Grand Palace Bangkok: a Buddhist architectural flagship

Grand_Palace_Bangkok“The highlight of this bustling and vibrant city” as defined by an architect that I met on my way to Bangkok.  An opulent architectural masterpiece that will leave even the most hardcore party-goer who survived a wild night on Kao San Road astonished.
The Grand Palace complex was established in 1782 and it consists of the royal residence and throne halls, and also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218,000 square meters and is surrounded by four walls, 1900 meters in length.
After King Rama I ascended to the throne in 1782, the palace was built. Before this, the royal palace and centre of administration had been located in Thonburi, on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. For various reasons, the new king considered the former capital to be not suitable and decided to establish a new capital on the other side of the river. By his royal command, a new palace was built to serve not only as his residence abut also as the site of administrative offices. The royal compound has been known since then as the Grand Palace. The two earliest structures erected within the complex were the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, and the Phra Maha Monthian.  Continue reading

Pamukkale and Hierapolis travel guide

Pamukkale_travertines_and_valley

In the heart of Western Turkey you can find one of the most spectacular sites that combine nature and history.  Pamukkale, with its travertine pools, and the ruins of Hierapolis are among the most visited places all over Turkey. And there is a reason if millions of tourists every year flock over the white hills in what is called the castle of cotton (Pamukkale).

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Kuala Lumpur heritage sites: an historic tour of Malaysia’s bustling capital

KL’s long and colourful history has left a legacy of heritage sites which bear the stamp of various foreign influences. The main heritage zones in the city are Merdeka Square, Market Square, Chinatown (Petaling Street) and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
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Lake Chini legends and tropical forest in the heart of Malaysia

Lake ChiniWhile visiting Malaysia an interesting alternative from beaches, islands, the shining Kuala Lumpur or the colonial towns of Melaka and Georgetown, is the tranquil Lake Chini.
Situated in the Pahang region, it is a relaxing, calm and lovely spot that with its serenity and all the secrets that it holds and hides will be a welcome variation from your normal activities in Malaysia.
Indeed, Lake Chini and its surroundings are shrouded legends, some of which date back to the 14th century. As legend has it the monsters of the lake guard a submerged ancient Khmer City. Continue reading

Thai embassies around Southeast Asia

The fifteen days visa, that at the time of writing is possible to get at any of the land borders with Thailand, is definitely too short.
Getting into the country by airplane guarantees you a 30 days visa, but if you really want to enjoy the “Land of a Thousand Smiles” and you are travelling around Southeast Asia it is worth spending a couple of days in one of the capitals of the neighbouring countries to pick up a much more suitable 2 months visa.

Here is a list to all the embassies in the Southeast Asia area, and a few links with some up-to-date information related to best practice to get a 60 days visa for Thailand.

One of the best sources of information for Thai visa issues and questions (or anything related to Thailand) is the busy forum of the web site Thai Visa  . It is definitely worth a visit.
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Shipping your vehicle from Australia: all you need to know

After enjoying the freedom of having your own vehicle in the desolate roads of the Australian outback, the busy east coast, or the wild west coast you will sooner or later have to ship your motorbike/car/truck back home (like me) or even better keep travelling somewhere else around the world (good for you).

I have to admit that the procedure in my case was made easier by the shipping company Tradelanes who helped me a lot to solve all the small bureaucratic annoyances involved in the process. After the pain of shipping from East Timor to Darwin I found dealing with the professionality of Stewart of Tradelanes almost too easy. Continue reading

The Best Temples on Java Island

The overcrowded island of Java, the center of the country’s economic and political power, offers some of the best examples of Hindu and Buddhist architecture all over Indonesia. From among the hundreds of temples that show the power and architectural quality reached by the kingdoms that ruled Java from the 7th to the 16th century, I have drawn up a list with the main points of interest.

The map presents all the temples and by clicking on the markers you can have a brief description. Each temple has a bunch of resources that give you the chance to analyze it better and to arrive there well prepared.

You can use the comments to suggest any links that you may have come across that might be useful to add the the existing list.

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Udaipur City Palace Complex the climax of the Mewar opulence

Impossible to miss and even harder to forget, Udaipur City Palace represents the highlight of a visit in what is called (in my opinion exaggerating) the Venice of the East. Venice it is not but the palace will be a literal feast for your eyes. The Mewar dynasty, the oldest serving dynasty in the world, is who we have to thank for this fairy masterpiece.

Not everything is perfect though, all the positive adjectives that you might read everywhere will be fading away as soon as you have to deal with souvenir sellers and ‘friends’. But if you have been in the “Rajasthan tourist trail” for at least a few hours you will be more than used to it. No potential hassle should divert your attention from the orgy of architectural beauty that is awaiting you behind the Badi Pol (Great Gate). Continue reading

Prambanan Temple a pearl in the heart of Java

Prambanan Temple masterpiece of Hindu art

A masterpiece of Hindu art

Today it is time to talk about one of the most beautiful temples all over the island of Java in Indonesia. Located only 17 km northeast of the city of Yogyakarta. Easily accessible through one of the many (too many) travel agencies that dot the backpackers neighborhood in Yogyakarta. A better option is renting a motorbike and visiting Prambanan and other temples in the area by yourself.

 

Introduction

The complex was built between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, when Java was ruled by the Buddhist Sailendras in the south and the Hindu Sanjayas in the north. Continue reading

Pakistan consulate Vancouver

Maybe not many people are looking for a Pakistani diplomatic embassy or consulate but I received great service asking for a Pakistani visa and surprisingly I realized I wasn’t the only one there doing so. The Pakistan consulate in Vancouver is located in the heart of the city, on the 14th floor of a beautiful historical building. It is walking distance from the Waterfront Sky Train station. The following information are all you need. Continue reading