Thursday, November 28, 2013

Magnificent Gorge - Taroko National Park - Hualien, Taiwan

We traveled by train to Taiwan’s eastern side; regular rail service travels through rugged terrain to the coastal city of Hualien, it took about 2.5 hours. 

The ocean-side town sits in the gorgeous shadows of the nearby mountain ranges and it’s also the gateway to Toroko National Park, set way up in the hills about 30 minutes north.

Together with its diversified topographic features, Taiwan boasts an environment that is special and very interesting in terms of ecology and evolution sense.

Taroko National Park was established on November 28, 1986. It covers more than 92,000 hectares in the northern section of the Central Mountain Range.

Taroko Gorge is spectacular and has many amazing and scenic beauties; the park has varied mountain peaks, numerous waterfalls, diverse plant forms and animal life, together with the indigenous Taroko people, they create the rich texture of this unique natural ecosystem.

Taroko is truly a wonder to behold!

Happy Thanksgivukkah To All!

And the Menurkey is lit for the first night of Hanukkah!!

Wow, it has been 125 years since Thanksgiving fell on the first day of Hanukkah, a rare occasion!! And everywhere you look around the web and on social networks people are excited; so excited are they that a new word has been born, "Thanksgivukkah"! 

The secular calendar and the Jewish calendar collided this year and we now have a once-in-a-life time convergence; something that will not happen again for another 70,000 years.

The reason for this year's rare alignment has to do with quirks of two calendars, the Gregorian and Jewish calendars. Much of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, which has a 365-day year based on the Earth's orbit around the sun, with leap years every four years. The Gregorian calendar was implemented by Pope Gregory to keep Easter in line with the season it was originally celebrated in.

But the Jewish calendar, which was created more than 2,000 years ago, follows the waxing and waning of the moon. That calendar has 12 months of roughly 30 days each, which works out to a bit more than 354 days in a year. As a result, the Jewish year creeps earlier and earlier relative to the Gregorian calendar. But many Jewish holidays, such as Passover, are tied to seasons such as spring.

To keep holidays in line with their seasons, the Jewish calendar includes an entire extra month in seven of every 19 years. This year is a leap year, so Hanukkah and all of the other Jewish holidays came especially early in 2013. And Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November, happened to come extra late this year, allowing for the convergence.

This Hanukkah and Thanksgiving I am thankful for family, health, prosperity, food, technology, friends and music. 

As we all gather around our tables with our loved ones, I would like to wish each of you a Happy Hanukkah and a joyous Thanksgiving!

On Hanukkah and Thanksgiving 

Grateful for our gifts and grateful for our past,
We cherish our spiritual inheritances:
The pilgrims who journeyed,
The Maccabees who fought,
The generations who struggled and sacrificed to preserve their memory.
As Americans and Jews, Dear God, we are doubly blessed:
Given so long a legacy to celebrate in so sublime a land.
So we light a candle, set the table, say our prayers
And declare the miracles – of our tradition, our freedom and our future.
We rededicate ourselves to live so that we might be worthy
Of the greatness bequeathed to us,
And merit the joy of handing it on to generations.
- Rabbi David Wolpe


Photo: W. Daroff via Twitter acct:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day In Belize

Remembrance day (also know as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) commemorates the sacrifices and calamities of all the commonwealth countries and all countries in World War I and World War II. 

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, on the eleventh month, 1918, Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in the forest of Compiegne, France. The fighting officially ended at 11:00 
Painting: Painting depicting the signature of the armistice in the railway carriage in 1918. From left to right are German Admiral Ernst Vanselow, German Count Alfred von Oberndorff of the Foreign Ministry, German General, Detlof von Winterfeldt (with helmet), British naval officer Captain Jack Marriott, and standing in front of the table, Matthias Erzberger, head of the German delegation. Behind the table are two British naval officers, Rear-Admiral George Hope, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, and the French representatives, Marshal Ferdinand Foch (standing), and General Maxime Weygand.

The armistice between the Allies and Germany – also known as the Armistice of Compi├Ęgne after the location it was signed – was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It went into effect at 11 am on 11 November 1918, and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender. The Germans were responding to the policies proposed by American president Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points of January 1918. 

The actual terms, largely written by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German troops behind their own borders, the preservation of infrastructure, the exchange of prisoners, a promise of reparations, the disposition of German warships and submarines, and conditions for prolonging or terminating the armistice. Although the armistice ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles.

In Belize and throughout the Commonwealth there will be a resounding silence; it will be for remembering all those fallen heroes of the two world wars. Many people wear artificial poppies on their clothes in the weeks before Remembrance Day. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died and white poppies campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations. 

On November 11, special church services are organized. These often include the playing of "The Last Post", a reading of the fourth verse of the 'Ode of Remembrance' and two minutes silence at 11:00 a.m. After the service, wreaths are laid at local war memorials.

The official Belize national ceremonies will be held at the National Memorial Park in Belize City, according to a strict protocol. A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives. 
Some schools that are open on Remembrance Day hold special assemblies, lessons and presentations on armed conflicts and those who died in them.
Photos of Belize City, Belize ceremony on Remembrance Day 2013.
Lest we forget!

Photos #1 and #2: © Warren
Photo #3: Wikipedia
All Belize city photos by Marcelino Miranda

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Prime Minister of Belize To Undergo Surgery Abroad

The Prime Minister of Belize, the RT. Hon. Dean Barrow has left Belize today, Sunday, November 3, 2013 to seek medical treatment for chronic back pain.

Mr. Barrow's office issued a brief statement saying that he will be traveling to Los Angeles where he is scheduled to undergo surgery for his ailing back.

He said that the surgery should alleviate at least 80 percent of his pain and if successful he should be back in Belize by November 14, 2013.

During the prime minister's absence, the deputy prime minister, Hon. Gasper Vega will stand in as prime minister.

I hope that the surgery goes well!

Read More Here:

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Great Blue Hole Placed 8th In The “8th Wonder Of The World Competition”

Belize City, Belize – November 1, 2013 – The Belize Tourism Board is pleased to announce that The Great Blue Hole has placed in top ten of the ‘8th Wonder of the World’ competition. Competing against three hundred man-made and natural sites from across the world, Belize finished 8th in the Virtual Tourist competition.

“We are extremely proud to be in the top ten; along with worthy competing landmarks. Considering the population size of the nations we were up against and their advertising spend to promote this competition, we’ve done extremely well. It goes to show how our very small efforts of social media, word of mouth, and media releases contributed to our placement. While we didn’t place first, we have certainly reaped the benefits of added exposure of our Great Blue Hole and Belize as a destination,” said BTB’s Director of Marketing & Industry Relations, Alyssa Carnegie.

After four months of on-line voting (June-October), the landmark with the most votes was deemed the winner and will be featured in a national TV segment and receive major PR push from Virtual Tourist. Participating countries, like Belize, received prominent features and publicity across multiple social media platforms. The winner of the competition was Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. Other top ten finishers include: El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and Curacao.

The BTB takes this opportunity to thank the Belizean public, Belize Telemedia Limited, Tourism Industry partners and the local media houses for their unwavering support during the competition. Further information and a total list of standings will be available at the coming days.