U need a UNESCO

Twenty-twenty will forever be remembered as the year of COVID. No matter your background, the stresses of the last year far outweighed its joys. Our physical and mental wellbeing were put to the test in ways we could never have imagined. While the pandemic is still raging, a new vaccine and the easing of some restrictions have made all of…

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You can be sure, it’s Kuala Lumpur

Literally meaning “muddy river confluence” in Malay, Kuala Lumpur has grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis of 7 million (city-proper population- 1.8 million) in just 150 years. A cultural melting pot with some of the world’s cheapest 5-star hotels, great shopping, even better food and some of nature’s wonders in just an hour away,…

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Sick of your country? Well, read this.

It happens to all of us:  we just get sick and tired of it.  We see no escape.  We feel boxed in, with no hope.  And it feels like there are no options. Is all of the world like this?  Cities are all the same, are they not?  Dirty, gritty, chaotic and grim.  Maybe yes, maybe no. Are there no…

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Immortality beckons

In the Asturias region of northwest Spain, a cave drawing of a woolly mammoth has a single, internal feature: a large red heart. This work of art, at least 14,000 years old, likely depicts a successful hunt and bloody wound. From the earliest days of our species, the detection of a pulse, the preservation of respiration and the beating of a…

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SALE: Sri Lanka for 10 nights

We don’t usually put promotions in our posts, but this is a good one. Our travel affiliate friends Titan Travel have a great deal for ten days in Sri Lanka.  A fully escorted Tour – 10 nights Accommodation + meals Included. Excursions include City Tours of Colombo and Galle and Buddhist Shrines at Anuradhapura – 12 Days from £1,999pp Read…

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A GEM among them

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you will most certainly know about the immense and exciting GEM museum in Cairo. GEM stands for Grand Egyptian Museum and it will be a stunning building even separate of its incredible jewels, artefacts and mummies. When it is completed, the Grand Egyptian Museum just outside of Cairo on the Giza Plateau…

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Don’t pretend to be: be!

A devastating loss can shatter the façade we put up for others, exposing our deepest, rawest self. A work of art can do the same. Don’t show off! Don’t pretend to be, be!’ The piercing voice of my stern ballet teacher with the stick and the square glasses still echoes in my mind. These two sentences were standard at almost…

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Poetic Ayurvedic

Known as a wellness and Ayurvedic destination, Sri Lanka is once again welcoming international tourists after reopening its borders. Anantara Kalutara Resort is launching signature treatments created by French chiropodist and “foot virtuoso” Bastien Gonzalez, called the Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio. The treatments are performed by chiropodists and specialized therapists using the premier Bastien Gonzalez product line and are sought out by…

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Slow boat o’ Kyoto

Hoshinoya Kyoto is a beautiful Kyoto ryokan, situated away from the crowds, in an place of tranquil scenery that continues to bedazzle travelers. Arashiyama is one of the most singular of scenic locations in Kyoto. Many international tourists who visit hope to to see the seasonal scenery, and the locale is brimming with visitors year-round. Located within eyesight not far…

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No, that can’t be right.

‘Your answers on this questionnaire suggest moderate to severe depression,’ I said gently. ‘Can I ask how long that’s been going on?’ My client, a middle-aged, widowed military veteran with chronic back pain, looked taken aback. ‘Depression?’ he repeated, in a voice of disbelief. ‘No, that can’t be right. I can’t be depressed.’ ‘I’m sorry,’ I said, puzzled, ‘but what…

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Kids these days don’t know anything

People tend to be extremely nostalgic about the music they listened to when they were young. If you were a teenager in the 1970s, chances are you will love Queen, Stevie Wonder or ABBA. And if you were young in the 1990s, Wannabe by the Spice Girls probably still gets you on the dance floor. But why is that? Do…

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The little Pelican book on philosophy

There is an urgent need today for the citizens of a democracy to think well.’ These words, which could have been written yesterday, come from Thinking to Some Purpose, a popular book by the British philosopher Susan Stebbing, first published in 1939 in the Penguin ‘Pelican’ books series, with that familiar blue-and-white cover. This little book, which could easily be…

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Pavlopetri

This a little-known, but fascinating place in Greece. The city of Pavlopetri (Greek: Παυλοπέτρι), underwater off the coast of southern Laconia in Peloponnese, Greece, is about 5,000 years old, making it one of the oldest submerged lost cities, as well as the oldest in the Mediterranean sea. Pavlopetri is unique in having an almost complete town plan, including streets, buildings,…

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How to be a genius

Don’t get me wrong – yes, I’m a professor at Yale University, but I’m no genius. When I first mentioned to our four grown children that I was going to teach a new course on genius, they thought that was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. ‘You, you’re no genius! You’re a plodder.’ And they were right. So how did…

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Being in the here and now

Many spiritual teachers have emphasised the notion of being fully present ‘in the now’. Proponents of meditative practices of various sorts tout meditation as a way of immersing oneself fully in the present moment, and not attending to the past or future. The spiritual teachers (including prominent authors) and proponents of meditation typically point to many benefits of being fully…

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True gratitude is a communal emotion, not a wellness practice

In March 2020, Europeans started gathering on balconies and by windows to cheer, applaud and show gratitude to their healthcare workers providing life-saving services during the pandemic. The regular cheering and clapping became a symbol of hope: human solidarity triumphing over fear and enforced isolation. Contrast that scene with another. Following the remission of her COVID-19 symptoms in July, Jazmin…

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A range of possible futures

I have a confession. As a physicist and psychiatrist, I find it difficult to engage with conversations about consciousness. My biggest gripe is that the philosophers and cognitive scientists who tend to pose the questions often assume that the mind is a thing, whose existence can be identified by the attributes it has or the purposes it fulfils. But in…

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India, you’re my lovesong

If ever we were challenged to name a country more diverse than India, we’d have a tough time. Few places, if any, rival the sheer amount of traditions, cuisines, landscapes, and religions found within India’s borders, from the high Himalayas in the north to the desert sands of the west to the palm tree-fringed rivers and islands of the south.…

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How our brain sculpts experience in line with our expectations

The Book of Days (1864) by the Scottish author Robert Chambers reports a curious legal case: in 1457 in the town of Lavegny, a sow and her piglets were charged and tried for the murder of a partially eaten small child. After much deliberation, the court condemned the sow to death for her part in the act, but acquitted the…

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