A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

Lao, Dec 2011

Vientiane, Proud to be Lao. On my last trip, I had only been to the north of Lao. Many small villages and life along the river. Vientiane, the capitol, is a large city with lots of tourist facilities, and many foreigners. Nice, but nothing like the peace and tranquility of Luang Prabang and the surrounding area.
large_IMG_1881.jpg
This was cool, but if ya look, it's got parts from several years
large_IMG_1871.jpg
large_IMG_1870.jpg
Phra That Luang, The Lao National Symbol. Doesn't look that big until you see the motorbikes in the lower right hand corner. Pha That Luang according to the Lao people was originally built as an Indic 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 have a length of 69 metres each and is 45 metres high, and is surrounded by 30 small Stupas. It is covered in several thousand pounds of gold leaf.
large_IMG_1867.jpg
large_IMG_1861.jpg
large_3IMG_1826.jpg
large_3IMG_1801.jpg
large_9IMG_1763.jpg
large_3IMG_1837.jpg
large_1IMG_1795.jpg
Amazing murals, Temple on the grounds of Phra That Luang
large_0IMG_1767.jpg
large_6IMG_1760.jpg
large_0IMG_1754.jpg
large_3IMG_1746.jpg
Patuxai, the Victory Monument
large_0IMG_1732.jpg
Ceiling inside
large_0IMG_1727.jpg
Funny story.....The monument was built using American funds. In the 1960s, cement originally intended to build an airfield during the Vietnam War was used to build the monument. The United States had given Lao money, and cement, to build a new airfield, however, the Lao government of the day used the money to build the monument instead. It is sometimes referred to as the "vertical runway"
large_0IMG_1725.jpg
View from the top
large_4IMG_1728.jpg
large_6IMG_1719.jpg
Guard shack in front of the UN Building in Vientiane. Looks upside down to me....large_9IMG_1723.jpg
large_IMG_1692.jpg
Downtown Vientiane
large_0IMG_1690.jpg
Mekong Sunset Looking towards Thailand, from Lao
large_0IMG_1677.jpg
The Lao temples are everywhere, and beautiful.
large_1IMG_1654.jpg
large_1IMG_1648.jpg

Posted by ikombazana 20:58 Comments (0)

Koh Chang and Nong Khai Thailand, Dec 2011

On my way to Bangkok, 4 hour delay in Beijing!
large_2IMG_0581.jpg
Ferry to Koh Chang
large_0IMG_0582.jpg
Fishing pier on the mainland
large_2IMG_0590.jpg
Uhhhh...those lifevests don't look up to date!
large_7IMG_0597.jpg
Car ferry to the island
large_3IMG_0604.jpg
Northeast side of Koh Chong
large_7IMG_0612.jpg
Where I stayed the first night on the island, White Sands Beach
large_7IMG_0627.jpg
View from my bungalow
large_2IMG_0632.jpg
Nice to see some sailing!
large_5IMG_0637.jpg
Restaurants lining the beach
large_IMG_0648.jpg
I ate wayyy tooo much squid!
large_9IMG_0662.jpg
Very relaxing beakfast on the deck
large_8IMG_0666.jpg
Until this guy jumped out of the tree and landed on the table in front of me!
large_4IMG_0670.jpg
large_0IMG_0676.jpg
Daily walk down the beach to find new places to paddle and swim
large_4IMG_0681.jpg
large_7IMG_0682.jpg
My bungalow on Lonley Beach, 500 baht a night. About 16 bucks...I splurged!
large_6IMG_0686.jpg
In a beautiful, peaceful garden
large_9IMG_0687.jpg
A stones throw from this
large_2IMG_0688.jpg
Next stop, Bang Bao on the eastern coast of the island. Bang Bao pier
large_3IMG_0704.jpg
Bungalows on the pier, very nice.
large_2IMG_0705.jpg
Tower at the end of Bang Bao pier. All the piers on the island had them, all very decorative, and different
large_IMG_0711.jpg
Little resorts and bugalows dot the island
large_9IMG_0723.jpg
large_3IMG_0739.jpg
large_8IMG_1037.jpg
large_6IMG_1041.jpg
The Grand Lagoona Resort. The Galaxy, a huge boat, moored in a lagoon, used as a hotel. Too expensive for me, and not really that nice. Lotsa Skeeters!
large_1IMG_0744.jpg
Koh Chang sunset
large_7IMG_0766.jpg
large_0IMG_0767.jpg
The neighbors
large_8IMG_0783.jpg
Breakfast next to the tatoo parlor
large_2IMG_0791.jpg
Local Critters
large_6IMG_0809.jpg
Hospital on the pier, Health Promoting!
large_4IMG_0816.jpg
Cruising boat leaving Bang Bao
large_5IMG_0821.jpg
large_8IMG_0829.jpg
My Dinner!
large_7IMG_0839.jpg
Where I stayed in Bang Bao, very relaxing, right on the water, kayaks, and boats to borrow. And with our own pier
large_0IMG_0843.jpg
large_3IMG_0849.jpg
large_2IMG_0844.jpg
All ya really need
large_8IMG_0851.jpg
There was no one there, so I set my camera on the grass, hit the 10 second timer, and ran for the deck! large_5IMG_0865.jpg
large_2IMG_0855.jpg
large_0IMG_0866.jpg
Bang Bao sunset
large_9IMG_0888.jpg
Lionfish sculpture
large_1IMG_1026.jpg
Bang Bao pier from the top of the tower
large_4IMG_0911.jpg
large_2IMG_0835.jpg
My front yard
large_6IMG_0931.jpg
I like the added on outhouse on the stern
large_7IMG_0935.jpg
Leaving Bang Bao on a rented Longtail boat. It took me two days to find someone that would take me the rest of the way around the island. The road doesn't go all the way through, so the only way is by boat. Every time I asked someone that gave tours they said 'Nobody does that!'. So I finally found a fisherman that would take me the rest of the way around....as long as he could fish on the way. I said 'Let's Go!'
large_8IMG_0940.jpg
"Perhaps catch a few fish!"
large_9IMG_0950.jpg
There's a total of 53 islands in Koh Chang National Park
large_4IMG_0944.jpg
The water was beautiful, and warm!
large_4IMG_0961.jpg
large_4IMG_0965.jpg
Arriving in Salak Phet by boat
large_6IMG_0992.jpg
large_7IMG_1002.jpg
Saying goodbye to my ride
large_8IMG_1009.jpg
Tower on Salak Phet pier
large_6IMG_1010.jpg
The Finnish guy, who had a guesthouse, tooled around on this with Heavy Metal music blaring from the attached boombox!
large_8IMG_1020.jpg
large_1IMG_1042.jpg
large_1IMG_1043.jpg
Little guesthouses out along the tiny cement pier, Fantastic!
large_9IMG_1015.jpg
Where I stayed in Salak Phet. I got off the boat at the pier and there was no one around. I found a few local kids and asked where the town was, and they said 'this is it!' So I got a ride to the ATM, which was in the middle of nowhere, and a little German woman comes up behind me and says 'is it working? because usually it's not', I say yes and she asks where I came from, and I said a boat from Bang Bao, and she says 'Nobody does that' and I say I know, and she asks me where I'm staying. As usual, I say I don't know, and she says to find her friend Uli's guesthouse, and proceeds to give me directions, 'Go down this path, past the temple, turn right and look for the German flag'. The kindness of strangers....
large_1IMG_1039.jpg
Urai's Place, Thai/German guesthouse. Cheap, friendly and wonderfull! The beer was ice cold, and the Schnitzel was delicious!
large_6IMG_1046.jpg
The view.......
large_2IMG_1011.jpg
Uli's wife, our hostess and chef! Let me borrow the motorbike, and did my laundry for free!
large_6IMG_1047.jpg
New temple at Salak Phet
large_9IMG_1029.jpg
large_3IMG_1034.jpg
Painting the inside
large_9IMG_1032.jpg
The gate to someone's home in the mountains on my way to the waterfalls
large_7IMG_1049.jpg
Rubber plantation
large_0IMG_1052.jpg
Spirit house on Koh Chang
large_3IMG_1059.jpg
More beaches, more kayaks, absolutely wonderful!
large_3IMG_1072.jpg
large_IMG_1082.jpg
Eclipse from Bangkok on my way to the north.
large_8IMG_1091.jpg
The north is very different. Mostly farms and small towns. Nong Khai along the river, my friend's farm in Rattanawapi, and temples in Phon Phisai, and Wat Phu Tok
large_9IMG_1114.jpg
large_9IMG_1117.jpg
large_2IMG_1118.jpg
large_4IMG_1130.jpg
My trusty steed!
large_4IMG_1135.jpg
Kids came running out screaming "FARANG.... FARANG!".....it means foreigner
large_0IMG_1160.jpg
Rattanawapi. Along the little road that follows the Mekhong, every 1500 yards or so was another beautiful temple. Many used as schools
large_2IMG_1164.jpg
large_IMG_1175.jpg
large_5IMG_1203.jpg
Lao temple in Phon Phisai
large_0IMG_1215.jpg
large_5IMG_1229.jpg
Built around huge boulders
large_2IMG_1216.jpg
large_2IMG_1221.jpg
large_6IMG_1218.jpg
large_4IMG_1235.jpg
large_7IMG_1248.jpg
Dinner at my friend Nok's farm with her family. Every night we BBQ'd fresh fish, eaten with rice and fresh vegetables, and ate outside in the cool northern air. Her whole family would come for dinner to meet the 'Farang' and want to talk and drink homemade ....'medicine'.
large_8IMG_1254.jpg
The entrance to Wat Phu Tok, amazing teak furniture.
large_5IMG_1258.jpg
'Yeah...I know....'
large_9IMG_1275.jpg
Wat phu Tok was incredible. Built by monks on an outcropping of rock in an otherwise flat landscape. Seven levels of stairs to get to the top 'Enlightenment'. I was the only one that went all the way. The walkway and stairs were pounded into the rocks, only wood, and a little frightening! Several hundred feet straight down!
large_4IMG_1273.jpg
large_7IMG_1265.jpg
large_IMG_1289.jpg
large_6IMG_1291.jpg
large_7IMG_1293.jpg
large_9IMG_1307.jpg
large_9IMG_1305.jpg
large_7IMG_1318.jpg
large_9IMG_1315.jpg
large_4IMG_1323.jpg
large_7IMG_1316.jpg
View from the third level
large_4IMG_1288.jpg
The Monks had their own radio station
large_9IMG_1278.jpg
The temple was built among the caves and rocks.
large_5IMG_1326.jpg
large_5IMG_1327.jpg
large_1IMG_1341.jpg
Wat Kaew Kou sculpture park, built by a Buddhist/Hindu mystic, who's body still lies in state there. He built the same thing in Vientiane, Lao many years earlier but when the government changed hands they kicked him out because he was not a pure Buddhist. He then went across the river to Nong Khai and built an even bigger one!
large_8IMG_1354.jpg
large_9IMG_1359.jpg
Some of the statues were 60 meters high
large_9IMG_1369.jpg
large_7IMG_1375.jpg
large_9IMG_1376.jpg
large_1IMG_1362.jpg
large_IMG_13631.jpg
Large catfish in the pond
large_3IMG_1383.jpg
large_4IMG_1385.jpg
large_6IMG_1386.jpg
large_IMG_1393.jpg
The Mystic enshrined in his temple
large_IMG_1399.jpg
Wat Pho Chai in downtown Nong Khai, a very special place for Isaan Buddhists
large_IMG_1402.jpg
It is the home of Luang Pho Phra Sai. Commissioned by the three daughters of the King of the Lao Lan Chang Empire, it is one of three identical Lao Buddha images, one of which fell into the Maekong during a storm 200 years ago. Its head is said to be made of solid gold!
large_IMG_1408.jpg
large_IMG_1407.jpg
Monkmobile
large_4IMG_1417.jpg
large_4IMG_1429.jpg
The lake outside beautiful Rattanawapi
large_4IMG_1435.jpg
large_9IMG_1448.jpg
large_2IMG_1453.jpg
large_2IMG_1458.jpg
large_4IMG_1462.jpg
large_8IMG_1467.jpg
Chinese temple along the Rimkhong in Nong Khai
large_0IMG_1485.jpg
large_1IMG_1489.jpg
Drying sugarcane sticks by the river
large_3IMG_1893.jpg
The temple that slid into the Mekhong many years ago. When the water levels are low, the top of the temple sticks out and they decorate it until the river rises, and then the following year when the level goes down, they do it again
large_3IMG_1492.jpg
OK...turned on the tube one night......'Oh Brother" with Chinese subtitles!
large_0IMG_1513.jpg
Sunset over the Friendship Bridge crossing to Lao
large_9IMG_1540.jpg
large_8IMG_1548.jpg
Nice little apartments..around a hundred bucks a month!
large_5IMG_1565.jpg
large_9IMG_1584.jpg
large_9IMG_1598.jpg
Local bike shop
large_4IMG_1604.jpg
Many floating restaurants on the river.
large_6IMG_1620.jpg
Tourist Photo at the temple in Nong Khai
large_IMG_1928.jpg
large_IMG_1935.jpg
Blessing the new Toyota!
large_IMG_1938.jpg
large_IMG_1942.jpg
large_IMG_1953.jpg
Basically a Buddhist cemetery
large_IMG_1985.jpg
large_IMG_1989.jpg
Merry Christmas!
large_IMG_1970.jpg
Making Pastries on the street
large_4IMG_1909.jpg
Large Buddha looking across the river to Lao
large_IMG_1415.jpg
large_5IMG_1427.jpg
My friend Wanyana helped me find my way to the airport in Udon Thani, I didn't want to leave!
large_IMG_1975.jpg

Posted by ikombazana 19:24 Comments (0)

China Dec 2011

Wacky hotel room
large_4IMG_0173.jpg
Yummy street food
large_6IMG_0179.jpg
My first glimpse of the Forbidden City
large_2IMG_0174.jpg
Beijing at night
large_8IMG_0185.jpg
Ice fishing the Palace Moat
large_6IMG_0205.jpg
Forbidden City Sunrise
large_9IMG_0211.jpg
I was not prepared for snow!
large_1IMG_0222.jpg
All the Chinese students wanted to practice their English, and get a photo
large_2IMG_0230.jpg
The Frozen Forbidden City
large_0IMG_0231.jpg
Hall of Supreme Harmony
large_6IMG_0242.jpg
large_7IMG_0245.jpg
large_0IMG_0252.jpg
large_8IMG_0253.jpg
Beautiful bronze sculptures
large_5IMG_0270.jpg
Hall of Heavenly Peace
large_3IMG_0302.jpg
large_2IMG_0320.jpg
Hall of Preserving Harmony
large_7IMG_0322.jpg
large_1IMG_0366.jpg
Hall of Treasures
large_3IMG_0371.jpg
Jingshan Hill. Where the Emperors went to pray. The hill was created with all the dirt that was excavated for the moat. Amazing when you consider it was done by man, and animal power 700 years ago.
large_3IMG_0400.jpg
large_7IMG_0409.jpg
large_7IMG_0416.jpg
I had no idea of the enormity of the Forbidden City
large_0IMG_0423.jpg
Bronze Buddha on top of Jingshan Hill
large_1IMG_0424.jpg
Where the last Emperor of the Ming Dynasty hanged himself
large_4IMG_0432.jpg
large_5IMG_0433.jpg
Hacky Sackers
large_5IMG_0438.jpg
large_6IMG_0441.jpg
The frozen moat
large_2IMG_0457.jpg
Beijing street scene
large_3IMG_0467.jpg
Music Store
large_4IMG_0478.jpg
Frozen Moat
large_5IMG_0482.jpg
Mao
large_7IMG_0506.jpg
Soldiers marchng through Tiananmen Square
large_8IMG_0509.jpg
The One Western Tourist!
large_2IMG_0526.jpg
Tiananmen Square
large_4IMG_0535.jpg
Breakfast on the way to The Great Wall
large_IMG_2003.jpg
large_IMG_2006.jpg
large_IMG_2010.jpg
Basically a chairlift...only old, creaky, and a little too rusty. This thing was scary!
large_IMG_2012.jpg
large_IMG_2016.jpg
large_IMG_2017.jpg
large_IMG_2018.jpg
large_IMG_2019.jpg
16 degrees F. on the Wall. Even colder on the chair lift up! I was Freezing!!
large_IMG_2020.jpg
large_IMG_2021.jpg
large_IMG_2022.jpg
Sunrise on The Great Wall of China
large_IMG_2025.jpg
large_IMG_2027.jpg
large_IMG_2030.jpg
large_IMG_2032.jpg
large_IMG_2040.jpg
large_IMG_2041.jpg
The surrounding ladscape was incredible! Giant mountains on every side. Amazing! large_IMG_2042.jpg
Squirrel on the Wall
large_IMG_2046.jpg
large_IMG_2050.jpg
large_IMG_2053.jpg
large_IMG_2054.jpg
large_IMG_2062.jpg
The bird that flew me home!
large_IMG_2063.jpg

Posted by ikombazana 18:38 Comments (0)

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