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Bethlehem

DL - 25-May-18

Extensive restoration has begun since 2013. This isn't an ideal time to visit; almost every inch of the interior except for the altar and the Grotto of the Nativity is covered by scaffolding.

Since the church was in such a compromised state, I had two choices: I could leave immediately or I could go against my better judgement and queue up for the Grotto. At the end there was really one choice, so I hesitantly threw myself into the crowd, a mix of pilgrims from all over the world. When I could finally see the entrance to the Grotto, some 80 minutes of being smouldered in a sweaty chamber later, I improbably lost my will to continue and left.

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Masada

DL - 23-May-18

Before thinking you are about to see a major Jewish site, note that Masada is a Roman ruin all in all, the only exception being a synagogue converted from a stable by the Jewish rebels. Despite Josephus' claim that Masada was first occupied by the Hasmonean, no archaeological finding can support such claim and the current consensus points to Herod founded the site as a fortified palace between 37 - 31 BC. 

Many have even cast doubt on whether the mass suicide by the Jews had in fact occurred, pointing to the fact that Josephus couldn't possibly have known what had transpired since he was based in Rome at the fall of Masada, this compelling story nonetheless has taken a life of its own

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Fujian Tulou

DL - 26-Feb-18

The sky finally took a turn for the better as we approached Hekeng Tulou Cluster. A short hike to a hilltop lookout gave us a far-reaching view of the below valley occupied by tulou in different shapes and sizes. Our mood finally experienced a slight uptick – the view was fantastic, and the village appeared lively enough to hopefully allow us to spend some quality time there without immediately thinking ahead on what’s next.

Hekeng doesn’t have a single tulou that can match the fame of Yuchang Lou

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Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont

DL - 22-Feb-18

My favourite place in Italy besides Rome is not Venice, Florence or Tuscany but the relatively obscure wine producing region of Barolo in Piedmont. This seems to run counter to most of the comments here, but Piedmont is the only region that has successfully grown and produced wine from Nebbiolo. 

The scenery is also beautiful and the wine some of the most complex in the world, but most importantly here you can meet some of the most hospitable people who work in the wine trade.

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