January is about to end but here I am, still scrambling to complete these pieces pertaining to the previous year. As part of my 2018 throwback, I have rounded up some of the most memorable pictures of my international travels. I have already shared the highlights of my 2018 local travels. You may access the portfolio through this link:
Travel Portfolio # 2: 2018 Local Travels in Pictures
2018 wasn’t as productive, travel-wise, compared to previous years but still I had fun. In 2017 I was finally able to fly out of the country and, luckily, in 2018 I was able to add three new countries in my journey to completing all the countries in the world map. Here are some snaps of the reasons why I always want to be out there, just to be in the moment, breathing it all in. I hope you like the pictures and see what I mean when in the previous sentence.
My Indochina adventure started in Bangkok, the sprawling capital of Thailand. Our first stop: the Grand Royal Palace complex. The golden spires shone through the bleak skies.
Within the proximity of the palace grounds is Wat Phra. It is one of the numerous places of worship within striking distance of the Palace (Wat Arun is another). It is without a doubt that devotion is a very important element of the Thai’s lives.
The lotus flower is very important to Thais. A symbol of purity, faithfulness and spiritual awakening, they refer to it as their “sacred flower”.
A solemn afternoon.
Our second day in Thailand saw us scouring the beauty of the countryside. I can’t help but be fascinated by how Thailand (and Thais) perfectly resemble Philippines (and Filipinos). Only that Thais drive on the left side of the road!
A trip would never be complete without a jumpshot for prosperity. The bridge I jumped on is quite historic. If you watched the movie The Bridge over the River Kwai, you’ll understand its significance.
We also got the opportunity to play with ’em giants. Elephants, like the lotus, is a very important symbol of Thailand. If only they were allowed to exist outside of captivity.
Bang Pa-in Palace in Ayutthaya is one of the Thai royal residences. Built in the 18th century, it is occasionally the country residence of the Thai royals.
Ayutthaya was once the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. What is left of the old kingdom are these remnants, ruins of a kingdom that once bathed in grandeur and opulence.
We spent our last day in Thailand doing shopping. What is shopping in Thailand if one is not to drop by the famed floating market. My experience reminded me why I dislike shopping very much – the crowd.
Next stop in my Indochina adventures: Cambodia. Now I am on my own. Well, I did ask for it didn’t I?
The floating village in Cambodia shows you the other reality of the country outside of its famed destination, Angkor Wat. Many a Cambodian is stuck in the quagmires of poverty.
During my visit at the floating village, I got to personally drive a motor boat. The Cambodians were very accommodating.
The real adventure started in the second day of my stay in Siem Reap. I finally got to see the famed ruins of an ancient civilization. Caveat, however, to those who want to visit the ruins, be prepared to walk.
Once a bustling city, a siege brought down the ruling monarchy. Eventually, nature took its course, swallowing and incorporating the city back into its natural order.
The engravings in the temples are a thing of beauty. They are so intricate and depicts the daily lives of the Khmers. The ingenuity behind all of it is breathtaking.
One of the numerous ruins in the complex. At the height of Khmer rule, this was once used as a library.
Angkor Wat is more famous but locals prefer Bayon Temple over that of its neighbor. And it is quite easy to understand why.
It is exhausting running from one temple to another but it is all worth it. And this is just Day 1. Temple run is legit!
And there it is, the famed and world renowned Angkor Wat! I used to see the structure only in documentaries and being before it really felt surreal. It was a thing of dream being finally there. It is more beautiful in person than in documentaries.
Angkor Wat complex has become a tourist haven that almost everyone forgot what it once was – a sacred place of worship. The “Wat” attached to Angkor means temple.
More temples followed in my third day in Cambodia. Too bad that the rain has become such a liability during my brief stay in the country.
This modern monument was put up to commemorate one of the country’s darkest secrets. The building in the middle contains skulls of Cambodians who died during the oppression of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot.
Focus. The artworks are scintillating. You can find them in the temple area.
Of all the temples I have seen in my five-day stay in Cambodia, Bantay Sreay is my favorite. It may be the furthest but the trip is worth it.
The engravings over at Angkor are already fascinating but the detailed engravings in Bantay Sreay are simply beautiful. The handicraft is uhm, perfect to say the least.
The last stop in my Indochina itinerary – Vietnam. And what better way to introduce the country than its most important (perhaps) and more renowned symbol – the motorcycle. It is the most common mode of transport in the country, and big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are overflowing with them.
In spite of the rain, I spent an entire afternoon just walking all over Hanoi. One of the highlights of my walking tour is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh is a very influential character in Vietnamese history (think Vietnam War).
As I only had two days in Vietnam, I spent the second day scouring the countryside. And what better place to visit than Ning Binh province, starting with Bai Dinh Temple which houses this gigantic golden Buddha.
Ning Binh province also houses the UNESCO Heritage Site Trang An Scenic complex. I never knew that such a place existed – this is one of the advantages of going out of one’s comfort zones. For the utter lack of words, the complex was “scenic”.
I didn’t let the rain dampen my Trang An adventure. It was a short stop and I wish I could have stayed longer. It was an idyllic spot, a haven for photographers. Next time. Next time.
So that was how my 2018 went as far as international travels is concerned. I hope that I get to visit more countries in 2019. Here’s to more travels. Safe travels everyone!