. Posted by Sherrie Thai by Shaireproductions.com . I was so pleased to venture through Laos–a quiet country with stunning views (Pakbeng, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, & Vientiane).
Laos, Pakbeng and the Mekong River. I rolled through the border of Laos in Tuk-Tuks (Motor-carts) and caught a houseboat to Pakbeng, while watching families of water buffaloes stroll by. Pakbeng is a small hillside town, with a quiet community of shops, and an interesting 10:30pm curfew. I wondered what would happen if you stayed out past curfew, but was only told that “no one would play with you”. 🙂 At least I was able to catch some ZZ’s to prep for the following days.
Pak Ou Caves. Legend says that ‘long ago, Thailand was set to invade Laos, and the local villagers and monks hid hundreds of Buddha statues away for safe-keeping’; they remain here to this day. It’s inspiring to see the numerous statues throughout this cliff-side shrine–stunning oasis of spirituality.
Luang Prabang: Giving Alms and Wat Xieng Thong. People say that Laos is one of the poorest Asian nations, but I consider it rich in spirituality. Laos is an extremely religious country, with 1 of 3 males becoming a Theravada Buddhist monk at some point in their life. In Laos, this “Tak Bak” alms-giving ritual is a beautiful cultural and religious tradition, where the townspeople gather around 5:30am to offer food to the monks. I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in the alms-giving, with the staple of yummy “sticky rice”. The monks are not allowed to cook and have only one meal a day, so they could concentrate on their studies. Amongst the queue of orange robes, you would see young boys; some are orphans, while others are sent there by families for religious growth and education. Outside of some communities in Laos, schools are scarce, but within the temple walls, classes are set up for the boys. It’s nice to see the symbiotic relationship between the community and the temples.
Kuang Si Waterfalls. This magical natural wonder is located about an hour outside of Luang Prabang.
Elephant Sanctuary and Village. Riding the elephant through the jungles of Laos–simply breathtaking! The elephants were well-treated, and were free to roam about. They’re such gentle, intelligent creatures (with a healthy appetite!)
Vang Vieng: a fun back-packer community. This was my first time tubing–and I did it with style–semi-underwater caves complete with a miner light wrapped around my head. While pulling on a rope, you can float idly through the caves, with the sounds of laughter and splashing water all around you. A morning of kayaking followed soon afterwards, with exquisite views all around.
Vientiane: capital city of Laos. Beautiful mix of native Laotian and French influences in architecture and art. Look out for Snake Wine!
Street Foods: Amazing desserts in Laos with delightful pan-seared sweet coconut milk nuggets, organic all-fruit smoothies, sticky rice in a bamboo shoot, and my favorite–nutella, banana and coconut crepes!
Cope Center. This is a medical rehabilitation center mostly for those victims affected by UXO (Unexploded Ordinances). In Laos, this was part of the “Secret War”, trying to rid the Viet Cong via the Ho Chi Minh trail and other targets nearby. Laos is considered one of the most heavily-bombed nations per capita in the world, with 270 million bombs dropped by the US armed forces during the Vietnam War. 30% of those bombs did not detonate upon impact and are still active, thus affecting Laotians while they tend to their fields, or kids picking up the “bombies”, confusing the vibrant bombs as toys. The Cope Center offers free medical care for those people in need. You could find out more of their great work at their SITE
. Posted by Sherrie Thai by Shaireproductions.com . Below are some photos from my trip to Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap).
Siem Reap: Angkor Wat . Bucket list item–check! So surreal and amazing to visit this sight in person after countless hours of researching and dreaming.
Siem Reap: Bayon Temple (with 200 carved faces) . Exquisite temple–timeless heavenly sculptures that have seen years of history, struggle and survival. Unfortunately, there are Buddha sculptures within these temples that are headless–due to the Khmer Rouge/Pol Pot Regime decapitating them to be sold on the black market for weapons in the 70s.
Siem Reap: Ta Prohm (where “Tomb Raider” was filmed–this & “Angelina Jolie” visits are apparently huge selling points throughout Siem Reap). I love how the trees envelope the sculptures and buildings–it’s almost magical in this interplay of nature and architecture.
Siem Reap: Evening Scenes (Pub Street, New Market and the Red Piano). I adored the energy seeming through the bustling streets and stunning smiles of the locals.
Phnom Penh: Royal Palace
Phnom Penh: City Streets. Great contemporary art and crazy traffic!
Phnom Penh: Genocide Museum & Killing Fields
Very emotional to see these two sites and to fully realize how my family and 2 million other people suffered from the hands of the Khmer Rouge/Pol Pot Regime. The Genocide Museum is treated with reverence. After all these years, it’s interesting to see blossoming trees in the courtyard and small farm animals making these once-horrific spots their home, as a type of reincarnation of life, even forgiveness.
. Posted by Sherrie Thai by Shaireproductions.com . Here are some vacation highlights photos from my first trip to Asia. First up is lively Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai!
Chiang Mai: Wat Phra That Temple. Climb up massive serpent stairs and atop of a hill, you’re greeted with exquisite gold-plated buddhas and an impressive stupa/shrine.
Bangkok: Songkran New Years Water Festival . For 3 days, most of the country shuts down to partake in this fun ritual (which is mostly welcome due to the crazy 95 degree climate). Water is a purification for the coming new year, and the clay is a blessing. In the streets, everyone is fair game for an excellent soaking, except for seniors, babies and the revered monks.
Bangkok: Grand Palace. This locale is full of intricately decorated monuments and sculptures. The artwork is a combination of Buddhist, Hindu and Thai folklore, with beautiful beasts, massive guardian demons and golden angels.
Chiang Rai: Hill Tribes (Karen, Akha, Yao, Lanu). Some of these people are refugees, and others are indigenous people of Thailand, who sustain their living by selling handcrafts to tourists.
Chiang Mai: Night Market and Cabaret Show. I LOVE night markets–food, shopping, culture and fun! Thailand knows how to party!
Chiang Mai: Cooking Pad Thai (dangerous times!) The chef decided to show off his mad skills in the kitchen. I doubt I’ll repeat the dish unless I have proper protection, but I’m pleased to have attempted Tom Yum soup 🙂
Chiang Rai: Wat Rong Khun (White Temple). One of my favorites as it’s a modern take on good vs. evil. You’ll find Batman and the Predator hanging out on the lawn 🙂