Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Temple of Dawn and the National Museum

After returning from my trip to Thailand and Cambodia over the weekend, I have been posting photos from Bangkok. So far I have covered the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The next location I visited last Friday was Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn. Wat Arun is currently being renovated and the main temple is covered in scaffolding. To get there, I took a boat for 3 Baht (about 8 cents) across the Chao Phraya River from Wat Pho to Wat Arun.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Small tour boat on the Chao Phraya.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Wat Arun, 22 Apr 2016.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Wat Arun, 22 Apr 2016.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Wat Arun, 22 Apr 2016.
Wat Arun has brilliant white tiles and white statues throughout the site. The temple is also quite striking at night, although I was not able to get any photos of Wat Arun in the evening hours. I visited on an especially hot day. Thailand has been experiencing a heat wave, with daily temperatures at or over 100 each day. It was about 100 while I was walking around. After finishing at Wat Arun, I took the boat back over to Wat Pho and walked to the National Museum, which was close to my hotel.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Dharma wheel at National Museum.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Buddha protected by Naga, 7-headed snake. 
The National Museum was amazing. The galleries contain exhibits covering Thai history as well as regional influences of Buddhist arts. I was in awe of the Phra Sihing Buddha Buddhaisawan Chapel, with its floor to ceiling paintings and Golden Buddha in the center of the room.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Phra Sihing Buddha, National Museum.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Paintings at the National Museum.
Once I had visited the National Museum, I took a break from the heat and then returned to my hotel to pack for a return to the BKK international airport and my short flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Many pictures to follow from Angkor Wat.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Wat Pho

This set of photos continues my series from Friday 22 April while I was in Bangkok, Thailand. After visiting the Grand Palace, I next went to Wat Pho, home of the Reclining Buddha. The temple is one of the oldest in Bangkok.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Wat Pho, Bangkok.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Reclining Buddha.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.
My photos do not capture how big the Reclining Buddha really is. It is supposed to be 15m high and 46m long. The Buddha statue takes up the length of the room, and is a stunning sight to see.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Cloister of seated Buddha statues.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Temple cat at Wat Pho. 22 Apr 2016.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Wat Pho, Bangkok.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Grand Palace

This is another set of photos from my visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand last Friday.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok. 22 Apr 2016
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace, Bangkok.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Stunning detail in these buildings.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace, 22 Apr 2016.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Thai script.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace.
Grand Palace was really a spectacular place, and it was nice to be able to wander the grounds before the site became too crowded. After visiting Grand Palace, I walked to nearby Wat Pho to see the famous Reclining Buddha. I will have more photos in my next post.

Catching up with time zones

I am back from 10 days on the road. It was quite the experience, through six airports and four countries. This was my first visit to Thailand, and a first visit to Cambodia. Over the next few days I'll have photos from the journey.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Sunset on the Chao Phraya River, 26 April 2016
After the long flights from New York to Hong Kong to Bangkok, I arrived at a wonderful hotel along the Chao Phraya River. Author Tony Perrottet captures his observations on the river very well in his timely article this week in the New York Times (see Bangkok's River of Kings). The photo above shows my view of the river from the hotel.

I arrived in Bangkok a little after Midnight last Friday, and managed a few hours sleep before waking up early to get breakfast and spot in line to enter the Grand Palace when it opened at 8:30am the next day. There were large crowds from the tour buses, but as a solo traveler wearing the right clothing (no shorts allowed), I managed to squeeze to the front and was one of the first to enter the Grand Palace on Saturday morning. In my travels I have seen a wide range of historical sites, but I have to say the Grand Palace was quite beautiful. Gold & jeweled buildings, paintings, gardens and courtyards.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace, Bangkok, 22 Apr 2016
Photo by Patrick Jones. Temple of the Emerald Buddha. 22 Apr 2016
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace paintings.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Grand Palace paintings.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Painting in gold at Grand Palace. 22 Apr 2016.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Paintings at Grand Palace.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Guardians at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
On this day, I only had the morning through lunch to explore the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and the National Museum before I needed to go back to Bangkok's airport for another flight. I was lucky to be able to see the National Museum on a free day, there happened to be a special occasion and there is usually a fee. I will have photos of Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the Museum in a subsequent post.

I took advantage of an extra day to hop from Bangkok to nearby Siem Reap, Cambodia in order to see the World Heritage site of Angkor Wat. I arrived Saturday evening, a mix up on my original flights on Thai Smile Airways turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to experience the sunrise at Angkor and have a full day wandering around the ruins before I had to return to the airport on Saturday evening for the flight back to Bangkok. I'll cover Angkor in its own post. This was truly an amazing place.
Photo by Patrick Jones. BKK international airport entrance. 22 Apr 2016.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Taken at Siem Reap airport, Cambodia, 23 Apr 2016
In my last observation for this post, after clearing security at Siem Reap airport, my eyes fixed on a small sign in front of the gates. The sign had text in English and Khmer, titled From Dream to Memory through Time. I have tried to see where this passage comes from and so far haven't found it, but I thought the words were fitting for my family history blog:

The World of Human Beings Imagination

Time of memory - contemporary times

After experiencing the inheritance from the past, we move into the here and now. Our time is spoken of as we imagine it, based on our individual experience and the perceptions that our journey has left with us. From birth to adulthood - man is born, grows up, acts, remembers, and passes on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Seeing new places

I am preparing for another trip, this time to Southeast Asia. This trip will mark my first visit to Thailand, including a first visit to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. I am speaking at the 29th Sessions for the UN Group of Experts on Geographic Names. I previously attended the UNGEGN sessions in 2011 (Vienna), 2012 (NYC) and 2014 (NYC again), so it will be good to be at this event again. Blogging will be slow for the remainder of the month.

In May, I have a trip to Moscow, Amsterdam and Minsk, Belarus. I have been through Moscow a few times (see my Red Square photos from 2014) and Amsterdam many times. Some photos from a 2013 layover in Amsterdam are available here. Minsk will be a new place for me, and I am looking also forward to seeing the city and speaking at the first Belarus Internet Governance Forum.

There may not be many updates on the blog for a little while, but when I get back, I should quite a few photos and stories to share.