THOMPSON PASS TO KEYSTONE CANYON BY CHERIME MACFARLANE
If Denali is the cherry on top of Alaska, Keystone Canyon is one of the yummy little nuts scattered on top the ice cream. Near the town of Valdez, and formed by the Lowe River, its walls are almost perpendicular.
The gorge, 3 miles or (4.8k) long, is rife with water. It spews from high and low places all along its length. At an elevation 307 feet (94m), it is close to sea level. But to get to it and the town of Valdez, you must negotiate Thompson Pass.
I want to highlight a Philippine island that for many people may well be considered; “off the map” – the island of Mindoro, and more specifically the western side of the island, Occidental Mindoro.
Mindoro, a large, tear-drop shaped island is the seventh largest Island of the Philippines, at roughly 10,600 square kilometres, and lies off the south-west coast of Luzon, the main island. Its two provinces, Occidental and Oriental Mindoro are clearly delineated by a range of mountains that form the spine of the centre of the island. Although not generally seen as a tourist destination, Oriental Mindoro does contain one famous resort in Puerto Gallera, a popular spot for divers and sun-seekers, located on the far north-west tip of the island. However, I want to focus on Occidental Mindoro, on its sheer unspoiled beauty and the immense potential that exists there.
I recently visited the Museum of Leonardo and the Museo Galileo in Florence, two small hidden gems of the Tuscan city. The main premise is that both are science museums: the former is dedicated to working replicas of the different machines designed and built by Leonardo, while the latter displays collections of several scientific instruments used throughout the XVII to the XIX century.
Both indicate the renewed interest towards science that was typical of the Renaissance, which was dedicated to the research and discovery of the laws of nature; the incredible impact of visual arts produced during that period should not make us forget just how fluid the separation was between the philosopher, the artist, the scientist and the magician/ alchemist.
Metro Manila, the Capital of The Philippines is a sprawling metropolis that covers an area of approximately 250 square miles. Into that area are crammed a contentious number of people. The 2015 census would tell us that 12.8 million people live in the Metro, but to listen to media reports and other sources, numbers of 20 million people are often quoted. Whichever is right probably doesn’t matter, either way, it’s an awful lot of people crammed into such a tiny area. I’ve heard Metro Manila called the most populous city in Asia and I wouldn’t bet against it. Wherever you turn there are people.
Metro Manila is actually a conglomeration of sixteen separate cities and one municipality, that form the Metro, or as it is often called, The National Capital Region (NCR). The largest of these cities by population and by area is Quezon City at just over 62 square miles, with a population of almost 3 million. The smallest of the cities is San Juan at just less than 2.3 square miles and a population of only 121,000 people. The other 14 cities sit in between with the Capital, Manila itself being at just on 15 square miles, with a population of around 1.7 million people. To give you some perspective on that, Auckland City, with a population of just on 1.4 million people covers an area of 187 square miles. Whatever way you look at it, there’s one hell of a lot of people living in a very small area in Metro Manila. Of course that makes it an awful lot of fun just getting around the city.