The Stone Forest in Yunnan, China is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stone formations were created as the limestone eroded.
The Stone Forest (South China Karst) area was a shallow sea some 270 million years ago (the Permian period) when the sandstone and limestone deposits were formed. The entire Shilin National Scenic Area (昆明市石林风景区) covers an area of 400 square km.
John Hunter at the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA. The photos in this post show the Cliff Palace site (photos by John Hunter). You must take a ranger led tour to walk into the Cliff Palace. The overhead lookout doesn’t require joining a tour.
Recent studies reveal that Cliff Palace contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas and had a population of approximately 100 people. Out of the nearly 600 cliff dwellings concentrated within the boundaries of the park. Cliff Palace is an exceptionally large dwelling which may have had special significance. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage.
Sometime during the late 1190s, after primarily living on the mesa top for 600 years, many Ancestral Pueblo people began living in pueblos they built beneath the overhanging cliffs. The structures ranged in size from one-room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms. While still farming the mesa tops, they continued to reside in the alcoves, repairing, remodeling, and constructing new rooms for nearly a century.
View from the cliff palace, looking across the valley.
Bayon Temple is well know for the many (216 actually) smiling faces adorning 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.
Bayon temple was built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII.
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.
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.
Related: Bayon on Wikipedia – Ta Prohm temple, Angkor – Angkor Wat – Neak Poan Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia – Borobudur in Java, Indonesia (Buddhist temple built in the 9th century)
Borobudur is an amazing Buddhist temple built in the 9th century. This is a site that can’t be missed, spectacular. All photos in this post are by John Hunter.
Six square platforms form the base of Borobudur and these are topped by three circular platforms. The temple is decorated with over 2,500 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.
The temple is surrounded by lush green forests and that greatly enhances the feeling of tranquility at Borobudur.
I really like the mosaic artwork on the walls of buildings at Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Luang Prabang is full of interesting temples and is a great place to walk around. The old city has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UN and I highly enjoyed staying in Luang Prabang.
Buddha statues in front of a mosaic wall inside a Wat Xieng Thong temple building.
Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world, situated at Angkor, Cambodia, built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city.
As the best-preserved temple in the Siem Reap area, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture.
As you would expect this UNESCO world heritage site is amazing. It is very large with a huge temple. The carvings are exceptional and numerous. I was there in the slow part of the season and while there were lots of people, there was plenty of room.
I went to Angkor Wat on 3 days. I was going elsewhere for a sunset visit (on my first day) but as it was cloudy I decided to go to Angkor instead (saving the sunset for another day) and get some photos in the nice light late in the day. I went to see the sunrise and continued on with my guide. Then I went back late in the afternoon on one of the other days – there was a bit more sun so I hoped for better photos and also it is huge, there is plenty to see.
Looking at my photos now they don’t convey the size of Angkor Wat. This last photo is taken inside the building several floors up above ground level. Angkor Wat is an absolutely wonderful destination and is surrounded in the larger temple complex (over a site 400 km square) by several other world class sites.