Kids (and those possessing a sweet tooth) might be disappointed when they arrive at the Chocolate Hills and discover they are not literally so. For everyone else, though, these curious conical mounds in the middle of the Philippine island of Bohol are bound to delight.
Imagine being on a white sand beach on a tropical island and then heading inland through green jungle. The way is mostly flat and lush. And then, suddenly, you see a large earthen mound 30 meters (100 feet) high covered in grass but otherwise devoid of foliage. You wonder why anyone would bother building such an enormous, symmetrical mound of dirt and then overlay it with astroturf.
Spot Cool Stuff has been to many restaurants that are next to a waterfall. We’ve even been a few that are above a waterfall. But we’ve only seen one restaurant that’s in a waterfall.
At the uncreatively-named Waterfalls Restaurant near the city of San Pablo in the Philippines, the Labasin Falls literally flows through the eating area. The water tumbles down nearly on top of the diners, passes below the (strongly bolted down) tables and then continues flowing on its way down a river.
After thousands of years of hindsight it seems maybe rice wasn’t the best choice for humanity’s most popular food staple. Yes, it tastes great with sushi. But growing rice is very water and labor intensive. And it requires a flat field that farmers can flood during the planting season.
Rice is particularly labor intensive in hilly areas where farmers must create their flat field by carving floodable terraces into hillsides. We find even a single terrace impressive when we contemplate all the work involved, work usually done by hand. The sight of multiple rice terraces, stacked atop each other as if to form a giant’s staircase, is truly awe inspiring.
Spot Cool Stuff has been a longtime fan of rice terraces. We once flew round trip between San Francisco and the Philippines specifically to spend a single day in Banaue, supposedly the site world’s most grand rice terraces. Supposedly. After nearly two decades of rice terrace travel we’ve formed our own opinion on such matters. Here’s our list of the top 10 rice terrace destinations:
Did you know that humans have been wearing footwear of some form or another for as many as 40,000 years now? And that it’s only been in the last 200 years that shoes have been designed with differentiation for left and right feet?
You needn’t necessarily be a fashionista to appreciate the astonishing variations in footwear over the ages. You need only to bring your curiosity to one of the two dozen-ish museums around the world dedicated to design of the shoe.
Here’s a look at Spot Cool Stuff’s five favorites places to kick off a podiatric exploration:
Here’s a potentially money saving tip for your next Southeast Asia trip: Get the cheapest airplane ticket you can to the region (ie Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur) and then separately purchase an onwards ticket to your other regional destination(s) on a low cost carrier.
Southeast Asia is rife with budget airlines operating frequent schedules with decently-reliable service. One-way tickets within the region go for as little as $100, $50 or even less. We once flew from Luang Prabang (Laos) to Hanoi for $28 and have seen domestic flights within Indonesia for $5!
Here’s our rundown of some of Southeast Asia’s budget airlines, subjectively arranged from the most to least useful: