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10 Culturally Rich Cities That You Need To Visit

10 Culturally Rich Cities That You Need To Visit

Whether it’s the culinary joy of a steaming pot of Moroccan tagine, a walk through history in Nepal’s old town of Bhaktapur or learning the art of meditation in a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, the world has much to offer to the culture loving traveller. Here is a list of culturally rich cities in no particular order that offer rich, meaningful and diverse cultural experiences.

1.Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand has many gems to offer to the tourist, whether it’s the vibrant nightlife of Bangkok or an escape to paradise on one of its many islands like Koh Tao or Koh Samui. The culture loving traveller needs to head to Chiang Mai, often called the ‘Rose of the North’. Chiang Mai is a treat for all the right reasons; many Buddhist temples (Wats) line the streets, the food is simply delectable and the markets are buzzing with crowds even at night. The city is incredibly friendly to tourists. A few temples in the city hold ‘monk chat’ sessions where you can ask a Buddhist monk questions about the religion and culture. Yoga, meditation and therapeutic massage sessions are commonly held at various Wats and other venues. Getting to witness festivals such as Yi Peng when a million tiny lamps light up the night sky is an added bonus.

Wat Doi Suthep Chiang Mai

    2.Kathmandu, Nepal

    Nepal is most famous for Everest and the base camp treks that are the stuff of most mountaineers’ and hikers’ dreams. But the Kathmandu valley has much to offer to the culture lover. Head to Kathmandu’s Durbar Square to walk through the royal palace grounds, the courtyard of Kumari Bahal, the home of Nepal’s Living Goddess or sit down at one of the many viewpoints on the multi roofed temples. The nearby village of Boudhanath is home to the Boudha Stupa, an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. All around the Stupa, tiny lanes lead to monasteries which are a great place to learn about the culture or simply meditate. Take a day trip from Kathmandu to the old town of Bhaktapur to be truly transported to a different time and amazed by the red brick style Newari architecture. End the day listening to the sound of devotional chants in Taumadhi Tole (Square).

    Bhaktapur

      3.Udaipur, India

      Much loved by the brave tourist who musters up the courage to venture into India, Udaipur is a pleasant respite from the crazy pace of cities like Delhi and Mumbai. In Udaipur, you could be forgiven for mistaking that you’ve travelled back in time into an Indian fairytale. Set beside the glittering Lake Pichola, Udaipur charms you with its palaces, courtyards and temples. Settle down on one of the viewpoints and watch people as they buzz about in the tiny narrow lanes and alleys. Whether it’s the old crumbling havelis that hold your interest or the picture perfect Lake Palace, Udaipur does not fail to impress with its cultural grandeur.

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      Taj Lake Palace

        photo credit: FullofTravel via photopin cc

        4.Berlin, Germany

        Berlin is undoubtedly the cultural champion of Germany, known for its fashion, art galleries, museums, music and edgy street art. Trendy and experimental are words often used to describe Berlin today however landmarks such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and the remnants of the Berlin Wall are constant reminders of the significant role played by the city in the history of the world. The East Side gallery is a must for art lovers for its politically motivated graffiti art and murals. Explore Museum Island, a complex of five museums for its architectural grandeur, the Schloss Charlottenburg palace in all its opulence or visit the Holocaust Memorial for a taste of history that is all around in Berlin.

        Berlin street art

          photo credit: Steys via photopin cc

          5.Prague, Czech Republic

          This European city ranks highly among lovers of art, craftsmanship, gothic architecture and history. Quirky sculptures adorn public spaces and there’s plenty of wandering to be done in the maze like lanes of the Old Town. Architecture here is a grand smorgasbord of Roman, Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and neoclassical styles as a result of cultural development spanning centuries. Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century and is home to the gothic St Vitus Cathedral, baroque St. Nicholas Church and the fairytale like Prague Castle complex of museums and galleries among many other beautiful historical structures. The city is also known for its contribution to the world of classical music and opera.

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          Dancing House, Prague

            photo credit: szeke via photopin cc

            6.Florence, Italy

            The city of Florence is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Since centuries, art and culture have flourished here and the city has been home to some of world’s greatest artists such as Michelangelo. The city is full of Renaissance architecture; palaces, cathedrals and chapels with their frescoed ceilings, art galleries and museums. Marble sculptures and works of art beckon to you at street corners and you can’t help but be amazed by it all. It seems like this mastery of the arts is undeniably the essence of this city. To begin your cultural tour, visit the Duomo, a neo Gothic style cathedral that is the city’s most famous landmark and climb all the way up inside the inner dome to get a rewarding viewpoint over the city.

            Florence

              photo credit: Artur Staszewski via photopin cc

              7.Melbourne, Australia

              It’s not for nothing that multicultural Melbourne is famous for its cool, edgy and arty vibe. Ask any Melbourner and they won’t fall short of reasons why Melbourne is the coolest city to live in. They can’t be blamed; Melbourne’s cultural landscape is like an urban work of art. Victorian era architecture coexists side by side with trendy installations on street corners, experimental art spaces and Federation Square, the city’s favorite open entertainment venue. The area comes alive with street artists; magicians, singers and pianists as crowds of people gather to be entertained. Melbourne is home to many art galleries and hosts countless culture and art festivals through the year. The city also has a very bohemian culture with visually striking street art in many laneways. Graffiti art brings an extraordinary personality to Melbourne’s cityscape. The theater and live entertainment scene is especially vibrant with plenty of alternative gigs through the week. Whether it’s the touristy pursuits of Collins Street, the kitschy charms of St. Kilda, the vintage treasures of Chapel Street and Windsor or the cool hipster cafés and pubs in Brunswick, one thing is clear; Melbourne does not like to put culture in a box.

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              Melbourne Street art

                8.Amman, Jordan

                Amman surprises many a first time visitor with its cosmopolitan culture that beautifully blends contemporary and traditional influences. Amman, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world has much to offer to the history lover: the Amman Citadel which provides a fantastic view over the city, the Temple of Hercules and the 8th century Umayyad Palace. Darat Al Funun is an art gallery housed in 1920s mansions and is much loved by the city’s artists and creative types. Head to Rainbow Street and explore the area around to get a sense of what culture means today in Amman. This area is home to cafés, boutiques, galleries and bars and hosts a weekly market for artists and craftsmen. To get a taste of tradition, head to Jabal Amman, also called ‘downtown’ where the air is thick with the smoke of shisha from the many cafés and there are plenty of traditional Arabic eateries for local cuisine.

                Amman mosque

                  photo credit: papalars via photopin cc

                  9.Marrakesh, Morocco

                  Get a little lost in the maze like alleys of Marrakesh and explore the many offerings of souqs in the old city. Rejuvenate your senses in one of the city’s traditional hammams after walking around in Djemaa El-Fna, the central square. The square brings together snake charmers, henna artists, musicians, street artists, potion sellers and food vendors and provides an experience like no other. Satisfy your cultural curiosity by visiting mosques, palaces, shrines, tombs and castles such as Palais el-Badi, Palais de la Bahia, Koubba Ba’adiyn, Saadian Tombs and the many museums and art galleries in the New Town.

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                  Marrakesh

                    photo credit: carlosfpardo via photopin cc

                    10.Hanoi, Vietnam

                    Cultural treats in the friendly capital of Vietnam include the highly popular Dancing Water Puppets Show which depicts ancient fables with an impressive display of lighting, song and dance, shopping for everything from shoes and souvenirs to traditional medicinal oils in the Old Quarter of the city, having suits and dresses tailored for a bargain from one of Hanoi’s world famous tailoring shops, hanging around the glittering Hoan Kiem Lake in the evenings and visiting the Ho Chi Minh Complex. Eating in Hanoi’s street kitchens is a fun and offbeat way to truly experience the culture of communal dining that’s so typical of the locals.

                    Hanoi Hoan Kiem

                      Featured photo credit: Natasha Amar via thebohochica.com

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                      Published on November 14, 2018

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                      For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                      In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                      Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                      Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                      It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                      For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                      Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                      Symptoms of Fatigue

                      Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                      • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                      • mental blocks
                      • lack of motivation
                      • headache
                      • dizziness
                      • muscle weakness
                      • slowed reflexes and responses
                      • impaired decision-making and judgement
                      • moodiness, such as irritability
                      • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                      • reduced immune system function
                      • blurry vision
                      • short-term memory problems
                      • poor concentration
                      • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                      Causes of Fatigue

                      The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                      • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                      • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                      • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                      • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                      Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                      Medical Causes of Fatigue

                      If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                      Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                      Anemia

                      Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                      Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                      There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                      This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                      Diabetes

                      Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                      Sleep Apnea

                      Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                      Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                      Thyroid disease

                      An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                      Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Lack of sleep
                      • Too much sleep 
                      • Alcohol and drugs 
                      • Sleep disturbances 
                      • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                      • Poor diet 

                      Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                      • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                      • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                      • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                      Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                      Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                      • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                      • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                      • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                      How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                      Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                      1. Tell The Truth

                      Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                      To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                      Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                      The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                      One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                      • How you feel
                      • What time of day it is
                      • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                      • How your mind and body reacts

                      This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                      2. Reduce Your Commitments

                      When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                      If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                      When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                      Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                      3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                      If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                      Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                      If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                      Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                      Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                      4. Express More Gratitude

                      Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                      It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                      Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                      5. Focus On Yourself

                      Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                      There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                      But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                      We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                      6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                      Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                      Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                      The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                      Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                      7. Take a Power Nap

                      When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                      Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                      This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                      8. Take More Exercise

                      The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                      Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                      The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                      You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                      9. Get More Quality Sleep

                      To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                      Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                      My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                      10. Improve Your Diet

                      Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                      Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                      On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                      To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                      Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                      Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                      11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                      Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                      When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                      Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                      My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                      12. Get Hydrated

                      Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                      Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                      If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                      The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                      The Bottom Line

                      These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                      If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                      Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                      [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                      [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                      [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                      [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                      [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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