Tag Archives: Asia

Shigatse

Shigatse is home to the Tashilhunpo monastery, founded by the first Dalai Lama and ever since home to the panchen lamas of the gelukpa order or yellow hats.

The  centuries old lifestyle still seems pretty much preserved (at first sight) despite the Chinese rule ; a joy to wander around and mingle a bit with the ever cheerful monks.

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Bokor Hill Station

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Bokor hill station was a resort built in the early twenties of last century for the French colonial settlers in Cambodia. It was conveniently located to escape the heat and humidity of the capital Phnom Penh.

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In 9 months 900 lives were lost while building the place. The centerpiece was the grand palace hotel and casino, complemented by shops, a post office (now demolished), a church and the Royal Apartments.

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In the early seventies the place was abandoned as the Khmer rouge took over the area and it remained one of their last strongholds. Now it’s a ghosttown that is covered in clouds for most part of the day.

Bokor Hill station can best be visited by renting a motorbike in Kampot heading west over NH3 then continue the very decripit road (it’s an adventure) uphill.

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The temples of Angkor

Angkor, in Cambodia’s northern province of Siem Reap, is one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. A Unesco world heritage site,  it extends over 400 square kilometres and contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations.

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With over two million visitors each year, what strikes me most is that Angkor can still  give the traveler a true explorer’s feel. Of course taking your time and going well off the main trails helps a lot. I rented a bike for three days to explore the huge area. To get kinda lost and be fully alone amidst ruins peeping from underneath the centuries old trees. immersed in the mystical atmosphere…

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Angkor, the largest religious monument in the world was recently in the news because people regularly lower their pants for nude pictures. They might very well have confused Angkor with the temples of Khajuraho in India, where the sexual practices at the time are depicted rather vividly.

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