We are not all alike. Never have been and never will be. Let’s celebrate our differences.

Mardi Gras Leave the inhibitions and rules at home. Beads, booze, beignets and boobs are Mardi Gras fixtures in New Orleans. Beignets and what? The latter is the appreciation female revelers show for the purple, gold and green beads thrown out by the Krewes on floats during the parades. Talk about a crowd-pleaser. The spirit continues on Bourbon Street, where the drink of choice is actually the Hurricane. A few of these sweetly deceptive cocktails and your brain will feel like it’s in a hurricane. Decadence continues with the popular, but never nutritious, deep fried beignet. Eat, drink and be merry.

MayanShutterstock/Patryk Kosmider

Mayan Civilization It’s a new era for the Mayans: 2012 marks a new time period on their calendar and a new focus on this mysterious culture. Renowned for mathematics, architecture, art and a fully developed written language, the civilization flourished through parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras between 250 and 900. Chichen Itza on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula was most likely one of the civilization’s largest cities. Its pyramid, “Kukulcan”, is a World Heritage Site and a masterful example of a solar calendar as well as a ceremonial temple and sporting ground. Check out the games rules etched on wall around the site – losing was lethal.

Jerusalem Take a walk on the spiritual side. Some call Jerusalem home, many call it holy, and others come to discover their faith. Whether your visit is for religious interests or not, the city’s rich history and spirituality is present everywhere you go. The “Wailing Wall” grabs your attention (and emotions) as people of all faiths reconnect with their god or loved ones. Day or night the streets are filled with pilgrims, locals and visitors searching for meaning. Stroll the city’s collection of synagogues, mosques, churches and monasteries and observe religious tolerance in action.

JerusalemMockstar
Cathedral of SantiagoShutterstock/MCalesThe Camino de Santiago Follow the way. For centuries, devout Christians have made the 770-kilometre pilgrimage across northern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago do Compostela in Galicia. You don’t have to be religious to embody the spirit of the trek as you meander through the French and Spanish countryside and meet fellow pilgrims along the way. Parts of the route are now paved, but many choose traditional transport – foot, horse or donkey. However you make the journey this is one of the most culturally and spiritually satisfying walking adventures in the world. Challenge your body, mind and spirit.

SingaporeShutterstock/Johnny LyeSingapore Spice Markets/Food Blend English, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian cultures and you end up with intoxicating Singapore where the tropical weather can be as steaming hot as the chili crabs served waterside at Long Beach. Street market stalls exude delicious aromas like basil and lemongrass. The city’s famous hawker centres bring “food court” fare to a higher and deliciously exotic level. Need a luxury break? Head to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in the Central Business District and its Louis Vuitton “island”. Indulge your spicy side.

Chiang Mai Flower FestivalDee VaugnFlower Festival You don’t need to be a flower child to appreciate the sights and smells of the annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Thailand’s most impressive flower festival is a celebration of yellow and white chrysanthemums, roses and orchids, held the first week of February. Beautiful Thai women are adorned with meticulously decorated floral outfits. Elaborately decorated floats with various floral motifs slowly make their way down the parade route accompanied by dancers and hill tribespeople. Your digital camera will be shooting fast and furious in this extraordinary landscape. Here’s to flower power.

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