The next time you go on a vacation, stray from the usual touristy destinations and go on an adventure. Explore the unfamiliar and see exotic places seldom featured by travel websites and brochures. There are so many virgin places that have not been spoilt by the commerce of the tourism industry. Here are five spots on the Asia Pacific map you should put on your next holiday list.
Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan
Bhutan is a tiny kingdom lost in the vastness of India and China. Ten kilometers outside of Paro is the Taktsang Hermitage , or Tiger’s Nest. It hangs on a cliff 100 meters high overlooking the Paro valley. Taktsang Monastery was built around a cave in 1692. Tales have it that this sacred temple is where Guru Padmasambhava, or Guru Rimpoche, meditated back in the 8th century. He is known as the Bhutan’s Father of Buddhism.
Getting to the monastery (also called Tiger’s Lair) demands grit and determination but the effort is worth it. The place is breathtakingly glorious and peaceful, it’s like a piece of heaven – great for meditating and de-stressing.
The DMZ and House of Sharing in South Korea
These two places take you back in history to South Korea’s tragic past.
The Demilitarized Zone, a four-km wide buffer zone that separates South Korea from its terrifying counterpart North Korea, is an intense experience where you’ll experience real fear. American, North and South Korean soldiers patrol the borders and a tightly controlled tour is best for the weak of heart. Two villages sit at the DMZ, the Freedom Village of South Korea, and the Propaganda Village of North Korea, names given to them by the Americans.
The House of Sharing in Gyeonggi-do province, two and a half hours away from the DMZ, is a testament to the sexual abuse of Korean comfort women at the hands of the Japanese soldiers in World War II. It houses a few still living comfort women, an entertainment area and the Museum of Sexual Slavery by the Japanese Military.
Glacier Country in the West Coast of New Zealand
The Franz Josef and Fox glaciers in the west coast of New Zealand are unique in the world because these vertical rivers of ice descend from the high mountains into the lush rainforest and the sea. The glacier valley walks allow a view of the spectacular scenery. Global warming has caused a rapid retreat of the glaciers, so see it now at its most stunning. Visitors are advised not to go beyond the signs posted on barriers or risk falling off the portals of the glaciers. How’s that for scary?
Nagoro Village in Japan
In the valleys of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four islands, lay Nagoro village. Its uniqueness is its inhabitants – approximately 35 living people and 350 dolls. The doll populace began when resident Ayano Tsukimi went back and found most of the people dead or gone to more prosperous places. An artist, Tsukimi decided to create life-size dolls in the resemblance of people she knew who had lived there. Ten years later, 60-plus years old Tsukimi is still at it. The Valley of Dolls is a documentary that features this village. Cool or creepy – it’s your view.