Monday, June 30, 2008

The Golden Rock

One of the most sacred places in Myanmar, the Kyaik-htiyo-pagoda is situated on the top of the Golden Rock, 1.100 m above Kyaikto in the Mon-state, approximately 60 km E of Bago.

The golden rock is a large boulder of granite, which is supported by an extremely small area of contact with the rock beneath. It seems to be just before falling down, but it has been lying there for hundreds of years already. The pagoda upon it is erected upon one hair of the Lord Buddha.

"Kyaik-htiyo" means "pagoda upon an hermit's head".

In 2001 the Golden Rock was newly gilded and the pagoda was renovated.
It is remarkable that they used scaffoldings made of steel pipes. Perhaps the advantage over bamboo was that the steel-scaffoldings need not lean against the Rock and so would not influence the stability.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strange Houses On Unusual Places

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mechanical Art

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rose made from Maple Leaves

Natalie creates this impressive work - the entire sequence of construction of such a wonderful bouquet - in photos.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Luxurious Swimming Pools On Earth

One&Only Reethi Rah Resort, Maldives

One&Only Reethi Rah Resort: The Maldive Islands are a stunning destination which is perfect for relaxation because of the fact that the beautiful beaches offer plenty of activity on the water. However, you don't have to leave the luxury of your resort to have a terrific water experience since this place has an amazing infinity pool that can caress your body into relaxation. The massive pool is shaded by tropical trees and leads right out into the ocean so you can go adventuring or just lounge around and relax. A poolside bar adds to the fun.

Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas

Wynn Hotel: There are several different pools to choose from at The Wynn and all of them are luxurious as you would expect from one of the best hotels in Las Vegas. But the best is the one that's only designed for high-rollers. These people spend a lot of money in the poolside casino while topless women swim around to provide Vegas-style entertainment.

Banyan Tree Hotel, Seychelles

Banyan Tree Hotel: Another astounding infinity pool that stretches its way right to the beach is the one located at this hotel in the stunning island nation of Seychelles. It's not often that you're going to get to relax in the wonderful waters of a beautiful pool that overlooks the Indian Ocean just steps away so don't neglect to take advantage of this opportunity if it ever comes along.

Four Seasons Resort Bali, Jimbaran Bay

Four Seasons Resort Bali: To get to the awe-inspiring infinity pool on the top floor of this resort hotel, you're going to need to cross a wooden bridge. From the pool, you'll be able to absorb the beauty of the surrounding Balinese jungle and over the beautiful Jimbaran Bay area.

Joule Hotel, Dallas

Joule Hotel: There have been rumours about this amazing hotel swimming pool for several years (originally under the name Elan Hotel) but the place hasn't actually opened to the public yet. It is due to open this year and crowds are sure to flock to it for the chance to check out the amazing opportunity to swim in the pool, which is located ten stories up and literally hangs off of the edge of the building. The end of it is made from glass so you can essentially swim off the side of the hotel to get a view of Dallas.

Intercontinental Hotel, Hong Kong

Intercontinental Hotel: The ideal way to enjoy the pool at this hotel is to book yourself a stay in The Presidential Suite which is 7,000 square feet in size and includes a 2,500 square foot terrace where the private pool is located. However, there are multiple pools to choose from at this hotel and all of them are amazing. There's a basic-but-beautiful outdoor pool inspired by the art of feng shui but what most people want to check out is the trio of infinity pools that are each heated to different temperatures to suit different people at different times.

Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, French Polynesia

Intercontinental Tahiti Resort: The only thing that can enhance the beauty of an already-idyllic location is a resort that has a truly beautiful pool that compliments and pays homage to the surrounding environment. If this part of the world could have gotten any better, it did so when the pools of this resort became an additional part of its landscape.

The Crater at Homestead Resort, Utah

The Crater at Homestead Resort: Utah is in the middle of the United States, nowhere near an ocean but you can enjoy all sorts of ocean-type activities (scuba diving, for example) in the underground pool at Homestead Resort. It's a natural attraction formed from a limestone wall that's filled with geothermal water. It's healing, relaxing and totally amazing to experience.

Perivolas Hotel, Santorini

Perivolas Hotel: It is difficult to tell where the pool ends and the waters of the Aegean Sea begin since the infinity pool at this Santorini hotel appear to stretch all the way to the horizon. The accommodation here are designed to rejuvenate you completely, aided by what is widely considered to be one of the best hotel pools in the world. What an idyllic place to spend a holiday!

Gran Hotel Central, Barcelona

Gran Hotel Central, Barcelona: Many of the world's infinity pools lead straight out into the ocean. This one is a totally urban infinity pool located on the rooftop of a hotel in the center of Barcelona. You'll feel like you're absolutely on top of the world at this place!

Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay, Oman

Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay: If you've never considered taking a trip to Oman then you probably didn't know that you could stay a place as luxurious as this! Since it has only been open since in 2008, you could be among the first visitors to take advantage of the opportunity. There are seventy nine different pool villas so you can really retreat into relaxation in a private area all your own. Yes, you read that correctly. Seventy nine pools.

Worlds Oldest Mother

With her wrinkled features and frail form, she might be a great-grandmother taking her favourite granddaughter's little girl to the park.

But Adriana Iliescu, who celebrated her 70th birthday on Saturday, is actually a first time mum, proudly spending every waking moment with her three-year-old child.

She supports herself and daughter Eliza on her £250 a month pension and some extra money she makes from working part time as a university professor.

Adriana has no family or close friends left to help her - and there is just one person with an interest in Eliza's future welfare - her godfather, the IVF doctor who brought her into the world.

Now, speaking fully for the first time about her life, Adriana insists: "I'm fit and healthy and I've never had any illnesses.

"I don't smoke and I don't drink. If I live as long as my parents did, Eliza will be 20 by the time I pass away.

"I think I still have a lot to give her."

The frail pensioner shocked the world when she announced the birth of her IVF baby on January 16, 2005, when she was 66 years and 230 days old.

Now three years later, Adriana, who used a sperm donor, has gone back to her lonely life in Bucharest, Romania, where she lives alone with her daughter in a tiny high-rise flat.

She is proud of her place in the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest mum to give birth, until being beaten by Spanish woman Carmela Bousada who had twins on December 29, 2006, at the age of 66 years and 358 days.

As Adriana walks the streets with Eliza on her way to the park, or market, groups of teenagers shout 'granny' at her.

But she seems not to notice and insists everyone she speaks to is positive and supportive of her decision.

"I have never suffered any prejudice," she said.

"Nothing unpleasant has happened, at least never to my face.

"In Romania, people who have children are very admired."

Adriana still goes to Bucharest University seven hours a week for lectures, plus extra tutorials and seminars, and Eliza goes to a local creche.

But the 70-year-old is already receiving extra dispensation from the local council to help her deal with being a mum.

A taxi is sent to her house in the mornings so she can take Eliza to creche and it comes back at 3pm to collect her again.

"The creche is a little way away and it's difficult to get the bus and a long way to walk," she said.

When she is not at work, Adriana has a few hours relaxation, sitting down quietly with a book, while her daughter is cared for by nursery staff.

"Right now it's hard to have time even to wash my hair," she admitted.

"When she sleeps, and I sleep, I'm still very focused on her."

For the first two years of her life, Eliza, whose twin died before her birth, would regularly wake in the night.

She has a chest complaint which would leave her coughing for hours on end.

"I had to keep her in my arms because when she always wanted to be very close to me," said her elderly mum.

Eliza, who is advanced for her age, can count, do simple sums, and loves reading and painting, even picking out her favourite artists.

"She is a child with a great personality," said her mum. If you put it negatively she is a bit stubborn."

The elderly woman had regular help from babysitters when her daughter was still a baby.

But now, she rarely sees anyone, and there are no family or real friends she can turn to in an emergency.

"It is quite sad, but there were misunderstandings in the family," she said.

"It was about some bits of land and property in the country. I didn't want to sell but they did and then conflicts arose."

In her younger years, Adriana had an abortion at the age of 20, shortly after her wedding to another student in Bucharest.

"It wasn't planned," she said. "I was in the third year at university and I also had just recovered from a bout of TB.

"The doctors advised me to not have the first child because they weren't sure that it would develop properly."

The couple divorced a short while after because of problems caused by political conflict during the harsh Communist years.

"I became a substitute teacher and then began working at the university and publishing my books," said Adriana.

"I always wanted a child, but I was so busy, I never had a partner. It's only in recent years that IVF became available in Romania."

Adriana has considered what will happen to Eliza when she dies.

"If my daughter is 16 by then, she will have the right to work," she said.

"If she is younger, my hope is in two things, the state child protection services, and my doctor Prof Bogdan Marinescu, who is her godfather.

"People can die at any time. Eliza's other godfather, who is a friend, died suddenly at the age of 49, leaving four children."

But she hopes Eliza will not repeat her mistakes.

"I would advise my daughter to have a child before she is 30," she said.

"Having a child is a wonderful thing. To think that you haven't live for nothing.

"If you have a child you don't have death. That's what Plato said: 'Happy is the person that has someone to bury him'."

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