The collected writings of a Renegade Tourist

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Wat Pra Kaeow, 10:45 am

Two buildings right next to each other, one predominantly blue, the other predominantly green. The walls are covered in glazed, lozenge shaped tiles, each of which is adorned with a bas relief flower; the gaps between the tiles is painted gold. The multi tiered roofs, tiled in red and green, are supported by pillars covered in mirror glass mosaic sparkling with silver in the sun, and gold painted decorations. It’s all a bit hard to take in, so much splendor, so much fine detail. Of course, it doesn’t help that the place is crowded with tourists, every time you want … Read the rest

The Big Indochina Trip: the temples of Angkor, the last day. 

After our sunrise excursion yesterday we decided to let ourselves sleep as long as we wanted. We spent the morning shopping for handicrafts and taking care of various other things. 

After lunch we called up our tuk tuk driver and set off to the temples one last time. We started with one called Preah Khan which is just north of Angkor Thom. It is in much worse shape than the others, with large piles of rubble, and whole rooms that are inaccessible. The parts that are still standing however have some beautiful carvings.

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Angkor Wat 4:10 pm

This place is absolutely massive, in fact it’s the largest building in the world, so it should be able to swallow massive amounts of visitors. Yet here I am, in the longest queue I’ve seen in more than two months of traveling. From the stairs leading up to the main stupa, it goes around the corner all the way along the north wall, down to the opposite side of the stupa. I don’t like standing in line but I can’t come to the most famous temple ruin in south east Asia and skip the main shrine, so here I stand…… Read the rest

The Big Indochina Trip: the temples of Angkor day 2

I’ve heard from several sources that you should see Angkor Wat at sunrise, so this morning we forced ourselves out of our comfortable bed at four o’clock. Our Tuk Tuk driver picked us up and we set off into the cold, starry night. 

When we arrived at the temple there were already some people waiting but we managed to claim a spot right at the edge of the pool facing the temple. Soon there was a veritable crowd, three rows deep lining the edge of the pool, we were lucky to be so early. After a while we started seeing … Read the rest

Ta Prom temple, 2:35 pm

There’s a large tree straddling the top of the ancient building. The roots, as big as a man’s leg or bigger, come spilling down the walls like a mass of grey tentacles over the dark, moss covered stone. From the top of the roof, the trunk shoots up towards the blue sky, to the green crown high above. In front of the building is a small wooden platform, on it, two Chinese women posing for a photo and in front of the platform, a long line of tourists, all waiting for their chance to take a picture. The place is … Read the rest

Bayon temple, 11:37 am

It’s well neigh impossible to capture this place on a photo. In the middle, the giant, mountainlike central stupa, the peak soaring above the rest of the temple. The sides of the stupa are crumbling, large blocks of stone missing and the reliefs that used to depict faces have withered away during hundreds of years of neglect. Around it there are four smaller towers, one in each direction of the compass, the tops of which consist of four faces, facing four different directions. Lower down, on the sides of both the main stupa and the surrounding towers are  dark openings leading in … Read the rest

Florence

Today was our last whole day in Italy, and we spent it in Florence. This is a much bigger city than all the other places we have visited, with lots of things to see. I’m sure you could spend several days there checking out the various churches, palaces and museums but we only had one afternoon, so we focused in on the main goals, the cathedral and the Uffizi art gallery. Because this is such a popular tourist destination, there was of course a lot of people, with massive queues for the biggest attractions; to skip the queue we decided … Read the rest

Toscana

During most of my business trips my parents and I don’t bother to see each other but this time, since my wife joined, they couldn’t resist. So on Tuesday Yini and I took the train north from Napoli to a small town called Chiusi Chianciano Terme in Toscana where my parents picked us up in their rental car. The hotel is in another town not too far away from Chiusi but there are several picturesque little towns in the area so we stopped by a place called Pienza and strolled around there for an hour or so before going to … Read the rest

Alishan

When we go on this kind of short trip we usually don’t do much research or planning before hand. This means we’re always taking a bit of a chance with the places we go to, normally it works out just fine but sometimes It doesn’t; today things didn’t go as well as we hoped. We were planning to hike the Spi Spi trail to a place called Titanic Rock. When we got to the trailhead however, a sign informed us it would take two and a half hours to hike there which we felt would demand better preparation, so we … Read the rest

Over the mountains and to the coast

Last night Yini went to the hotel’s hot spring to relax, but since we had a private one in our room I stayed in writing last night’s blog entry instead. This morning we went down to the river in Wulai and found some natural hot springs. Since Yini did plenty of soaking the night before, she opted out but I went in to enjoy the waters. It is a really special experience, in my book it’s better than the resorts. You sit there in a small pool built from river rocks, in a mix of hot and cold water, one … Read the rest

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