Tag Archives: tourist activity

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)

Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo has a great reputation, and for good reason. It isn’t cheap to get in, but for that money you do get a very nicely designed zoo. The zoo also supports various conservation efforts and research projects.

I took these photos on my visit to the zoo a few years ago.

Singapore Zoo, woman viewing lions

The viewing options were often excellent, like this great view of the lions.

Singapore Zoo, Elephant show

There were several shows in addition to feeding times and talks by wildlife experts. If I remember right these were free (or some were free?).

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Chomphet Hike, Luang Prabang, Laos

The Chomphet Hike is nice hike across the river from Luang Prabang, Laos. I used this wonderful map for the hike. My hike probably was about 8 km and I went in a circle around the whole hike on the map. The hike would be very difficult (next to impossible) to follow in several places if you didn’t have the map.

Vat Nong Sakeo, on pond (covered in plants - so it is green)

Vat Nong Sakeo on a pond.

Ladder over the fence

Much of the hike is through rice fields. I like this ladder over the fence (to keep out goats and other animals I imagine. This part of the trail was a bit difficult for me to follow on the map, I wasn’t at all sure I took the right path but I got where I need to eventually.

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My Early Experience as a Digital Nomad: Part One, Technology

My early experience as a digital nomad has been enjoyable. It has also been filled with a series of small missteps and some small things that have worked out well that I haven’t read about from others (several might just be so simple that no-one bothers to mention them, but they may give you something to think about if you are planning to try the nomadic lifestyle.

Choosing to start in Chiang Mai, Thailand was fortuitous. It really is very convenient for digital nomads. Monthly renting is easy. Lots of great food and co-work spaces options. Good internet all over. It is an easy and enjoyable place to live.

In this post I will explore my experience with technology and in part two I will discuss other topics.

Getting a large data plan has been great (10 Gb+). That is the biggest tip I have for digital nomads. If you only work in a cafe or co-working space I guess it doesn’t matter. But I like to work when I wake up and late at night in my room. And making video calls, uploading photos and videos or streaming video also required a good connection. Sometimes the place I am staying has good or great wifi and things are good. But it is very nice not to have to worry about connectivity.

photo of Lizard on golden Buddha statue

Lizard on golden Buddha statue in Luang Prabang, Laos (see more of my photos from Laos)

My first 3 destinations (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) has had 10 Gb plus high speed data plans for about $10 (for a month). My 4th, Vietnam only offers 3 Gb for about $10 and Viettel blocks a personal hotspot, I thought only the USA was that lame). I think I will try another that offers 5Gb (I still need to find the price – a hotspot will let you tether your laptop for them).

I went to 3 Viettel stores and none were able to help or really seem to know what personal hotspot or tethering was. An authorized Apple reseller understood but was unable to get Viettel to work and could see Mobifone worked fine so suggested I just use that.

I went to a mobiphone store in Hoi An (location marked on our Hoi An map) and with trouble got the new sim card. They eventually went to the back and got a supervisor (I suppose) and then things went fine. It still didn’t work so the supervisor took me to a nearby mobile phone store where their tech person was able to get it to work quickly. You need to update the APN listing for cellular data and personal hotspot (she forgot the 2nd one).

The first APN field is m-wap with username mms and password mms (I think). There is lots of stuff online about editing APN to get Viettel to work, none of that worked for me or the various people that tried it (1 Viettel employee did and the authorized Apple store did).

In Luang Prabag, Laos I was 95% on my data plan as the great place I stayed didn’t have wifi essentially at all (much worse than ancient dial up). By using a data plan I could stay there.

I actually brought an extension cord (again I probably wouldn’t have but I had the room so…). It has been very helpful: I only need one converter (though I have 3) and can attach lots of devices with them all sharing the right type of connector (laptop, dumb cell phone, razor, battery charger (for my camera). It is also helpful in stretching from the power outlet to a convenient place.

I keep a dumb cell phone because some places require 2 factor authentication (credit card for making a payment online and I have some sites setup to require 2 factor authentication also). I get sim cards in whatever country I am in and only have an iPad mini (data but no cell phone capability). So even if I could get the phone number updated in each country (probably could for sensible places like Google) I don’t have one to update too. But even more critical to keeping the dumb phone is I can’t image getting the bank to make something work. Getting normally stuff is like pulling teeth. Changing my phone number all the time seems like it would be a recipe for trouble. I added money to my long life mobile phone plan in Malaysia (it lasts a year for something like US$10 and you just pay per call – I figure it is also an emergency phone in case something happens) and I have gotten text messages (for those 2-factor authentication needs) everywhere I have been, for no charge as far as I can tell.

Not having a local number is actually a bit annoying, but not critical. I wanted a larger screen to view maps while walking around (so didn’t want an iPhone – and I didn’t want Android). I would likely get the new iPhone 6+ instead of an iPad mini if making a decision now.

Continued in: Part Two

Related: Online Plane Reservations (also on my trip I have found online is not always the cheapest airline fares) – Extending Your Visa in Chiang Mai, ThailandCurious Cat Gadgets Blog

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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Sunday Market, Chiang Mai Thailand

I see the Sunday Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a well done attraction created for tourists. The stalls are selling mainly items of interest to tourists and food.

artist drawing a customer

I really like that photo. Here is a similar photo my dad took of an artist drawing my brother (when he was a kid) and we were visiting Rome, Italy. There are a group of about 5 artists drawing portraits in the center of the street.

street crowd

The street was quite packed. Starting just before sunset seems wise (based on my reading) and it worked for me. Others say it gets more crowded later – and it was plenty crowded while I was there. The Sunday market (also called the Walking Street Market) covers from Tha Pae gate to Wat Phra Singh on Ratchadamnoen Road.

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Curious Cat Travel Maps

As a tourist I don’t usually do a great deal of research in advance. I do like to find out what are some of the most popular tourist destinations. And to look for those things I like a great deal, such as hiking.

I useful find myself with a list of things I want to do and a place to stay. Sometimes I had an idea of where things we located and what might be good to do on the same day. But often, I did not. I would sometimes get a list of good restaurants but I would almost never actually get to them.

I do like walking around in a new city and getting a feel for things. Using a good old fashion map worked for this. But I would often waste a fair amount of time when I got lost. GPS mapping seemed like a perfect solution for my travel needs.

While I have been using the internet a long time, I have never had a smart phone. But I got an iPad mini and decided to test out my idea of using GPS and mapping as I walked around. Looking at the options, I decided I would rather create my own map so I could have the details I cared about.

I tried in out (I bought an iPad mainly for this mapping function but also to use as a book reader) in China (Hong Kong, Guilin, Yangshuo, Yunnan and Shanghai) and it went very well. Here is my map for Shanghai:


See full screen

I am now making Curious Cat Tourist Maps available online. I used Open Maps (and umap) which I am very pleased with (Here is a link to the Curious Cat Hong Kong Tourist map as another example). I can include those items that interest me (tourist destination, lodging, eating and transit) and include background info (like what subway stop for a particular designation etc.).

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Floating Down River in Yangshuo, China on a Bamboo Raft

The scenery in Yangshuo (near Guilin), China was great. Floating down the river on bamboo rafts was wonderful. I floated down a second river the day after the first because I liked it so much.

River, Yangshuo, China

I was happy with, Amy, my guide for Yangshuo. Her son was the driver. I don’t usually use guides but for China I am glad I did (it is very difficult to get by compared to Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.). Th costs were much more than those places without a guide but the charges were reasonable. If you can afford it, I recommend getting a guide and Amy was good.

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