Friday, April 18, 2008

France and Its Romantic & Magnificent Cities

It's no secret that France has probably some of the world's most magnificent and frequently-visited cities. For centuries this land of romantic splendour has been a symbol of true love and finding love that was once lost. Paris, the country's capital, has been adopted in countless number of both Hollywood and European motion pictures as a place where lovers pledged their love for one another.

As a tourist, one must of course know where to best obtain information on France hotels. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, depending on which place in France you plan to visit. And of course, any first-time visitor to this country would have to add Paris as one of the cities to go to - it would be a mortal sin if you did not. Check up on Paris hotels and Paris Latin Quarter hotels for the best accommodations available in this spellbinding metropolis.

Now, where do I go if I were in Paris, you might ask yourself? Well, here is a brief list of some of the most popular places you must consider popping into when you are in Paris:

Notre Dame Cathedral
Not the largest cathedral in the world, the Notre-Dame might be the most famous of all cathedrals. The gothic masterpiece is located on the Île de la Cité, a small island in the heart of the city. The site of the Notre dame is the cradle of Paris and has always been the religious center of the city.

The Louvre
This is one of the largest palaces in the world and, as a former residence of the kings of France, one of the most illustrious. It exemplifies traditional French architecture since the Renaissance, and it houses a magnificent collection of ancient and Western art.

Arc de Triomphe
In the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the border of the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissement stands one of the greatest arches in history: the Arc de Triomphe (arch of triumph). This arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victories, but he was ousted before the arch was completed. In fact, it wasn't completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe. The Arc de Triomphe is engraved with names of generals who commanded French troops during Napoleon's regime.

Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889 commemorating the centenary of the French Revolution. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII of England, opened the tower. Of the 700 proposals submitted in a design competition, Gustave Eiffel's was unanimously chosen. At 300 metres (320.75m including antenna), and 7000 tons, it was the world's tallest building until 1930.

Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou is home to one of the world's most important museums of modern art, the MNAM, but it also contains a very popular library, a bookshop, a movie theater and a panoramic terrace. The Public Information Library or BPI boasts a collection of 450,000 books, 2,600 magazines and a large number of new media items.

For those among you who are on a shoe-string budget traveling agenda, have no fear, for there are cheap Paris hotels in the city to cater for your limited financial resources.

Other than Paris, there are of course other major cities in France worth visiting such as La Rochelle, famous for its towers such as the La Tour de la Lanterne, Tour Saint-Nicolas and la Tour de la Chaine; Champagne, a province located at the northeast of France, well known for its famous white wine; and Nice, the capital city of Côte d'Azur, located on the Mediterranean coast 929km (577 miles) south of Paris and 32km (20 miles) northeast of Cannes, currently the largest city between Genoa and Marseille.

Nice is a major tourist centre and a leading resort on the French Riviera, for its wonderful attractions and sights. Nice has one of the most beautiful seafronts along the Mediterranean coast. Nice also has many attractions such as museums and cathedrals of ancient times. To find a place to stay, check up on Nice hotels.

A holiday spent in France with your loved ones will always be something that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Don't miss out on this magnificent country!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sri Aman town, Sarawak

I was up in Sri Aman a year ago for some work-related matters, as usual. This town, no longer referred to as a small town by most, has grown quite a bit since my previous visit in 2002.

Sri Aman Division, formerly known as ‘Simanggang’ or Second Division, was established on the 1st of June 1873. The name Sri Aman was taken from the historic event of the "Deklarasi Sri Aman" or Peace Declaration which was signed on the 21st of October 1973 between the Government and the Communist members. The change of name was officiated in March 1974.

Sri Aman Division comprises 2 districts and 3 smaller districts, which are Sri Aman and Lubok Antu Districts whereas the smaller districts covers Engkilili, Lingga and Pantu.

I just found out that the population is around 90,000 people, which is quite substantial for a town which, on a first-time visit, would not impress you much in terms of urban development which seems to be rather scattered along the main road leading into town.

Sri Aman's main attraction would be the tidal bore or locally known as the "benak", which occurs everyday in the Batang Lupar River, with different wavelenghts and heights. If you don't know what a tidal bore is, it's a wave that runs in a river. The wave height can be very high depending on which time of year and tide season it is, high enough for a surfer to even ride on. From the estuary of Batang Lupar river, the wave or "benak" runs another 30km or so inland. There is an annual Pesta Benak celebrated in Sri Aman which further promotes the tidal bore phenomenon to tourists and locals alike.

The photos you see here show the extent and magnitude of the waves at certain times (photos courtesy of I've yet to get into a boat myself and confront one of these huge benaks face-to-face, so far I've only seen them from the comfort and safety of the Batang Lupar riverbank.

Sri Aman is a mere 3 hours drive from Kuching City; if you've got a car and half a day to spare, drive up to Sri Aman and try to catch a glimpse of the legendary benak for yourself.