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Beijing joining the ranks of the world’s most liveable cities

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Every year, people all over the world tune in to see which cities make it onto the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) list of the world’s most liveable cities. And every year, a number of surveys look at the best and worst living conditions in the world’s major cities. For the EIU, each city is ranked across 30 factors – from acceptable to intolerable – and across quantitative and qualitative criteria.

The annual report, which measures quality of life, fires up the aspirations of many of the world’s greatest cities. Beijing is one city that is tackling its ranking, and its environment.

But what goes into these rankings and how much do environmental factors really matter to quality of life? And can a city grow in population and at the same time improve the quality of its air, water and public transportation?

Beijing is striving to do just that. The city has climbed four points on the EIU’s list in just a decade and is striding to do better.

What is “liveability”?

Beijing scores well on many of the EIU criteria. It has, low crime, low threat of civil unrest, high quality of private healthcare, consumer goods and services, and good quality of private education.

The city currently scores under 70 (out of 100) in the EIU’s “culture and environment” category.

Beijing is keen to improve its score and is taking steps to improve quality of water provision, quality of public transport, general healthcare indicators, humidity/temperature rating, discomfort of climate to travelers and quality of energy provision.

“Roxana Slavcheva, Head of City Practices at the EIU, explains how these domains are interlated: A dense public transport network cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions,”

Slavcheva cautions that EIU tries to refrain from being too prescriptive in their reports. “We aim to reflect the reality on the ground, and not produce a forecast or recommendations.”

But of course, ambitious cities are looking for signals that will help them develop a roadmap to a highly ranked future. It is no wonder that the city is looking to its scenario planning arm – and the international community – to help it.

Two factors that no doubt affect quality of life, are pollution and air quality. “These are included in the environmental category, as there is a strong correlation between pollution and climate”, says Slavcheva.

Building a pollution-free future

China is indeed ambitious. “Beijing wants to be one of the best livable cities in the world,” says Dr. Kijun Jiang, the head of the Energy Research Institute at the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission.

“Sydney, Vancouver and Vienna have won. And Beijing is asking ‘how do we get to this?’” To answer that, Jiang and his colleagues are busy creating scenarios for that “liveability future”.

On the sidelines of the recent GEO6 conference in Singapore, Jiang explained how Beijing aims to outperform some of the world’s most environmentally ambitious cities. A youthful, energetic scientist, Jiang projects optimism about the energy future of China – and the world.

Jiang started out as a computer science major at university in 1990, crunching national greenhouse gas models for the governmental Energy Research Institute. In 1998, when the Beijing haze had become notorious, he was given a new mission: China’s energy future.

Jiang responded to the challenge by coming up with concrete recommendations based on modeling and data. He and his team analyze air quality, energy consumption and climate change patterns, among other variables.

“We are looking to see what happens in 2030, 2050 and 2100 and giving advice on how to reach the highest ranks.”

Beijing became famous for its Olympics-related clean-up and this may just have been the beginning of a monumental effort to jump on the world’s clean air stage.

It won’t be easy, he acknowledges. “Beijing still has big trouble with air pollution.”

How has the GEO process helped Beijing?

Jiang has been involved in GEO conferences for more than a decade. “I’m very happy to join the GEO process,” he says. “I am looking forward to bring back to the Chinese government what we learn from the global environmental process” and adapt it to what he calls “the Chinese way, the Chinese road”.

Collaborations with processes such as the GEO-6, are also part of a new model of adapting to climate change. “China is releasing and sharing data with scientific entities, to help them make sense of and act on the data. I think there is this realization in China, that it serves them well to see where the problems are.”

How far has Beijing come and how far to go?

This isn’t the first time the city has worked to improve its environment. During the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics the city invested massively in infrastructure and improving air quality. This resulted in improving its rank by four points.

Contrary to popular perception, says Jiang, the Beijing air quality turnaround story did not just begin with the 2008 Olympics. It started eight-years earlier, where the city executed an action plan every six months to reduce pollution.

“Five years ago, China started an action plan on air pollution control. Today if you go to Beijing, it is much better than five years ago, and people are surprised by what we managed to achieve.”

Jiang says at times he has to deliver prescriptive messages to Chinese policymakers. “We tell them, if you want to be the best in the world, you should reach zero emissions by 2050, in air pollution, carbon emissions.”

No doubt, China and Beijing will rise to this challenge!

UN Environment

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A moment of peace in Jaipur, Rajasthan

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What made everything even better for me was the food curated by Executive chef Raj Singh. For every meal, there was a different set up in a different area.The first meal we had was in the outdoors candle lit area overlooking the rest of Kukas. This was during the wedding season so we saw firecrackers light up the sky. It was a beautiful ambience for dinner. The next day, we had breakfast by the pool where a specially curated breakfast menu was presented to us. Their pool side has many peacocks and I could spot them from my breakfast table. It was an Instagram worthy spot for food. Next up, I also had lunch on the balcony of my tented room. It was a great experience in itself.

Being a Rajasthani myself, I have often found myself wondering where I can try the best Marwari food. And not surprisingly, I have always found it in Rajasthan. The aloo dum, paneer masala, dal, batti, churma has unnervingly been the best in Rajasthan. By far, I can also vouch for having tried the best pastas, pizzas and desserts in Rajasthan considering it is now the hub of destination weddings in India. My stay at Rajasthali Resort and Spa was no less and the food was culturally representative of the heritage that I also carry within myself. Speaking of the Marwari community, I am working on a book titled, “The Culture Trap” focusing on Rajasthani culture and the Marwari community. The book should be out later in 2022. It is a great read for everyone planning to visit Rajasthan, especially those who want to know more about local culture and folklore.

Traditional architecture

Another thing I loved about Rajasthali Resort and Spa is their grand entrance gate. As soon as I reached the palace, I felt like I was entering like Rajasthani royalty itself. The grand gates and small sculptures on the way to the gate were mesmerizing. I felt teleported to another century and time. Most people don’t know this but Rajasthan has had many wars in the past, hence it has numerous forts like Nahargarh in the city. During wars, most Kings would live in tents with the best facilities, special chefs, great food, leopard skins, grand mirrors, chandeliers and everything their palace would have. Even now, the tent theme is popular at some hotels in Rajasthan and provides an exotic getaway escapade. Rajasthali Resort and Spa also has tent shaped rooms where people can stay among other properties in the region.

I also experienced some traditional architecture at City Palace and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, perhaps the two most common spots for travelers in the region. One really needs to keep their stuff safe while on a visit. Pickpockets are common and even more common are overcharging shops selling local handicrafts. Rajasthani hospitality is otherwise one of the best things anyone could ever experience.

Things to do in Jaipur

A famous activity in Rajasthan is leopard sighting. This is increasingly famous in the JAWAI regions of Jaipur. To my dismay, the safari was fully booked when I was there. I would definitely recommend you to book it in advance to avoid missing out on the experience. If you are up for visiting a monkey temple, you can even explore Galtaji Temple on the outskirts of Jaipur. It is a unique experience to be climbing on steps to get a view of a holy lake with monkeys following you around. Just don’t make eye contact. They might steal your phone or sunglasses, anything on the loose. I once lost my milk bottle as a baby and the monkeys never gave it back. Holidays indeed make up for stories of a lifetime. Rajasthali Resort and Spa, where I stayed, had some beautiful cycling tracks around. I cycled amidst nature and viewed peacocks at sunset. It was one of the most mesmerizing and detoxing experiences of my life. For all those who care, peacocks are my favorite birds. They’re magnificent, colorful and beautiful. You might even choose to venture out for a swim and trust me, it will be worth it. Swimming in the pink city with the sun soaking on your body can be more relaxing than even the best spa in the city. Being a Mumbai girl, I need some peace and quiet and gladly I found my spot in Jaipur.

Finding myself

What holidays are about most of all is finding ourselves. I was glad to get a moment of peace from my fast paced life in Mumbai. All I needed was a break and I finally got it close to my native town. Rajasthan is my home. It runs through my veins. “Padharo Mhare Des.” If you know, you know.

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5 Culinary Delights That You Should Try When Traveling to Yogyakarta

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Indonesia is a country that is always visited by tourists from various countries every year. Many foreign tourists are interested in visiting Indonesia because Indonesia has a variety of cultures and beautiful places that are scattered in various regions and are still preserved. Some of the places most frequently visited by tourists include Bali, Yogyakarta, Lombok, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Papua. In addition, in Indonesia, there are also several destinations that have been named the 7 wonders of the world, namely Komodo National Park or commonly called Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara and Borobudur Temple in Magelang (Central Java). Komodo Island, which is located in the Labuan Bajo area of ​​East Nusa Tenggara, has many types of flora and fauna that inhabit the Komodo National Park area, making it one of the World Heritage Sites and Man and Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1986. Then in 2013, Komodo National Park was named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world (wisato.id, n.d.). Temporary Borobudur Temple itself was once included in the 7 wonders of the world. From the Unesco.org page, this historic building from Indonesia was listed in 1995, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009. Borobudur Temple is located on the island of Java. This temple is on a hilltop which was built between 780 and 840 AD. Borobudur was built during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty (Dwi Latifatul Fajri, 2021). In addition to Borobudur temple, there are many temple buildings left over from various kingdoms. The majority of these temple buildings are found in the areas of Java and Yogyakarta.

The Yogyakarta area itself is indeed famous for the charm of the city which is rich in arts and tourist areas.This city also has the nickname as a student city because of the many universities in it. Many people visit Yogyakarta to continue their education, take vacations to enjoy natural attractions such as beaches, mountains, temples and take walks in the middle of the city such as to Malioboro and the square. And there are also tourists who visit to explore the city and learn about its culture that is still preserved. Traveling itself is an activity to visit a new area to get to know more about the area. Whether it’s in the form of tourist attractions, culture and culinary in it. Culinary in the Yogyakarta area is very diverse and tastes spicy, salty, sweet and savory. Among the many types of culinary, here are 5 culinary recommendations that must be tasted when traveling to Yogyakarta.

The first is Gudeg. This gudeg is a typical food from Yogyakarta which tends to be sweet. Gudeg is generally made from young jackfruit cooked with coconut milk and is brown in color, in addition to young jackfruit vegetables in it there are also chicken, eggs, tempeh and tofu. Although it has a fairly strong sweet taste, gudeg is usually served with krecek which has a spicy taste so it is very delicious when eaten with warm white rice. There are many gudeg sellers in Yogyakarta and they are very easy to find, from small stalls to hotel restaurants, almost always a gudeg menu in it, even some gudeg brands that have been around for a dozen years and are sought after by tourists.

Next, the second one is the culinary satay klatak. Satay klatak is made from mutton, this satay klatak is also different from satay in general. The difference is the klatak satay pieces which are usually larger and the skewers using bicycle iron bars. The term Satay Klatak comes from the sound produced when the satay is roasted. The sound of “tak…tak…tak” is produced from a splash of salt that is poured into the coals above the stove (ditwdb, 2019). In one serving of satay klatak, usually only 2 to 4 skewers will be served because the size is larger than the usual satay. In addition, sate klatak is also served with a side sauce that will be very delicious when eaten with lontong or warm white rice.

Then the third one is the culinary oseng mercon. Has a spicy taste that is quite strong, for lovers of this culinary spicy taste a must try. Made from beef fat which is processed with special spices and lots of chili in it. That’s why this dish is called mercon because of its strong spicy taste. But now oseng mercon has many variations, not only beef fat but also made from chicken. This dish is very suitable to be enjoyed at night and eaten with warm rice.

Then the fourth one is Javanese noodle culinary. Bakmi Jawa is a dish that is available in the afternoon until the evening. Bakmi Jawa is made from noodles cooked with special spices and mostly uses free-range chicken in the mix. Bakmi Jawa can be found in various places in Yogyakarta, from small traders to restaurants, almost all serving Javanese noodles. In the presentation there are 2 types of Javanese noodles, namely Javanese noodles with soup and fried Javanese noodles (without sauce). Both have a distinctive taste and are equally delicious.

The last or fifth there is culinary mangut catfish. Mangut catfish is a culinary dish that is cooked from catfish which has previously been processed by smoking or frying and then cooked with coconut and given a special seasoning that is rich in spices in it so that it produces a delicious taste. Mangut catfish usually has a savory spicy taste that will be very delicious when eaten with warm white rice.

Of the 5 recommended dishes above, the five are heavy foods that come from Yogyakarta and have a special taste of each type. The majority of food in Indonesia is enjoyed together with white rice as a carbohydrate. Because most foods are cooked with strong spices so it will be very suitable when eaten together with carbohydrates such as white rice which does not have a strong taste and does not interfere with the taste of the main dish.

With a variety of recommended culinary delights, it is hoped that in the future it can increase the interest of increasing tourist visits to Yogyakarta. Because as we know the pandemic for 2 years had made several tourist destinations closed so that tourist visits were also reduced. It is hoped that with the loosening of regulations because the pandemic is starting to subside, it is hoped that the community’s economic conditions will be restored through the tourism and culinary sectors so that the community’s economic conditions can also return to normal. As well as the government, the community and tourists who visit tourist attractions can maintain the surrounding environment so that it is not damaged and can be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren in the future.

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Tips on How to Plan an Excellent African Safari from the UK

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Although the holiday season is right around the corner, that does not mean you have to go around the bend from planning your family vacation.

Organizing a group getaway can be an easy and hassle-free experience. You could, for instance, opt to go on a Kenya vacation.

Having decided to go on an Africa safari from the UK, it is vital to make sure that your travel details are sorted out early enough to avoid inconveniences and undesirable outcomes.

After all, holidays are a time to unwind and let go of all the worries that bog you down on a daily basis. But how do you go about procuring the most enjoyable and thrilling holiday for you and your loved ones?

More importantly, as a Brit who has never been to Africa, how do you get the best African safari holidays from the UK?

Below are some of the most important things to consider when planning an African safari. We also give you practical insights on how to structure an excellent vacation to Kenya, the motherland of all African safaris.

Have the right travel partner

While going it alone in a foreign destination is possible, it is more prudent to rely on the guidance of a trusted professional.

Enlisting the services of a travel agent will not only give you peace of mind but it will also avail you of more favourable pricing.

Tour companies have the advantage of receiving corporate discounts from most of the industry’s service providers and they invariably pass these discounts to you.

When going on a Kenya vacation for example, no one is better placed to know what is going on in the Maasai Mara than a travel agent who specializes in Maasai Mara safaris.

The agent will be able to advise you on the best priced hotels, lodges, and camps. They will also be eligible for discounts you might otherwise not enjoy as an independent traveler.

Besides, having a tour agent means that your African safari holiday from the UK will have the benefit of a native’s expertise. You see, some of the best travel companies are those that employ native guides who know the area you visit well and will expose you to its most intimate details.

Know your travel requirements

An agent will also come in handy in letting you know more about the country’s immigration requirements.

That includes the types of vaccinations and health documents you might be required to furnish at your port of entry.

It is essential to ascertain these processes to ensure you are not caught flat footed on the day of travel.

Knowing which countries require travel visas is vital as it allows you to have these processed before you book your air tickets.

While most Kenya safari holiday safari packages are exclusive of visas and international tickets, your travel agent is at hand to render free advice on the easiest way for you to procure them.

Know the attractions

Before you commit any money to your African safari holidays from the UK, make a point of learning more about the country’s main attractions.

For example, one of the most popular tourism products in Africa are the Kenya beach and safari holiday packages.

However, these can be as diverse as humanity itself. That is because on the whole, the country has more than 40 major wildlife parks and reserves, four marine parks, and more than 15 beaches.

That tremendously opens up your range of vacation places in Kenya and means that your Kenya safari holiday package may include any combination of destinations.

Knowing what different parks offer, their location, and the activities likely to be found there will prove helpful when structuring your itinerary.

Again, the services of a professional travel agent in this regard cannot be overstated. The agent will inform you about which parks are close to each other, which attractions offer certain activities, and tell you the best time of the year to visit particular areas.

A Kenya vacation to the Maasai Mara for instance is best during the July-October season, when the country is dry and the reserve has plenty of animals.

It is also the time when the annual wildebeest migration occurs, meaning your family will be able to witness the overland migration of more than two million wild animals from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara.

Touring the park may be done through various ways, including game drives, hot air balloon rides, or even walking safaris.

During this season, enjoying your Kenya beach and safari holiday packages is also easier as the beaches enjoy sunny days thanks to the dry weather.

Visitors interested in heritage and cultural tours also have plenty to choose from, such as visits to cultural museums, indigenous villages, ancient ruins, and old towns.

While looking into the different attractions, please also bear in mind your family members’ areas of interest and what would appeal to them. That ensures that every member of your travel party enjoys a splendid vacation and lifelong memories they will treasure.

Cost

Lastly, find out how much the entire safari costs and what it includes. That information will enable you to budget accordingly.

Typically, most safari providers will have pre-structured safari deals with fixed prices.

However, some Kenya safari holiday packages allow you to customize your safari experience by cherry picking the activities you want to be included in your itinerary.

If you opt for a custom Kenya safari holiday package, your agent will inform you how much it will cost based on the vacation places in Kenya that you wish to visit. The cost is also influenced by the safari vehicle you choose to use.

For luxury holidays, 4×4 safari vehicles such as the safari land cruiser are used. The budget alternative for a true safari vehicle is the safari van. Smaller vehehicles such as Mazda Axela, Nissan Note, Toyota Premio, and Mazda Demio are often used for transfers.

That allows you to shop around for the best priced safari packages in the market and picking the one you feel most reflects your desired holiday.

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