Linkoping of Sweden

The name of this place might be not as famous as Stockholm, but Linköping represents a city that is far from the metropolitan bustle. In fact, a city located in the northern part of Sweden is one of five major cities in the country who’ve earned the nickname ‘the most peaceful countries in the world’, because of the low crime rate. This is what makes me strengthen my heart for a visit to Linkoping, a big city with the countryside atmosphere dominated lakes and canals.

As soon as the train arrived at the station of Copenhagen, Denmark, I rushed into the train and went straight to the seat in accordance with the number on the ticket. This train only stops no more than 3 minutes. Each passenger must be nimble to immediately get into the car. Typical train in developed countries in Europe, the train that would take me to the Linköping condition is very good.  I immediately sat down on a bench near the window.

Although it was afternoon and the sky slowly started to turn dark, it was, really, a pity to miss just a view of the open sea, before the train started to get into the underwater tunnel, to finally emerge again in the land in the area of Sweden. There’s not much I can do along the way for 3.5 hour. After the railway officials, who accompanied the police, patrolling to check train ticket and the identity of the passengers, I chose to take a break. Several times came the announcement the next station stop in Swedish. I was trying to listen, in order to get ready before arriving at Linköping Station. Finally, I arrived in the town located in Östgöta Plains, precisely in the province of Östergötland. Linköping Central Train Station, adjacent to the bus terminal. We are also quite a walk to get downtown. Get off the train, a friend is already waiting for me.

He then invited me to walk to the residence not far from the city center. Along the way I saw many bikes are parked neatly. Yes, the same as in other European countries, the bike became one of the primary means of transportation for its residents. In 2002, Linköping been dubbed as the Swedish Biking City of the Year. Apart from a small town atmosphere of tranquility, Linköping facilities and urban infrastructure is complete and modern. In fact, for any day care costs are subsidized by the government. All the costs of infrastructure development is derived from taxes are quite high, about 20% -25% of revenue, to be paid by each of its citizens. Linköping is a city that stood since the Middle Ages. As evidence, some roads were built at that time are still visible in some parts around the town square or Stora Torget, such as Tanneforsgatan, St Korsgatan, and Agatan Streets.

I started the two-day vacation with Linköping while walking around. Like most cities in Europe, the town square is an interesting place to visit. Similarly, the city center, surrounded by buildings of shops, restaurants and typical classic European-style church. Saint Lars’ Church and Linköping Cathedral are two churches that have become landmarks of the city. Saint Lars’ Church is located at the corner of Storgatan and St Larsgatan Church that had stood since the 19th century is predominantly white. Was very impressed with the classic dark green bell tower that always sounds as much as three times per day. With a 107-meter-high tower, architecture artificial Linköping Cathedral Helgo this Zettervall neo-classical style of the 12th century.

Church size much larger than Saint Lars’ Church and has become one of the city’s pride is an enlargement of the earlier church were considered too small to accommodate the congregation. Quite surprising to learn that it takes about 300 years to build this church, since the 1230’s until 1885-1886. North door is the oldest part of the church, along with roman arch in the choir in it, where a large cross hung. The church is also home to many art treasures, one of the controversial works of Henrik Sorensen, an altar painted in 1935, depicts Jesus rose from the tomb on Easter morning. Walking past the cathedral, I see a big yellow building looks like a mansion. It is a city hall or town hall where the city government employees work. Established in 1864, the building was originally a high school. Its function is turned into the town hall since 1921. Outside the building, I see there is a marker on the road, which is believed to be the place Linköping bloodbath that took place in 1600.

However, a study revealed that the incident actually occurred on Stora Torget Square, at the corner of which has now become a Burger King restaurant. Incidentally my friend wants to return the books to the public library, so we went back on foot because it was not far. Seen a modern building with many windows, almost like a greenhouse, surrounded by lawns decorated with colorful flowers beautiful surroundings. Incidentally autumn just arrived, so the flowers are still a lot of blooming flowers.

The library is not only just an awesome architecture, interior was interesting. The room is comfortable and decorated with some famous designer chairs, one of which is the egg chair Arne Jacobson’s work. It does not cease to amaze, especially when considering that the free education system for citizens from the elementary level through high school. Sitting reading a book while facing the window with a view of a beautiful garden outside, it seems to me linger are in the library. From the library, I headed to one of the iconic destinations, namely Gamla Linköping, an outdoor museum depicting the life of Linköping in the past. To reach this point, we have to use local buses, because it is located approximately 2 km to the west of the city center. More fun again, we do not need to pay to get in. When I got there, I saw a shape resembling a public phone box are quite caught my attention, and it is true it is a phone booth in the past.

Here I can see the life of Swedish society in the past, ranging from architectural form of wooden houses, cobblestone alleys and gardens. Here we also get into the museum that displays the community activities of the period, such as post offices, banks, and shops that sell handicrafts and souvenirs can be purchased. Very interesting for me as a person who love visiting the museum. After touring, we stopped at a café serving typical dessert Sweden and enjoy fika (coffee break), as was done by Swedish society. Fika can be done anytime and anywhere, usually with a coffee and a sweet pastry. A short walk through Vallaskogen took us to Valla Farm, a nature reserve with a museum featuring the history of rural, farm animals, large play area, and a miniature golf course. In the afternoon, another friend asked me to go to an interesting place. We make a pact to meet at the train station at 5 pm and go together from there. Oh yes, the Swedes are very appreciative of the time and discipline in all things, whether the promise of meeting, the interview should be kept, and never break a promise, unless it has permission.

When my friend mentioned the name of the place we visit, Gota Canal, I do not understand. Perhaps because of the Swedish language pronunciation is not familiar in the ears. I just follow where it will take me that afternoon. It turned out that its location is quite far from the city, namely in Lake Roxen, about 16 kilometers north of Linköping and again had to use the public bus for about an hour. Far enough, considering there is no traffic jam. Historically, the Gota Canal is one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken in Sweden.

The canal was built in the 18th century it stretched from Sjotorp on Lake Vänern to the Mem on the east coast, with a length of 190 kilometers and a total of 58 locks (sluice). From this distance, 87 kilometers are man-made, the rest is made in nature. Its construction took 22 years, and in the 19th century, the canal has become the main transport routes, both for passengers and goods. Many tourists come to use buses here, because a lot of things that can be enjoyed and pleasant scenery. I was walking door to see the beauty of water previously active use, but is now only used as a tourist attraction. From a distance I saw a shadow of a man standing in the middle of the lake. When I approached, it was a 9-meter-high art installation named Doppelganger or double man. Another thing that can be done there is to enjoy the scenery while eating in the cafe, playing minigolf, cycling or swimming in the lake.

Because there is only one bus numbers that can bring us to this place and go back to the city, which is the bus number 520, then we have to adjust with the bus schedule. Otherwise, we could have missed the bus and had to wait long for the next bus! Arriving in the city center, Linköping as already asleep. In fact, it was only half past eight in the evening. But it must be understood. Like most cities in Europe, all the activities here was stopped after 6 pm, all the store was closed on Sunday. Which is open in the evenings are just a few restaurants and a nightclub. Swedish society working hours are restricted, only 40 hours a week, because they appreciate the delicate balance of life During this time the name of lingonberry so familiar in the ears of those who like to visit IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings store. Indeed, this fruit is so popular and prevalent in Sweden, not least in Linköping. Lingonberry is one of the essential ingredients in Scandinavian cuisine. Typically, lingonberry jam is cocol sauce to eat swedish meatball or typical Swedish meatballs, accompanied by mashed potatoes and gravy.

Lingonberry is a kind of berry that is not as popular as strawberry and blueberry. The color is bright red like cherry, sweet and sour taste. The shape is smaller than a blueberry. In Sweden, lingonberry plants can be found on the roadside or in the yard-yard. Tips: 1. Airlines Emirates, KLM and Lufthansa airport for flights to the capital Stockholm. To Linkoping can continue by train or bus SJ approximately 2 hours drive. 2. Although members of the EU, Sweden is still using the currency Swedish krona (SEK). 3. One of the interesting selection of places to stay that are in the Elite Stora Hotellet, the four-star hotel located in the city center and is one of the oldest there. 4. If you want to stay near the train station and other transportation centers, can choose Park Hotel Linköping Fawlty Towers – Sweden Hotels is a four-star.

Manambolo River and Le Petit Tsingy Madagascar

Further we go into the forest, traveling by 4WD was all the more acute. We broke through the bush, and must pass through the gaping hole that is muddy and waterlogged. Finally we arrived at a village, where we had to cross the Tsiribihina River flow by using rafts. Two traditional boat with two engines combined use thick board arrangement on it. The raft was carrying cars, motorcycles, as well as local residents to the village of Belo.

About 40 minutes we enjoyed the view of the river on rafts. We decided to stop in the village of Belo for lunch and rest awhile. Some 4WD also do the same. Apparently, this is the village of dismissal. Although not large, we can still find shops that sell a variety of needs. Out of the village of Belo ceased exit the market. There was only housing residents an alternate forest house located far apart.

The sun fell perfectly when we got to Camp Croco Village Bekopaka. We were greeted dark, because there is no electricity in the village. When it’s dark like this, studded sky looks very bright, beyond the usual we see in the sky of the capital. Lanto, in charge of the camp who received us, explained that electricity is only lit from 7 pm to 9 pm with using a generator. Then audible noise generator is turned on.

We looked around a few tents of canvas lined up on the front page. Big wheeled car that looked muddy even meet the parking area. After several conversations, I know people here have the same goals as us, namely to explore the Tsingy de Bemahara.

We came together with two tourists’ French citizen, the United States, Russia, China, and India. They are like us, have a job in the capital for a certain period of time and taking the time to venture to other parts of Madagascar. There is also a biodiversity researcher, who usually stays up for months and move.

That evening we were taken to the lodges that line between big trees. We spent the night in one cottage. Our cottage home-like local people made of woven bamboo frond roofs made from a type of woven reeds. Toilets and bathrooms are located outside the cottage, with big drum water storage for toiletries. We use it along with other guests.

On the ceiling of the cabin, a chameleon of arms perch. We did not throw him out because they did not interfere. Perhaps this is the wilderness area was once their home. We provide bed nets to protect themselves from mosquitoes and other insects. That night we ate fried freshwater fish with rice and pickled hot pepper. Perhaps because of fatigue, my son can also sleep soundly, despite the hot and dry air. Conditions are very modest cottage, far from the inn.

At midnight I was awakened by the sound resembles a scream. I’ve been told, it is the sounds of lemurs endemic to Madagascar are included in a group of primates. They are nocturnal and often foraging close to the camp.

The nature reserve is known as the Stone Forest. Tsingy name, for local people means it is a place where we could not walk. Understandably, the contour is rock, sharp-pointed and sharp. This national park is home to seven species of lemurs, animal endangered endemic to Madagascar. In addition, there are also various species of butterflies, chameleons and rare endemic plants. An area of ​​1,575 km² it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

After searching for information on tourist center located approximately 3 kilometers from the camp, we walk down the Manambolo River with a guide. The river water is dark yellow for essentially filled with soil sediments are derived from erosion of the forest. From the top of the canoe we see the rock caves, also the bottom of Le Petit Tsingy, one of two parts of the park, which is lined up to resemble a small rock hill, with lush green trees on it.

Our guides show the area where the tomb Vazimba tribe was on top of the hill. Vazimba is believed to be the oldest tribes’ sourdough Madagascar. Until now, though fewer in number, Vazimba tribe believed to still live in primitive forests of Madagascar, including in this national park.

We stopped and went to a cave to see stalactites and stalagmites formed in the base and the ceiling of the cave. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter until too deep because the condition is difficult to reach. Afterwards, we turned around and returned to Le Petit Tsingy. We chose these three kilometer walk with a travel time of about four hours.

To get to the tops of the Tsingy, we had to pass through the woods and into a maze of winding. The maze is sometimes narrowed only the size of an adult’s body. We often have to lean over, stepping sideways position. We also have climbed the stone steps on the wall Tsingy be very careful in order to achieve some of the highest point. Both of my sons did not look scared or tired, even look curious because many questions to guide in French.

We were also amazed when he reached the top of a wooden bridge that stretches between the peaks of Tsingy. Spired rocks scenery in front of us is not common. Above us a bright blue sky was gorgeous. Tsingy corals have formed since 200 million years ago due to raindrops, little by little until like its current form. Stone Forest is located at an altitude of 300 to 400 meters above the valley of the river Manambolo. On the sidelines of Tsingy also seemed to grow plants endemic. We spent the time until late in the Le Petit Tsingy this.

The next day, because the terrain is more difficult and we were unable to find transport to Le Grand Tsingy, the other part of this national park, only my husband was there. Me and my two sons waited in camp while roaming the countryside and venturing back Manambolo River. Although aqueous turbid, my two sons are not afraid to take a shower and the water play ball with the children of the village. Both also learn paddling the canoe with them.

Le Grand Tsingy located 18 kilometers from the village Bekopaka. To get there, my husband had to rent a motorcycle. There is a circuit which has been marked by a guide. We could have a short circuit with a time of 2 hours roaming or long circuit with a time of 6 hours. My husband said, to climb and reached the bridge, the guide will ask you to install a safety rope at the waist, to keep up if we slip. Some researchers’ flora and fauna often spend the night and set up tents in the region.

The capital city of Antananarivo has a subtropical highland climate. Range of June to October winter will include the city with the lowest point that can reach 7 ° C. It never snowed, but the cold made us have to wear layered clothing and winter boots when out of the house, also turn on or turn on the heating furnaces at home. Winter will be closed with the rainy season which usually blustery, and then changed the summer. Summer temperatures can reach 35 ° C.

As the former French colony, the French influence is still very visible. Especially from building cities, the education system, and two official languages named Malagasy and French. The social life of the people are not too good, the gap between rich and poor is very subtle.

Interestingly, the Merina tribe is the largest tribe in the highlands of Antananarivo is believed to come from the archipelago. According to the researchers of history, centuries ago sailors of the archipelago have been coming to this isolated island with a simple boat. They settled and formed a village that became the forerunner of Merina Kingdom. Therefore, their physical characteristics differ from the coastal tribes originating from the African mainland. Merina tribe has lighter skin with straight black hair and of medium. Unlike the coastal tribe that has dark skin and curly hair. In general, those nations that is friendly and humble.

Survival Tips
• Dare to bid because all the prices offered are very varied with a high margin.
• Prepare a drink and sustenance enough because the price is usually expensive and difficult to obtain.
• Bring wet wipes for toilet always very hard to find or are not maintained clean.
• Carry emergency light or flashlight battery energy because electricity is very limited.
• Take medicines, as well P3K tools, mosquito lotion, lightweight clothing that is comfortable because the air is hot and insects a night very much.
• Arm yourself with a map location or GPS device.
• Local people are friendly, but not many who understand English. Bring a dictionary Malagasy or French would be helpful to communicate

Tsingy de Bemahara Madagascar

Madagascar is a country that my family and I live two years ago is the world’s fourth largest island, located off the southeast coast of the African continent. Although separate from the vast land of Africa, he remained upright facing the Indian Ocean because the mountains are peg solid stone. Natural expanse rich with endemic flora and fauna are hard to find in other parts of the world. My desire to visit many places in Madagascar is so unstoppable. One of them, which are also the most coveted of the adventurers, is the stone forest Tsingy de Bemahara.

Legend of the Lover Tree
Region and small islands around Madagascar are so tempting to visit. Last April the opportunity came. My husband and children agreed to move to the western part of the island, towards Tsingy de Bemahara who enters the territory Melaky. This decision was not easy, because Tsingy de Bemaraha is not a proper tourist destination to visit with the children, especially those still aged 5 and 9 years old.

However, I also do not want to change the plan, because it is the best destination in Madagascar which became the target of the adventurers. I decided it was better to bring the kids with us than to be sorry for missing the best places. Better try to walk together to the point that I knew or the children should be stopped, at least we have tried.

Answer soothing came from businessmen travel that we call. “Can! If unable to walk up to 18 kilometers, you can find a kind of wagon drawn cow in there, “he said. Sentences that are what I make the handle during the trip.At 7 am we moved out of Antananarivo, for a 10-hour trip with a rental car type 4WD. At five o’clock, we arrived at Morondava, Menabe capital city, which has a beautiful view, beach with white sands are clean, also a fishing village that can be reached by climbing a small wooden boat.

Fresh fish, lobster, and shrimp which amount exceeds my palms became the mainstay of our diet. In our inn overlooking the warm watery Mozambique Channel, we enjoyed the sunset along the red tinge on the sea border.

The next day, after the content to play the sea, we again reached out to other areas. After walking about three kilometers the car had to swerve out of the main road and enter the red dirt roads in bad condition due to the rainy season a few months ago.

A few hundred meters later we enter the area Allée des Baobabs, areas dirt road flanked by giant baobab trees that can reach the age of 800 years. Adansonia tree of the species is believed to be a symbol of prosperity and fertility of the local community, also believed to be renala (which means mother wilderness), the ancestral forests of Madagascar.

About thirty grown trees flanking the road and over a hundred others are scattered in the forest. Unique shape resembles a bottle that seems embedded upside down, presenting images that are similar twigs scratches to the sky. The baobab tree can grow to a height of 5 to 30 meters with a trunk diameter of 7 to 11 meters. Of the nine species that exist, six species are native or native to Madagascar, two other species from the mainland of Africa and Arabian Peninsula, and one other species from Australia.

We could not resist the urge to stop by and visit the legend, the baobab amoureux, located 7 kilometers from the Allée des Baobabs. Baobab amoureux are two trees are entwined. That said, there are pair of lovers who love each other, but they may not marry because they have the same parents’ betrothed couples. In despair over the fate of their love, they pray with all hope to be united. So, this tree grew, entwining do not want to be separated, grow centuries old, became folklore continues narrated.