All posts by Sharleen

SEX may be the best way to cure a fear of flying

from Tourexpi, Sept 15, 2015

Sex may the best way for an anxious passenger to conquer their fear of flying, says a pilot-turned-therapist. But it has nothing to do with joining the mile high club, as Tom Bunn insists he has had clients who have forgotten about their anxiety after having sex the night before a flight.

Mr Bunn, a former US Air Force and commercial pilot who now counsels terrified air travelers, said a new study on chronic and post-traumatic stress may support the theory that sex can lower a person’s stress levels before setting foot on board. Mr Bunn, a licensed therapist who founded SOAR in 1982, said sex helped a male client who struggled with a fear of flying for seven years.

He told Yahoo Travel: ‘Every time he flew he was totally miserable, except for one time when, before he came back from a business trip, he hooked up with someone. ‘He said they didn’t get any sleep. They made love all night long and he dragged himself out of bed onto the aeroplane and had a perfectly anxiety-free flight.’

To back up his anecdotal evidence, Mr Bunn has pointed to a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, who explored why trauma victims are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress if they have previously suffered chronic stress. The study was based on animals and has nothing to do with sex or an anxiety caused by flying. It found that animals that underwent chronic stress prior to a traumatic experience are more likely to consolidate traumatic memories, which can trigger anxiety. But the researchers found that blocking that type of memory formation may offer a new way to prevent post-traumatic stress.

Mr Bunn told Yahoo Travel the study suggests that passengers who have chronic stress in their lives are more vulnerable to develop a fear of flying based on post-traumatic stress when something such as turbulence occurs. Published in Science Daily, the MIT study found that it may be possible to prevent traumatic memories from consolidating or weaken them after they have formed with drugs that interfere with serotonin, which accelerates memory consolidation in the brain. Mr Bunn told Yahoo Travel that sex can help people who are anxious travellers as it causes a spike in their levels of oxytocin, a hormone which acts as a neurotransmitter.

In 2012, a study by researchers at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, found that oxytocin bombards the amygdala, an almond-sized part of the brain that governs fear, Live Science reported. While it may help some fearful flyers, Mr Bunn said he knows that sex won’t help all travelers cope with their anxiety. In his counseling sessions, he tries to help his clients develop a mental link between flying and a memory that produces oxytocin.

7 things you didn’t know about the zebra jumping spider

 from BBC Wildlife  July 16, 2015
Zebra jumping spider

1. Urban warriors

These striking little jumping spiders are most frequent around human habitations – on sunny outside walls and fences and sometimes indoors. But they also turn up on tree trunks, rocks and shingle.

2. Dark arts

The contrast between the black and white stripes is rather variable. Entirely black forms have been recorded in industrially polluted areas, where they are better camouflaged against sooty surfaces.

3. Hydraulic jump

They jump by explosively straightening their back legs. Lacking extensor muscles, the legs are powered by the pressure created when blood is pumped into them from the body.

4. Eyes front

They track moving prey with binocular vision provided by a pair of enormous forward-facing eyes. These can swivel up and down and side to side and move forward and back to focus.

5. Backward looking

Six smaller, fixed eyes detect movement to the sides and rear. Waggle a finger behind them and they will spin round to take a closer look.

6. Long in the tooth

Adult males can be recognized by their massive, elongated chelicerae (the mouthparts that bear the fangs), which they wield during tussles with other males.

7. Drag act 

The safety lines they trail behind them can hold a fall only if the plummeting spider releases more silk through its spinnerets to reduce the shock-load on the thread.


Free Wi-Fi now available at the Taj Mahal

from TTW Asia June 17, 2015

Taj Mahal gives you a new experience as now you can upload selfies or photographs directly from Taj with the monument offering free Wi-Fi  to all its visitors. free Wi-Fi facility will be for half an hour. The facility was launched by the union Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad. Anyone willing to go beyond the stipulated half an hour span would need to pay Rs.30 an hour.

This facility is being introduced by BSNL with support from a Bengaluru-based company, Quadgen.

There are future plans of introducing Wi-fi in Fathepur Sikri complex. The Agra Cantt railway station is already Wi-Fi enabled. Taj Mahal is a major tourist attraction in India which welcomed six million tourists in 2014.

This move has been appreciated by many industry leaders. However there are some who feel that in a bid to share pictures, people may lose the actual essence of enjoying this glorious monument as they did by getting immersed in its romantic appeal.

20 new sites in UNESCO’s world network of Biosphere Reserves

From Tour Expi June 11, 2015unesco

The International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) has added 20 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bringing their total number to 651 sites, including 15 transboundary sites, in 120 countries. Myanmar had its first biosphere reserve inscribed this year. These additions were made by the Council during a meeting taking place in Paris from 8 to 12 June.

The Man and the Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme set up by UNESCO in the early 1970s with the aim of improving the interaction between people and their natural environment, on a global scale. Biosphere reserves are places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources. New reserves are designated each year by the International Co-ordinating Council of the Programme. The Council brings together representatives of 34 UNESCO Member States, which are elected to that office .

The Belezma biosphere reserve (Algeria) is a mosaic of habitats including forests, thickets, lawns, cliffs and rivers. It includes over 5,315 hectares of centuries’ old Atlas cedars, almost one third of the cedar forests of Algeria. Endemic to North Africa, Algeria and Morocco, the cedar is a protected species in Algeria. It is a flagship tree species of the Aurès region. The reserve also boasts historic and archaeological sites, caves and tombs. It is home to 3,500 inhabitants who work in livestock and grain farms as well as commercial and artisanal activities.

The Patagonia Azul biosphere reserve (Argentina) is located in the south of the country on the coast of Chubut province, and covers an area of 3,102,005 hectares. The site encompasses a coastal area with the greatest biodiversity on the Argentinean coastline. It also includes important breeding, feeding and migration sites of different species of birds and mammals. It hosts the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world, accounting for almost 40% of the global population. The site has a very low human population density, the only town being Camarone. Close to five percent of the town’s permanent population belong to indigenous ethnic groups, including the Mapuche and Tehuelche. Ranches or rural establishments dedicated to sheep rearing account for the main human activity on the territory, followed by the production of wool, fishing, tourism and seaweed extraction.

Hanma biosphere reserve (People’s Republic of China) is located in Inner Mongolia and is described as representing an important part of the Taiga distributed in China. It protects the diversity of both forest and wetland ecosystems, extending over a total area of 148,948 hectares. The natural vegetation is intact, owing to very limited interaction with humankind. The cold temperate coniferous forest is the best-preserved forest type in China and is of high scientific value. Forest products from this site, such as bilberry and other wild fruit, contribute to the socio-economic development of the communities in the area. Ecological tourism is an activity that could be exploited further.

The Lake Tana biosphere reserve (Ethiopia) is situated in the north-western part of Ethiopia and inlcudes Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. The site covers a total area of 695,885 hectares and is a hotspot of biodiversity. Internationally known as an Important Bird Area, it is also of global importance for agricultural genetic diversity. The main economic activities are agriculture, fishing, national and international tourism and sand mining. The area has a unique cultural, historical, geological and aesthetic value with numerous monasteries and churches dating back to the 13th century. Church forests around Lake Tana host an outstanding diversity of tree and shrub species and medicinal plants and play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity. The biosphere reserve will seek to rekindle traditional communities’ appreciation of their cultures, knowledge and skills, which reflect a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with the environment.

Gorges du Gardon biosphere reserve (France) is located in the Gard département in Southern France and covers a total area of 45,501 hectares. It includes the cities of Uzès and Nîmes, as well as the Pont du Gard, a World Heritage since 1985. The site is a typical Mediterranean landscape, with scrubland, green oaks, the Gardon River and cliffs, and contains threatened and protected species such as Egyptian vultures, Bonelli’s eagle and the Woodcock orchid. This area is known for its rich cultural, architectural and historical heritage. The main human activities are agriculture, tourism (450,000 visitors per year) and services. The main agricultural activities include wine production and olive oil, as well as Tuber melanosporum (truffles), herbal plants and aromatics.

The Cacique Lempira, Señor de las Montañas biosphere reserve (Honduras) is located in the western part of the country and covers a total area of 168,634 hectares. It forms part of the ecological region of pine and oak forests as well as humid tropical forests and hosts a large number of endangered and endemic species. The high rate of endemism among the wildlife has led Conservation International to designate the eco-region an Endemic Bird Area (EBA). The total population of the biosphere reserve is over 150 000 inhabitants. The predominant economic activity is traditional agriculture (87%), mainly mais and beans, with a steady increase in coffee production. Tourism is promoted in the city of Lempira, which receives local and international tourists in growing numbers.

The Bromo Tengger Semeru-Arjuno biosphere reserve (Indonesia) is located in East Java province and has a total area of 413,374 hectares. The site consists of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (BTSNP), and the forest protected area of Raden Soerjo. There are 1,025 species of flora, including 226 orchid species along with 260 other medicinal and ornamental plant species. Several of the site’s mammal species are included on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The area is a model of good practice in terms of sustainable development at the regional, national and international levels. The development of agriculture is envisaged in certain areas. Livestock farming of cattle, goats, sheep, horses, rabbits and chicken also contribute to the local economy. There is an active programme of research in the area on biodiversity management and carbon reduction.

The Taka Bonerate-Kepulauan Selayar biosphere reserve (Indonesia) is located at the south of Sulawesi (Celebes) and belongs to South Sulawesi Province. It covers an area of about 4,410,736 hectares. Mangrove forests serve as a barrier against the fierce ocean waves and hence as a shelter and spawning ground for various types of fish, as well as a habitat for many species of fauna such as birds. The national authorities aim to make this site the leading area in coral reef conservation and a major tourist destination in Sulawesi. The area is intended to serve as a learning laboratory for researchers, students, local government representatives, NGOs and private sector organizations

The Tang-e-Sayad and Sabzkuh biosphere reserve (Islamic Republic of Iran) is a combination of the reserves of two regions, Tang-e- Sayad and Sabzkuh totalling 532,878 hectares. Land subsidence, geological activity and the melting ice caps have formed several wetlands in the area, home to rare fauna such as the wild cat and tiger snake. The Karun River, the biggest in Iran, supports 22 fish species, including pike and Mesopotamian catfish. During the cold season, the bushlands in the area are home to migratory birds such as the white stork and greater flamingo. The presence of several rivers and springs in the site has led to an increase in the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. Local handicrafts and folk festivals also offer the potential to develop tourism. These activiies would be managed by the local communities.

The Ledro Alps and Judicaria biosphere reserve (Italy) is located in the Trento region in northern Italy, between the Dolomite World Heritage site and Lake Garda, with a total surface area of 47,427 hectares. The site is representative of the southern slopes of the central-eastern Alps, comprising different non-polluted habitats (Alpine meadows, forest, grasslands, moorlands) as well as traditional crops. Its strategic location contributes to its rich biodiversity and the creation of a corridor running north−south across the Alps, ensuring a territorial continuity between protected areas from the Po valley to the northern Alps. It is also a highly valued by tourists who provide an important source of income to the local population. Agriculture is the main economic activity in the Reserve, chiefly viticulture, olive, fruit and vegetable, as well as animal husbandry.

The Po Delta biosphere reserve (Italy) in northern Italy covers an area of 139,398 hectares and is home to 120,000 people living in 16 municipalities. The area is a plain produced by the Po River’s action and recent human activity. It is the only delta in Italy. The site includes the confluence of river branches, coastal dune systems and sand formations, lagoons, fishing ponds, marshes, fossil dunes, canals and coastal pine forests, vast brackish wetlands and cultivated lands dominated by rice farming. These landscapes provide an exceptional heritage of biodiversity due to their range of habitats. Tourism is one of the main economic activities of the local communities, along with agriculture and fish farming. Sustainable tourism could be promoted. Environmental and cultural education aimed at the general public is an important activity of the biosphere reserve.

The Appennino Tosco-Emiliano biosphere reserve (Italy) is located in the Tuscany and Emilia Romagna regions, in northern-central Italy. It covers the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine ridge from Passo della Cisa to Passo delle Forbici. This stretch of ridge marks the geographical and climatic boundary between continental Europe and Mediterranean Europe. It includes 38 municipalities. The total surface of the site is 223,229 hectares. The reserve contains 70% of all the species present in Italy, including species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, fish, the wolf and the Golden Eagle, but also great plant biodiversity, with at least 260 aquatic and terrestrial species. The main economic activity is agriculture, of various kinds depending on the landscape. A tourism economy has recently been developed to improve the link between tourism and agriculture, with, for example, “zero kilometre menu” restaurants using local products.

The Aksu-Zhabagly biosphere reserve (Kazakhstan) is located south of Karatau in the west Tien Shan. The total area of the site is 357,734 hectares. It has 48% of the total diversity of birds in the region, and 72.5% of vertebrates. Land in the reserve is mostly used for agriculture, with a variety of crops: on the rain-fed area – cereal cultures (wheat and barley); on irrigated arable lands – forage cultures (corn, clover, alfalfa). Local people usually breed cattle, sheep (South-Kazakh Merino), goats, horses (trotters and Donskaya breed) and poultry (chicken and turkey). Aksu Zhabagly is one of the famous tourist spots for bird- watchers from all over the world and there is great potential for eco-tourism. Research activities on the ecology of the fauna are carried out within the biosphere reserve.

The Inlay Lake biosphere reserve (Myanmar) is situated in Taunggyi District, Southern Shan State and covers a total area of 489,721 hectares. The wetland ecosystem of this freshwater lake is home to 267 species of birds, out of which 82 are wetland birds, 43 species of freshwater fishes, otters and turtles. Diverse flora and fauna species are recorded and the lake is reported to be the nesting place for the globally endangered Sarus crane (Grus antigone). In addition to its ecological importance, Inlay Lake is also unique for the way the local inhabitants have adapted their lifestyle to their environment. Farmers from one of the dominant ethnic groups in the region, the Inthas, practice floating island agriculture, locally called ‘Yechan”. Inlay Lake and its watershed provides several ecosystem services on which local people depend, including clean air, clean water, a cooler climate, fish stocks and other resources.

The Gouritz Cluster biosphere reserve (South Africa) in the southern part of South Africa covers an area of 3,187,892 hectares.  The reserve is divided into four connected sectors ranging from sea level to 2,240 m. It is the only place in the world where three recognized biodiversity hotspots (Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Maputoland-Tongoland-Albany) converge. There are a great many endemic plant species. The site is on the migratory route of large mammals such as the leopard and serves as a nursery for marine species. The area is critical for water resources. With over 200,000 inhabitants, the area is facing socio-economic challenges (high unemployment, wide-spread poverty, sprawling informal settlements with inadequate services, rising HIV and crime rates). One promising solution envisaged to reduce youth unemployment consists of establishing local business models in the biosphere reserve and developing jobs linked to the biodiversity economy.

The Magaliesberg biosphere reserve (South Africa) covers an area of 357,870 hectares, between the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg. The site lies at the interface of two great African biomes* – the Central Grassland Plateaux and the sub-Saharan savannah. Its rich biodiversity includes 443 bird species constituting 46.6% of total bird species in the Southern African sub-region. In addition, the area is exeptionally beautiful, with unique natural features, rich cultural heritage, and archaeological interest with the “Cradle of Humankind”, which is part of the World Heritage site with 4 million years of history. Over 260 000 people live in this region, adjacent to a major urban infrastructure impacting an economy that is dominated by agriculture, mining, urban development and tourism. The biosphere management plan aims to stimulate conservation and promote, among other things, tourism, farming and sustainable practices (such as solar power and water saving).

The Macizo de Anaga biosphere reserve (Spain) in the northeast of the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands covers 48,727.61 hectares. Macizo de Anaga hosts significant diversity of fauna including reptiles, birds and fish, and in particular large numbers of invertebrates, with 1,900 recorded species. From a geological point of view the massif is one of the oldest areas on the island with rocks dating back seven to nine million years. Over this long period, the area has experienced several cycles of volcanic activity, the result of which is a rich geological and geomorphological mosaic. Over 22,000 people live permanently in the biosphere reserve. Historically, agriculture, livestock farming (especially goat breeding), forestry and fishing have been the main economic activities.

The Meseta Iberica biosphere reserve (Spain/Portugal) encompasses the provinces of Salamanca and Zamora in Spain and Terra Quente and Fria in Portugal. It covers an area of 1,132,606 hectares. Altitudes in the area vary from 100 m to 2,000 m above sea level. The area contains many flagship species, some of which have been the subject of conservation projects, such as the black stork (Ciconia nigra), Egyptian vulture (Neophron pernocpterus), Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata), Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), European otter (Lutra lutra), and Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus). Over 300,000 people live in this site, which also features built heritage dating back to Roman times and the Middle Ages.

Langbiang biosphere reserve (Viet Nam), in Lam Dong Province, covers a total area of 275, 439 hectares. Biodiversity in this region is very high, including many threatened species in. The core area will create a biodiversity corridor, maintaining the integrity of 14 tropical ecosystems. It is also the habitat of many species of wildlife. Agriculture, forestry and the fishery sectors are the main sources of employment for the local communities. Flowers, coffee and tea are the most important cultivated crops here, in terms of revenue. There are a number of planned investment projects for some areas with a view to improving overall management and protection.

7 things you didn’t know about the stag beetle

Discover fantastic facts about the UK’s largest beetle. May 21 from BBC Discover Wildlife

Stag beetle

1 Empty threats
The males’ intimidating, antler-like mandibles are designed for wrestling rivals rather than biting. The bite of the smaller-jawed females is more painful to human handlers.

2 High-fibre diet
Stag beetle larvae spend five to six years feeding on rotting wood. They leave behind a distinctive network of tunnels and C-shaped chambers.

3 Beetle juice
The adults live for just a few months. Their only sustenance is fruit juice, tree sap and water, which they drink with the aid of a furry, orange tongue.

4 Overground underground
In July, females burrow up to about 30cm into the soil to lay their eggs underground near a source of rotting wood for the larvae to feed on.

5 Picky predators
Magpies, major predators of adult stag beetles, eat only the nutritious, fat-filled abdomens, leaving their victims to wander around, sometimes for days, before they die.

6 Urban legends
Primarily a woodland species in Europe, in the UK most records are from parks and gardens. They have been recorded breeding in growbags, discarded chipboard and horse manure.

7 Palm problem
In the Middle East, stag beetle larvae are serious pests of date palms, killing up to 70 per cent of trees through boring into the roots and stems.

Don’t become a victim of crafty tourist scams

from Tour Expi, Sunday May 17
As we enter the heart of the vacation season, wise travelers should constantly remind themselves that another kind of “sightseer” lurks nearby: The sight they are seeking is anyone who is so dazzled and distracted by local attractions that they forget to watch their wallets.

This week the Better Business Bureau continues its exploration of the many tactics that crooks of all ages, sizes and descriptions are using to get your vacation dollars. Sadly, many of these scammers and thieves are young children. Tourists travelling abroad are specifically warned of these schemes, some of which are also employed by stateside scammers. Here’s a rundown of some current favorite scam tactics:

Wallet watchers
Often the aim is to pinpoint the location of your wallet. A varied number of little street dramas are designed just to get you to automatically feel for your billfold while someone watches. Later, armed with the knowledge of precisely which pocket contains it, a seasoned pickpocket relieves you of it.

Among favorite schemes to get you to reveal its whereabouts:
An elderly or a pregnant woman on the street will try to guilt you into giving them a bit of cash. A nearby pickpocket is carefully watching to learn where you keep your wallet as you get it out.

.“Helpful” locals
Someone on the street will warn you that they just saw someone get their phone or wallet stolen. As you automatically check for your own, they or a nearby accomplice are noting where yours is for a later pickpocketing. Some have been known to post warning signs in an area about pickpockets just to spot where tourists are patting their pockets to see if a wallet is safe.

‘Kid-proof’ your wallet
Children on the streets in many countries have scamming skills far beyond their years. These are some of the tourist games they play:

Postcard help.
An impoverished-appearing child may shove a postcard and pen at you while pleading for help writing a letter home. A sad story of his plight will be shared, designed for your sympathy. Then comes an impassioned plea for your money.

Petition pleas.
A group of children will ask that you sign a charity petition and that you give a donation. They may be picking your pocket even as you read the document, their hands hidden under clipboards.

They’ve got you surrounded.
A large group of children will clamor around you, wanting you to hand over cash or valuables. Sometimes newspapers are offered for sale, unfolded before your face and distracting you as your pockets are searched.

Hotel-related tricks
Scammers can be working on you while you are en route to your hotel and can even lurk at the establishment once you are there. Here are some ways they operate:

“Wonderful alternative.”
A taxi driver who is in on the scheme will say that your hotel is closed for renovation. He just happens to know of another great one. It will be in a bad location and greatly overpriced. There have even been reports of drivers delivering tourists to hotels that have copied the name of the one you seek, claiming it is the right one and that the online photos were wrong.

Fake employees.
Two people dressed as hotel employees will knock on your door for a “room inspection.” One distracts you while the other steals your stuff.

Fake front-desk calls.
Identity thieves may call your room saying there is a problem with your credit card and asking you to confirm the card details, sometimes in the middle of the night to befuddle you and be sure you won’t go downstairs to check it out.

Many travelers experience none of these scams. That some do is reason enough to prepare for the possibilities. Don’t let your hard-earned vacation get ruined by creative con artists.

Chile volcano erupts after 40 years causing panic and excitement

Published on : Friday, April 24, 2015 from Travel and Tour

volcanoSouthern Chile is on alert for a third eruption this week. Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted twice in 24 hours and the National Geology and Mining Service of the country indicated more strength in the second eruption than the first one.

President Michelle Bachelet, who flew to the affected area, said: “We don’t know how the situation is going to evolve. It’s pretty unpredictable.”

According to the local folks, the explosion caused immediate hysteria among residents and they could not believe what they were seeing. As the mayor of the nearby Puerto Montt, which is a popular tourist gateway of the Patagonia region, said that the residents were extremely frightened, some other locals said they were more excited than afraid.

Volcanic ash has caused the roofs to cave in, nearly a metre high in some spots. Road workers used heavy trucks to plough a path through the ash, as residents shovelled it off their rooftops. This volcanic ash is intimadated to damage the crops, animal feed, bridges, roads, people’s work routines, tourism and health. Authorities issued a red alert for the towns of Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas in southern Chile. Both are popular tourist destinations.

Massive ash clouds forced airlines to cancel flights and drifted as far away as southern Argentina — including the picturesque ski resort of Bariloche, which warned people to stay home to avoid inhaling dust particles.  Chile has about 90 active volcanoes. Geologist Alfredo Lahsen of the University of Chile finds it a positive attribute of nature which helps the nation to be the world’s largest copper producer.

Dubai Trolley to make sightseeing a pleasure for tourist

Published on : Friday, April 24, 2015 from Travel and Tour World

Dubai TrolleyDubai Trolley, The world’s first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission street trolley tram opened for public service.

The user friendly transit system is an attractive commuting service for visitors and residents alike. Dubai Trolley rolls along Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard, offering residents and tourists an easy access to the Dubai Mall, Souq Al Bahar and several iconic hotels. It is travelling in a distance of one kilometer in the first phrase.

“Dubai Trolley is another innovative addition to Downtown Dubai that also redefines the concept of urban mobility. By integrating the unmatched aesthetics of a trolley tram with a state-of-the-art locomotive system, Emaar is presenting a sustainable transport mode for visitors and residents in Downtown Dubai,” said Ahmad Al Matroushi, Managing Director of Emaar Properties.

The trolley can comfortably seat 50 passengers at a time. It will offer its services from 4pm to midnight on weekdays and from 3pm to 11pm on weekends and will move at a leisurely speed of 10km/h but if needed the trolley can manage speed up to 80km/h.

The trolley will redefine the concept of smart urban mobility which can be adopted by other cities as well. There is an open deck facility in the double-decker tram. The tram is fully air conditioned and elegantly designed to complement the Arabesque architectural features of Downtown Dubai.

“In a polished design, they are resplendent in bright red with aesthetic gold pinstripes and green trim colours. During winter, the glass window panels of the trolley tram will be removed for the added comfort of the passengers,” said Al Matroushi.

The tram serves food and beverages and currently stops at three stations along with a Trolley Terminus near Old Town Island. The Dubai Trolley will be fully operational soon spanning across 7 km across the entire breath of Downtown Dubai.

13 Places On Earth People Risk Their Lives To Visit

from Tour Expi, Apr 6,2105

Our world is magnificent with beautiful natural wonders that attract several visitors right through the year. However, there are some wonders that can scare the living daylights out of you, or have you toying with the urge to flirt with death and disaster. While the common man might just say no to visiting these places, destiny defying adventure seekers know them only too well.

  1. Trolltunga, Norway
    Literally translated as Troll’s Tongue, Trolltunga is one of the most spectacular scenic cliffs in Norway. It is 1100 meters above sea level, hovering 700 metres above Lake Ringedalsvatnet. The view is breathtaking. The hike goes through high mountains, and takes 8-10 hours in total (to Trolltunga and back), and the ascent is about 900 meters. The hike is usually possible to do from mid June, depending on when the snow melts in the mountains. Do carry an extra pair of pants if you plan on peeking over the edge.
  1. Siju Caves, Meghalaya
    The Siju Cave in Meghalaya is the first limestone natural cave in India. It is also home to a flimsy rope bridge that connects the summits of two hills. Its wobbliness will make you freak out. Extra pants are always a good idea!
  1. Huayna Picchu
    The ancient city of Machu Picchu is best viewed atop the summit of this mountain. However, getting there is the hard part. Inhospitable terrain, narrow and steep stairs, and high altitudes can be pretty unnerving.
  1. Hussaini Hanging Bridge, Northern Pakistan
    Located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, this bridge served as a connection across the Borit Lake in Upper Hunza. This rope bridge is both long and poorly maintained. Many planks are missing, and strong winds shake the bridge as you cross it. A previous, older, broken bridge hangs in tatters next to the “new” one, not something that would ease your nerves.Despite its dangerous looks, the Hussaini is a relatively safe bridge and has become something of a tourist draw, with hikers testing their nerves as they carefully work their way across.
  1. Mont Blanc Box, France
    We’re not talking about the luxury brand, but the glass box that stands 12,604 feet over the rocks to give you a 360 degree view from Europe’s tallest peak. Engineers have assured visitors about its structural durability and the technology that prevents this box from toppling off the edge. But is that enough?
  1. Mount Huashan, China
    Visitors flock to this mountain in China which is famous for its almost vertical stair cases, steep edges, and the creaky wooden planks that are bolted onto the sides of the mountain.
  1. Moher Cliffs, Ireland
    This biking trail in Ireland would give an extreme adventure sports fanatic an orgasm. The winding track is 4 feet in width at its widest portion and was featured as the “cliffs of insanity” in the 1987 movie ‘The Princess Bride’.
  1. The Trift Suspension Bridge, Switzerland
    The Trift Bridge is one of the most spectacular pedestrian suspension bridges of the Swiss Alps. It is 100 meters high and 170 meters long, and is poised above the region of the Trift Glacier. Even reaching the bridge through the ravine by cable car is an adventure.
  1. Phugtal Monastery, Ladakh, India
    Located in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, the monastery is a unique construction of mud and timber. It is built at the entrance of a cave on the cliff-face of a lateral gorge of a major tributary of the Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap) River. From a distance, the monastery looks like a giant honeycomb.This is the only monastery that can be reached by foot. The altitude and limited options for food make it a little difficult for visitors to adapt to.
  1. El Caminito Del Rey, Spain
    Known as the “Little Pathway of the King,” this was built in 1905 and has had little to no repairs done until recently. Therefore, bold climbers enjoy braving the sections that are dangerous and completely disintegrated.
  1. Devils Pool, Zambia
    The Devil’s Pool forms the lip of the Victoria Falls, Africa’s highest waterfall, which borders Zambia and Zimbabwe. A lot of visitors have lost their lives trying to get the perfect view of the 355 foot cascade but that hasn’t stopped the local tourism industry from stopping tourists from visiting it.
  1. Stolen Chimney, Fisher Tower, USA
    The Stolen Chimney is a route located on the Ancient Arts tower, one of the Fisher Towers in Moab National Park, Utah. This is the most common route to ascend the Corkscrew Summit of the tower, which is the western most summit of the Ancient Arts tower but is not the tallest. The summit is noteworthy for its extremely unusual shape which makes climbing this technically different from most other climbs.
  1. Kjeragbolten, Norway
    Kjeragbolten is a rock wedged between two boulders in the Kjerag mountain and has long been a famed photo op spot. It was featured in the 2006 Visa viral video ‘Where the hell is Matt?’, where traveler Matt Harding danced atop the precarious boulder. Due to its enormous popularity, long lines usually form with people who want to have a photo from the site. Expected waiting time can be anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. Let’s just hope gravity doesn’t decide to have its way anytime soon.

10 things you never knew about animal sex from BBC Wildlife

Discover sex’s most surprising secrets. 

beetle sex

1. Rotifers live in a male-free society

Sex costs a lot of energy, so why not evolve to bypass it altogether? Well, one group of animals has. Bdelloid rotifers (the ‘b’ is silent) are tiny creatures found in bird baths, ponds and puddles. When wet they come to life and hoover up micro-organisms. When conditions become dry again, they shrivel up into a ball and are blown from place to place. There are billions of them on Earth, and every single one is female. According to their DNA, they haven’t had sex in perhaps 40 million years.

Without mixing up their genes through sex, the rotifers should fall prey to bacteria and viruses, their defenses outmaneuvered. Yet they are still here. How? It seems that drying up then blowing from place to place may allow them to outflank and outlast their parasites. In their world, males add no genetic value.

2. Pandas are good at sex

Giant pandas are widely chastised for being unable to ‘get in the mood’ in captivity, and for having a window of ovulation (about 36–48 hours) too tiny to be practical. The reproductive life of Edinburgh Zoo’s Tian Tian and Yang Guang shows just how difficult it can be to encourage the species to breed normally in captivity. But in the wild, pandas are masters of sex.

Even though their territories can be enormous, males and females locate one another at exactly the right time for ovulation, primarily by monitoring chemical sex messages left on trees via squirts of urine. They also communicate vocally. Males bleat when they approach a reproductive female, possibly offering an opportunity for her to assess his size and strength. A female in oestrus often mates with several males, so they have evolved one of the highest sperm counts of all bears, to better guarantee any offspring is theirs.

As our understanding of the animal’s wild breeding improves, zoos adapt accordingly. For example, keepers liberally apply the urine of potential partners to panda enclosures in the run-up to breeding season. However, the use of ‘panda porn’ or ‘panda Viagra’ is much more controversial.

3. Some girls are boys

Many animals, especially fish, switch between egg-producing (female) and sperm-producing (male) phases during their lives. For instance, in many reef fish all of the juveniles are females and become males as they grow. These are known as ‘sequential hermaphrodites’, a phenomenon very common across a number of taxonomic groups.

In invertebrates, particularly slugs and snails, things go a step further – individuals possess male and female genitalia at the same time. In fact many slugs and snails even have the ability to fertilise their own eggs.

With such flexible reproductive equipment, it’s no surprise that a number of invasive species are hermaphroditic. Among the most worrying is the Spanish slug, which has become a serious agricultural pest across much of Europe. A single egg transported in a flowerpot is all it takes to unleash this master and mistress of sex into new places.

4. Animals have had sex on the moon

The diversity of mites’ sexual behavior is staggering. There are mate guarders, harem keepers, warring males, macho show-offs and incidences of incest and cannibalism. Perhaps the most celebrated of all is the red velvet mite. Males create trails of silk in their territories that direct females to little packages of their sperm, called spermatophores. If one approves, she will absorb the sperm into her body.

Species of mite are everywhere – in the noses of seals, on the legs of chickens, in the ears of porcupines, in the middle of a sea urchin and within the rectums of bats. In fact it’s likely that eyelash mites Demodex spp. are having sex on your face right now. It’s probably the only animal to have had sex on the moon, carried by the 12 men who have walked on it.

5. Genitalia can sing

The variety of male genitalia in the animal kingdom is jaw-dropping. There are fin-like ones (sharks), barbed ones (cats, beetles and dragonflies), regenerative ones (seaslugs), lobes (turtles), hooks (mosquitofish), finger-like extensions (barnacles) and a detachable swimming penis (the Argonaut octopus). Some penises have become adapted for other sexual purposes. The lesser water boatman frantically rubs its penis against a special comb-like structure on its body to pump out a mating call equivalent to almost 100dB. Relative to size, it’s the loudest animal on Earth.

6. The value of DIY

One of sex’s greatest mysteries is why so many animals seek to pleasure themselves, rather than find reproductive opportunities with others. Lions, bats, walruses, warthogs, whales, dolphins and deer are just some of those known to partake in such ‘auto-eroticism’. Are such behavior evolved, or are they emergent phenomena associated with something else, such as captivity?

The marine iguana is one species where auto-eroticism is common – smaller males rub themselves against rocks as they approach reproductive females. The behavior means that their resultant copulations are shorter, so smaller males are less likely to be interrupted by bigger, burlier rivals. According to research, the strategy is likely to increase their chances of a successful mating by 41 per cent – easily enough to be evolutionarily significant.

7. Monogamy is hard to find

Monogamy rarely flourishes in animal groups because fidelity limits an individual’s reproductive potential. It only persists among the species where the result is a higher number of healthy offspring. In birds, where the raising of chicks may demand care from both parents, monogamy arises fairly frequently. But it has popped up in other species and groups, too: antelopes, prairie voles, some cichlid fishes and the Australian sleepy lizard (also known as the shingleback skink). None of these are true monogamists though – each may be inclined to change partners between seasons.

8. Homosexual acts are widespread

Though many consider swans, albatrosses and emperor penguins to be nature’s most virtuous couples, all of these pale in significance compared with Eurasian bullfinches and jackdaws. Bullfinches are highly monogamous, and as a result males are modestly endowed and produce poor-quality sperm, not having any need for more sophisticated reproductive mechanisms. On the other hand, jackdaws remain faithful for life and stay near their partners year-round, even within bustling and complex colonies. They are perhaps the most monogamous of all common UK birds.

Though animals rarely eschew sex totally with the opposite sex, observations of individuals partaking in homosexual activities throughout their lives are wonderfully common, from hyenas, lions, whiptail lizards, dragonflies and bed bugs through to orcas, koalas, barn owls, king penguins, mallards, sticklebacks and rattlesnakes, to name but a few.

According to the experts, bottlenose dolphins indulge in homosexual activities as much as heterosexual activities. One of their favorite activities is ‘goosing’, when dolphins of the same sex nudge each other’s genital slits with their beaks. Other bottlenoses indulge in ‘socio-sexual petting’, when homosexual and heterosexual pairs stroke one another undersides with their outstretched flippers.

Only in recent years have scientists begun to lift the lid on the evolutionary causes that may be responsible. Though homosexual animals in vertebrates obviously suffer from lower reproductive outputs, there may be evolutionary benefits such as kin selection, whereby non-reproductive offspring enhance the survival and reproductive chances
of their siblings, ensuring their own family genes persist.

9. Duck dramas

Being largely internalised soft structures, female genitalia can be tricky to study. Among the best understood are those of ducks. Intense competition between male ducks has done remarkable things. They have evolved a long corkscrew penis that can be ‘exploded’ into a female’s reproductive tract, giving a male a greater chance than his rivals of successful fertilisation. In response the female reproductive tract has evolved into an anti-corkscrew, with pockets and dead ends.

By modelling the tract of Muscovy ducks, scientists found that she can rebuff unwanted sperm – her reproductive passages only loosen enough to grant access to the males that she deems worthy. They’re the ones with the brightest bill, for those are most likely healthiest and less likely to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

10. Fatal attractions

Episodes of sex that are so intense the animal dies, known as semelparity, evolve when it pays more (in terms of offspring) for males and females to invest everything in one sex act than to stay alive and breed again next year. The Pacific salmon is a good example. Though not strictly semelparous, frogs and toads often live their last days during the breeding season. The energetics of mating are arguably worse for females than males – competition can be so intense that she drowns under a mass of rival suitors. But when this happens in the frog Rhinella proboscidea, death doesn’t spell the end – the males practise ‘functional necrophilia’, squeezing eggs from dead females which they fertilise in the water.
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