#995 Mrauk U, Myanmar (Burma)

The first amazing thing about Mrauk U is its isolation. To get there, you have to fly to Sittwe, which is a tiny little town in Rakhaing State on the western coast of Myanmar, and then take a small boat for several hours up a river to reach the Mrauk U site.

The next amazing thing is the size -- ruins and temples are scattered over several kilometers. The best way to see them all is by bike. European travellers who visited in the 16th century compared it to the large cities of Europe for its greatness.

The third amazing thing is that some of this ancient Rakhaing capital is current after centuries. The Buddha statues still have flowers and offerings, and many of the temples have active monks and nuns participating in rituals and chants. Many Buddhas are still dressed on a regular basis, and many temples are still painted and repaired. On the other hand, and this is amazing too, many are derelict and ruined. Why one survived and another didn't is an interesting puzzle.

The fourth amazing thing is the living civilization that is threaded throughout and is continuing to exist - the fields and farms next to temples and palaces, the children that come up to you while you're on the sites, the bullock carts sharing the narrow dirt roads. The sense of timelessness exists here -- people seem like they are living as they were when it was a great city.

The fifth amazing thing is that almost no one has heard of it.

Kothaung Temple
Outside of Kothaung Temple

Outside of Kothaung Temple

Inside Kothaung Temple
Inside Kothaung Temple

#996 Washington, DC, USA

Downtown Georgetown - older than Washington, DC, itself.
Washington, DC, may not have been the first capital of the United States, but its carefully planned layout and design have created a beautiful legacy. Composed of 4 cardinal areas (NE, NW, SE, SW) spanning out from the Capitol building itself, it is a leafy, pretty, orderly city filled with a strong cultural life and a center for internationalism (which is what drew me!) including embassies, the World Bank, the IMF, the OAS, and several top universities.

The Washington Monument
I think that DC is amazing for its parks and public spaces. I love the big greens, the solemn monuments and memorials, the picturesque Arlington Cemetary, the waterfalls above Georgetown, the riverside parks, and the oasis of peace in the middle of the city: the Theodore Roosevelt Island. DC impressed me by how great and different the various suburbs are -- each unique and famous in its own right: Georgetown, Adams-Morgan,  Eastern Market, Chinatown, Union Station, and further out in Virginia and Maryland: Alexandria, Arlington, Bethesda, Silver Spring, etc, etc.

The various museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution make up one some of the most impressive collections of culture and history in the world, and while you may disagree, I think they have pretty nice weather too!

The Smithsonian Institution Information Center
Georgetown University
Looking at Roslyn from the Potomac River

Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA)

Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) is one of the most popular aquarium in the world, which is located in Hillarys, Western Australia. Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Australia, and also in the top 10 world's largest Aquarium. It opened on 13 April 1988 as Underwater World, Perth.

This tank has a main tank is 40 meters (130 feet) and 20 meters (66 feet) wide and holds three million liters (793 000 USgal) sea water. It covers an acrylic tunnel 98 meters (322 feet). The facility has about 400 species of marine life. And Aquariums specializes in marine animals that inhabit the western coast of 12 000 kilometers (7,500 miles) from Australia. It also has the largest collection of marine species in the world, beautiful coral reefs, sharks, rays and giant turtles.

#997 Tbilisi, Georgia

Mother Georgia - Karlis Deda
The old town of Tbilisi is famous for it's ornate colored balconies.
Georgians are warm, welcoming, friendly people, happy to share their wine, cha-cha, history, stories, and laughs. Tbilisi is the center of this delightful culture. Sprawled along the picturesque Mtkvari River, with the large Narikala castle-fort overlooking it (and of course Mother Georgia), Tbilisi is a pretty capital, and compact enough for nice walks around the center.

Rumored to be founded for it's hot thermal baths, and famous for them since the Byzantine era, it is now the political, cultural, religious and education capital of this small Caucasus nation. It is peppered with orthodox churches (The Georgian Christian Church is the second oldest Christian faith in the world) and nearby Mtskheta houses the current archbishop.
View of  Narikala fortress.
Mtkvari River. The large Tsminda Sameba Cathedral in the center  has only been finished quite recently.

The folk dancing in Georgia is pretty amazing and Tbilisi is a great place to see it -- the women glide over the floor as if they take no steps (like ghosts), and dance on their toes (without wooden toe shoes like in ballet). The men jump and kick in true Caucasus fashion-- fascinating to watch!

#998 Queenstown, New Zealand

View of Queenstown from Skyline. Downtown Queenstown bottom left, with Kelvin Heights and  Frankton Arm behind. Fernhill is on the right below the gondola cables.
I think it's important to get this one in early on: this is my beautiful home. When I close my eyes I can picture the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu, and it is always a comforting thought because it is just so spectacular.

Where else in the world can a town of around 10,000 (2006) offer 4 different ski fields, rafting, the home of bungy jumping, jet boating, tramping, fjords, bird-watching, sailing, hiking, camping, historical train rides, gold-panning, picking fruit, tiger-moth flights, heliskiing, movie sets, kayaking, wineries, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, lake-side sitting, eel viewing, 4 golf courses, ballooning, a canyon swing, waterfalls, mountains, horse riding, paragliding, parapenting, ziptreks, skydiving, hanggliding, river boarding, river surfing, cruises, sheep stations, gondolas, beaches, not to mention shopping and scenery!

It is the ultimate town for the adrenaline junky and yet just as fun for kids wanting a fun activity or older visitors who want a peaceful, classy visit.

Unfortunately it was quite a cloudy day when I took these photos!

View from beach at Sunshine Bay looking down Lake Wakatipu towards Kingston (left) and Walter Peak (right) with Cecil Peak in the center.

View of Frankton Arm with the Remarkables in the center behind Kelvin Heights. Frankton on the left in the distance.

View from Fernhill.

#999 Merv (Mary), Turkmenistan

In this modern day and age, it is hard to imagine the world's biggest city in the world melting into nothing more than a few piles of dirt. Merv, also known as Mary, which is in the middle of the deserts of Turkmenistan, was once the biggest city in the world, and as construction was mostly in mud-brick, most of what it was is now very flat, almost as if a giant raindrop fell and reduced it to sludge. Walking through it meant lots of the silty brownness collected on our shoes, and that has been happening for so long, it's a wonder anything still remains at all. 
A major oasis-city that was part of the chain of centers of the Silk Road, Merv does not really have any modern inhabitants, although pilgrimage sites and religious monuments (Muslim and pre-Muslim) are scattered within the walls. Alexander the Great visited, and it was home to Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and many other religions.
I find it an amazing place because hardly anyone's heard of it. It's incredibly isolated, and visitors are quite rare. It is abandoned, yet majestic. Important, yet forgotten. A huge area left wild, with rich history and, of course, a really difficult place to get to.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium / Okinawa Churaumi Akuariom Suizokukan is one of the most famous and largest in the world. Many visitors from abroad come here to enjoy the beauty akuarim.
The Aquarium is located at Ocean Expo Park, northwest of Okinawa, Japan. This aquarium is an aquarium and second largest in the world after the opening of the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta in 2005.

Okinawa Churaumi aquarium exhibiting marine biologist living on coral reefs, deep sea, and the Kuroshio current flowing across the Japanese archipelago. Of the total 77 tank aquarium, the largest tank called the Kuroshio Sea Aquarium that can hold 7500 m³ of water (length 10 m, width 35 m, depth 27 m). From behind acrylic glass aquarium walls as high as 8.2 m, 22.5 m wide, 60 cm thick, and weighs 135 tons, visitors can see some 70 species of fish, including whale sharks, sharks, and manta rays as the main attraction . Other aquarium at Shark Research Laboratory contains bull sharks and tiger sharks. There is a moment that makes the aquarium is becoming increasingly popular, the birth of manta rays in the Kuroshio Sea Aquarium in June 2007, which is the first event in the world. However, juveniles are born with a body width of 1.9 m is only survive for four days from birth. The second birth of manta rays that occurred in June 2008, followed by a third manta ray born on June 24, 2009. Both the second and third manta rays in the world who were born in the aquarium.

Here are some of the attractions are available at the pool:

Marine aquarium coral reefs, the Coral Sea Aquarium exhibit 800 colonies of 70 species of coral reef in the aquarium with a capacity of 300 m³.

Sea aquarium, acrylic aquariums glass Churaumi ever recorded Guinness World Records as the world's largest acrylic panel to be defeated by the panel's Dubai Aquarium. In the Kuroshio Sea Aquarium kept three whale sharks.

In the marine aquarium. This aquarium marine fish species in the exhibit, including Etelis carbunculus, Thyrsitoides marleyi and difficult species kept in aquariums.

Tropical Dream Center is a garden of flowers and tropical fruits that are part of the tropical and subtropical botanical garden at Ocean Expo Park. In it there is an orchid in the greenhouse area of ​​14 778 m², greenhouse orchards covering 1263 m².

And show the bottle nose dolphins and false killer whales in Okichan Theater, swimming dolphins (Dolphin Lagoon), pond turtles, manatee aquarium, and artificial beaches called the Emerald Coast.

#1000 Machu Piccu, Peru

View from Machu Piccu back toward the small town of Aguas Calientes.
Waking up at an ungodly hour to join the line for the bus in Aguas Calientes, and driving along the sheer canyon of the Rio Urubamba, marveling at how much water and the fast current in it, and seeing the Hiram Bingham Memorial Highway rise up the steep face of the jungle walls is an impressive journey in itself, but to be capped with stepping out of the trees and having the intact, ancient, organized stone walls emerge laid out below you is all of what makes Machu Picchu such an amazing experience. Machu Picchu's ruins are impressive in their own right, but to be placed in such an incredible, inaccessible place is what makes them such a part of every traveler's checklist.

First viewed from afar or visited by foreigners at the end of the 1800s (see wikipedia), but made famous by Hiram Bingham of Yale University (which also holds many of the artifacts from there) it was made accessible by in insanely windy, steep road in the 1950s/60s. Thousands visit each day, so many that the Peruvian government capped it in recent years, requiring (a limited number of) tickets for entry. Whether you choose to walk up from town, or climb either Huaynapicchu (the steep cliff behind the famous photo) or the Machu Picchu Montana (behind you in the famous photo), or just visit the ruins and museum itself, you will have an amazing time. Even the most hardened voyager cannot help but be impressed that such a city was built in such a place, surrounded by such beauty.

The Incas, famous for being one of the most important pre-Columbian civilizations of South America, was actually quite short lived in comparison to many civilizations (only a few hundred years). Their constructions were incredible because of the lack of mortar used and stability that continues through earthquakes, and the sheer size of many of the stones they used.

Machu Picchu is amazing because all buildings are almost exactly as they were when the residents left because the Spanish didn't discover or conquer it. Some stones crumbled, and jungle grew over much of it, but otherwise it gives us a view into how it was. It's also amazing because of it's inaccessibility and defensibility. Only 8 paths led in, one of which was the Inca bridge past a sheer cliff (shown at right). Another is the famous Inca Trail which leads up from the Rio Urubamba several turns back along the river to pass high over the mountains to form complex trade routes. The city included agricultural, residential, religious and municipal areas, and was militarily well-equipped. Amazing!

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The following UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been covered so far:

       Los Glaciares National Park - Perito Moreno Glacer here
       Historic Centre of Vienna - Vienna in general here
       Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape here
          Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun

       Barrier Reef Reserve System - Shark-Ray Alley and The Blue Hole
  • Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang - see Beijing
  • The Great Wall see here
  • Temple of Heaven see here
       Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena
       Paphos here
Czech Republic
  • Historic Centre of Prague - Prague
  • Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur - Giza Pyramids
  • Antigua Guatemala - here
  • Tikal National Park - here
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
  • Meidan Emam, Esfahan - Esfahan in general is here
  • Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan  - Esfahan in general is here
  • Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne - see here
      Petra is here
      Wadi Rum Protected Area is here
  • Historic Centre of Riga - here
         Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
  • Medina of Fez - here
  • Medina of Marrakesh - Marrakech in general is here
  • Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) - Essaouira in general is here
  • Roman city of Volubilis - here
New Zealand
       Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand - West coast glaciers here
  • Land of Frankincense - the area of Salalah
  • Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu - here
  • Cracow's Historic Centre - see Krakow here
Russian Federation
  • Volcanoes of Kamchatka - see Kamchatka Peninsula here
  • Historic Centre of Cordoba - see the Mezquita here
Sri Lanka
  • Ancient City of Sigiriya - here
  • Galle and fortifications - here
Syrian Arab Republic
  • Site of Palmyra - here
Tanzania, United Republic of
  • Stone Town of Zanzibar - here
  • Historic Areas of Istanbul - Istanbul in general here
  • State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv” - here
United Kingdom

         Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites - see Stonehenge

       Roman Frontier - Hadrian's Wall

       Neolithic heart of Orkney - Orkney Islands in general here

       Old and New Towns of Edinburgh - comingUzbekistan
  • Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures - here
Viet Nam
  • Old City of Sana'a - here

1000 Amazing Places so far

Here is a list of all the amazing places that have been covered so far, and a distribution of regions.

#845 Port Lockroy, Antarctica
#846 Isla Gorgona, Colombia
#847 Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco
#848 Krasnaya Ploshchad, Red Square, Moscow, Russia
#849 Nazca Lines, Peru
#850 Yanar Dag (Fire Mountain), Abseron Peninsula, Azerbaijan
#851 Marianas Trench
#852 Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam
#853 Ararat, Turkey (Armenia)
#854 Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
#855 Pink and White Terraces (Otukapuarangi), New Zealand
#856 Jesuit ranches, Cordoba, Argentina
#857 The Merlion, Singapore
#858 Glaciarium, El Calafate, Argentina
#859 Cardrona Bra Fence, New Zealand
#860 Mzora Stone Circle, Morocco
#861 San Francisco, California, USA
#862 Corregidor Island, Philippines
#863 Verona Arena, Italy
#864 Le Tour Hassan and Masoleum of Mohamed V, Rabat, Morocco
#865 Cancun, Mexico
#866 Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
#867 Taxila, Pakistan
#868 Mont St. Michel, France
#869 Candy Cane Mountains, Azerbaijan
#870 Shahara, Yemen
#871 Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai, UAE
#872 Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
#873 Petra, Jordan
#874 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
#875 Chichen Itza, Mexico
#876 Islas Ballestas, Peru
#877 Gibraltar, UK
#878 Bimmah Sinkhole, Oman
#879 Busan, South Korea
#880 Beiteddine Palace, Lebanon
#881 A'ali Cemetary, Dilman Burial Mounds, Bahrain
#882 Lemaire Channel, Antarctica
#883 Krak de Chevaliers, Syria
#884 Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
#885 Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
#886 Wadi Rum, Jordan
#887 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
#888 Taranaki, New Zealand
#889 Cape Horn, Chile
#890 Ushuaia, Argentina
#891 Nakchivan, Azerbaijan
#892 Deception Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
#893 Edinburgh, Scotland
#894 Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
#895 Mykonos, Greece
#896 Bogota Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia
#897 Dome of the Rock (Masjid Qubbat as-Sakhrah), Palestine (Israel)
#898 Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
#899 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
#900 Cartagena, Colombia
#901 Denali National Park, Alaska, USA
#902 Boracay, Philippines
#903 Gold Souq, Dubai
#904 Musandam Peninsula, Oman
#905 Stonehenge, England
#906 West Coast Glaciers (Te Wahipounamu), New Zealand
#907 Gobustan, Azerbaijan
#908 Colombiano Rio Amazonas, Colombia
#909 Burj Khalifa Dubai, UAE
#910 Zorats Karer Carahunge, Stone Circle, Armenia
#911 Vienna, Austria
#912 Volubilis (Oualli), Morocco
#913 Hadrian's Wall, England/Scotland
#914 Tranfagarasan Road, Romania
#915 Whale sharks off Cancun, Mexico
#916 San Blas Islands, Panama
#917 Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China
#918 Bear's Cave, Romania
#919 Galle, Sri Lanka
#920 Panama Canal, Panama
#921 Christchurch, New Zealand
#922 Paphos, Cyprus
#923 Huacachina, Peru
#924 Homer, Alaska, USA
#925 Russell, New Zealand
#926 Garni Temple, Armenia
#927 Vancouver, Canada
#928 Chingaza National Park, Colombia
#929 Fes, Morocco
#930 Shark and Ray Alley, Caye Caulker, Belize
#931 Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock), Myanmar (Burma)
#932 Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
#933 Essaouira, Morocco
#934 Lankoran, Azerbaijan
#935 Citadel, Amman, Jordan
#936 Medellin, Colombia
#937 Hong Kong, China
#938 Western Sahara, Morocco
#939 Zakopane, Poland
#940 Riga, Latvia
#941 Water Towers, Kuwait
#942 Aden, Yemen
#943 Krakow, Poland
#944 Pyramids at Giza, Cairo, Egypt
#945 Nga Hpe Chaung (Jumping Cat Monastery), Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)
#946 The Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain
#947 Semac Champey, Guatemala
#948 Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
#949 Salalah, Oman
#950 Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)
#951 The Forbidden City, Beijing, China
#952 Palmyra (Tadmor), Syria
#953 Grand Cenote, Tulum, Mexico
#954 Tikal, Guatemala
#955 Galway, Ireland
#956 The Blue Hole, Belize
#957 Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
#958 Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
#959 Svaneti, Georgia
#960 Bran Castle, Romania
#961 Esfahan, Iran
#962 Ngapali Beach, Myanmar (Burma)
#963 Mekong Delta, Vietnam
#964 Davit Gareje Monastery, Georgia
#965 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
#966 Jebel Shams, Oman
#967 Cuidad Perdida (Lost City), Santa Marta, Colombia
#968 Kerala, India
#969 Istanbul, Turkey
#970 Seoul, Korea
#971 Uluru, Australia
#972 Bru na Boinne, Ireland
#973 Tank Graveyard, Kuwait
#974 Zanzibar, Tanzania
#975 Angkor, Cambodia
#976 Cape Town, South Africa
#977 Prague, Czech Republic
#978 Samarqand, Uzbekistan
#979 Preacher's Rock, Norway
#980 Great Wall, China
#981 Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain
#982 Jerash (Gerasa), Jordan
#983 Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
#984 Santorini (Thira), Greece
#985 Sanaa, Yemen
#986 Villa de Leyva, Colombia
#987 Orkney Islands, Scotland, Britain
#988 Marrakech, Morocco
#989 Glacier Bay National Park, AK, USA
#990 Antigua, Guatemala
#991 Persepolis, Iran
#992 Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq
#993 Antarctica
#994 Xinaliq, Azerbaijan
#995 Mrauk U, Myanmar
#996 Washington, DC, USA
#997 Tbilisi, Georgia
#998 Queenstown, New Zealand
#999 Merv, Turkmenistan
#1000 Machu Piccu, Peru

North America     Central America     South America 

Western Europe    Eastern Europe     Southern Europe    Scandinavia 

Intersection of continents
Caucasus   Middle East  

South East Asia   Central Asia   South Asia   East Asia 

Australia and Pacific

North Africa    Subsaharan Africa 

I have visited all except...
Unvisited 4

The Beginning

I was inspired today after reading about the end of the awesome blog 1000 Awesome Things and my weekly check of PostSecret. My passion is travel and places, and so this blog is my intention to share some of the cool places I've been to or would like to visit. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired to travel!

Note: All photos are originals by me (Natalya Marquand) unless otherwise stated/sourced.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is a famous park in the state of Utah, USA, featuring a dramatic overlook the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The park is so named because it supposedly said this place used as a natural home by cowboys in the 19th century. While the name "dead horse" is that the home was abandoned, but the horses do not leave home, even after the gate was left open, and died there.

This park covers 5362 acres (21.70 km2) of the high desert at an altitude of 5900 feet (1,800 m). And surrounded by sheer cliffs 2,000 feet (610 m) tall with a narrow neck of land only 30 yards (27 m) wide mesa connect to the main plateau.

The park is now one of the most visited tourist attractions of local and foreign tourists, because it has some beautiful scenery and exciting, a 21-site campground and group campsites, a picnic area, and 9 miles (14 km) loop hiking trail with two cutovers to allow for shorter trips. In addition the area is also used in the final scene from the film Thelma & Louise in 1991.