Friday, September 26, 2008

The provinces bordering the Cambodian border are rich in ancient architectural wonders

Hot, dry and very dusty for much of the year, the Kingdom's eastern provinces along the ThaiCambodia border are best explored during the rainy season. Although the heat can still be a killer between downpours, there are so many natural and ancient attractions scattered across Prachin Buri and neighbouring Sa Kaeo, which was elevated to provincial status in 1993, that this area more than merits the drive from Bangkok for a weekend break.

Known for their topclass national parks, waterfalls and whitewater rafting courses, both Prachin Buri and Sa Kaeo boast a number of classic Dvaravati and Khmer temples dating back more than a millennium. The drive to the two provinces is like journeying back in time through Thai and Khmer history and art ending, for those who wish it, in a very modern Vegasstyle spread just across the border from Aranyaprathet.

For time efficiency, it makes sense to start your itinerary from the far end and work inwards. At 236 kilometres from Bangkok an easy threehour drive the hilly expanse of Sa Kaeo is strewn with remnants of ancient Khmer heritage that spill over from the Korat plateau in lower Isaan

For history buffs, this is an ideal destination for many reasons. First, these lesserknown Khmer temples are a lot older than the famous ones like Angkor Wat. Secondly, many of these are tucked away deep in the forest and are relatively unknown to most tourists.

It's a long drive to Sa Kaeo, but Road 359 offers priceless views of endless eucalyptus plantations set against a backdrop of distant hills as the road rises and dips through slopes all the way to the provincial capital. Driving in the rain, you almost get to touch rain clouds hovering just above treetops.

Ironically, the first landmark you'll notice is not an ancient temple but rather a Baan Uathorn (lowcost) housing estate at the beginning of Road 348. Rows of white houses with blue tile roofs contrast beautifully with the green swamp but memories of that eye candy soon fade on the approach to Sadokkokthom Temple in Khok Sung subdistrict, the biggest Khmer temple in eastern Thailand. Still in a much better condition than any other in the province, the temple lies east and is just 400 metres from the Cambodian border. Beyond the borderline are unmarked minefields in Banteay Meanchey.

Tucked away behind rural villages and surrounded by big trees, the temple has two large baray (reservoir) to the east and the north, the former the biggest at 240 by 440 metres. Inscriptions from two stone blocks (now kept at the National Library) found here reveal that the temple was unusual.

Built of laterite and pink sandstone from Khao Lone nine km to the north during the reign of King Aditayavarma II (10491066), Sadokkokthom was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Chairat Sakulpram, a volunteer guide, says that the temple was the most important of all in the area because it was the centre of knowledge for all Brahmins who wanted to serve in the royal Khmer court. They came here to study all aspects of the religious protocol before entering the service in the ancient court.

Much of the damage, Chairat says, is the result of looting that started during the 1960s, much of thought to have been perpetrated by GIs stationed in the northeast in the wake of the Vietnam War.

The partially disfigured reclining vishnu lintel still adorns the gopura but the Shiva Linga from the main tower sanctuary is now missing.

From Sadokkokthom Temple, it's tempting to visit Aranyaprathet just opposite Poi Pet if for no other reason but to observe Cambodian life without actually crossing the border markets. These day, visitors come to Aranyaprathet for three main reasons: to try their luck in one of the casinos just over the border, to hail a Toyota Camry taxi for a Bt500 trip to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat or to shop at Talat Rong Klua market for handicrafts and products from Tonle Sap, Vietnam and China.

It's a hot and dusty market full of contradictions, with young Cambodians both selling their wares and begging for mercy. On the other side, buses with the names of casinos plastered on the windshield ferry gamblers across the border.

Around Aranyaprathet, there are a few more Khmer temples to be found. Since most are in ruins beyond restoration, they are better ignored. Instead, turn the car inland and head towards Prachin Buri on Highway 33.

Downtown Prachin Buri, just 155km from Bangkok, is a frenzied market town with ubiquitous restaurants, glassfront barber's shops and beauty salons. A favourite spot with locals is the Bang Pakong River, which boasts countless riverfront restaurants, temples and a spectacular Chinese shrine on its banks.

One of the best known attractions is Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, home to the renowned colonialstyle Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr building. Built in 1909 as a residence for King Rama V on his next visit to Prachin Buri, it was never graced by the monarch, as he passed away the following year. However, it did serve other members of the royal family including King Rama VI who visited in 1911.

Named after the son of the Cambodian ruler of Battambang who served the Fifth King when this city and other parts of Cambodia came under Siam's rule, the hospital is now known as a centre of traditional Thai medicine and produces the kingdom's best known line of herbal products.

From Prachin Buri, it's an easy drive south on Road 319 to the ancient Dvaravati city of Si Mahosot. Or, if you've had enough of history, can head northwards on Road 3077 to Khao Yai National Park with its renowned waterfalls, camping sites and wildlife observation stations

A favourite stopover on the northern route is Haeo Narok waterfall (literally "the hellish abyss"), which made the headlines some years ago when some hapless elephant calves strayed off the beaten track and fell 60 metres to their death.

Heading back to the urban sprawl, you either exit on the other side of the national park, in Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima, and pop into Choke Chai farm for some tasty ice cream made from real milk, or make your way back to Prachin Buri and admire King Naresuan Shrine right at the intersection of Road 3077 and Highway 33.

After that, follow the highway for 15km to Nong Chaom fruit market, then turn left into Road 319 for Bangkok with a stop at Si Mahosot ancient city.

Prachin Buri and Sa Kaeo make for an incredible driving experience and a great weekend stay - check them out while the weather is still pleasantly cool and the showers still frequent.
Macau is not all about shopping and trying your luck in the casinos. This Sino-Portuguese isle is packed with things to see, places to go and fusion grub to enjoy.

Thanks to its EastmeetsWest character, Macau prides itself on fascinating architecture and the nostalgia of a World Heritage site.

Chinese decor is found in the famous AMa Temple, Kuan Tai Temple and many other small shrines tucked away in the street corners, while Portuguese traces are prominent in Macau's many squares, fortresses and bazaars.

Along the Inner Harbour, which is the old town of Macau, you'll see Chinese temples and Portuguese churches side by side. A stroll around reveals a former Portuguese community, Lilua Square, St Augustine's Square, the Old City's Wall, Guia Fortress, the Protestant Cemetery, St Anthony's Church and old Mandarinstyle houses and buildings.

A mustsee is the famous landmark ruin of St Paul's, a 16thcentury Church of Mater Dei destroyed in a fire in 1835. A few minutes' walk away is Senado Square, a massive shopping arcade full of local and internationalbrand shops.

The museums are also worth visiting, especially the Grand Prix Museum, opened in 1993 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix. It displays racing cars and trophies of celebrity racers, including Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard.

Don't forget to climb the 338metretall Macau Tower, where you can see the whole island - or skydive from the 61st floor!

Macanese food - a marriage of Chinese and Portuguese cuisine - is another thing that has to be tasted. Inspired by traditional Chinese dish, the grub is spiced up Portuguese style.

Try some codfish cakes, lemongarlic prawns and clams, pig's ear salad, African chicken and caldo verde soup. Then sweeten your palate with the famous crispy and smooth egg tart, milky sweet serra dura or creamy tijelada.
Nice day on the Cote d'Azur; early morning walk on the 'Promenade des Anglais'; sea calm, blue sky; bathers grasp the sun on the beach;
Nice day on the Cote d'Azur; early morning walk on the 'Promenade des Anglais'; sea calm, blue sky; bathers grasp the sun on the beach;

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Komodo National Park is famed for its monstrous lizards, but if you prefer not to have your abdomen ripped open by the fastmoving, splayclawed carnivores, the scuba diving there is fabulous.

In most places the sea is pristine and virtually untouched, thanks to the park's remoteness.

The park in Nusa Tenggara Barat province's West Flores consists of three islands - Komodo, Rinca and Padar.

It was established in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, found there and nowhere else on earth, and its status as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve further indicates how sensitive the flora and fauna are.

I have dived in many wonderful places, but most pale in comparison to the colour and splendour of West Flores.

Most of the reefs are in immaculate condition. The coral is healthy

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yesterday invited for dinner at cozy location, overlooking the Baie des Anges, breathtaking view. Weather turns chillier by the day now;

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Went to Antibes tonight to watch a football game. Returned at 10.00. Weather getting chillier,
nights now stiff.
Still, we enjoyed a bit of sunshine in Nice 's Rue Pieton near Massena.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Spent the day in Mougins near Grasse. Nice town near Cannes, southern France. Today featured a "Vide Grenier". Hundreds of sellers displaying their ware around the town. You can reach Grass and Mougins from Cannes railway station by bus 600. Actually it is very convenient. The bus on the Cote is only 1 Euro subsidized fare. One can take the public bus with 1 Euro fare to all destinations within the Alpes Maritimes region.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Raining in Nice, France; gruesome scenes whilst walking on Avenue Jean Medecin. An attacker bashed his motorcycle helmet three times on a poor guys head, leaving him completely immobile. Profusely bleeding from his ears, no-body came to the rescue of the poor victim. Everything went so fast leaving everyone on the scene stunned. The whole thing happened on a street side cafe. Of course Police was nowhere to be found and within minutes the attacker was out of sight. Looked like a Mafia style hit carried out with a motorcycle helmet. The force of the helmet was enough to send the vicitim crashing between tables and chairs. What a memorable day on the Cote. Its a rainy day, its a rainy day .... The sailing boats have now dispappeared .... http:///

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wondering if you have been to Milan before.
If so - you missed out some great things.

Let's start from arriving in Milan, the great Italian city, capital of Lombardy.

This is the Hotel that features a former Mental Hospital or Ospedale Psichiatrico.
The Hostel is called Ostellolinda.
website :
Weird as it sounds, it also is.
Guests staying in the dormitories report strange sounds coming from behind walls at night.

Who knows perhaps some mental patients still lie there forgotten. One never wonders in Italy.

Radios glaring, guests are few, and staff even more so.

Well I didn't chose the place. Rather than that we coped with the 3 star Demidoff which is praised by lots of visitors, for whatever reason I did not make out.
Rooms are neat, cosy, spick and span. TV's only in Italian, so you need to quickly make up on language skills or be left out.
Italian room rates in Italy are steep. A 140 Euro setback occurs on a daily base. And that's for a start.
Go in for something bigger and your wallet takes an even worse hit.
Then the breakfast. It tops the list of all breakfasts in Italy and must so - I'm sure - elsewhere.
First morning - 1st surprise - no bread (rolls) left at 09.00 a.m. Complain to the Manager, and you're told that it would take 1 hour before new bread arrives.
So you cope with whatever is on hand. Dry crackers, cheeses, jam (these ones come plentiful), some fruit yogurts, which isn't that bad.
Cappuccino is on the house (which actually is surprising).
Some fruit tart wasn't bad though.
No exceptions. All guests arriving afterwards won't see even one piece of bread.
Complaints aren't welcome, nor noticed.
I vowed not to keep quiet, so this is my contribution.
If you go to Milano, ever, give the Demidoff a miss. It simply isn't worth the money.
Better head for the mental Hospital - Hostel.

in Milano, Italy

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big oil and Republicans a cozy relationship ....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Venetian delight

Area: 18.365 kmq
People: 4.381.000 ¿ 238 in./kmq
Chief town: Venice

By the administrative point of view, the Venice region is divided in the seven provinces of Belluno, Padua, Rovigo, Treviso, Venice, Verona, Vicenza. It includes the north-oriental division of Padanian land, between the Garda lake and the Adriatic sea and the Po, and a mountain division, represented by the Venetian Prealps and by an area of the Dolomitian Alps. These occupy the most northern appendix of the region, which extends to the high dock of the Piave river and goes as far as the border with Austria. In the level district rise lonelies the volcanic mountains Berici and Euganei. Besides Po, other important rivers are the Adige, the Brenta, the Piave, the Tagliamento. The coast area, low and sandy, is bordered by lagoons; Venice is in the centre of the most extensive lagoon. In the mountain district prevail the forest economy and the breeding. In the hilly district, at the foot of the prealpin mountains, is spread the vine-growing with production of famous wines. In the land are spread corn, sugar beet, tobacco, mulberry, potatoes, forage¿s cultivationes. Spread is the breeding. Prevail the textile industries, above all the wool industries of the Alto Vicentino; then there are industries of the hemp, the silk, the flax, the cotton. Importants the sugar mills of Polesine, the chemical and metallurgical industries of Porto Marghera and the mechanical works spread everywhere. Spread the Murano glass handcraft, the Burano lace handcraft, the glasses industries in Cadore, the art¿s forniture handcraft in Venice and Verona. Intense the fishery, either in the sea (Chioggia) or in the marshes. Numerous are the mountain and the bathing resorts along all the coast.
If your aim was to drive traffic, you won't be disappointed. The hundreds are streaming to see the 'Moringa people' site. We learn more from people around the world. Moringa people.
All friends - Brutal atrocities are carried out agains Christian brothers in India, Orissa State. Follow the events and click on the link provided here :

Flickr photoset

My Flickr set
clipped from
Blue Dragon Vase-1

Your photostream
118 items / 1,144 views

Flickr logo. If you click it, you'll go home
 blog it

More from the stumbler

Chinese vases collections
a 52 year-old guy in a relationship

Life of diversity FACEBOOK HEINZ on WORDPRESS Africasiaeuro Moringa Project Aheneghana Heinz Spaces Badongo Twitter
HeinzsPagesOnline now · Joined May 11/07
's: 598 · Fans: 61

Try out the NEW (beta) version of this page!
 blog it

More from the stumbler

Chinese vases collections
a 52 year-old guy in a relationship

Life of diversity FACEBOOK HEINZ on WORDPRESS Africasiaeuro Moringa Project Aheneghana Heinz Spaces Badongo Twitter
HeinzsPagesOnline now · Joined May 11/07
's: 598 · Fans: 61

Try out the NEW (beta) version of this page!
 blog it


Stumbleupon pages
a 52 year-old guy in a relationship

Life of diversity FACEBOOK HEINZ on WORDPRESS Africasiaeuro Moringa Project Aheneghana Heinz Spaces Badongo Twitter
HeinzsPagesOnline now · Joined May 11/07
's: 598 · Fans: 61

Try out the NEW (beta) version of this page!
 blog it
Thailand - violence turns bloody  clipped from www.channelnewsasia.comThailand declares state of emergency in Bangkok

Posted: 02 September 2008 0834 hrs BANGKOK: Thailand's embattled prime minister declared a state of emergency in the capital Tuesday after thousands of his opponents and supporters clashed in the worst street violence here in more than a decade.

One person was killed and dozens were injured, some of them from gunshot wounds, as a week of mass protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej spilled over into bloodshed overnight.

Samak had previously said he would not use force to push out the thousands of protesters who have occupied the main government complex since last week, but after the violence said it was now time for them to go.
See this clip on
stop attacks against Indian Christians  clipped from www.gfa.orgChristians Flee to Forests as Mob
Violence Escalates in Indian StateMob violence in India's Orissa state continues to escalate, and reports coming from Gospel for Asia leaders in Orissa say that as many as 20 GFA-related churches were destroyed and hundreds of Christian families have been burned out of their homes. At least a dozen members of GFA-related churches have been murdered, but no one knows the overall death toll."The Christians in Orissa have fled for their lives into the forests," GFA President K.P. Yohannan said, "and some have been in hiding for three days without food or water.New Attacks on Christians Spark Riots in Battered Orissa, IndiaSee this clip on  clipped from www.gospel.comThis is a repost of a Gospel For Asia update on the situation in Orissa. Head over to their site find out ways in which to pray for them.Increasing attacks on Gospel for Asia-related work in Orissa have resulted in the deaths of at least six local believers since radical mobs went on a rampage after the murder of a leading anti-Christian activist.Saturday night, Swami Laxamanananda Saraswati, a top leader of the VHP (World Hindu Council), was killed in an attack by 20 men suspected of being Maoist rebels. The Maosts had earlier warned the swami to leave the area. The attack, which included gunfire and a hand grenade, also killed four other people.According to the latest reports, at least six Christians who attended GFA-related churches have been killed.There are even reports of Catholic nuns being gang raped and murdered by the extremists. Some children and their parents have been in hiding, without food or water, since the rioting began on Sunday.deaths reported and attacksSee this clip on

Monday, September 1, 2008

Textiles company gone bust  clipped from www.vol.atPoker um F. M. HämmerleDornbirn - Nach der Übernahme der in Konkurs befindlichen Dornbirner Textilwerke F. M. Hämmerle durch die indische Oswal-Gruppe ist ein neuer Poker um das Unternehmen im Gange. See this clip on