Photo Of The Day: The Treasury At Petra

“Indiana Jones would be proud,” wrote Instagram user shuotography in the caption for today’s Photo of the Day. Yes, we think he would. Taken at the Treasury in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan, this photo was enhanced with Instagram’s “Lo-Fi” filter, which adds shadows and makes colors richer. While no one knows for certain, the Treasury, known in Arabic as al-Khazneh, is believed to have been a temple or royal tomb. Definitely Indiana-esque.Do you have any great adventure travel photos? You now have two options to enter your snapshots into the running for Gadling’s Photo of the Day. Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool, or mention @GadlingTravel and use hashtag #gadling in the caption or comments for your post on Instagram. Don’t forget to give us a follow too!

[Photo Credit: Instagram user shuotography]

The Travels Of Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost ArkOne of the greatest characters in movie history makes his way to Blu-Ray Disc today when “Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures” is released for the first time. The new box set lets us join the legendary globetrotting archaeologist as he goes in search of fortune and glory in a number of far-flung locations spread out across the planet.

Watching the Indy movies as a boy, I was mesmerized by all the exotic locations he found himself in and vowed that one day I would follow in his fictional footsteps. I too wanted to stroll through bustling marketplaces, visit ancient ruins and explore remote landscapes. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the same places that are depicted in the films. Luckily, I didn’t have to battle supernatural forces, secret cults or Nazis to do so.

Just exactly where has Indy’s adventures taken him? Here is a list of the key locations that he visited in the course of the four films.

Peru
Our first introduction to Henry Jones, Jr. came at the beginning of 1981′s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which opened with the adventurer leading an expedition deep into the Peruvian jungle in search of a lost golden idol. He returned to Peru in 2008 with the release of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which gave us a glimpse not only of ancient Inca ruins but also the famous giant geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines.

You can replicate Indy’s adventures in Peru by visiting Inca ruins yourself. Places like Machu Picchu, Sacsahuaman or Ollantaytambo may no longer be hidden in the dense jungle, but they are still impressive archaeological sites nonetheless. Flights above the Nazca Lines are a popular option too, as those strange glyphs depicting monkeys, humming birds and other animals that can only be seen from the air continue to bewilder even in the 21st century. Of course, the Amazon Rainforest is an amazing destination in its own right and Peru offers some unique ways to experience that remote and iconic place too.Ama Dablam in NepalNepal
Indy’s stay in the Himalayan country of Nepal was a brief one. He only stopped by long enough to pick up his erstwhile partner Marion Ravenwood while searching for the Lost Ark. But your visit shouldn’t be as short, as the country has some of the best hiking in the world and Kathmandu is one of the most unusual and colorful cities you’ll ever see. Make the hike to Everest Base Camp, trek the Annapurna Circuit or visit the famous Chitwan National Park, which is home to wild tigers, elephants and rhinos. Adventure is around every corner in Nepal.

Egypt
Our intrepid hero made his way to Egypt in search of the fabled Lost Ark of the Covenant but there is still plenty of history for us to discover there as well. The Great Pyramids at Giza, the Sphynx and the Temple of Hatshepsut can still inspire awe, while a visit to the legendary Valley of the Kings and Queens is akin to stepping 5000 years into the past. Watch the Egyptian countryside drift by on a classic Nile cruise and drop by Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo to check out the more than 120,000 items that are on display there. That’s more artifacts than even Indy himself could hope to collect.

China
In his second big screen adventure, 1984′s “Temple of Doom,” our good Dr. Jones began his escapades in Shanghai, China, where he had a somewhat less than successful encounter with Chinese mobsters. Your visit to that ultra-modern and bustling city doesn’t have to be quite so chaotic, however. Start with a visit to the Shanghai Museum, which is one of the best in the entire country, before heading over to Dongtai Road to search for hidden treasures of your own in the quaint antique shops. Discover a slice of serenity while escaping the busy city life in Yu Yuan Garden, then stroll the Bund, Shanghai’s famous waterfront district along the Huangpu River.

India
Leaving China behind, Indy found his next adventure in a remote region of India where he managed to not only recover the legendary lost Sankara stones, but also free a group of children enslaved to an evil Thugee cult. Rich in history and culture, India is a country that has something for nearly every kind of traveler. The northern region is bounded by the high Himalaya, making it a great destination for trekkers and backpackers, while the southern coastlines feature breathtaking beaches along the Indian Ocean. While there, you can learn the secrets of yoga from a master, visit ancient Hindu temples, explore national parks inhabited by tigers and elephants and so much more. Don’t forget to drop by the famous Taj Mahal either. It may seem like a tourist cliche, but some places are considered classics for good reason.

The Lost City of Petra in JordanJordan
In “The Last Crusade,” which was released in 1989, Indiana Jones and his father went in search of the Holy Grail, ultimately discovering it inside the famous archaeological site of Petra, located in Jordan. You won’t find a single trace of the Holy Grail anywhere near Petra (believe me, I looked!) but the city remains an amazing destination. History buffs will find it more than lives up to the hype, as do the amazing Roman ruins of Jerash in the northern part of the country. Jordan’s capital Amman is a vibrant, energetic city that has much to offer in terms of culture and nightlife while the Wadi Rum desert and Dana Nature Reserve are the perfect escapes for those looking to shed the trappings of modern culture instead. Complete your visit with a relaxing float in the Dead Sea, located not far from some of the most important religious sites to both Islam and Christianity.

Other Destinations
These are just a sampling of some of the exotic locations that Indiana Jones visited throughout the course of the films. He also traveled to Arches National Park in Utah, as well as Berlin and Venice in “Last Crusade” and dropped by a nuclear testing facility in the Nevada desert in “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” In between his thrilling adventures, Indy also managed to find time to teach archaeology at Marshall College, located in Bedford, Connecticut. The college may be fictional, but you can still stroll its hallowed grounds as Yale University served as the backdrop.

While “Crystal Skull” wasn’t as well received by critics and fans as the previous films in the series, rumors persist of a potential fifth Indiana Jones movie. If so, it’ll be interesting to see where Indy ends up next and what new destinations he’ll add to his passport in the process.

Indiana Jones exhibit whips up international tour

He’s everyone’s favorite fictional archaeologist. Even real archaeologists, once they’re done nitpicking his lack of scientific technique, usually admit that they love the guy. Now Indiana Jones is the subject of a new international exhibition.

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology: The Exhibition will open at the Montreal Science Centre on April 28, 2011 to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of the first movie in the series. Tickets are already selling fast.

The exhibition will include clips and memorabilia from the movies, as well as an educational component to show the public that archaeologists don’t generally carry bullwhips and get into fights with evil cults. My own Masters program offered no classes on bullwhip technique, but that lecture I attended on Aztec human sacrifice certainly convinced me that not all religions are created equal. On one excavation I got too close for comfort to a Palestinian viper and nearly had a 3,000 year-old wall fall on me, so it’s not all libraries and dusty museums.

The educational portion of the exhibit is being planned by Frank Hiebert, the Archaeology Fellow for National Geographic. Real archaeological artifacts from Quebec and around the world will be on display and visitors will learn the painstaking processes archaeologists use to piece together the past. It’s not as exciting as being chased over a rope bridge by sword-wielding cultists, but it’s still pretty cool.

Interactive displays will explain some of the myths behind the movies such as the stories of the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.

Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology: The Exhibition will run from April 28 to September 18 before going on an international tour. Not all dates and locations are set, so check the official website for updates, and stayed tuned here to Gadling.

[Photo courtesy user Insomniacpuppy via Wikimedia Commons]

Americans are least adventurous travelers

Americans love stories about great adventurers. I grew up wanting to be Indiana Jones (as evidence by the destruction I caused when I repurposed a jump rope into a whip). Bear Grylls has become a celebrity simply by surviving. Andrew Zimmern went from drug addict to chef to celebrity because of his iron constitution. Why, then, are Americans not as adventurous as the people they celebrate? In a recent survey commissioned by Intrepid Travel, Americans lagged behind Brits, Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians when it came to pushing their limits.

1,000 people were surveyed from each of the countries listed above and the United States. Respondents were asked how likely they were to eat fried tarantula, stay with a local family, haggle at a local market and other activities. Americans were the least adventurous while Kiwis seemed game for almost anything.

The survey offers insight into the adventurousness of people in various regions within the United States. Californians were the most adventurous US respondents. Texans were a mixed bag with Dallas residents being the most likely of any Americans to stay with a local family while folks from Austin were the least likely to eschew hotels for some home cooking.

While by no means a definitive study, the survey does seem to quantify something that many travelers have already noticed: Americans lag behind others when it comes to living on the edge. Maybe it’s our litigious society. Could it be our puritan history? Perhaps it’s just simply our lack of vacation time as compared to Western Europeans.

What do you think? Are Americans more adventurous than people think? Would you eat a fried tarantula? Is the whole idea of being adventurous overrated? Sound off in the comments.

South by Southeast: 5 tips for Angkor Wat

I was alone, deep in the Cambodian jungle, flanked by the scattered ruins of ancient Khmer temples. My ears tickled with the cackle distant bird calls and buzzing cicadas. My shirt clung to my skin with a thick layer of sweat and ocher-hued dust. Suddenly, I heard movement to my right behind a wall. What was it? An ancient spirit of temples? A fearsome jungle cat waiting to pounce? My muscles tensed and I stood waiting for the apparition to appear – until a flag-waving tour group emerged from around the corner. It turns out I wasn’t as alone in the jungle as I previously thought.

Angkor Wat is less a place than an idea burned in our subconscious. These famous ruins float in our dreams like Indiana Jones fantasy, cloaked in thick layers of vines and overgrown jungle trees. Yet the reality of this ancient wonder of the world doesn’t always align with our visions. Angkor Wat today is among the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, with nearly two million visitors annually. The abandoned ruins of your dreams are positively overrun with tour groups, brandishing their gigantic SLR’s like a camera-toting guerilla army. Yet despite its enduring popularity, a visit through Angkor can still be thoroughly enjoyable – you just need to know the right way to do it.

To truly enjoy the wonders of Angkor, you need to come armed with a few simple strategies. Ready to make your own adventure through Angkor Wat? Keep reading below for our five tips.Tip #1 – Do Your Research
Before arriving in Angkor, I had assumed the site was just one big temple – it’s not. In reality it’s a series of massive complexes including Angkor Thom and the Roluos Temples, covering more than 3000 square kilometers and 72 major temples, many of which were built during different eras of the Khmer Empire. It pays to come to Angkor with at least some idea of what you want to see. Otherwise it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed.

There’s some easy ways to arm yourself with the right information. Consider grabbing an Angkor-specific guide like this book by Dawn Rooney, which will provide historical background, itinerary plans and descriptions of key architectural features. The tech-savvy should also check out the Angkor iPhone app by the Asia travel experts at Travelfish. Need even more? Consider hiring a guide.


Tip #2 – Leave Enough Time
Tip two falls right in line with tip one. Considering the immense size of Angkor, you want to leave enough time to explore the site’s many ruins. Though individual interest in the ruins varies, many travelers recommend at least three days for a proper visit. This ensures you can check out all the main sights while also leaving time for some of the lesser-known gems, many of which are far less crowded than the “biggies” like Angkor Wat. Any less than this and you’re likely to spend a lot of time queuing behind other tourists at the big ruins. And if you’re really into archeology, consider grabbing a week-long pass.

Tip #3 – Beat the Heat
Even during the cooler winter months, Cambodia is positively sweltering. Daytime temperatures hover anywhere from the 80′s to over 100 degrees. Spending all day walking around in the baking heat is a bad idea. Plan a mid-day break for lunch into your itinerary if you’re doing it on your own.

Another great way to escape the crazy temperatures is a side trip out to Kbal Spean, a series of riverbed carvings with a refreshing waterfall pool at the end. And wherever you go, make sure to bring lots of water. Enterprising kids sell bottles outside most temples for next to nothing.

Tip #4 – Explore the Lesser-Known
No matter when you visit, expect Angkor Wat to be busy. But despite all the moaning about the crowds, there are still plenty of places you can find yourself all alone. Temples like Preah Kahn, the Banteay Srei/Kbal Spean combo and the Roluos Group, especially when visited early/late in the day, can make for delightfully deserted experiences. For the ultimate do-it-yourself experience, consider renting a bike to explore. You’ll find you can linger more easily at sites once the tour buses have departed.

Tip #5 – Choose Your Sun Carefully
Before my trip to Angkor, people kept raving about the sunsets. With considerable anticipation, I climbed to the top of Phnom Bakheng on my first day, ready to be wowed by the awesome sight of the sun setting over the temple complexes. Except it wasn’t that great. It was wildly crowded and gave very little view of the surrounding temples. Every “sunset spot” I visited during my three day tour was similarly poor. I’m sure there are good sunsets/sunrise to be had in Angkor, but they don’t come easy. If you’re dead-set on seeing the sunset or sunrise, don’t expect to be alone and make sure to get there early.

Yes, there are lots of visitors at Angkor. But with a little preparation and planning, there’s still plenty of adventure to be had. You just have to look a little harder to find it.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann is spending the next few months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.