Posts Tagged ‘temple’

Temple Day 2: Angkor Wat Sunrise and Banteay Srey

Posted in Cambodia on February 21st, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

On the morning of Friday, February 19th, we got up early at 4:15am and got on the bus at 5:15am to go to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. It was gorgeous! It was crowded but it didn’t matter, there were still excellent views.

Sunrise - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Sunrise - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Sunrise - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We wandered around Angkor Wat for a couple hours while the crowds were small.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Eventually we came to the line to go up to the top terrace. They only let a certain number of people up at a time because the stairs up are steep and dangerous and it would get too crowded otherwise. There were guards turning people away for not wearing the proper attire (shoulders, belly, and knees covered). The view front the top was awesome.

View from Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Ariel top of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We left Angkor Wat and rode the bus for 45 minutes to Banteay Srey, the women’s temple. It’s a small temple with amazing relief carvings.

Banteay Srey, Cambodia

Banteay Srey, Cambodia

On the way home we had a brief stop at the Landmine Museum ($2 admission).

In the evening mom donated blood at a children’s hospital.

Donating blood in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Then we had massages and I did the fish massage where the little fish nibble your feet. It tickled A LOT.  Tomorrow we are leaving Siem Reap for Kampong Cham.

Temple Day 1: Preah Khan, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Pre Rup

Posted in Cambodia on February 20th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Thursday, February 18th, was day 1 of temple touring. First we bought our mandatory temple passes. The price was $20 for 1 day, $40 for 2 days, or $60 for 7 days. The thing about these passes, though, is that they are sold by a Vietnamese hotel chain called Sokha Hotel Inc. Guards are posted at all the entrances to the temples checking passes, so you have to buy one to see the temples. BUT this company does nothing to maintain the temples! They just give 15% of their profits to the very corrupt Cambodian government and keep the rest for themselves. UNESCO maintains the temples. This hotel company just has a huge scam going on to make a ton of money. It’s sickening and I’m sorry I participated in it.

The temples were all lovely, of course. First we went to Preah Khan, which ended up being my favorite. Built in the late 12th century as a Buddhist monastery, it is filled with beautiful carvings, reliefs, trees growing out of the walls, and tons of passages, rooms, and courtyards to explore. We were with our Intrepid group and we kind of rushed through, only staying for an hour. This wasn’t enough for mom and I so we ditched the group and stayed for another hour. I’m glad we did; there was so much more to see!

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Apsara dancers carving - Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Preah Khan, Cambodia

Next we took a tuk-tuk to Bayon, the temple with all the carved stone faces. Bayon was also very cool, but I’m glad we spent more time at Preah Khan and less at Bayon. Also Buddhist and built in the 12th century, Bayon has 37 huge towers and almost all of them have 4 large faces carved on them. We ran into our group at Bayon so we got a free ride back to the hotel. Good timing.

Bayon, Cambodia

Bayon, Cambodia

Bayon, Cambodia

We had a rest at the hotel and a walk for ice cream in the afternoon before heading out to Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is famous because it was the setting for the movie Tomb Raider, and it is unfortunatly overcrowded for the same reason. It’s a lovely temple, notable for the many trees still growing out of and over it, but the large crowds and recently installed wooden walkways really detract from the expierience.

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

For sunset we went to Pre Rup, a Hindu temple built in the late 10th century. It’s quite tall so it made for a nice place to watch the sunset, despite the many other tourists who had the same idea.

Pre Rup, Cambodia

Sunset - Pre Rup, Cambodia

In the evening we had dinner at a place on Pub Street called the Temple Club where they had cheap drinks and a free traditional dancing show, a fine combination.

Cambodian Apsara Dance

Tomorrow we’re getting up bright and early to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. :)

Layover in Narita Japan

Posted in Japan on August 11th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

After leaving Indonesia we had a 10 hour layover in Narita, so we decided to get out and see Narita city rather than spend more time in the airport. On the plane to Narita we filled out immigration and customs forms for Japan. In the “reason for stay” and “address in Japan” sections we wrote “transit” and listed our length of stay as one day.

narita airport

Narita is a small temple town that provides a nice peek into the quieter side of Japanese life. The main attraction is the Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple, a large Zen Buddhist temple complex with awesome pagodas and lovely lush grounds.

We arrived at the Tokyo/Narita International Airport at around 7:00am. There we stored our bags in the airport lockers. We fit both our bags in one large locker which cost us 500 yen for the day, but lucky for us someone left their 500 yen coin in the coin return slot so we ended up storing our bags for free. We then withdrew some yen from an ATM before heading to the train station on the lowest floor of the airport terminal. There we discovered vending machines with canned coffee drinks. We each bought one which started a day long canned coffee trend that went a little far and left us uncomfortably wired by the time we returned to the airport that afternoon.

japanese canned coffee

We caught the Keisei Line train towards Narita city, rode for around 10 minutes, and got off at the first stop, Narita town.

narita train

From the train station we walked straight out the door, past the bus station which lead us to the main town square. On the other side of the town square near the Japan Rail station is a Tourist Information Center where we headed to get maps of the city.

narita street

narita street

Armed with our maps, we headed for the Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple. There are many signs pointing you in the direction of the temple, and the winding road you walk down to get there is lined with shops and restaurants.

narita street

Before going into the temple, we hit up another coffee vending machine. At this point in the day the coffee was still needed to shake the xanax we’d taken for the flight. It wasn’t until two coffees later that we started to regret our consumption.

narita coffee

The Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple was quite lovely and I enjoyed the few hours we spent wandering around the grounds.

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple entrance

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple turtles

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple hand washing

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple map

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

Naritasan Shinshō-ji Temple

After the temple we headed back towards the main part of town. Along the way we stopped at a grocery store where I bought a huge apple and a pack of peanuts for lunch. We then went to McDonalds so Ryan could eat. I snapped a few pictures while he ate.

japanese woman with face mask

japanese schoolboy

We bought more coffee… just because.

narita coffee

Next we went to the 100 yen store where we bought a couple souvenirs and… more coffee!

narita street

We headed back to the train station and chatted with some travelers from Hawaii while waiting for the train back to the airport. Here’s one final picture from Japan: the women’s toilet control panel. Look at all those fancy options! I totally tried a few out… it was kinda weird.

japanese toilet

And so concludes this installment of my vagablonding adventures. I’m not sure where I will be headed next, but I’ve got the travel bug and I know it won’t be long before I’m off again. Until next time, friends!

Campuan Ridge walk and central Bali tour

Posted in Indonesia on June 9th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 4 Comments

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Today we set out on the Campuan Ridge walk, listed in Lonely Planet. The first section of the walk was uphill in the sun through elephant grass fields. We saw workers cutting down the grass and enjoyed some stunning views.

elephantgrass

The next section of the walk was through rice paddies where we also saw workers. We met a painter named Wayan Rana in Sebali Village and stopped to chat with him for a while. His paintings were much cheaper than we expected – first price 50,000 for a small framed one. A local guy on a motorbike stopped and tried to sell us some carved bone buttons. We politely refuse and he went on his way, hassle-free.

rice fields

rice field worker

houses and rice fields

Then we walk on road back to Ubud and saw some residential life. On the way home we stopped at the big Bintang supermarket and got our first beers of the trip for 11,300. The cashier tried to shortchange me but I corrected her. Ryan resisted buying a 5 gallon bucket of strawberry ice cream for 22,500. We went to a super cheap street in middle of Ubud – Jl Goutama, and ate at place called Biah-Biah where I got Sayar Urab for 3,000 and steamed rice for 4,000. It was so good and filled me up. We were lazy for the rest of the day and just used internet and Ryan ate dinner at Pundi-Pundi again.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Today we took a tour around the central / eastern area of Bali with a company called Jalan-Jalan for 150,000 each from 9am-4pm. We had a driver and car which we shared with one other american guy who was unfortunately an annoying complainer.

The first stop was Goa Gajah (elephant cave temple) which was alright, kinda lame, not bad as a stop on a larger tour but I wouldn’t make it a destination. There were lots of school kids there, we took pictures with them throwing gang signs, it was a riot.

bali kids

Next we went to Tampak Siring (the Holy Spring Temple) which was prettier and more interesting. There were lots of school kids there again and a group of boys followed us around asking me for kisses! The temple has a hot spring that worshipers bath in. You can see the spring and it looks cool – black sand bubbling up in the water.

On the way to the next stop we went to a local coffee roaster / spice farmer’s place called Sai Land where we sampled some of THE BEST coffee I have ever had. Our favorite was the chocolate and coffee mix but we also tried ginger tea and pure coffee. While there we talked for a while with the owner about the harvesting and roasting process of the regular coffee and the civit cat poop coffee, as well as more personal topics like the upcoming naming ceremony for his almost-3-month-old child! I bought a box of ginger tea from their shop for 35,000 because I thought it was so delicious and I’m sure it will be glad I have it the next time I have a cold.

coffee

After the holy spring we went to Penelokan where we stopped for a lovely view of Mt. Batur and Lake Batur.

batur-volcano

Next stop, Besakih (mother temple), the biggest and most important temple in Bali, located on the slope of Mt. Agung. It was pouring rain the whole time and I was car sick from the windy drive up, but it was beautiful so I enjoyed it. Because this temple is so important only worshippers are allowed inside but tourists can go on the outside stairs and peek in the doorways. There are a fair amount of ‘guides’ trying to scam people around the temple, telling you that you need their services when you don’t, or telling you they can get you in the temple when they can’t (if you do get in you risk being slapped with a huge fine). It’s no big deal, just say ‘no thank you’ to everyone and keep walking.

besakih-temple

temple-procession

After the mother temple we were taken to a restaurant at Bukit Jambul for an amazing view of the rice terraces – and an amazingly expensive buffet lunch (I skipped the food and Ryan ordered something less expensive al la cart).

rice paddies

Our last stop was Klungkung, aka Semarapura, which used to be the center of an important kingdom in Bali. We didn’t see many other westerners here so we were getting some funny looks, but we did see more police and military than we have seen anywhere else.  Here we opted to skip the temple and instead sat on some stairs at the Puputan Monument and watched school kids learning drill-down type exercises and an informal soccer game.

klungkung

We headed home pretty worn out. For dinner we wandered to Pizza Bagus which had fast wifi, a mellow atmosphere, and cheap not so great pizza, but we hung out and split a big Pizza Ricotta Spinaci with chicken added to Ryan’s half for 45,000 and two small Bintangs for 23,000.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

For breakfast at Artini 3 today I had an egg Jaffle which I originally assumed was just waffle spelled wrong, but it’s actually egg or banana between two pieces of toast. It came with fruit and was pretty yummy.

We got a ride to Ganesha Bookstore but didn’t buy anything because it was much pricier than we expected. We walked around and found another bookstore and bought a used copy of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone for 35,000. We needed a book to read because tomorrow we are leaving for a very sleepy town called Amed on Bali’s East coast where we hear there is great snorkeling and diving and… peace and quiet!

We bought a t-shirt each at the market for 35,000 total, and then I bought a beautiful dress in a shop for 180,000 which is spendy for Bali but this dress rocks and would cost a ton at home. It looks fantastic on me so I figured what the hell.

We ate lunch on our favorite cheap street again, this time at a place called Dewa Warung. I got Gado-Gado (mixed veggies with temphe and peanut sauce) for 8,000, Temphe Satay for 10,000 and a coke for 4,000 which turned out to be waaay more food than I needed but I ate most of it because it was delish. The place had a nice expat backpacker vibe to it and the food was great and dirt cheap.

The evening was spent lounging in the pool, doing laundry by hand in our bathtub, and hanging out at Pundi-Pundi drinking coffee for a couple hours while we researched hotels in Amed for tomorrow. We booked the same driver from Jalan-Jalan that we had for the tour yesterday for 250,000 total for the drive.

I have enjoyed Ubud a lot and plan to come back at the end of our trip. Now on to Amed!