Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas 2014 and Review of the Year

It was a lovely Christmas.

It is traditional at this time of year to reflect upon the year past. The achievements, the tribulations, the highlights and lowlights. 2014, eh? Perhaps I might muse upon what 2015 holds. Or perhaps I might not.

Hmm. I think I won't.

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas too, and I hope 2014 was good, and 2015 will be equally as good for too.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Buster Bros

Balloons are terrorising the world's landmarks. Who do you call? The Buster Brothers, of course.

This was a game released in the early 1990s (it was called Pang for the Spectrum, which was what I had back then). It featured bubbles floating around, that caused instant death if touched. Naturally, in such a scenario, you would fire harpoons at the bubbles, causing them to divide in two. Arguably, two smaller balloons is as even more dangerous scenario, but shoot them a few more times and they would disappear. The world's landmark would be safe!

I'd love to pretend that at a young age - I would have been about 11 or 12 - Buster Bros aka Pang made a big impression on me, stirring my desire to visit all the exotic places on the list. But I don't think I ever owned it. I recall its existence, and possibly even played it, but other games made a far bigger impression on me, such as Football Manager 2, the wizard arena combat of Chaos, and the space trading game, Elite 2. I do not appear to have become either a football manager, a wizard, or an interstellar wanderer, making me wonder if my youth was slightly squandered.

Anyway, I took a look online and have found screenshots of many of the landmarks featured in Buster Bros. Most of them happen to be on my list, indicating that Japanese software developers of the late 80s/early 90s were right on the nose with their research. Here, across a selection of different computers, are the ones we agree on - the Hagia Sophia, Borobudur, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Himeji Castle, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Neuschwanstein Castle, the Acropolis, Sacre-Coeur, Sagrada Familia, Tower Bridge, Easter Island, and the Pyramids.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Old Pictures: Marina Bay Sands

The Marina Bay Sands isn't terribly far up on my overall list but it's still a pretty standout building. A long park/pool/leisure complex plonked on top of three skyscraper hotels, it's a hugely distinctive addition to Singapore's skyline and it's not one you're going to confuse with anything else. Let's quickly remind ourselves of what it looks like.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Longlist: Kuthodaw Pagoda

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, Kuthodaw Pagoda, in Mandalay, Burma.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Country Review: Bolivia

Dates there: 4th January to 8th January 2014: 5 days

Bolivia's Wonders: none

On the Longlist: Tiwanaku

We were warned about La Paz before we went: it's crowded, it's squalid, it's chaotic, it's dangerous. Left to my own devices, I would probably have given it a miss and skipped straight from Peru to Chile. But Danielle was intrigued. Despite the above reports, a few others filtered through, saying that yes, sure, it's all these things, but it's also fun. So we went. And yes, it was fun.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Old Pictures: Borobudur

Borobudur, in central Java, is a 9th Century Buddhist temple kind of thing. It doesn't really know what it is, because it's also a bit like a pyramid, and a bit like a hill. It's a one-off. Our guide described it as a book made out of stone. Whatever it is, these days it looks like this:

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Country Review: Peru

Dates there: 6th December 2013 to 4th January 2014, 20th to 24th February 2014: 35 days

Peru's Wonders: Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines

Also visited: Winay Wayna, Saksayhuaman, Arequipa Cathedral

On the Longlist: Ollantaytambo, Kuelap, Moray, Choquequirao, Chan Chan

Danielle was very impressed. Usually, she is regarded as more petite than most, but in Peru she became a giant. The average height of a Peruvian woman is 4 foot 11½ inches (151cm) but remember, this is just the average. Many are much less. If you're short in stature and are fed up of feeling that way, go to Peru.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Longlist: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge aka the Pearl Bridge

If you look closely, you might notice a new tab in the horizontal green bar at the top of this page. It says "Longlist". If you click on it, it explains a little more about my Longlist, but basically it's 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 Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, also known as the Pearl Bridge, in Kobe, Japan.

Take a look at the Golden Gate Bridge, the classic mighty suspension bridge, and once the biggest one on earth. I visited it in August of this year.

Uh-huh. Pretty impressive. The towers are 227 metres from top to water, and the main suspension span in the middle is 1280 metres. Now, let's take a look at the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, which from now on I'm going to call by its supposed nickname of the Pearl Bridge, because it's a lot easier to write.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Old Pictures: Sydney Opera House

I have 39 Wonders still to visit, and 14 previews still to write. They will begin next year. In the meantime, I'm going to allow this blog to ramble around like a slightly senile geriatric. The very observant among you may have noticed The Longlist tab, which has appeared on the green bar above. Clicking on that will explain its purpose. I will be writing about each of the places there, in time. Also, in full rambling mode, I'm going to write about the countries I've been to on these travels, from the perspective of a budget traveller looking for World Wonders (that is, my perspective). And I'm also going to be digging up some old pictures and photos of Wonders, either in construction or from ye olde times. Likely, there will be a few others bits and pieces too. Anyway, for today, let's begin at the beginning (in terms of the order I've visited things at least) and take a look at some old pictures of the Sydney Opera House.