultures, festivals, foods and all the other riches the world has to offer.

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All You Can Eat Crab at Iggies Beach Bar in Saint Thomas on Tuesday Nights

Who likes crab and beer?

Umm, me.

So, if you are a fan of crab and beer and happen to be staying on Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, Iggies Beach bar has all you can each crab every Tuesday evening, good from 6 pm to 10 pm. When my friend and I went the other night, there were probably about 40 people devouring crab legs.

What can you expect in the way of a bill? $40 plus drinks. I spent $60 for crab, 2 beers, and tip. A little pricey, but not too outrageous.

At the end of the night, what stopped me was not getting full. Quite the contrary, I felt I could keep eating crab non stop — but I was sick of cracking open crab legs to get to that wondrous meat.

So Iggies on a Tuesday? Well worth it.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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