Lantern Festival at Tmn Daya, JB.

Hock Lin Temple, Taman Daya, JB. (N1° 32.462' E103° 46.056')

Reached there around 8pm.....the store which selling foods for charity fund already Rock n' Roll!


Walk to the lanterns area......


start to snap the "Simply Hamtam Version" !!




PANDA Version




Ship or Yacht.......










Traditional......








The Temple and surrounding......



End with some Traditional Dance.......


Digg!


Former President Bill Clinton Visits Tanzania's World Famous Ngorongoro Crater

Former President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, spent six days in Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa. He was there to announce a critically needed subsidy to improve malaria treatment in the country.

On his last day in Tanzania, President Clinton became one of 360,000 visitors annually to explore the World Famous Ngorongoro Crater. Often called 'Africa's Eden' and the '8th Natural Wonder of the World,' this collapsed volcano (a "caldera") is located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is a natural sanctuary for thousands of birds, insects and animals such as lions, zebra, black rhino and wildebeest, all free to wander.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) was established in 1959 to protect an area covering 8300 square kilometers. Only indigenous tribes such as the Masaai are allowed to live on this land. Olduvai Gorge ("The Cradle of Mankind"), Lake Ndutu and Masek are also within its borders. Lush highlands surround the Crater, falling away to tawny plains and alkaline lakes of the Great Rift Valley. A descent down the rim passes rain forest and thick vegetation, and the flora opens to grassy plains throughout the crater floor.

Hon. Prof. Jumanne Maghembe, Minister of Natural Resources & Tourism, stated, "We are pleased that Former President Clinton was able to see for himself the success resulting from what started as a pioneering experiment in multiple land use where pastoralism, conservation and tourism co-exist in a carefully managed harmony."

Bernard Murunya, Acting Chief Conservator, NCAA, who accompanied President Clinton, said, "The Former President spent seven hours game viewing and experiencing first hand the majesty of the area. He was extremely impressed with our efforts to protect what is a unique ecosystem, one of the few such places in the world."

Besides vehicle safaris, hiking treks through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are becoming increasingly popular touring options.
Source:http://digital50.com/news/

Tanzania: The Goldmine in Heritage

When one mentions tourism in Tanzania, what beeps right into most people's minds is the rich menu of attractions like the Serengeti and Zanzibar.

Zanzibar being a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose extravagance is reflected in their brass-studded, curved, and wooden doors; fragrant plantations of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Other attractions in Tanzania include internationally recognised six world heritage sites which are prime tourist attractions; Ngorongoro conservation area, Serengeti national park, Stone town of Zanzibar, Ruins of kilwa kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara.

Apart from wildlife, Tanzania has world-class marine assets in Pemba, Mafia and Zanzibar.

Tourist circuits

Tanzania has many tourism circuits and has benefited from its principle of conserving its natural resources.There are wildlife viewing/photographic safaris in all parks and reserves but mainly in the Northern Circuit with famous National Parks.

Southern Circuit comprise of Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National park. Tourists can also visit the East where the famed Jane Goodall set base for her Chimpanzee research center. Access to this area known as Gombe Stream is strictly controlled. Most popular tourist circuits for Europeans are the beach resorts mainly in Zanzibar but they are also in addition to wildlife safaris.

In Pemba and Mafia there are coral reefs and big game fishing. While Chumbe Island which won the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award in year 2000 is an ecotourism resort.

There is also bird watching mainly on photographic safaris to southern or northern circuits. Adventure tourism comes in when tourists opt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Deep sea fishing takes place in Pemba channel and Mafia and inland fishing on Lake Victoria. One of the best places in the world for Scuba diving is Mafia, Pemba and parts of Zanzibar.

A variety of archaeological and historical sites make up for a larger percentage of cultural tourism. The most notable places are the Olduvai Gorge, Bagamoyo, Kilwa and the island of Kilwa Kisiwani, Laetoli, Isimila (near Iringa region) Tarangire not forgetting the stone town of Zanzibar.

Cultural attractions

Other cultural attractions are the people of Tanzania like maasai. There are also the stone town of Zanzibar and Bagamoyo. Bagamoyo, located north of Dar es Salaam, was once an important trading post in East Africa including slaves sold to Arab buyers in Zanzibar.

Bagamoyo was also the capital of German East Africa from 1887 to 1891.Hunting is also classified as a tourism activity because it thrives on wildlife and brings in foreigners and as it is, is among the highest expenditures made by any segment of tourists.

One of the major reasons why Tanzania is the best tourist destination is because of the favourable climate. Game viewing and bird watching is uninterrupted.

Visiting the Northern circuit is all year round. Hunting seasons are best in July to December. In Zanzibar peak seasons for tourists are in August, December and January. The government needs to introduce more activities and tourist destinations that can attract more tourists in other parts of the country.

A large chunk of tourists who come to Dar es Salaam which is the business hub of Tanzania visit the National Museums that houses the country's cultural heritage, relics and antiquities.

Dr. Paul Msemwa, the Director for the National Museums of Tanzania says that very few foreigners visit the museum as compared to the local people. He says that his department contributes very little to the tourism industry as a whole.

He quickly points out that what is needed is perhaps for the government to carry out awareness on the importance of the museum and what it has to offer.

"Many people think the museum is a boring place where old unwanted things are kept, but they need to as well know that this is a living place that is important to society and the future generation," says Dr. Msemwa.

Currently the national museum of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam is being renovated at a cost of 5.5 billion Tanzania shillings by a Chinese contractor and the work is scheduled to take 21 months.

Both governments of Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar recognise that tourism apart from agriculture is a major source of foreign exchange.

The governments' tourism and vision 2000 - 2020 report calls for wise utilisation of available tourism resources and diversification of and improvement of assets in order to attract diverse tourism segments and markets.

The report also underlines the importance of improved infrastructure and better education and capacity building for Zanzibar.
Source:http://allafrica.com/stories/200708271305.html

Places to See and Things to do in Sydney

Sydney is one of the best places in the world that is worth exploring. It offers much tourist attraction that travelers shouldn’t miss. Here are some of the things you can see and do in and around Sydney:

Sydney aquarium

Perfect for the whole family and friends, Sydney Aquarium lets you walk under water and see the sights of Australia’s rich and diverse marine life and habitats. Sydney Aquarium houses more than 650 species that includes over 6,000 individual fish and other aquatic creatures.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House never fails to mesmerize tourists with its splendid and elaborate façade and structure. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sydney Opera House is one of the most magnificent, unique and popular buildings of the 20th Century. However, what travelers see outside is, so to speak, just the tip of the iceberg.

Known as the venues of top performing arts in the world, it showcases outstanding art productions like theatre, ballet and musicals and is home of internationally renowned performing arts producers such as Opera Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company, and the Sydney Symphony.

The 1.8 hectares of land elevated 25 metres above sea level houses five spacious theatres, five rehearsal studios, two large halls, ten bars and restaurants, and a handful of souvenir shops.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Locally known as “the Coathanger”, Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks not just in Australia but across the globe as well. It links the city centre in the south and the residential north.


Thrill-seekers are welcome to the BridgeClimb, a guided walk to the top of the world, or as high as 50-storey. The tour is available at Dawn, Day, Twilight or Night.

The foot of Sydney Harbour Bridge, known as “The Rocks” is a busy tourist spot consisting of various leisure destinations like art galleries, shops, cafés and restaurants.

Above are just few of the many things that guests can experience in Sydney. Finding a place to stay while touring the rest of Sydney is recommended so one can relax and rejuvenate after a day packed with activities. For a fine hotel accommodation , one can count on Sovereign Inn Crows Nest . It offers cozy rooms and superb hotel services at very affordable rates. Plus, it is admired for having a strategic location where guests can witness the magnificent view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Parramatta River.

Source:http://pr-gb.com/

A day in London

WHAT trip to the United Kingdom would be complete without visiting the vibrant capital of London?

In addition to their stay at the University of Hull, the secondary grand-prize winners for the Campaign 4 Rewards (C4R) 2007 contest will also be treated to a overnight trip to London.

Sponsored by the British Council and the Malaysian Students Department in London, the two teams and their teachers-in-charge will have the chance to explore the lively cosmopolitan city.

With plenty of museums, theatres, shopping centres, historical sites and other attractions to choose from, they certainly will not be bored.

Ranging from modern art to fashion and history, there is a museum for almost everything in London.

Entry to famous ones like the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and Natural History Museum is free, and they are popular tourist destinations.

The British Museum, rated one of the top three in the world, has exhibits on everything from prehistoric to modern times.


Among its most famous displays are the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, sculptures from the Parthenon, Sutton Hoo artefacts, Mildenhall treasures and Portland Vase.

And the city itself, with over 2,000 years of history, is full of iconic sites to explore.

Popular tourist spots include the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels kept, the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben.

More modern attractions consist of the London Eye, Covent Garden with its street performers, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, Madame Tussauds and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Another usual must-do activity while in London is catching a West End musical or play.

The Sound of Music, Chicago, Grease and even The Lord of the Rings are all on show at London theatres.

During their visit, the 10 students and their teachers will spend the night at Malaysia Hall, sponsored by the Malaysian Students Department. The Malaysian High Commission will also be hosting dinner for the two teams.

The sponsorship by the British Council is in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of UK-Malaysia ties.

With over 11,500 Malaysian students currently studying in the UK and more than 30,000 doing UK programmes in Malaysia, the educational ties between the two countries remain as strong as ever.

In Malaysia, the aim of the British Council is to build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and Malaysia, and to increase Malaysians’ appreciation of the UK’s creative ideas and achievements.

Its activities include the teaching of English, providing the latest information about studying in the UK, promoting British education and training, and demonstrating the innovation, creativity and excellence of British science, arts, literature and design.

The organisation has in-house educational counsellors to advise students who intend to further their studies in the UK, as well as a resource centre with relevant reference material and useful publications.

It also organises twice yearly educational exhibitions that provide students with the opportunity to meet up with representatives from UK institutions and find out more about studying in the UK.

In addition, it also conduct annual pre-departure briefings for students, covering topics on visa and immigration issues, arrival in the UK, accommodation, settling into student life, banking, health and insurance.

Source:http://thestar.com.my/

Top five tourist attractions in the UK

It may not have the sunshine of Europe but Britain is chock full of world class tourist attractions, ranging from theme-parks, theatres, castles and monuments to just simple scenery.

The array can be quite bewildering, but luckily is on-hand to help you choose how to spend a weekend, collecting the top tourist destinations for your travelling pleasure.

travelbite's top five tourist attractions in the UK

The Eden Project, Cornwall

Initially designed to regenerate a post-industrial area of the British countryside, the Eden Project has grown to become the world's premier monument to ecology. Nestled in the heartlands of Cornwall its domes emulate specific natural environments and contain an incredible array of flora and fauna.

In this environment the project examines man's relationship with nature, and our dependence upon it for shelter, food and energy. Through examining this relationship the Eden project hopes to educate future generations about the major environmental issues of the day in a humorous, engaging way.

It is one of the best tourist attractions in the country and well worth a visit. Prices for entry range from £5 for children, £7 for students and £15 for adults, with discounts for advanced group bookings.

The Eden Project website has more details for those who want to visit.

The Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye is the furthest north and largest of the Inner Hebrides islands and boasts breathtaking scenery along its coasts, including beautiful cliffs, caves and beaches.

And while its natural beauty has made it a tourist hotspot, visitors are also drawn by the array of wildlife, including red deer, golden eagles and the otter, which inhabit the island.

Local heritage is also examined through a variety of visitors' centres and castles, allowing tourists to get a sense of the tumultuous history of the Scottish highlands.

It is possible for tourists to reach the island from land, sea and air, with flights direct from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. More information can be found on the Skye website.

Shakespeare's Globe, London

Before it burnt down in 1613 the original Globe was able to house 3,000 Elizabethan visitors, all of whom came to watch works by England's greatest writer, William Shakespeare.

Rebuilt to mirror the original the stage at the new Globe is open to the sky, projecting into three tiers of seating and a large area of stalls. And since reopening in 1997 the venue has become one most visited tourist destinations in London.

There are 700 tickets priced at £5 for every performance, making it accessible to all, and they can be bought at the Globe website.

Holkham Bay, Norfolk

Holkham is a picturesque nature reserve reaching to the shores of Norfolk, featuring a mix of sand dunes, grassy marshes, creeks and pinewoods.

The bay is situated at the edge of the reserve and stretches for several miles across the north coast of Norfolk. Its sandy beaches offer an exquisite chance to escape the bustle of the world and are so photogenic they were used as a backdrop in a number of films, including Shakespeare in Love.

Take a look at the Nolkham website to find out more.

The Backs, Cambridge

One of the most scenic areas of historic Cambridge is the Backs, where the colleges back onto the river Cam. The area captures both the natural beauty of the river and the timeless charm of the beautiful university buildings.

The ground along the banks of the river were formerly used for growing fruit or grazing livestock but are now well maintained and manicured to create a delightful environment.

The river flows under the nearby King's College Bridge which is also an ideal spot for punting.

Source:http://www.travelbite.co.uk/news/uk/

13 reasons to savor 'Capital of Scandinavia'

Swedes are hardly braggarts, so it must have caught their neighbors in Norway and Denmark off guard when they decided to brand Stockholm as "the Capital of Scandinavia."

But, really, why not? Stockholm, as its Web site points out, has the most multinational corporations, the largest stock market and, not incidentally, the most visitors.

I'm hardly unbiased in this matter - my heritage is 100 percent Swedish and there's a Nobel Prize in my family - but there are hundreds of reasons to savor Stockholm. Here are a baker's dozen of them:

The weather

Stockholm is cool, but it's not that cool. Thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, February is the only month when the temperature dips much below freezing. And Nobel laureates get their prizes in December, which speaks well of that month's weather.

Absolut Icebar

If you do crave cool, check out the year-round Absolut Icebar Stockholm. Sponsored by the Vodka company, the Stockholm bar is an offshoot of the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, a village in northern Sweden. Both hotel and the growing number of ice bars are fashioned entirely from ice made from the water of the river Torne, some of Europe's purest. Before you enter the bar, the staff packs you in parkas.

Water

Stockholm is built on 14 islands where Lake Mälaren flows out into the Baltic Sea. The islands are strung together by little bridges. Stretching out into the Baltic is an archipelago of over 24,000 more islands, mostly uninhabited. Wherever you go in Stockholm, you're surrounded by water and, in the warmer months, by people eating in waterfront cafes. It's actually possible to fish and swim in the waterways in the heart of the city. You can fish all day on one side of a bridge and at nighttime go to the opera on the other.

Ease with English

Everybody speaks English. Studying English is compulsory from the third grade on, although some schools begin even earlier. Television programs in English are never dubbed into Swedish, so "Law & Order" is a learning experience, too. All this means that lots of Swedes speak better English than you do, which is intimidating - but it also means that when perusing a menu in a Swedish restaurant you needn't know that hummer is lobster or that nötkött is beef, because in even the most non-touristy establishments the waitstaff will explain it all to you. On the matter of food, try the reindeer; the herring; lingonberries, which are to Sweden what blueberries are to the state of Maine; and, of course, load up on the succulent fresh fish.

CIean and pristine

As plusses go, cleanliness might sound a bit of a bore, but after traveling to particularly filthy cities in other parts of the world it's a relief to arrive in one that is immaculate.

And authentic. While Sweden was a bellicose power in the 17th century, going to war and taking over its neighbors, it remained neutral in the wars of the 20th century, which meant it didn't get bombed. So the architecture remained untouched.

Fewer crowds

The city's population of just around 750,000 - the same as San Francisco with half again as much room to spread out - means no jostling in the streets. If you're tired of elbowing people while choking on dust in the world's more crowded metropolises, try Stockholm.

And if airports have become nightmares to navigate, try taking a domestic flight out of Arlanda. I checked into the city's airport, checked baggage and went through security, all in five minutes. Seriously.

In sum, when you arrive home from Stockholm, you won't need a vacation from your vacation.

Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum houses a ship with a story every bit as dramatic as the Titanic's.

King Gustav Adolf meant the Vasa to play a major role in his navy. But on her maiden voyage in 1628, she capsized and sank to the bottom of Stockholm's harbor, less than a mile offshore, possibly because there wasn't enough ballast at the bottom of the ship to support its enormous height.

The museum tells the story of the Vasa's rescue 333 years later, long after people had given up trying to locate her. In the 1950s a tenacious marine expert, Anders Franzen, began the search anew. Using a homemade core sampler, Franzen found a bit of black oak and knew he'd also found the Vasa, lying in silt.

The timing of Franzen's discovery was fortunate: Had the Vasa been located much earlier, the conservation techniques necessary to resurrect her wouldn't have existed. Today, she is the world's only preserved 17th century wooden ship, adorned with over 700 carvings.

You can't go onboard, but you can discover the Vasa through several stories of ramps that surround it, and there is a fascinating half-hour documentary film about the boat's rescue, offered in several different languages.

The Royal Palace

With 608 rooms, it's not exactly "cozy," a favorite English word in Sweden. It's atypically grandiose - and somewhat grubby until a scrub-down a decade ago.

A previous palace on the site burned down in 1697 with only one fatality - a man outside who was hit by a flying book while people in the building were trying to save the royal library by hurling volumes out the window.

The current gargantuan palace is in the Italian Baroque style. In addition to a throne room and state apartments, where distinguished foreign guests are still put up, the palace houses attractions including a treasury with the state regalia - crowns, scepters, keys and swords used at royal weddings, christenings, and funerals. The Royal Palace looms at the edge of Gamla Stan - Stockholm's old town, which has cobbled streets and narrow buildings painted ochre. Here are cafes, shops specializing in hand-knitted clothing, marine antiques and glass.

Drottningholm

Speaking of palaces, a 40-minute ferry boat ride from downtown Stockholm is this fairy tale world, tucked into dense woodland. You see the palace from the water first, and also see its reflection in the glassy lake. The lines of formal pyramidal topiary leading down to the water look like green soldiers.

This gracious 17th century building is the opposite of the Royal Palace in Stockholm: This one is cozy, at least as palaces go. It's like a mini-Versailles that doesn't drag on forever. No wonder that, since 1981, it has been the official home of the royal family.

Drottningholm is heated with Sweden's typical cylindrical tile stoves in the corners of the rooms. The rooms themselves are filled with Baroque ceiling paintings, brocaded walls, parquet floors, rock crystal chandeliers and separate suites of rooms for the king and queen, who had very little privacy. "Le Grand Levée" was the ceremony in which gentlemen courtiers attended the king as he washed and dressed, whether or not his royal highness was a morning person who felt like having company at that hour.

The palace's outbuildings are exquisite fantasies. There's a Guards' Tent, billowing out at the bottom and adorned with tassels, fringe and braid, as a Turkish military tent made of fabric would be. Only here, it's all carved out of wood. There's a Chinese Pavilion, pink, gold and green, and about as authentic as the Chinese dance in "The Nutcracker." Inside is a dumbwaiter so large that an entire table could be lowered on it. In the downstairs kitchen the table was set and laid with food before it was hoisted back up to the royals. The idea was that servants never saw what was going on upstairs.

Best of all Drottningholm's outbuildings is the Slottsteater, one of the very few wooden theaters surviving from the 18th century. Other than electric lights, which flicker to mimic candles, the theater is completely as it was in the 1700's, down to sound effects including thunder, created backstage by rattling a box filled with stones. Period opera and ballet are still performed here.

The low-key monarchy

Since 1873, when there was a rumble of democracy in the air, Sweden's monarchs haven't been crowned at their coronations, which are modest affairs in comparison with those of other realms. To avoid the uppity attitude of some of their predecessors, they just stand beside the crown, which rests on a table.

Sweden's royal family, currently led by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Spanish-born Queen Silvia, has also avoided the tabloid headlines of the Windsors. The family averages an approval rate of 60 to 65 percent because, my guide says, "They're well-behaved. No scandals."

! Södermalm

The trendiest island in the city, Södermalm is a massive stretch of granite made accessible by Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite to blow a tunnel leading to it.

The island specializes in pottery, shops carrying chic designer wear and restaurants including one called Garlic & Shots, where the guiding principals are that everyone needs a shot of garlic every day, and that every dish is improved by the pungent flavor, ice cream included.

Stockholm City Hall

Nobel laureates dine in splendor every year at Stockholm City Hall. Constructed between 1911 and 1923, it is in the National Romantic style, which is an eclectic mix of Italian Renaissance, Moorish and Byzantine. The large inner courtyard is based on open ones in Italy, only it's sensibly covered over because of the climate.

The stone busts in the councilor's chambers aren't likenesses of former city councilors. Here Swedish egalitarianism kicks in: They're images of - and homages to - the master craftsmen who built the building. Faux medieval touches include tiny narrow windows, the kind used in fortresses to shoot arrows at the enemy. A lofty wooden ceiling in one room suggests Viking days, while The Golden Hall is covered with over 18 million tiny golden tiles.

Art and architecture

To choose a last reason is a toughie, because there's lots more to say about Stockholm, its rich array of over 75 museums, for instance.

My favorites are the National Museum, which includes the pioneering 20th century decorative arts that were dubbed "Swedish Modern" and influenced the entire world; and the splendid Architecture Museum, with its intricate models of Swedish buildings from medieval times to today.

One don't-miss will take you much less time than a whole museum: While walking around Gamla Stan, drop into the Storkyrkan ("The Great Church"), Stockholm's 700-year-old cathedral, where the decor includes a magnificent sculpture of St. George and the dragon. Created by Bernt Notke and unveiled in 1489, it is a fine example of Late Gothic art. Notke's materials skew the story, though. St. George is conventionally carved in oak. The dragon, however, is composed entirely of elk horns, which give the animal a mythic presence.

It's hard to tell which side to root for. But it is one reason I have no problem rooting for Stockholm as my favorite capital.


If you go Where to stay

The Grand Hotel, S. Blasieholmshamnen . Where Nobel laureates are put up, it's grand and within easy walking distance from almost everything you'd want to see in Stockholm. Rack rates start at $550 per night (try online discounters for lower rates.)

Source:http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?

Night of Culture in Copenhagen


More than 700 cultural events in one night

This year, more than 30 new venues are taking part in Copenhagen's Night of Culture. On 12 October, a total of nearly 300 museums, churches, exhibition halls, galleries, political institutions, and other venues all over the city will open their doors, reflecting the broad cultural landscape of Copenhagen. Special attention is paid to light, sound, and cross-cultural themes.

Visit the impressive building that houses Copenhagen Stock Exchange, walk around the city's pentagon-shaped citadel in the dark, and discover Copenhagen in a magnificent one night only light setting. Those are some of the many new events offered this year during Copenhagen's Night of Culture.

Reflection of Copenhagen's Cultural Life

On one particular night - 12 October - from 6 - 12 pm, museums, churches, exhibition halls, galleries, political institutions, and other venues all over the Danish capital will welcome visitors to discover the hidden sides of the city's cultural landscape. The broad selection of nearly 300 venues and more than 700 events is a reflection of Copenhagen's cultural life.

The whole city is an integral part of the Night of Culture, and the range of major and minor cultural institutions and venues - some are only open to the public on this particular night - mirrors how versatile Copenhagen culture is. We encourage all the cultural institutions and venues to show themselves in a new light. And it is a unique opportunity for Copenhageners as well as tourists to explore new and unknown sides of Copenhagen culture, says Project Manager Marie Myschetzky, Wonderful Copenhagen.

Light and Sound

This year, a lot of events have to do with light and sound, and many public places and spaces will be transformed into the artist's stage on this night. Many venues will have bands lined up and choirs, many of whom will sing acapella.

Source:http://www.woco.dk/composite-2935.htm

Visiting historic Bluff Oaks

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. - Gingerbread covered cottages painted a rainbow of colors sit in the historic Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association (MVCMA).

Visitors interested in architecture, history, religion or just wanting a quiet, peaceful escape will find it here. The island is filled with many other activities too - beaches, horseback riding, golf and more make this a family-friendly place to visit.

"It's a unique area," said William C. McConnell, MVCMA general manager. "Once you step on the grounds people say they enter another world. It's quieter. The atmosphere, the location, the people all combine to make it a unique area."
About 315 cottages are preserved from the mid to late 1800s in this small town on Martha's Vineyard. The cottages have a fascinating history. The grounds formerly known as Wesleyan Grove has a documented history with the religious "camp meeting" movement of the early 19th century and the layout of the grounds is like the post Civil War camp meeting sites.

"They started with tents and then to tents with a wood floor and later built a wood frame cottage on the camp sites," McConnell said. "That was during the 1860s. People came from off island, that's what we call it here when they come over on boats and such, to attend the meetings."

Visitors can walk around the campgrounds, looking at how different each cottage is decorated and how close they are to one another. It is almost like a miniature village but people live in the cottages, some year round, and others just for the summer. Visitors have the opportunity to see inside a cottage since one has been preserved as a museum.

"People get to see what the inside of a cottage looks like," McConnell said. "It's done in period furnishing. People can see just how small it is inside."

Visitors entering the Cottage Museum, find a small living room where an admission of $2 is paid. The room is filled with memorabilia and a scrapbook of photos from the early days. The kitchen houses the gift shop filled with unique items, not the usual souvenirs found in tourist shops.

After climbing a very steep, narrow staircase, two small bedrooms are found on the second floor. The rooms are tucked into the rafters under the 90-degree angle of the gable and offer a glimpse into a simpler lifestyle.

Visitors intrigued by cottage life may want to rent a cottage for their vacation but they are only available during the summer months because most are not insulated and few are ever for sale, McConnell said.

"Forty residents are full-time, some just use them strictly for cottages, and a few rent them out for a few weeks. Some cottages have been in the family for three or four generations. The kids come here and enjoy it so much they come back and buy a cottage then pass it down through the family," McConnell said.

The MVCMA cottages are the most perfectly preserved collection of Carpenter Gothic style architecture in the world. A new building type, the Martha's Vineyard cottage, was built between 1859 and 1864. The architectural form is unique. In 1979, the MVCMA was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors will find the cottages are built to resemble a tent. The wide double doors on the first floor resemble the tents opening. On the second level, a second set of double doors open onto a balcony. The doors were used to get furniture to the second floor because the steps are too narrow for furniture to go up them since the roof has a 45-degree pitch

The Victorian gingerbread cottages surround the famed Tabernacle that serves as the center of activities. Wrought iron arches and supports, dozens of colored glass windows and an octagonal cupola make the Tabernacle a unique structure. Built in 1879 by John W. Hoyt of Springfield, Mass., it is the spiritual and cultural center of the campground.

Visitors can attend the weekly services held during July and August or one of the many other events held throughout the year, McConnell said.

Whether visitors can spend a day or stay for a week, they will find Oak Bluffs weaves a spell that will draw them back to this small wonderland time and time again.

Source:http://zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/