Great to have you back for part II of this series on extraordinary places we visited during our years of travel. Did you enjoy part I? I know the sceneries mentioned are just a tiny selection and I am sure I missed a lot of great spots. Feel free to share them with us in the comments section. But first, let’s travel further to Japan, Vietnam, Germany, the USA and Peru. Here are no. 6 to 10:
6. Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, Kyoto, Japan
Torii, the Japanese word for entrance gate to a Shinto shrine (sacred space). When you visit Japan you will certainly pass through a lot of torii. Some big, some small. Some grey, some red, some orange. Most of the time there is only one torii at a shrine’s entrance, but at Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine they do things differently.
Here you have thousands of torii creating a network of trails behind the main buildings of the shrine! The 5km (3 miles) trail leads into the forest of the sacred Mount Inari. From the shrine up to the top of the mountain is just one big line of torii and it will take you 2-3 hours to reach the end. The torii gates along the entire trail are donations of companies and individuals (name of each donator is inscribed on the back of each gate).
Pictures courtesy Eddy Y. L. Chang, Kyoto, Japan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
7. Village of My Lai, Vietnam
This list of Travel Sceneries is not only about the most beautiful spots in the world, it’s also about places that impressed us. Places that left a mark. Before we visited the former village of My Lai, Vietnam, we watched movies about the war in this country. Movies that showed the terror of that war, the massive killing of (innocent) people. When we finally arrived in Vietnam for the first time, we were, in a kind of sick way, actively looking for things related to the war: the War Remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu-Chi tunnels, deforestation by Agent Orange and napalm. And we found it, made note of it, ticked the box.
After two weeks of traveling we arrived at My Lai village. Honestly, we never heard about the village but quickly found out that this small village played a significant role in the Vietnam war and its remembrance. A massacre took place in this small village where 400-500 women, children and eldery people were murdered. In the United States, this massacre increased the domestic opposition to the involvement in the Vietnam war.
Suddenly we felt ashamed. Ashamed that we were so actively looking for ‘evidence’ of the war, and now that we found it, it hit us right in the face.
8. Memorials of World War II: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Berlin
Another war, another time, another step in understanding mankind’s atrocity: the atomic bomb. Two cities in Japan have been totally destroyed by the atomic bomb back in 1945: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thousands of people lost their lives in just a split second. Today people still suffer from the consequences.
We traveled to both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In Nagasaki we stood at the exact spot (the epicenter) where the atomic bomb exploded, simple but clearly visualized by a concrete column pointing up in the air. Right there, a bend in history to the expense of people’s lives. Next to the monument you can visit a peace park with statues offered by countries all over the world.
In Hiroshima something happened. When we entered the memorial and museum we noticed some disabled Japanese people. They were watching us. Survivors of the war? We didn’t know. It felt a bit awkward at that time but probably that’s because we felt guilty. We didn’t have to, but the impact of such memorials is so huge, you cannot go and leave without a certain sense of guilt. Guilt for mankind in general.
Years and years later I visited Berlin. There was actually not much time for sightseeing, but my aim was to visit only one place: the Holocaust Memorial. The Memorial is one big labyrinth of concrete monoliths, 2,711 in total. The monoliths differ in size and height, providing a different view after each corner. As I wrote on this blog earlier, you can argue about the controversy of the design not being in line with traditional memorials, but the memorial succeeds in being a disturbing and confusing way of remembering the wounds of history.
Different memorials for the same war. Here in the Netherlands May 4th is the day of annual World War II remembrance. We are slowly introducing our kids to the wounds of history and we are sure to take them to the memorials should we visit these places again.
9. Kundera’s stalagmites in New York
Some hate it, others love it: New York city. Milan Kundera once wrote: “The beauty of New York is unintentional; it arose independent of human design, like a stalagmite cavern.” It’s the whole package that makes cities like New York so special: the people, the interaction, the hope, the lost opportunities. All combined make a city more than just buildings. It’s the city culture that appeals to you or not. We love it. For us a city is one giant pool of possible discoveries and every city we visit makes an impact.
The view of New York from above is very special. An island full of concrete and steel buildings pointing up in the air, competing to get the most attention.
10. Machu Picchu and the people of Peru
For no. 10 I have chosen a completely different scenery. It’s also a city, but completely abandoned in the year 1572. People still have questions about the function of this place: an estate for the Inca emperor or just a regular Inca city?Machu Picchu is one of the most important touristic attractions in the world and yes, also we loved it. When you stand on top of that mountain it’s hard to believe people actually settled here.
Next to Machu Picchu however we also enjoyed the people of Peru. Outside of the big cities we loved to see how people dressed and just walked with llama’s through the streets of Cuzco (watch me with the llama and the funny Peruvian hat!)
No. 11 will be added, but not now. That one is reserved for our future travels. I just don’t want to complete a list as if we stopped traveling, because we have not! Or wait, I am sure you want to add your own extraordinary travel scenery here. Just leave a short comment below and don’t forget to add why this particular scenery made such an impact on you. Thanks for sharing!