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Northern Marianas wonders and attractions in photos and pictures
Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 9:47 PM

Landmarks of the Marianas Islands and Pacific Rim with Dane Hodges


Dane Hodges at Bird Island Saipan in Marianas Islands

Agrihan fumarole field - Agrihan, volcano crater. Approximately 100 x 100 m large fumarole field in the exotic crater of Agrihan.

Asuncion Island - Asuncion. Several volcanoes of Mariana Islands look like almost perfect cones but Asuncion possibly is the most impressive one. Volcano is rising 857 m tall above the sea and is covered with primeval vegetation. Island has fumaroles.

Daikoku Sulphur Cauldron - submarine volcano north from Farallon de Pajaros. A unique pool of liquid sulphur, possibly the only one in world.

Dane at WWII Memorial Banzai & Suicide cliffs

East Diamante Volcano Black Forest - submarine volcano between Anatahan and Saipan. A group of more than 50 sulphide mineral chimneys, emitting a metal rich, hot solution. The tallest chimneys are up to 9 m tall.

Farallon de Pajaros volcano - Farallon de Pajaros. Most active volcano in Marianas. This remote island has fumarole fields with the temperature of gases up to 130°C.

NW Eifuku Champagne Vent - submarine volcano north from Farallon de Pajaros. A submarine vent which emits almost pure liquid carbon dioxide at 1,600 m depth. Such phenomenon is known in three places on Earth and at Eifuku it is most abundant.

Other natural landmarks

Battle stations at The Last Japanese Command Post on Saipan Marianas

Blue GrottoSaipan. A collapsed cave, filled with sea water through three openings to the sea. Sunlight colours the water in eerie blue color. Cave is filled with marine life – sharks, barracudas and even turtles and rays.

Bird Island - Breathtaking view island NW coast of Saipan

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island - Hike a 1 hour trail to island off East Coast of Saipan

Dangkolo - Tinian. The largest cave on island, which can be entered by  descending some 10 m through open pits - sinkholes. Floor area - 1,300 m².

Monagaha Island in Saipan's fabulous lagoon

Hobbit House - Rota  Off the remote NE coast, inaccessable on foot, lies an underwater treasure in an amazing design that has left the few scuba diving visitors in awe, hence, the Hobbit House!

Monagaha Island - A 1000 meter around atoll island inside the spectacular Saipan reef entrapped in the lagoon and a tourist Mecca thrice named the world's 2nd best beach in Yahoo polls

Dane on CNMI beach near Marianas Trench

NW Eifuku Mussel mounds submarine NW Eifuku volcano north from Farallon de Pajaro. A unique aggregation of Bathymodiolus mussels. These 18 cm long molluscs cover the rocks densely - no ground is seen behind this unique aggregation of mussels.

Marianas Trench National Marine Monument - WOW...our pick for number 1 wonder of the natural world!

Old Man By the Sea, Saipan

 Old Man by the Sea - Natural megalith head near remote Saipan beach

Railhunter RockshelterTinian. A rock shelter – site of an ancient settlement. Sediments in this shelter contain bones of animals which lived in Tinian 400 – 200 BC. Found remnants of 21 species of birds, 9 of these birds now are extinct on Tinian.

Saipan Lagoon - No words can describe (above) the crystal clear water of Saipan's fabulous lagoon.  This may be the best single location on earth for water sports and an underated candidate for the 7 natural wonders of the world!!

Marianas Grottos or water caves!!

Mom and Dad view Wedding Cake Mountain across Sosynhia Bay


Senhanom Cave - Rota The water cave is a grotto under Wedding Cake Mountain that is the site of award winning photgraphy (pic above)

 Serianthes nelsonii grove on Rotawestern Rota. A grove of endemic tree (with only one mature specimen outside Rota – on Guam), which reaches the height of 36 m and trunk diameter of 1.83 m. On Rota are growing 60 – 80 trees.

Swimming Hole - A natural swimming hole or pool cut into a NW Rota reef(pic below)

Togari Natural Arch - Pagan. Togari Rock is an island with an enormous natural arch.

Wedding Cake Mountain - Rota Island

Dane Hodges heads out to scuba dive Marianas Trench Monument Saipan MP

Man made landmarks

Alamagan latte stonessouthern Alamagan. Prehistoric structure which shows that even on this small island volcano lived people. Here the latte stones - flat plates - were hewn out of the hard basalt. On the island were found eight crescent shaped stones with holes - each 16 cm long

Dane takes a dip near Marianas Trench Monument

American Memorial Park -AMP - Granite Wall of Honor and fabulous beach, Dane's favorite and 700 meters from his home!

Conception - Spanish Galleon gold ship lost in a typhoon and wrecked on the south reef of Saipan in 1638.  Anchor, cannons, and gold were found in 1988 excavation.


House of Taga latte stonesTinian. Currently the largest latte stones –megalithic construction (house foundation) of two stones, characteristic for Marianas. The only standing latte stone here is 4.6 m tall and was a part of the house of mythological chief Taga. Other latte stones have fallen.

Lau Lau Beach latte stonesTinian. A group of prehistoric megaliths – standing stones.

Dane Hodges views Japanese surrender Saipan, AMP

Laulau Kattan latte stones - Saipan. A site with 10 and 6 latte stones.

Mochong latte stones - northern Rota. A well preserved prehistoric Chamorro village with an amazing number. of latte stone fundaments - 53 in total! This is the richest megalithic site in Mariana Islands.

Pagan latte stones - northern Pagan. Latte stones - flat basalt plates made of the hard basalt.

Rota Latte Stone Quarry (As Nieves quarry) – southern Rota. The original quarries for the unique megaliths– latte stones. Here are found the largest latte stones – up to 7.6 m long.

Santa Margarita - Spanish Galleon wrecked on west Rota reef in 1603

Tachognya - Saipan. Well preserved site of prehistoric village. Contains latte stone setting.

Unai Dangkulu villagenortheastern Tinian. Remnants of an ancient village with sixteen sets of latte stones and possible site where latte stones were mined.

Petroglyph sites

As Teo Cave - northern part of Saipan. A cave with prehistoric rock art.

Gunner Dane at the Last Japanese Comand Post

Chugai Cavesoutheastern Rota. 52 m long cave with prehistoric drawings drawn with black color. Drawings show sea turtles, fish and numerous symbols.

Kalabera Cavenortheastern Saipan. A cave with some 50 prehistoric petroglyphs and white paintings, a possible site of prehistoric burials. Skulls were found here up to 1920ies. Petroglyphs for most part show people.

Pictograph Cave - Rota. Some 60 m long cave, in several places decorated with possible prehistoric prehistoric drawings

Unai Dangkulu – northeastern Tinian. A cliff covered with some 50 petroglyphs, carved 6 – 9 m above the sea level. Most show people, but there are also cupules and lines.

Other landmarks

Dane's parents at Taga Stone Quarry, Rota, Northern Marianas

*     Banzai Cliff   - northern Saipan. Some 30 m tall seaside cliff. Another site of mass suicide of Japanese soldiers and civilians at the end of the Battle of Saipan in 1944

        Marianas Trench Cave Museum - Rota. A museum of Mariana culture and nature, partly located in a large cave



         Suicide Cliff – northern Saipan. Approximately 250 m high limestone cliff. A site of mass suicide of Japanese soldiers and civilians at the end of the Battle of Saipan in 1944


*     Treasure of Roberton - Agrihan. Legends tell that in the beginning of 19th century a pirate named Roberton hid a treasure of gold in this island. Although much sought, it reportedly has not been found.

A very young Dane Hodges paddles to Marianas Trench Monument

Saipan MP Marianas Islands beaches and lagoon are beautiful tropical paradises to call home

Marianas Island of Saipan lagoon at low tide with Managaha Island and parasailing

Japanese tourists love the Marianas islands!!

Dane's Mom in the Rota Swimming Hole

Dane Hodges studies petroglyphs and paintings in Kalabera Caves in Saipan Marianas Islands

        Dane's 7 Wonders of the World

Dane Hodges travels by rail, Thailand

Everyone has created a list, some include natural or ancient and others combine seperate the modern world.  No ones list combines ancient, man-made, and modern wonder but the traveller has tried to list Dane's personel 7 Wonders of the World natural, man made, and ancient...that he has visited!!

Dane Hodges at Disney Wonder of the World

 1.  Disney World (Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom tied for 1st...Epcot Center and Universal Studio tied for 2nd), Orlando, Florida

2.  Marianas Trench...nowhere like home

3.  Great Wall of China

 4.  Angkor Wat, Cambodia

5.  Borneo rainforest

6.  Forbidden City, China

7.  Rice terraces, Philippines -Nan Madol ruins, Pohnpei - Bagan temples, Burma


Dane Hodges climbs Suicide Cliff on Saipan in Marianas Islands

Honorable mentions - Emperor's Palace, Rock Islands of Palau, Sea world, Hong Kong Harbor, Stone forest, China,  KL towers, Both ancient cities of Thailand, Laung Prabang, Lao, Disney parks in Hong Kong and Japan, Chocolate Hills & 100 Islands, Philippines, Komodo Island, Indonesia, Playing in snow & Natural History Museum, US, Tianamen Square, China, Saipan's Grotto, Managaha Island and beach, Wedding Cake Mountain, Island of Rota, Jeju Island, Korea, Dane hasn't toured Machu Pichu, the Grand Canyon, or the Pyramids

The Traveller's Seven 7 Wonders of the World

Dane Hodges relaxes in ancient wonder, Cambodia

Six year old Dane Hodges has assembled his New Natural, New Ancient, and

Modern or man-made Wonders of the World, and also included the top 50 sites and Wonders of the Pacific and Orient.  Dane also included 7 Wonder Islands, Beaches, and the 7 Wonders of the Underwater World.  His "list" wound up with nine sites in China, and six apiece for Indonesia, Philippines and Micronesia, with Thailand adding four mentions each of 50!!  Taiwan, Korea, and Okinawa could claim but one each.

35. Monagaha Island 

The ancient Greeks loved to compile lists of the marvelous structures in their world. Though we think of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as a single list today, there were actually a number of lists compiled by different Greek writers. Antipater of Sidon, and Philon of Byzantium, drew up two of the most well-known lists.

Many of the lists agreed on six of the seven items. The final place on some lists was awarded to the Walls of the City of Babylon. On others, the Palace  of Cyrus, king of Persia took the seventh position. Finally, toward the 6th century A.D., the final item became the Lighthouse at Alexandria.

1. Great Wall at Mutianyu, China

Since the it was Greeks who made the lists it is not unusual that many of the items on them were examples of Greek culture. The writers might have listed the Great Wall of China if then had known about it, or Stonehenge if they'd seen it, but these places were beyond the limits of their world.

It is a surprise to most people to learn that not all the Seven Wonders existed at the same time. Even if you lived in ancient times you would have still needed a time machine to see all seven. While the Great Pyramid of Egypt was built centuries before the rest and is still around today (it is the only "wonder" still intact) most of the others only survived a few hundred years or less. The Colossus of Rhodes stood only a little more than half a century before an earthquake toppled it.

Dane and Josh run Great Wall, China

Dane Hodges at 2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

New 7 Wonders of the Ancient World    

1. Great Wall at Mutianyu, China

1.  The Great Wall of China   

 2.  Angkor Wat complex, Cambodia

Cable car to wonder of world 1. Great Wall

3.  Great Pyramid,CN

4.  Bagan, Myanmar

5. Rice terraces, PI

Dane Hodges peeks at 2. wonder of the world

6.  Forbidden City, CN   

7.  Nan Madol, Pohnpei 

Honorable mentions:  Emperor's Palace, Japan. Taj Mahal, India.  Machu  Pichu, Peru. Easter Island, Ancient City, Thailand.  Colosseum and St Peter's Basilica, Rome. Marianas Taga Stone quarrys.  Chichen Itza Mayan ruins, Mexico.  Leaning Tower of Piza.  Adjanta Caves, India.  Temple of Heaven, Terra Cotta Warriors, Summer Palace, Tianamen Square, Bell and Drum Towers, Lama Palace, China. Sphinx, Egypt. Mt Rushmore, US.  Stonehenge, GB.  Borobudur, Bali rice terraces and temples, Indonesia, Petra, Jordan.

Dane's 7 Wonders of the Natural World

Dane walks 150 ft high wonder of world 2. Borneo rainforest

The new official list of the World's Natural Wonders is somewhat twisted. The old official list has the Brazilian rainforest and Great Barrier Reef so perhaps voters had the preoccupation with size that Freud explained because there is no comparison to the Borneo rainforest which is 70 million years older and is much more biodiverse.   And the Queensland coast can't match water with any chain of Micronesian Islands for scuba diving or underwater life; whether it is Palau, Chuuk, Ponephe, Yap, or the Marianas Islands, no visitor would seriously compare the Great Barrier Reef to the water of Micronesia. 

Dane Hodges visits wonder 24. Karen tribe, N. Thailand

The new N7W brain trust headquartered in Zurich has completed their list as of 11-11-11 and it is comical and includes the Amazon(OK but not Borneo); Halong Bay which is nice but a joke for top seven; Iguaza Falls is one of the two that the young traveller hasn't visited but looks impressive; Jeju Island is a blast and upscale but not a wonder (better suited to a list with Bermuda on it and we've been to both);

Dane Hodges explores wonder 45. Ancient City

Komodo which we've visited three times isn't even as nice as its two neighbor islands and Rinka also has dragons in the wild as opposed to quasi zoo that is Komodo, and none of those islands match Palau or Chuuk for natural beauty; Table Mt which neither Dane or his parents have visited shouldn't have made the top 100 wonders or top 20 mountains. 

Eel Guards Marianas Trench, Saipan

Lastly, Puerto Princess Underground River in Palawan, Philippines isn't much better than Ruby Falls, Cherokee Village(not meant to begrudge the Smokies which are a real wonder and the most visited park in the world), Dogpatch Zoo, and the Mermaids from Weeki Wachi, US(but the PI rice terraces are a true, ancient wonder).  The only fair and accurate way to judge the seven wonders would be an a team of historians, engineers, and other professionals develop a criteria for selections and first visit the nominations.  That may never happen and any controversy is part of the mystique.  The Traveller suggests you visit them all yourselves and write your own 7 Wonders of the World!! 

Dane's Dad dives wonder 11. Rock Islands, Palau

So when 100 million internet users vote on remote places that haven't had a million visitors in history it turns into a popularity contest and the largest countries or most nationalistic ones wanting to promote tourism will likely win.  Anyway, it is a big world and according to the young traveler, here is how the worlds wonders shake out:

"There is no one here" Dane Hodges Cambodia wonder of world

1.  Marianas Trench

2.  Borneo Rainforest

3.  Grand Canyon, US

4.  Mt. Everest, Nepal

5.  Serengeti plain

6.  Rock Islands, Palau

7.  tie - Stone Forest, China and Chocolate Hills, Philippines

Dane Hodges comforts scared Mom, 1. Disneyworld

Honerable mentions: Yosemite, Smokey Mountains, Red River Gorge, Petrified Forest, Sequoa Forest, Daniel Boone Forest, Carlsbad Caverns, Mammouth Caves, Niagra Falls, Great Lakes, US;  Galapagos Islands, Chuuk Lagoon, Grottos of the Marianas Islands, Monagaha Island, Bird Island, Forbidden Island, Rota Island, Rota West Caldara, Wedding Cake Mt. - Pacific;  K2, Mt. Fuji, Mt Kinabalu, Mt. Rinjani, Sumatran rainforest, Komodo and Rinka Islands-Indonesia;

Dane Hodges watches Pacific dolphins, Bird Island

Mt. Annapurna, Nepal, Gobi Desert- Mongolia, Sundarin Forest, Ha Long Bay -Vietnam; Mt. Mayan, Hundred Islands, Puerto Princesa river, & Tubbataha reefs, Philippines; Guilan Mountains-China, Jeju volcanic island-Korea, Asia;  Ayers Rock, AU;  Mt Kilamanjaro, The Crater, Sahara Desert, Victoria Falls, Africa; Moher Cliffs, Matterhorn, Europe; Amazon rainforest, Andes Mountains, Amazon River, Iguazu Falls, Angel Falls, SA  


7 Wonders of the Modern World

 Amazing engineering went into the Bullet Train, the Panama Canal, and Chunnel, but 100% of little boys far and wide would rate Walt Disney World as the number one Wonder of World.  Where else can one ride through the Serengeti plains, ride a boat in the Congo, and ride a roller coaster down Mt. Everest in the same day?  So between the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center, and Universal Studios, you will never convince any kid on earth that the CN tower compares to hugging Minnie and Mickey Mouse either!.

Dane Hodges at 5. KL,Twin Towers

1. Walt Disney World, Florida

2. Bullet Train, China

3. Channel Tunnel

4. International Space Station

5. Petrovis Twin Towers, KL

6. Panama Canal

7. Golden Gate Bridges

Honerable mentions: Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, Space Shuttle, Dreamliner, Oasis of the Seas, Queen Mary II, San Francisco Cable cars, Beijing monorail system

Dane boards bullet train, Tianjin,China

Dane, Mickey Mouse, and Minnie, Disney World

The original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

1.  Colossus of Rhodes

2.  Great Pyramid at Giza

Mom sanctions Dane Hodges climbing

3.  Hanging Gardens of Babylon   

4.  Lighthouse at Alexandria

5.  Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

6.  Statue of Zeus at Olympus

7.  Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Honorable mentions include the Sphinx and the Tower of Babel as Stonehenge, the Great Wall, Bagan, Rice terraces, and Ankor Wat were beyond the limits of their world.

Dane Hodges stalks a Sun Bear, Borneo wonder of world

7 Wonders of the Orient and Pacific

1.  Great Wall of China

2.  Angkor Wat, Cambodia

3.  Bagan temples and Pagodas, Myanmar or Burma

4. Rice terraces, Luzon, Philippines

5.  Forbidden City, Beijing, China

6.  Nan Madol, Pohnpe

7.  Taj Mahal, Mumbai, India

Honorable mentions:  Emperor’s Palace, Japan, Taga Stones of the Marianas Islands, Easter Island,  Borobudur, Indonesia

50 Greatest Wonders and Sites of Asia and the Pacific

1.  Great Wall at Mutianyu, China

Dane climbs 1. Great Wall at Mutianyu, China

Only slightly farther from downtown Beijing than Badaling, the Great Wall at Mutianyu is more spectacular and, despite the souvenir stands, significantly less crowded. This long section of wall, first built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (6th century), can offer a solitary Great Wall experience, with unforgettable views of towers winding across mountains and woodlands. On a clear day, you'll swear you can see the deserts of Mongolia in the distance.  The lowest point on the wall is a strenuous one-hour climb above the parking lot. Dane's brother, Joshua Dane, scaled to the top and and the steps looks a bit like two Chrysler buildings stacked, even the athletic 28 year looked visably winded after that hike.

Dane Hodges at number 1 wonder of the world the Great Wall of China

Dane loved the cable car taking us on a breathtaking ride to the highest restored section, from which several hiking trails descend. It is difficult for visitors to imagine how such a wall could have been erected in such a mountain ridge location, it is breath taking and awesome.

Dane Hodges at Great Wall at Mutianyu, Beijing, China

2.  Marianas Trench National Monument

Dane swims wonder of world  1.  Marianas Trench

The Marianas Trench is the deepest known oceanic trench, with a maximum depth of about 11,000 m (6.8 miles), and the deepest location on the surface of the Earth's crust. It is located to the east and south of the Mariana Islands. To put it in perspective, the average depth of the Pacific Ocean is only 4,188 meters (13,740 feet) deep.  The bottom of the trench is farther below sea level than Mount Everest is above it.

Dane Hodges feeds wonder 1. Disney World dolphins

At the bottom, the water column above exerts a pressure of 108.6 MPa, over one thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.  The Marianas Trench is 2, 542 km (1,580 miles) long and 69 km (43 miles) wide and lies beneath International Waters and waters inside the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Marianas, Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia.  Dane Hodges was recently defeated in an international "race to the bottom" by James Cameron.

Dane Hodges with WWII cannon at Last Japanese Command Post, Marianas

Saipan AP-  James Cameron has made it to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the ocean, in America’s newest Wonder of the World, the Marianas Trench National Monument in the Marianas Islands SW of Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.

‘It was bleak. It looked like the moon. I didn’t see a fish. I didn’t see anything that looked alive to me, other than a few shrimplike amphipods in the water,’ Cameron added.   

Dane searches 1638 site of Spanish Galleon Conception in S. Saipan

Cameron's trip marks first solo dive to the Challenger Deep, and only the second visit by humans. In 1960, the US Navy sent the submersible Trieste and its two-man crew to the bottom there.  More trips are in the offing this year by various groups aiming to take people into the Challenger Deep or other parts of the Mariana Trench.  One of these efforts include Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Oceanic sub, which like Cameron's Deepsea Challenger, is a single-seater. Several of the marine scientists who have worked with Cameron also are working with Mr. Branson's group.  

 3.  Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Dane takes break in wonder 2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

On your first visit to Angkor Wat, you may think it is one temple and that isn't correct. The Angkor temples are a vast temple complex and Angkor Wat is just one of many temples. Angkor Wat is located just north of Siem Reap and it was only about 3 km from our hotel. The ruins can spread nearly two hours by car from one end to the other and the center region is about a one day trip around assuming you are just stopping for pictures as you pass the different sections.  These structures are extraordinary and we estimate that it will take three to four all day trips as a minimum to view this vast network of ancient ruins.  Dane says the ancient Khymer ruins should be on the tip top of places in this world to see, a true treasure.

Dane and Dad play in wonder of world, Cambodia

 The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonlé Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap, in Siem Reap Province, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's

largest single religious monument. 

Dane Hodges explores ancient wonder, Cambodia 

An international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other  modern techniques in 2007 concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometers (390 sq mi) to the well-known temples at its core.  The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometers in total size.

Although its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.  Visitor numbers approach two million annually.

Dane Hodges the tomb raider, Cambodia

One year after Marco Polo arrived in Venice, 1296 marked the arrival at Angkor of his contemporary, the Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan. Zhou's one-year sojourn in the Khmer capital during the reign of King Indravarman III is historically significant, because he penned a still-surviving account of approximately 40 pages detailing his observations of Khmer society. Some of the topics he addressed in the account were those of religion, justice, kingship, agriculture, slavery, birds, vegetables, bathing, clothing, tools, draft animals, and commerce. In one passage, he described a royal procession consisting of soldiers, numerous servant women and concubines, ministers and princes, and finally, "the sovereign, standing on an elephant, holding his sacred sword in his hand."

Dane Hodges climbs ruins, Cambodia

Together with the inscriptions that have been found on Angkorian stelas, temples and other monuments, and with the bas-reliefs at the Bayon and Angkor Wat, Zhou's journal is the most important source of information about everyday life at Angkor. Filled with vivid anecdotes and sometimes incredulous observations of a civilization that struck Zhou as colorful and exotic, it is an entertaining travel memoir as well.  

In addition to the ruins, Siem Reap is a great little town of about 100k and most visitors figure out they underestimated the charm and character by planning a short stop over to see the famous temples.  Many realize SR is a serious retirement contender; clean, cheap, safe, and quaint, so figure a long stay there as the ruins themselves can't be seen in less than a week anyway.

4.  Bagan Temples, Myanmar / Burma


Bagan is an ancient city in the Mandalay Division of Burma. Formally titled Arimaddanapura or Arimaddana and also known as Tambadipa (the Land of Copper) or Tassadessa (the Parched Land), it was the ancient capital of several ancient kingdoms in Burma.  Dane hodges liked that these ruins are vacant and he could explore from one to another without seeing a soul.

The great traveler Marco Polo visited Bagan as an employee of Kubla Khan and said in his book; ‘The towers are built of fine stone, and one has been covered with gold a finger thick, so that the tower appears to be of solid gold. Another is covered with silver in a similar manner and appears to be made of solid silver. The King of Mien Guo (As Myanmar was called by the Chinese) caused these towers to be built as a monument to his magnificence and for the benefit of his soul. They make one of the finest sights in the world, being exquisitely finished, splendid and costly. When illuminated by the sun they are especially brilliant and can be seen from the great distance’. 

Dane takes a break in wonder of world

The Golden Age ended in 1287 when Mongol forces invaded Bagan after refusing to pay tribute to Kublai Khan.  Abandoned by the Burmese king and sacked by Khan's forces, the city declined and for centuries the area was all but deserted, thought by the people of Myanmar to be haunted by spirits.

Dane Hodges visits wonder of the world in Burma or Myanamar

Myanmar people re-occupied the area during the British colonial period and much renovation and reconstruction work has been completed over the past century. Those gold-covered towers mentioned by Marco Polo are still there, as brilliant as ever and a sunset over Bagan is an experience you will never forget.

5.  Borneo rainforest

Dane views Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo

The Borneo rainforest is 130 million years old, making it the oldest rainforest in the world and 70 million years older than the Amazon rainforest. Borneo is very rich in biodiversity compared to many other areas.  There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo (MacKinnon et al. 1998).

Dane Hodges wrestles elephants, 2. Borneo

It is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals. Subject to mass deforestation, the remaining Borneo rainforest is one of the only remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean Orangutan. It is also an important refuge for many endemic forest species, as the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Bornean Clouded Leopard, the rare Hose's Civet and the Dayak Fruit Bat.

An important reserve for elephants and rhinos is Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the northeastern corner of Borneo.  Dane loved the forests of Borneo, the unique animal life, and he ran like a spider monkey across the planks high in the rainforest canopy.  Don't for get to visit the Water Village in Kotakinabalu as it is very similar to Bora Bora.  Always bring your dive gear because Sabah is among the world's most renoun and legendary scuba locations, it is both pristine and diverse.  It is on the traveller's top ten underwater locations!!

Oh Borneo!!


Borneo's rainforest is impressive, the scuba diving around Sipidan and Sabah second only to Micronesia, the caves and tunnels are much larger than Mammoth Caves and Carlsbad Caverns combined, Mt Kinabalu is among the most impressive mountains you will ever see, and this picture left is quite similar to South China's Stone Forest!

6.  Forbidden City & Beijing, China

Dane at Mao's tomb, HM., Tianiman Square

Beijing should be a World Heritage site in its entirety, and Dane counts it numero uno for things to do.   From the hutongs near the Bell Tower of old Peking to the Summer Palace in the NW where you can see the Great Wall at Badaling in the back ground, and don’t forget Wangfujing Street for action, shopping, and the night market.  Some are the fabulous Forbidden City, consisting of over 9,000 rooms and spread over 250 acres, this large palace complex was built between 1406 and 1420, but was burnt down, rebuilt, sacked and renovated countless times, so most of the architecture you can see today dates from the 18th century and on wards during the Qing Dynasty. Summer Palace, Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Olympic Stadium, Lama Palace, Zoo, all four major rail stations including the bullet stop south and the remarkable West Station, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and numerous markets including the pearl, silk, night bazaar, and lastly number one on this list, the amazing Great Wall at Mutianyu. 

Dane Hodges and Josh walk Forbidden City, China

To many, many people, Beijing is the ancient capital city of the east and Forbidden City is the right place for you to start your Beijing tour by unveiling its mysterious face. Consisting of over 9,000 rooms and spread over 250 acres, this large palace complex was built between 1406 and 1420, but was burnt down, rebuilt, sacked and renovated countless times, so most of the architecture you can see today dates from the 18th century and on wards during the Qing Dynasty

Dane Hodges at Forbidden City wonder, China

Wear comfortable shoes as you have to walk a lot! It may be helpful to have a guide explain the stories behind the site and tell you about the important historical parts in the forbidden city. Or if you are non-group tourists, I suggest you rent multi lingual guide recorder either at Meridian Gate ( southern gate of Forbidden city ) or the Gate of Divine Prowess (Northern gate of Forbidden City) and return it when you finish your tour of Forbidden City.

Dane at Forbidden City,China

Dane Hodges on rickshaw to Bell tower

 After you visit the Imperial Palace and go out of the Gate of Divine Prowess, you can enter into Jingshan Park, climb a bit and overlook the panorama of the Imperial Palace. In the evening, especially in summer, Forbidden City is brilliant. Colored lights from all directions lighten Meridian Gate, the Gate of Divine Prowess, turret, palace wall and other main


7.  Rice terraces, Philippines

Oh Philippines!

The Banaue Rice Terraces are at least 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. 

Dane plays on a remote unknown beach

The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe. Locals to this day still plant rice and vegetables on the terraces. 

Dane has a special connection to PI, as it was the birth place of his mother, Jeanne Villar Hodges, so trips to the land of 7k islands are common and they are our nearest neighbor to the west.  These terraces were once difficult to access, guarded by a dangerous road that took many hours in peril, but interstate road improvements now make it relatively easy to view. If you have a chance to visit PI, don't miss a true Wonder of the World!!


Dane Hodges plays near Rice terraces, Philippines

The Philippines has many tourist sites and natural wonders, some better than others, from rip offs like Pagsanjan Falls, made famous from the Apocalypse movie, and current official top seven wonder, the underground river in Palawan…as ridiculus as that seems, to the most awe inspiring, those amazing rice terraces in Northern Luzon and those Chocolate Hills of Bohol pictured below are pretty close to a top seven wonder too.   The Philippines has poor scuba diving compared to Micronesia, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef.  Much of the coral is dead and even ship wrecks often appear lifeless.   We have dove from Subic Bay and Boracay, to Donsol, the Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea and in the Sulu Islands but the undersea life needs conservation efforts to restore. 

The Chocolate Hills, Philippines - Natural Wonder 7

The rice terraces are, or should be, a true top seven wonders of the ancient world as they rival that great wall built thousands of miles across 3k foot mountain ridges.  The man hours required to build this treasure not only unimaginable, but likely exceeds the labor force required to build the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China.  Perhaps the only reason this wonder isn't number one is because of the other incredible terraces of Bali, Indonesia and South China, and they are all remarkable.

8.  Nan Madol, Pohnpei…remote megalithic city!

Explorer Dane searches Pacific wonders of world

The ancient city of Nan Madol is a spectacular, 200 acre archaeological site that is comprised of 92 manmade islets off the coast of Pohnpei. The islets were constructed on a large section of near-shore coral reef, using quarried stone and crushed coral. Paths and walls were made of basalt rocks brought from the opposite side of the island. Huge stone walls surround the tombs and buildings, and the rocks range in size from 600 pounds to 60 tons.

Dane Hodges plays in the ancient megalithic stones

To this day, there is no good explanation for how the largest of the rocks were transported.

Construction probably began around 800 A.D. and lasted several hundred years. Nan Madol was the government and religious center, and also the home of royalty – similar to the Lelu ruins on Kosrae. 

Dane Hodges explores new wonder of the world

Many myths claim origin of this wonder including theories of Greeks, Inca, and aliens but Dane's research claims circumstantial evidence that the Great Khan's fleet imported the labor force to finish this amazing Pacific version of the Summer Palace in the late 13th century, perhaps even carrying Marco Polo on one trip!

9.  Temples and rice terraces of Bali, Indonesia

Dane's Dad in rice terraces of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia


A fun wonder of the world, Kuta Beach, Bali?

Bali is a land that seems to have a magnet at its very heart. It is a feeling that is difficult to understand unless experienced but once visited you are surely compelled to go back and you may even want to stay forever, such is its pull. Maybe it’s Bali’s beauty, maybe the friendly people, or maybe even the influence from spirits that certainly abide in this place.  Bali goes under many names. Some call it the ‘island of the gods’, others Shangri-La. The ‘last paradise’, the ‘dawning of the world’ and the ‘centre of the universe’ are yet more names for this truly beautiful tropical island inhabited by a remarkably artistic people who have created a dynamic society with unique arts and ceremonies. 

Josh and Dane Hodges explore Micronesia

Bali is small, just 140 Km by 80 Km and lies between Java, the most highly populated and influential of all the islands, and Lombok, one of the quieter and moderately slower paced islands. Like many islands, Bali has developed a world of its own. It not only captures what is special about Indonesia but also has a uniqueness of its own.

Dane explores woners in Indonesian rainforest

Bali, an Indonesian island, is one of the most famous resorts in Southeast Asia. Annually, 1.4 million tourists visit Bali. Bali is known as an island of faith and art, and there are many tourist attractions, such as beaches, temples, folk art, and traditional dances. The beautiful scenery, that includes the rice terraces, is also well known. Ubud, a city in the center of the island, is one of the main sightseeing areas, containing bungalows of high-grade hotels such as the Four Seasons Resort, located on the Ayung River.

Dane's Dad dives Komodo

You may not be able to picture rice terraces in Bali. But in fact, the rice terraces of Bali became famous because of their beauty, which resembles that of miniature gardens. Many photographers and artists have introduced this gorgeous scenery to the world.  Rice terraces in Bali have a close relationship with the volcanic topography. The landscape with continuous waves of rice terraces is majestic.

Mom and Dane share a drink in SE Asia

There are more than 20,000 temples in Bali, which is an island of faith. These temples also have a close relationship with the sbak groups: each sbak holds rites whenever the transplantation of rice seedlings or harvesting is performed. There are shrines in the rice fields to worship the god of rice.  But whether you prefer to shop Ubud, scuba dive the Spice Islands of Lovina, or surf Kuta Beach, Bali is GREAT!  Much as Dane's parents like Bali though, the little traveler prefers the jungles of eastern Indonesia!

10.  Hong Kong...Victoria Harbor & Tian Tan Buddha

Dane Hodges with Kubla Khan at 1. Great Wall

Victoria Harbor is one of Hong Kong's greatest assets, a jewel that people marvel at, no matter how many times they visit the city. People come from all  over the world to see and admire it.  ticket"!!


Sitting atop 268 steps, the Tian Tan Buddha Statue is positioned on a lotus throne, surrounded by eight smaller bronze statues representative of the gods, or immortals. The statue is so named as its base is a model of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Constructed from 202 bronze pieces, the Tian Tan Buddha Statue weighs over 250 tons and soars 34 meters into the air.  The Tian Tan Buddha Statue is the world's largest, seated, outdoor, bronze Big Buddha statue.

Dane shops in 26. Laos market

Whether Hong Kong is your stopping off break in travel or you lucked out  with  a business trip, there is no better symbol of the Orient than that magnificent harbor and skyline, breathtaking.  While you are taking pictures, Dane says "don’t forget to ride the Star Ferry and take the rail up to the peak, it’s worth the ticket" Dane Hodges

11.  Rock Islands, Palau…number 1 on scuba lists forever.

11. Palau Rock Islands

12.  Stone Forest, Kunming, China…enchanting and a must see! 


Dane Hodges at the bottom enters Saipan's legendary Grotto

    13.  Mt. Everest, Nepal…for the daring adventurists to climb, or us a little less adventurous to ride the helicopter to base camp, take pics, and split.

14.  Veransi train & river rides, India…Ganges River and Himalayan foothills.

15.  Chuuk Lagoon, FAS…the shipwreck lagoon of all time

Now those African elephants are alot...

16.  Galapagos Islands…remote islands made famous by Darwin.

17.  Emperor’s Palace, Japan…the heart of Tokyo(below).

18.  Summer Palace, Beijing, China…what a palace and grounds!

19.  Taj Mahal, India…for the dear departed love

Saipan's legendary Grotto!!

Dane's parents at Emperor's Palace, Japan

20.  Terracotta Warriors, China…a major discovery of the 20th century

Marianas Islands caves with ancient drawings

21. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, AU…vast!

22.   Blue Grotto & Senhanom Cave, NMI…award winning site for photographers(pic left)!

23. Taga Stone quarry, Rota Island (Pic right)

21. Yap stone money

24.  Yap mantas & stone money…divers paradise, remote, amazing(pic R)

25.  Borobudur, Indonesia…what a place, one must see.

26.  Luang Prabang, Loa…the whole town is a World Heritage site!

Mom said I'm as stinky as the elephants!!


27.  North Thailand rainforests…elephants and Karen’s(pic L).

28.  Pattaya, Thailand…golf and night life Mecca.

Dane at the 1. Great Wall of China

Pink Beach, near Komodo, Indo

29.  Mt. Fuji, Japan and Mt Mayan, PI...those perfect


Dane' parents in Gilli Islands,Indo

30.  Gilli Islands, Lombock, Indonesia…diving and all night parties!!

Dane at the Golden Triangle border Lao, Burma, Thailand

31.  Katmandu Valley, Nepal…pictures can’t even describe this beauty

 32.  Adjanta Caves, India…a remarkable find.

Dane Hodges atop wonder HM. Suicide Cliff and Bonzai, Saipan

33.  South Thailand islands…a water sport heaven. 

34.  Komodo & Rinka Islands, Indonesia…those amazing dragons 

Dane and Josh Hodges in Saipan's turquoise lagoon

35.  Monagaha Island and turquoise Saipan Lagoon

Dane pets croc near 7. wonder of world Rice terraces, PI

 36.  Halong Bay, Vietnam...wonderful spot!

37.  Krakatoa, his decendants, and Rota West Caldera...will either wake up soon?

38.  Guilin to Yangshuo, China…a world class boat ride

Dane hikes 34. Indonesia

39.  Jeju Volcano Island, Korea…chic spot for the wealthy Koreans

 40.  Gobi Desert, Mongolia…dinosaur bones and a long train ride

41.  Yangtse River, China…the river ride and Three Gorges Dam

Dane crosses Mekong River heading to 26. Luang Prabang


42.  Ayers Rock, AU…just sitting out there in the middle of nowhere 

43.  Bohol (Hills) & Donsol (shark), Philippines…chocolate hills & whale shark and Boracay too!

44. The colored lakes of Flores, Indonesia and the 23 hr bus ride there

Dane Hodges climbs in Ancient City, Thailand

45. Ancient Cities of Thailand, both walled city of Chang Mai and Ayyuthia

Dane explores ruins, Cambodia


   46.Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China…another beautiful place in Beijing

47. Subic Bay & Hundred Islands, Philippines…my wife’s’ favorite

Dane Hodges visits wonder of the world 8. Nan Madol, Pohnpei



48.  Naha, Okinawa diving…those islands west are pretty great(pic below)

49.  Air Asia

50. tie Bird Island, Forbidden Island, Wedding Cake Mt, and Easter Island  

Dane's Dad scuba diving Okinawa

Seven Wonders of the Underwater World

Dane Hodges and Dad, 2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

1  Palau...Rock Islands and the world's best scuba diving

2. Marianas Islands...Trench and great diving!

3. Chuuk Lagoon...Mecca for wreck divers   

4. Pohnpei...unexplored and pristine

Jeanne Hodges, 47. Hundred Islands, Philippines

5. Indonesia...17k islands

6. Great Barrier Reef...would take 2 lifetimes to explore

7. Yap Islands...manta dives and many walls

Seven 7 Island Wonders of the World


Jungle boy Dane in Borneo

1.  Bali, Indonesia...and 17k others from from Gilli's to Komodo 

2.  Micronesia...thousands including Rota Island

3.  Bora Bora...but Saipan has a nicer lagoon 

4.  Penang, Malaysia...great food

5.  Maui, Hawaii...surfin safari

6.  Phuket, Thailand...too much fun

7.  Bermuda...clean and beautiful but I can't afford to live there

Seven 7 Beach Wonders of the World

Dane Hodges builds a Great Wall on 50. Monagaha Beach, CNMI

1.  Pink Beach, Angel Island near Komodo and Rinca, Indonesia 

2.  Monagaha Island, Marianas

3.  Palawan, Philippines

4.  Jomtien Beach, Pattaya, Thailand

5.  Gilli islands, Indonesia

6.  Treasure Island and Orion Beach, St Maarten

7.  Miami Beach, Florida

Other peoples 7 Wonders of the World

The official Seven Man Made Wonders of the Modern World

Dane visits the Thailand Burma border

Channel Tunnel                    
CN Tower
Empire State Building
Golden Gate Bridge           
Itaipu Dam
Netherlands North Sea Protection Work

Panama Canal

"I haven't visited the two dams, and apparently some people love the CN tower, but for me, I will go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for the Modern World's Top Wonder", Dane Hodges.

More Wonders of the World Lists

Dane Hodges explores the Pacific Islands megaliths

In 1997, CNN  Wonders of the World...

Grand Canyon
The Great Barrier Reef
The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
Mt. Everest
Northern Lights
Paricutin Volcano
Victoria Falls

The "New" Seven Wonders of the World as of July 7,2007 

A very young Dane Hodges visits 45. Ancient City

The New 7 Wonders of the World as of 11-11-11

1. Chichen Itza, Mexico - Mayan City

2. Christ Redeemer, Brazil - Large Statue

3. The Great Wall, China

4. Machu Picchu, Peru

5. Petra, Jordan - Ancient City

6. The Roman Colosseum, Italy

7. The Taj Mahal, Indi

Dane is spell bound by 1. Disney World dolphin show

1. Amazon...big

2. Halong Bay...loved it but it is no wonder

3. Iquazu Falls...impressive

4. Jeju Island...lots of fun but wonder???

5. Komodo...we liked Rinka next door alot better

6. Puerto Princess River...poor selection

7. Table Mt...was another poor pick

Dane Hodges explores Micronesia's wonders of the world

Dane's Dad in Hobbit House, Rota, Northern Marianas

And all we can say about this is someone is voting that hasn't been to any of these places.  100 million voted and Nan Madol doesn't get 500 visitors a year, so 100 million couldn't know what they are talking about.  2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are poor selections.  The Amazon is vast and an OK pick but not as cool as Borneo and the falls is a decent pick but the others are out in the twilight zone!


Dane's Dad at Pagsanjan Falls Philippines

Dane's Dad boards Orient Express


Dane's dad at Thailand's floating market

Dane's dad crosses Mekong River, Laos


Dane Hodges escorts a Princess to her Ball

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