Disgusting tourists use Uluru as a toilet

The otherworldly red rock of Uluru (Ayers Rock) that rises above a flat expanse of Australia‘s Northern Territory has long been considered a sacred site to the native Aboriginal people. Against their wishes, over 100,000 people climb the rock, which is just over 1100 feet tall, each year. Recently, the National Parks service proposed a plan that would close Uluru to climbers.

There were many reasons given for the proposed climbing ban, including the site’s significance to the Aboriginal people, increased erosion on the rock, and the danger involved in climbing the rock(it is estimated that around 35 people die while attempting to scale it each year). A guide for the Anangu Waai tour company has now cited another reason – people are using the sacred spot as a toilet. After they get to the top, they take a “bathroom break” out of sight before starting their descent. It’s an idea so revolting that you hope it can’t possibly be true, but the director of the National Parks has backed it up. He says that in busy times, the levels of E. coli at the base of Uluru reach dangerous levels as the filth washes down the rock with the rain.

The Northern Territory government opposes the proposal. If Uluru were to be closed to hikers, fewer people might visit, and the area’s tourism industry could suffer. As per usual, environmental and social ideals become tangled with economic concerns and the country’s Environmental Minister will have to consider both when he makes his decision on a 10-year plan for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which he says will be made “in due course”. Looks like it you want to climb Uluru, you should get there now….but please hit the bathroom before you go.

[via Times Online]

Gadling Take FIVE: Week of January 31-February 6

Despite all the noise of drunk pilots, celebrities, and credit card scams that can pepper the travel scene, there are gems of places not to be missed and stories worth hearing again. Perhaps you’ve read that our dear Matthew Firestone who has graced us with his Big in Japan series for more than a year is off to Africa. No new entries for Big In Japan, but you can keep reading previous posts.

If you haven’t checked out Gadling’s current series, Bowermaster’s Antarctica,do. The photos of the penguins in the gallery are stunning. Each time I read Jon’s work, I’m reminded of the Danish novel, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. The setting is not the same–the novel is set in Greenland, but both are versions of a journey into a world of snow, ice, and mystery.

This month, we’re also continuing with our theme of budget travel. Each day at 11:30 am, there will be a new post on how or where to travel without spending a lot of money.

Here are five other offerings to give you some travel inspiration.

  • Kraig offered up the Guangxi Autonomous Region in Southeast China as a travel destination. As he describes in China’s Hidden Outdoor Wonderland, this is a place to head to for an off the beaten track experience that will not disappoint.
  • In his post Destination on the Edge: Seal training , Tom gives the run-down on how you can get a military training experience without joining the military. For anyone thinking about joining the military, this might not be a bad idea. From his description, being in shape sounds like a must.
  • With movie award season here, check out Jeremy’s post Undiscovered New York: A movie lover’s guide to New York. There are tips for how to find out where films were shot, as well as, the hot spots for movie-watching. The guy knows what he’s talking about.
  • Mike’s post The most disappointing tourist attractions has gathered many hits this week. Read the comment section to find out which places others have loved or hated. I agree with Mike’s take on the Taj Mahal. Simply glorious. Another you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it attraction, for me, is the Grand Canyon.
  • When I read Grant’s post Smithsonian opens Forensic Files of the 17th Century, I thought, that’s an exhibit to see. As he points out the exhibit will be on display for two years, but time has a way of passing fast, so put this one on your things to do list.

And because it’s Bob Marley’s birthday, and I really want you to go into this weekend feeling swell, check out this post. The video will make your heart sing. At least it did mine and Karen’s. Karen, by the way has wowed me each week with photography tips that make me think I ought to carry my camera around more.

The world’s most disappointing tourist attractions

The Taj Mahal. La Sagrada Familia. The Grand Canyon. These are places that give visitors goose bumps and must be seen in person. The kinds of places that photographs just can’t do justice. I know that when I arrived at the Taj Mahal my jaw dropped. I was in awe. But not all travel destinations live up to the hype. All to often, you arrive at your prized spot only to snap a perfunctory photo and get back into your rental car feeling disenchanted and cheated. The Sydney Morning Herald did us a solid and put together their list of the world’s most disappointing tourist attractions.

Included on the list are Buckingham Palace (“It’s just a big grey building.”), the Spanish Steps in Rome (“It’s hard to get excited about a flight of stairs…”) and New York’s Times Square (“And what’s there to look at once you arrive? Billboards?”).

I missed the Spanish Steps when I was in Rome because I decided to take a nap instead of joining my friends on that walk. Their reaction when they returned to our apartment? Some shrugged shoulders and a lot of “meh.” And living in New York, I can tell you that Times Square is nothing more than one of Dante’s outer circles of hell, filled with sidewalk hustlers peddling schlock and not much else.

Take a look at their list and let us know what you think. Ever been underwhelmed by a famous landmark? What places have lived up to your high expectations? Drop us a line in the comments.

Click the pictures to learn about some unusual amusement parks, from R-Rated “Love Land,” to a park with a ride called “Dog Fart Switchback.”

Alternatively, click the images to learn about the most unusual museums in the world — covering topics from funeral customs, to penises, to stripping.

Toboggan Riding in Madeira

A friend of mine is writing a fictional memoir of her mother’s life. It’s fictious because she is imagining the specific details, but the big picture events she is writing about, for the most part, happened. One big picture event was when her mother went to Madeira on a Canary Islands cruise as the personal maid of a wealthy woman. My writing group feasts on the details.

While doing research for the flavorful details she could add in to make the story about her mother’s trip more vivid and real, my friend came across information about wicker basket toboggan rides in Monte. This was a memory jog. Her mother told her about these when my friend was growing up. Even though my friend’s mother may have whizzed down the streets in a basket built for two years ago, you can still do this.

It took looking at this You Tube video for me to fully get the picture. This looks like a blast and funky enough that if you go here, you just have to do it. Here’s Louise Douglas’s account of her Canary islands travels. In her article, “Boatgirl,” she fills in details about her experiences that includes this ride.

St. Lucia There & Back Part 3: Rodney Bay Beach

Rodney Bay Beach is like most beautiful tropical beaches and I did what most people do when vacationing near a beach so you can imagine how tough it is for me to divulge every single minute of my wading in crystal clear cool Caribbean waters between working on becoming a golden honey color on the sand. I’d seriously sound like a spoiled hag to sit here and tell you how I sipped on piña coladas and made jokes with the local guys begging for me to join them on one of their jet ski’s while you were more than likely slaving away in some stiff office environment flirting with deadlines and fire-breathing bosses hanging over your back. Then again this could come as a source of inspiration for all of the many Americans who fail to take a little time off from the office. With that being said I will provide you with some Rodney Bay Beach basics.

Rodney Bay doesn’t exactly stretch for miles on end, but for the proximate mile you get you’re bound to be sharing your little piece of paradise with several other vacationing tourists. For the most part the beach isn’t so jam-packed that it can’t accommodate your own beach chair and umbrella, but you can count on making friends. If you happen to be visiting the island single (ladies) all the boys working the beach offering boat rides, parasailing adventures, jet ski rides and the opportunity to see life under water while snorkeling or scuba diving are bound to be a little flirty and offer a discounted rate. If you happen to be a honeymooning couple they’ll offer just the same, but with a little less charm and for full price.
During my stay I actually didn’t spend a huge amount of my time at the beach. Two days is enough for me before I start mixing things up and venturing to other parts of the island. Most people found lazing on the soft sand with a deck of cards, building sand castles and munching on a few snacks for five or more days the only way to do it in Saint Lucia. That too is totally cool. Anything goes really. When I got antsy I took off on a beach photo safari and here is just a little of what I happened to capture between my two days spent relaxing and listening to the sounds of my reggae tunes found in my iPod. Feel free to use these as suggested methods to making the most of your stay or create an adventure of your own.

Should one choose to spring into action and cruise a couple of waves there are tons of options and ways to go for it!

Or you can simply contemplate quitting your job back home and moving to St. Lucia to live peacefully as you walk down the entire stretch of the beach.

Once you reach one end where the sand disappears and the waves begin crashing against the rocks instead you can sit for a moment before walking down to the other end.

When you’ve reached the opposite end you might consider finding a good spot to kick back for a while and drift off for a beach nap.

If you’re too hyped to be in Saint Lucia to sleep you can read the latest and greatest novel on all the book sellers lists.

But when the Fruit Man comes in you should probably get your EC (local currency) ready to buy fresh fruits and juice.

Just be sure you do your part in holding his boat while he slices up your fresh n’ fruity goods or he might just float back into the sea.

If you’ve got a camera in tow and a few filters to play with you can alter the look of your destination by attempting to make it look dreamier. I tried to, but it didn’t quite hit the mark.

Rodney Bay Beach is located on the northern part of the island and is a prime tourist area. There are tons of restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and nightlife to keep almost everyone busy for at least three or four days.