A Travellerspoint blog

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 RNRiggins 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 RNRiggins 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

Posted by RNRiggins 07:02 Comments (0)

Laos Waterfalls and the Mighty Mekong River

Five of us braved the cold water to truly experience the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls; we may be smiling but small fish are biting at our feet

Five of us braved the cold water to truly experience the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls; we may be smiling but small fish are biting at our feet

Thirty kilometers southwest of Luang Prabang is the highlight of the region - Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls; it reminded me of a small version of Plitvice National Park in Croatia

Thirty kilometers southwest of Luang Prabang is the highlight of the region - Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls; it reminded me of a small version of Plitvice National Park in Croatia

This is about the most scenic view on our 2 day Mekong trip; most of the time we were passing through wooded hills with occasional shacks where people might be farming a small parcel along the shore and maybe raising cattle

This is about the most scenic view on our 2 day Mekong trip; most of the time we were passing through wooded hills with occasional shacks where people might be farming a small parcel along the shore and maybe raising cattle

Across from our hotel in Pakbeng there was an elephant sanctuary; we saw elephants come down at sunset and then again at sunrise

Across from our hotel in Pakbeng there was an elephant sanctuary; we saw elephants come down at sunset and then again at sunrise

Our tour group has gotten along great together; we will add 6 more to the group  once we get to Hanoi, Vietnam

Our tour group has gotten along great together; we will add 6 more to the group once we get to Hanoi, Vietnam

The muddy Mekong had periodic rapids but, surprisingly, had tons of volcanic rocks scattered so our pilot had to know the river well; locals did their laundry in the river and I suspect some got their drinking water from it too

The muddy Mekong had periodic rapids but, surprisingly, had tons of volcanic rocks scattered so our pilot had to know the river well; locals did their laundry in the river and I suspect some got their drinking water from it too

Some of the pools at Tat Kuang Si are sacred with swimming not allowed; the falls flow year round with less water from March to May and high water volume from June to October

Some of the pools at Tat Kuang Si are sacred with swimming not allowed; the falls flow year round with less water from March to May and high water volume from June to October

Virtually all longboats making the 2 day journey from Chiang Kuong, Thailand to Luong Prabang, Laos have to stop overnight in Pakbeng; there is no navigating the river at night

Virtually all longboats making the 2 day journey from Chiang Kuong, Thailand to Luong Prabang, Laos have to stop overnight in Pakbeng; there is no navigating the river at night

Asiatic moon bears live at a rescue center near the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls; the bears have been confiscated from poachers who sell them for their precious bile

Asiatic moon bears live at a rescue center near the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls; the bears have been confiscated from poachers who sell them for their precious bile

The many-tiered waterfalls of Tat Kuong Si tumble over limestone formations into a series of cool, swimmable turquoise pools; the winding road to the falls was full of potholes and jarring

The many-tiered waterfalls of Tat Kuong Si tumble over limestone formations into a series of cool, swimmable turquoise pools; the winding road to the falls was full of potholes and jarring

Our tour included a brief visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center; the focus was on the different dialects/groups in different parts of the country

Our tour included a brief visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center; the focus was on the different dialects/groups in different parts of the country

The visit to Tat Kuang Si was included in our tour (admission is normally $2.50); it has been the highlight of our tour so far!

The visit to Tat Kuang Si was included in our tour (admission is normally $2.50); it has been the highlight of our tour so far!

Our tour stopped by Ock Pop Tok to learn about how locals make traditional Laotian textiles; visitors can take courses on bamboo weaving or dyeing and weaving your own scarf and textiles

Our tour stopped by Ock Pop Tok to learn about how locals make traditional Laotian textiles; visitors can take courses on bamboo weaving or dyeing and weaving your own scarf and textiles

The daily night market in Luang Prabang is one of the most popular activities in town; the city only has 55000 residents but is extremely popular with tourists

The daily night market in Luang Prabang is one of the most popular activities in town; the city only has 55000 residents but is extremely popular with tourists

The Pak Ou Cave near Luong Prabang is also known as the Buddha Cave because locals would pray before undertaking a boat journey on the Mekong

The Pak Ou Cave near Luong Prabang is also known as the Buddha Cave because locals would pray before undertaking a boat journey on the Mekong

Longboats are the primary mode of transportation along the Mekong; we traveled hundreds of kilometers down the river and there was not one road crossing of the river (although the Chinese are building a rail crossing)

Longboats are the primary mode of transportation along the Mekong; we traveled hundreds of kilometers down the river and there was not one road crossing of the river (although the Chinese are building a rail crossing)

See if you can decipher Laotian symbols; the gym was an open-air storefront but several people were in there biking, on the treadmill and lifting weights

See if you can decipher Laotian symbols; the gym was an open-air storefront but several people were in there biking, on the treadmill and lifting weights

The Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls are a must see for anyone visiting Luang Prabang so every tour group stops here; our trip included an excellent (I was told) lunch with a local family

The Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls are a must see for anyone visiting Luang Prabang so every tour group stops here; our trip included an excellent (I was told) lunch with a local family

At Ock Pop Tok our guide explained how natural sources were used to die the silk; the facility is in a beautiful location on the banks of the Mekong

At Ock Pop Tok our guide explained how natural sources were used to die the silk; the facility is in a beautiful location on the banks of the Mekong

At the Ethnology Museum they had a homemade rat trap; it illustrates how practical and resourceful locals are when they don't have access or funds for the modern day equivalents

At the Ethnology Museum they had a homemade rat trap; it illustrates how practical and resourceful locals are when they don't have access or funds for the modern day equivalents

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rose to prominence as the capital of the first Lao kingdom from 1353 until the 1975 revolution which brought an end to the monarchy

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rose to prominence as the capital of the first Lao kingdom from 1353 until the 1975 revolution which brought an end to the monarchy

On the journey to the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls we saw terraced rice fields, small vegetable gardens and commercial timber parcels; most of the locals depend on tourism with lots of food options and souvenir shops at the entrance to the falls

On the journey to the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls we saw terraced rice fields, small vegetable gardens and commercial timber parcels; most of the locals depend on tourism with lots of food options and souvenir shops at the entrance to the falls

We stopped in Pakbeng for the night on our two day journey down the 2700 mile Mekong River; behind Jonathan is virtually the entire town which was mainly small guesthouses, used clothing stores and street food vendors

We stopped in Pakbeng for the night on our two day journey down the 2700 mile Mekong River; behind Jonathan is virtually the entire town which was mainly small guesthouses, used clothing stores and street food vendors

Laos used to be known as the land of a million elephants; it's not known if there were ever actually a million but now there are fewer than 900 left

Laos used to be known as the land of a million elephants; it's not known if there were ever actually a million but now there are fewer than 900 left

Posted by RNRiggins 05:09 Comments (0)

Bangkok-temples, skyscrapers, trash and street food

The Bangkok Skywalk is atop the country's tallest skyscraper and offers views over the incredibly sprawling city; it's an innovative, modern tourist attraction which gave us a rest from temples

The Bangkok Skywalk is atop the country's tallest skyscraper and offers views over the incredibly sprawling city; it's an innovative, modern tourist attraction which gave us a rest from temples

Wat Traimit features the world's largest solid gold buddha (3 m tall and weighing 5.5 tons); for scale, notice the door frame in the lower left corner

Wat Traimit features the world's largest solid gold buddha (3 m tall and weighing 5.5 tons); for scale, notice the door frame in the lower left corner

The 17th century Wat Arun was my favorite Buddhist temple in Bangkok with its Gaudi-like design; the 80 meter spire used to be the tallest structure in the city until the advent of the modern skyscraper

The 17th century Wat Arun was my favorite Buddhist temple in Bangkok with its Gaudi-like design; the 80 meter spire used to be the tallest structure in the city until the advent of the modern skyscraper

Loha Prasat, aka the Metal Castle, is a Buddhist temple with 37 metal spires representing the 37 Buddhist virtues built in 1846; it was very peaceful without many tourists and the view from the top was impressive

Loha Prasat, aka the Metal Castle, is a Buddhist temple with 37 metal spires representing the 37 Buddhist virtues built in 1846; it was very peaceful without many tourists and the view from the top was impressive

The last night of our month-long tour; this was the best tour group I've ever traveled with!

The last night of our month-long tour; this was the best tour group I've ever traveled with!

More than one hundred thousand people use the longboats to travel around the city's canals daily; we had an eye-opening journey seeing all sorts of buildings along the way

More than one hundred thousand people use the longboats to travel around the city's canals daily; we had an eye-opening journey seeing all sorts of buildings along the way

Wat Traimit at sunset from the roof of our hotel; the air pollution contributes to some sensational sunsets

Wat Traimit at sunset from the roof of our hotel; the air pollution contributes to some sensational sunsets

The best time to visit Bangkok is the cool season (Nov-Feb) which is also the dry season; cool is used relatively though since highs are only in the lower 90s!

The best time to visit Bangkok is the cool season (Nov-Feb) which is also the dry season; cool is used relatively though since highs are only in the lower 90s!

The 78 story King Power building reminds me of Jenga; the building is named for the Thai company which runs the duty free stores at airports

The 78 story King Power building reminds me of Jenga; the building is named for the Thai company which runs the duty free stores at airports

The house of Jim Thompson, an American entrepreneur credited with reviving the silk textile industry in Thailand, is now a museum showcasing his art collection; Thompson disappeared without a clue in 1967

The house of Jim Thompson, an American entrepreneur credited with reviving the silk textile industry in Thailand, is now a museum showcasing his art collection; Thompson disappeared without a clue in 1967

The 19th century Temple of the Golden Mount, on a man-made hill, has become a symbol of Bangkok; we found the taxi drivers here consistently trying to rip-off tourists so we walked everywhere

The 19th century Temple of the Golden Mount, on a man-made hill, has become a symbol of Bangkok; we found the taxi drivers here consistently trying to rip-off tourists so we walked everywhere

Hear no evil, see no evil and say no evil; Bangkok's rapid growth coupled with little urban planning has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure

Hear no evil, see no evil and say no evil; Bangkok's rapid growth coupled with little urban planning has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure

An annual ceremony used to take place on this Great Swing whereby young men would try to swing high enough to get a sack of gold tied to a pole about 75 feet in the air; the ceremony was banned in the 1930s after many deaths

An annual ceremony used to take place on this Great Swing whereby young men would try to swing high enough to get a sack of gold tied to a pole about 75 feet in the air; the ceremony was banned in the 1930s after many deaths

Loha Prasat was erected in a very unusual way with multiple concentric square levels built on geometrically aligned pillars; it is one of three such structures ever built and the only one remaining

Loha Prasat was erected in a very unusual way with multiple concentric square levels built on geometrically aligned pillars; it is one of three such structures ever built and the only one remaining

The colored mosaic pieces at Wat Arun are Chinese porcelain and create a gorgeous work of art; the temple was a popular place for photographers and just across the river from the Royal Palace

The colored mosaic pieces at Wat Arun are Chinese porcelain and create a gorgeous work of art; the temple was a popular place for photographers and just across the river from the Royal Palace

Bangkok in 1960 had 193 days at or above 90 degrees yet in 2018, Bangkok had 276 days at or above 90 degrees; that's way too hot for me and doesn't even add in the Houston-like humidity

Bangkok in 1960 had 193 days at or above 90 degrees yet in 2018, Bangkok had 276 days at or above 90 degrees; that's way too hot for me and doesn't even add in the Houston-like humidity

The Democracy Monument was built in 1939 to celebrate the 1932 coup that ended the 150 year absolute monarchy; it was a challenge to consume enough liquids to make up for the sweat constantly dripping off me

The Democracy Monument was built in 1939 to celebrate the 1932 coup that ended the 150 year absolute monarchy; it was a challenge to consume enough liquids to make up for the sweat constantly dripping off me

The Rama VIII Bridge has a main span of 980 ft, and was one of the world's largest asymmetrical cable-stayed bridges at the time of its completion in 2002; traffic congestion is severe trying to cross the Chao Phraya River

The Rama VIII Bridge has a main span of 980 ft, and was one of the world's largest asymmetrical cable-stayed bridges at the time of its completion in 2002; traffic congestion is severe trying to cross the Chao Phraya River

This city of more than 10 million people has little mass transit so most people get around by walking or motorcycle; the city does not smell good with way too much trash, both in town and in the waters

This city of more than 10 million people has little mass transit so most people get around by walking or motorcycle; the city does not smell good with way too much trash, both in town and in the waters

This stock photo was the best I could find to show the enormity of the Grand Palace complex; it is Bangkok's most popular tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists

This stock photo was the best I could find to show the enormity of the Grand Palace complex; it is Bangkok's most popular tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists

The Royal Pantheon was built in 1855 to house the Emerald Buddha by Rama IV; Rama V decided it was wasn't big enough for a royal congregation and built the current Temple of the Emerald Buddha

The Royal Pantheon was built in 1855 to house the Emerald Buddha by Rama IV; Rama V decided it was wasn't big enough for a royal congregation and built the current Temple of the Emerald Buddha

The world's largest reclining Buddha is the highlight of Wat Pho; this temple also has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand (no easy feat!)

The world's largest reclining Buddha is the highlight of Wat Pho; this temple also has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand (no easy feat!)

Monitor lizards are a common sight in Bangkok; they can grow to 10 feet and have become a significant problem in parts of the city

Monitor lizards are a common sight in Bangkok; they can grow to 10 feet and have become a significant problem in parts of the city

The temple grounds at Wat Pho contain 91 small chedis (stupas or mounds), four great chedis, two belfries, a bot (central shrine), a number of viharas (halls) and other buildings such as pavilions, as well as gardens and a small temple museum

The temple grounds at Wat Pho contain 91 small chedis (stupas or mounds), four great chedis, two belfries, a bot (central shrine), a number of viharas (halls) and other buildings such as pavilions, as well as gardens and a small temple museum

Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand; the 234 acre complex has more than 100 buildings with 200 years of royal history

Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand; the 234 acre complex has more than 100 buildings with 200 years of royal history

The view from our hotel room  shows Central Station at the left where our train left from; at night, the city is beautiful and the station lit with rotating neon colors

The view from our hotel room shows Central Station at the left where our train left from; at night, the city is beautiful and the station lit with rotating neon colors

The feet of the 46 meter long reclining Buddha at Wat Pho are amazingly ornate featuring inlaid mother-of-pearl; Wat Pho is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple

The feet of the 46 meter long reclining Buddha at Wat Pho are amazingly ornate featuring inlaid mother-of-pearl; Wat Pho is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple

Wat Pho was intended to serve as a place of education for the general public; the murals on the walls of the buildings tell important Buddhist stories

Wat Pho was intended to serve as a place of education for the general public; the murals on the walls of the buildings tell important Buddhist stories

Jonathan and I were joined by 2 Canadian couples, a woman from London, a man from Cologne, a woman from the Sierra foothills in California and our tour guide from Cambodia

Jonathan and I were joined by 2 Canadian couples, a woman from London, a man from Cologne, a woman from the Sierra foothills in California and our tour guide from Cambodia

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is generally believed to have been crafted in 14th-century Thailand; men must wear long pants and sleeved shirts while women must wear long skirts and have their shoulders covered

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is generally believed to have been crafted in 14th-century Thailand; men must wear long pants and sleeved shirts while women must wear long skirts and have their shoulders covered

While the Thai king no longer lives in the Grand Palace, a large part of the complex is reserved for royal residences and ceremonies and is off-limits to tourists

While the Thai king no longer lives in the Grand Palace, a large part of the complex is reserved for royal residences and ceremonies and is off-limits to tourists

The Temple of Emerald Buddha was completed in 1784, but like most other Thai temples, looks as if it could have been built yesterday

The Temple of Emerald Buddha was completed in 1784, but like most other Thai temples, looks as if it could have been built yesterday

Lumphini Park is the largest park in the city and was named for the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal; one of the most disturbing elements of the city is the huge number of stray dogs (estimated at 300,000 )

Lumphini Park is the largest park in the city and was named for the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal; one of the most disturbing elements of the city is the huge number of stray dogs (estimated at 300,000+)

Despite hundreds of buildings in the Grand Palace complex there are only 2 that tourists can enter; with hordes of tourists everywhere, it feels like a zoo or Disneyworld and kind of ruins the experience

Despite hundreds of buildings in the Grand Palace complex there are only 2 that tourists can enter; with hordes of tourists everywhere, it feels like a zoo or Disneyworld and kind of ruins the experience

Posted by RNRiggins 04:43 Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 142) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »