A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

Vientiane, the capital, is the most modern city in Laos

I'm smiling because it's our last day in Laos; the country is just too poor, dirty, smoky and lacking of interesting sights for my tastes

I'm smiling because it's our last day in Laos; the country is just too poor, dirty, smoky and lacking of interesting sights for my tastes

This is a great piece of art!; the stupa is made from common ceramic kitchenware like plates, cups, saucers, etc.

This is a great piece of art!; the stupa is made from common ceramic kitchenware like plates, cups, saucers, etc.

Wat That Luang is 4 kms from the center of town and the most popular tourist sight but there really isn't anything to see; it just seemed a popular photo op

Wat That Luang is 4 kms from the center of town and the most popular tourist sight but there really isn't anything to see; it just seemed a popular photo op

The Presidential Palace was originally built for the French colonial governor and also served as the residence of the royal family during the brief Laos monarchy reign; today it is used for ceremonies and official government meetings

The Presidential Palace was originally built for the French colonial governor and also served as the residence of the royal family during the brief Laos monarchy reign; today it is used for ceremonies and official government meetings

That Dam, known as the Black Stupa, is Laos' oldest temple; legend says it was once coated in gold that was carted off after the Siam invasion

That Dam, known as the Black Stupa, is Laos' oldest temple; legend says it was once coated in gold that was carted off after the Siam invasion

Haw Phra Kiew was first built in 1565 and has been rebuilt several times; a number of Buddhas are placed on the terrace, including stone Buddhas dating from the 6th to 9th century

Haw Phra Kiew was first built in 1565 and has been rebuilt several times; a number of Buddhas are placed on the terrace, including stone Buddhas dating from the 6th to 9th century

On December 2, 1975, the communist party of the Pathet Lao took over Vientiane, defeated the Kingdom of Laos, and renamed the country the Lao People's Democratic Republic, which ended the Laotian Civil War

On December 2, 1975, the communist party of the Pathet Lao took over Vientiane, defeated the Kingdom of Laos, and renamed the country the Lao People's Democratic Republic, which ended the Laotian Civil War

This is the staircase at the Patuxai monument where someone could very easily be killed falling into this stairwell; there is no OSHA, ADA, FDA, EPA, etc. here

This is the staircase at the Patuxai monument where someone could very easily be killed falling into this stairwell; there is no OSHA, ADA, FDA, EPA, etc. here

I ventured inside this modern mall to enjoy the air-conditioning and see what upscale Laotians could buy; there were lots of clothing stores, a Korean supermarket and even a Dairy Queen

I ventured inside this modern mall to enjoy the air-conditioning and see what upscale Laotians could buy; there were lots of clothing stores, a Korean supermarket and even a Dairy Queen

Wat Si Saket, built in 1818, formerly held the famous emerald Buddha and is the city's oldest surviving wat; most of the wats in town cost slightly more than $1 for admission

Wat Si Saket, built in 1818, formerly held the famous emerald Buddha and is the city's oldest surviving wat; most of the wats in town cost slightly more than $1 for admission

Wat Si Muang is famous for bringing good luck and wealth, particularly to those trying to have children; the elaborate wood carvings and bright colors made it seem quite whimsical

Wat Si Muang is famous for bringing good luck and wealth, particularly to those trying to have children; the elaborate wood carvings and bright colors made it seem quite whimsical

Wat Si Muang; Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River which separates Laos from Thailand here

Wat Si Muang; Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River which separates Laos from Thailand here

View from top of Patuxai monument; Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and, due to economic growth in recent times, is now the economic center of Laos; the city had a population of 820,000 as of the 2015 census

View from top of Patuxai monument; Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and, due to economic growth in recent times, is now the economic center of Laos; the city had a population of 820,000 as of the 2015 census

Wat Si Muang; during World War II, Vientiane fell with little resistance and was occupied by Japanese forces; on March 9, 1945 French paratroopers arrived, and reoccupied the city on April 24, 1945

Wat Si Muang; during World War II, Vientiane fell with little resistance and was occupied by Japanese forces; on March 9, 1945 French paratroopers arrived, and reoccupied the city on April 24, 1945

Shrine of the Vientiane City Pillar was built in 2007 to house the ancient city pillar and 473 stone artifacts that date from 1540

Shrine of the Vientiane City Pillar was built in 2007 to house the ancient city pillar and 473 stone artifacts that date from 1540

The Ministry of Justice; the economic boom in Southeast Asia seems to have bypassed Laos; there are small signs of progress but the country greatly lags its neighbors

The Ministry of Justice; the economic boom in Southeast Asia seems to have bypassed Laos; there are small signs of progress but the country greatly lags its neighbors

View from the top of the Victory Gate; I'm surprised there were lots of tourists in Vientiane because there really wasn't much to see

View from the top of the Victory Gate; I'm surprised there were lots of tourists in Vientiane because there really wasn't much to see

Every temple requires you to take your shoes off which got really old; socks get dirty really quickly too

Every temple requires you to take your shoes off which got really old; socks get dirty really quickly too

Wat That Luang is the most important national monument of Laos and an icon of Buddhism; legend has it that  missionaries from India erected a stupa here to enclose a piece of Buddha's breastbone in the 3rd c BC

Wat That Luang is the most important national monument of Laos and an icon of Buddhism; legend has it that missionaries from India erected a stupa here to enclose a piece of Buddha's breastbone in the 3rd c BC

Jonathan and the group went to a restaurant and found no soap in the bathroom; he asked for some soap and the restaurant said they didn't have any!

Jonathan and the group went to a restaurant and found no soap in the bathroom; he asked for some soap and the restaurant said they didn't have any!

Motorcycles and scooters were the easiest way to get around but there were actually lots of cars in Vientiane unlike the rest of the country; the paved roads were appreciated since it kept the level of dust and grime down

Motorcycles and scooters were the easiest way to get around but there were actually lots of cars in Vientiane unlike the rest of the country; the paved roads were appreciated since it kept the level of dust and grime down

Wat That Luang Neua; the Pha That Luang complex was the most impressive temple complex in Vientiane

Wat That Luang Neua; the Pha That Luang complex was the most impressive temple complex in Vientiane

This is me taking a break from lots of walking around in 100 degree weather while the locals have jeans and jackets on; rainy season here is June to September

This is me taking a break from lots of walking around in 100 degree weather while the locals have jeans and jackets on; rainy season here is June to September

Vientiane was more modern than the rest of Laos but I would have preferred if we had just seen Luang Prabang and then flown from there to Hanoi

Vientiane was more modern than the rest of Laos but I would have preferred if we had just seen Luang Prabang and then flown from there to Hanoi

The Patuxai monument is a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and officially called the Victory Gate; it was built in the 1960s with cement donated by the US intended for the construction of a new airport

The Patuxai monument is a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and officially called the Victory Gate; it was built in the 1960s with cement donated by the US intended for the construction of a new airport

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:31 Comments (0)

Taj Mahal- one of the 7 New Wonders of the World

The Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage; it was the only place we saw in Agra

The Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage; it was the only place we saw in Agra

At the entrance to the 42-acre Taj Mahal complex is a red sandstone building commonly known as the Great Gate; the cost to build the Taj Mahal is estimated at $1  billion in today's dollars

At the entrance to the 42-acre Taj Mahal complex is a red sandstone building commonly known as the Great Gate; the cost to build the Taj Mahal is estimated at $1+ billion in today's dollars

The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife; it attracts more than 8 million visitors a year

The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife; it attracts more than 8 million visitors a year

Much of the calligraphy on the Taj Mahal is composed of florid thuluth script made of jasper or black marble inlaid in white marble panels; the archways have been decorated with inlays of highly stylized, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits

Much of the calligraphy on the Taj Mahal is composed of florid thuluth script made of jasper or black marble inlaid in white marble panels; the archways have been decorated with inlays of highly stylized, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits

The Taj Mahal was my favorite sight in India because of its beauty, symmetry, cleanliness and relative calm; it's truly an oasis so I think the Mughal emperor definitely had the right idea

The Taj Mahal was my favorite sight in India because of its beauty, symmetry, cleanliness and relative calm; it's truly an oasis so I think the Mughal emperor definitely had the right idea

We happened to visit on the one day each year when you can go down in the Taj Mahal to see the actual tombs; after waiting in the heat for over an hour the actual sight was underwhelming

We happened to visit on the one day each year when you can go down in the Taj Mahal to see the actual tombs; after waiting in the heat for over an hour the actual sight was underwhelming

The four minarets were constructed farther away from the main structure than usual and also lean slightly outward rather than stand straight; this was done as a safety measure so that if any of them fell, they would fall away from the tomb

The four minarets were constructed farther away from the main structure than usual and also lean slightly outward rather than stand straight; this was done as a safety measure so that if any of them fell, they would fall away from the tomb

The Taj complex has a beautiful symmetry; this is the Water Palace and it's twin building across the gardens is the Taj Mahal Museum

The Taj complex has a beautiful symmetry; this is the Water Palace and it's twin building across the gardens is the Taj Mahal Museum

It is estimated than 20,000 artisans helped construct the Taj Mahal along with the power of 1000  elephants; Taj Mahal means Crown of the Palaces

It is estimated than 20,000 artisans helped construct the Taj Mahal along with the power of 1000+ elephants; Taj Mahal means Crown of the Palaces

Hmm, who has the right of way?; Agra has a population of roughly 2 million with 88% o them being Hindu while 9% ae Muslim

Hmm, who has the right of way?; Agra has a population of roughly 2 million with 88% of them being Hindu while 9% are Muslim

The most spectacular feature of the Taj Mahal is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb; the dome is nearly 35 m high which is close in measurement to the length of the base

The most spectacular feature of the Taj Mahal is the marble dome that surmounts the tomb; the dome is nearly 35 m high which is close in measurement to the length of the base

The floor of the Taj Mahal mosque is laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble; unlike the rest of India, the Taj Mahal complex was extremely clean

The floor of the Taj Mahal mosque is laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble; unlike the rest of India, the Taj Mahal complex was extremely clean

Posted by VagabondCowboy 07:56 Comments (0)

Imperial City of Hue was lesson in Vietnamese history

Thien Mu Pagoda is an icon of Vietnam and a potent symbol of Hue as the former capital; the 21 meter high, octagonal tower was built in 1844

Thien Mu Pagoda is an icon of Vietnam and a potent symbol of Hue as the former capital; the 21 meter high, octagonal tower was built in 1844

Most of Hue's sites lie in the Imperial Citadel which is on the north side of the Perfume River while most of the city and tourist hotels lie on the south side of the river

Most of Hue's sites lie in the Imperial Citadel which is on the north side of the Perfume River while most of the city and tourist hotels lie on the south side of the river

This car became famous when a Buddhist monk exited it in Saigon in 1963 and set himself on fire; this was to protest Vietnam's policies of discriminating against Buddhists and violating religious freedom

This car became famous when a Buddhist monk exited it in Saigon in 1963 and set himself on fire; this was to protest Vietnam's policies of discriminating against Buddhists and violating religious freedom

The Meridian Gate is the main gate for the Hue Imperial Citadel; I visited twice since the complex is so huge and our tour visit just saw a small portion of the complex

The Meridian Gate is the main gate for the Hue Imperial Citadel; I visited twice since the complex is so huge and our tour visit just saw a small portion of the complex

What's left of the Imperial Citadel is just a fraction of the original since only 20 of 148 buildings survived after the French (1945) and Vietnam (1968) Wars

What's left of the Imperial Citadel is just a fraction of the original since only 20 of 148 buildings survived after the French (1945) and Vietnam (1968) Wars

Nguyễn Phúc Ánh united Vietnam after a three-hundred-year division of the country; he celebrated his coronation at Huế on June 1, 1802 and proclaimed himself emperor

Nguyễn Phúc Ánh united Vietnam after a three-hundred-year division of the country; he celebrated his coronation at Huế on June 1, 1802 and proclaimed himself emperor

The Tomb of Tu Duc is the most popular and impressive of the royal mausoleums in Hue; his tomb is 5 kms south of the city while the other tombs are scattered slightly further out of town

The Tomb of Tu Duc is the most popular and impressive of the royal mausoleums in Hue; his tomb is 5 kms south of the city while the other tombs are scattered slightly further out of town

Emperor Tu Duc enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch of the Nguyen dynasty, ruling from 1848-83; despite the grandeur of the site and the amount of time Tu Duc spent here, he was buried in a different, secret location somewhere in Hue

Emperor Tu Duc enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch of the Nguyen dynasty, ruling from 1848-83; despite the grandeur of the site and the amount of time Tu Duc spent here, he was buried in a different, secret location somewhere in Hue

Hue had a great deal of public art and a very attractive riverside park; even though the city was dirty in places, the tourist destinations were much cleaner than other stops on our tour

Hue had a great deal of public art and a very attractive riverside park; even though the city was dirty in places, the tourist destinations were much cleaner than other stops on our tour

The Chuong Duc Gate was built in 1804; it was one of five gates that allowed entrance to the Imperial City from the Citadel

The Chuong Duc Gate was built in 1804; it was one of five gates that allowed entrance to the Imperial City from the Citadel

The 9 bronze dynastic urns symbolize the 9 Vietnamese emperors; on each of them are engraved the 17 most important authentic Vietnamese symbols of mountains, oceans, stars and more, which together reveal the history of the country

The 9 bronze dynastic urns symbolize the 9 Vietnamese emperors; on each of them are engraved the 17 most important authentic Vietnamese symbols of mountains, oceans, stars and more, which together reveal the history of the country

Hue is pronounced like whey; even though it has around a million people it seemed quite subdued and more civilized than Hanoi

Hue is pronounced like whey; even though it has around a million people it seemed quite subdued and more civilized than Hanoi

To keep the secret location of Tu Duc's tomb safe the 200 laborers who buried the king were all beheaded after they returned from the secret route; to this day, the real tomb of Tu Duc remains hidden

To keep the secret location of Tu Duc's tomb safe the 200 laborers who buried the king were all beheaded after they returned from the secret route; to this day, the real tomb of Tu Duc remains hidden

The Tomb of Tu Duc was built for the Nguyễn Emperor and was built from 1864–1867; it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Imperial City

The Tomb of Tu Duc was built for the Nguyễn Emperor and was built from 1864–1867; it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Imperial City

A moat surrounds the Imperial Citadel; the Forbidden City is a citadel within the larger citadel

A moat surrounds the Imperial Citadel; the Forbidden City is a citadel within the larger citadel

Hue was settled inland on the Perfume River so that ships had safe shelter from the frequent typhoons; I guess real flamingos had less luck so artificial ones are here now

Hue was settled inland on the Perfume River so that ships had safe shelter from the frequent typhoons; I guess real flamingos had less luck so artificial ones are here now

The Imperial City of Hue was constructed from 1805-1832; this relatively short period assured that the building styles were consistent and harmonious

The Imperial City of Hue was constructed from 1805-1832; this relatively short period assured that the building styles were consistent and harmonious

The Emperor's Reading Room was the only part of the Forbidden City to escape damage during the French reoccupation of Hue in 1947; this was one of my favorite buildings in the complex

The Emperor's Reading Room was the only part of the Forbidden City to escape damage during the French reoccupation of Hue in 1947; this was one of my favorite buildings in the complex

When I returned to the Imperial City for a second visit, others took motorbikes through the city surroundings with several interesting stops

When I returned to the Imperial City for a second visit, others took motorbikes through the city surroundings with several interesting stops

The East Gate of the Imperial Citadel; the walls around the complex are 6 meters high and 2.5 kilometers long; there is much restoration and reconstruction work ongoing

The East Gate of the Imperial Citadel; the walls around the complex are 6 meters high and 2.5 kilometers long; there is much restoration and reconstruction work ongoing

The Temple of Original Ancestor was badly damaged during the 1968 Tet Offensive; in 2014, it underwent a 27 month period of restoration funded with $700,000 by the United States Department of State

The Temple of Original Ancestor was badly damaged during the 1968 Tet Offensive; in 2014, it underwent a 27 month period of restoration funded with $700,000 by the United States Department of State

Dien Tho Residence (1804) once comprised the apartments and audience hall of the queen mothers of the Nguyen dynasty; the Nguyen Dynasty – which would be the last of the dynasties in the country – would rule over it for 143 years

Dien Tho Residence (1804) once comprised the apartments and audience hall of the queen mothers of the Nguyen dynasty; the Nguyen Dynasty – which would be the last of the dynasties in the country – would rule over it for 143 years

Minh Mạng, the longest serving emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. had a large number of wives and concubines; he is reported to have fathered 142 children from 43 wives

Minh Mạng, the longest serving emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. had a large number of wives and concubines; he is reported to have fathered 142 children from 43 wives

This bronze cauldron was cast during the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan in 1662; the cauldron symbolized the strength and lastingness of his government

This bronze cauldron was cast during the reign of Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan in 1662; the cauldron symbolized the strength and lastingness of his government

This royal theater at the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc is the oldest in Hue; the emperor designed his own tomb complex for his use during his life as well as upon his death

This royal theater at the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc is the oldest in Hue; the emperor designed his own tomb complex for his use during his life as well as upon his death

This restaurant across from our hotel said it had the best Mexican food in Hue; upon looking at the menu I could find not a single item that I thought was Mexican food

This restaurant across from our hotel said it had the best Mexican food in Hue; upon looking at the menu I could find not a single item that I thought was Mexican food

The Halls of the Mandarins were used as offices to prepare for court ceremonies; there were very old photographs displayed around the complex but I wanted to see photos from immediately before the Vietnam War (called the American War here)

The Halls of the Mandarins were used as offices to prepare for court ceremonies; there were very old photographs displayed around the complex but I wanted to see photos from immediately before the Vietnam War (called the American War here)

It's hard to imagine how the Imperial City once looked given how huge it is; the complex is in a grid pattern with whole blocks empty as a result of the destruction done during the Vietnam War

It's hard to imagine how the Imperial City once looked given how huge it is; the complex is in a grid pattern with whole blocks empty as a result of the destruction done during the Vietnam War

Bonsai terrace at Thien Mu Pagoda; our overnight train from Hanoi was horrendous as it was loud, jolting and impossible to sleep

Bonsai terrace at Thien Mu Pagoda; our overnight train from Hanoi was horrendous as it was loud, jolting and impossible to sleep

Over the years, the Throne Palace (1805) became the preferred setting for the Empire's most important ceremonies, like the Coronations of Emperors and Crown Princes, and receiving foreign ambassadors

Over the years, the Throne Palace (1805) became the preferred setting for the Empire's most important ceremonies, like the Coronations of Emperors and Crown Princes, and receiving foreign ambassadors

We haven't found Uber in Vietnam, but they do have Grab which is similar but on a motorcycle; the guys wear green shirts and always asked if we needed a ride

We haven't found Uber in Vietnam, but they do have Grab which is similar but on a motorcycle; the guys wear green shirts and always asked if we needed a ride

The Temple of the Generations, built in 1821, was built to worship 10 emperors from the Nguyen dynasty; during all ceremonies inside the temple. women were forbidden to enter

The Temple of the Generations, built in 1821, was built to worship 10 emperors from the Nguyen dynasty; during all ceremonies inside the temple. women were forbidden to enter

Posted by VagabondCowboy 05:41 Comments (0)

Angkor, Cambodia is one of the world's greatest sights!

We left the hotel at 4:30am to see Angkor Wat at sunrise but our visit  coincided with the only days of rain on our entire month-long trip; this photo is what sunrise could have looked like if we'd had better weather

We left the hotel at 4:30am to see Angkor Wat at sunrise but our visit coincided with the only days of rain on our entire month-long trip; this photo is what sunrise could have looked like if we'd had better weather

This newborn monkey still couldn't walk confidently but would wobble and tip over; the monkeys added to the ambiance of the jungle temples

This newborn monkey still couldn't walk confidently but would wobble and tip over; the monkeys added to the ambiance of the jungle temples

One of the most iconic photos at Ta Prohm is also one of my favorites; spung trees, most famous for their presence here, can grow to more than 45 m with a spread of 10 m

One of the most iconic photos at Ta Prohm is also one of my favorites; spung trees, most famous for their presence here, can grow to more than 45 m with a spread of 10 m

Yes, it's the dry season in Cambodia but it does sometimes rain as we experienced our second day in Siem Reap; Preah Khan served as the capital before the completion of Angkor Wat

Yes, it's the dry season in Cambodia but it does sometimes rain as we experienced our second day in Siem Reap; Preah Khan served as the capital before the completion of Angkor Wat

The opening of the show we saw in Siem Reap involved this artist creating the stunning image on the floor from a large pile of rice using just a scoop!; it was simply astonishing!

The opening of the show we saw in Siem Reap involved this artist creating the stunning image on the floor from a large pile of rice using just a scoop!; it was simply astonishing!

Jonathan couldn't resist trying his Tarzan impersonation while we visited Preah Khan; the jungle-like forest around Angkor contrasted with the rice fields we saw in the rest of the country

Jonathan couldn't resist trying his Tarzan impersonation while we visited Preah Khan; the jungle-like forest around Angkor contrasted with the rice fields we saw in the rest of the country

Pre Rup is a Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva, built in 962 made of brick, sandstone and laterite; Pre Rup's extensive laterite and brick give it a pleasing reddish tone that is heightened by early morning and late afternoon sunlight

Pre Rup is a Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva, built in 962 made of brick, sandstone and laterite; Pre Rup's extensive laterite and brick give it a pleasing reddish tone that is heightened by early morning and late afternoon sunlight

Canadians Debbie and Craig at Bayon temple which is in the center of Angkor Thom; built in the late 12th or early 13th centuries, it was the official state temple of the king

Canadians Debbie and Craig at Bayon temple which is in the center of Angkor Thom; built in the late 12th or early 13th centuries, it was the official state temple of the king

Angkor Wat is the world's largest religious building; Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire , which flourished from approximately the 9th to the 15th centuries

Angkor Wat is the world's largest religious building; Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire , which flourished from approximately the 9th to the 15th centuries

Angkor Wat, originally constructed as a Hindu temple, covers 402 acres outside of Siem Reap;  it has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors

Angkor Wat, originally constructed as a Hindu temple, covers 402 acres outside of Siem Reap; it has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors

Ta Prohm was used as a location in Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie; Jolie is beloved thanks to her foundation which is dedicated to alleviating extreme rural poverty, protecting the environment and conserving wildlife in rural northwestern Cambodia

Ta Prohm was used as a location in Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie; Jolie is beloved thanks to her foundation which is dedicated to alleviating extreme rural poverty, protecting the environment and conserving wildlife in rural northwestern Cambodia

Banteay Kdei is a Buddhist temple from the early 13th century; Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries until the 1960s

Banteay Kdei is a Buddhist temple from the early 13th century; Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries until the 1960s

Our tour only saw 2 temples each of the 2 days of our visit but I wanted to see more so I walked to others, such as Pre Rup; there was no signage at the temples so I referenced Wikipedia

Our tour only saw 2 temples each of the 2 days of our visit but I wanted to see more so I walked to others, such as Pre Rup; there was no signage at the temples so I referenced Wikipedia

Even with the improved stairs for tourists, the steep incline is roughly 65 degrees to reach the top level of Angkor Wat; more than 400 sq kms is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site here

Even with the improved stairs for tourists, the steep incline is roughly 65 degrees to reach the top level of Angkor Wat; more than 400 sq kms is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site here

Most of Cambodia's primates were eliminated in the 1980s due to poaching, but gibbons and langurs have been reintroduced to Angkor; with 2  million visitors per year Angkor is ideal to attract attention to endangered species

Most of Cambodia's primates were eliminated in the 1980s due to poaching, but gibbons and langurs have been reintroduced to Angkor; with 2+ million visitors per year Angkor is ideal to attract attention to endangered species

The outer gallery at Bayon temple features a series of bas-reliefs depicting historical events and scenes from everyday life of the Angkorian Khmer; all of the Angkor temples had incredibly detailed stone carvings on most every surface

The outer gallery at Bayon temple features a series of bas-reliefs depicting historical events and scenes from everyday life of the Angkorian Khmer; all of the Angkor temples had incredibly detailed stone carvings on most every surface

You'd think spung trees would find an easier place to grow than right on top of a temple, like Ta Prohm; the cost for a 2 day pass to visit the Angkor temples costs $67 US

You'd think spung trees would find an easier place to grow than right on top of a temple, like Ta Prohm; the cost for a 2 day pass to visit the Angkor temples costs $67 US

Bayon was the last state temple built and the crowning achievement of Jayavarman VII's massive program of monumental construction and public works, which was responsible for the walls and bridges of Angkor Thom and temples of Preah Khan, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei

Bayon was the last state temple built and the crowning achievement of Jayavarman VII's massive program of monumental construction and public works, which was responsible for the walls and bridges of Angkor Thom and temples of Preah Khan, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei

Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th century but abandoned after the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century; it is the most picturesque temple here as the jungle works to take back what man created

Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th century but abandoned after the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century; it is the most picturesque temple here as the jungle works to take back what man created

By the 20th century, much of the Baphuon temple had largely collapsed, and restoration efforts took on an epic quality; in April 2011, after 51 years of work, the restoration was completed and the temple formally re-opened

By the 20th century, much of the Baphuon temple had largely collapsed, and restoration efforts took on an epic quality; in April 2011, after 51 years of work, the restoration was completed and the temple formally re-opened

Touring the temples was like walking through a continuous Asian photoshoot; I wondered if many of the visitors appreciated the historical significance of the area

Touring the temples was like walking through a continuous Asian photoshoot; I wondered if many of the visitors appreciated the historical significance of the area

Built in the latter 12th century, Bayon is the centerpiece of Angkor Thom city; it is most recognizable for the 216 giant stone faces of Buddha on its towers

Built in the latter 12th century, Bayon is the centerpiece of Angkor Thom city; it is most recognizable for the 216 giant stone faces of Buddha on its towers

The third level of Bayon temple brought us to the famous stone Buddhas; the temple has been described as the most striking expression of the baroque style of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat

The third level of Bayon temple brought us to the famous stone Buddhas; the temple has been described as the most striking expression of the baroque style of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat

In Siem Reap we visited a Cirque du Soleil-type show put on by young people from a disadvantaged village; the show was very impressive and  an uplifting story

In Siem Reap we visited a Cirque du Soleil-type show put on by young people from a disadvantaged village; the show was very impressive and an uplifting story

Baphuon, part of Angkor Thom,  is one of the largest and grandest structures in Angkor; built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva

Baphuon, part of Angkor Thom, is one of the largest and grandest structures in Angkor; built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva

Ta Prohm is surrounded by an outer wall of 1000 by 650 meters that at one time would have been the site of a substantial town, but that is now largely forested

Ta Prohm is surrounded by an outer wall of 1000 by 650 meters that at one time would have been the site of a substantial town, but that is now largely forested

Posted by VagabondCowboy 01:55 Comments (1)

Hoi An-historic, prettied up Vietnamese trading post

The old town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it's an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century

The old town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it's an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century

To visit historic sights in the old town you have to buy a ticket for about $7 which allows you to visit 5 of the 22 tourist stops including old houses, museum, temples and assembly halls

To visit historic sights in the old town you have to buy a ticket for about $7 which allows you to visit 5 of the 22 tourist stops including old houses, museum, temples and assembly halls

This Japanese covered bridge is the symbol of Hoi An; first built in the 1590s, the bridge linked the Japanese and Chinese that lived in Hoi An

This Japanese covered bridge is the symbol of Hoi An; first built in the 1590s, the bridge linked the Japanese and Chinese that lived in Hoi An

The Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, founded in 1690, served the largest Chinese ethnic group in Hoi An which came from Fujian; they could meet up and socialize here while living or visiting Hoi An

The Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, founded in 1690, served the largest Chinese ethnic group in Hoi An which came from Fujian; they could meet up and socialize here while living or visiting Hoi An

Built in 1653, the Quan Cong Temple was built to honor a Chinese general who symbolized loyalty and integrity; it was amazing to see how inundated the city has been in its many floods

Built in 1653, the Quan Cong Temple was built to honor a Chinese general who symbolized loyalty and integrity; it was amazing to see how inundated the city has been in its many floods

This is the central market where locals come to buy everything; the shops in town were clean and organized but the items for sale were typically the same ones I'd seen throughout Vietnam

This is the central market where locals come to buy everything; the shops in town were clean and organized but the items for sale were typically the same ones I'd seen throughout Vietnam

Hoi An has a Disney-like feel to it and would be more enjoyable if motorcycles were banned and crowds reduced; the Japanese Bridge is the only must see attraction in town

Hoi An has a Disney-like feel to it and would be more enjoyable if motorcycles were banned and crowds reduced; the Japanese Bridge is the only must see attraction in town

One afternoon I took a short taxi to An Bang Beach; lots of hotels are being built here but the beach wasn't nearly as nice as those in the US

One afternoon I took a short taxi to An Bang Beach; lots of hotels are being built here but the beach wasn't nearly as nice as those in the US

The old town is quite a small area which is peaceful early in the morning but quickly becomes clogged with tourists, bicycles and motorcycles

The old town is quite a small area which is peaceful early in the morning but quickly becomes clogged with tourists, bicycles and motorcycles

There are dozens of tailor shops in town, so most members of my tour had suits or dresses custom-made for them; it's amazing that they can be made in just one day

There are dozens of tailor shops in town, so most members of my tour had suits or dresses custom-made for them; it's amazing that they can be made in just one day

In the old house of Quan Thang, built in the late 17th century, you can see the detailed woodwork and ventilation system typical of Hoi An merchant houses

In the old house of Quan Thang, built in the late 17th century, you can see the detailed woodwork and ventilation system typical of Hoi An merchant houses

The Vietnamese style is for a family to have a small storefront at their house while they live in the back (or upstairs if they are prosperous); there are no big box retailers here

The Vietnamese style is for a family to have a small storefront at their house while they live in the back (or upstairs if they are prosperous); there are no big box retailers here

I much preferred the atmosphere of Hoi An at night compared to the day; the colorful lanterns and absence of motorcycles made the old town much more enjoyable

I much preferred the atmosphere of Hoi An at night compared to the day; the colorful lanterns and absence of motorcycles made the old town much more enjoyable

The city rose to prominence as a powerful and exclusive trade conduit between Europe, China, India, and Japan, especially for the ceramic industry

The city rose to prominence as a powerful and exclusive trade conduit between Europe, China, India, and Japan, especially for the ceramic industry

The Minh Huong Ancestor Worship House, built in the late 19th century; ancestors are believed to continuously protect and assist their children so they are worshiped and remembered

The Minh Huong Ancestor Worship House, built in the late 19th century; ancestors are believed to continuously protect and assist their children so they are worshiped and remembered

The pollution here makes for some colorful sunsets; I had a very challenging time finding any decent processed food to eat here since there are no proper grocery stores

The pollution here makes for some colorful sunsets; I had a very challenging time finding any decent processed food to eat here since there are no proper grocery stores

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