Goodbye Lao, we are going to miss you…..!

Goodbye Lao, we are going to miss you…..!

Today we had an early morning flight to Bangkok, Thailand. The flight departed at 07:30 via Lao airlines. Usual airport quite especially at that time in the morning!

Whilst we were at the hotel at 5am you can hear the drums. This is alms giving, in Buddhism, alms or almsgiving is the respect given by a lay Buddhist to a Buddhist monk, nun, spiritually-developed person or other sentient being. It is not charity as presumed by Western interpreters. It is closer to a symbolic connection to the spiritual realm and to show humbleness and respect in the presence of the secular society. The act of alms giving assists in connecting the human to the monk or nun and what he/she represents.
As the Buddha has stated:
Householders & the homeless or charity [monastics]
in mutual dependence
both reach the true Dhamma….
—Itivuttaka 4.7

Dec 31, 2012 5:07 AM
Dec 31, 2012 5:37 AM

At the airport in Vientiane
Dec 31, 2012 6:20 AM

Goodbye Vientiane, we are going to miss you!
Dec 31, 2012 7:03 AM

Dec 31, 2012 7:23 AM

Welcome to Bangkok
Dec 31, 2012 8:39 AM

As British passport holders we do not require an entry visa, on arrival by air we are allowed to stay in Thailand for up to 30 days.

Suvarnabhumi Airport is around 30 km from the city, we decided on taking the cheap option to get to the city centre which is by the city train. The Airport Link’s City Line runs every 15 minutes and the Express Line every 30 minutes. Both lines operate from 6am to midnight. The trains have a maximum speed of 160 kilometres per hour. The City Line will make eight stops across the capital, starting at Phaya Thai, before heading to the airport. The trains take 30 minutes from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi. Passengers using the City Line pay between 15 baht to 45 baht, depending on the distance travelled.

Waiting for the Airport Link
Dec 31, 2012 9:17 AM
Dec 31, 2012 9:43 AM

We got off at Makkasan, unfortunately this was the wrong stop, therefore we took the MRT to Lumphini. Luckily the Airport Link and the MRT are air conditioned. The Metropolitan Rapid Transit or MRT is a rapid transit system serving the Bangkok Metropolitan Region in Thailand. The first section of the Blue Line between Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue opened in 2004 as Bangkok’s second public transit system. The MRT is operated by the Bangkok Metro Public Company Limited (BMPCL) under a concession granted by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA). Along with the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS, also called the Skytrain), and the Airport Rail Link (ARL), the MRT is part of Bangkok’s rail transportation infrastructure.
The MRT serves more than 240,000 passengers each day. It has 18 operational stations along 27 kilometres (16 mi) of underground track. The Blue Line, officially the Chaloem Ratchamongkhon Line, is the only line currently in operation. As of 2011, two extensions of the Blue Line are under construction. When completed, the Blue Line will become a loop line around the centre of Bangkok, with an extension to Bang Khae on its western side. The MRT Purple Line is also under construction. It will connect Bang Sue with Nonthaburi in the north-west, and will be the first public transit line outside the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
The MRT line is officially known in Thai as rotfaifa mahanakhon or “metropolitan electric train”, but it is more commonly called rotfai taidin, literally, “underground train”. The metro has a fleet of 19 trains; the 19th train entered service in October 2007 after a major accident. The hotel offered airport pickup for 1400baht we managed to get to the city centre for 63baht!

On the MRT
Dec 31, 2012 10:26 AM

This took us to the bottom of Wireless Road….a VERY long road, as we later found out! Now fully loaded with our backpacks and in 31 degrees C we walked from the bottom end of Wireless Road to the top of Wireless Road a distance of around 2.5KM but with the very heavy backpacks it felt a lot further!

Start of the long walk up Wireless Road
Dec 31, 2012 10:50 AM

A very hot and tiring walk
Dec 31, 2012 10:38 AM

As we were both shattered I stopped a tuk tuk driver and asked him the price to the hotel, he said 50 baht I tried to bargain with him and said 30baht, he just drove off!!!!

Wall outside the US embassy
Dec 31, 2012 11:07 AM

Finally arrived at the hotel
Dec 31, 2012 11:37 AM

Swissotel Nai Lert Park, Bangkok
2 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330
Thailand.
T: +66 2 253 0123
F: +66 2 253 6509
E: Bangkok-nailertpark@swissotel.com

Dec 31, 2012 11:40 AM

As we checked in early the hotel did not have a room available, therefore we popped out for lunch.

Walking the streets of Bangkok
Dec 31, 2012 1:14 PM
Dec 31, 2012 1:04 PM

A safety hazard?!
Dec 31, 2012 1:15 PM

Dec 31, 2012 1:22 PM

Dec 31, 2012 1:23 PM

From the web we found a vegetarian restaurant called Navrattan. On entering the restaurant your feet stick to the floor! Sangeet opened the menu to find a insect walking out of it….I think it was also trying to escape the restaurant!

We then went to Bombay Palace which advertises that it is vegetarian, turns out they also do meat and fish!

We ended up finding an Indian vegetarian restaurant where we ordered Dosa. We were both very hungry and it tasted very nice……the second one we ordered was not as nice…..funny, how when you are hungry, the food always tastes very nice………you could say that when you go to some bodies house…..I must have been hungry because that tasted nice!!!!

Dec 31, 2012 3:01 PM
Dec 31, 2012 2:47 PM

We got back to the hotel around 3pm the room was still not ready so I complained. At the hotel we had booked the basic room, we got upgrade to the business room, which gives you access to the lounge and free breakfast. Also we got two free drinks from the bar and one free use of the hotel car.

In the evening we got ready to go to the Gurdwara

Thai Sikh Organization (Thailand)
Siri Guru Singh Sabha Bangkok
565 Chakraphet Road,
Pra Nakorn 565
Bangkok 10200
Thailand
T: +66 (0) 2221 1011
F: +66 (0) 2224 8095
E: info@thaisikh.org
W: www.thaisikh.org

By the year 1911, many Sikh families had settled in Thailand. Bangkok was indeed the centre of migrant Sikhs. During that time there was no Gurdwara, so religious prayers were held in the homes of the Sikhs in rotation on every Sunday, Sangran and all the Gurpurab days.

The population of the Sikh community was on the rise, therefore in the year 1912, the Sikhs decided to establish a Gurdwara. A wooden house was rented in the vicinity of Baan Moh, a well known business area.
Thereafter, the place was decorated so that prayers could commence at this new Gurdwara. However, due to certain inconveniences, prayers and other religious duties were conducted only once a week.
In the year 1913 (or the year 2456 according to the Buddhist calendar), with the increasing rise of the Sikh community in Bangkok, a new larger wooden house was leased for a long term at the corner of Phaurat and Chakraphet road. After considerable renovation and decoration, the Guru Granth Sahib was installed and religious prayers were conducted on a daily basis.

Later in the year 1932 (the year 2475 according to the Buddhist calendar), the Sikhs community gathered some funds and purchased a piece of land for 16,200 baht and paid and additional 25,000 baht for the three and a half storey building plan. The new permanent Gurdwara was completed in the year 1933 was named “Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha”. It took about five and a half months to construct it. On completion this Gurdwara became the centre for the Sikh devotees and the Thai people who followed the Sikh faith.
A few years later, during the World War II, the Allied Air Forces targeted to knock out the metropolitan powerhouse and the memorial bridge (Saphan Phut), which are quite adjacent to the Gurdwara. The Allied forces dropped 2 bombs, each weighing about 1,000 pounds, which went off target and fell upon the roof top of the Gurdwara. The bombs, being really heavy penetrated the roof and fell right through the building till the ground floor. At that time several hundreds of Sikhs were taking shelter at the Gurdwara under the Holy grace of Guru Granth Sahib and to everyone’s surprise both the bombs (fallen on the ground) didn’t explode. Miraculously no one was injured.
However, due to the vibrations caused by one of the bombs that had exploded in the vicinity area behind the metropolitan powerhouse, made many cracks to the building and damaged part of the Gurdwara; thus making it impossible to continue the prayers at the Gurdwara. Prayers were stopped, while arrangements were being made to move the Gurdwara to a new location. A temporary wooden house was constructed and used as a Gurdwara. Shortly, the Gurdwara was repaired and prayers continued.
As time passed, in the year 1979, decision was made to renovate the Gurdwara and make it bigger to accommodate the increasing number of Sikhs. Together the committee of Siri Guru Singh Sabha and the other Thai-Sikhs asked for the blessing and permission from the Guru Granth Sahib to construct a new Gurdwara at the same location. The foundation stone was laid down by the Panj Piare, the Five Beloved Ones. The new Gurdwara was completed after two years in the year 1981.

The Gurdwara now technically had five floors plus a matinee floor. But however, people refer to the matinee floor as the third floor, thus making the Gurdwara having 6 floors. It was now a concrete building and was constructed on an area of total 1,440 square meters (360 “tarang wah”).

The ground floor is entrance hall which is width enough. There are three ways to enter the Gurdwara. The first way is a walk through a 3 meter wide lane, straight from the Chakraphet road. The second way is an entry from the door facing the Italian lane on Phaurat road. The third way is through the Jindamanee lane, allowing motorbikes to park at the entrance of the main gate of the Gurdwara. A fourth entrance could not be made because it was stuck to a department store, namely ATM. (Usually a Gurdwara will have entry doors on all four sides).
Towards the left side of the entrance hall, is a room, where religious books, tapes, CDs and cloth to cover the Guru Granth Sahib are sold. Any Sikh is permitted to either borrow or buy these items. Towards the right, is the clinic, namely “Sukshala Nanak Mission”. Needy patients are given free treatment irrespective of caster, creed or religion. This clinic was setup under the patronage of Siri Guru Singh Sabha and has been in service for more than 45 years. Right next to the clinic is the dining hall for the Granthi and Ragis of the Gurdwara and also for pilgrims who come from abroad and stay temporarily at the Gurdwara. Next to are the toilets for both men and women. As there is a strict rule in every Gurdwara, disallowing any person from wearing shoes to the upper floors, there is service provide on the ground floor for keeping your shoes. Left hand side for men and the right hand side for women. On the extreme left, there is the office of the Siri Guru Singh Sabha committee. A small meeting room is also present on the matinee floor above the office.

Facing the front but towards the end of the entrance hall, there are three elevators, leading to various floors of the Gurdwara. At the same time on either side of the elevators are the staircases, about 3 meters wide each and has to total of 84 steps from the ground floor to the main prayer hall where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed. Surprising the number of staircases here is exactly equal to the number of staircases in the Baoli Gurdwara, located at Goindwal. Gurdwara Baoli Sahib, which was constructed by Guru Amar Das Ji (the third Sikh Guru), is the first Sikh centre pilgrimage. Moreover, the number, 84, also indicates the total amount of re-incarnations (8.4 million births and deaths), which a human being has to go through. This is to remind us to only do good deeds and mediate in the name of Waheguru as well as provide service to the community and help the needy people. Life as a human being is considered the last step before realizing God.
On the second floor, is a big hall used as the Langar Hall (Guru-Ka-Langar) and many other kinds of different activities, such as arranging a dinner party during the wedding ceremony. This hall is also often used as a lecture hall by different people invited by the committee. During religious days and weekends, this hall is usually converted into a Langar Hall.

Next is the matinee floor. Although this floor is just half the size of other floors, it is now considered as the third floor. In the middle of this floor is a large room, which is often used for meetings or other religious activities.
The fourth floor, which is accessible either through the stairs or the elevators, is simply a big hall. This hall, excluding the side walkways, is about 15 meters in width and 37 meters in length.

There is pathway in the middle of this hall, leading to the Guru Granth Sahib. The floor is carpeted with a beautiful design and is used as a sitting place for all the Sikh devotees.
Ladies sit on the left hand side of the hall, while the men sit on the right hand side, facing the platform, on which the Guru Granth Sahib is installed. The reason for sitting separately is to maintain order and to maintain concentration in listening to the religious prayers.
In the middle of the hall is a raised platform, about one meter above the floor, with carved gold-plated pillars on all fours sides. Above the platform is gold-plated dome, in the shape of a lotus, with petals around it. The top most is covered with a piece of cloth having a gold lace at the edge around it, giving a royal symbol. Placed on the platform, is the Guru Granth Sahib.
Sitting at the platform is the Granthi or the Giani, who wihile reading from the Holy Granth also uses a Chaur or Chauri (Yak hair or manmade fiber embedded in a metal placed in a wooden handle) and waves it over the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as a symbol of respect.

Towards the right of this platform, is a slightly raised platform used for Kirtan singings and giving religious lectures.
Daily at 4:30 a.m., the Granthi brings out the Guru Granth Sahib and places it on the designated platform and begins reading the Hukam Nama for the day and then covers the still opened Guru Granth Sahib with a piece of cloth. At around 6:30 p.m. daily, after reciting the Rehras prayer, the Granthi performs the Sukh Asan ceremony (formally closing of the Guru Granth Sahib for the day) and retires the Guru Granth Sahib.

On the fifth floor is the Thai Sikh International School. This campus provides education for children up to Kindergarten 2, so that small kids need not travel far to the other campus, located at Bangna, which is for higher education. However, when a student passes from here, he/she can continue his/her education at the other campus.

This is where we saw in the new year.

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Kirtan at Bangkok Gurdwara

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Waheguru Simran

First Hukamnama of 2013

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First Hukamnama of 2013

Dec 31, 2012 10:05 PM
Dec 31, 2012 10:08 PM
Jan 1, 2013 12:51 AM

The darbar sahib was packed with the local sangat. Quite an amazing atmosphere.

Getting a tuk tuk or taxi home is not easy, the first tuk tuk I stopped wanted 400 baht! It seems with it being the new year, the taxis and tuk tuks can command their charges.

Waiting with fellow Sikhs for a taxi
Jan 1, 2013 1:04 AM

Negotiating the price with a tuk tuk
Jan 1, 2013 1:07 AM
He drove off!

Passing a flower stall at 1am
Jan 1, 2013 1:20 AM
Jan 1, 2013 1:22 AM

We finally managed to get a tuk tuk, on the picture you can see him on his mobile, probably calling his wife to pack the bags for a first class holiday. He charged us quite a lot!
Jan 1, 2013 2:02 AM

It was strange to see, taxi’s having no customers just ignoring us, even though they were going the same way as us.

This is a great place as well…..!

This is a great place as well…..!

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, situated on the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion. During French rule, Vientiane was the administrative capital and, due to economic growth in recent times, it has now become the economic centre of Laos.
The estimated population of the city is 754,000 (2009). The city hosted the 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009 celebrating the 50 years of SEA Games.

Our hotel
Dec 30, 2012 11:09 AM

A temple opposite our hotel
Dec 30, 2012 11:13 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:13 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:14 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:17 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:18 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:21 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:27 AM

Dec 30, 2012 11:36 AM

Presidential palace
Dec 30, 2012 11:54 AM

Wat Sisaket in Vientiane
Dec 30, 2012 12:06 PM
Dec 30, 2012 12:11 PM
Dec 30, 2012 12:11 PM

As the temple was closed for lunch we also decided to go for lunch
Dec 30, 2012 12:25 PM
Dec 30, 2012 12:29 PM

Vegetarian in the Golden Age
Dec 30, 2012 12:31 PM

Buffet for 25,000 kip
Dec 30, 2012 12:48 PM

We recommend getting there early as the food will taste fresh and will be hot

Afterwards we walked back to the temple
Dec 30, 2012 1:33 PM

I misread the entrance fee instead of 5,000 kip I read 50,000 kip. We took out way too much money!

Dec 30, 2012 1:26 PM

Walking through a mall
Dec 30, 2012 1:37 PM

Dec 30, 2012 1:40 PM

Dec 30, 2012 1:51 PM

Dec 30, 2012 1:51 PM

Back outside the temperature was a mild 26 degrees C
Dec 30, 2012 1:53 PM

Back to Wat Sisaket in VIentiane
Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist wat in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Lan Xang Road, on the corner with Setthathirat Road, to the northwest of Haw Phra Kaew, which formerly held the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Si Saket was built in 1818 on the orders of King Anouvong (Sethathirath V.) Si is derived from the Sanskrit title of veneration Sri, prefixed to the name of Wat Saket in Bangkok, which was renamed by Anouvong’s contemporary, King Rama I. Wat Si Saket was built in the Siamese style of Buddhist architecture, with a surrounding terrace and an ornate five-tiered roof, rather than in the Lao style. This may have kept it safe as the armies of Siam that sacked Vientiane in 1827 used the compound as their Headquarters and lodging place. It may now be the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. The French restored Wat Si Saket in 1924 and again in 1930.
Wat Si Saket features a cloister wall with more than 2000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. The temple also houses a museum.

Dec 30, 2012 1:58 PM
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Dec 30, 2012 2:09 PM
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Dec 30, 2012 2:11 PM

Next was Haw Phra Kaew which was built between 1565 and 1556, on the orders of King Setthathirath. The temple housed the Emerald Buddha figurine, which Setthathirath had brought from Chiang Mai, then the capital of Lanna, to Luang Prabang. When Vientiane was seized by Siam (now Thailand) in 1778, the figurine was taken to Thonburi and the temple was destroyed. After it was rebuilt by King Annouvong of Vientiane in the 19th century, it was again destroyed by Siamese forces when King Annouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to regain full independence. The revered Buddha now resides in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok. The temple was rebuilt for a third time by the French between 1936 and 1942, during colonization of French Indochina.

Dec 30, 2012 2:26 PM
Dec 30, 2012 2:28 PM
Dec 30, 2012 2:30 PM
Dec 30, 2012 2:36 PM
Dec 30, 2012 2:48 PM

Looking out to the gardens the temple is behind us
Dec 30, 2012 2:48 PM

We took a tuk tuk to Pha That Luang (‘Great Stupa’) is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane, Laos. Since its initial establishment suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions until the 1930s due to foreign invasions to the area. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.

Pha That Luang according to the Lao people was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 3rd century. Buddhist missionaries from the Mauryan Empire are believed to have been sent by the Emperor Ashoka, including Bury Chan or Praya Chanthabury Pasithisak and five Arahata monks who brought a holy relic (believed to be the breast bone) of Lord Buddha to the stupa. It was rebuilt in the 13th century as a Khmer temple which fell into ruin.
In the mid-16th century, King Setthathirat relocated his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and ordered construction of Pha That Luang in 1566. It was rebuilt about 4 km from the centre of Vientiane at the end of That Luang Road and named Pha That Luang. The bases had a length of 69 metres each and was 45 metres high, and was surrounded by 30 small Stupas.
In 1641, a Dutch envoy of the Dutch East India Company, Gerrit van Wuysoff, visited Vientiane and was received by King Sourigna Vongsa at the temple, where he was, reportedly, received in a magnificent ceremony. He wrote that he was particularly impressed by the “enormous pyramid and the top was covered with gold leaf weighing about a thousand pounds”. However, the stupa was repeatedly plundered by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese.
Pha That Luang was destroyed by the Thai invasion in 1828, which left it heavily damaged and left abandoned. It was not until 1900, when the French restored to its original design based on the detailed drawings from 1867 by the French architect and explorer Louis Delaporte. However the first attempt to restore it was unsuccessful and it had to be redesigned and then reconstructed in the 1930s. During Franco-Thai war Pha That Luang was heavily damaged from Thais air raid. After the End of World War II Pha That Luang has been newly reconstruction.

The architecture of the building includes many references to Lao culture and identity, and so has become a symbol of Lao nationalism. The stupa today consists of three levels, each conveying a reflection of part of the Buddhist doctrine. The first level is 223 feet (67 metres) by 226 feet (68 metres), the second is 157 feet (47 metres) along each side and the third level is 98 feet (29 metres) along each side. From ground to pinniacle, Pha That Luang is 147.6 feet (44 metres) high.

The area around Pha That Luang is now gated, to keep traffic out. Previously visitors could drive around the whole complex. The encircling walls are roughly 279 feet (85 metres) long on each side and contain a large number of Lao and Khmer sculptures including one of Jayavarman VII.

Dec 30, 2012 3:14 PM
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Patuxai (literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, formerly the Anousavary or Anosavari Monument, known by the French as Monument Aux Morts) is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane, Laos, which was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. In romanising the name from the Laotian language, it is variously transliterated as Patuxai, Patuxay, Patousai and Patusai. It is also called Patuxai Arch or the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane as it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, it is typically Laotian in design, decorated with mythological creatures such as the kinnari (half-female, half-bird).

Dec 30, 2012 4:38 PM

Dec 30, 2012 4:38 PM

Had to complete the day with ice cream! So back to Swensens.
Dec 30, 2012 5:00 PM
Dec 30, 2012 5:01 PM
Dec 30, 2012 5:12 PM

In the evening we walked to the banks of the Mekong River to view the sunset
Dec 30, 2012 5:29 PM

The land across the Mekong River is Thailand
Dec 30, 2012 5:34 PM

You walk through Chao Anouvong Park in which stands the majestic statue of King Anouvong. The park was named after the King and he is highly regarded amongst Laotians. The statue was constructed in 2010 during Vientiane’s 450th Anniversary to commemorate the King’s noble contribution to Vientiane during his reign.
Chao Anouvong was the last king of the Lao Kingdom of Vientiane. During his era, he struggled to fight against the Siamese invasion of Vientiane. In the end, he was unsuccessful and was captured and the Kingdom of Vientiane was forced to surrender to Siamese rule and ceased to exist. Because of his persistent attempts to defeat the Siamese forces, Chao Anouvong is considered a courageous hero who fought for Vientiane until his death.

Chao Anouvong Park

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Chao Anouvong Park

Dec 30, 2012 5:50 PM

Me looking at the statue
Dec 30, 2012 5:51 PM

And not at the sunset
Dec 30, 2012 5:51 PM

You maybe asking why?!
Let me explain
Whilst looking at the statue I saw families having their photographs taken, by a local photographer. This photographer wears coloured top and carry badges to say they have permission to take and sell photographs. They are totally genuine and I am sure their charges are reasonable, otherwise, locals would not use them. Anyway, once the family takes a photograph they go for a wander whilst the photographer develops the picture. The family return to collect their picture and are mesmerised by the picture, some laugh whilst others are in awe of how is this possible, their in this piece of paper. They then very carefully handle the picture so as to not damage it. For them it is a very precious memory of the trip out. This made me appreciate what we take for granted…..between us we have a digital camera, iPad and two iPhones which we use as cameras, we take them for granted. The poor camera gets thrown about but it still serves us well. The iPhones get dropped every other day but still serves us so well. We always expect it to work as it should regardless of how we treat it. If not we would just buy another one and not think about it. Here families really do appreciate every little thing. The picture of them. Their family walk on the beach. I noticed in Luang Prabang their dinners around the family table. Watching their car battery powered televisions as a family. Here throwing away items e.g a radio, television is not an option. They treat it well if a mechanical fault does occur they will fix it, in the west if a mechanical fault occurs we throw it away and buy another one!

Dec 30, 2012 5:57 PM

Sangeet took amazing pictures of the sunset, here they are…in fact 99% of the pictures on this blog are were taken by Sangeet.
Dec 30, 2012 6:02 PM
Dec 30, 2012 6:10 PM

The statue from behind
Dec 30, 2012 6:14 PM

Whilst walking through the park we came across an aerobics class
Dec 30, 2012 6:16 PM

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Aerobics in the Park

On the way backup the hotel we walked through the night market
Dec 30, 2012 6:42 PM
Dec 30, 2012 6:47 PM

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Night Market, Vientiane

Luang Prabang is AMAZING…..

Today we had a movie bonanza watching Jack Frost, Thor and Bridesmaids. Later I took a tuk tuk into town while Sangeet rested at the hotel trying to get over her Dengue fever.

As I was walking towards the other side of town the handicraft night market was just setting up. Set up begins at around 4pm. It was fun making my way through whilst the stall were being set up. The locals are very accommodating and do not mind you getting in their way at all.

The streets are very clean and there are no signs of any beggars. The locals have a real sense of pride for their way of life and traditions. I recommend that everybody comes here before it gets too commercialised.

I walked further and could hear chanting coming from a temple. The atmosphere was amazing all the monks chanting together, creating one powerful vibration.

Afterwards I walked back towards the night market picking up snacks from the shop, this included sprite, pineapple juice, peanuts, soy milk, ritz (which I am addicted to) and coco pops, so as you can see all healthy!

Halfway through the stall I went back to the vegetarian stall and picked up two take away boxes, not bad for 20,000 kip. Whilst walking towards the tuk tuk drivers I bumped into a German chap we had met yesterday.

I got a tuk tuk back to the hotel, the driver asked for 40,000 kip we agreed on 20,000 kip, the hotel agreed with me and said it is a good price.

In the evening whilst we ate our food we watched Santa Clause….so as you can see a very relaxed but enjoyable day.

Market day…..

Market day…..

After a good breakfast of fresh fruit, I spent a number of hours on the blog, takes a lot of time, uploading pictures to flickr then doing the write up. Hope you guys are enjoying it!

A lady weaving on the hotel grounds, this is to promote a local company called Living Craft Centre
Dec 24, 2012 10:41 AM
Dec 24, 2012 2:53 PM

A closer shot
Dec 24, 2012 10:41 AM

Pictures of the hotel
Dec 24, 2012 10:43 AM
Dec 24, 2012 10:50 AM
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Hotel gardens and beyond
Dec 24, 2012 2:42 PM

The hotel provides free one way transfers to the city centre by tuk tuk. We passed through the Living Crafts Centre, where you can see local weavers in action aswell as other crafts of the region. The tuk tuk waited for us whilst we had a look around, we then headed over to the city centre.

Living Crafts Centre
Dec 24, 2012 3:03 PM
Dec 24, 2012 3:04 PM

Information about the sources of various colour dyes
Dec 24, 2012 3:12 PM

The shop
Dec 24, 2012 3:15 PM
Dec 24, 2012 3:16 PM

A lady using dyes to print the materials
Dec 24, 2012 3:18 PM

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Back on the tuk tuk

Dec 24, 2012 3:20 PM

We saw an amazing temple in the middle of town. It is within the grounds of the Royal Palace museum.
Dec 24, 2012 3:29 PM
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Dec 24, 2012 3:40 PM
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Walking on the Main Street
Dec 24, 2012 3:47 PM

Afterwards, we had a walk past the shops, we stopped at one to pick up coco pops and ritz crackers, as we were both peckish!
Dec 24, 2012 3:52 PM

Luang Prabang is an amazing city, clean, safe and the people are very friendly! The locals do not hassle you (a welcome change from our experiences the last few weeks) and the place also feels very authentic – the locals seem to be just getting on with their normal daily lives. Tempted to spend the next few weeks here. This place will change as tourism here is really starting to take off and major high speed train links from China will soon pass through Luang Prabang and Vientiane (2014) so now is a good time to visit before it changes and loses it’s charm.

As I was getting very hungry we stopped at

Tat Mor Restaurant
Sakkaline Road
Luang Prabang
Laos

I ordered fried rice
Dec 24, 2012 4:30 PM

Sangeet decided to wait to eat as the night market was due to open in a couple of hours and there is a vegan food stall there.

As we walked back from the restaurant the night market had started, about half a mile of stalls on the street, under cover. The shoppers will ask if you want to buy anything, if you say no they do not bother you again. Halfway through we found the stall that sells a vegan buffet for 10.000 Lao Kip about GBP£.80p! Sangeet ate there and we chatted to some other backpackers in the very social dining area. Later we bought a few gifts from the stalls then we headed back to the hotel in a tuk tuk.

The Ock Pop Tok shop
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Night market
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The 10,000 kip food stall
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Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang (literally: “Royal Buddha Image (in the Dispelling Fear mudra)”, is a city located in north central Laos, at the confluence of the Nam Khan river and Mekong River about 425 km north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The population of the city is about 50,000.
The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main part of the city consists of four main roads located on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The city is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. One of the major landmarks in the city is a large steep hill on which sits Wat Chom Si.

Temples…..Day 3…..

Temples…..Day 3…..

Today we had an early start (5am) as we wanted to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. We arrived at the temple around 5:30, there are officials waiting to see your pass (the officials want to see your pass before every temple). Once they have seen the pass it feels like a mad dash for the tuk tuks to be the first to arrive at Angkor Wat. So now it is 5:45 we arrive at the entrance and the first thing you hear is “sir you want buy torch?” Can you believe this early in the morning they are still selling!! Not just the adults but the children as well!
Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors.Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early Dravidian Architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.The modern name, Angkor Wat, means “Temple City” or “City of Temples” in Khmer; Angkor, meaning “city” or “capital city”, is a vernacular form of the word nokor, which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara (नगर). Wat is the Khmer word for “temple grounds”, derived from the Pali word “vatta” (वत्त). Prior to this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok (Vara Vishnuloka in Sanskrit), after the posthumous title of its founder.

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Before this sign appeared people were told that the temple was closed due to being a religious day for Buddha but for USD$5.00 you can have a police escort to see the temple! There were no police in sight!!
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Section which is closed for today
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Angkor Thom ( literally: “Great City”), located in present day Cambodia, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late twelfth century by king Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.Angkor Thom was established as the capital of Jayavarman VII’s empire, and was the centre of his massive building programme. One inscription found in the city refers to Jayavarman as the groom and the city as his bride. (Higham, 121)Angkor Thom seems not to be the first Khmer capital on the site, however. Yasodharapura, dating from three centuries earlier, was centred slightly further northwest, and Angkor Thom overlapped parts of it. The most notable earlier temples within the city are the former state temple of Baphuon, and Phimeanakas, which was incorporated into the Royal Palace. The Khmers did not draw any clear distinctions between Angkor Thom and Yashodharapura: even in the fourteenth century an inscription used the earlier name. (Higham 138) The name of Angkor Thom — great city — was in use from the 16th century. Faces on Prasat Bayon. The last temple known to have been constructed in Angkor Thom was Mangalartha, which was dedicated in 1295. Thereafter the existing structures continued to be modified from time to time, but any new creations were in perishable materials and have not survived. In the following centuries Angkor Thom remained the capital of a kingdom in decline until it was abandoned some time prior to 1609, when an early western visitor wrote of an uninhabited city, “as fantastic as the Atlantis of Plato” which some thought to have been built by the Roman emperor Trajan. (Higham 140) It is believed to have sustained a population of 80,000-150,000 people.

On the days you see the sunrise you can ask the hotel to pack you breakfast. This is usually complimentary.

Gursewa with his small breakfast!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gaygoat/8294797456/

Angkor Thom
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You can have your picture taken with this group…..for a price!
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Even after I diagnosed Sangeet with dengue fever she was a trooper and made it the top of the temple, whist I sat at the bottom!

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Fancy a elephant ride?
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Between us we had four cameras the batteries had died on all four!

Bakong is the first temple mountain of sandstone constructed by rulers of the Khmer empire at Angkor near modern Siem Reap in Cambodia. In the final decades of the 9th century AD, it served as the official state temple of King Indravarman I in the ancient city of Hariharalaya, located in an area that today is called Roluos.In 802 AD, the first king of Angkor Jayavarman II declared the sovereignty of Cambodia. After ups and downs, he established his capital at Hariharalaya. Few decades later, his successors constructed Bakong in stages[1] as the first temple mountain of sandstone at Angkor.[2] The inscription on its stele (classified K.826) says that in 881 King Indravarman I dedicated the temple to the god Shiva and consecrated its central religious image, a lingam whose name Sri Indresvara was a combination of the king’s own and the suffix “-esvara” which stood for Shiva (“Iśvara”).[3] According to George Coedes, the devarāja cult consisted in the idea of divine kingship as a legitimacy of royal power, but later authors stated that it doesn’t necessarily involve the cult of physical persona of the ruler himself.[4]Bakong enjoyed its status as the state temple of Angkor for only a few years, but later additions from the 12th or 13th centuries testify that it was not abandoned. Toward the end of the 9th century, Indravarman’s son and successor Yasovarman I moved the capital from Hariharalaya to the area north of Siem Reap now known as Angkor, where he founded the new city of Yasodharapura around a new temple mountain called Bakheng.

Bakong is definitely amazing, very quite and not to be missed

(Taken with the ipad)

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From the road to the top takes about twenty minutes.

Plenty of cob webs along the edge of the path

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The temples have been amazing and worth seeing, I would recommend perhaps taking a car instead of a tuk tuk. A tuk tuk tires you out as it does not give you any rest from the heat whereas a car’s air conditioning will give you some relief…..not much. Also maybe worth taking a days rest between each temple trip just so you appreciate and are refreshed for every day trip to the temples. We saw the smaller temples first so we appreciated each one the final day we built up to the big temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. In my opionon if we did it the other way around, we would not have appreciated the smaller temples. If you are thinking about a guide, please use a reliable company somebody who is fluent in your language and knows their history of the temples. We overheard some guides giving incorrect information.

As we had an early start we had finished viewing the temple by 3:30 we headed back to Peace Cafe to celebrate Gursewa turning 40 today.

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Saying bye to our tuk tuk driver

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Sangeet had somehow found a birthday card also arranged for the cake to have a candle!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY GURSEWA HOPE YOU HAD A FANTASTIC DAY!

In the evening I went to the laundry for the usual washing of clothes. Here you hand in the clothes and pick it up later. I chose the three hour express service which cost USD $3.00. You can tell when I need to visit the laundry especially when I am wearing a long sleeve black top in 32 degrees C and 80% humidity!

We extended the stay until Sunday which we booked through asiarooms.com they gave us a great deal.

Temples…..Day 1…..

Temples…..Day 1…..

After a good breakfast we waited outside for Gursewa Singh. We have decided to share the cost of the Tuk Tuk. Works out to be around USD$7.50 each.

Our first port of call was to buy the entrance tickets. You must possess an admission pass (an ‘Angkor Pass’) to visit the temples and sites in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Passes may be purchased at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat. One-day tickets only can be purchased at the secondary tollgate on airport road entrance near Angkor Wat and at Banteay Srey.

Passes are sold in one-day ($20), three-day ($40) and seven-day ($60) blocks. The three day pass is valid for one week, i.e. 3 days to be used within the week, not necessarily consecutively. The seven day pass is valid for one month, i.e. 7 days to be used within the month, not necessarily consecutively.

A one-day visit allows you to see the highlights of the most famous temples but very little more. Three days is sufficient to visit all of the major temples once, a few of the minor ones and have a little extra time at your favorites. Seven days is enough time to really explore some of your favorite ruins and visit many of the minor structures as well. One passport-sized photo is require at time of purchase of three and seven day passes. If you do not have a photo, free photos are provided at the main entrance, though this can be a time consuming process at peak entrance hours.

Visiting hours are 5:00AM – 6:00PM. Angkor Wat closes at 6:00PM, Banteay Srey closes at 5:00PM and Kbal Spean at 3:00PM. Always carry your ticket. It will be checked upon each park entry and at major temples. There is a significant fine for not possessing a valid ticket inside the park. A regular admission ticket is not required to visit Phnom Kulen, Koh Ker or Beng Melea, but there is a separate entrance fee of $20, $10 and $5, respectively.

We then rode to Preah Khan. Sometimes transliterated as Prah Khan, is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII. It is located northeast of Angkor Thom and just west of the Jayatataka baray, with which it was associated. It was the centre of a substantial organisation, with almost 100,000 officials and servants. The temple is flat in design, with a basic plan of successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary complicated by Hindu satellite temples and numerous later additions. Like the nearby Ta Prohm, Preah Khan has been left largely unrestored, with numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins.

Preah Khan

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The Entrance where we spent an hour before realising the temple is further on!

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Afterwards we saw Neak Pean (“The entwined serpents”) at Angkor, Cambodia is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple on a circular island in Preah Khan Baray built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. It is the “Mebon” of the Preah Khan baray (the “Jayatataka” of the inscription).

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Next was, Roluos Group which is a collection of monuments representing the remains of Hariharalaya, the first major capital of the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire. It has become known as the ‘Roluos Group’ due to its proximity to the modern town of Roluos. The ancient capital was named for Hari-Hara, a synthesis of the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. Though there was an existing settlement in the area before the rise of Angkor, Hariharalaya was established as a capital city by Jayavarman II and served as the Khmer capital for over 70 years under four successive kings. Setting the pattern for the next four centuries, the first great Khmer temples (Bakong Temple, Preah Ko Temple, Lolei Temple) and baray (reservoir) were constructed at Hariharalaya. The last king at Hariharalaya, Yasovarman I, built the first major temple at Angkor, Phnom Bakheng Mountain, and moved the capital to the Bakheng area in 905 C.E. With the exception of a 20 year interruption in the 10th century, the capital would remain at Angkor until 1422 C.E., 12km southeast of Siem Reap.

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A modern temple

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Temple at Lolei

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Here the budhists have setup a free school for the local children

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Sunset

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On entering and exiting the temples you are bombarded with adults and children selling you books, drinks and whatever else they can sell you! A simple no will not make them go away….I usually find that no eye contact, no talking and just carry on walking does the trick. The day was very hot around 32 degrees c and a humidity of 80%.

Afterwards we headed to Chamkar for dinner. Once the tuk tuk driver had dropped us off, his price had gone from USD$15 to USD$25 he said it is because he had to take us to Rolous Group…….I just got angry and told him not to bother picking us up tomorrow, his greed had lost the business for the next two days……to get rid of him, Gursewa gave him USD$5…..I was not happy – this place is exactly like India, they want to get more out of you!

The dinner at Chamkar was okay at the time, afterwards it gave me a bad stomach……not what I need in this part of the world.

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