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Posts Tagged ‘temples’

Cholon, or big market is the area of Saigon where people of Chinese descent traditionally lived.  It is know to them as Dī’àn – or embankment, due to the large embankment built next to the river to stop flooding.

Originally a separate City, it was merged with Saigon to form Saigon-Cholon – The Cholon part of the name being dropped in the 1950’s.  Later many ethnic Chinese left Vietnam, changing the racial makeup of the area, though walking around you can get a feel for the heritage of the area.

The area is blessed with more temples than any other area of the city, dedicated to the many Gods of the Taoist and Buddhist traditions. Each one a place where someone can make an offering to hope that some wish will be fulfilled.

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My favourite part of nearly all Vietnamese Chinese temples are the rockeries or Hòn Non Bô – little miniature worlds where the gods live in a kind of mountainous Island.

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Worship is the main draw of these temples – they see many more worshippers than tourists.

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And these aren’t the only places of worship.

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The Religious sights might be the main draw, but commerce is the main reason the area came to be – Buying and selling is still the heart of the community.

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Not in the same league as Angkor in Cambodia, but still a great place to visit due to the beautiful natural environment around the Temples.

The Temple, dedicated to Hindu Gods, was used as the religious centre for the Cham people when they controlled much of Southern Vietnam. Work began building a religious centre in the 4th century, and the temple complex was used continually till the 14th, the longest of any similar site in South East Asia.

With the decline of Cham power in the region the temple was abandoned.  Sadly, during the American war, the temple was damaged significantly, destroying many of the buildings.

 

 

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Hue was the last Royal Capital of Vietnam.  Sadly though, the old quarter of the city and most of the palace was destroyed by American bombing during the fight to recapture the city from the Viet Com.  Luckily, outside of the city there still remains the tombs of some of the last Vietnamese emperors, a world heritage sight.  They give some insight into what it would have been like in the Imperial Capital.

 

The eight tier Thien Mu  pagoda, just outside the city

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A shrine in the tomb of Minh Mang

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More of Minh Mang’s Tomb, built to specific Confucian design and set in beautiful grounds.

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Tu Duc’s Beautiful and expansive temple complex

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The ruined living quarters for servants – still expected to tend to their Emperor after his death.

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Elephants, horses and Mandarins stand to attention for their dead emperor in the after life

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Flowers decorating the grounds

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Always in pairs, huge Chinese dolls guard the gateways of many of Bangkok’s temples.  However, none are as impressive as the examples found in the famous Wat Pho – home to the country’s largest reclining Buddha.

The statues are known as “Up Chao” in Thai, meaning ballast, and actually many were brought from China for this purpose.  The main trade from Thailand to China was in heavy resources such as tin, lead, wood and rice, on the return however the lighter Chinese products weren’t enough to weigh the ship down in the water, so these cheap concrete statues were perfect for the job.  However, many of the statues in Wat pho were believed to have been specially made by Chinese artisans in Bangkok as a  thank you to the royal family of the time.

 

 

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A great place to see real Thai people getting to grips with on of the country’s most popular hobbies.  Men come to spend hours studying the amulets looking for unique and rare examples to add to their collection.  The most expensive will contain hairs from auspicious Monks, and will have been blessed over an extended time.  Strangely, the trade in Buddha images is illegal in Thailand – To get by this the representations are “Rented” to the collectors.

Here are a few of my photos:

A selection of Amulets

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Buyers pore over amulets

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Pictures of a young Prince as a Monk

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A collection of statues, and an Artisan creating a large example

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Lucky catfish

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A cat naps on top of the Amulets

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Many of the Temples in Chiang Mai take the opportunity to give a little advice to us tourists as we pass through admiring the architecture.  Here are some of my favourites.

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First time I was here 10 years ago I didn’t even own a camera.  Thank God I got a second chance to take some memories from this amazing city.

 

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Obviously we all come to Siem Reap to visit the huge temple complexes outside of town – But when it’s raining?  Really, its pretty hard to appreciate the temples when its pissing it down.  Sadly on my last trip we found that it rained pretty much all the time – so we learned a little about the town.

Anyway, my little list

1 boys fish spa1. Get a fish spa – A little bit tickly at first, you soon get used to it and 30 minutes later all the dead skin is gone from your feet.  And at $2, with a free beer, it’s a bargain.

7 crocs2. Visit the Crocodile Farm. With more than a thousand crocodiles, it keeps you busy for at least 30 minutes – and it’s only $7 to feed them a live duck!

8 rice cake3. Eat – There a literally hundreds of options in Siem Reap for food.  From local food down the market, to upmarket French – And everything in between.  Fresh morning pastries at The blue pumpkin are my personal favourite.

10 happy herb pizza4. Have a happy herb pizza – It’s pizza, with herbs that make you happy – what else is there to say?

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5. Do nothing – Just kick back on your balcony and relax – and hang with the praying mantis as we did.  Sometimes it’s good just to have a rest from all the people trying to sell you stuff, take you on tours, have you eat in their restaurants……Don’t forget you’re on holiday

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Back in Angkor Wat again for the third time – well somebody has to make up for all those people who haven’t been!

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13 bayon head 214 bayon head 317 bayon20 temple ruins

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24 ta prohm tree 224 ta prohm

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Sitting up on a plateau in the foothills of the Shan mountains, Inle Lake is one of the  most popular tourist spots in Myanmar. But it’s still incredibly low key, with most villagers focused on their day to day business rather than trying to make a quick buck from tourists.

Everything about the place seems to relax you.  The main draw here is the stilted villages of the Intha.  Whole communities are built out on the lake and getting around means going by boat – even to your immediate neighbour.  The famous Intha Leg Rowing is always  on show when a tourist appears, though I’m sure It’s not as popular as it once was.  As with nearly all of the people in Myanmar they are some of the nicest in the world, with not even a hint of danger anywhere.  This could be the friendliest place in the world.

One of my favourite places in the world.  Check out some photos HERE

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