A Travellerspoint blog

Pokhara-most inviting Nepalese city was breath of fresh air

At Chitwan National Park we went on a safari seeing 10  rhinos, wild boars, monkeys and crocodiles; our guide pointed out lots of cool birds but they were too fast to photograph

At Chitwan National Park we went on a safari seeing 10+ rhinos, wild boars, monkeys and crocodiles; our guide pointed out lots of cool birds but they were too fast to photograph

The World Peace Pagoda, at 1100 meters, looks out over all of Pokhara; it was built in 1973 and is one of 80 peace pagodas in the world

The World Peace Pagoda, at 1100 meters, looks out over all of Pokhara; it was built in 1973 and is one of 80 peace pagodas in the world

I was amazed to see Annapurna at sunset after a rainstorm; Annapurna is the most dangerous mountain in the world for climbers

I was amazed to see Annapurna at sunset after a rainstorm; Annapurna is the most dangerous mountain in the world for climbers

A cool view of Davis Falls looking out from Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave; throughout the country, all sights have higher prices for foreigners and much lower prices for Nepalese

A cool view of Davis Falls looking out from Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave; throughout the country, all sights have higher prices for foreigners and much lower prices for Nepalese

We were being taught how to make mo-mos by women rescued from human traffickers; I tasted one and it was entirely too spicy for me

We were being taught how to make mo-mos by women rescued from human traffickers; I tasted one and it was entirely too spicy for me

All along our drives in Nepal were these long, pedestrian suspension bridges; we were excited just to get a chance to stretch our legs after endless days of riding the rough roads of Nepal

All along our drives in Nepal were these long, pedestrian suspension bridges; we were excited just to get a chance to stretch our legs after endless days of riding the rough roads of Nepal

For our homestay near Chitwan National Park, the local ladies put on an elaborate dance that also showed off their strength; later, they grabbed us and we all danced together

For our homestay near Chitwan National Park, the local ladies put on an elaborate dance that also showed off their strength; later, they grabbed us and we all danced together

Our farewell dinner coincided with the Nepalese New Year; our small group got along quite well except for Vesna (front right) who tended to insult people and just say the wrong things

Our farewell dinner coincided with the Nepalese New Year; our small group got along quite well except for Vesna (front right) who tended to insult people and just say the wrong things

I was duped into buying this Coke imitator!; it was even priced the same as the real stuff but, since we can't use the water, I used it to brush my teeth

I was duped into buying this Coke imitator!; it was even priced the same as the real stuff but, since we can't use the water, I used it to brush my teeth

Inside this building is the spot where Buddha was supposedly born; it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several temples and peace pagodas

Inside this building is the spot where Buddha was supposedly born; it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several temples and peace pagodas

Pokhara was the most enjoyable town we visited in Nepal; the town, which rhymes with okra, was clean and had lots of trekkers going to Annapurna

Pokhara was the most enjoyable town we visited in Nepal; the town, which rhymes with okra, was clean and had lots of trekkers going to Annapurna

The Nepalese countryside is full of terraced rice paddies; the hard-working locals tend to plant and harvest crops by hand on their small parcels of arable land

The Nepalese countryside is full of terraced rice paddies; the hard-working locals tend to plant and harvest crops by hand on their small parcels of arable land

I walked around Fewa Lake to see Davis Falls; supposedly a Swiss woman was taking a bath in the river when she got swept away so the falls were named after her

I walked around Fewa Lake to see Davis Falls; supposedly a Swiss woman was taking a bath in the river when she got swept away so the falls were named after her

The view of Pokhara and Fewa Lake from the World Peace Pagoda; Pokhara is the second most populated city in Nepal with 600,000 people and lies 200 kms west of Kathmandu

The view of Pokhara and Fewa Lake from the World Peace Pagoda; Pokhara is the second most populated city in Nepal with 600,000 people and lies 200 kms west of Kathmandu

Our group with ladies rescued from human traffickers who served us a nice lunch; the ladies are supported by a grant from G Adventures

Our group with ladies rescued from human traffickers who served us a nice lunch; the ladies are supported by a grant from G Adventures

Nepal is a landlocked country wedged between India and China; it's roughly the size of Iowa (slightly larger than NY or NC) but challenging to navigate with only narrow, 2 lane roads

Nepal is a landlocked country wedged between India and China; it's roughly the size of Iowa (slightly larger than NY or NC) but challenging to navigate with only narrow, 2 lane roads

Posted by RNRiggins 01:45 Comments (0)

Vang Vieng - homestay and visit to elephant sanctuary

I rode one of the elephants in the river but it was very unnerving since I always felt like I was going to fall off; the handlers had us ride their necks which didn't seem the most stable position

I rode one of the elephants in the river but it was very unnerving since I always felt like I was going to fall off; the handlers had us ride their necks which didn't seem the most stable position

Four of us spent an enjoyable afternoon at an elephant sanctuary; Laos has banned the use of elephants as beasts of burden so owners no longer wanted them hence the need for sanctuaries

Four of us spent an enjoyable afternoon at an elephant sanctuary; Laos has banned the use of elephants as beasts of burden so owners no longer wanted them hence the need for sanctuaries

We took a cool tubing trip along this lengthy underground river that was within the cave behind me; you pulled yourself along using a rope system

We took a cool tubing trip along this lengthy underground river that was within the cave behind me; you pulled yourself along using a rope system

Jonathan in front of a typical rural Laos house where the bottom floor traditionally has housed livestock, chickens and other animals; the second level has all the living space with multi-generational families sharing being the norm

Jonathan in front of a typical rural Laos house where the bottom floor traditionally has housed livestock, chickens and other animals; the second level has all the living space with multi-generational families sharing being the norm

Fortunately this was the only homestay on our month long tour; the locals we stayed with are quite prosperous by Laotian standards

Fortunately this was the only homestay on our month long tour; the locals we stayed with are quite prosperous by Laotian standards

Laos has about 7 million people which is roughly the same as Arizona or Massachusetts; the birth rate in Laos is almost twice that of the US so there are lots of babies here

Laos has about 7 million people which is roughly the same as Arizona or Massachusetts; the birth rate in Laos is almost twice that of the US so there are lots of babies here

In recent years, Vang Vieng has become a stop on the Southeast Asia backpacker circuit and the main street has many guest houses, bars, massage studios, restaurants and tour agencies

In recent years, Vang Vieng has become a stop on the Southeast Asia backpacker circuit and the main street has many guest houses, bars, massage studios, restaurants and tour agencies

This is the dry season so the rice fields are fallow; cows and water buffalo graze the rice paddies this time of year

This is the dry season so the rice fields are fallow; cows and water buffalo graze the rice paddies this time of year

Laos is a very poor country where people die 16 years earlier than US citizens and where people make 94% lss than Americans; in many of the rural areas people don't even have running water

Laos is a very poor country where people die 16 years earlier than US citizens and where people make 94% less than Americans; in many of the rural areas people don't even have running water

Amnesty Intl and other NGOs have reported egregious human rights violations, religious persecution and the arrest and imprisonment of political and religious dissidents in Laos by government military and security forces

Amnesty Intl and other NGOs have reported egregious human rights violations, religious persecution and the arrest and imprisonment of political and religious dissidents in Laos by government military and security forces

Elephants don't have the best eyesight so the yellow wrist strap for my camera looked very similar to a banana and was thus a target for the trunks of the friendly elephants

Elephants don't have the best eyesight so the yellow wrist strap for my camera looked very similar to a banana and was thus a target for the trunks of the friendly elephants

The view of the karst landscape from our hotel balcony; significant expansion of Vang Vieng and its infrastructure occurred during the 1964-73 Vietnam War when the US constructed an air force base here

The view of the karst landscape from our hotel balcony; significant expansion of Vang Vieng and its infrastructure occurred during the 1964-73 Vietnam War when the US constructed an air force base here

Kayaking was the other good activity option in Vang Vieng but, with only 24 hours here, we had to choose only one and the elephants won out; tubing the river is also popular but in dry season you hit bottom often

Kayaking was the other good activity option in Vang Vieng but, with only 24 hours here, we had to choose only one and the elephants won out; tubing the river is also popular but in dry season you hit bottom often

For our homestay they made us wear traditional Laotian costumes which made us look even more like tourists than we already did

For our homestay they made us wear traditional Laotian costumes which made us look even more like tourists than we already did

When we stayed with a local family in a rural village we got a tour of the neighborhood; this house has an outdoor comfort room while many of its neighbors had more civilized outhouses

When we stayed with a local family in a rural village we got a tour of the neighborhood; this house has an outdoor comfort room while many of its neighbors had more civilized outhouses

As part of our visit we fed the elephants bananas; we were told they eat hundreds of pounds of food every day which is one reason their former owners wanted to get rid of them

As part of our visit we fed the elephants bananas; we were told they eat hundreds of pounds of food every day which is one reason their former owners wanted to get rid of them

Throughout Laos we have dealt with extremely smoky skies as locals burn land so that they can farm it; I don't think the burners even own the land since people seem to farm any area they can

Throughout Laos we have dealt with extremely smoky skies as locals burn land so that they can farm it; I don't think the burners even own the land since people seem to farm any area they can

Our village homestay was for the pigs; I would have preferred the extra night in Vang Vieng so we could have enjoyed kayaking and/or visiting one of the nearby blue lagoons (although there are lots of Chinese tourists crowding sights)

Our village homestay was for the pigs; I would have preferred the extra night in Vang Vieng so we could have enjoyed kayaking and/or visiting one of the nearby blue lagoons (although there are lots of Chinese tourists crowding sights)

The agricultural sector accounts for 70% o national employment and most of this is comprised of small plots of land where people are growing barely enough to survive

The agricultural sector accounts for 70% of national employment and most of this is comprised of small plots of land where people are growing barely enough to survive

In the third quarter of 2012, the Lao government carried out a crackdown in Vang Vieng, pulling down all the riverside bars which had created a rowdy party atmosphere; there were dozens of tourist deaths each year from drunken activities on the river

In the third quarter of 2012, the Lao government carried out a crackdown in Vang Vieng, pulling down all the riverside bars which had created a rowdy party atmosphere; there were dozens of tourist deaths each year from drunken activities on the river

Laos is about the same size as Minnesota; the roads are horrendous with tons of potholes and dirt/gravel stretches along the winding, mountainous center of the country

Laos is about the same size as Minnesota; the roads are horrendous with tons of potholes and dirt/gravel stretches along the winding, mountainous center of the country

It apparently wasn't at all unusual to pass cows on the road in the village where we had our homestay; we were divided up with local houses each taking two of us (Jonathan and I lucked out to have a house with a real toilet)

It apparently wasn't at all unusual to pass cows on the road in the village where we had our homestay; we were divided up with local houses each taking two of us (Jonathan and I lucked out to have a house with a real toilet)

Vang Vieng is a traditional stop on the road from Luang Prabang (8 hours north) to Vientiane (4 hours south); Laos is the only land-locked country in SE Asia and is a one party socialist republic

Vang Vieng is a traditional stop on the road from Luang Prabang (8 hours north) to Vientiane (4 hours south); Laos is the only land-locked country in SE Asia and is a one party socialist republic

Looking out from the hidden river where we went tubing; there were portions of the cave where we were down on all fours to explore passages

Looking out from the hidden river where we went tubing; there were portions of the cave where we were down on all fours to explore passages

Rice dominates agriculture, with about 80 percent of the arable land area used for growing rice; however, only 4% o the country is arable land, and a mere 0.34% ued as permanent crop land

Rice dominates agriculture, with about 80 percent of the arable land area used for growing rice; however, only 4% of the country is arable land, and a mere 0.34% used as permanent crop land

Posted by RNRiggins 03:33 Comments (0)

El Nido Tour A Focuses on Sights Above Water

On the beach at low tide before heading out on Island Hopping Tour A; the destinations on Tour A were much closer to El Nido than those on Tour C

On the beach at low tide before heading out on Island Hopping Tour A; the destinations on Tour A were much closer to El Nido than those on Tour C

Pair kayaking through the entrance to the Small Lagoon; I swam but given shallow waters over coral fields I was glad that excursions were encouraging people to enter via kayak

Pair kayaking through the entrance to the Small Lagoon; I swam but given shallow waters over coral fields I was glad that excursions were encouraging people to enter via kayak

The sea anemone protects the clownfish from predators, as well as providing food through the scraps left from the anemone's meals and occasional dead anemone tentacles, and functions as a safe nest site

The sea anemone protects the clownfish from predators, as well as providing food through the scraps left from the anemone's meals and occasional dead anemone tentacles, and functions as a safe nest site

Family of sea squirts; some scenes from the 2012 film The Bourne Legacy were filmed in El Nido

Family of sea squirts; some scenes from the 2012 film The Bourne Legacy were filmed in El Nido

There was virtually no trash in the water which was surprising given how many tourist boats visit the area each day

There was virtually no trash in the water which was surprising given how many tourist boats visit the area each day

Marigold Christmas tree worms; my camera has difficulty shooting small objects underwater so I was glad to see this photo in focus

Marigold Christmas tree worms; my camera has difficulty shooting small objects underwater so I was glad to see this photo in focus

Finally, a turtle sighting!; El Nido has been a turtle sanctuary since 1984 but sightings now are not very common

Finally, a turtle sighting!; El Nido has been a turtle sanctuary since 1984 but sightings now are not very common

Banded sea krait; while true sea snakes spend almost all of their time underwater, sea kraits return to land to digest their prey, rest and to reproduce

Banded sea krait; while true sea snakes spend almost all of their time underwater, sea kraits return to land to digest their prey, rest and to reproduce

Guidebooks and Wikipedia describe the area as having dugongs, manta rays and sometimes whale sharks; speaking to locals they say this is not true and none of these species have been seen in years

Guidebooks and Wikipedia describe the area as having dugongs, manta rays and sometimes whale sharks; speaking to locals they say this is not true and none of these species have been seen in years

Large Toadstool Leather Coral; when the polyps of this soft coral species are fully extended, toadstool leather corals have a fuzzy appearance

Large Toadstool Leather Coral; when the polyps of this soft coral species are fully extended, toadstool leather corals have a fuzzy appearance

Orange sea sponge (I think); historic gender roles hold true here with only young men working on excursion boats or in construction jobs

Orange sea sponge (I think); historic gender roles hold true here with only young men working on excursion boats or in construction jobs

Encrusting Montipora coral; El Nido, like much of the Philippines, has a terrible problem of stray dogs (they need Bob Barker here)

Encrusting Montipora coral; El Nido, like much of the Philippines, has a terrible problem of stray dogs (they need Bob Barker here)

The weather in El Nido in February is ideal; it's dry with sunny skies, mild temperatures and a steady tropical breeze

The weather in El Nido in February is ideal; it's dry with sunny skies, mild temperatures and a steady tropical breeze

In order to reach Secret Lagoon you had to crawl through this hole; there was a long line of tourists as a result

In order to reach Secret Lagoon you had to crawl through this hole; there was a long line of tourists as a result

I just love the bright colors of the clams; in El Nido hundreds of bangkas clog the harbor each morning with the tourists walking out to their respective boats

I just love the bright colors of the clams; in El Nido hundreds of bangkas clog the harbor each morning with the tourists walking out to their respective boats

These two women were on my excursion and I immediately pegged them as Russian; they had huge false eyelashes, were rude to others on the trip and were drinking beer when we began at 8:30 am

These two women were on my excursion and I immediately pegged them as Russian; they had huge false eyelashes, were rude to others on the trip and were drinking beer when we began at 8:30 am

I was surprised there weren't private boats anchoring at the many pristine, empty beaches; I thought any of them might have better snorkeling than the few places the tourists were taken

I was surprised there weren't private boats anchoring at the many pristine, empty beaches; I thought any of them might have better snorkeling than the few places the tourists were taken

Shoal of squid; El Nido is ranked 4 on Conde Nast Travelers' list of 20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World but I wouldn't put it on that list

Shoal of squid; El Nido is ranked 4 on Conde Nast Travelers' list of 20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World but I wouldn't put it on that list

Brain coral; the lifespan of the largest brain corals is 900 years and colonies can grow as large as 1.8 m (6 ft) or more in height

Brain coral; the lifespan of the largest brain corals is 900 years and colonies can grow as large as 1.8 m (6 ft) or more in height

This is the entrance to Big Lagoon; tour A used to visit both Big and Small Lagoons but crowds were overwhelming so now some boats do one and some boats do the other to cut the crowds in half

This is the entrance to Big Lagoon; tour A used to visit both Big and Small Lagoons but crowds were overwhelming so now some boats do one and some boats do the other to cut the crowds in half

Narrow-line pufferfish; I was surprised at the number of Europeans visiting El Nido since I had expected the majority of visitors to be from Asia

Narrow-line pufferfish; I was surprised at the number of Europeans visiting El Nido since I had expected the majority of visitors to be from Asia

The islands offshore from El Nido are full of nooks and crannies due to their geology; this view is inside the Small Lagoon

The islands offshore from El Nido are full of nooks and crannies due to their geology; this view is inside the Small Lagoon

I need lots of help with identification here!; I'm assuming they are animals, so could they be worms?

I need lots of help with identification here!; I'm assuming they are animals, so could they be worms?

Heart-shaped table coral; El Nido businesses seldom accept credit cards (and charge a hefty surcharge when they do) and there are just 2 ATMs in town which are frequently out of cash

Heart-shaped table coral; El Nido businesses seldom accept credit cards (and charge a hefty surcharge when they do) and there are just 2 ATMs in town which are frequently out of cash

Titan triggerfish; strangely, many of the nicer hotels are not built on the beach but along the main highway

Titan triggerfish; strangely, many of the nicer hotels are not built on the beach but along the main highway

Green bird wrasse; Palawan has been voted as the world’s best island two years in a row by Conde Nast Traveler

Green bird wrasse; Palawan has been voted as the world’s best island two years in a row by Conde Nast Traveler

Table Coral; locals said that the situation of electricity in El Nido is so much better now compared to previous years when electricity was only available from 6pm to 4am

Table Coral; locals said that the situation of electricity in El Nido is so much better now compared to previous years when electricity was only available from 6pm to 4am

Eastern triangular butterflyfish; given the vibrant seascape I expected to see more fish than I did

Eastern triangular butterflyfish; given the vibrant seascape I expected to see more fish than I did

I'm not sure what species this is but these small fish were very active so I suspect they may be juveniles; Google images is a big help but with primitive internet here it is very time-consuming

I'm not sure what species this is but these small fish were very active so I suspect they may be juveniles; Google images is a big help but with primitive internet here it is very time-consuming

7 Commandos Beach is located on the mainland of Palawan but is only accessible by boat/kayak; it is a popular stop on the island hopping tours

7 Commandos Beach is located on the mainland of Palawan but is only accessible by boat/kayak; it is a popular stop on the island hopping tours

I struggled through this book due to the British dialogue which I found confusing and hard to follow; I'll try another of his books later in the trip

I struggled through this book due to the British dialogue which I found confusing and hard to follow; I'll try another of his books later in the trip

The topography underwater mirrors that of above water so there is just a narrow reef to explore before underwater cliffs drop away

The topography underwater mirrors that of above water so there is just a narrow reef to explore before underwater cliffs drop away

Interesting to see several different species of these evil critters in the same waters; you don't want to visit during rainy season (May to November)

Interesting to see several different species of these evil critters in the same waters; you don't want to visit during rainy season (May to November)

The islands off El Nido resemble those of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam; both are part of the tectonically active Sunda Plate

The islands off El Nido resemble those of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam; both are part of the tectonically active Sunda Plate

Posted by RNRiggins 03:26 Comments (0)

The Pink City of Jaipur starring the Amber Fort

Our tour group at Ganesh Pol in the Amber Fort; it was a very interesting mix of people, each with unique experiences to share

Our tour group at Ganesh Pol in the Amber Fort; it was a very interesting mix of people, each with unique experiences to share

You have to be crazy to drive here with the different modes of transport and cows, goats, dogs, pigs, monkeys and camels in the road;

You have to be crazy to drive here with the different modes of transport and cows, goats, dogs, pigs, monkeys and camels in the road;

Jaigarh Fort, located on the hill above the Amber Fort,is connected to the palace by a tunnel; constructed of red sandstone and marble, the attractive, opulent palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard

Jaigarh Fort, located on the hill above the Amber Fort,is connected to the palace by a tunnel; constructed of red sandstone and marble, the attractive, opulent palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard

Wind Palace was built in 1799 to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to obey the strict rules of purdah, which forbade them from appearing in public without face coverings

Wind Palace was built in 1799 to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to obey the strict rules of purdah, which forbade them from appearing in public without face coverings

The Mirror Palace is the most beautiful part of the Amber Fort; our tour group has a young couple from Britain, girl from Germany, woman from Canada, girl from Australia, girl from N. Ireland and woman from Sarajevo now in Denmark

The Mirror Palace is the most beautiful part of the Amber Fort; our tour group has a young couple from Britain, girl from Germany, woman from Canada, girl from Australia, girl from N. Ireland and woman from Sarajevo now in Denmark

The Chandpole Gate is one of several leading into the Pink City; the gate is used by all as you can see by the tuk-tuk, bicycle powered wagon and even the goats

The Chandpole Gate is one of several leading into the Pink City; the gate is used by all as you can see by the tuk-tuk, bicycle powered wagon and even the goats

The Amber Fort is laid out on 4 levels, each with a courtyard; this sunken garden is in the third courtyard where it is surrounded by the maharajas apartments

The Amber Fort is laid out on 4 levels, each with a courtyard; this sunken garden is in the third courtyard where it is surrounded by the maharajas apartments

The elephant path up to the Amber Fort resembled the Katy Freeway at rush hour; our local guides consistently give us an incredible amount of Hindu information that is too much to absorb (assuming you can even understand him)

The elephant path up to the Amber Fort resembled the Katy Freeway at rush hour; our local guides consistently give us an incredible amount of Hindu information that is too much to absorb (assuming you can even understand him)

Sheesh Mahal at the Amber Fort where the mirror mosaics and colored glasses were called a glittering jewel box in flickering candlelight when it was built in 1727; I loved the detail and workmanship

Sheesh Mahal at the Amber Fort where the mirror mosaics and colored glasses were called a glittering jewel box in flickering candlelight when it was built in 1727; I loved the detail and workmanship

The Amber Fort, built in 1604i, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular tourist attraction here; Jaipur is brutally hot with a record high of 119 degrees

The Amber Fort, built in 1604i, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular tourist attraction here; Jaipur is brutally hot with a record high of 119 degrees

We're definitely not in Kansas anymore!; Jaipur is a relatively new city, founded in 1727, and was divided into nine blocks, two of which contained the state buildings and palaces, with the remaining seven allotted to the public

We're definitely not in Kansas anymore!; Jaipur is a relatively new city, founded in 1727, and was divided into nine blocks, two of which contained the state buildings and palaces, with the remaining seven allotted to the public

The Public Audience Hall at the Amber Fort is a raised platform with 27 colonnades, each of which is mounted with an elephant-shaped capital, with galleries above it;; unlike the rest of Jaipur, the fort was clean

The Public Audience Hall at the Amber Fort is a raised platform with 27 colonnades, each of which is mounted with an elephant-shaped capital, with galleries above it;; unlike the rest of Jaipur, the fort was clean

Jaipur is a center of gem cutting and jewelry manufacturing so we visited to see how pieces were made; I bought this necklace (rubies, emeralds, yellow and blue sapphires) for my mom

Jaipur is a center of gem cutting and jewelry manufacturing so we visited to see how pieces were made; I bought this necklace (rubies, emeralds, yellow and blue sapphires) for my mom

One of a pair of silver urns that are the largest silver objects in the world; they were made from 14000 silver coins in 1896 and each weighs 761 lbs

One of a pair of silver urns that are the largest silver objects in the world; they were made from 14000 silver coins in 1896 and each weighs 761 lbs

The Amber Fort fourth courtyard is where royal family women, including concubines or mistresses, lived; the queens were visited by the king at his choice without being found out as to which queen he was visiting

The Amber Fort fourth courtyard is where royal family women, including concubines or mistresses, lived; the queens were visited by the king at his choice without being found out as to which queen he was visiting

Jal Mahal is a five storied palace, of which four floors remain underwater when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed; millions of dollars have been spent to clean up the lake hoping to convert the palace to a hotel

Jal Mahal is a five storied palace, of which four floors remain underwater when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed; millions of dollars have been spent to clean up the lake hoping to convert the palace to a hotel

It was an easy walk from the entrance but many tourists take elephants; a PETA team found elephants chained with spikes, blind, sick and injured elephants forced to work, and elephants with mutilated tusks and ears

It was an easy walk from the entrance but many tourists take elephants; a PETA team found elephants chained with spikes, blind, sick and injured elephants forced to work, and elephants with mutilated tusks and ears

The Amber Palace was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families; the current Amber Palace, was created in the late 16th century

The Amber Palace was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families; the current Amber Palace, was created in the late 16th century

Jaipur is a textile center and we saw men block printing at this facility; the clothes were affordable and looked very comfortable so our group made many purchases

Jaipur is a textile center and we saw men block printing at this facility; the clothes were affordable and looked very comfortable so our group made many purchases

This building houses the royal apartments of the city palace; the rooms are astonishing, but at a cost of $50  we decided they weren't worth seeing

This building houses the royal apartments of the city palace; the rooms are astonishing, but at a cost of $50+ we decided they weren't worth seeing

The palace of Man Singh I is the oldest part of the Amber Fort; Amber takes its name from Amba Mata, the Hindu goddess of earth and fertility for Meenas

The palace of Man Singh I is the oldest part of the Amber Fort; Amber takes its name from Amba Mata, the Hindu goddess of earth and fertility for Meenas

The Saffron Garden in Maota Lake whose plants are said to have been planted by a maharaja in the 15th century; there were pigs along the shores with the lake level low due to dry season

The Saffron Garden in Maota Lake whose plants are said to have been planted by a maharaja in the 15th century; there were pigs along the shores with the lake level low due to dry season

A metro system is being built but in the meantime the traffic is loud and chaotic; the streets are in terrible condition with lots of dirt roads and the ensuing dust

A metro system is being built but in the meantime the traffic is loud and chaotic; the streets are in terrible condition with lots of dirt roads and the ensuing dust

This victory monument, from 1749, is right in the center of this city of 4 million people; Jaipur is a popular tourist destination  and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra

This victory monument, from 1749, is right in the center of this city of 4 million people; Jaipur is a popular tourist destination and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra

This is the world's largest sundial which measures time in intervals of 2 seconds using shadow; the collection of astronomical devices was really amazing, especially considering how old they are

This is the world's largest sundial which measures time in intervals of 2 seconds using shadow; the collection of astronomical devices was really amazing, especially considering how old they are

The Lion Gate at the Amber Fort, aka Amer Fort, was one of the few places we have seen foreign tourists; our local guide explained the history of the fort but it was too much information

The Lion Gate at the Amber Fort, aka Amer Fort, was one of the few places we have seen foreign tourists; our local guide explained the history of the fort but it was too much information

Public restrooms in India are never as clean as this one from the Amber Fort; in the old days. trips to the loo used to be a community affair (this room didn't even have any ventilation!)

Public restrooms in India are never as clean as this one from the Amber Fort; in the old days. trips to the loo used to be a community affair (this room didn't even have any ventilation!)

The Mubarak Mahal at the City Palace was built for receiving foreign guests; you won't find anything resembling a supermarket or big box retailers in Jaipur, just mom and pop operations

The Mubarak Mahal at the City Palace was built for receiving foreign guests; you won't find anything resembling a supermarket or big box retailers in Jaipur, just mom and pop operations

Jantar Mahar is a collection of 19 architectural astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734; it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Jantar Mahar is a collection of 19 architectural astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734; it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amber Fort Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu god, is the entry into the private palaces of maharajas; above it is where ladies of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-i-Aam through latticed marble windows called jâlîs

Amber Fort Ganesh Gate, named after the Hindu god, is the entry into the private palaces of maharajas; above it is where ladies of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-i-Aam through latticed marble windows called jâlîs

Jaipur is known as the Pink City, due to the dominant color scheme of its buildings; these days the color is a little darker but all of the buildings in the heart of the city are painted identically

Jaipur is known as the Pink City, due to the dominant color scheme of its buildings; these days the color is a little darker but all of the buildings in the heart of the city are painted identically

Our tour guide took us on a walking tour through part of the city; he's a native and seems unfazed by the trash, sewage, poverty and continued use of the caste system

Our tour guide took us on a walking tour through part of the city; he's a native and seems unfazed by the trash, sewage, poverty and continued use of the caste system

We stayed in the former Bissau Palace which still belongs to the royal family that originally had it built; the royal families lost their power but retained their property when India gained independence

We stayed in the former Bissau Palace which still belongs to the royal family that originally had it built; the royal families lost their power but retained their property when India gained independence

This theater in Jaipur is famous for showing the latest Bollywood movies; there are few tourists so locals would stare at us (some may have never seen white people before)

This theater in Jaipur is famous for showing the latest Bollywood movies; there are few tourists so locals would stare at us (some may have never seen white people before)

Posted by RNRiggins 15:54 Comments (0)

Ho Chi Minh City - a snapshot of Vietnam's largest city

Independence Palace, aka Reunification Palace, was the workplace of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War; it was also the site of the end of the war during the fall of Saigon in April 1975

Independence Palace, aka Reunification Palace, was the workplace of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War; it was also the site of the end of the war during the fall of Saigon in April 1975

The Ben Thanh Market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Ho Chi Minh City and an important symbol of the city; the market is popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles and souvenirs

The Ben Thanh Market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Ho Chi Minh City and an important symbol of the city; the market is popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles and souvenirs

The post office was supposedly built by Gustave Eiffel between 1886 and 1891; painted on the walls of its grand concourse are fascinating historic maps of South Vietnam

The post office was supposedly built by Gustave Eiffel between 1886 and 1891; painted on the walls of its grand concourse are fascinating historic maps of South Vietnam

With more than 10 million people, Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam's largest city; everyone seems to have a motorcycle or scooter making it difficult for pedestrians to get around safely

With more than 10 million people, Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam's largest city; everyone seems to have a motorcycle or scooter making it difficult for pedestrians to get around safely

A statue of Ho Chi Minh with city hall in the background; the beautiful structure was built in 1902-1908 in a French colonial style for the then city of Saigon

A statue of Ho Chi Minh with city hall in the background; the beautiful structure was built in 1902-1908 in a French colonial style for the then city of Saigon

The opera house, built in 1897, is one of the city's most recognizable buildings; it captures the flamboyance of France's belle epoque with a grand colonial edifice and sweeping staircase

The opera house, built in 1897, is one of the city's most recognizable buildings; it captures the flamboyance of France's belle epoque with a grand colonial edifice and sweeping staircase

The Jade Emperor Pagoda was built by the Chinese in 1909; President Obama visited the pagoda when he came to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2016

The Jade Emperor Pagoda was built by the Chinese in 1909; President Obama visited the pagoda when he came to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2016

Built between 1877 and 1883, the brick, neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral has 40 meter high square towers tipped with iron spires; scaffolding covered both sides of the church although I saw no work underway

Built between 1877 and 1883, the brick, neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral has 40 meter high square towers tipped with iron spires; scaffolding covered both sides of the church although I saw no work underway

I just loved Book Street which is a pedestrianized, tree-lined street next to the post office; it's lined with bookstores but most sold books only in Vietnamese

I just loved Book Street which is a pedestrianized, tree-lined street next to the post office; it's lined with bookstores but most sold books only in Vietnamese

The state banqueting hall at Independence Palace; the last state dinner held here was on April 1, 1975

The state banqueting hall at Independence Palace; the last state dinner held here was on April 1, 1975

Our group stopped here for lunch; you could choose which food stall to order from and then we all sat together to enjoy our different dishes

Our group stopped here for lunch; you could choose which food stall to order from and then we all sat together to enjoy our different dishes

The post office had an impressive tiled floor and copious green-painted wrought iron; it still serves as the main post office of the city

The post office had an impressive tiled floor and copious green-painted wrought iron; it still serves as the main post office of the city

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most atmospheric temples in the city; the exquisite woodcarvings and the pungent smell of incense made the pagoda feel very authentic

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the most atmospheric temples in the city; the exquisite woodcarvings and the pungent smell of incense made the pagoda feel very authentic

Posted by RNRiggins 15:44 Comments (0)

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