Tasman Glacier - New Zealand



When you drive from Christchurch to Queenstown, there are many spectacular places through the journey which you can't be missed. Among them, our kids got too excited to see glorious Tasman Glacier when we landed in Christchurch. New Zealand South island is full of natural beauties with lakes, mountains, forests, beaches and fiords. Among of them Tasman Glacier is one of the famous and iconic attractions in the world. Incredible long deep Tasman Glacier is in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.


From Christchurch to Mount Cook National Park, we drove through the New Zealand  State Highway8 by a ranted car. 

Lake Tekapo
This scenic route is amazing full of  picturesque scenery. Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo located on the South Island of New Zealand.

Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki can be seen from State Highway 8 when driving between Tekapo and Twizel. When driving, you’ll notice people parking by the side of the road and taking photos.

Lake Pukaki

Mount Cook Scenic Drive
Soon after Twizel we turned onto Mount Cook Road. There's a sign displays at the  T -junction saying "Mt Cook/Aorak" when the Mount Cook road starts. You just drive along the flat valley floor to the base of the mountain. That drive is magnificent! Words can't describe the beauty. It’s a great place to take photos, especially when there’s lots of snow on the top of the mountains. Doing this drive without stopping would also be rather missing the breathtaking views, so we spent more time on the road side to enjoy beautiful cloud touching mountain range.



Scenic Mount Cook Drive

Close to the end of the Mount Cook road you can see two detours, one of the Hooker Valley and the other one through the Tasman valley.The end of the road to Tasman Valley, we reached  the Tasman Glacier view point car park.

Car Park and the Toilet at the Entrance

Gravel Stairs to the view point



Bring a bottle of water and remember to go to the toilet before the trip. Then there will be no toilet after the following 1.5 hours. There is a small toilet just before the walking trail start and a sign by the entrance read "15 min walk. There is no entry fee to visit Tasman Glacier. It is a  few minute walk from the car park to the glacier lake. But with kids we spent about 30 min. The walk affords spectacular views all the way along.


Spectacular views all the way long


The hike starts off easy and then gets harder as it goes to the top of a range overlooking the glacier lake. Mostly on gravel stairs with no handrails. Blue Lake,Green Lakes and the panoramic views of the valley behind also visible from above as you climb the steps to the viewing area.


Blue Lake & Green Lake
When the Blue Lakes were first formed, they were fed by the Tasman glaciers. The blue water is melt water that is older than the milky colored water in the lake. Milky colored water has large amounts of ground up rock and when the rock flour finally settles the water becomes blue. So they were turquoise blue in color, hence the name "Blue Lakes"


Over the course of several years, the Tasman Glaciers have shrunk and retreated, so the melt water from the glaciers don't flow into the Blue Lakes anymore. The lake is now filled by the rainwater, supporting the growth of algae, causing the lake to appear green.


We walked a little further up to the higher viewing point at the  hill  gorgeous views of the Tasman Lake and Tasman Glaciers opened up. There were few signs with some recent history of the glacier. Wow!!! it was gorgeous!!! I felt so privileged to be witnessing yet another marvel of nature. Views really take your breath away.


We went there in April. It was quite cold. The wind was chilling when at the top of the viewing point.
It can be very windy at the viewpoint so secure your belongings, specially hats and scarfs.

Tasman Glacier


Tasman Glacier
The Tasman Glacier is the largest glacier in New Zealand by far. Currently the glacier is 23.5 km(14.6 miles) long, 4 km (2.5 miles) wide and lies entirely within the borders of Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. It covers 101 square km(39sq miles) and is around 600m (2000 feet) thick at it’s maximum depth. The terminus is 200m deep.

Tasman Glacier is absolutely enormous and it is known as Haupapa as well. The upper areas of the glacier are covered with snow and the lower glacier is entirely rock covered.

Global Warming Effects to the Glacier
Some 22,000 to 16,000 years ago, it was even more imposing. Joined by ice from the Murchison, Hooker and Mueller glaciers, the Tasman glacier stretched for 115 km. In the 1970’s there was no lake at all but since the 1990’s the glacier has been melting rapidly. The ice has thinned so much that in the mid 1980s, ponds at the Tasman’s terminus joined to form a lake. The lakes are increasing in size as icebergs break off into the lake. It is also melting from the surface, shrinking around 150m in depth since it was first surveyed in 1891.


Icebergs breaking due to global warming


We could see how much of the original glacier size is supposed to be from an old photo shown at the view point and compare to the present size of the very much reduced glacier to know how much climate change has caused this damage. The lake is getting bigger since Tasman Glacier is melting more than it used to do. In 1890 the glacier was 29 km long and by 2027 it’s expected to be only 20 km.


This is one of our New Zealand highlights. If you have not seen a glacier this place is an eye opener.The views of the glacier and the lake are absolutely wonderful. There is about 300 steps to get up to the lookout but well worth the effort. There were no broken icebergs float in the lake the day we went there. But we saw some icebergs near the glacier. If you want to see them, summer is the best time.



If you're in the South island you really must visit this Tasman Glacier. Highly recommend. But remember, comfortable walking shoes should be worn and wear warm clothes, gloves and sunglasses to the Glacier. I’ve been fortunate to see this remarkable glacier. It's a place I'll definitely be visiting again!












Shanghai Tower - China


In our trip to China was so joyful and full of amazing things. We spent 6 days in Shanghai and visited so  many places.The Shanghai Tower is one of the most interest places among gorgeous experiences in China. Specially our curious son wanted to visit and learn about that marvelous skyscraper and take photos to show school friends.

Way from Lujiazui station to Shanghai tower

Luckily we could book a hotel very close to The Bund. The Bund is a beautiful waterfront area in central Shanghai. It runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. From that hotel to the Shanghai tower is walking distance about 1.5 km.


There are many ways to get there, the most common option is by subway.Take Line 2 and get off at Lujiazui station. But don't forget to get out the station at exit 6, then the tower will be arrived. If you get wrong exit, it will be hard to find the correct path and you may be take more time to enter the right path again. Because subway stations have many exits and gates in Shanghai and Beijing.


Oriental Perl Tower view at the city




The Oriental Pearl Tower
My kids were enjoying Shanghai city walk and beautiful views. Some places were full of gorgeous  flowers  and tall buildings. Nice areas to walk and ride a bicycle.There is a beautiful magenta color tall The Oriental Pearl tower standing middle of the city. The Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower is located opposite to the Bund and just beside the Huangpu River. 
 
Many tourists and locals like to visit here.It is 468m (1535 Feet) tall tower is ranked as the 5th tallest tower in the world, and the 3rd tallest tower in Asia. It has an unique architectural design with attractive color.


From anyplace in the city,you can see the Shanghai tower dominates among other buildings.Wow!!! it is marvelous. Through various malls or over footbridges along Century Avenue, you get to Shanghai Tower.

Shanghai tower dominates in the city

If you have bought the admission ticket online, you can directly go to the entrance of the observatory to pick up the ticket on a dedicated device, which can be found at the level B1 after you get in from the main entrance by the street.If you buy tickets at the desk,they ask an ID such as passport,  but if you don’t have one they send you to a machine to get a photo printed don't worry, this is free so not a big issue if you forget your passport.The ticket price is lower, the normal entry price is only 180 RMB, it is approximately 25 USD.

At the entrance

After entering into the entrance, the first place prepared for visitors is known as the preface hall of the observatory, there are some pictures and videos showing the development of Shanghai Tower, and some diagrams and models that introduce some other tallest buildings around the world.

Observatory hall




Inside the preface hall

After watching the interesting things in preface hall, we were take an escalator to the level B2, you will then wait for the high-speed elevator in a queue, usually it takes about 5 to 10 minutes while it can also take up to half an hour on holidays and weekends.

Fastest Elevator in the World
Our ride to the 118th floor viewing platform comes by way of the Guinness World Record for world’s fastest elevator, which rockets up and down the interior at an ear-popping 18 m/sec, 55 seconds on average to reach the top floor. (around 45mph). The sightseeing hall is located on the 118th floor and then we can walk to 119th floor. Once on the 118F there is plenty of space to walk.The mind blowing elevator ride was fast and my son trilled the speed of it. The tower is clean and the tour guides speak very good English.

World fastest elevator going down


Amazing Architecture
An American architect company Gensler, in cooperation with Jun Xia, a Chinese architect, were the creators of the design of this majestic tower. 632m (2073 feet) tall Shanghai Tower is now the tallest building in China and the second tallest building on earth, only surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It is located in China’s Shanghai, Asia, in the Pudong district. It has 133 floors and five of floors are underground.There are 128 floors above the ground and total area of 420,000 sq m (4,520,842 sq feet). The helix shaped beautiful building is distinctive. Each one floor twisted by nearly 1 degree.

The helix shaped twisted skyscraper

The tower includes express elevators capable of taking passengers up to the observation level at over 18 m/sec (40 mph). The elevators  carry people from the second level basement to the 118th floor in just 55 seconds.Then we walked to the floor 119th.

119th Floor


Stunning View
We luckily had good weather, because on some days, it is in or above the clouds. The views on a clear sunny day are too good. The air outside at this height is changing constantly so, choose a clear sunny day ,and you will be satisfied with an unforgettable sight. These floors are the highest floors with observatory in the world.Wow!!!! speechless!!!. The view from the observation deck was amazing and when we were looking down to skyscrapers I got a feel for how high this building actually is. Yes, it is super high at 546 meters able to walk around with the a 360 degree view. Don't forget to get some amazing photos from here.

Observatory deck at the 119th floor

This building is one of the new wonders of the world. From up here, the Oriental Pear Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower look like toy buildings.

 World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower looks like toy buildings.

Oriental pearl tower looks like a kids toy


Standing by the windows, we can enjoy the spectacular views of the city and the beautiful Huangpu river under the feet.

Huangpu river and the millions of buildings

There are some telescopes by the windows, but these telescopes are not free of charge, so you would better to bring your own telescope.There's a shop on 118th floor, selling souvenirs and some other products related on Shanghai Tower, even the bottled water is Shanghai Tower shaped.


A once in a life-time experience. Very beautiful man made engineering marvel and China would be proud of having such an incredible structure.This is truly one of the best experiences I’ve had in China.


Construction of the skyscraper
The construction of Shanghai Tower commenced in November 2008. Initially, it was supposed to be finished for 2010. But, construction was not completed until summer 2015. Planning of Shanghai financial district started in 1993. It was built as the last and tallest of a group of three Chinese skyscrapers situated in Shanghai. Jin Mao Tower was completed in 1998, Shanghai World Financial Center followed in 2008.Shanghai Tower is built according to a recent innovation in very high skyscraper design and it  is built on 70m long (200-feet) concrete piles.

It is a showcase of  engineering in 21st century. Shanghai Tower is one of the most sustainably advanced tall buildings in the world.The interesting thing is, Shanghai Tower can generate its own energy through wind turbines on the top levels, and it exploits the earth’s heat for use in cooling and heating components.



The Bund
We went to the Bund at the evening and had a nice walk seeing picturesque views in Shanghai most popular and attractive destinations. It's a large area to walk around along the river. Once during the evening it was less crowded. Then at night it was packed. There were policemen everywhere to ease the flow of traffic as well as people at night. The view across the river to the  Oriental Pearl TV Tower and nearby Shanghai tower make for many opportunities to take photos of the skyline. It is awesomely beautiful when lit up at night. I loved this place and would sure come again if back to Shanghai once more.


Major towers view from The Bund at day time.

Amazing view at night from The Bund

I have seen incredible Shanghai tower day and night. If you're looking to take beautiful pictures of the city, The Bund is the place,will absolutely give you that opportunity. The view is astonishingly great. I highly recommend to visit there if you travel to Shanghai.

It would be a truly memorable experience for you!!!





Nine Arch Bridge , Ella - Sri Lanka


Famous train journey from Kandy to Badulla is knows as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. After visit glorious Sigiriya Rock,My kids wanted to go by train instead of a car because they would love to see beautiful waterfalls, tea estates and many more things through the opened windows. Sri Lanka doesn’t have a shortage of natural beauty.Not the like Sydney trains and Metro trains, In Sri Lanka people can sit on the carriage steps or hang out the door for photographs and for fun.We took our train called "Denuwara Menike"at Peradeniya station at 9.20am. 
 
After several hours journey train stopped at Ella station at 3.30pm.We stayed a hotel close to the station and next day a vehicle was hired and went to see marvelous masterpiece Nine Arch Bridge.

The Nine Arch Bridge is very close to the town of Ella. Access to the place is not that hard, You can do rail walk from Ella town.But with kids it would not be easy. There are many ways to go the bridge. We took about a 15 minute hike uphill from the gravel road. Another way is the foot path through the jungle. It also just 15 min walk to bridge.

We walked along the railway track and visited the Nine Arch Bridge. Brilliant view especially with the train track. As the name says,its built using massive 9 arches and spans across an area of over 90 meters having an elevation of 25 meters.



Demodara Railway Station

The glorious Nine Arch Bridge between Ella and Demodara station is one of the Sri Lankan engineering marvels of the early 20th century. This bridge is almost 100 years old, has been built with blocks of stone sand and cement without a single piece of steel or concrete. It is located 3100 feet above the sea level, this 99.6ft high bridge is called "Bridge in the Sky" as well.

Beauty of the Bridge.

Breathless! The gorgeous views in the Hill country are amazing! You can take hundreds of pictures from different angels ,there is a tea plantation as well. This bridge is a masterpiece of the Victorian era. I was wonder how they built that.

It is a very picturesque spot provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area. This is a very good place for the people who love adventure and photography. The structure is amazing and it is worth spending time walking around.

We were not lucky enough to see a train cross the bridge but we did enjoy the walk across. Village man said just went the train before we reach there.




The Nine Arch Bridge is definitely one of the most iconic places from Sri Lanka and busiest place. But even so,you shouldn't miss it.


Definitely, you will get wondering perspective of how tall and extremely beautiful the Nine Arch Bridge actually is when you are standing under the nine arches.

Story of The Nine Arch Bridge.

There is a popular story to say. Local Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) Builder P.K. Appuhami was credited to be the main architecture of the bridge supported by British Engineers. He was born in 1870 and born and bread in Kappatipola area in Welimada. Appuhami was a traditional drummer and devil dancer (a ritual dancer).

One day, while returning home in devil dance costume, he happened to see a British officer and that officer was extremely frightened by the devilish apparition.

Sri Lankan Devil Dancers


Appuhami had introduced himself and the strange foreigner realized it was a man who wearing a costume.But later a relationship was built up between them and Appuhami agreed to help the construction of the railway by supplying labors to the Officer from local villages.

When the construction commenced on the bridge,The World War (I) began between the Europe empires and the steel assigned for this site was reallocated to Britain's War related projects at the battlefront. As a result,the work came to a standstill, leading the locals to build the bridge with stones, bricks and cement ,but without steel.

They realized that they were unable to joint a large gap between two hills without steel. It was not possible to create firm anchoring, due to the marshy ground. Securely anchoring the columns of a bridge to the ground was issue.After many failures, Appuhami requested to take over the bridge project. After rejecting the first time, they finally agreed to hand over this massive task to Appuhami.

He has started work around 1913 and got his men to topple large rocks to this gap until they filled up the bottom and then he has built the brick columns on this rock bed. He completed the work within an year and the cost of construction was lower than estimated. The British officials were so shocked that the local heroes had finished such a huge project so easily But Britishers refused to believe its structural integrity of the bridge.

At this point Appuhami sworn the strength of the structure and he assured that he will lie down under the bridge on the first train voyage across this and he was said to kept to the promise when the railway line was first commissioned. This huge nine arches and solid construction, is one of the proofs of Sri Lankans skills and technology.


The bridge is located right in the centre of the jungle and beautiful tea plantations.The locals sell king coconut and tea. There is a little cafe near the bridge as well. You can enjoy delicious Ceylon tea and corn on the cob while waiting for the train. My kids wanted to taste king coconut and they shared it with me and my hubby, it was so refreshing.


We had such a lovely time at the bridge.The Nine Arch Bridge is one of the must watch places if you in Ella. I enjoyed every minute of the walk along the rail track and through the tunnel. Another special thing is no entrance fee to this place and you can spend time there as much as you want.
 
I had always wanted to visit the Nine Arch Bridge but never had the opportunity but in December 2019 my family with my parents went to Ella and Badulla to visit hill country beauty. Though I have been waiting to see this for a long time and did not disappoint. The Ella Nine Arch Bridge became more popular and very famous for its similarity with the bridge towards Hogwarts in Harry Potter movies. Well worth a visit to appreciate this amazing bridge and the architectural wonder.

Demodara train loop



Train comes to the station after the loop

When you walk towards Demodara Station from Ella there is a nice train loop back under the station. If you want to see the loop nicely, you have to be there when the train is coming. Demodara Loop is a spiral railway loop that has been called “Civil Engineering Wonders" of Sri Lanka Railways. Here you can see the train passing from one side, making a loop around the mountain and then reappearing from the other side.
 
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Before you go

  • The best time to be there is when the train is passing. So check the train schedule before you go.There is a trains schedule on the trees around to help you make unforgettable pictures with a train on the bridge.
  • Take water if it’s a warm day and wear shoes appropriate for uneven, muddy,steep terrain.
  • If you do train traveling with kids, don’t let them change between carriages as they can easily topple.
  • Don't forget a good camera!!!
  • When you have a chance go there early so you can enjoy it for yourself without crowd.
  • Walking on the railway tracks is fine but please be careful.



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