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Excerpts from "Early Morning At The "Tomb Raider" Temple.
The crowds that visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Angkor Ruins region can be overwhelming. Over 2.3 million people visited the site in 2014 making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Southeast Asia. On my last visit I spent many early mornings wandering the ruins including visits to Ta Prohm, the temple complex made famous by the 2001 film Lara Croft Tomb Raider.
Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries in the Bayon Style which include face towers and naga carrying giant figures. Originally called Rajavihara it is located one kilometer east of Angkor Thom, the last great city of the Khmer Empire. King Jayavayerman Vll who ruled the empire oversaw construction of Ta Prohm from Angkor Thom, where he ruled.
Ta Prohm had been left almost in the same condition as it was found, with huge trees growing out of the structure which have literally taken over the temple, one of it’s striking features.
Don’t forget to look on the ground as there are many relics from the temple half buried under your path.
Is it worth it to wake up early with all of the craziness of the crowds? Of course, it’s Angkor Wat. It’s an amazing experience. Just be prepared for a little nonsense and sometimes rudeness with that many people gathered in one spot. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to be a downer. Just preparing you for what’s going to happen so you can adjust your expectations accordingly. If I didn’t have proof you’d probably never believe me if I told you someone even brought a horse. Mind you this was sunset, a different crowd indeed
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It’s often overlooked or just a mere stopover to or from Siem Reap, home of the famous ruins of Angkor Wat but Battambang Cambodia should be on your radar of places to visit in this country. Full of Khmer culture, early 20th century French architecture and a unique charm unlike anywhere else in Cambodia. Join me John Saboe for an exploration in and around Battambang, Cambodia in this episode of Far East Adventure Travel Podcast.
Probably the number one site to visit in Battambang, Cambodia is the world-famous bamboo train. Made from left-over tank wheels, small-powered engines and a bamboo platform it’s a metaphor for the people of this country who’ve adapted and overcome incredible devastation and hardship to their culture and way of life. But this town, the second-largest in the country has so much more to offer. On my last trip through Cambodia I stayed in Battambang for several days exploring the town and discovering it’s charm.
To find out a little bit more about Battambang from a native’s perspective and why it’s so appealing I spoke with artist Kchao Touch, who also owns the wonderfully eclectic Jewel In The Lotus Antique and Arts Shop in the arts quarter.
The sounds of a memorial can quickly fade out to a wedding celebration, sometimes lasting for three days. Most Cambodian weddings are now only celebrated on a single day. This memorial in Battambang lasted for several days.
Another uniquely Southeast Asian tradition respected every day in Battambang is the morning alms. For good luck lay people bring a food offering to the local Buddhist monks that wander the town in return for a blessing. Excerpts from "Bats, Beauty, Arts And Culture-Battambang, Cambodia
Tibet is one of the most fascinating destinations in the world. It’s average elevation is 4900 meters or 16,000 feet making it the highest region on the planet and the reason why it’s called the roof of the world.
The Tibet Autonomous Region is apart of the People’s Republic of China and there are several restrictions that apply when traveling there. All travel through Tibet must be booked through a tour company and special permits are required. You must also obtain a visa to travel in China before permits can be applied for on your behalf.
For insights into cultural sensitivies and advice on what sights to include on a trip to the region I recently spoke with Norbu La, owner of Adventures in Tibet travel and tour company from his home in Lhasa Tibet.
From the starting place for most visiting Tibet, Lhasa, there are many sites to see including The Potala Palace, Sera Monastery as well as one of the most important Buddhist Temples in the world, the Johkang.
Mt. Everest is also an option for many especially those who aren't interested in trekking as it's possible to drive all the way to the base camp on the Tibet, China side of the the highest mountain in the world. Here you'll be able to see the mountain's beautiful north face, most agree the best view of Everest.
If you have time Mt. Kailash as well as Namsto Lake are great options for a journey to Tibet.
Mt. Kailash is a center for worship of four religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Bonn. A kora, a circumambulation of the mountain, normally a 3 day trek is said to wipe out the sins of a lifetime.
You can contact Norbu La for more information on tours of Tibet by visiting his website: http://www.adventuresintibet.com
Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations of Southeast Asia easily accessible by plane, train or bus. A historic old town filled with Buddhist Temples, restaurants, and cafes along with markets, bazaars and modern shopping malls Chiang Mai has something for everyone.
Chiang Mai has also become an attractive base for digital nomads and entrepeneurs to live, with it's inexpensive lifestyle and up to date infrastructure.
The city is considered the cultural center of Northern Thailand. It's old town is filled with Buddhist temples and historic buildings.
On my most recent trip to the the capital of Chiang Mai Province I visited the Sunday Walking Market. Thousands of locals and travellers are drawn every week to the center of the old town for food, entertainment and a vast array of local handicrafts, clothing and other goods for sale. I also paid an early morning visit to one of the town’s most significant Buddhist temples, Wat Chedi Luang where the monks can be see in their pray rituals everyday.
Wat Chedi Luang is in the historic center of Chiang Mai and is one of the most iconic images of the old town, with it’s chedi that was partly destroyed by an earthquake in the 16 century. An early morning visit is highly recommended to enjoy it’s naturally peaceful setting and to sit in the main newer temple while the monks conduct morning prayers.
Thanks so much for listening to the Far East Adventure Travel Audio Podcast. Don’t forget to check out the video version of the podcast on iTunes. Follow me on TwitterPerriscope and Instagram and also watch for live streams on the Far East Adventure Travel Facebook page. You can find all of the links at fareastadventuretravel.com . Until next time this is John Saboe, safe travels and Namaste!
Kagbeni is one of the most interesting villages in all of Nepal with it’s take on Western shopping and food culture. But it’s much more than that. Ancient Bonn Animist beliefs, statues and a picturesque location in the Kala Gandaki, the world’s deepest gorge, . Join me John Saboe for a special edition of Far East Adventure Travel Podcast on the Buddhist trail to the Upper Mustang-The Medieval village of Kagbeni, Nepal
The Kag in Kagbeni was once Ghag, meaning center and it is, with the important Buddhist/Hindu pilgrimmage site Muktinath to the east and the town of Jomson to the south. The beni in Kagbeni means confluence of two rivers where the Kala Gandaki and Jhong Rivers meet is where the village sits.
It’s also the furthest north you can trek without a permit to the former Kingdom of Lo, the restricted Upper Mustang region.
It’s an enriching experience just walking through the village admiring its’ almost 600 year old Buddhist monastery and observing everyday life.
I wanted to get a deeper understanding of Kagbeni’s history and it’s ancient beliefs that still sculpt the life of the town today. So I asked Dara Tsepten, the managing director of the YakDonald’s Hotel and restaurant and a native of Kagbeni to give me some background and context to the town’s most significant sites.
It certainly explained this God’s appearance of being in a perpetual state of bliss and a village hungry for making babies.
Dara showed me the archway which contains two prayer wheels.
We then visited Dara’s grandparents home. This mask was once used by his grandfather for an almost forgotten village dance. Excerpts from "Ancient Gods, Ghosts, And Grains-Kagbeni, Nepal".
Excerpts from "Ultimate Trekking Adventure-Everest Base Camp, Nepal Part 2
Having completed one of the toughest days of the trek it was time to move back onto the busy trail to Everest Base Camp.
The trail from Lobuche to Gorakshep is only about 5 kilometers but at an average elevation of over 5000 meters it is still challenging, especially when you have a hill to traverse like this one.
This is one of the most spectacular panoramas in the entire Himalaya with more up close views of Nuptse. And you’re last look at mighty Everest in the center before descending further down into the Khumbu Glacier.
Finally you find yourself putting in the last steps to the Base Camp marker at 5360 meters. This was the year that 16 Sherpa guides lost their lives in an avalanche on the Khumbu Icefall. All Everest mountain guides had refused to work the rest of the season out of respect for the victims.
It’s power is best described though in a quote from American filmmaker, climber and 5 time Everest summiter David Brashears. “The mountain doesn’t care whether we’re here or not. It doesn’t compete with us. It isn’t burdened by our hopes and dreams. Everything it means to us is only what we bring to it. It’s what the mountain reveals about us that has any lasting value.”
Please like the Far East Adventure Travel Facebook page, you can also follow me on Twiiter, Periscope, Instagram and Google+. All of the links are at fareastadventuretravel.com. That’s it for this week’s Far East Adventure Travel Podcast, thanks so much for joining me. Until next time this is John Saboe, safe travels and Namaste!
I was staying in Battambang, Cambodia. While I was there I had to visit one of the area’s most famous attractions, the bamboo train. The bamboo train gets it’s name from the bamboo deck or floorboard used that rests on top of the wheels that can transport anything from chickens and rice to people. In Khmer it’s called a Lorry and has been used since the Khmer Rouge shutdown of most regular train service in the country.
The Bamboo Train Station. Now where is the first class lounge? I could use a bloody mary about right now! Waiter? Actually the place is quite charming and surprisingly not touristy feeling at all. At least not at the starting point in O Dambong, about 4 km from Battambang.
The bamboo train solves the biggest problem of a single track train line. What do you do when two trains meet from opposite directions? In the case of the bamboo train? Simple-move one off the track. This experience alone makes this one of the world’s all time great train rides.
A little heavy on the photo gear I know but I’m a one man show right now.
Farewells from the departure crew and we’re off.
The bamboo train was not the first flatbed type service in Cambodia. During the civil war of the 80’s and 90’s flatbed trains were used as mine sweepers ahead of the rest of the train. Service was free, risky but popular.
And here we go about 3 minutes into the ride and our first stop. Wow, now that’s taking service station to the next level. The first lorries or bamboo trains were actually hand driven with a pole, kind of like an Italian gondola. Small motorcycle or tractor engines, like this one were added later. The wheels? They’re actually from abandoned tanks! Yes get your ass off the deck so I can do my job, thank you! Excerpts from "Great Train Rides Of The World-Cambodia's Bamboo Train".
Keelung’s Miaokou Night Market has a reputation of being one of the most popular night market’s in Taiwan. The Main street where the Dianji temple first started drawing patrons to the area is lined with food stalls serving some of the most popular dishes and snacks found in Keelung.
This is a very tourist friendly night market with translations in Japanese and English, some are loose in their descriptions. Honestly lots of great tasting food but I wouldn’t consider alot of it nutritious.
One of my favorite stalls serves oil rice, a sticky style rice with mushrooms and a delicious soup served with lumps of fresh crab meat. Being a port city there is an abundant selection of seafood and other interesting tasty treats.
Further south, in central Taiwan lies the city of Taichung. The climate is drier in this part of the island making for a perfect environment for night markets. Taichung is world-famous as the place where bubble tea was invented.
If you ask most Taiwanese people where their favorite place to go for a weekend is many will say Tainan. This city located in Southern Taiwan was once the capital of the island before the Japanese began their 50 year rule of the country and moved operations to Taipei. There are lovely Japanese colonial era buildings everywhere but most people come to Tainan for the food.
This is the Anping area of Tainan with the oldest streets on the island. People travel from all over Taiwan just to visit and try the many special snacks only made here, like one of my favorites, Coffin Toast. Excerpts from "Taiwan-Discovering The Beautiful Isle's Food Paradise".
Kyoto, Japan once the imperial capital of the country is located in the Kansai region on Honshu island. Known as the city of 10,000 shrines Kyoto offers an abundance of history and culture.
Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto was spared from heavy bombings by U.S. Forces during WW ll with many shrines and temples of the city pre-dating this era. Arashiyama
To get some expert advice on how best to spend your time and get the most out of your stay in the city I spoke with Niall Gibson expert guide, travel planner and managing director of kyotofun.com and myjapanadventure.com. from his home Kyoto.
Arashiyama is located on the western outskirts of Kyoto. It’s filled with Buddhist Temples, shrines and the world-famous Bamboo Grove. When’s the best time to visit? What other sites and experiences are possible in Arashiyama?
A visit to Gion, the traditional neighborhood of Kyoto is always high on most everyone’s list as it’s one of the best places to spot real Geishas, or Geikos, (Kyoto), or Geikos in training, Maikos. But how do you tell the difference between a real Geiko and a tourist in a kimono on a cultural experience tour?
Join me for answers to these questions from my guest Niall Gibson, in this episode of Far East Adventure Travel.
Do you suffer from wanderlust? Are you interested in a different kind of travel experience? Perhaps something less touristy, more adventurous? Maybe you're considering it but wonder if adventure travel is right for you? Tune in and find out! During this show, Terrance offers a crash course in adventure travel. She defines it (and the definition may surprise you), shares fun facts, and offers advice regarding this unique type of travel. Learn everything you need to know and where the next frontier of adventure travel will be...
For more information and resources, including Terrance's Trip Pick of the Week and hundreds of FREE travel reports, visit www.terrancetalkstravel.com
Terrance Zepke is a travel agent, author, and adventure travel expert. She has participated in many adventures, such as dog-sledding in the Arctic, camping in the Himalayas, and piranha fishing on the Amazon. She has been featured on most major media, such a Travel with Rick Steves, Travel Channel, The Learning Channel, CNN, National Public Radio, Around the World, Discover Channel, The Washington Post, and Adventure Journal. She is the author of two dozen books including Terrance Talks Travel: A Pocket Guide To African Safaris, The Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel: Save Up To 90% On Lodging, Flights, Tours, Cruises & More!, and Coastal South Carolina: Welcome To The Lowcountry.
It’s one of the most coveted treks in the world. Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Far East Adventure Travel is proud to present two podcasts completely devoted to the magic of trekking this region. From crossing the sometimes trecherous Chola Pass to the final steps arriving at Everest Base Camp. And an early morning ascent of Kala Patthar for one of the best views of Everest in all of Nepal. Join me John Saboe for one of Asia’s great adventures. Trekking to Everest Base Camp.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Right from the start I was in for a hair raising experience. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, rated as one of the most dangerous airports in the world is often canceled in October, the busy season due to weather conditions. If it’s not cloudy or windy in Lukla, it is in Kathmandu, making it extremely tricky to complete scheduled flights. You can be stranded in Lukla for days waiting for a weather window. Same this goes in Kathmandu. Days!
You can avoid the whole worry of flight delays and dangerous weather conditions by trekking all the way to Lukla. Take a bus from Kathmandu to Jiri, about 9 hours. Then just walk for a week! For me, I was extremely lucky to be on one of the first flights that day from Kathmandu to the start of the trek with favorable weather conditions.
Can’t think of a better thing to do when hanging out in a super modern city like Seoul, South Korea then to go for a bike ride. It’s a great way to see another side of life here besides the typical tourist things like visiting temples, museums and going shopping plus it’s so up close to everyday life here.
I actually got my idea for this ride from the latest Lonely Planet Korea guide with a few modifications to the route. Let’s call them accidental modifications. I started out from Yeouido Park where you can rent bikes starting at 3000 won an hour, about $2.50 USD. Yeouido is considered the mecca for cycling in Seoul.
First stop was the Mapo Bridge where there is a designated cycle path making it safe and convenient to check out the views.
The Han River is the fourth longest river on the Korean Peninsula with a total length of almost 500km. This river was once a very large trade route with China through the Yellow Sea however due to estuary location at the borders of North and South Korea the river is no longer actively used for navigation.
An exit ramp from the other side of the bridge takes you to the north side of the river with great cycling paths. Keeping to the left on this path will continue your journey along the Han River. The destination for this cycle is the Seoul World Cup Stadium, built for the FIFA World Cup in 2002.
A great view of the beautiful domed National Assembly Building across the river. the legislative branch of the South Korean national government.
Keep riding along the path past this cliff and under the Yanghwa and Seongsan Bridges.
Excerpts from "Cycling The Megalopolis Of Seoul".
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