Swaminarayan Akshardham is a Hindu temple. It's a spiritual-cultural campus dedicated to Swaminarayan, an Indian yogi and spiritual soul who existed during the 18th century. Being one of the largest Hindu temple complexes in India it’s also among the top tourist attractions in Delhi. Amazingly intricate carvings outside and inside the temple, idol statues and gardens cover 100 acres makes it awe inspiring and I thought it a worthwhile visit.
We board our large river cruise boat for our 3hr tour and immediately see the large food spread on a long table. Lunch is ready to go as soon as we pick our seating places. I’m looking for a table right next to a window for the best view. Left or right side, or should I say starboard or port, is always the question for the better views. I want to see every everything this cruise has to offer.
Wat Maha That, “the temple of the Great Relic” was one of the most important temples in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. This temple was constructed in 1374 by King Boromma Rachathirat I with a design that follows concepts of the ancient Khmer mountain temples of Angkor in Cambodia. The post feature picture shows one of the most eerie and photographed objects at the temple. A stone Buddha head enveloped by by the roots of a tree.
After some pool time and lunch at the hostel I set out to explore the local area. I pass through the Royal Pavilion and look back to see the Golden Mount Temple high up in the distance. But I’m heading the opposite way making a large loop with my goal to see the Golden Mount Temple towards the end of the day.
Choosing the right hostel can take some internet research and sometimes word of mouth from other travelers helps. Your mood is also a factor. I chose a hostel in Bangkok that appealed to me because of its location away from a busy noisy area. It seemed to have a few things within walking distance to check out, local bus stops, and a short 750m walk to the famous (or should I say infamous?) Khaosan road. The Here Hostel had photos showing a rustic charm and pleasant garden area. Having a pool was also a plus.
Mechrey is one of several floating villages in the Siem Reap region of Cambodia. This one in particular is still floating even during the dry season. Several of us from the Lub D hostel have booked this tour via the Adventure Travel Co. and we start our day with a 2:30pm pickup for a sunset visit to this village.
Kbal Spean which means Bridge Head is a river of carved relief stones. The ‘bridge’ is a natural sandstone arch. These stone carvings are mainly of lingams (phallic symbol of the Hindu god Shiva). Also known as the River of 1000 Lingas, the trail head is about 48km to the north of Siem Reap. I was curious about seeing these and thought it would be a change from the temple agenda.
It’s a Thursday the morning after a night on Pub street and I’m feeling up to some more temple exploration in the Angkor Archeological Park. What no one realizes at first by looking at the map is that the whole park is about 400 square km. My first thought was that it would be nice to explore the temples by bicycle but it’s 7.3km just to Angkor Wat temple from the hostel. Then another 7km from Angkor to the next temple, Preah Khan, on my list and today is going to be a hot 36 deg C.
One happening touristy pedestrian street night spot in Siem Reap is Pub Street. Lined with restaurants and bars with beers ranging from 50 cents to $2.50 USD. Everything in Siem Reap is priced in USD. Bright lights, loud music, street vending of anything on a stick, and buckets of alcohol, no really, buckets. Backpackers, young, old, everyone visits this street. How long you can hold up along this street is up to you.
Where and what is Angkor Wat? It is probably the most well known tourist attraction in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A temple built in the 12th century as a temple dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, then became a Buddhist temple. Remaining in use till the 1800’s it’s no longer an active temple and had undergone much damage since and as recent as the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970’s. The name Angkor Wat translates to Capital City Temple. Besides Angkor Wat there’s so many more temples in the Angkor Wat including one made famous in the 2001 movie Tomb Raider.