Lake Titicaca: where spectacular landscapes and cultures unite

Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. It’s large enough to contain both natural islands, farmed in the same way for centuries, as well as artificial ones.lake-titicaca-floating-islandTiticaca has an elevation of more than 12,500 feet above sea level, an altitude so high visitors can at first find it difficult to catch their breath. On the border between Peru and Bolivia, the lake lies high in the Andes Mountains, providing incredible panoramic views of snow-clad mountains by day and superb opportunities for star gazing at night because of the thin atmosphere and lack of light pollution.3776984006_1f782fcc23_bBut Lake Titicaca gets its status as a visually-stunning location due to the very humble totora reeds that grow in the lake’s shallows. Not only do these reeds provide nesting opportunities for a variety of bird species, including the flightless Titicaca grebe, but they have also been integral to human habitation of the area.guitgkInca ruins can be found on many of the lake’s natural islands, reached by reed boats found nowhere else. However the Uru people went one further, and created whole islands from the reeds. Initially constructed in pre-Colombian times to protect the Uru from attack, the largest of these islands are just half the size of a football field.Lake_Titicaca_on_the_Andes_from_Bolivia They contain at least one reed-built structure housing an extended family, while some also incorporated watchtowers constructed from the reeds. Traditionally, they would be found far out in the center of the lake, up to ten miles from shore, but are often now much closer to the shallows. Sixty or so remain, housing 1200 Uru people who hunt and fish in a traditional way as well as making textiles for visitors.Lake_Titicaca_-_Road_to_Bolivia_(8385839315)So important are textiles to the region that another tribe, the Taquile, have been awarded intangible heritage status by UNESCO for them. Local wool is formed into yarn by the women of the community and then knitted into textiles solely by its men.

Wat Rong Khun: The mesmerizing White Temple of Chiang Rai

There is a temple in Thailand, in the Chiang Rai Province that stands out from all other temples in the country. This stunning architectural masterpiece is known as the Wat Rong Khun and it was built by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. His intention was to build a temple where people can practice meditation and learn about Buddha and his teaching. All around the world is dubbed as The White Temple because it is built from white plaster mixed with thousand little glass pieces inside that sparkle in the sun. 1024px-Chiang_Rai_Thailand_Wat-Rong-Khun-02 1280px-Chiang_Rai_Thailand_Wat-Rong-Khun-01 It is different from the other Thai temples first of all because it’s white and not golden like it should be traditionally, and it was built by an artist who used his own imagination to create his own visual understanding of the Buddha teachings. To date, the temple is not finished and Kositpipat is still adding parts to make it even more stunning. It is considered more like an art exhibit because there are so many unusual things to be seen inside and around the temple which make the visitors’ tour even more interesting. 1024px-020_Disciple_(9214657134)Chiang_Rai_-_Wat_Rong_Khun_-_0002The main building is known as the ubosot and it can be reached by crossing a bridge installed upon a small lake. The bridge is dubbed as the cycle of rebirth and in front of it is one of the most bizarre art pieces in the place. Hundreds of hands are reaching out trying to grab something. This piece represents the suffering souls in hell who were greedy during their lifetime. After crossing this remarkable scene the visitors stand in front of the ubosot and have to cross the “Gate of Heaven” to enter. 006_Purgatory_(9214719914)Wat_Rong_Khun_o_el_Templo_blanco_de_Chiang_Rai,_Tailanda._(17199615247)The most unexpected and fun part begins when they go inside. There are many murals that depict famous people and fantasy characters. Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, Neo from The Matrix, Captain Jack Sparrow, Hello Kitty, Elvis, Superman, and even Freddy Krueger are gathered together on the walls which makes the temple even more unusual. Kositpipat decided to add his favorite characters in the temple because they are also a part of who he is. His plan is to add more buildings around so they will be nine when he finishes the place completely. One of the planned buildings will be reserved for Buddhist monks who can use it whenever they come to visit the Chiang Rai Province.1024px-025_Dragons_(9214634354) 1024px-White_Temple_IOn 5th May 2014, the temple was damaged by an earthquake and Kositpipat wanted to close it indefinitely for safety reasons. But, after a team of engineers came to inspect the place and confirmed that the structure was not that damaged from the quake, he continued with work as before. Some buildings are still not open to the public like the ubosot, but the owner allows visitors to come and see it from the outside. Hopefully, he will finish his project as planned and it will be even more exciting to visit.White_Temple_III
images: commons.wikimedia.org

The Dancing House: The most unusual office building in Prague

There is a movement in the postmodern architecture known as deconstructivism. It is a very unique style that in some way combines architecture with abstract art. This is because of the absence of symmetry and harmony in the shape of the buildings which became very popular in the past 30 years.800px-The_Dancing_House_in_Prague  In Prague, a building was made in this style which is known as The Dancing House. It was designed by the architects Vlado Milunić and the famous Frank Gehry. The construction started in 1992 and it was finished in 1996. In that time, it was a surprise for the people of Prague to see that kind of building that literally popped out from every other building in the city. It is a single construction of that kind that over the years became a very popular tourist attraction.1024px-Dancing_house_windowsThe Dancing House sets on a property of a previous building that was destroyed in 1945 during the bombing of Prague. Until 1960, it set in ruins and there were no architectural plans for that space. After 30 years, the land next to the building was owned by Václav Havel who was a very popular leader in the country. When he became the president of Czechoslovakia, Milunic came to him with the idea and his plan was gladly accepted. Havel always wanted to do something creative with that space and was hoping that with this unusual building he will attract many tourists along the Vltava river. Dancing_house_green_lightThe house was originally named Fred and Ginger after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The shape resembles the two dancers holding each other, the curved shape of it represents the female and the other column represents the male. It was named by Gehry who later requested that the name should be changed because he didn’t want Prague to have a building that was inspired by Hollywood famous film couple but instead to have a name chosen by the citizens of the city. The name Dancing House still stands as an inspiration from Gehry’s idea because the shape really looks like a dancing couple.Prag_–_Das_Tanzende_Haus_-_Fred_und_Ginger_-_Tančící_dům_-_Fred_a_Ginger_-_panoramio1024px-Dancing_House_(7154386345)This magnificent structure is located in the center of Prague, on Resslova Street next to the Vltava River which is very close to the metro station Karlovo Námesti. The top floor is the only one open to the public where visitors can enjoy the magnificent view of the city from the Ginger and Fred Restaurant. The other floors are mainly offices which make the Dancing House the most fascinating post-modern office building in the country.Prague_1,_Czech_Republic_-_panoramio_(62)