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‘Redefine the skyline’: how Ho Chi Minh City is erasing its heritage

‘Redefine the skyline’: how Ho Chi Minh City is erasing its heritage The next 15 megacities #7: More than a third of the Vietnamese city’s historic buildings have been destroyed over the past 20 years. Can it learn from mistakes made by other fast-growing Asian cities before it is too late? Read the rest of our megacities series here “People don’t realise what they’ve lost,” says Candy Nguyen as she peers through the locked gates of what was until recently the historic Ba Son shipyard. “Many don’t even know what was here before.” Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest and most important maritime heritage site is hidden from the street by high blue hoardings peppered with slogans such as “Never…

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Yule love these … great European Christmas traditions

Yule love these … great European Christmas traditions Continental festivities include chocolate logs in Paris, tree-cutting in Norway and plenty of fish: eel in Naples, carp in Prague and fermented skate in Iceland As Orthodox Christians, Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on 7 January with a 12-dish feast called Svyatyi Vechir (Holy Evening). The night before, singers go from house to house wearing colourful embroidered clothes and carrying the star of Bethlehem to symbolise the birth of Jesus. The procession is often accompanied by a traditional vertep (a portable wooden puppet theatre that first appeared in the 17th century). I remember the thrill of participating in the carol singing when I was a child. I was regularly cast as an angel…

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A festive outing to a fairytale French château: a day at Vaux-le-Vicomte

A festive outing to a fairytale French château: a day at Vaux-le-Vicomte Like Versailles but more manageable, this château turns into a winter wonderland at Christmas – perfect for a family day trip from Paris For most of its long and inglorious history, Vaux-le-Vicomte has been ignored. Shunned by the royal court after a jealous and vengeful king left its owner to rot in jail, overshadowed by its neighbour Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte has hidden for centuries in plain sight, less than an hour by car or train from Paris. Many of those driving south en route to the Burgundy vineyards, Alps or winter warmth of the Côte d’Azur won’t even know it’s there. This is a pity at any time…

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A brief history of the gingerbread house

A brief history of the gingerbread house The witch’s house in the two-centuries-old tale of Hansel and Gretel is today inspiring ever more extravagant gingerbread creations and constructions across Europe and the US The tradition of decorated gingerbread houses began in Germany in the early 1800s, supposedly popularised after the not-so-Christmassy fairytale of Hansel and Gretel was published in 1812. The Grimms’ original fairy tale includes the line: “When they came nearer they saw that the house was built of bread, and roofed with cakes, and the window was of transparent sugar.” (In later versions it became gingerbread, rather than just bread.) Inspired by the story, German bakers began to craft small decorated houses from lebkuchen, spiced honey biscuits….

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Getting the hump: Pushkar camel fair changing from trading post to heritage event

Getting the hump: Pushkar camel fair changing from trading post to heritage event In Rajasthan, India, officials hope tourism will help preserve the dying art of camel decoration as livestock trading at the famous fair declines For more than 150 years, the holy town of Pushkar in India’s Rajasthan desert has been cultivating folk art. Its annual livestock market, the Pushkar Fair, draws farmers and tradesmen from across the country, looking to buy camels. But to make the camels more attractive to buyers, they must first be decorated and displayed in their full majesty. At the town’s fairground, Ashok Tak – renowned livestock decorator and the curator of a mobile camel fashion museum – showcases the tools of his…

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A bike tour of the real Barbados

A bike tour of the real Barbados Kevin Rushby fears Barbados will be too bling for him – until he gets off the beaten track and discovers its glorious beaches, locals’ bars and rich history I’m going for a ride with Randy Licorish. We’ve put the bikes in a pickup truck and are heading through the traffic south of Bridgetown. I have to admit that all I’ve seen since arriving in Barbados the night before are endless low-rise buildings, plus a lot of traffic squeezing down narrow, twisting lanes that were never intended for such vehicles. Continue reading… Go to Source Author: Kevin Rushby Tweet

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Slated for success: a walk in Snowdonia, Wales – a potential new Unesco site

Slated for success: a walk in Snowdonia, Wales – a potential new Unesco site Cambodia has Angkor Wat, Jordan has Petra and Unesco may soon add the slate landscape of Snowdonia to its heritage list. We walk its old miners’ trails ‘It’s a new Machu Picchu!” I cried to my companion as we crested a high pass and gazed down. In a secret mountain fastness lay the remains of an ancient village. A grid of streets passed silent dwellings. Further below, two Nazca-straight lines led past a decaying temple. We were 21st-century Hiram Binghams. I could already hear Kirsty Young asking me what my first disc would be. I was a little wide of the mark. We had climbed…

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Tea and history: an evocative brew in Chengdu, China

Tea and history: an evocative brew in Chengdu, China This centuries-old teahouse in Sichuan province and its regulars are a world away from China’s modern megacities Out in the western suburbs of Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu, the town of Pengzhen is home to what’s said to be the oldest teahouse in China. About 300 years old, the Guanyin Pavilion is at the heart of a tiny community of historic streets where, against a tide of rapid modernisation, the local population proudly preserves its heritage and traditional way of life. Continue reading… Go to Source Author: Simon Urwin Tweet

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Welsh slate region to be nominated as Unesco world heritage site

Welsh slate region to be nominated as Unesco world heritage site Heritage minister says Gwynedd quarries shaped buildings across the world The shattered slate quarry landscape of north-west Wales is to be nominated for world heritage status, a distinction enjoyed by sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal and the abandoned southern African kingdom of Mapungubwe. The UK government can put forward one site per calendar year to be considered for Unesco world heritage site status and on Tuesday the heritage minister Michael Ellis announced that it would be Gwynedd’s slate landscape. Continue reading… Go to Source Author: Mark Brown Arts correspondent Tweet

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10 of the best things to do in Palm Springs, California

10 of the best things to do in Palm Springs, California Palm Springs’ modernist masterpieces are celebrated in this week’s fall preview but the mountain haven for the Hollywood set is worth a visit any time of year In the early 1920s, Hollywood stars adopted Palm Springs as a place to escape the travails of Tinseltown. They were wowed by the fine weather, laid-back vibe and views of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains – plus it was close enough to comply with the “two-hour rule” stipulating actors under contract had to be on call if needed by the studio. The Oasis Hotel, built in 1924-5 and designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank), led the way with…

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