Travel And Flowers – Do You Have A Life-List?

In this era of life-lists and books on 1001 places to see, mountains to climb, trails to hike, rivers to raft, etc. all to do before you die, maybe as travelers and flower lovers we should develop our own life-lists of flower sites around the world. The plants on this list would be the must sees – the oldest, tallest, shortest – wildflowers, commercial crops, roadside or trailside, and fruit trees – oddities, originals, scented; and flower festivals and official flowers.

Just as some bird tours focus on viewing a particular bird at a certain time in a specific location, single blossom plants exist that you might travel a great distance to see. The plants on this list would be the “must sees.” These beauties include, among many others, the bee orchid in its native Cypress; the blue, Egyptian lilies in Cairo; the black iris at Petra; and the blue poppies in Bhutan.

But life-lists are composed of many categories and a flower life-list would be no exception. Biggest, oldest, tallest, etc. are all vying for your attention. For flowers the biggest category would include: the world’s largest wisteria, which blooms in March in the city of Sierra Madre, California; and the largest rose tree (8,000-sqft arbor) is growing in, of all places, Tombstone, Arizona.

Oldest is another category. My list would include the oldest camellias in the New World at two plantations near Charleston, South Carolina (Magnolia and Middleton Place). But then I should consider the Tang Dynasty plum tree and the Ming Dynasty camellia at Black Dragon Pool in Longquan Hill, China. They are living works of art, especially when they bloom in February.

Tallest: the tallest rhodendrons I’ve ever heard of are in Sikkim, India, and stand 60′ high and I want to see them bloom! (May to October)

Shortest? Would that be an appropriate category for flowers? It could apply to alpine plants, which are actually wildflowers that grow at higher elevations where soil conditions are poor and weather is extreme. It could also apply to new cultivated varieties, such as Belgium azaleas. Maybe the original tulips still growing in Turkey and the purple irises of Mt. Gilboa, Israel, would fit here.

What about wildflowers? This would really expand the list. Almost every place on earth has wildflowers. There are the daisies in Namaqualand, South Africa; the California poppies in the deserts east of Los Angeles; the bogs in Estonia; the red poppies in Tuscany; the vernal pools in Northern California; the mountains of Bhutan; the bluebells in Great Britain; and the hillsides in Galilee to name just a few. Then there’s Australia, a wildflower lover’s paradise.

Not technically wildflowers, the wild herbs of the Mediterranean area make up for their lack of striking color in scent: specifically, a “pizza seasoning” aroma. But the wild herbs along the Camino de Santiago are comprised more of rosemary, thyme, and wild lavender with wild rose thrown into the mix. Heavenly!

Here’s a different category: Roadside or trailside. Sometimes your best memory of a trip is of the flowers that lined the roadside. For this group, I’d have to say the fuchsias in Madeira rival the chicory in SW Virginia and the wild roses of Nova Scotia.

I’d have to include an oddities category, too. The flowers of the Argan trees in Morocco are definitely odd–the local goats get into the trees and eat the leaves when the trees are in bloom! The silversword in Maui’s Haleakala Crater is another odd-looking flower as are the proteas of South Africa. Of course, orchids would fit here.

Then there are the field crops of flowers. Flowers are a worldwide commodity and lavender is now grown nearly everywhere around the world (as are sunflowers and coffee). I’d have to see if the different types and growing conditions changed their scent. That study alone could take me to some interesting places: while I’m sniffing the air at the lavender farm in Tasmania, I could also admire the fields of pink, opium poppies fluttering in the breeze. Or I could compare the intensity of aroma from commercial fields of roses between Turkey and Bulgaria.

What about fruit trees? There are festivals celebrating these blooming field crops. Apricot blossom festivals in Korea; plum blossom festivals to celebrate the Chinese New Year; almond blossom festivals in Northern California; and of course, the most celebrated of all, cherry blossoms in Japan.

Some flowers could have their own category. Violets grow in alpine areas, bogs, along trails in dry areas during the wet season, and in ancient gardens. Different colors would increase the value of the list: yellow violets in Argentina, purple in France, lavender in British Columbia, lavender/white in Japan…this could go on and on.

Perhaps the most interesting is the “origin of” category. I would definitely want to see the hillside in Turkey where the ancestors of the modern tulip still grow. Then there’s the source of the original African violets in Tanzania; the hillside in Taxco, Mexico, where the original poinsettias grow (which don’t look much like modern poinsettias); the national park in Argentina where wild petunias provided the stock of our modern bedding plants; Easter lilies that originated in Bermuda; and the mountain in Japan where centuries-old white-blossoming cherry trees bloom in sequence up the mountain and look like snowdrifts.

What about scent? That would make the list even longer. I simply must visit the ylang ylang plantations in Madagascar; then there are the peonies in China, mimosas in France, daphne in the Dolomites…And we haven’t even touched orchids yet!

I’ll also have to attend flower festivals–there’s one every month somewhere in the world. Again, I would have a lot to choose from: crabapple festivals in China, Japan, and Rhode Island. There are several azalea festivals, hydrangea festivals, and dogwood festivals around the world and rhododendron festivals in New Zealand, China, Japan, England, and many places in the US. I’d have to compare the rose festivals in Morocco, Japan, New Zealand, China, and many cities in the US.

Should I include “official” flowers? Such as the many “Jacaranda City” attributions around the world; or the national flower status bestowed upon flowers–this could get diplomatically tricky: the water lily is the national flower of several Asian countries. The same is true for state flowers: for Kansas it’s the sunflower; for Wyoming it’s Indian paintbrush, but for three states it’s the violet.

So many flowers sites, so many places to travel!

China Shanghai Travel and Tour

The city of Shanghai is the biggest commercial and financial center in China and also one of the most important international port city in the western-pacific region. The city of Shanghai, bordering on Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the west, is washed by the East China Sea in the east and Hangzhou Bay in the south. North of the city, the Yangtze River pours into the East China Sea. At the central point along China’s coastal line, Shanghai has ready transportation facilities. Thanks to its advantageous geographic location, Shanghai has both excellent sea and river ports and a vast hinterland.

With a pleasant northern subtropical maritime monsoon climate, Shanghai enjoys four distinct seasons, with generous sunshine and abundant rainfall. Its spring and autumn are relatively short comparing with the summer and winter. However, nearly 50 percent of the precipitation came during the May-September flooding season, which is divided into three rainy periods, namely, the Spring Rains, the Plum Rains and the Autumn Rains.  

As a city of a long history, Shanghai has 13 historical sites under state protection, including characteristic gardens built during the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. A group of architectures built since the 1990s have added something new to the scenic attractions of the city. The Oriental Pearl TV tower, the No. 1 skyscraper in China and the People’s Square well fit into the urban landscape and compete with the Western-style architectures built along the bunds. Being one of the earliest city to underwent economic reform, Shanghai has a large expatriate community and foreign businesses, more so than the capital of Beijing.

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Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

To stay healthy while traveling the immune system must be strong before it is subjected to many air borne viruses. Travel plans alone can cause large amounts of stress on the body, causing it to become weak. The best defense against sickness is to prepare the body for a strong immune system. Below are helpful tips to keep you healthy before, during and after your traveling adventures.

Sleep is one of the biggest ways that people can protect themselves from viral attacks. The immune system becomes weak when sleep is deprived from the body and healthy cells become slower to repair. Sleeping a full eight hours per night is recommended for reaching a maximum level of health. Resting or taking a nap also lets the mind unwind from a stressful day, increasing its strength to tell the body when to fight. Try this during your trip as well.

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidant power. Antioxidants destroy the cells that make us sick. Eat these before and during your trip and to keep the urge to select junk food when you’re on the go. The highest level of antioxidants found in fruits include: raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes and cherries. Vegetables include: kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli flowers, beets, red bell peppers, onions, corn and eggplant.

When overseas avoid raw fruit and vegetables, try to bring your own, or wash them with tap water as the food and water may be contaminated. Also, avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs and dairy products from small independent vendors.

Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is also an important way to stay healthy. Drinking caffeine and alcohol rob the body of hydration, so it best to leave these agents out of the picture. Being dehydrated causes the body to act sluggish and toxins need to stay flushed out of the system. Again, be careful of the water when traveling overseas. Bring water to a boil before drinking it. Buying bottled or canned is fine as well as treated water with commercial iodine or chlorine tablets.

Exercise is very beneficial for keeping an optimum state of health. It keeps your energy level up as well as your spirit and helps people to sleep better at night. Bring a fitness DVD or a small pack of work out tools and make sure to get out to tour the city. When reserving a hotel get one with a pool or a gym to stay active and your metabolism level high.

Vaccinations are a good way to keep from contracting diseases, especially from overseas. Mosquito repellent and bug sprays also help lessen the chance of infections. If you are sleeping outside try using a mosquito net around your bed as a tent. Keeping your hands washed or sanitized help keep from spreading germs. Bring a bottle of sanitizer or hand wipes with you. Also, have a blood test and stool analysis upon returning home to make sure that you have not contracted anything serious.