Posts

Showing posts from October, 2009

China’s New Great Wall

Image
Words and pics by Roderick Eime. Additional photography from Helen Wongs Tours

River cruising is the perfect means to explore the great Yangtze River.

The Yangtze River is a massive tempestuous monster. For centuries it has been both the life and death of the Chinese people, providing food, water for irrigation and a critical transport route, but turning fierce with immense and destructive floods. In 1998, the last destructive flood, some 2000 people were drowned and millions made homeless. This final malicious act of the Yangtze would be the last.

If China was to grow and prosper, the beast must be tamed and made to work for the masses. The might of the new China is setting out to tame this fearsome beast with concrete, steel and seemingly limitless manpower.

Our journey begins in Chongqing, a vast, sprawling metropolis now bearing the title of world's largest city. With a population of 32 million it is three times the size of New York City thanks mainly to the relocation of forme…

Falling Heroes - Vanuatu's Famous Land Divers

Image
There’s something almost suicidal about Vanuatu’s famous land divers. Bungy jumpers have the benefit of an elastic cord to cushion their fall, but not so the legendary N’Gol (land-diving) natives of Pentecost Island.

The origin of this dangerous ritual is clouded in tantalizing mystery. One of the more romantic tales tells the story of the abusive husband Tamalie who, in pursuit of his recalcitrant wife, followed her up a tall tree as she fled from him. She, whose name seems to have been mislaid in the passage of time, refused to come down knowing that another beating was in store. Driven by pride and rage, Tamalie lunged at her, but she jumped. Tamalie, intoxicated by fury, lunged after her not knowing she had tied vines to her legs and he plunged to his death while she survived.

Some liberal doses of artistic license may have embellished this tale, but it remains as intriguing as ever. Apparently the village men began to re-enact the nameless wife’s heroic plunge to prepare themsel…

By the Hammer of Thor – A Viking Trail through the North Atlantic

Image
If you were a Viking in the Middle Ages of European history, chances are you were not much of a diplomat or humanitarian. Roderick Eime reflects on the Nordic influence.

The fearsome Viking reputation is not without substance. Beginning around the ninth century until well into the eleventh, the Norse mariners went on an aggressive land grab that often resulted in bloodshed, abduction and pillaging. Today’s mild-mannered and infinitely cultured Scandinavians have countered this unfriendly perception somewhat by reminding us that the Vikings were also skilled seafarers, advanced agriculturalists and energetic traders who advanced the culture and civilization of Europe generally.

No matter which angle you embrace, Vikings still evoke a powerful mystique with their bold and robust architecture and design as well as pagan worship. Just like the Greeks and Romans, Norse mythology is chock-a-block with mighty deities and gods like, Thor (god of thunder), Odin (god of war) and Freyr (goddess…