International Travel

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New discovery reveals last moments of Pompeii’s middle class

<p dir="ltr">A series of new finds in Pompeii’s archaeological park have shed light on the final moments of middle class Romans before they were buried beneath volcanic ash and debris from Mount Vesuvius.</p> <p dir="ltr">Plates, glasses, vases, amphorae and terracotta objects left behind in chests and cabinets have been recovered from four rooms in a house that was first excavated in 2018.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gabriel Zuchtriegal, the director of the popular Italian tourist destination, said the discovery revealed precious details about the ordinary citizens of the city.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In the Roman Empire there was a significant proportion of the population which fought for their social status and for whom the ‘daily bread’ was anything but taken for granted. It was a social class that was vulnerable during political crises and famines, but also ambitious to climb the social ladder,” Dr Zuchtriegal <a href="http://pompeiisites.org/en/comunicati/the-discovery-of-furnishings-from-the-house-of-the-lararium-in-regio-v-a-snapshot-of-middle-class-pompeii/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">explained</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In the House of the Lararium at Pompeii, the owner was able to embellish the courtyard with the lararium and the basin for the cistern with exceptional paintings, yet evidently funds were insufficient to decorate the five rooms of the house, one of which was used for storage. </p> <p dir="ltr">“In the other rooms, two on the upper floor which could be reached by a mezzanine, we have discovered an array of objects, some of which are made of precious materials such as bronze and glass, while others were for everyday use. The wooden furniture, of which it has been possible to make casts, was extremely simple. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We do not know who the inhabitants of the house were, but certainly the culture of otium (leisure) which inspired the wonderful decoration of the courtyard represented for them more a future they dreamed of than a lived reality.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In the rooms on the lower floor of the house, all of the furnishings were able to be recovered by creating casts of the furniture.</p> <p dir="ltr">One bedroom even contained the remains of a bed frame and trace fabric from the pillow, similar to three cot-like beds unearthed last year in another Pompeiian home believed to be slaves’ quarters. </p> <p dir="ltr">Next to the bed, archaeologists found a bipartite wooden chest that was left open when the owners fled. Although heavily damaged by beams that crashed onto it during the eruption, it still held an oil lamp decorated with a relief of the Greek god Zeus being transformed into an eagle.</p> <p dir="ltr">A small, three-legged table was found next to the trunk, with a ceramic cup containing glass ampules, and two small plates sitting on top.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the storeroom, they found a wooden cupboard with its backboard still intact and the shelves caved in.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many of the items from the upper floor were found in the rooms below, including everyday items such as ceramic vessels, two bronze jugs, a bronze bowl with a beaded base, and an incense burner in the shape of a cradle.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the unique and most interesting finds was a small cast of waxed tablets, made up of seven triptychs (carvings with three panels) that have been tied together by a small cord.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-e3893194-7fff-a6cd-0f25-7ced2314fcef"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Parco Archeologico di Pompei</em></p>

International Travel

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An Italian lodge jumps the Swiss border

<p dir="ltr">The borders in the European Alps have been the source of some strange happenings recently, including a border-jumping ski lodge.</p> <p dir="ltr">Refugio Cervino, a two-storey lodge built on the Italian side of Theodul Glacier, has been slowly moving towards Switzerland - and its international movement has called its ownership and national boundaries into dispute.</p> <p dir="ltr">The border between Italy and Switzerland has previously been defined at the boundary of the Theodul drainage divide, the point where melted water either flows south to Italy or north towards Switzerland.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, rising temperatures have changed the flow of water.</p> <p dir="ltr">As a result, two-thirds of the Refugio sits in Switzerland while the remaining third is in Italy, and has become a subject of diplomatic negotiations.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Agence France Presse, a compromise to redraw the boundaries was reached last year - but that doesn’t stop the ever-increasing glacier melt.</p> <p dir="ltr">Swisstopo, which stays on top of the official boundaries of the Confédération Helvétique, will be changing the boundaries in 2023.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We agreed to split the difference," chief border official Alain Wicht told AFP.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though international surveyors have previously been brought in to determine where the boundary should sit previously, Mr Wicht says the Refugio is a sensitive issue as the Theodul Glacier is “the only place where we suddenly had a building involved”.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Swiss have taken a more neutral stance in the debate, but the Italians are unwilling to part with the building without compensation, </p> <p dir="ltr">"The refuge remains Italian because we have always been Italian," Refugio’s caretaker, 51-year-old Lucio Trucco, says.</p> <p dir="ltr">For now, the refuge will be an enclave of Italy within Switzerland until the borders are changed.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d7b9463-7fff-3769-cf91-d68e9a97682f"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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Sir Rod Stewart spotted in Italy with entire family for very special occasion

<p dir="ltr">Sir Rod Stewart and his wife Penny Lancaster have celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary with their seven children.</p> <p dir="ltr">The big family were spotted in the city of Portofino in Italy with Penny sharing an adorable snap of them posing for the camera. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Stewart Clan comes together #family #kids #siblings @sirrodstewart @alastairwstewart @thekimberlystewart @seanstewart @rubystewart @renee__stewart @discostew94 #aidenstewart,” she captioned the image. </p> <p dir="ltr">The photo shows the 77-year-old rocker along with his children, Alastair, 16, Sean, 41, Kimberly, 42, daughters Ruby, 35, Renee, 30, Liam, 27 and 11-year-old Aiden.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CguX_xns_2F/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CguX_xns_2F/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Penny Lancaster (@penny.lancaster)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">In a separate post, Penny shared another photo with her stepdaughters Kimberly, Renee and Ruby on stairs</p> <p dir="ltr">Penny and Sir Rod started going out in 1999 and got married in 2007, eight years after they first met. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sir Rod was first married to actress and model Alana Hamilton, the former wife of actor George Hamilton, from 1979 to 1984. He then married model Rachel Hunter from 1990 to 2006.</p> <p dir="ltr">He now shares kids Alastair and Aiden with Penny. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

International Travel

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Five top experiences to add to your travel bucket list

<p dir="ltr">Ticking an unforgettable experience off of your bucket list is a highlight of any trip, but compiling your list of experiences to start with can be tricky.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lucky for you, <a href="https://tripadvisor.mediaroom.com/press-releases?item=126673" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TripAdvisor</a> has revealed a top five list of bucket list experiences from all over the world, based on authentic feedback left by fellow travellers over the past 12 months.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ranging from the red sands of Dubai’s Lahbab desert to going to new heights above Egypt’s ancient sites, here are five top experiences you simply must do in your lifetime. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Premium Red Dunes, Camel Safari &amp; BBQ at Al Khayma Camp - Dubai, UAE</strong></p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a6085b87-7fff-d77a-31b6-8221daedf1f7"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re heading to Dubai anytime soon, the premium red dunes of the Lahbab desert should be on your itinerary.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CfUNRRusndF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CfUNRRusndF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Alpaca Expeditions Travel Peru (@trekwithalpaca)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Along with enjoying the scenery, there are plenty of activities, including a 4WD dune bash, sandboarding, and ATV rides, as well as camel rides, interactions with falcons, and cultural activities at the Bedouin-inspired Al Khayma camp.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Hot Air Balloons Ride - Luxor, Egypt</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Take to the skies with this aerial experience, where you can enjoy views of Luxor’s West Bank by the light of sunrise.</p> <p dir="ltr">During your flight, you will get to see vast temples and statues illuminated by the low-lying morning light, with plenty to learn about from your on-board expert guide.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Cappadocia Balloon Ride and Champagne Breakfast - Goreme, Turkey</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The second hot air balloon ride to make the list, this experience will see you depart from the plains of Anatolia, Cappadocia, and take in the landscape of honeycombed underground cities and chimney-shaped rocks.</p> <p dir="ltr">Plus, this sky-high experience comes with a decadent breakfast buffet.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cf57bfa5-7fff-506d-af0c-4a47e0ecbf68"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Classic Inca Trail Trek 4D/3N to Machu Picchu - Cusco, Peru</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-511b10e6-7fff-6ef6-e353-73feaa06277f">This four-day excursion from Cusco will see you immersed in a mix of cultural, historical and natural sights along the famous Inca Trail.</span></p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8HS4Yvp5m0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8HS4Yvp5m0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Radu B (@radu.barden)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">After passing through villages and archaeological sites, you’ll be in for a guided tour at the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Blackstone Beach, Cliff Jump &amp; Hidden Treasures – Aruba</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">A must for lovers of adventure, this experience will see you get behind the wheel of your own utility task vehicle (UTV) and explore the rugged, desert terrain of Aruba.</p> <p dir="ltr">One traveller who took part described it as “an experience of a lifetime” and an “amazing memory we will never forget”.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the full list of top experiences, head <a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/TravelersChoice-ThingsToDo" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-245d8d7c-7fff-89cd-df6a-78eb93379ee7"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

International Travel

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Prince Charles, Duran Duran and a giant bull: All the highlights of the Comm Games Opening Ceremony

<p>The 2022 Commonwealth Games are officially underway, after the impressive opening ceremony kicked off on Thursday evening. </p> <p>The extravagant ceremony captivated the attention of local and international fans, with TV viewers around the word tuning in to the Birmingham event. </p> <p>Prince Charles arrived at the Alexander Stadium in style, driving the same Aston Martin the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge famously left Buckingham Palace in on their wedding day.</p> <p>The Prince of Wales drove his luxury, vintage car out onto the arena before a display where several motor vehicles combined to form a perfect Union Jack on the arena surface.</p> <p>The ceremony celebrated aspects of the rich history and culture of Birmingham, with a 10 metre tall mechanical "Raging Bull" being waltzed into the stadium. </p> <p>The Bull Ring is a major shopping district in the city, which also features a sculpture of a bull, while the mascot for these Commonwealth Games is Perry the Bull.</p> <p>Female chain makers dragged the bull into the stadium, representing the chains used during the slave trade.</p> <p>The bull then broke free of those chains — symbolising the abolition of the slave trade and the 1910 wage strike that paved the way for women to break free from poverty.</p> <p>Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai addressed the audience early in the ceremony, sharing a heartfelt message about how Birmingham became her home and welcomed her family.</p> <p>Musical act Duran Duran, who began their career in Birmingham, closed the ceremony as they belted out fan favourite tracks such as <em>Save A Prayer</em>, <em>Planet Earth</em> and <em>Ordinary World</em>.</p> <p>The Commonwealth Games will run until August 8th, with 72 countries competing in 19 sports over the 11-day event. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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The easiest way to witness one of nature’s most incredible natural displays

<p>With travel back on the cards for the first time in over two years, many Aussies are jumping at the chance to tick the world’s most breathtaking destinations off their bucket lists.</p> <p>For many, this includes seeing the famous Northern Lights. However, Australians can spend a small fortune to venture to the Arctic to experience these dramatic light transformations, and that’s assuming you’re lucky enough to not have bad weather or light pollution obstruct the natural show.</p> <p>But now, there is a revolutionary way for Aussies to experience the Southern Hemisphere’s equivalent, the Aurora Australis, without having to travel too far from home, thanks to the Southern Lights scenic flights with Chimu Adventures. The incredible Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, dance across the sky in amazing colours and formations, one of nature’s most unique scenes, but are best visible from the air, away from light pollution. </p> <p>The Southern Lights occur naturally in the earth’s sky around the magnetic north and south poles, producing an ethereal and dynamic exhibition of colours that are most visible in high latitude areas. </p> <p>When we observe this electrical phenomenon, we are witnessing billions of individual collisions of energy lighting up the magnetic lines of our planet.</p> <p>The Aurora Australis has received much less attention than the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, due to its accessibility.</p> <p>While the Northern Lights are most visible from Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Sweden and Iceland, the Southern Lights shine brightest in one of the world’s most remote regions: the Antarctic Circle.</p> <p>While Aurora enthusiasts have been capturing rare glimpses of the Aurora Australis from Australia and New Zealand at a distance, they have been at a disadvantage due to their inaccessibility.</p> <p>But how much could we learn, and how much more could we see if we could get closer?</p> <p>Australians can now experience the Aurora Australis like never before with<a href="https://www.chimuadventures.com/blog/2021/03/southern-lights-aurora-australis-guide/"> Chimu Adventures</a>, with lucky travellers getting a front row seat to the Southern Lights.</p> <p>After boarding a private Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner with a team of expert astronomers, you will head over the Southern Ocean towards Antarctica.</p> <p>Leaving mid-evening to avoid light pollution and unpredictable weather systems, you will travel above the clouds to chase the Southern Aurora Zone.</p> <p>With flights leaving from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, you will witness the beauty of stars, constellations and planets unlike you’ve ever seen before.</p> <p>With Chimu Adventures being the only company to offer this extraordinary experience, the 12-14 hour flights are truly a one-of-a-kind travel adventure.</p> <p>Passengers will enjoy Qantas inflight services in both business and economy classes, as astronomers will provide expert information during the flight about how an Aurora is created.</p> <p>During the flight, travellers will witness the majestic curtains of light dancing across the sky, as the kaleidoscope of colours ignite the senses like never before.</p> <p>The colours of the Aurora differ depending on your altitude, with green the most common colour we see in both the Southern and Northern lights.</p> <p>The green in an aurora is caused by ions colliding with oxygen at lower altitudes, where reds are the result of collisions occurring at much higher altitudes, making them less common to see.</p> <p>Blue and purple lights also make an appearance in the Auroras, however our eyes are largely incapable of picking these up.</p> <p>What can help capture the wide range of colours in the natural Aurora shows is the invaluable lens of a camera.</p> <p>A modern, sophisticated camera is far more sensitive than the human eye and better at capturing the complexities of colours on display within an Aurora.</p> <p>The astrophotographers onboard will offer valuable commentary on how to photograph the Aurora, as well as capturing a series of images for your personal collection, allowing you to watch the natural light show first-hand rather than through a lens.</p> <p>With different booking classes and a seat swapping structure in place to share the best view of this amazing natural display from the large Dreamliner windows, there is an option for everyone to experience the Southern Lights in all their natural glory.</p> <p>To experience the Aurora Australis natural light show in stunning luxury, with a front-row view of the wonder of the Southern Lights, you can book your seat <a href="https://www.chimuadventures.com/en-au/antarctica/greatsouthernflights">here</a>.</p> <p>With Chimu Adventures offering rare and uninterrupted views of the Aurora Australis with the invaluable guidance of astronomy and astrophotography experts, an unforgettable trip to the Southern Lights should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Supplied</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with <a href="https://www.chimuadventures.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chimu Adventures</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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8 fun facts about the world’s most beautiful waterfalls

<h2>The site of an emergency plane landing</h2> <p>Dropping 980 metres from the top of the Auyán-Tepuí plateau (or ‘Devil’s Mountain’ in English), Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall in the world. Located in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, Angel Falls is named after the adventurous American pilot Jimmy Angel who emergency landed his aeroplane there in 1937. The plane remained there for 33 years, and although the original is now in an aviation museum, Angel Falls’ visitors can still find a replica plane placed on top of the plateau today.</p> <h2>The thousand-year-old (and then some) waterfall</h2> <p>As one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls, horseshoe-shaped Godafoss features water rushing down a cliff measuring 12 metres high and 30 metres wide. Godafoss, meaning Waterfall of the Gods, got its name in the year 1000 when Iceland was converting from pagan religious beliefs to Christianity. The story goes that Iceland’s chieftain at the time, Thorgeir, threw statues of the heathen gods into the waterfall, symbolising the switch to Christianity and giving the falls their name.</p> <h2>The tallest waterfall in Central Europe</h2> <p>Nestled in Austria’s Hohe Tauern National Park, Krimml Waterfall is the tallest waterfall in Central Europe, reaching a height of 380 metres. The water originates at Krimmler Ache, a glacial creek that serves as the source of the falls, and plummets over three tiers of rock formations. A one and a half hour hike up the falls brings you to Bergerblick, the highest point that offers the most spectacular views of the falls below.</p> <h2>A waterfall watched over by Buddha</h2> <p>The Detian Falls can be found cascading 75 metres over the Guichun River on the border of China and Vietnam. Depending on the time of year, the amount of water travelling down the waterfall will range from a full-speed rush in the humid months of June and July to a more gentle splash in the drier seasons. To complement the peaceful surroundings of rice paddies and rock formations, a tiny Buddhist shrine sits atop the falls.</p> <h2>“Poor Niagara!”</h2> <p>Although the majority of the Iguazu Falls are located in Argentina, many say you can find a better overall view from the Brazilian side. They can be accessed through any of the three cities in the tri-border area between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Iguazu Falls are taller and twice as wide as Niagara Falls and it has been said that when Eleanor Roosevelt saw these falls for the first time she exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!”</p> <h2>It’s in the oldest state park in the US</h2> <p>Niagara Falls State Park, designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, is the oldest state park in the US, established in 1885. Niagara Falls is sourced by the Niagara River which is supplied by water from Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Erie, four of the five Great Lakes, allowing 3160 tons of water to flow over Niagara Falls each second. The iconic falls were first seen and described in 1678 by Father Louis Hennepin on an exploring expedition in the Niagara region.</p> <h2>They’re actually interconnected waterfalls</h2> <p>The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is world-famous for its series of 16 interconnected, breathtaking lakes, caves and waterfalls. The park features two main waterfalls: the Large Waterfall at the end of the lower lakes, and the Galovac Waterfall at the end of the upper lakes. But what makes this park so unique and beautiful are the formations of many smaller waterfalls that flow throughout the series of lakes through naturally created mossy cascades.</p> <h2>It separates itself each summer</h2> <p>Koosah Falls are one of three major waterfalls along the McKenzie River in Oregon, USA. Although there has been some dispute over the true height of the waterfall, with measurements ranging from 16 to 36 metres, the true height is said to be around 20 metres.The appearance of Koosah Falls changes dramatically from season to season, in the summer it appears as being two separate segments, but during the height of snow melting in the winter, water spreads seamlessly across the 20 metre wide ledge</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/8-fun-facts-about-the-worlds-most-beautiful-waterfalls" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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The world’s most colourful mountains

<p>Imagine taking a photo of a destination that’s so colourful that you don’t need to apply any filters. Or so bright that your camera settings only need to be changed to make sure the entire scenery is captured through your lens. Among many of Earth’s colourful landscapes, there are mountains and rock formations whose hues go beyond monotone shades.</p> <div> </div> <h2>Rainbow Mountain, Peru</h2> <p>Also known as Vinicunca or Montaña de Siete Coloures (the Mountain of Seven Colours), this colourful mountain near Cusco became well-known throughout the world in recent years. It attracts 1,500 visitors daily during Peru’s high tourism season. The mountain’s rainbow look is revealed as the surrounding snow begins to melt, unveiling its true colours. In part from environmental conditions, over time marine, lake, and river sediments formed layer deposits resulting in turquoise, gold, red and fuchsia colours. Visits to Rainbow Mountain often involve full-day excursions through tour operators, where it’s best to be physically able to handle high altitudes. Consider the less-travelled yet equally colourful Cordillera de Coloures Palcoyo, also within the Cusco region.</p> <h2>Landmannalaugar Mountain, Iceland</h2> <p>Iceland is known for its diverse topography and this mountain in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve based within the country’s Southern Highlands fits in quite brightly. Its hues come from rhyolite, a type of rock producing quite the range of shades, from red, pink, and green to blue and golden yellow. Collectively, Landmannalaugar Mountain is a colourful mountain that makes for a picture-perfect backdrop to be captured with your smartphone lens. Aesthetics aside, Landmannalaugar is touted as a great hiking destination, where trekkers can venture along its three major trails: Mount Brennisteinsalda, Mount Bláhnjúkur, and Ljótipollur, the latter a crater lake. Speaking of water, after a long stretch, weary bodies can relax within the warm streams heated by geothermal energy, which could be why Landmannalaugar is also known by the moniker, “Pools of the People.”</p> <h2>The Pitons, St Lucia</h2> <p>Near the town of Soufriere, on St Lucia’s southwestern coast, this pair of mountainous volcanic cones are truly green and they’re also blessed in being covered with a lush forest that is home to a number of rare plant species. Collectively they are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, each of these two spires has its own name and, well, “personality.” Gros Piton is the taller of the two while Petit Piton is shorter but also said to be steeper. These two spires can offer hearty challenges to those who wish to go up to them – a guide is a must – but also reward visitors for their efforts in reaching their summits with mesmerising views. From the top of Gros Piton, you can see Petit Piton and Soufriere; Petit Piton will have you overlooking the Piton Bay.</p> <h2>Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, USA</h2> <p>Designated in 2000, this 280,000-acre national monument in Northern Arizona and near the Utah state line makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet. Towering cliffs, slot canyons, and churned coloured sedimentary formations are found across this site’s many regions. But wait a minute: There are certain areas that require obtaining specific permits in advance to explore them, so do your homework first. Coyote Buttes are split into Coyote Buttes North, which has The Wave, a swirling sandstone formation, the Melody Arch, and the Grotto, while Coyote Buttes South is also visually striking with Paria Canyon and its petroglyphs.</p> <h2>Zhangye National Geopark, China</h2> <p>In northwestern China’s province of Gansu, within the foothills of the Qilian Mountains, this UNESCO national park is considered to be one of China’s most beautiful natural wonders. At first glance, it looks like a rainbow was carefully applied to a palette. And there’s a science to it. The striped colours within the 320-kilometre colourful rainbow mountain have been around for quite some time, in that they are comprised of deposits of cretaceous sandstones and siltstones that developed before the Himalayan Mountains were formed. These sand and silt deposits also held iron and trace minerals which created these vivacious colour formations. Then, as Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates collided into each other millions of years ago, mountains were lifted up and underneath sedimentary rock got exposed, thus leading to this colour scheme that’s still bright.</p> <h2>Montagne Sainte Victoire, France</h2> <p>What makes this limestone mountain ridge in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur so magnifique is that it has served as a muse for the French artist Paul Cézanne. This Post-Impressionist painter was inspired by this distinct landscape so much that Montagne Sainte Victoire became the constant subject of his paintings. Apparently, Cézanne never grew tired of capturing its appearance on this canvas, as he lived below the mountain and create a series of paintings on Montagne Sainte Victoire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.These days, Montagne Sainte Victoire can be taken in through mountain biking and rock climbing; it’s also the location for religious heritage sites such as the Saint-Ser Hermitage, a tiny chapel built inside a cave.</p> <h2>Serranias del Hornocal, Argentina</h2> <p>Translated as the Hill of 14 Colours, this jagged-looking yet multicoloured geological formation in the northwestern Argentinian province of Jujuy has gotten visitors’ attention in recent years. According to Jujuy’s tourism board’s website, you reach this colourful mountain by driving with care from the town of Humahuaca. Your ride will go along the winding and gravel-covered Provincial Route 73, traveling roughly 24 kilometres to reach this Hill of 14 Colours. At this location, visitors can view the panoramic scenery and park their vehicles at an observation point that’s 4,350 meters high.</p> <h2>Remarkable Rocks, Flinders Chase National Park, Australia</h2> <p>How could we not include this amazing rock formation found in this park on Australia’s Kangaroo Island? These aptly-named granite boulders are said to have been shaped by 500 million years of environmental impact from the natural elements. The end result is quite an abstract vision. Some of these rocks are covered with golden orange lichen, which is a fungus and algae organism that reflects the sunlight. Other spotted colours include black mica, bluish quartz, and pinkish feldspar. Interpretive signs tell the story behind these rocks plus there’s a viewing platform for those with accessibility needs.</p> <h2>Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia</h2> <p>A World UNESCO Heritage site, this national park in northern Ethiopia is a biosphere onto its own with an abundance of flora and fauna. Canyon gorges, soft turfs, deep valleys and vegetation such as a type of flowering tree known as Erica arborea are all nestled here. Wildlife can be found within the park as well. Walia ibex, an endangered species of goat that’s native to this region of Ethiopia, is a resident. Other coinciding rare animals include the Ethiopian wolf (also known as a Simien fox) and Gelada baboon and several birds of prey.</p> <h2>Seven Coloured Earths, Mauritius</h2> <p>While they’re technically sand dunes, this colourful granular grouping stands out to us because of their blended hues. Found near the village of Chamarel, this geological marvel is a result of volcanic rock becoming clay that bridged together various elements and brought forth a result of different colours that have swirled together. Surrounded by forest, this harmonious blend of shades have settled amongst each other with red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple, and yellow shining in their own right.</p> <p>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/the-worlds-most-colourful-mountains?pages=2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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D.B. Cooper, the changing nature of hijackings and the foundation for today’s airport security

<p>Though many Americans may associate airport security with 9/11, it was a wave of hijackings in the late 1960s and early 1970s that laid the foundation <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-entire-generation-of-americans-has-no-idea-how-easy-air-travel-used-to-be-166082">for today’s airport security protocols</a>.</p> <p>During that period, a hijacking occurred, on average, <a href="https://today.ku.edu/2019/06/10/first-soviet-hijacking-triggers-insights-cold-war-boundaries">once every five days globally</a>. The U.S. dealt with its own spate of mile-high crimes, convincing reluctant government officials and airport executives to adopt the first important airport security protocols.</p> <p>The subject of <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt21063148/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0">a new Netflix docuseries</a>, hijacker D.B. Cooper emerged as something of a folk hero during this era. While other more violent hijackings might have played a bigger role in prompting early airport security measures, it was the saga of Cooper that captured the imagination of the American public – and helped transform the perception of the overall threat hijackings posed to U.S. air travel and national security.</p> <h2>Incidents become impossible to ignore</h2> <p>The first airplane hijacking happened in <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/hijacking">1931 in Peru</a>. Armed revolutionaries approached the grounded plane of pilot Byron Richards and demanded that he fly them over Lima so they could drop propaganda leaflets. Richards refused, and a 10-day standoff ensued before he was eventually released.</p> <p>That remained a somewhat isolated incident until the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_hijackings">late 1940s and 1950s</a>, when several people hijacked airplanes to escape from Eastern Europe to the West. In the context of the Cold War, Western governments granted these hijackers <a href="https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/hijacking-and-right-asylum-aerial-piracy-and-international-law-p">political asylum</a>. Importantly, none of the airplanes hijacked were flown by U.S. carriers.</p> <p>Beginning in the early 1960s, however, hijackers began targeting U.S. airlines. Most of these individuals were <a href="https://www.tsi-mag.com/the-cuban-hijackings-their-significance-and-impact-sixty-years-on/">Cubans</a> living in the U.S. who, for one reason or another, wished to return to their native land and were otherwise blocked due to <a href="https://www.thecubareader.com/blog/the-strange-story-of-the-us-cuba-hijacking-accord">the U.S. embargo</a> against Cuba.</p> <p>U.S. officials responded by <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/49/46502">officially and specifically making hijacking a federal crime</a>. Though the new law didn’t stop hijackings altogether, the crime remained relatively rare. When they did occur, they usually didn’t involve much violence.</p> <p><a href="https://www.aerotime.aero/articles/15042-take-me-to-cuba-the-skyjacking-craze-of-the-1960s">Officials wanted to downplay hijackings as much as possible</a>, and the best way to do this was to simply give the hijacker what they wanted to avert the loss of life. Above all, airline executives wanted to avoid deterring people from flying, so they resisted the implementation of anxiety-inducing security protocols.</p> <p>That changed in 1968. On July 23 of that year, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine <a href="https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/on-this-day-el-al-flight-426-hijacked-by-pflp-674735">hijacked an El Al flight</a> from Rome to Tel Aviv. Though that 39-day ordeal ended without any loss of life, it ushered in a new era of more violent – often politically motivated – hijackings of international airlines.</p> <p>From 1968 to 1974, U.S. airlines experienced <a href="https://www.vox.com/2016/3/29/11326472/hijacking-airplanes-egyptair">130 hijackings</a>. Many fell into this new category of politically motivated hijackings, including what has become known as the <a href="https://www.hsdl.org/c/tl/dawsons-field-hijackings/">Dawson’s Field hijackings</a>. In September 1970, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked four aircraft, including three belonging to U.S. carriers, and forced them to land at Dawson’s Field in Libya. No hostage lives were lost, but the hijackers used explosives to destroy all four aircraft.</p> <p>Additionally, and more worrying to U.S. officials, two different groups of hijackers, <a href="https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2001-sep-23-mn-48746-story.html">one in 1971</a> and <a href="https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2016/06/06/detroit-skyjacker-airplane-explanation/85314438/">another in 1972</a>, threatened to crash planes into nuclear power plants.</p> <h2>Cooper inspires copycats</h2> <p>Amid this dramatic rise in the number of hijackings, on Nov. 24, 1971, a man known to the American public as <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/db-cooper-hijacking">D.B. Cooper</a> boarded a Northwest Orient 727 flight from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle. Shortly after takeoff, he showed a stewardess the contents of his briefcase, which he said was a bomb. He then instructed the stewardess to take a note to the cockpit. In it, he demanded US$200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes.</p> <p>Upon arrival in Seattle, Cooper allowed the other passengers to deplane in exchange for the money and the parachutes. Cooper then ordered the pilot to fly to Mexico but low and slowly – <a href="https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/db-cooper">no higher than 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and under 200 knots (230 mph, 370 kph)</a>. Somewhere between Seattle and a fuel stop in Reno, Nevada, Cooper and the loot disappeared out the back of the aircraft via the 727’s <a href="https://saverocity.com/taggingmiles/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2016/07/727-Aft-Stairs.jpg">aft stairwell</a>. No one knows for sure what happened to him, though some of the money was recovered in 1980.</p> <p>Cooper wasn’t the first person to hijack an American airliner and demand money. That dubious honor belongs to <a href="https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,909374,00.html">Arthur Barkley</a>. Frustrated with his inability to get government officials to take seriously his dispute with the IRS, on June 4, 1970, Barkley hijacked a TWA aircraft, demanding $100 million and a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Barkley’s efforts failed, and he ended up confined to a mental institution.</p> <p>The idea that Cooper might have succeeded, however, clearly inspired several imitators. While it remains uncertain whether Cooper lived to enjoy the fruits of his escapade, none of his imitators did. They included <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/richard-floyd-mccoy-jr">Richard McCoy, Jr.</a>, <a href="https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/article_1aac5de6-6eb4-5245-a126-7adf324d5eb2.html">Martin J. McNally</a> and <a href="https://www.wfmz.com/features/historys-headlines/historys-headlines-skyjack-of-1972/article_940d5703-8e18-528b-80c4-443b3607b6b0.html">Frederick Hahneman</a>, all of whom successfully parachuted out of the aircraft once they received their ransom payments, only to be eventually caught and punished.</p> <h2>Tightening the screws</h2> <p>In response to the spate of more violent and costly hijackings, the U.S. government established the <a href="https://www.ibm.com/blogs/systems/a-brief-history-of-airline-security-hijackings-and-metal-detectors/">first anti-hijacking security protocols</a>. Most of them aimed to prevent hijackers from getting on aircraft in the first place. The measures included a hijacker profile, metal detectors and X-ray machines. Specific to Cooper, airlines retrofitted aircraft with a devise known as a <a href="https://www.wikimotors.org/what-is-a-cooper-vane.htm">Cooper vane</a> that made it impossible to open aft stairwells during flight.</p> <p>The protocols put in place in the 1970s also laid the foundation for the expansive security measures taken after 9/11. A series of court cases upheld the constitutionality of these early measures. For example, <a href="https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/328/1077/1428246/">United States v. Lopez</a>, decided in 1971, upheld the use of the hijacker profile.</p> <p>More importantly, in <a href="https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/454/769/438142/">United States v. Epperson</a>, a federal court ruled in 1972 that the government’s interest in preventing hijackings justified the requirement for passengers to pass through a magnetometer at the airport. And in 1973, the Ninth Circuit Court, in <a href="https://casetext.com/case/united-states-v-davis-51">United States v. Davis</a>, declared that the government’s need to protect passengers from hijackings rendered all searches of passengers for weapons and explosives as reasonable and legal.</p> <p>These rulings upholding early anti-hijacking measures helped create <a href="https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/post-9-11-challenges-aviation-security-homeland-security-law-and">the strong legal grounds</a> for the rapid adoption of the more rigorous security protocols – including detailed identification checks, random pat-downs and full body scans – adopted after 9/11.</p> <p>The mystery surrounding the fate of Cooper may have afforded him an outsized place in American popular culture, but his crime should also be remembered as one in a consequential wave of hijackings that finally forced the U.S. government, airline executives and airport officials to adopt the first versions of the security measures travelers take for granted today.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/d-b-cooper-the-changing-nature-of-hijackings-and-the-foundation-for-todays-airport-security-185562" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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The real reason liquids over 100ml can’t be brought onto international flights

<p dir="ltr">One thing most people keep in mind when setting off on an international holiday is to condense any liquids in their carry-on to 100ml or less, or run the risk of it being thrown out by security.</p> <p dir="ltr">This goes for bottles of water, makeup, skincare, and other liquid toiletries, as well as big bottles of hand sanitiser or the coffee you bought on the way to the airport. </p> <p dir="ltr">While we accept this is a part of boarding an international flight, a lot of people don’t know the reasoning behind the strict rules. </p> <p dir="ltr">So, why can’t we take liquids over 100ml in our carry-on on an overseas flight?</p> <p dir="ltr">A Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force spokesperson told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/why-liquids-over-100ml-need-to-be-tossed-for-international-flights/news-story/385fc9198465d82812f04d000c4f339c">news.com.au</a> restrictions on the volume of liquids, aerosols and gels were introduced in many countries around the world, including Australia, following the disruption of a terrorist plot in the UK back in 2006.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot targeted various aircrafts with specific liquid explosives.</p> <p dir="ltr">“[And as such] screening measures restrictions on what can be carried on board an aircraft have been enforced to ensure the safety and security of travellers,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even if you have a 100ml or more bottle of liquid that is only half filled, it will still be thrown away by security.</p> <p dir="ltr">The only exceptions to this rule are some baby products and medications, but these must be presented to security officials along with a doctor's letter. </p> <p dir="ltr">While these rules are non-negotiable for international flights, domestic flights around Australia don’t have the same level of restriction. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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The world's best cities in 2022 revealed

<p>The top 53 cities in the world have been crowned, after Time Out asked 20,000 city dwellers around the world to share their opinion.</p> <p>The guide's <a href="https://www.timeout.com/things-to-do/best-cities-in-the-world" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener">2022 World's Best Cities Index</a> revealed that Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, has been voted the best city in 2022, due to its beauty, history and walkability. </p> <p>The Illinois capital city of Chicago came in second, the Colombian city of Medellin in third, Glasgow in fourth place and The Netherlands' capital of Amsterdam in fifth place. </p> <p>The ranking is now in its fifth year, as it calls on those who live in a city to "point people in the direction of the places that locals are raving about" and putting an emphasis on "the things that make cities great places to visit as well as to live".</p> <p>Edinburgh took the crown as the best city in world, with locals calling the city "ever-evolving". </p> <p>Time Out added about the city, "Self-expression is encouraged, with 88 per cent of locals saying it is easy to express who you are in the city. It's something that’s celebrated every summer with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which this year will be marking its 75th anniversary."</p> <p>Chicago's second place spot is largely due to the city's thriving art and culture scene, with 95% of people claiming there is always something new to do. </p> <p>The guide adds, "Whether you want to try world-class dining from high-end restaurants to outstanding family-run eateries, party until 4am at historic clubs, spend a day soaking up the sun along Lake Michigan, see iconic artworks or just wander among different neighbourhoods – all this is putting the city on the map for visitors."</p> <p>Two Aussie cities made the list, with Melbourne coming in at 15th and Sydney taking out the 46th spot. </p> <p>One New Zealand city also featured in the list, with Auckland coming in at 47th. </p> <p>Check out the entire list of the top 53 cities for 2022 below. </p> <p>1. Edinburgh, Scotland</p> <p>2. Chicago, USA</p> <p>3. Medellin, Colombia</p> <p>4. Glasgow, Scotland</p> <p>5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands</p> <p>6. Prague, Czech Republic</p> <p>7. Marrakech, Morocco</p> <p>8. Berlin, Germany</p> <p>9. Montreal, Canada</p> <p>10. Copenhagen, Denmark</p> <p>11. Cape Town, South Africa</p> <p>12. Madrid, Spain</p> <p>13. Manchester, England</p> <p>14. Mumbai, India</p> <p>15. Melbourne, Australia</p> <p>16. Taipei, Taiwan</p> <p>17. London, England</p> <p>18. Porto, Portugal</p> <p>19. Lyon, France</p> <p>20. New York, USA</p> <p>21. Buenos Aires, Argentina</p> <p>22. Birmingham, England</p> <p>23. Stockholm, Sweden</p> <p>24. Tokyo, Japan</p> <p>25. San Francisco, USA</p> <p>26. Delhi, India</p> <p>27. Toronto, Canada</p> <p>28. Lisbon, Portugal</p> <p>29. Boston, USA</p> <p>30. Mexico City, Mexico</p> <p>31. Tel Aviv, Israel</p> <p>32. Paris, France</p> <p>33. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia</p> <p>34. Manila, Philippines </p> <p>35. Athens, Greece</p> <p>36. Dublin, Ireland</p> <p>37. Sao Paulo, Brazil</p> <p>38. Miami, USA</p> <p>39. Barcelona, Spain</p> <p>40. Dubai, United Arab Emirates</p> <p>41. Rome, Italy</p> <p>42. Los Angeles, USA</p> <p>43. Accra, Ghana</p> <p>44. Singapore</p> <p>45. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates</p> <p>46. Sydney, Australia</p> <p>47. Auckland, New Zealand</p> <p>48. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil</p> <p>49. Johannesburg, South Africa</p> <p>50. Istanbul, Turkey</p> <p>51. Bangkok, Thailand</p> <p>52. Hong Kong</p> <p>53. Doha, Qatar</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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Australia’s temporary visa system is unfair, expensive, impractical and inconsistent. Here’s how the new government could fix it

<p>The election of the Albanese Labor government brings an opportunity to end one of the most detrimental elements of Australian refugee law and policy in the past decade: the use of temporary visas. </p> <p>Temporary protection has been the only option available for asylum seekers who arrived by boat a decade ago and were recognised as refugees. Known as the “legacy caseload”, these people are caught in a system of law and policy that keeps them in a state of perpetual limbo. </p> <p>As the new government committed to end temporary protection, we have <a href="https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/news/new-kaldor-centre-policy-brief-proposes-reforms-australia%E2%80%99s-temporary-protection-system">just published a policy brief</a> with the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law outlining how this could be achieved.</p> <p>Our report sets out practical reforms that can be implemented relatively simply, within existing legislative provisions and with only minimal changes to policy and regulations.</p> <p>The 17 recommendations were produced in consultation with refugees and asylum seekers living on temporary protection visas and bridging visas. We also consulted civil society, including former and current temporary protection visa holders and legal groups working with refugees.</p> <p>The impact of temporary protection and the fast-track system on refugees and asylum seekers has left many <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/inm.12325">depressed and suicidal</a>. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/29/the-new-government-gives-me-hope-that-the-cruel-limbo-of-temporary-protection-visas-might-end">Expectations</a> from those living on temporary visas and the wider refugee advocates are high and there is significant apprehension about the transition.</p> <p>The new government understands it will need to approach reforms carefully. Our recommendations are accompanied by a trauma-informed strategy to help reduce mental distress, deterioration and retraumatisation of asylum seekers, while also increasing community engagement.</p> <h2>The current system is damaging</h2> <p>Australia’s temporary protection system is <a href="https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/news/new-kaldor-centre-policy-brief-proposes-reforms-australia%E2%80%99s-temporary-protection-system">unfair, expensive, impractical and inconsistent</a> with our international human rights obligations.</p> <p>In 2014, the Coalition government reintroduced a Howard-era three-year Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) and a five-year Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) for the more than 30,000 people who arrived by boat between August 13 2012 and January 1 2014. </p> <p>However, unlike the earlier Howard policy, the temporary visas this time provided no realistic prospect of applying for permanent protection. </p> <p>The number of people in this “legacy caseload” as <a href="https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-stats/files/uma-legacy-caseload-may-2022.pdf">of May 2022</a> is 31,256. </p> <p>They come from many countries. The largest number are from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The majority – around 19,500 people – have been found to be refugees and have been granted TPV and SHEV. </p> <p>The 10,000 who have been refused a visa were assessed through a “fast-track” process that has <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-biloela-tamil-family-deportation-case-highlights-the-failures-of-our-refugee-system-123685">been neither fair nor fast</a>. </p> <p>People who have been refused have been living in the Australian community for ten years or more while awaiting the outcome of appeals. </p> <p>Some (<a href="https://theconversation.com/the-biloela-family-are-going-home-but-what-will-labor-do-with-thousands-of-other-asylum-seekers-in-limbo-in-australia-183621">such as the Nadeselingham family</a>) are working or have had children in Australia.</p> <p>There are also many asylum seekers from Afghanistan who have been refused visas but who cannot return due to the reemergence of the Taliban in August 2021. </p> <p>In other words, some of those refused visas may well be refugees or have other ties to the Australian community. However, the current legal system does not allow them to apply for other visas without going through cumbersome, expensive appeals and ministerial intervention processes. </p> <p>People who hold TPVs and SHEVs are allowed to work but not to reunite with family or travel freely overseas.</p> <p>Others live on precarious short-term bridging visas, some without the right to work. Many are without access to income support. In either situation, the uncertainty is damaging people’s mental health and well-being.</p> <h2>Key recommendations</h2> <p>The focus of the policy brief was to set out reforms either within the current legislative and policy framework, or with minimal changes. </p> <p>This means changes can occur within a relatively short time frame. </p> <p>Key recommendations include: </p> <ul> <li> <p>refugees on TPVs and SHEVs should be moved onto permanent visas known as Resolution of Status visas. People who have not yet been assessed or who have previously been refused protection should also be able to apply for a permanent visa that does not require another assessment of their protection claims</p> </li> <li> <p>restrictions on travel for TPV and SHEV holders should be removed, pending the grant of a permanent visa and includes specific recommendations in relation to travel documents. Travel is essential for re-establishing links to separated family</p> </li> <li> <p>family reunion, particularly partners and children, should be prioritised. Granting people permanent visas allows them to begin the process of family reunion through the family or humanitarian programs</p> </li> <li> <p>the government should establish a specialised team in the Department of Home Affairs to work closely with migration agents, lawyers and refugee communities. This group could identify other options for allowing reunification of close relatives and children who, under current law, may not fall within the definition of “member of a family unit”. Families have been separated for at least 10 years; many left children at home who have now reached ages where they will no longer be considered dependent.</p> </li> </ul> <p>In 2014, the new minister for immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs Andrew Giles <a href="https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansardr/a275472e-b699-46e7-ac29-bcf2fb8ee942/0018/hansard_frag.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf">said, "</a>Labor has a longstanding policy of opposing TPVs, for good reason. They do not provide a sustainable solution for refugees. The uncertainty exacerbates real mental health issues and denies people the capacity to live full lives. As well as significant international law concerns with these provisions, they put people in limbo. There is no deterrence value here, even if you accept that to be a valid policy objective – they only place vulnerable people in a place of uncertainty."</p> <p>He now has significant power to put those words into action.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-temporary-visa-system-is-unfair-expensive-impractical-and-inconsistent-heres-how-the-new-government-could-fix-it-185870" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Albanese announces $100 million in military aid for Ukraine, pledging support for ‘as long as it takes’

<p>Australia has given Ukraine another $A100 million in military aid, and Anthony Albanese has pledged Australia will continue support for the embattled country “for as long as it takes for Ukraine to emerge victorious”.</p> <p>Albanese inspected devastated areas in and around the capital Kyiv, going to the towns of Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel, and met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a visit that winds up his trip to Europe.</p> <p>But he did not say when Australia might reopen its embassy in the war-torn country. He has indicated Australia wants to do so as soon as possible, depending on security advice.</p> <p>Albanese, who travelled by train from Poland into Ukraine, met with Zelenskyy for two hours on Sunday, and they held a joint news conference.</p> <p>The latest military aid brings to about $388 million Australia’s total military assistance to Ukraine. Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine’s defence.</p> <p>The new package includes:</p> <ul> <li> <p>miliitary aid worth $99.5 million including 14 armoured personnel carriers, 20 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles and other equipment supplied by Australia’s defence industry, plus a contribution to NATO’s Ukraine assistance fund</p> </li> <li> <p>$8.7 million to help upgrade border management equipment, improve cyber security and enhance border operations</p> </li> <li> <p>duty free access for Ukrainian imports to Australia, complementing similar trade measures taken by other countries</p> </li> <li> <p>Australian intervention at the International Court of Justice to support Ukraine’s case against Russia</p> </li> <li> <p>financial sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs</p> </li> <li> <p>prohibition of imports of Russian gold to Australia – again in line with partner countries.</p> </li> </ul> <p>“Russia’s brutal invasion is a gross violation of international law,” said Albanese. “I saw first-hand the devastation and trauma it has inflicted on the people of Ukraine.”</p> <p>“My visit to Kyiv and recent visits by other world leaders sends a clear message that democratic nations like Australia will stand side-by-side with the Ukrainian people in their time of need.</p> <p>"President Zelenskyy’s leadership has rallied the Ukrainian people to defend their country and inspired the world to support humanity and freedom. The road ahead is hard but I am confident Ukraine will prevail.”</p> <p>The prime minister described Ukraine as fighting for the international rule of law. “We saw residential buildings that have been the subject of brutal assault from missiles and other weapons,” he said. “Clearly civilian areas have been targeted by Russian forces as part of this illegal and amoral war.”</p> <p><em><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-db139764-7fff-9f83-ec9f-a82279bf8c24">This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/albanese-announces-100-million-in-military-aid-for-ukraine-pledging-support-for-as-long-as-it-takes-186291" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</span></strong></em></p> <p><em>Images: Twitter</em></p>

International Travel

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Cancelled flights, disrupted vacations, frayed tempers: FAQs about the chaos in the airline industry

<p>People around the world are anxious to travel again as pandemic restrictions are being lifted. But those planning to jump on a plane for a vacation have been frustrated by chaos in the airline industry. In both North America and Europe, thousands of flights have been cancelled and hundreds of thousands of passengers have had their trips disrupted. </p> <p>Things will get worse before they get better. Air Canada has announced it will eliminate more than 150 daily flights for July and August. “Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations,” Air Canada president Michael Rousseau <a href="https://milled.com/air-canada/a-message-from-air-canadas-president-gQLU1OsSJMb4j5Fl">said in an email to customers when announcing the flight cutbacks</a>. </p> <p>So why is this happening? Here are answers to some key questions about the current problems with air travel.</p> <h2>Why are so many flights being cancelled or delayed?</h2> <p>The principal cause of the disruptions has been a shortage of qualified personnel at airports to handle the recent surge in passenger traffic.</p> <p>Airlines have been taking advantage of recent demand for air travel by returning aircraft and flight schedules to close to <a href="https://www.aviationpros.com/airlines/news/21271750/air-passengers-to-reach-83-of-2019-levels-this-year-iata">80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels</a>, with the resulting volume of flights putting significant stress on the capability of the supporting infrastructure — <a href="https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/06/easyjet-to-scrap-more-summer-flights-from-schiphol-klm-limits-sales/">airports, air traffic control and labour conditions</a>.</p> <h2>Are the problems only happening in certain airports or is this a worldwide issue?</h2> <p>The congestion phenomenon in the summer 2022 travel season is rapidly spreading across a number of European and North American airports. The reason behind this concentration of congestion is quite simple: these are the air travel markets that have experienced the highest volumes of air travellers in recent months.</p> <figure> <p>The rapid elimination of COVID-19 protocols in these markets since March have generated a significant increase in the demand for air travel, with volumes of passengers that haven’t been seen in more than two years. This increase in volume has been highly evidenced in major airline hub airports such as <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/schiphol-airport-amsterdam-photos-security-staff-shortages-europe-flight-2022-6">Amsterdam</a>, <a href="https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/airport-chaos-european-travel-runs-into-pandemic-cutbacks-1.5959561">London</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/19/us-travelers-flight-cancellations-chaos">New York</a> and <a href="https://globalnews.ca/video/8905320/frustrations-mount-over-ongoing-delays-at-toronto-pearson-airport">Toronto</a>, where tens of thousands of passengers are processed every day.</p> <h2>Are all the problems related to the pandemic?</h2> <p>When the global air travel market collapsed in March 2020 with the introduction of travel restrictions and border closures, the commercial aviation industry took steps to conserve cash and maintain a minimal workforce. </p> <p>Hundreds of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/02/01/airlines-lost-over-40000-workers-united-airlines-announced-another-14000-jobs-may-be-lost/?sh=6fa3ff1324b3">thousands of aviation workers were laid off or terminated</a>, with years of experience and technical expertise removed from the ranks of the commercial aviation communities. </p> <p>With the assistance of governments throughout the world, over US$200 billion of financial support was provided by governments to help the commercial aviation industry maintain minimal service and prevent financial collapse. </p> <p>When demand for air travel returned this March, the hiring frenzy began, but in a very different labour environment. The people who left in 2020 had, for the most part, moved on to other career opportunities and no longer had much interest in returning to an industry characterized by lower compensation and a higher employment risk. So the staff shortages have their genesis in the pandemic, and will continue to impact employment levels as travel returns.</p> <h2>How many more people are travelling these days compared to a year ago – and compared to pre-pandemic levels?</h2> <p>The International Air Transport Association publishes <a href="https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/2022-releases/2022-06-09-01/">air travel statistics</a> relating to the volume of air travel throughout various world markets. It has noted that there is a significant difference in the volume of air travel, when compared to both 2021 and pre-pandemic levels. </p> <p>The air travel market that has demonstrated the highest rebound has been domestic North America — travel for April 2022 has increased more than 280 per cent compared to April 2021 traffic levels, but remains at slightly more than 30 per cent lower than April 2019 levels. </p> <p>In the Chinese domestic market, continuing pandemic-related travel restrictions and occasional city lockdowns have resulted in <a href="https://www.iata.org/en/iata-repository/publications/economic-reports/air-passenger-monthly-analysis---april-2022/">traffic levels down by close to 80 per cent</a> in April 2022, compared to April 2021 and 2019.</p> <h2>What can be done to prevent delays?</h2> <p>There are a number of perspectives that can be applied to a resolution of the current level of delays.</p> <p>European authorities have announced <a href="https://nltimes.nl/2022/06/16/schiphol-press-conference-many-flights-will-slashed-limit-passengers-ceo-wont-quit">specific reductions in flights</a>, while the U.S. government is <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/flight-cancellations-surge-buttigieg-demands-airlines-hire-staff-1717188">threatening to impose flight reductions</a> as a means of minimizing flight cancellations. </p> <p>The Canadian government has facilitated a meeting with the major aviation organizations in Canada to discuss <a href="https://toronto.citynews.ca/2022/06/21/transport-minister-airlines-airports-delays/">a concerted and effective resolution </a> and <a href="https://investors.aircanada.com/2022-06-23-Air-Canada-Comments-on-Aviation-Industry-Summit-with-Federal-Transport-Minister">Air Canada announced measures</a> it was intending to implement to ease congestion at both Toronto Pearson and Montreal Trudeau airports. </p> <p>Canadian government officials have also announced <a href="https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/05/25/airport-delays-are-here-to-stay-for-the-long-term-due-to-a-shortage-of-workers-in-airport-security-union-says.html">plans to hire close to 2,000 additional border security and screening personnel</a> to deal with specific congestion issues. Labour groups are not certain that the problems of congestion will be addressed by such actions. </p> <p>The main issue is the volume of air travellers that are being drawn into the airport environment by the volume of flights operated by the airlines. Airlines have decided to grow their capacity to meet surging air travel demand, but the airport infrastructure is not equipped to handle such volumes. </p> <p>While such enthusiasm by the airline industry is laudable in times where adequate and experienced staff are available at airports, that is not the case now — and will not be the case for the foreseeable future.</p> <h2>How long will this last?</h2> <p>The summer travel season is in full flight in the northern hemisphere. Additional airline capacity and greater demand for air service by a travel-starved population will continue through at least September. </p> <p>Unless actions being contemplated by American, European and Canadian carriers results in a reduction of peak loading of aircraft movements across major airline hubs, in North America and Western Europe primarily, the congestion and delays will continue – and possibly worsen. </p> <p>Relief will most likely come in the fall, as demand for air travel is reduced with the arrival of the school season. Staffing will also reach required levels by the fall, with the arrival of normal commercial air operating conditions. </p> <p>Other issues that may reduce demand include <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/suzannerowankelleher/2022/05/13/airfare-inflation-cool-demand-summer/?sh=42ae089032c3">higher airfares due to inflation and higher oil prices</a>, which may impact the survival of some airlines. </p> <h2>What advice would you give to air travellers over the next few months?</h2> <p>Airport authorities have been providing <a href="https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/travelling-this-summer-toronto-pearson-and-its-airport-partners-offer-travel-advice-for-passengers-822689624.html">guidance to travellers</a> on how best to prepare themselves for summer travel, including tips on how to avoid delays at security checks.</p> <p>In this coming summer of disruption, I would recommend travellers embark on their air journey with patience, ensure they are well-rested prior to departing for the airport and remember that airline staff are also experiencing stressful moments during their day. </p> <p>A smile, a thank you and, above all, a caring attitude for fellow travellers and staff is called for. The air travel experience will get better!</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/air-canada-flight-reductions-faqs-about-the-chaos-in-the-airline-industry-185750" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p> </figure>

International Travel

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Natural wonders of the world to put on your bucket list

<h2>Earth’s greatest hits</h2> <p>Mother Nature sure knows how to make a statement. The planet is dotted with all sorts of gorgeous creations, from cascading waterfalls to towering volcanoes to otherworldly salt flats you won’t believe are real, and all of these natural wonders of the world tell the story of a particular destination. Of course, people travel far and wide just to get a glimpse of the most famous landscapes and the equally stunning but lesser-known natural wonders, and for good reason. Whether you’re interested in diving the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the Grand Canyon, admiring the northern lights, or just taking a tour from your couch and daydreaming about your bucket list, you’ll definitely be inspired by these natural wonders of the world.</p> <h2>Poás Volcano, Costa Rica</h2> <p>One of the most visited volcanoes in Costa Rica is also one of the oldest – it actually helped form the Central Valley. Sitting more than 2707 metres above sea level, Poás Volcano has been active for hundreds of years, though its last major eruption was in 1910. Visitors can still get up close and personal with it at the national park where it’s located (with a reservation, that is). If you’re lucky enough to get a view of the crater, it can be breathtaking; however, views may be obstructed by clouds due to fickle and unpredictable weather conditions, which change by the hour. Dress warm and bring an umbrella, as precipitation is common at the top of the mountain.</p> <p>The volcano is about an hour’s drive from the centre of San José. But you’ll definitely want to build some extra time into your schedule so you can sample fresh strawberries at the fruit stands along the way or go on a tour at Doka Estate to learn how coffee is made.</p> <h2>Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora</h2> <p>Bora Bora was first made popular during World War II, when soldiers were stationed on the island. Mount Otemanu is the island’s main attraction, and it has an interesting history. “During World War II, the American soldiers used the cave to check the horizon to see if any enemies were coming,” says Marania Teuru, a representative for Tahiti Tourisme. Years later, it was rumoured that women went inside the caves to give birth because giving birth on the island was not permitted. The massive mountain, which stands 727 metres above the lagoon of Bora Bora, is now the perfect backdrop for dreamy Tahitian sunsets. A few of the luxury resorts offer great views of the mountain, including the St. Regis Bora Bora and the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, which have become hot spots for honeymooners.</p> <h2>Marble Chapels, Patagonia</h2> <p>The Capillas de Mármol, or Marble Chapels, are an absolute must when visiting Patagonia. The stunning caves are located in the middle of General Carrera Lake, which makes them accessible only by boat. One of the more remote natural wonders on this list, the iridescent Marble Chapels are actually layers of calcium carbonate formations resulting from 6,000 years of wind and water slapping the rocks. The colours and arches formed inside the cave are truly breathtaking, and even amateur photographers will have a field day here. The best time to visit is in the austral summer, from December to March, when the intensity of the blue waters is intensified by the sun.</p> <h2>Yosemite National Park, USA</h2> <p>One of California’s crown jewels, Yosemite National Park is an outdoor playground for nature enthusiasts. The protected park is approximately 3108 square kilometres, and it features towering sequoias, dramatic waterfalls, beautiful mountain ranges and sheer granite towers. In addition to Half Dome and El Capitan, Yosemite is also home to Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls at 739 metres. May or June is the best time to see the waterfalls; September is also a great month to visit because of pleasant weather and fewer crowds.</p> <h2>Great Barrier Reef, Australia</h2> <p>One of the world’s greatest spectacles also happens to be one of the most vulnerable. Whether you choose to view this global treasure from a helicopter or go scuba diving to enjoy close encounters with more than 1,500 species of tropical fish, it’s hard not to notice the direct impact of climate change. Warmer temperatures have led to significant amounts of coral bleaching, and farming pollution has caused starfish to feed off the precious coral. If the damage continues on the same trajectory, more than 90 percent of the living coral will erode within the next decade.</p> <h2>Haleakala National Park, Hawaii</h2> <p>Maui is world-famous for its magnificent beaches, fresh cuisine and burnt-orange sunsets, but it’s also home to some of the most beautiful landscapes. The top of the dormant volcano at Haleakala National Park is one of the most epic spots to watch the sun rise. At just over 3048 metres above sea level and spanning 12,140-plus hectares of land, Haleakala offers plenty of scenic vistas, sparkling waterfalls (near the park’s coastal section), and endangered species sightings such as the nēnē, the state bird. An important note if you want to hike to the crater at sunrise: You have to make a reservation up to seven days in advance. There is also a $30 fee to park your car, but it’s valid for three days, in case one visit just wasn’t enough.</p> <h2>Grand Canyon, USA</h2> <p>Arizona has no shortage of majestic mountains and sweeping vistas, but the Grand Canyon is hands down one of the most diverse geological wonders in the state. The visual grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and natural wonder of the world is characterised by several horizontal layers of rock formations that are nearly two billion years old. Visitors have several options to experience the beauty here: Adventure seekers can enjoy an aerial view from a helicopter ride through the canyons or go whitewater rafting down the Colourado River (not for the faint of heart). For an easy hiking trail, head to the north rim to avoid large crowds and check out the Cape Royal Trail. It’s a flat, well-paved trail that’s popular during sunrise and sunset.</p> <h2>Cappadocia, Turkey</h2> <p>You may have seen the captivating photos of colourful hot air balloons against a magical landscape of rugged cliffs, valleys and minaret-like towers carved into the rocks. It’s hard to believe this place is real, but it is and it’s in Turkey! The Anatolia region of Cappadocia is filled with rich history and culture, including the 40 identified underground cities that lie below the surface and the Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited sites in Cappadocia. For a good vantage point overlooking the landscape of this natural wonder, check out Uçhisar Castle – or drift during sunrise in one of the hot air balloons.</p> <h2>Blue Grotto, Malta</h2> <p>Malta is a magnificent Mediterranean island between Sicily and the North African coast. The island is known for year-round warm weather, ancient cities, dazzling beaches, and, of course, the Blue Grotto: a series of caves that form high arches along the southern coast of the island. On a clear day, you can see the fluorescent colours reflected on the cave, a phenomenon caused by the underwater flora. Try to book a boat tour early in the morning when the sea is calm, the sun is bright, and there are fewer crowds.</p> <h2>Banff National Park, Canada</h2> <p>Those visiting the Rocky Mountains in Canada between July and September will be rewarded with turquoise-coloured lakes, scenic mountain views, and plenty of wildlife. The summer months allow for some of the best hiking and wildflower sightings of the year, but they also mean peak tourist season. September may be an even better time to visit, since the crowds fade, the leaves start to change colour, and the snow-capped mountains begin to appear in the distance. Biking is also another way to explore the mountains, which boast more than 354 kilometres of cycling trails.</p> <h2>Blausee Lake, Switzerland</h2> <p>Blausee Lake is a small, enchanted lake in the Kander Valley in Switzerland that gets its name from its vibrant crystal-blue colour. The lake is surrounded by a stunning national park with towering pine trees, a boutique hotel, and an organic trout farm. Whether you choose to visit during the summer when the bright turquoise water is glimmering against the verdant backdrop, or the winter, when the snow-covered pine trees look like a Bob Ross painting, Blausee Lake is an idyllic place year-round. There is an entrance fee between $8 and $10, depending on the day of the week, and dogs are allowed in the park on a leash.</p> <h2>Waitaki Whitestone Park, New Zealand</h2> <p>It’s hard to pick just one natural wonder in New Zealand, but Waitaki Whitestone Park tops the list. With picturesque rolling green hills, scenic cycling trails and an abundance of wildlife, this park just may be the most gorgeous outdoor wonderland you’ll ever play in. Walk, bike or drive through the park, and as you do, be on the lookout for unique rock formations. FYI, this New Zealand gem won’t be flying under the radar for much longer because it’s up for UNESCO assessment this year.</p> <h2>Galápagos Islands, Ecuador</h2> <p>The Galápagos Islands are a group of 19 large islands in Ecuador with a unique ecosystem and diverse range of endemic marine life and species. You’ll find the island’s namesake giant tortoise, sea iguanas, penguins and sea lions, to name a few. Watch the tortoises in their natural habitat at the El Chato Tortoise Reserve, snorkel with sea animals, or spot exotic birds. For a challenging activity on land, check out many of the lava trails near the volcanoes. Bartolomé is probably the most iconic island – and the most visited. Hike more than 300 steps to the summit and you’ll be rewarded with epic views of Pinnacle Rock.</p> <h2>Stromboli, Italy</h2> <p>Yep, that delicious Italian dish takes its name from an actual place – specifically, a small volcanic island just north of Sicily. Its 3,000-foot-high active volcano, nicknamed the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean,” has had lava flowing out for years. The most impressive sightings are at night, and the best way to see the volcano is on a boat tour. There are no cars, buses, or trains on the island (only small motorbikes and Ape cars), and flashlights are recommended if you plan to walk around at night because there are no street lights.</p> <h2>Iguazú Falls, Argentina</h2> <p>Split between Argentina and Brazil, these famous falls are all drama and all beauty, all the time. They’re located in Iguazú National Park, a subtropical rainforest that offers many different vantage points of the waterfalls. Book a boat ride and see them up close as you sail through the Lower Iguazú River, or walk through the park – but either way, but expect to get soaked!</p> <h2>Great Blue Hole, Belize</h2> <p>This massive sinkhole is part of the Belize Barrier Reef, one of the most pristine reef ecosystems in the western hemisphere, and it’s a favourite spot for serious divers because of its incredible marine diversity. It’s also home to several shark species. Translation: It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re an experienced diver, you won’t want to miss it. While you’re in Belize, make sure to check out Ambergris Caye, the largest island in the country.</p> <h2>Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia</h2> <p>Also known as the Salt Flats, this extraordinary attraction is the world’s largest salt flat – the result of dried-up prehistoric lakes. June to August is the dry season, so more tourists visit during this time. But December to April is less crowded and amazing in a whole different way: When the rain hits the salt flats, it causes a glass- or mirror-like effect, which looks really cool in photos. If you visit, keep in mind that the high-altitude flats are nearly 3650 metres above sea level, so you may experience altitude sickness if you haven’t given yourself a few days to acclimate in town first.</p> <h2>Padjelanta National Park, Sweden</h2> <p>Sweden tops the list as one of the most sustainable tourist destinations in the world, and with so much natural beauty, it’s easy to see why. The country’s largest national park, Padjelanta National Park, is adjacent to the Norwegian border, and it’s a peaceful mountain escape where the Wi-Fi is weak and the air is fresh. The open terrain surrounded by alpines makes it an ideal destination for hiking, especially in July and August. Pack light, but don’t forget binoculars! You might spot newly born calves, birds or other animals.</p> <h2>Milford Sound, New Zealand</h2> <p>A remote fiord within Fiordland National Park that was formed by glaciers from the Ice Age, this remarkable jewel is surrounded by lush New Zealand rainforests, steep cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. It’s the only fiord accessible by road in New Zealand, but the best way to experience it is by boat. Take a scenic flight from Queenstown for breathtaking aerial views of the snow-capped mountains, then take a cruise to observe the black coral and sea life. The best time to visit is after heavy rain, typically in December or January, when the waterfalls are more intense. Need another reason to visit? Check out these breathtaking photos of New Zealand.</p> <h2>Suytun Cenote, Mexico</h2> <p>While most travellers head south of the border for the beautiful luxury resorts and sparkling blue waters, you’ll also want to venture out for a day trip to see this stunning natural wonder near Cancún. Located about 15 minutes from the colonial city of Valladolid, Yucatán, the underground cave has a stone walkway where a natural light beam shines through a small hole – and creates the perfect photo op. There are bathrooms and changing facilities at the park, and the site has a small entrance fee of about $6.</p> <h2>Elephant Rock, Saudi Arabia</h2> <p>Jabal AlFil Elephant Rock is one of AlUla’s most recognizable natural sites: Wind and water erosion over millions of years created this massive elephant-shaped rock in the middle of the desert. It’s best to view this amazing rock formation during sunset, but dress warmly for cold desert evenings. And, in general, both men and women are encouraged to dress modestly and avoid tight-fitting clothes.</p> <h2>Northern Lights, Iceland</h2> <p>There are many places to view the northern lights (also known as the aurora borealis), and Reykjavík is certainly one of them. Colourful streaks of light create striking rainbows in the dark sky, creating a photographer’s dream shot. The months of September and April are prime time for catching the dancing light show, but unfortunately, there isn’t one location that offers optimal sightings. It also depends on the weather conditions, so it’s best to leave it up to the local tour guides to show you the best locations.</p> <h2>Grand Prismatic Spring, USA</h2> <p>Wyoming is home to many iconic natural wonders of the world, including Grand Teton National Park and Devils Tower National Monument, but it also has the world’s third-largest hot spring. The remarkable Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park is the single largest hot spring in the park – it’s larger than a football field, so it’s hard to miss! A feast for the eyes, the rainbow-coloured hot spring has a deep blue centre and orange spider legs radiating outward. Avoid the crowds by climbing up the new trail to an overlook on the nearby hillside; the 965m hike is worth the view.</p> <p><em><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-30e297f4-7fff-fef2-87cc-b4364cfeb736">This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/natural-wonders-of-the-world-to-put-on-your-bucket-list" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>.</span></strong></em></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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Why you need to add Copenhagen to your travel bucket list

<p dir="ltr">As international borders have officially reopened and people are heading off on their long overdue adventures, one place that needs to be at the top of everyone’s travel list is the beautiful city of Copenhagen.</p> <p dir="ltr">The capital of Denmark has so much to offer, from extraordinary architecture, a mouth-watering food scene, and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. </p> <p dir="ltr">The stunning culture, amazing scenery and rich history are just a few reasons why Copenhagen should be at the very top of your travel bucket list. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The architecture</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">One thing Copenhagen is known for is its amazing and unique architecture that is instantly recognisable to people around the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">The harbour that boasts the colourful houses, or Nyhavn (meaning New Harbour), is home to spectacular views and is home to some of Copenhagen’s most delicious restaurants and cafes. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other must-see spots in Copenhagen include the Royal Theatre, Royal Residences, the house of Hans Christian Andersen, Frederik’s Church and so many more. </p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-ef54e206-7fff-3c6c-7c4b-98eee27bc4d3">Nyhavn, or New Harbour. Image credit: Supplied</span></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-2.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-f312822d-7fff-e7cb-386a-1fe588ec3ccb">The Royal Theatre. Image credit: Supplied</span></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-3.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>The Royal Residence. Image credits: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The activities</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Copenhagen is filled with fun ways to spend the day if you’re looking for something other than wandering around and looking at pretty buildings. </p> <p dir="ltr">One thing that everyone in Copenhagen should do is a canal tour which begins in Nyhavn.</p> <p dir="ltr">These tours are very reasonably priced and take approximately one hour, and are complete with a guide who will point out all the historic monuments that the city has to offer. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another spot to pay a visit to is Tivoli: the third-oldest amusement park in the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">Whether or not you’re one for rides, the gardens on which Tivilo sits are extraordinary on their own, and are laced with delicious restaurants. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tivoli also puts on a pantomime in an open air theatre that has been running since the 1800s. </p> <p dir="ltr">If you are looking for a truly unique experience, take a trip to Freetown Christiania, a “free state” that is often dubbed a hippie paradise, that operates independently of the rest of Copenhagen. </p> <p dir="ltr">Enjoy the markets and scenery of Christiana, but be wary that there is a strong no photos rule!</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-6.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-92c5190f-7fff-d192-8658-aea4abe86bb2">The Tivoli carousel. Image credits: Supplied</span></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-7.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Freetown Christiania. Image credits: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The food</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Copenhagen has a notoriously famous food scene which is filled with traditional dishes that are a must-try. </p> <p dir="ltr">One Danish specialty is known as Smørrebrød, which is a traditional Danish open sandwich. </p> <p dir="ltr">Usually served on dark rye bread, Smørrebrød is stacked up with the most delicious toppings, with places that serve the traditional dish offer a range of different toppings. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another unusual thing the Danish food scene is known for is their street hotdog stands. </p> <p dir="ltr">Similar to what you would find in America, you will find a hot dog stand on every corner of Copenhagen, with each one offering delicious street hot dogs. </p> <p dir="ltr">One place all foodies must visit in Copenhagen is Sankt Peders bakery, which offers cinnamon scrolls and delicious Danishes every day of the week. </p> <p dir="ltr">Established in 1612, this famous establishment is the oldest bakery in the city and is a hot spot for all travellers to visit. </p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-4.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-8bd21d49-7fff-7795-00fa-449911653ffa">Traditional Danish Smørrebrød. Image credits: Supplied</span></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/copenhagen-5.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Sankt Peders bakery. Image credits: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-d493de22-7fff-3ca7-cbe1-a7a42d8880ce"></span>All images: Supplied</em></p>

International Travel

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See the strawberry moon that shone around the world

<p dir="ltr">Stargazers across the world had plenty to see this week, as the strawberry supermoon lit up the sky.</p> <p dir="ltr">The moon appeared slightly larger than usual with an orange tint, reaching its peak size on Wednesday night for Australia and New Zealand.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though called a strawberry moon, the name has nothing to do with colour, instead coming from the Native American Algonquin nations and meaning it is the last full moon in spring or first of summer in the northern hemisphere, per <em><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/strawberry-supermoon-2022/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CBS News</a></em>. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to <em><a href="https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-june" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Old Farmer’s Almanac</a></em>, it was named the strawberry moon to mark the ripening of strawberries that would be ready to gather in June.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since it is a supermoon, defined as a full moon within 10 percent of the closest distance it can be to Earth, the moon appeared full in the days prior and will for a few more after, according to <em><a href="https://www.space.com/strawberry-supermoon-full-moon-2022-what-to-expect" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Space.com</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Here, we've compiled a collection of the most stunning shots of the supermoon from all corners of the world for your viewing pleasure.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-078ba00d-7fff-a754-5303-e6fee130564f"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Gary Hershorn (Getty Images)</em></p>

International Travel

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Readers Respond: Which tourist attraction disappointed you?

<p dir="ltr">When you go on holiday the last thing you expect is to be disappointed with your destination.</p> <p dir="ltr">But that’s the whole point of travelling! You never really know what you’re getting yourself into until you’re there, do you?</p> <p dir="ltr">To that end, we asked our readers to share which tourist attractions disappointed you the most and – well – let’s just say your responses disappointed US, because we just didn’t expect that.</p> <p dir="ltr">From the famous Stonehenge to the Trevi Fountain - your responses were quite interesting. </p> <p dir="ltr">But hands down the winner’s response just has to be the one from Virginia Lewington who said: “Anywhere with my ex, he spoilt it everytime.”  </p> <p dir="ltr">Check out other less brutal responses below. </p> <p dir="ltr">Lynn Pilling - Paris as a whole. Quite dirty. I had been looking forward to going there for a long time. The hotel room was the size of a closet and my knees hit the wall when I sat on the toilet.</p> <p dir="ltr">Debbie Van Den Dungen - For me it’s often overseas beaches eg Venice beach, Santa Monica…We are so spoiled for fantastic beaches here in Australia. Also Noumea and Vanuatu- shocked at the rundown state of the towns, bars on windows etc not the paradise I imagined.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dot Willcoxson - Stonehenge very disappointing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tanya Pertot - The Mona Lisa - it was smaller than I expected and I couldn't see what all the “hype” was about - for me there are many works of art that are better.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sandy Dynon - The Trevi Fountain. It’s small, the building behind makes it look bigger.</p> <p dir="ltr">Frances Smith - The Leaning Tower of Pisa. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sandra Varley Donoghue - Hollywood Walk of Fame.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bev Hooper - The pyramids near Cairo.</p> <p dir="ltr">Anita Worsdell - The beaches along the coast of California and Waikiki beach, Hawaii. Australia has the best beaches by far.</p> <p dir="ltr">Laraine Beattie - Prague. Litter, cigarette butts and everybody seemed to be smoking…two visits the same, but beautiful city otherwise.</p> <p dir="ltr">Judy Lee Flynn - The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, it was so small.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lawrence Gray - The Sphinx, badly weathered.</p> <p dir="ltr">Were you disappointed in an attraction and it wasn’t on the list? Share it <a href="https://www.facebook.com/oversixtys/posts/pfbid0LUC6Ye4ri9DKeukxzh16x1RvyQ3TzVd4wPGWhVWCkK5DEpzDEJDjHpRfH4ssNUwUl" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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Jacinda Ardern welcomed as “good friend” by Joe Biden

<p dir="ltr">New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has left talks with US President Joe Biden on a positive note, saying the interaction pointed to the “warmth” in their relationship as political leaders.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Ardern was initially scheduled to meet with Mr Biden for one hour during her ongoing US tour, but the pair continued to talk for another 30 minutes, as reported by <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/jacinda-ardern-wows-us-president-joe-biden-in-white-house-meeting/news-story/a05ab88bfe0e2bfcc93a29f337db4684" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I think that is a demonstration of the warmth in our relationship,” Ms Ardern said after the meeting.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Biden welcomed Ms Ardern as a “good friend”, citing the last time they met at the launch of the Indo-Pacific Framework and said: “We need your guidance”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You understand that your leadership has taken on a critical role in this global stage - and it really has,” Mr Biden said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The pair also discussed gun control, online extremism, Ukraine, climate change, and the growing influence of China in the Pacific, with the last issue becoming the main focus as the US attempts to bolster its presence in the region.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-8c909d5e-7fff-d3f9-ef5f-8e1a34bb0e44"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“We are in an incredibly difficult international environment,” Ms Ardern said.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; 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margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CeP0hflvMcD/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">According to a senior administration official, the leaders had a “very warm” and “direct” conversation, as the Biden administration looks to step up its cooperation to support the Pacific Island states.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The President and the Prime Minister met for well over an hour,” the official said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The conversation was very warm, very direct, and there was a great understanding between the two of them, as you would expect.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And there really was discussion about the shared vision for the Indo-Pacific and the importance, in particular, of stepping up engagement with the Pacific Island states.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a joint statement after the meeting, both leaders expressed their concern about the security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands, which also caused a stir in Australia in April.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In particular, the United States and New Zealand share a concern that the establishment of a persistent military presence in the Pacific by a state that does not share our values or security interests would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national-security concerns to both countries,” the statement read.</p> <p dir="ltr">“A freer and more open Indo-Pacific depends on preserving the international rules-based order in the maritime domain.</p> <p dir="ltr">“To that end, we reaffirm our support for freedom of navigation and overflight, in the South China Sea and beyond, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).</p> <p dir="ltr">“We oppose unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea that run counter to the rules-based international order, particularly UNCLOS.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We reiterate our grave concerns regarding the human-rights violations in Xinjiang, and the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, which undermines the high degree of autonomy enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The meeting comes as China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, finishes his ten-day tour of the Pacific Island region, having visited eight nations in total and raising concerns that deals similar to that between China and the Solomon Islands would be struck with other countries.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within hours of Ms Ardern and Mr Biden’s meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the US of “distorting the truth that the cooperation between China and the Pacific Island countries has been in line with regional benefits”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“China and Solomon Islands have no intention to establish military bases,” Mr Zhao said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Australia is also making efforts to meet with leaders in the region, with newly-sworn-in Foreign Minister Penny Wong jetting off to Samoa and Tonga for her second visit to the Pacific in nine days.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We want to make a uniquely Australian contribution to help build a stronger Pacific family - through social and economic opportunities including pandemic recovery, health, development and infrastructure support, as well as through our Pacific labour programs and permanent migration,” Ms Wong said in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We will increase our contribution to regional security: we understand that the security of the Pacific is the responsibility of the Pacific family, of which Australia is a part.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Pacific family in addressing the existential threat of climate change. And we will deepen cultural and sporting ties.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-0c2debcf-7fff-0413-2aec-9fcf453570fb"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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