Category Archives: News

A marathon on ice for preservation of water 

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Located in Siberia, Lake Baikal is the largest, deepest, and richest freshwater lake in terms of biodiversity in the world. The annual Baikal Ice Marathon offers competitors from around the globe the opportunity to race across the frozen surface with the goal to help keep the water clean. One of the top 25 adventure marathons in the world, the Baikal Ice Marathon is both psychologically and physically demanding. The event is held at the start of March, when practically the entire lake is covered in ice. It is a long, cold, lonely 42.2-kilometre trail across the barren white landscape where progress is marked only by checkpoints positioned at 5 kilometre intervals. The vast open spaces, the bright rays of the sun, and the incredible, breathtaking beauty of the landscape help the hundreds of elite runners complete the course between the opposite shores.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Carl F. Bucherer keeps the commitment to environment

With their participation in the 14th Baikal Ice Marathon, Carl F. Bucherer once again demonstrated a respectful attitude toward the environment and the brand’s commitment to the value of preservation. The idea of participating in one of the world’s most difficult tests of strength and endurance was born in September 2017, when the Swiss watch manufacturer’s Executive Vice President Sales, Laurent Lecamp, and friend of the brand, renowned businessman, and four-time IRONMAN finisher Vladimir Voloshin first met at the opening of the Carl F. Bucherer boutique in Moscow, Russia.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer/Alexey Sedov)

Along with the values of the watch brand itself, both men share a passion for sport, considering it a source of inner strength and inspiration that allows them to move forward innovatively while preserving traditions. To prepare for the challenging race, Laurent Lecamp and Vladimir Voloshin, who live in different parts of the world, developed a groundbreaking formula for cooperation based on their shared outlook and values.

Due to extreme weather conditions, temperatures of –31°C, and a wind speed of 108 km/h, this year’s marathon had to be cut short after 21 kilometers, turning it into a challenging half-marathon with 153 participants. Laurent Lecamp and Vladimir Voloshin both finished 56th.

Clean Water Preservation Run 

Lake Baikal is located on the border of the Irkutsk region and Buryatia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lake’s shape is reminiscent of a giant crescent moon, stretching some 620 kilometers from the Northeast to the Southwest. Its width ranges from 24 to 79 kilometers. The ice marathon crosses over one of the most beautiful parts of the lake. As part of the Winteriad, a larger winter games festival that takes place at Lake Baikal, the Baikal Ice Marathon is held for a noble cause – the preservation of clean water. All of the participation fees from all of the athletes are donated in full to protect the lake and to maintain its purity and beauty. By participating in the event, Carl F. Bucherer is once more demonstrating their commitment to the value of preservation by supporting various international environmental projects.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer/Alexey Sedov)

A Strong Friendship 

The Baikal Ice Marathon marked the start of a close relationship between Carl F. Bucherer and Vladimir Voloshin. In April, Vladimir Voloshin will visit the company’s headquarters in Lucerne and the manufactory in Lengnau, Switzerland. “Being a friend of the watch brand Carl F. Bucherer is a great honor and a great responsibility at the same time,” said Vladimir Voloshin. “We complement one another perfectly because we share the same goals and values. Reliability, accuracy, and quality are extremely important to me, as these characteristics are what enable people to achieve good results in both business and sport.” Laurent Lecamp said: “Our shared experience of coping with extreme situations was unforgettable. It was proof that together, we can overcome any obstacle.”

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. On the left Vladimir Voloshin, Friend of the Brand of Carl F. Bucherer. On the right Laurent Lecamp, Executive Vice President Sales of Carl F. Bucherer. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Vladimir Voloshin 

With a career in international marketing that spans more than 20 years, Vladimir Voloshin has worked for global companies in the Baltic states, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and Russia. He is the Managing Partner of Newman Sport & Business Consulting, founder of the international IRONSTAR triathlon competitions and the ROSA RUN festival, host and moderator of a talk show featuring business leaders and top athletes, and an expert speaker at international marketing conferences and at TED events. He is also the first President of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO Alumni Association.

Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Sporting achievements: 

  • Four-time IRONMAN finisher, participant in the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii
  • Two-time IRONMAN 70.3 finisher
  • Two-time finisher of the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and Abu Dhabi International Triathlon
  • Finisher of the Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim and the legendary Paris–Roubaix cycle race
  • Finisher of the Quintuple Ultra Triathlon (19 kilometers swimming, 900 kilometers cycling, 211 kilometers running)
  • Finisher of the 186-kilometer 24-hour ultramarathon
  • Finisher of the Marathon des Sables multiday 240-kilometer run through the Sahara Desert
  • Finisher of the HARD RUN 2017 50-kilometer ultramarathon
  • Eight marathons (pacemaker in six), 12 half marathons (pacemaker in 11) in Russia and abroad
Listvyanka, Russia, March 7, 2018 – Baikal Ice Marathon. (PPR/Carl F. Bucherer)

Have you ever run a race in ice? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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In memory of a Star on International Day of Forests

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Star breathed its last yesterday and it is certainly the most disheartening news to hear on the International Day of Forests. Star, also called as Sitara was actually one of the stars of the forests of Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. As per news reports Star or Sitara, which was named T-28 in forest records died after being tranquillised. Perhaps a tranquilliser overdose took its life. He was tranquillised in attempts to rescue him from a village in Khandar area on the park’s periphery. It is said that this 13 year old male tiger had strayed close to a village where people had surrounded it. Forest officials reached there and in attempts to rescue, tried to tranquillise it.

Ironically, the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests is : Forests and Sustainable Cities and we probably lost Star because of this ever-increasing pressure on forests from the surrounding human settlements. The news of his death reminded me of the day, I had seen him on the safari. Just a short encounter of 11 minutes was enough to get etched in the memory for ever. That’s the reason that news of his death saddened me. Star was named so because it had a 5 point star mark over its left eye and also has bird shaped mark over the right. Rajbagh area of the park was his favourite place to give audience to curious, thrilled, overjoyed travellers from around the world.

It was cold winter day on January in the year 2011. Our morning safari  yielded no tiger sightings. Then came the afternoon safari. Normally in all tiger reserves across India, safari vehicles will have a specified route. There might be three-four or more different zones in the park and a safari vehicle is limited to a particular zone. That means, if you are in zone 2 for the morning safari, your route is limited to zone 2 only. Vehicles are not allowed to overlap the zones. This is done to manage the tourist traffic inside the park and ensure that a particular area or the wildlife in a particular area is not abused quite often because of any particular attraction and tourists are evenly distributed.

Also read: Some wild moments in Sariska!

But on that particular trip, we were guests of the district officials and hence we had a special number safari vehicle which has access to all zones. Although I am not at all fond of sighting sprints of safari vehicles inside the reserve, but that day our driver thought that he had the duty to give us a tiger sighting. Hence around 5.20 pm in the evening he received a call on his walkie-talkie about a tiger sighting and then for next ten minutes we had a bone-churning dash towards Rajbagh, which was quite a distance from that place. That’s where the T-28 or the Star male aka Sitara was on his evening stroll.

There were already hordes of safari vehicles there, might be more than 60 to 70 people around at that particular time. He was already spotted inside the jungle and everybody was waiting for him to come out in open, which he eventually did with full gusto fit for his stature.

Also read: Shh…Tiger is here!He than proceeded to make the marking. One of the favourite acts of tigers to mark their territory.

Have a look: Two cubs on play at Panna- A photo essay

It then cam to the road. Looked in a very playful mood. It was  very interesting to see how these big cats maintained their composure as well as indifference despite of being surrounded by so many humans. They were least afraid but equally attentive. I don’t think they would be unaware of any lurking danger. But they were quite sure of their territory and their command over it, where they were kings. Sitara has history of getting too close to safari vehicles.And, then relaxed itself giving full view to all safari vehicles.After few minutes, it again made the move. Kept playing in the mud.Looking for tiger? Read : Spot the tiger in this wild image!

And then Sitara decided that it was the time to end the day’s audience and it walked away. It crossed our way, moved to jungle on to the right. Even than it didn’t disappear immediately. It kept everybody interested, but didn’t return. After a couple of minutes, it went deep inside. In the fading light, it was soon impossible to keep track of its stripes.Love wild? Read: Dudhwa sans tigers!

It all ended in just 11 minutes- the royal show, but gave everybody around a plenty to cheer about for rest of their lives.

Changing colours? Read: White Tiger – When mutation becomes exhibit!

Star aka Sitara aka T-28 was a young tiger, full of life and glory as well. Having born to tigress T-27, it was first spotted in 2008 but it established itself very quickly among the ranks. Got the name and fame as well when it got the courage to challenge the great tigress Machali. It is being said that in 2009 Sitara and Machali had many territorial fights. Sitara controlled a large territory and despite fights with Machali, also mated her two daughters including Sundari.

But all will be tales now. Goodbye Star!!

Have you been fortunate to have sighting of this particular tiger? How was the experience? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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Nightclubbing: Spring parties you should not miss in Brussels

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Every year, Brussels lights up on fine days. Clubbers and fans of electronic music are not left out. New concepts emerge and iconic venues in the capital offer attractive line-ups for aficionados of the dance floor. C12, Surrender and the not-to-be-missed Listen festival invite night clubbers to get out on the dance floor. The queen of diversity with its 183 nationalities, Brussels also prides itself on offering a wide range of late night party venues. From tech house to dance, not forgetting hip hop, all musical styles can be found here. Many head for a night out in the capital to see the latest DJ or have a crazy time in one of a string of lively late night venues.

At this time of year, new night-time events organised by the well-known names of Brussels nightlife erupt in the capital to the great delight of night owls. As well as the birthday of Fuse, which, as happens every year, offers a programme worthy of its international renown, the Listen festival has unveiled an impressive line-up. Among the DJs present, great names like Mount Kimbie and Floating Point from Britain, or John Talabot from Spain will be presiding over the decks in the iconic venues of the capital, including the magnificent Art Nouveau gallery designed by the architect Victor Horta and Flagey.

This season’s list of venues and events for partygoers is very long. Here is a glimpse of what’s in store:

Tourisme Bar Halles Saint Géry Sint Gorikshallen © Jean-Pol Lejeune

The events

Libertine Under My Garage Last edition:

Libertine Under My Garage is the very recent merging of 2 Brussels groups, Libertine Supersport and Under My Garage, which share the same vision of clubbing and the same sense of a future-oriented musical direction… Their aim is to build a coherent programme of Belgian and foreign artists whose sole concern is to liven up the dance floor. No headliners or hype producers come to play their five-tracks and three remixes, just real DJs who know how to mix and offer a musical journey, without getting stuck in just one genre.

  • Date: 23 March 2018
  • line-up: Young Marco (NL), Central (DA), DJ Sports (DK), Rick Shiver (BE), Arthur Tixhon (BE), Rey Colino (BE)
  • Venue: QUAY 01

Listen festival

The Listen festival consists of DJ sets, concerts, showcases, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, a vinyl exchange, a music equipment market, and much more. The festival welcomes the best of ‘left-of-centre’ electronic music and national and international clubbing to Brussels. Clubbers will discover up-and-coming new artists and get carried away by the rhythms of well-known artists.

  • The headliners: Actress x Mount Kimbie (B2B DJ), Antal, Bicep (DJ), DJ Stingray, Floating Points (DJ), Hunee, John Talabot, Jonny Nash & Suzanne Kraft ‘live’, Lefto, Luke Slater & Mr. Scruff
  • Dates: 29 March to 1 April 2018
  • Venues: Horta Gallery, Flagey, Beursschouwburg, La Madeleine, ING Art Center…


The second year of this new electro party concept. The project was started by Darko, the DJ who created the famous Statik Dancin nights and a member of the team that founded the Brussels Electronic Music Festival. In close cooperation with the arts of the digital scene, in 2018 Darko is expanding Surrender to QUAY 01. “Surrender” grew out of an original idea that came to the Belgian DJ following a long stay in Berlin, the temple of electro. Its concept is a series of events intended to promote up-and-coming Belgian and international artists and to indulge a shared passion for electronic music.

  • Date: 7 April 2018
  • Venue: QUAY 01
  • Line-up: Hubble (live), Andrea Ferlin (DJ), Darko (DJ)

The birthday of Fuse: Len Faki extended set

Founded in 1994 by Thierry Coppens and Peter Decuypere, Fuse is THE techno temple of Brussels. It has seen the greatest names of the genre behind the decks (with no exceptions). It’s a must for every self-respecting clubber. The unique atmosphere that reigns here attracts people in the know from far away and the scenes at the end of the night, bordering on hysteria, have become almost legendary.

  • Date: 14 April 2018
  • Venue: Fuse


Enjoy an international line-up of acclaimed and up-and-coming electronic music DJs and producers whilst visiting major exhibitions: that’s the unique concept behind BOZAR NIGHT. This edition is one you can’t afford to miss. The minimal house and techno of Detroit-born Magda, the subtle and elegant electronic music of veteran Frenchwoman Chloé, the raw, danceable beats of Kyoka, Haring’s playful experiments, the dark abstract textures of Monolithe Noir and the narrative sounds of Liyo will lift your spirits into this unique BOZAR Night.

  • Date: 30 April 2018
  • Venue: BOZAR
Tourisme Bar Halles Saint Géry Sint Gorikshallen © Jean-Pol Lejeune

The venues


After more than 5 years spent organising musical events in Brussels, as well as Antwerp, Ghent, Paris and Berlin, Deep in House has just launched its new project: C12. The name comes from one of the unused spaces of the Horta Gallery, a gallery located in the bowels of Brussels Central Station and designed by Victor Horta.The aim of this new space is to promote tolerance and open-mindedness in a cultural, festive setting. On the programme: concerts, exhibitions, parties and artistic performances.

  • Dates: several dates every week
  • Venue: Horta Gallery
Tourisme Nightclub ¬© Jean-Pol Lejeune

Le Zodiak

Founded in 2016, the ZODIAK is a club that is open to everyone. The ZODIAK offers a night- time experience that is out of this world only a few steps from the Grand-Place de Bruxelles. Fans of electronic music will be able to enjoy a journey through sound and light in this new place where the clubbing and underground cultures rub up against each other. This spring, ZODIAK’s programme focuses on the promotion of local artists and labels, but also hosts artists from Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

  • Dates: Every Friday and Saturday
  • Venue: Zodiak

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Aquatica Orlando celebrates 10 years of fun memories

On March 1st, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, Orlando celebrated ten years of providing extreme and serene watery fun to Orlando visitors and residents alike. The park, which opened March 1, 2008, quickly became a staple in the vast landscape of Orlando water parks and ranks as one of the best water parks in the United States by TripAdvisor®.

To commemorate the park’s special day, Aquatica commissioned the sculpting of a 22-ton sand sculpture depicting a birthday cake inspired by Aquatica’s latest addition, Ray Rush. The sculpture measures 15’ wide, 8’ tall and took skilled artisans nearly 25 hours to complete. The park was also recently voted “Best Water Park” by Orlando Sentinel readers in the publication’s annual Best Bets reader’s choice awards in 2017. “The Sentinel just confirmed what everyone already knew, Aquatica is the place where Orlando residents go when they want the best water park experience,” said David Heaton, Aquatica Orlando vice president. “We are so excited to be the water playground of choice for Orlando locals and visitors alike.”

Orlando’s best water park is only getting better in 2018 with the ultimate birthday gift for park guests, Ray Rush. The new attraction promises to be a fully-loaded water adventure which will combine three unique slide elements, never before seen at Aquatica, into one action-packed attraction families can enjoy together. With a height requirement of only 42”, this all-new triple-fusion family raft ride will allow guests of all ages to slide, splash and soar like never before on a slide that is both thrilling and family-friendly.

The park is also celebrating the occasion by offering an incredible deal on Annual Passes. Aquatica Pass Members enjoy unlimited admission and free parking as well as discounts and the opportunity to be among the first to ride Ray Rush when it opens in spring 2018. The park is also offering guests the opportunity to purchase 6” x 8” photos in the park for just $10 through the end of April.

Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark Orlando

From high-speed water slides and exhilarating wave pools, to tranquil beaches, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark® Orlando, delights all ages and interests. This one-of-a-kind waterpark is home to some of the world’s most thrilling water rides, featuring 42 slides, rivers and lagoons and 84,000 square feet of sparkling white, sandy beaches. Get ready to brave a watery free-fall on Ihu’s Breakaway Falls™ – the steepest and only multi-drop tower slide of its kind in Orlando. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, offers exclusive attractions that promise unlimited fun, sending guests on amazing undersea adventures.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organisations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioural training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

Photo: Busch Gardens

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognised brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company.

Traditional folklore and cool technology are woven together at Taiwan Lantern Festival

The 29th Taiwan Lantern Festival was officially opened, with the lighting of the lanterns in the Main Lantern area. The exhibition scale for this year’s festival reaches 50 hectares, making it the biggest lantern festival ever held in Taiwan. The exhibitions will feature the main lantern which depicts an indigenous child with a Taiwanese dog, portraying the theme of Loyal Auspiciousness. Besides this main attraction, the innovative designs area will showcase various exquisite traditional lanterns that embody traditional customs and auspicious themes; these are sure to dazzle people.

For the first time, full-field spotlights will be used to shine the latitude and longitude beams in the sky and present the Tropic of Cancer going through the mountains, sea and plains of Chiayi County. The design incorporates folk culture and will give people a brand new sensory experience. International tourists who visit the “2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival” and present their passport or relevant entry certificate from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 3-10 at the No. 1 Service Desk can receive a 2018 Year of the Dog DIY paper lantern, a limited edition gift and a voucher (valid from March 3-10), which they can use to access the Main Lantern Area to watch the light show.

On the 15th day of the first lunar month, the Lantern Festival, also known as the Little New Year, celebrates an important traditional folk activity for the Lunar New Year. Traditionally, residents celebrated by setting off firecrackers, displaying hand-held lanterns, and going to temples to look at beautiful lanterns. Amid the fun atmosphere, it’s also a time to wish for peace and prosperity for the country and people. Every year, during the Lantern Festival, throughout Taiwan, large and small scale celebrations are held. The biggest difference between the Taiwan Lantern Festival and the lantern festivals held in various counties and cities in Taiwan is that it integrates tradition and modernity.

Based on traditional culture, the Taiwan Lantern Festival each year uses the animal sign on the Chinese zodiac as the theme of the main lantern. It also pays attention to traditional customs in determining the location, construction and placement rituals. The Main Lantern’s base is designed based on the Chinese Eight Trigrams, which symbolises Taiwan’s traditional philosophy and culture. The Main Lantern lighting ceremony time is selected based on what is considered an auspicious moment. It also involves the traditional blowing of the whistle. (When the President lights the lantern, a team of people blow whistles 9 times, when the Premier lights the lantern, the whistles are blown 8 times and when the Minister of Transportation and Communications lights the lantern, the whistle is blown 7 times). In addition to that, drumming, and hitting the gongs precede the lighting of Main Lantern. And with traditional etiquette, and folk tales as the theme, we cleverly combine lanterns with scenario-based technology to create an ambilight-like scenery.

To bring refreshing results to the public, a number of initiatives have also been planned for the “2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival,” including the center of attention, the Main Lantern “Loyal Auspiciousness ” which for the first time will depict not only the zodiac animal of the year but also include a Taiwan indigenous child waving, so that spectators can feel as if the child is greeting them and sending them good wishes with a smile. With the vigorous development of mobile payments and the introduction of cashless bazaars, the public also can experience the convenience and friendliness brought by science and technology. In order to showcase Taiwan’s intention to promote the protection of the bay resources, the “Bayside Tourism Lantern Area” has also been established to demonstrate the unique vitality of Taiwan being surrounded by the sea. A National Palace Museum water lantern area has also been laid out, and set up a Lantern Festival environmental navigation area, an environmental live broadcast and digital carved water curtain projection.

Through years of constant innovation, the Taiwan Lantern Festival has become one of Taiwan’s premier folk festivals. It has been selected as one of the “World’s Best Festivals” by Discovery and praised by international media as a Disneyland without a roller coaster! Through the holding of the Lantern Festival, the development of various types of Lantern Festival celebrations in Taiwan will be further promoted and world-class lantern designing and making technology will be cultivated. Chiayi County sits in front of a mountain range and faces the sea. It is the only county in Taiwan that spans Alishan, Siraya and Yun-Chia-Nan, three major national scenic areas. In addition to enjoying the sunrise and sea of clouds on Alishan, visitors can also visit the villages of the Zhou indigenous tribe on the mountain, as well as the eco-rich Aogu Wetland, Ruili Scenic Area’s Yanziya, the Dongshi Fisherman’s Wharf’s famous White Sand Beach and eat delicious seafood, Fengtian Temple, which is dedicated to the worshipping of the Goddess Mazu in Xingang, and Bantou village cochin pottery village. Visitors also shouldn’t miss delicious local food such as Minxiong goose, Budai seafood, Dongshi oysters, Xingang peanut candy, and duck soup. Traveling to various tourist spots in Chiayi County during the day and enjoying the Taiwan Lantern Festival in the evening will surely be the best way to celebrate the festival.

In order to promote Taiwan’s unique activities, the Tourism Bureau Chiayi County of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has been highlighting the special festivals of Taiwan in the past few years. In addition to the continuous integration and marketing of the Taiwan Lantern Festival, and other Lantern Festival events, such as the Taipei Lantern Festival, the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival Art Festival, the New Taipei City Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Miaoli Fire Side Dragon Festival, Tainan Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival, and Taitung Bombing of Master Han Dan Festival, since 2013 has been promoting the “Taiwan Tourism Calendar” program, which integrates information on various large-scale special events in Taiwan, including the upcoming annual meeting of the world’s most beautiful bays in Taiwan (Penghu), the Taichung World Flora Exhibition (Taichung City), the 9th Asian Birdwatching Exposition (Chiayi County) and other international conferences and activities. Visitors from home and abroad are welcome to visit the unique and magnificent sightseeing activities of Taiwan’s folk festivals.

About Taiwan

Taiwan is located in the western Pacific Ocean 160 km (100 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland and is a convenient gateway to Asia for the Indian traveler.

FLIGHTS: A number of airlines such as China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern and Thai Airways fly directly or with a stopover, in to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Kaohsiung International Airport and the Taichung International Airport from the Indian metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Scoot Airlines also connects the cities of Jaipur, Amritsar, Lucknow, Chennai, Trichy, Kochi, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad with a stopover in Singapore to Taipei. The average flight time between India and Taiwan is of about 6.5 hours; and Taiwan is 2.5 hours ahead of India.

VISA: Indian Passport holders can enjoy Visa exempt entry into Taiwan for 30 days via an online system. The applicant must have at least one of the following valid or expired visas issued by UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries.

  • Valid resident or permanent resident card
  • Valid entry visa (may be electronic visa)
  • Resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan

Photo credits : Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Have you seen any lantern festival? How beautiful it was? Share your views in the comments section below.

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A year to celebrate the art of Circus

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How fond we all were of circus in our childhood days. The animals and the acrobats and the jokers. Circus might be thing of past in some part of the world, but the art is still alive and kicking. Actually, there are lot of efforts to preserve and modernise this art. European capital Brussels has been leading efforts in this regard. There is no city in world better than Brussels when we talk about showcasing its different art forms. Similarly, Brussels is now for the next one year showcasing the art of circus. Brussels also has a for this specific purpose. aims to promote the vitality of Brussels circus arts, from March 2018 to March 2019, with an explosion of shows and performances in Brussels, a tour of 8 Brussels circus troupes in Italy and France, an avalanche of festivals, and many more initiatives. kicks off on 12 March 2018 at BOZAR with a celebratory evening and the opening of Festival UP!.

© Sylvain Frappat

BRUSSELS’ BEST AMBASSADORS ARE ITS ARTISTS is an initiative of Minister Rachid Madrane, in charge of the Promotion of Brussels for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. After contemporary art in Paris in 2016 (INDISCIPLINE) and contemporary dance in Berlin in 2017 (RADIKAL), is the third edition in a series that aims to promote Brussels by showcasing its artists, with a project that’s bigger than its two predecessors.

“In the last few years, circus has become one of Brussels’ nest calling cards. Every year since 2015, I have supported a Brussels troupe with the presenting of a show as part of the famous Avignon festival. In 2018 several major events will be taking place, highlighting Brussels’ circus landscape. Notable among them will be the organisation, for the 1st time ever in Brussels, of the Fresh Circus #4 seminar – which gathers more than 400 circus professionals – and the new campus for the ESAC (Brussels’ circus arts college), one of the world’s most prestigious circus art schools. was born of the desire to present the extraordinary vitality of Brussels’ circus arts to circus a cionados, novices, producers and all those who love Brussels.” exclaimed Minister Madrane excitedly.

This year-long celebration of the circus arts will be made up of two sections, both national and international. Visit.Brussels, Brussels’ tourism agency, is in charge of the organisation of Patrick Bontinck, CEO of has said that, “Outside of the launch evening on 12 March at BOZAR, focusCIRCUS,brussels’s concept is not to create new initiatives because Brussels is already brimming with circus festivals and events. Organised in collaboration with Espace Catastrophe, ESAC circus college, the City of Brussels and the Halles de Schaerbeek, aims to promote Brussels and its circus scene by uniting, under one name and project, the four partner’s various events, and supporting them with their communication and distribution.” kicks off in Brussels on 12 March with a grand festive evening at BOZAR and the opening of Festival UP!, then continues until March 2019 with the UP!, HOPLA!, and Hors Pistes festivals, shows and performances by students from ESAC and the Fresh Circus#4 seminar. The international tour of 8 Brussels circus troupes in Italy and France starts in September 2018 and finishes in January 2019. Troupes will include Back Pocket, Carré Curieux, Cie la scie du Bourgeon, Cie Menteuses, Gaël Santisteva, Piergiorgio Milano, Poivre Rose, Claudio Stellato.

Have a look at some other snap shots of this years UP! festival-

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A beautiful ‘Assumption’ leading to discontent!

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Almost 5,500 kms from Delhi, far down in Indian Ocean just about 600 kms from coast of Tanzania in Africa, an unimaginably beautiful tiny island with an area of just 11.6 sq. km is a source of discontent because of India. It must be something we rarely know about, but despite its small size Assumption Island, which is part of the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles has a lot to cherish about. Debate is about India’s plan to make a Naval base at the island. Much to the concern of environmentalists and Seychellois, this island has already been leased out to India for 20 years and just 20 days back India and Seychelles signed a military agreement to develop the Naval base.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

Good things first. Often called the jewel in the crown of Seychelles, Aldabra is the world’s second largest coral atoll. The site has been designated in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, purely for three things—it contains superb natural phenomena; superlative on-going ecological and biological processes; and significant natural habitats to conserve biological diversity. Because of its remote location in the Indian Ocean, Aldabra Atoll remains unspoiled by human influence and provides an excellent example of natural habitat where evolutionary and ecological processes can be studied. The atoll comprises four large coral islands which enclose a shallow lagoon; the group of islands is itself surrounded by a coral reef. This atoll has an area of 150 sq km which is about one-third of the landmass of Seychelles, but has no human population other than the staff of the Research station.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

Aldabra Atoll thus is a rare and beautiful tropical paradise. Seen from above, the coral islands form a nearly closed ring that is home to a riot of marine biodiversity. The undisputed rulers of the islands are the thousands of giant tortoises. Due to difficulties of access and the atoll’s isolation, Aldabra has been protected from human influence and thus retains some 152,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of this reptile. Biologists have also documented 400 endemic species and subspecies, including birds such as the Aldabra drongo. Extremely isolated, Aldabra is almost untouched by humans. Aldabra atoll is closer to the coast of Africa 630 km than to Mahé, and is in the most southwesterly part of the Seychelles. It is 407 km northwest of Madagascar and 440 km from Moroni on the Comoro Islands. The atoll is the largest raised coral reef in the world with an elevation of 8 metres (26 ft); and the second-largest atoll in the world after Kiritimati Atoll. The name Aldabra is said to be of Arabic origin. Arabs had settled in East Africa in 7th century. But first recorded visit to Aldabra is said to be in 1742 by a Frenchman Lazare Picault. Human settlement in Seychelles is said to have started in 1770. But this human settlement was immediate threat to giant tortoise as well as Green turtles. Both of these rare species almost went extinct in 19th century when some sense prevailed and conservation efforts started. By then their population had got limited to Aldabra atoll.

Assumption Island with its airstrip in the centre

The island of Assumption lies about 37 kilometres to the southwest. This island has a landing strip and a handful of buildings, it is home to the scientists that are the only continuous human presence on the islands. Assumption is also the gateway to Aldabra atoll. The airstrip of Assumption is the fastest link to the outside world for the Aldabra group. Assumption was devastated by guano mining in the early 20th century. Over 160,000 tons of this deposit was scraped off the tiny island and the vegetation removed to facilitate exploitation. With the loss of the plants, the birds that depended on them were also lost. Giant tortoises were wiped out. Seabirds suffered, especially boobies. Today it is slowly recovering.

In recent years, birds from Aldabra have been sighted for the first time in more than a century. The main beach is one of the finest in Seychelles and some Green Turtles still nest here. Diving too is excellent. Aldabra is said to be biogeographically much more closely related to Madagascar than the rest of Seychelles. All the land birds have their nearest relatives in Madagascar, including the Aldabra Rail, the last surviving flightless bird of the Indian Ocean. Other endemic species we will encounter ashore are the Aldabra Drongo, Madagascar Coucal, Souimanga Sunbird and Aldabra Fody. Seabirds include 10,000 pairs of frigate birds breeding in one of the world’s largest colonies. Shorebirds include large numbers of crab plovers, a speciality of the western Indian Ocean. If that’s not enough, this atoll is also the one of only two oceanic nesting colonies of flamingos. There are large ray and shark populations in the lagoon as well.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

The fringing reef Astove averages about 250 meters from the shoreline, and beyond this the floor plummets steeply. The wall off Astove is one of the most awe-inspiring and spectacular dive sites in the world and has been rated by diving experts as one of the finest in the world. From the shallow edge of the reef, the waters plummet to incredible depths. Huge groupers, reef fish and shoals of pelagic fish congregate alongside forests of Gorgonian fan corals as Green Turtle drift slowly past. Hundreds of species of fish, Green Turtles and even the anchors of wrecked ships are to be seen.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

Now this rare beauty is embroiled in a huge debate. India wants to build a military base on Assumption, and the Seychelles government is ceding the control of the island to India for 20 years. For India, the atoll is not just an isolated speck of land, but a potentially vital strategic outpost in its rivalry with China, who acquired its first African Naval base in Djibouti in November 2015. Once ready, this base will help India exercise greater control over the Indian Ocean’s western region all the way up to the piracy-prone east African coastline. India already acquired a fully operational coastal radar system in Seychelles in March 2015.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

Environmentalists are alarmed at the prospect: The atoll has remained pristine because of its remote location and the limited number of people allowed to visit. That would change dramatically – and in the worst case, the island could become a battlefield. Construction workers and military personnel could introduce invasive animal and plant species to the islands with unpredictable consequences for the ecosystem. Soldiers would litter the island with plastic and other waste. Ships and aircraft would cause noise and pollute the air. Leaking fuel and oil could contaminate the soil and water – not to mention the possibility of major oil spills. These pristine islands are feared to be sacrificed to military and geopolitical interests.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

Let’s go just about half a century in past. In 1962 for the first time British and American governments initiated surveys for a military base here. That also included a plan for a deep sea port. But because of huge outcry from scientific and environmental organisations, plans for the military base were abandoned. Instead a research station was established in 1971. In 1982, Aldabra was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. So, life seems to have gone a full circle for the biodiversity of Aldabra in just about 50 years, with another threat looming.

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Among those opposing the India’s military base in Aldabra is the former Tourism Minister of Seychelles Alain St. Ange. He says that these pristine islands must not be sacrificed to military and geopolitical interests. He plans to send a petition to the government of the Seychelles and UNESCO to protect Aldabra Atoll. There was also a protest in capital Victoria on this issue few days back. Ralph Volcere, one of the organisers of the protest, said that Seychellois do not want this project, as the details were not made public. Volcere said that though there has been talked about the base since 2015, everything was kept secret, adding that it was only a couple of weeks ago that the issue was brought back again and the signing was held soon after. Volcere added that it is not right for the government to give away the island which is part of the Seychelles heritage. Another demonstrator, Vicky Lanza, said that a project of this magnitude has catastrophic impacts on the islands pristine environment. “Once there is a military base, there will be an element of control and locals will not have access even in the vicinity the island,” said Lanza. Many locals are just worried of the fact that just how can one of our islands be given to another country.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

The agreement was signed for the second time on 27th January this year after revisions were made to the previous one. In the revised agreement, the main aim is to provide a framework for assistance to Seychelles by India. It will help enhance the military capabilities in control and maritime surveillance. The project will cover about a quarter of Assumption, which is some 1,140 southwest of the Seychelles main island of Mahe. However Indian High Commission says that the revised agreement will benefit both countries.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

The Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles, Ausaf Sayeed, said the agreement will provide Seychelles with the opportunity to enhance its military capabilities and safeguard its marine zone. “In return, India will benefit through better communication and safe trade in the region as most imports of goods pass through the Indian Ocean,” Sayeed said. The Indian High Commissioner also said that although the project is being financed entirely by India, Seychelles retains full ownership of the facilities and sovereign rights over the island. He added that the project will jointly be managed by both countries and will not limit the movement of citizens to the island nor to the island of Aldabra as many are speculating. However it is said that 7 villagers here were given an option to stay on island with restrictions or get transferred to Astove island, where Indian government has already built residential houses. India has targeted to complete the construction of all military buildings by this year itself.

Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)

On the other hand the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) , the organisation mandated to protect the Aldabra atoll, says that “it is certain that an enforcement presence is needed in the area to cut down on and prevent illegal activities currently happening in the Aldabra Group.” SIF is hopeful that the Seychelles Government and National Assembly will ensure that the implementation of the agreement will benefit Aldabra. But the question of threat to the bio-diversity of Aldabra atoll still remains unanswered.

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