The remains of the world’s oldest planned city may crumble to dust in twenty years if action isn’t taken, the Telegraph reports.
Mohenjodaro, a 5,000 year-old city in Pakistan, is under threat from extreme temperatures and monsoon rains, which leave deposits of salt on the unbaked clay bricks that were used to create its buildings. That salt leeches out any moisture in the bricks and slowly turns them to dust.
A crew of workmen is coating the ancient structures with salt-free mud, but there are far too few people on the job and very little money.
The Bronze Age city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded around 3,000 BC and shows a remarkable amount of urban planning. There were toilets in every house, separate water systems for drinking and sewage, roads laid out on a grid system, a large communal bath shown in the above photo, and a communal granary. It was the center of the Indus Valley civilization and traded as far away as Mesopotamia, using a set of standardized weights and measures to regulate commerce.
UNESCO officials met with Pakistani archaeologists last week to draw up a plan to save the site, which includes burying some of the most threatened structures. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan’s government, strapped for cash and stuck in a grueling war with the Taliban, will foot the bill.
I visited Mohenjodaro back in 1994 when Pakistan was safer to visit than it is now and found the place to be enchanting. The layout can be clearly seen and it almost feels like you’re in a living city. It would be a shame if such a landmark of human development disappeared.
While we live in a world where we can quickly jet from one side of the planet to the other, there’s still something about vintage travel posters that inspires a sense of wanderlust. Reminiscent of a time when travel was more exotic, and often took much longer than today, these vintage posters seem to capture the essence of travel and adventure.Maybe it’s that essence that we’re always seeking when we set off to our next destination. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that these posters, all pulled from an amazing collection at Boston Public Library, get us excited about making our way out into the world. From the mysterious landscapes of the National Parks of the West, to the winding railways of Europe, these posters capture travel at its very best. Consider your wanderlust fueled.
Imagine what it would be like to never see the sun.
In the Norwegian town of Rjukan, that’s exactly what life is like six months out of the year. Located in a valley, because of the high mountains that surround the town, from September to March there is no sunlight. But this year, that will change.
At the end of October, the town will install three giant sun mirrors, in order to reflect sun into the town square, bringing sunlight in the middle of the winter for the first time to the town’s 3,000 inhabitants.The idea for a sun mirror was born a century ago when local businessman Sam Eyde had the idea to give access to the sun to his workers. While the sun mirror didn’t get constructed, a gondola was built to take Rjukan’s up to the top of the mountains where they could get some sunlight during the winter.
But now thanks to technology, Eyde’s original idea will become a reality, and the the sun mirrors will be launched on October 31, the exact day 100 years ago that the idea was presented in the local newspaper.
We’ve all stayed at hotels that proudly boast, via little signs on the bed and/or bathroom sink, that they’re doing their part to save the environment. Don’t want towels changed in order to save water? Just hang ‘em up, and the housekeeper will know that you’re a carbon footprint-savvy traveler.
Sure. I can count on half of one hand the number of hotels that have actually paid attention to the location of my towel. I’ve seen countless housekeepers dump the contents of in-room recycling bins into their trash bags. I don’t have any expectations at motels, but when it comes to boutique, “eco-friendly,” or high-end properties making these claims, I find it infuriating.
My focus as a writer and traveler is on sustainability issues, and I’m overjoyed that an increasing number of hotels are more aware of their environmental impact. What doesn’t thrill me: the amount of greenwashing, or false eco-claims, that take place in the hospitality industry. This problem isn’t unique to hotels, but it’s prevalent.
We’re living in an era of climate change. Lowering our individual and collective carbon footprint should be something we do, to the best of our abilities, on a daily basis. Hotels are hip to the fact that an increasing number of travelers have an elevated eco-awareness, and they want to capitalize on that.
In the absence of a word-of-mouth or written recommendation, it can be difficult to ascertain a hotel’s eco-integrity (although certain chains are well-known for their green policies; a 2012 Reuters report cites chains like Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Taj Resorts, Kimpton Hotels and Marriott).
Sites like Green Traveler Guides, however, (full disclosure: I’m a contributing editor) exist as unofficial industry watchdogs, reviewing properties and assessing their green policies. If you’re looking for a hotel or resort that’s genuinely green, sites like GTG feature properties that are both green and great, as well as provide tips on how to be a more eco-minded traveler. Other resources include sites like Green Lodging News.
For a quick study, here’s a checklist of what to look for when researching hotels:
If the only mentions refer to buzzwords like “organic,” “local,” “eco-friendly,” “eco-lodge,” or “environment,” caveat emptor. There’s no law that prohibits the use of green jargon; it’s up to you as a consumer to do your homework.
Is there a bona-fide recycling (bonus points for composting) program?
Does the property employ locals/incorporate and support local culture and community? How?
Is the property built and furnished with natural and/or reclaimed or renewable materials wherever possible?
Are there green options for guests, such as bike rentals and local culture-based activities?
Does the property have green certification from a legit international or domestic organization or program?
Does the property use alternative fuel or electric carts for guest transit on-site and off?
Are bathroom amenities and cleaning agents chemical-free? Bonus points your in-room goodies are locally made.
If there’s on-site dining, is the food seasonal and sourced locally whenever possible (which reduces fossil fuel output as well as promotes local food security)? Do family farmers, ranchers and fisherman supply ingredients? Is there a chemical-free on-site rooftop or other garden from which the restaurant sources product?
Perhaps the Magic Restroom Cafe is magical in part because it has done something other restaurants have yet to do: require patrons to sit on a toilet while they dine. According to the restaurant’s owner, Yo Yo Li, restroom-themed restaurants have been a hit so far in her native China and Taiwan. Their surprising success influenced her decision to open the Magic Restroom Cafe in City of Industry, California – just east of Los Angeles – on October 11.
The Magic Restroom Cafe‘s tables are outfitted with actual toilets (never used, not hooked up) as seats. But the restroom theme doesn’t stop there. The restaurant’s lobby showcases both urinals and toilets. The cafe’s signature dish is called “golden poop” rice. They also serve dishes with titles like “black poop,” “smells-like-poop,” “bloody number two,” and “constipation.” The food itself arrives to the table in a miniature version of a floor toilet.
So this all begs the question: would you pay to eat bowel-movement-themed food while sitting on a toilet?