Tag Archives: culture

Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

many carved faces with trees in the background

Bayon Temple is well know for the many (216 actually) smiling faces adorning the temple.

wide shot of Bayon Temple with tourists dwarfed by the size of the temple

I was living in Siem Reap for a few months and took these photos during a bike trip from the city to visit the temples. It is a nice bike ride (very flat the entire time). You can also rent tuk-tuks or taxis to tour the sites (I have done that also). I most enjoyed biking myself around. If I remember right it is between 12 and 20 km journey depending on what you decide to see and where start from in Siem Reap.

Tourists taking photos in front of many carvings of faces

Bayon temple was built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII.

bas-relief art carved on the stone walls of Bayon Temple

Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman’s death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.

a wide view of the temple

This photo I took on a separate visit.

Bayon was the last state temple to be built at Angkor, and the only Angkorian state temple to be built primarily as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine dedicated to the Buddha, though a great number of minor and local deities were also encompassed as representatives of the various districts and cities of the realm.

Covered stone walkway with art relief on the walls at Bayon

Related: Bayon on WikipediaTa Prohm temple, AngkorAngkor WatNeak Poan Temple, Siem Reap, CambodiaBorobudur in Java, Indonesia (Buddhist temple built in the 9th century)

Yunnan Nationalities Villages

People in Traditional Yunan Cloths

Yunnan Nationalities Villages is located on the east bank of Dianchi Lake in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. All photos in this post are by John Hunter.

Inside traditional Yunan wooden house with open brick fireplace

The village covers 25 ethnic groups found in Yunnan with examples of traditional houses and guides dressed in traditional clothing. China has a total of 56 recognized ethnic groups. I don’t remember which houses and traditional clothing are which ethnic group (please comment if you have information to share).

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Curious Cat as a Celebrity in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

As I visited site in and around Yogyakarta, Indonesia I was frequently asked to be in photos. As a non-celebrity this was an odd experience. One of the things I enjoy about travel is the odd experiences or just seeing things that are a little different. These are usually small things many people wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care about but I find it a fun addition to seeing amazing sites.

School kids photo with curious cat

Now I suppose some people may try to explain that Curious Cat isn’t a celebrity in Yogyakarta, but I think they are just jealous. Sure lots of other people seemed to be asked to be in photos during my visit. I determined they must just be celebrities I didn’t notice (how many people would recognize me after all?).

I just imagine the Indonesian tourists in the Yogyakarta area are very observant and appreciate internet celebrities (even super minor ones).

I suppose an alternative explanation might be they just liked having foreigners in their photos to show friends. That might seem a bit odd but most things we do seem a bit odd if you have to explain it to someone. Why do we take photos with even more famous celebrities than me? Why do we share photos of our cats sitting in boxes? Why do we post photos of our lunch on Instagram? Why do we like to get together with our friends while each of us texts with other friends using our smart phones?

I enjoyed being able to do people a favor just by being in their photo. I like to help people especially when it doesn’t require I suffer much. I don’t know why the girls in this photo wanted a photo. They didn’t speak English so I could get answers from them. But they were at a very minor temple, Candi Sambisara. During the time I was there only one other couple that showed up, who were also celebrities (based on the girls getting photos with them too) – they were too far away for me to recognize them.

I suppose in this instance it might be some sort of exercise to get kids to practice interacting with people. They spoke a few words of English. If so, it seems kind of silly, but lots of what I was put through in school was pretty silly. Or maybe they just thought it was a fun way to hang out with their friends and occasionally go get photos with whoever came to this minor temple.

The other asking to have me in photos were usually from people I think were tourists from other parts of Indonesia. It was definitely a concentration of such request that I don’t normally see. I do occasionally get such requests, as I travel. Usually I think just people having a bit of fun interacting with other people. But they are rare, in my trip to China it happened once.

The more remote your destination and the fewer tourist the more likely for people to be interested in just you as a stand in for something but not anything significant (so basically a stand in for a celebrity), I find. Which is one thing I find out about it being common in Yogyakarta, there are tons of tourists for the amazing Borobudur and so much more.

My other experience with drawing crowds just to see me and be around me was in the Sahel (Niger and Burkino Faso). My brother and I were distinctly rare – white kids. White adults were rare there, but kids extremely so; I would imagine rare enough we easily could have been the first ones any of the kids saw and even maybe even so for the adults in many of the places we went.

Related: Jianshui Market in Yunnan, ChinaPrambanan Temple, YogyakartaPura Dalem Desa Pakraman, Ubud, Bali

Jianshui Wet Market in Yunnan, China

Jianshui, Yunnan, China has several tourist destinations including an old town with a restored Qing Dynasty mansion and garden and the Jianshui Temple of Confucius. The Jianshui wet market is primarily for the locals with a few tourists, like me, that take in some local culture.

vegetables for sale at the market

The market isn’t really much different than many such markets all over South East and East Asia. They each vary a bit but are pretty similar.

caged chickens for sale at the market

Some of the rest of this post might be a bit much for some, so if you are squeamish you might want to skip it. One of the interesting things about traveling is seeing how differently people think and how our culture guides our thoughts and feelings.

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