Laos: Vientiane

Since a few years I have maintained a tradition to meet New Year in a different country. This is why I flew in Laos on the 31st of December, 2017.

Welcome to Vientiane, the capital of Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

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Vientiane is incredibly quiet and relaxing for a capital – even on the 1st of January.

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A morning walk starts with nice temple garden.

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The city abounds with serene Buddhist temples (wats). On the photo: Wat Inpeng – a very colourful temple with beautiful murals.

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The inside of the temple’s door.

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Next to the main building of the temple there are smaller sights.

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Including a little horse.

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Local transport – “Eye of the Tiger.”

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Xieng Nyeun Temple – one of the most important Buddhist monasteries.

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Laos used to be a French colony. The Patuxay war memorial is reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

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View from above the Monunent onto the capital’s main avenue – Lane Xang.

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The former French presence can be still traced in the street names.

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Government’s Office.

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Pha That Luang – a large a gold-covered Buddhist stupa.

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Tradition and modernity: Buddha and 4G internet.

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Buddha’s feet.

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Lively atmosphere at the Mekong riverside at night.

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Time for local delights.

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People chilling out at the riverside. Mekong is central to the livelihoods of many Southeast Asian countries.

 

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Siem Reap – a Cambodian Disneyland?

Spending my time at Phnom Penh’s riverside, I met a Frenchman who had just come back from Siem Reap, the town where the iconic Angkor Wat is. He told me the place is a “Disneyland for tourists.”

After visiting it myself, I think he was pretty much right. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. It is still possible to find space – physical and mental – for yourself in this mega-popular destination.

Among the tons of moments I select some of the most meaningful (for me) for this post.

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No advertisement, but here I did feel great. On a side note, there’s no place like home :).

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“Brevity is the sister of talent.” (c) Anton Chekhov.

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The Green Home is an ecology friendly sustainable place with its own water supply, recycling system, and home-grown food. That bungalow brought me nice conversations with the person who engineered all this. And the owner was smart to tap into post-materialist values of tourists.

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A great spot to lie and contemplate about the unbearable lightness of being.

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… Or stroll and do the same.

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An early bird catches the worm. Exploring temples is best in the first morning hours.

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Hidden in the trees.

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Twins.

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All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,

Without any companion it stood there uttering joyous leaves of dark green,

And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself. (c) Walt Whitman

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Anaconda turned into a tree root. 

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The Guardian is watching you from the depth of Time.

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Goodbye, the year of the Rooster!

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Good morning, the day of the Butterfly.

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I would remove the garbage bin as the last sign of the “modern man.”

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“The shadow of your smile … when all are gone.” (c) Adapted from Frank Sinatra.

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Transformation.

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After climbing uphill for half an hour in melting heat nothing tastes better that a natural fresh Jacuzzi.

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Man, why you’re looking at me?

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Better watch this.

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Life isn’t that bad after all.

 

 

 

Kingdom of Cambodia: Phnom Penh

In the December 2018 I had a chance to visit Cambodia. My trip began in the capital Phnom Penh, the country’s biggest city located on the banks of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong rivers.

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Riverside next to the Royal Palace on a rainy day

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Flower markets are abundant due to many Buddhist temples.

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Wat Ounalom – a major Buddhist complex next to the riverside

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Unusual building of the National Museum of Cambodia

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Pigeons next to the Royal Palace

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Peaceful Wat Botum Park next to Wat Botum – “Temple of the Lotus Blossoms”

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Golden bird and the playground in Wat Botum Park

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A view from one of my favourite places – a Buddhist temple Wat Phnom.

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Entrance to Wat Phnom from the street

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Pink guardians of the temple.

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On top of the hill, around the corner of the Wat Phnom temple. Here, in the centre of a busy city, it feels calm and relaxing.

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Hot frog from Singapore? 🙂

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And riverside again during daytime – my most favourite place.

Leiden: University, Garden, and sea

During my short visit to the Netherlands, I had a chance to spend some time in Leiden and its suburbs Katwijk.

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Katwijk is a small town just 15 minutes away by bus from Leiden.

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It is situated at the coast of the North Sea,

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Sea is always beautiful, even in nasty weather.

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Leiden’s railway station connects the town by rail with Amsterdam.

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Walking along Stationsweg early in the morning.

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Leiden is a small town known for its old architecture, canals, bridges, and windmills.

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Morning lights and quietness along the Steenschuur canal created a mystical atmosphere.

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Good morning, Leiden.

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A small side street opposite the Botanical Garden.

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Arrived at the Leiden University.

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Campus area. Leiden University is the oldest in the country, dating from 1575.

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Charming rainy street.

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At the entrance of Leiden Botanical Garden, the oldest botanical garden of the Netherlands.

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The Garden is full of visitors despite the cold weather. I stopped my exploration here due to lack of time.

Amsterdam (2): public library, ferry, and North

Continuing a one-day exploration of Amsterdam end of October.

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The Oosterpark is a chill out place.

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Although honestly, I like Singapore’s parks more :).

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Amsterdam is perfect for cycling. They says there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people.

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NEMO Science Museum at the Oosterdok.

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Amsterdam Central Library – a public library with an automated lending and returning of books.

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Inside the library.

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From Amsterdam-Centrum to Amsterdam-Noord: taking a free public ferry across the river IJ.

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People bring their bikes and motorcycles on board.

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The central railway station: view from behind.

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Views on the other side.

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This colour stands out in the rainy weather.

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A peaceful forest setting in northern Amsterdam.

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What a twist of fate: I found the location of the company (Albemarle) I used to work for from Budapest.

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What can I say? A nation of cyclists!

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Goodbye, Amsterdam!