Interesting Planet

October 3, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — interestingplanet @ 12:24 am

I started writing this blog a few years ago, but never got very far even though I had enough stuff to write about. I’m now resurrecting it, but in a new location, on my photo site:

I promise a lot more frequent updates :)

December 27, 2009

White Cliffs Country (England)

White Cliffs Country is an area along England’s southern coast, and is better known as “the white cliffs of Dover”: the landscape consists of tens of miles of blindingly white, almost vertical rock faces, grasslands and little villages perched on tops of cliffs or tucked away in bays.

The cliffs are made of chalk (a form of limestone), made up of the remnants of prehistoric algae – the same material they used to make school blackboard chalk from — these days it’s synthetic —, and if you scratch the cliff surface, it actually crumbles. (Note: standing on top of a cliff that crumbles under your fingers is a little scary). The cliffs are often higher than 100 metres (same as a 30-story building), and can be seen from France on a clear day.

The area’s historical significance is that it’s the part of England closest to the continent, and because of this potential invaders could always be expected to land here over the millennia. The Battle of Britain (Nazi Germany’s foiled attempt to gain air superiority over Britain in WWII) also took place mainly in these parts.


There are miles and miles of hiking and cycling trails along the cliffs with amazing views on a clear day (see the Getting there and around chapter below for recommended walking/cycling routes).


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November 20, 2009


Filed under: Europe, travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , — interestingplanet @ 6:51 pm
“I love England. It’s no coincidence it’s the first place I moved to for a more cosmopolitan life, which is the only thing Iceland lacks.” (Björk)

Iceland quick facts

Name: Republic of Iceland (Lýðveldið Ísland)
Language: Icelandic
Area and population: Iceland is approximately the same size as Pennsylvania, but has only 2% of its population: that is 300,000 people. (The population density is extremely low, about the same as that of Australia.)

Read the rest of the blog post in the blog’s new location:


November 15, 2009


Filed under: Asia, travel — Tags: , , , — interestingplanet @ 10:29 pm

Singapore Quick Facts

Name: Republic of Singapore
Population: 5 million
Area: 710 km^2
Official languages: English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil


The history of today’s Singapore began when the British bought the island in the 19th century in order to use it as a trading post in the Far East. The town quickly became one of the biggest ports in the world (and it’s still one of the busiest ports according to certain criteria), and as the colony developed, a large number of tradesmen and refugees started arriving from various countries — the diverse demographics of the country includes 75% Chinese, 14% Malaysians and 8% Indians. It seceded from the crumbling British Empire in 1959 and, after a short spell as part of the Malayan Union, has been an independent republic since 1965. Since gaining independence the country has invested a lot in improving the quality of education and making English (the main language of international commerce) the primary language (which, along with the ‘mixed’ Singlish, is frequently used by locals to communicate with each other). The effects of these measures are instantly visible: Singapore is now a major financial and business centre, and has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Ships along the East Coast as far as the eye can see — they’re waiting for entry into Singapore’s port, or refuelling and letting the crew take a few days off:

Read the rest of the blog post in the blog’s new location:


Hong Kong

Filed under: Asia, travel — Tags: , , , , , , — interestingplanet @ 9:08 pm

Hong Kong quick facts

Full name: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (中華人民共和國香港特別行政區 in Cantonese — the last character, which looks like a little blueprint, means ‘region’ or ‘area’)
Official languages: Cantonese, English
Population: 6 million (95% of which Chinese)
Area: 1000 km²


The 19th century saw the British Empire expand towards the Far East, but they had a difficult time tackling China — while the Empire needed to import many things from the East, huge and self-sufficient China barely needed anything in return. It became apparent after a while that what the Chinese needed was opium — and the British could provide this in abundance. While its trade wasn’t legal, Chinese authorities turned a blind eye, and so the export of opium became a profitable business, up until the point when a Chinese official unexpectedly attempted to ban it. To show how ‘upset’ they were with the proceedings, the British declared war on China (this was the first Opium War), which ended in a peace in exchange for Hong Kong Island, which seemed a convenient base for Far Eastern trade. Two further conflicts ended in the Brits acquiring two more territories: neighbouring Kowloon Peninsula, and the so-called New Territories (the latter they only leased for 99 years, while the rest they acquired “forever”), which, together with Hong Kong Island, formed the colony of Hong Kong. Under British rule the territory became a blooming centre of trade, and, in the past few decades, a major financial hub too. When the New Territories lease was nearing its end, the British knew (already having lost most of their colonies) that there was little point in trying to keep Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, and they intended to hand the whole territory back to China — this finally happened in in 1997 (“the Handover”). However, Hong Kong is still not completely part of China — I’ll talk about this in more detail in the One Country, Two Systems section.

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