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35 Most Exotic Destinations For Your Next Vacation

35 Most Exotic Destinations For Your Next Vacation

We live on a beautiful planet that offers many stunning landscapes, tropical paradises, mist shrouded volcanoes and unbelievable beaches. Raising a toast to the explorer within you, here are a few exotic getaways for you to consider for your next vacation.

1. Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Simply known as Boka, this winding bay will engulf you with its emerald waters and picturesque mountains. The shoreline houses beautiful medieval towns like Perast, where you can stop for a meal and interact with the locals.

BayOfKotorMontenegro

     2. Petra, Jordan

    Rising out of a cliff between the Red and Dead Sea, the lost city of Petra still has secrets to reveal. It has several tombs and carved structures spread across a sandy landscape. Many scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed here.

    PetraJordan

      3. Longsheng Rice Terrace, China

      These stunningly beautiful terraced rice fields received the name of Dragon’s Backbone because the rice terraces resemble a dragon’s scales while the summit of the mountain range looks like the backbone of the dragon.

      DragonsBackboneChina

        4. Gozo, Malta

        The enchanting island of Gozo is an integral part of the Maltese archipelago. Besides being one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean, it boasts of mystical backwaters, historical forts and amazing panoramas.

        GozoMalta

          5. The Great Blue Hole, Belize

          This submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize is in every scuba diver’s bucket list. Even if you are not into enjoying a myriad of species underwater, it’s totally worth flying over the Blue Hole for a breathtaking view.

          GreatBlueHoleBelize

             6. Amer fort, India

            A majestic structure sprawling on a hilltop, Amer fort’s architecture is a magnificent blend of Mughal and Hindu influences. Made out of red sandstone and white marble, it consists of a series of courtyards, palaces, halls, and gardens.

            AmberFortIndia1

              7. Forest of Knives, Madagascar

              It is truly intriguing that wildlife can happily exist amidst razor sharp vertical rocks in this mesmerizing forest. You can hike around the bizarre pinnacles of limestone and observe different kinds of birds and lemurs.

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              Les grands Tsingy, 250 km de long

                8. Namje, Nepal

                There are no roads to Namje. The only way to get to the Nepalese village is along a series of footpaths with views of Mount Makalu, the world’s fifth-tallest peak.

                NamjeNepal

                  9. Taha’a, French Polynesia

                  Most people head to Bora Bora or Tahiti, but why not explore the intimate and exquisite island of Taha’a instead? The landscape is dotted with several vanilla plantations and traditional pearl farm huts.

                  Tahaa

                    10. Porto Heli, Greece

                    From lush olive groves to perfect bays, every scene seems as if it was lifted from a postcard. The calm beaches are ideal for sunbathing and frolicking.

                    PortoHeliGreece

                      11. Pisco Elqui, Chile

                      Those who love to star gaze, look no further than the clearest skies in Pisco Elqui. Surrounded by magnificent Andean mountains, this Chilean village enjoys perfect weather year round.

                      PiscoElquiChile

                        12. Cappadocia, Turkey

                        Known as Turkey’s most visually striking region, Cappadocia offers caves, clefts, pinnacles and ‘fairy chimneys’ (pointed rock formations). Volcanic eruptions formed this surreal moonscape.

                        CappadociaTurkey1

                          13. Con Dao Island, Vietnam

                          In addition to hiking and exploring empty coastal roads and deserted beaches, there are some excellent wildlife-watching opportunities in the islands of Con Dao. Most of the land area is part of Con Dao National Park, which protects Vietnam’s most important sea turtle nesting grounds.

                          ConDaoVietnam

                            14. Timgad, Algeria

                            This Roman colonial town founded by Emperor Trajan in AD100 is a UNESCO world heritage site. Centuries later, it still represents the embodiment of Roman urban planning.

                            TimgadAlgeria

                              15. The Cook Islands

                              Many are of the opinion that Cook Islands are the best kept secret in the Pacific Ocean. The 15 islands are scattered over a vast expanse of seductive and sensuous ocean, boasting of idyllic climate and rare beauty.

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                              CookIslands

                                16. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

                                Built by the Khymer civilization, Angkor Wat is the most famed Cambodian temple, which even appears on its national flag. The architectural genius unfolds many enduring tales of Cambodian history.

                                AngkorWat

                                  17. Fiji

                                  No list of exotic destinations can be complete without mention of Fiji, an archipelago of over 300 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Besides pristine white sandy beaches and fish-packed coral reefs, there is ample opportunity to climb a mountain, soak in a hot spring or explore a village.

                                  Fiji

                                    18. Isle of Skye, Scotland

                                    The stunning scenery in the backdrop of the misty Cuillin hills offers beautiful hikes and spectacular photos.

                                    IsleOfSkye

                                      19. Yellowstone National Park, USA

                                      Home to the famous “Old faithful” geyser, Yellowstone still remains an unspoiled natural beauty. You are bound to see legendary wildlife wherever you go, be it grizzly bears, wolves or antelopes.

                                      YellowStoneUSA

                                        20. Bagan, Burma

                                        Bagan boast of the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples and stupas in the world. For an unparalleled view, you can take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise.

                                        BaganBurma

                                          21. Mount Roraima, Venezuela

                                          Inspiration to Conan Doyle’s Lost World and Avatar, this place is an extraordinary natural geologic formation. It serves as the natural border between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana in South America.

                                          MountRoraimaVenezuela

                                            22. Cano Cristales, Colombia

                                            Known as the most beautiful river in the world and the “Liquid Rainbow”, this Colombian wonder is a must visit if you are heading to South America. The best time to travel is July – November when the river bed is full of gaudy colors like green, yellow, blue, black and red.

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                                            12184783195_1b3aab6012_k

                                              23. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

                                              The world largest salt flat is breathtaking, especially after rain when it creates a mirror effect. The salt is about 10 meters thick in the center.

                                              SalarDeUyuniBolivia

                                                24. Panjin Red Beach, China

                                                Red Beach is located in the highest wetland and reed marsh in the world. It is vividly red and not covered in sand at all. The color is from a type of sea weed called Sueda, which stays green during summer and turns red in autumn.

                                                PanjinRedBeachChina

                                                  25. Socotra,Yemen

                                                  Isolated Socotra looks like a sci-fi movie set. It is home to 800 rare species of flora and fauna, about a third of which is not found anywhere else in the world.

                                                  SocotraYemen

                                                    26. Whitehaven Beach, Australia

                                                    When you sink your feet into white silica sand that is amongst the purest in the world, you will know why people come here from all over the world.

                                                    WhitehavenBeachAustralia

                                                      27. Lake Baikal, Russia

                                                      The world’s oldest and deepest lake is an ice-lovers paradise. Adventuresome tourists have driven and walked over the frozen lake, but you can kayak, skate or bike.

                                                      LakeBaikal

                                                        28. Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

                                                        Resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, Giant’s Causeway is an integral part of Ireland’s heritage. The most characteristic feature of the site is the exposure of large, regularly shaped polygonal columns of basalt in perfect horizontal sections.

                                                        GiantsCausewayIreland

                                                          29. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

                                                          There is something magical and mystical about castles, especially the Neuschwanstein, which is an inspiration to Disney’s Cinderella castle. It reflects the eccentric life of King Ludwik who withdrew into a world of myth upon losing his sovereignty.

                                                          NeuschwansteinCastleGermany

                                                            30. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Japan

                                                            There is a reason why camera-clutching tourists shuffle their way through soaring stalks of bamboo. But the pictures don’t do justice, so add this to your list of “places to see before you die”.

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                                                            ArashiyamaBambooJapan

                                                              31. Lake Retba, Senegal

                                                              Easily mistaken for a pool of strawberry milkshake, the bizarre color of lake Retba is actually a natural phenomenon. Thanks to its high salt concentration, it is a habitat for salt-loving microorganisms that bring out the pink colorization.

                                                              LakeRetbaSenegal

                                                                32. Badab-e Surt, Iran

                                                                The travertine (a sedimentary rock deposited by flowing water from two distinct mineral springs) terrace is a scenic natural wonder in the highlands of northern Iran.

                                                                BadabESurtIran

                                                                  33. Sossusvlei, Namibia

                                                                  Lifted from a dream, Sossusvlei is full of picturesque sand dunes surrounded by clay pans. The most surreal attraction is the Deadvlei, where the dead acacia trees contrast the white shiny salty floor of the pan.

                                                                  Deadvlei

                                                                    34. Derweze, Turkmenistan

                                                                    Wish to stand at “Hell’s door?” Head to Derweze, a giant illuminated hole rich in natural gas, in the middle of the Karakum dessert. The crater is made by geologists more than 40 years ago, and the flames within have been burning ever since.

                                                                    Derweze

                                                                      35. Fregate Island, Seychelles

                                                                      The private island of Fregate is an ultimate honeymooner’s delight. It is one of the world’s most exclusive resorts with seven pristine beaches to choose from. Simply close your eyes and think idyllic.

                                                                      FregateIslandSeychelles

                                                                        All pictures in this post are from Flickr Commons, license 2.0.

                                                                        Featured photo credit: Intercontinental Bora Bora – Sunrise via flickr.com

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                                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                                        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                                                        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                                                                        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                                                        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                                        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                                                        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                                        I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                                        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                                        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                                        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                                                        1. The Inner Critic

                                                                        This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                                                                        • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                                                        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                                                        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                                                        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                                        He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                                                        Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                                        2. The Worrier

                                                                        This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                                        He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                                                                        Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                                                        3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                                                        He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                                                        He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                                        He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                                                        4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                                        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                                        His motivation can be:

                                                                        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                                        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                                        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                                                        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                                        How can you control these squatters?

                                                                        How to Master Your Mind

                                                                        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                                        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                                        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                                        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                                        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                                        This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                                                        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                                                        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                                        For the Inner Critic

                                                                        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                                        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                                        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                                                        You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                                                                        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                                        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                                        • He riles up the Worrier.
                                                                        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                                        • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                                        • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                                        • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                                                                        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                                        Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                                        For the Worrier

                                                                        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                                        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                                                        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                                        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                                        • Muscles tense

                                                                        Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                                        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                                        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                                        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                                        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                                        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                                                        Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                                                                        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                                                        For example:

                                                                        If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                                        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                                        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                                        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                                        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                                        For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                                        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                                        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                                                        • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                                        • Muscles tension

                                                                        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                                        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                                        Breathe in through your nose:

                                                                        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                                        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                                        • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                                        Breathe out through your nose:

                                                                        • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                                        • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                                        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                                        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                                                        Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                                                                        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                                                        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                                        For the Sleep Depriver

                                                                        (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                                        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                                        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                                        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                                        2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                                        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                                                        From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                                        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                                        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                                        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                                        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                                                        • Shut down your thinking.
                                                                        • Calm your feelings.
                                                                        • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                                                        Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                                                                        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                                                        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                                        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                                                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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