The White Temple

Those of you who have been following our blog in Laos, might remember from my post on Xieng Khuan that I have a particular passion for monuments designed by oddball geniuses. So when we crossed the border from western Laos into northern Thailand near the town of Chiang Rai, we made a beeline for the outrageous White Temple, officially known as the Wat Rong Khun, created by artist/philosopher Chalermchai Kositpipat.

Rumors and descriptions of this bizarre, modern temple have been swirling around us the entire time we have been in Southeast Asia. The snow-white edifice features gargoyle-like decorative statues, pools of white coy, and gardens of writhing human hand statues reaching up from hell below.

But the White Temple’s piece de resistance is its Continue…

Homage to Beverly

Our six weeks together flew by at lightning speed. But, alas, Beverly left us in Luang Prabang as previous commitments called her away. We miss you Beverly!!! (The pictures above should be viewed while humming the theme song to “The Way we Were.”)

Memories,
Like the corners of my mind,
Misty water-colored memories,
Of the way we were…

Manga-licious

You’ve got to love Bangkok! Vibrant, colorful and very “animated”, the city and its people are never boring. Tony and I even stumbled across a Manga costume festival featuring neon wigs and outrageously extravagant outfits. From Japanese comic heroes to notorious villains to red-eyed vixens to sexy Manga kittens, the carnival of colorful costumes was all about attitude – and young Thais are excellent at that!

The Shwe Dagon Pagoda

There are endless reasons to visit Yangon, but off in the distance, towering above the city, you can see one attraction that literally stands above all the rest – the incredible Shwe Dagon Pagoda. One of the world’s most impressive structures, the Shwe Dagon Paya towers over the city flaunting its opulence.

Said to house eight of the historical Buddha’s hairs, the pagoda is one of the most revered Buddhist sites in the world. It is definitely one of the most bejeweled. The 322 ft. (98 m) gilded central stupa is topped with an ornamental umbrella piece decorated with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. The umbrella’s top bud is a single 76 carat diamond. Not too shabby!

Westerners are often shocked to discover that many of the temple’s Buddha statues are backed by flashing neon halos. Many find this a kitschy distraction from the ancient pagoda’s beauty. We, on the other hand, found it a rather interesting nod to neighboring India’s habit of using flashing neon lights in its Hindu structures.

I have been dreaming about visiting the Shwe Dagon since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, we arrived during the regilding process, so the lower sections of the stupa were covered with bamboo scaffolding and woven mats. Bummer! Oh well, just one more excuse to come back to Myanmar. All the same, even with the scaffolding and mats, the pagoda is a phenomenal sight.