A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about temples

Warming up in Bangkok

sunny 38 °C
View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

After Cambodia, I made my way directly to the Thai capital, Bangkok. In view of the recent political events in Thailand, I am telling myself that I was lucky to visit this country a month ago and not presently. Though I am being told that except for the curfew (10pm - 5am), almost nothing has an impact for the tourists in Thailand at the moment.

Three_of_a_kind.png

When I was in Peru in Arequipa, 8 months ago, I had met with a Thai guy briefly who was thinking at the time to maybe open a café, restaurant or hostel somewhere in the world. We had kept in touch and I was pleased to learn that he had finally decided on opening an hostel in Bangkok. And the timing was more than perfect as he had only opened the day before I arrived and therefore I got the privilege of being his first guest! And I am not saying that because the owners are now my friend but the hostel and welcome were fantastic so I highly recommend the Three of a Kind hostel if you are looking for a place to stay in Bangkok, you won't be disappointed!

My main goal in visiting Thailand this time was to explore the South islands and do some scuba diving but I took the opportunity of staying in Bangkok to visit a little bit the main Buddhist temples and royal places, but also to relax as the previous weeks in Cambodia had been quite hectic. Beside the thermometer was reaching almost the 40 degrees so that makes you even more lazy...

My friend Angkrit, the owner of Three of a Kind, and myself exploring the flower marker in Bangkok

My friend Angkrit, the owner of Three of a Kind, and myself exploring the flower marker in Bangkok


Lots of traffic in Bangkok and drivers start here very early!

Lots of traffic in Bangkok and drivers start here very early!


The ex-mansion of the Thai kings

The ex-mansion of the Thai kings


The royal hall used for welcoming foreign officials and other ceremonies. Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures inside...

The royal hall used for welcoming foreign officials and other ceremonies. Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures inside...


Wat Arun

Wat Arun


China town

China town


The Emerald Buddha, from the Grand Palace. One of the symbols dear to Thailand

The Emerald Buddha, from the Grand Palace. One of the symbols dear to Thailand


Grand Palace

Grand Palace


The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho


Another prayer room in Wat Pho

Another prayer room in Wat Pho

Posted by manolo84 09:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples hostels towns palaces english Comments (0)

The Magnificent Angkor Temples


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

This is probably one of the moments I was expecting the most in South-East Asia, the visit of the temples of Angkor, in Cambodia...

My first surprise was to realise that there was actually more than the famous Angkor Wat, as indeed in those times, every king of the Khmer empire (9th to 15th centuries) wanted to build (well not him personally I presume but his slaves) his own temple to "his" glory. So instead of building a big temple and increasing its size year after year, Cambodia is now left with about a thousand temples close to each other, some now not bigger than a pile of stones but others being able to contain up to a million of people back in those times, the most famous being indeed Angkor Wat as it is one of the only one which has never been abandoned to the nature (but which is also not the biggest of all temples, by far).

When deciding what and when to visit, the most interesting entry pass is the 3 days one for about 40$. And I can guaranty you, by the end of the third day, you will definitely have enough of seeing stones everywhere, no matter if those are nice stones belonging to nice temples, by the end of the third day, a stone is a stone! And the other inconvenient is when trying to take pictures, it is very very hard not to have another tourist on it. If one wants to take amazing pictures of Angkor, one must learn patience... :-)

And I could write a lot about the temples of Angkor but the best is probably to show you this selection of pictures I took, with a bit of explanation underneath. If you want to have more information about Angkor, I could refer you to the wikipedia article (in English) or this one (in French).

Map of the main Angkor temples

Map of the main Angkor temples


The first thing that each tourist does is to witness the sun rising behind Angkor Wat, which was first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world

The first thing that each tourist does is to witness the sun rising behind Angkor Wat, which was first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world


Unfortunately it can become quite crowded.... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Unfortunately it can become quite crowded.... :(


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


A little prayer to Buddha inside Angkor Wat

A little prayer to Buddha inside Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat is also decorated with thousands of "Devatas" which have now been nicely restored

Angkor Wat is also decorated with thousands of "Devatas" which have now been nicely restored


Angkor Wat surrounded by the dense forest

Angkor Wat surrounded by the dense forest


the pathway leading to Angkor Wat

the pathway leading to Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat with the sunset light

Angkor Wat with the sunset light


Monks visiting Angkor Wat

Monks visiting Angkor Wat


No idea who is this woman but the picture looks nice, inside the corridors of Angkor Wat

No idea who is this woman but the picture looks nice, inside the corridors of Angkor Wat


A lion and myself... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

A lion and myself... :)


The Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom.

The Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom.


That temple has also been decorated with at least 216 faces of the former king himself...

That temple has also been decorated with at least 216 faces of the former king himself...


large_Bayon__Angkor_Thom___21_.jpg
East Mebon temple

East Mebon temple


The Ta Prohm temple, among the trees, like most of the other temples were found before being restored

The Ta Prohm temple, among the trees, like most of the other temples were found before being restored


Still Ta Prohm and you can actually see how the trees are so tightly integrated to the structures now

Still Ta Prohm and you can actually see how the trees are so tightly integrated to the structures now


Ta Prohm was also used in the movie Tomb Raider and unlike some scenes taken from other temples, the scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple's actual appearance

Ta Prohm was also used in the movie Tomb Raider and unlike some scenes taken from other temples, the scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple's actual appearance


large_Ta_Prohm__41_.jpgThe Ta Som temple

The Ta Som temple


The third eastern gopura, with strangler fig, still in Ta Som

The third eastern gopura, with strangler fig, still in Ta Som

Posted by manolo84 10:42 Archived in Cambodia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises temples english Comments (0)

Chilling out in Laos

sunny 35 °C
View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

I know I haven't given news for a while and my trip now approaches to an end so prepare yourself for a bunch of articles in the next days! :)

After the hectic months I had just spent in New Zealand, Korea and Hong Kong, I really felt like I needed to take a break and to slow down the pace of my journey. Indeed people back home keep telling me that "you are on holiday, how can you be exhausted?" but the truth is that when you pack and unpack your bag every few days to go to another destination, visit another museum or another "amazing" waterfall, you start feeling a bit less impressed and more and more tired. When at the beginning I was finding myself craving for new adventures, I now enjoy a lot spending days relaxing and not doing much.

So in that perspective, Laos was quite a breather for me. After an overnight stay in Bangkok airport because of the cheap flight I had booked from Hong Kong, I arrived in a really hot day in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The temperature change after a freezing Korea and a sometimes chilly Hong Kong, was quite a shock. But in a way I adapted myself quickly to that environment by incorporating the local motto "hum... it's really too hot to do anything today, let's chill out..." ! :)

And here are how my days in Laos were mostly spent...

  • Vientiane

The capital of Laos is actually quite small compared to the ones of the countries around. But it has still a definite atmosphere of South East Asia, with tuktuks, markets and street food stalls all around. I was also surprised to see a lot of signs (like for the official buildings) written both in Lao and French, but as Laos was a former French colony (used to be part of the Indochina with Vietnam and Cambodia) it all made sense. However nowadays French is only being spoken by older people, the younger generation learning English, which is more useful for tourism purposes.
One of the only sites I visited in Vientiane was Buddha Park, a statues park where 60 years ago, a monk who integrated Buddhism and Hinduism, tried to gather and build statues to revere the Buddha. Here are a few pics:

Buddha Park

Buddha Park


Patuxay, the War monument in Vientiane

Patuxay, the War monument in Vientiane


large_Patuxay__Vientiane__13_.jpg

  • Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng has been known for a long time has a party place, where the main attraction was to go down the river in a tube, and to stop every 100 metres or so at the several bars along it. No need to say that everyone was ending up really drunk and of course with time accidents happened (even deaths). So the whole thing has now been downsized a lot and out of the 50 bars or so, only 4 remains. And where maybe in the beginning it was really about tubing and going down the river, now the first and last bars are only at a mere 500 metres from each other so most of the people stop at the last bar and get a ride back in a tuktuk instead of carrying on for 2 to 3 hours on a perfectly still river (that was just before the rainy season so the river was at its driest level). Anyway the whole experience was quite fun, we met nice and funny people, but I could definitely see how it could go wrong if you keep drinking and don't pay attention to the time (it gets dark right after 6pm). Being drunk and on the river in the dark for a few hours was probably not a good idea... :)

Anyway Vang Vieng is not just about tubing but also has stunning landscapes to offer with limestones mountains covered by vegetation, caves to explore, lagoons to jump in, etc...

large_Vang_Vieng__9_.jpg
large_Vang_Vieng__12_.jpg
large_Vang_Vieng__14_.jpg
The Blue lagoon

The Blue lagoon


Renting a motorbike is a lot of fun but can be a bit risky...

Renting a motorbike is a lot of fun but can be a bit risky...

  • Luang Prabang

The journey continued in Luang Prabang, a small city classified as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and located between the Nam Khan and Mekong River. Here tons of tuktuk drivers will approach you in the main street, asking you if you want to go to the waterfalls, elephant villages or some temples... then later in the evening the same people will change their offers for the bowling alley (the only place opened late at night) or to sell you all type of drugs or again to take you to the "ladies boom boom"... Hum.....
Anyway I had a good time there, and we even managed to find a place completely randomly where to play pétanque (french balls game) while enjoying some cold beers with the locals, great fun!

One of the main temples in Luang Prabang

One of the main temples in Luang Prabang


Every morning around 6am, monks go down the main street for the Alms giving ceremony, where locals give them food for the day

Every morning around 6am, monks go down the main street for the Alms giving ceremony, where locals give them food for the day


large_Luang_Prabang__21_.jpg
large_Luang_Prabang__22_.jpg
Jonathan with new friends <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Jonathan with new friends :)


Pétanque time!

Pétanque time!


large_Luang_Prabang__114_.jpg
The Kuang Si Waterfall

The Kuang Si Waterfall


large_Kuang_Si_Waterfalls__3_.jpg
Too hot is not good for the mind... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Too hot is not good for the mind... ;)

  • Phonsavan

Another painful bus journey in a packed bus through the dusty roads of Laos and my friend Jonathan and I found ourselves in Phonsavan, in the middle of northern Laos. This region faced a tragic history some decades ago during the second Indochina war with American fighter planes dropping tons of bombs in the area, either when on their way to Vietnam or at their return, to avoid bringing them back to their base. As a result Phonsavan and its region Xieng Khouang were devastated by mass bombing (it is the most heavily bombarded area in the world with at least 262 millions cluster bombs dropped on Laos between 64 and 73, more than during the entire World War II!) but the sad story is that around 30% of those bombs didn't explode right away, leaving inhabitants at risk of stepping on them by mistake and dying horribly. The children especially are concerned because they don't always recognise it is a bomb before it is too late. And it took the U.S a long time to recognise all their mischief here, as this was meant to be a Secret War, meaning that even the U.S Congress didn't know what was going on at that time. Nowadays the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) work with the locals to try to find out as many bombs as they can and to neutralise them before anyone can get hurt. But the task is huge and still around 10-20 people die each year as a result of those left over bombs...

But the main reason to visit Phonsavan is to get a glimpse of the famous Plain of Jars. The Plain of Jars is dated to the Iron Age (500 BC to AD 500) but very little is known about the jars signification. There are about 50 different sites filled in with megalithic jars, where in some burials human remains were found but no one knows exactly if this was the main purpose of these jars or if there was another meaning...
Another problem also when visiting those sites, is the presence of unexploded bombs as I mentioned above. As a result, visiting can only be done on the clearly marked paths and this also slow down the restoration process of the jars and new discoveries.

large_Plains_of_Jars__5_.jpg
large_Plains_of_Jars__7_.jpg
large_Plains_of_Jars__26_.jpg
large_Plains_of_Jars__30_.jpg

  • The 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don)

Finally, my last stop in Laos was at its most southern point, in an area called the 4000 islands, an archipelago located in the Mekong river. As its name suggests, there are several islands here, most of them being submerged by the Mekong during the monsoon season. There is not much to do there except chilling out and relaxing, going on a kayak or tubing tour, visiting huge waterfalls nearby or trying to spot the rare Irrawaddy dolphins (an endangered specie due to the Mekong river's pollution).

large_4000_Islands__9_.jpg
On a kayak tour

On a kayak tour


Waiting for the dolphins to appear

Waiting for the dolphins to appear


large_4000_Islands__31_.jpg
Massive waterfalls on the Mekong

Massive waterfalls on the Mekong


large_4000_Islands__42_.jpg
large_4000_Islands__43_.jpg
Nice sunset..

Nice sunset..

Posted by manolo84 22:43 Archived in Laos Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises temples rivers kayaking monks english Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]