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Nr.63 / Year 3

January 28, 2015

World Heritage Sites

We are very pleased to announce the introduction of the World Heritage Sites as part of thebesttravelled.com. These sites, under the auspices of UNESCO, have been declared as exceptional for humanity for a variety of reasons. At whc.unesco.org you can study these sites in more detail while understanding the reasoning behind their inclusion, be it cultural or natural. The website includes the list itself, the text of the convention that made it possible and even job opportunities! 

Many travellers actively try to 'collect' as many visited WHS as possible, and there is even a website, worldheritagesite.org, with a number of active members who get points for each site they have visited. Indeed, some of the WHS may be considered easy to explore, such as the historical centres of Vienna or Florence. Some others, for example Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, well, not so easy! There are currently 1007 WHS, some of which are shared across borders.
 
On our website, you will find this list as a special tab under your 'Profile'. Just go to WHS and tick the places you have visited. This total will appear under your own profile. Eventually we will include this listing within our statistics in our Travellers section as well.
If you look under 'Profile' you will also notice a new last tab 'XLS Lists'. Here you will find all four lists we include, TBT1281, UN, UN+ and TCC, which are available for download in Excel format for your own convenience. Do not forget that your 'Profile' is, in fact, the main 'brain' of your own website, with all the tools you need.
Meanwhile, an additional innovation is the inclusion of certain font options when you compose a story through 'Post Story'. This will make stories more appealing to the eye, and helps you organise your thoughts by creating paragraphs. So don't forget to write a story. And if you happen to be from India, you can write your story in Hindi, neatly accompanying what is now our 21st available language online, and certainly one of the most useful if one thinks of the vast number of people using it as their mother tongue.
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Stairway to the Mount Emei

Mount Emei, also known as Emeishan, is the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China (3099m). In Buddhist culture, it’s regarded as the place of enlightenment of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra. It has traditionally been considered as a spiritually pure place, conducive to meditation and enlightenment, a secular attraction for monks, pilgrims and tourists. 
Nowadays, it is still a popular tourist attraction for the Chinese people, while also attracting more and more people from all over the world. Technically, the Golden summit  is very easy to reach. There is a bus that takes you from the town of Baoguo to a station near the top. From there, you can take a cable car that gets you even closer, or even get carried on a sort of hammock for the last steps.

But if you choose the easy way, you will only see the top of the mountain, meaning that you will miss the most beautiful and authentic Emeishan. Like in many hikes around the world, in this mountain the path is much more important than the goal. 
If you choose the hard way, make sure to be prepared. The ascent to Mount Emei is not a hardcore climbing route, but neither is it an easy path. You will find a long way with stairs, stairs and more stairs (really, there are a lot of stairs) that will test your legs and probably will give you some days of painful stiffness. The Tibetan macaques will jump on your back to steal your precious food and you will probably find rain and mist. 
But these are only minor problems that certainly will not ruin your experience. On the way to the top you will find really beautiful landscapes, a live jungle with a lot of endemic species that will transport you to a lost world. You will also find a multitude of Buddhist monasteries, originally 'adapted' to the mountain, where you can stop to have dinner and spend the night. But remember, don’t expect a steak, the monks are vegetarians!
The ascent usually takes two days, enough to partially regret your decision . But when you finally reach the top it has a completely different meaning, you will appreciate the experience much more than the hundreds of tourists who suddenly were transported to the last steps. When the golden statue of Samantabhadra finally starts to appear between the mist, you can differentiate the people who have climbed by looking at their faces. They have reached their goal and now they enjoy their reserved reward...

It’s a long way to the top, but it is really worth the effort!
The last six photos in this article are from the private collection of Marcos Penin.
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`App in the air´

A lot of people love to fly, but only a few enjoy the “airport experience”. The casual traveller usually feels lost at big terminals and the veteran nomad is tired of endless waits, annoying delays or long nights sleeping on the cold floor.

`App in the air´ was created to
help travellers handle their stay through the airport, giving them updated information about their flights.
You only have to introduce your flight number or route on the app, and it will track all the information and news about your flight. It will inform you about your terminal, the check-in time and possible delays, making it easier to schedule the trip to the airport itself.
The bad news is that this app will not magically make you avoid the necessary wait. But it can certainly help make the delays more bearable. With the app you can easily check tips from other travellers, suggesting places to eat, shops or unusual things to do at each airport. You can also look for Wi-Fi areas or the best way to reach the city centre at your destination.
The app is available for Android or IPhone, completely free of charge.
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Milos Mitrovic. Serbia. #553.


"Serbia is a beautifuI, unspoilt country. Impressive landscapes are practically everywhere and many areas are still mostly empty"  

Q: MiloÅ¡, you grew up in two countries - first the 'socialist' Yugoslavia and then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which included Serbia and Montenegro. How do you feel your character and world-view has been shaped by growing up there during what was a very difficult time?

A: The more I travel, the more I realize how unique Yugoslavia was, the only free socialist country. It was an affluent society that believed in sharing as a means to itself and valued education highly. On the other hand, going through its collapse shaped my point of view considerably. I could describe it as ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, while at the same time making me realize that I cannot stand conformism. I mean, how can you agree with what is happening when cruel events are going on in your close proximity?
 

Q: You now live and work in Barcelona. How does life there compare to life in Serbia?

A: In Serbia people are more united, while in Barcelona they tend to be more individualistic. Since Serbia is not particularly well organized, people have to help each other in order to achieve things. In Spain things are more or less predictable, and people tend to follow rules to solve an issue.  What I love about Serbia is the generosity of its inhabitants. In case of Spain that would be their open-mindedness. 

Q: What do you feel about Serbia's tourist potential?

A: Serbia is a beautiful unspoilt country. Unlike most of Europe where architectural heritage dominates the tourist offer, Serbia is all about nature. Impressive landscapes are practically everywhere, and many areas are still mostly empty. Another quality that I believe is worth mentioning is the hospitability of people. The cultural life and its superior cuisine are other reasons why I think Serbia can become a top destination. Finally, Belgrade is a great destination on its own, there is nowhere in the world where Socialist, neoclassical and Balkan architecture meet, surrounded by forests and two rivers. 

Q: You are an avid traveller, and have been to the Far East quite extensively. What particularly attracts you to this region? Of the countries you visited in the region, which one made a special impression and why?

A: I have always dreamt of visiting the rice fields and the fascinating mountains and beaches of that region. Ancient temples were on the list too. But I was surprised by the gentle mentality of the locals. I have never been in such a hospitable place before. My favorite would be Myanmar, for its outstanding architecture and beautiful people.

Q: What further places are on your 'bucket list' for trips in the future?

A: To be honest I would like to visit the whole planet. There is no single place I am not interested in. Perhaps the top position on the list would be Central East Africa, South America and China. 

Q: You have a personal blog called 'Happy Frog'. How did the name come about and what do you hope to achieve with this blog?

A: As funny as it sounds it is referred to my old nickname. As a child I used to watch a cartoon called ‘Michigan frog’ where a nasty frog constantly sang and danced. I constantly imitated it so my friends started calling me a frog. The happy adjective reflects my attitude, I simply enjoy life!

I want my blog to be useful in two ways. Firstly, I want to provide great information that independent travelers can use when organizing their trips. Secondly, I trust clients will recognize the quality of my travels and allow me to organize their trips. 

Q: Milos, tell us an experience from one of your trips that has left a lasting mark in your memory.

A: There have been several interesting ones, but I definitely have to point to my very special trip to the Middle East in 2004. I witnessed all kinds of smuggling, from white powder and unmarked boxes to coats filled with live pigeons. Daily car accidents, socializing with the locals, and getting to know world travelers for the first time were other memorable experiences. I have written part of it in my text about Syria. More stories will follow in the Lebanese section.

Q: You are now the Area Developer for Serbia for thebesttravelled.com. What do you think you can contribute in this position?

A: I think Serbia is a great destination, but it needs a lot of advertising. I plan to do that by sharing unique cool places to visit around the country. Fortunately, most of them not that popular but very interesting destinations. 

Q: So, what are your travel plans for 2015?

A: Hmm, most likely I´ll be home until spring, I so haven’t decided yet. One destination though comes often to my mind: China.
The photos in this article are from the private collection of Miloš. You can read more on his website.
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