Posts in Travel

My Side of the World: Sonja Lapatanov (Part 2)

My dear travellers, how are you today? Welcome to the new post from the special section “My Side of the World” which successfully managed to win your hearts in a very short time on the Mr.M blog. I hope that we will continue to travel the world together with our famous adventurers and discover some new and unexplored parts of the world.

This post is a continuation of the interview with my dear guest Sonja Lapatanov. If you want to read the first part of the interview and remind yourself of some unusual destinations or just to enjoy the beauties of the world throught the lens of one of our most famous ballet artists, choreographers and adventurers, visit the link.

Easter Island: Ahu Tongariki.

11. Did you go to the same destinations again and did you happen to be disappointed with something that had previously delighted you or that you were delighted with something that seemed ordinary to you for the first time? Should you turn around the second time when something thrills you at first sight or should the experience not be spoiled by a replay?

Sonja Lapatanov: Unfortunately, I am not able to “repeat the class”, although I would gladly do so. I’m looking for new destinations, because time is not waiting for no one. The situation on our planet is worrying. There are more and more forest fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, epidemics, general dissatisfaction, accidents, wars, riots… The years of dangerous living have arrived! That is why I will repeat the old destinations maybe in the next life.

Tibet: A prayer wheel around Lhasa city.

12. People usually think that so-called exotic travel takes a lot of money. How have you organized all these trips over the decades? Have you ever traveled to the end of the world with just 100$ in your pocket?

Sonja Lapatanov: I gave up every luxury and through travel, I invested in myself. It is a great treasure, which no one can steal from me. Today, travel is expensive, but young people are doing well, because they can organize everything themselves via the Internet.

Nepal: Pokalde peak ridge at an altitude of 5000 m.

– They just need to know what they want and where they want to travel. I’m an adventurer, but I’m not a backpacker and I wouldn’t spend the night in a hostel and I would hardly go to the end of the world with 100$ in my pocket. Today, that amount could not cover travel expenses, accommodation, or the costs of a two-day stay in a tourist place in our country!

Patagonia: Glaciers and icebergs in the Oneli Lagoon.

13. What is the most exotic type of transportation you used during your trip?

Sonja Lapatanov: I flew by helicopter in Laos, piston planes in Nepal, a balloon over the Tanzanian and Kenyan savannas and a para-glider from Brajić to Slovenska plaža in Montenegro!

Sudan: At the top of the holy rock Jebel Barkal.

I sailed the seas, lakes and mighty rivers throughout Asia and Africa, rode tuk-tuks and rickshaws, in India, South and Central America half-decomposed buses, along with chickens and goats, sat on the roof of the Andean railway, on the backs of various animals.

But the real adventurous adventure was canoeing and extreme riding on zip-line cables, through the treetops of giant trees in the jungles of Malaysia and Guatemala.

Tahiti: A Dolphin Kiss.

14. I know from my experience that travel is actually learning about the culture and history of a nation. Whose culture impressed you the most?

Sonja Lapatanov: Ancient civilizations left an invaluable cultural and historical heritage to the human race, so it would be unfair to mention only one, so I single out the fascinating Mayan and Khmer culture, the culture of Myanmar, Egypt, Libya, Algeria…

Namibia: Namib Naukluft National Park, Dead Vlei.

15. Did some of the trips disappointed you in the sense that you expected much more from that country, but then you collided with reality and realized that sometimes good advertising is responsible for the overestimation of a certain destination?

Sonja Lapatanov: There is no trip that has disappointed me. I choose them carefully. I do not follow the tourist fashion, but my adventurous spirit. My curiosity and adrenaline addiction knows no bounds, while the desire to adventure and discover the still not so commercialized parts of the blue planet is immeasurable. However, in a way, my expectations were not met by China. It is a modern country and that fact seems to have fallen hard on me.

Northern Thailand: In the company of female members of the Aka tribe.

– I thought I would enter the world that Pearl Bak wrote about, or the world of Mao Zedong, with columns of cyclists and uniformed people, who practice Kung Fu and Tai Chi in the early morning hours. The expected images of idyllic landscapes with bamboos and pandas, green rice fields, fairy-tale cone-shaped hills of Gilina painted on silk, are remnants of some ancient times, which have passed.

Kenya: On the shores of Lake Nakuru.

– The reality is different. Somewhere far from the metropolis, there are villages and rice fields, the Great Wall of China, and in Beijing, the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, a hutong district in traditional Chinese construction with an inner courtyard and a Peking duck. I was late to visit China before the big changes.

Patagonia: Punta Tombo

16. Is there a country where the pictures you remember are more beautiful than the ones from the postcards?

Sonja Lapatanov: Indisputably; French Polynesia-Tahiti, Bora Bora, Morea, Huahin…

Sudan: Pylons in front of the temple of the goddess Mut, below the rock of Jebel Barkal.

17. Which distant country would you say is most similar to Serbia and why? Is there still our mentality somewhere or are we still unique?

Sonja Lapatanov: Serbs are unique, but when it comes to temperament and joy of life, there are similarities with Mexicans and Irish people.

Japan: In Tokyo with a rickshaw driver.

18. When did you feel the need to convert travel into travelogues? Has any country particularly encouraged you to do that?

Sonja Lapatanov: In the late nineties, I started writing reports for newspapers and magazines, and then a few years later, my friends encouraged me to turn my travelogues into books. They stay, and newspapers and magazines are thrown away, they told me. Since then, I have written seven books of travel prose, and an eighth is in preparation.

Papua New Guinea: With members of the Huli people.

19. Do you remember the feelings when you wrote the first book? The moment you typed the last word on a keyboard and realized you had written your first book. Can that excitement be compared to any destination?

Sonja Lapatanov: Admiration, when you hit a dot on the keyboard after the last word, is an indescribably beautiful feeling.

With sharks in the waters of the Pacific

20. If you had to choose only one determinant, what would you say to the question of who Sonja Lapatanov is. A ballerina, a passionate traveler or a writer?

Sonja Lapatanov: Three in one! Everything happened at the right time and now it exists and lives in me.

Sudan: Gates are a sign of prestige among residents of Sudanese villages and towns.

My dear travellers, I hope you like this post in column on the blog “My side of the world” and that you enjoyed it with my guest today. We will continue our trip around the world in a few days with some new guest

I would recommend you to take a look at the other pictures that dear Sonja set aside in the gallery especially for us to see what kind of beauties our earth hides.

Madagascar: Hanging out with a lemur.

If you have a suggestion whose side of the world of famous world travelers you would like to discover, you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story!

Best,
Mr.M

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Cyprus and Malta: Two priceless Gems of the Mediterranean Sea…

My dear travellers, welcome to my new post. Honestly, I hope you are doing well and that we all look forward to some better days that are characteristic of this period of the year after this lockdown. June is usually a month when people go to the sea or plan their summer vacation, but this year was an exception. Due to the new situation caused by the Coronavirus, people are prevented from planning summer vacations and maybe postponing their travels for the autumn season.

“Hello? Can you hear me? Can I change my travel dates for the Summer holidays, please?”

I was glad that many of you remembered my blog and a large number of readers have approached me via email and private messages on social media in the past few weeks asking for advice on where you could go on a “summer” vacation in the fall season.

What are the destinations that interested you the most? The people from Europe region were most suggested by the following destinations: Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Tunisia, Morocco and Malta.

The Central street city of Valletta, the capital of Republic of Malta
Central street in the heart of Valletta – the capital of Malta

MALTA

The Republic of Malta is a very small and densely populated island country made up of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. This unusual island country is located south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, so geographically Malta belongs to North Africa, but from a political point of view, this country belongs to Europe and is a member of the European Union.

It was a great honor and pleasure for me to feel the charms of this island country in collaboration with the tourist organization of the Malta Tourism Authority. Before I start with the post I would like to inform you that MTA expressed satisfaction at the announcement of the reopening of the airport and the resumption of commercial flights to and from Malta as from July 1st 2020.

Republic Square is located in the city center of capital of Malta - Valletta.
Wonderful Republic Square in Valletta

The first group of destinations that are being reopened for travel comprises: Germany, Austria, Sicily, Cyprus, Switzerland, Sardinia, Iceland, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Israel, Latvia, Estonia, Luxembourg, and Czech Republic. More destinations will be announced in due course, once clearance from the health authorities is received. For more information about entry rules and reopening please visit the website of Malta Tourism Authority.

The capital of the Republic of Malta is Valletta. Due to its specific geographical location, Maltese culture is an unusual combination of many cultures that have been linked throughout history. These are mainly the nearby neighboring Mediterranean countries or the cultures of the countries that ruled Malta before gaining independence. The Maltese Islands are one big open-air museum, as 7,000 years of Maltese history, heavily influenced by the Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans, Knights of Malta and the British, can still be seen today.

The Tritons Fountain is a fountain located on the periphery of the City Gate of Valletta, Republic of Malta, Europe
Tritons’ Fountain in Valletta, Malta

Malta is an exceptional tourist destination, no matter what you expect from your vacation, whether you are a fan of active vacation or pure hedonistic relaxation, the possibilities of this island are countless. For lovers of culture and art, there are numerous museums and galleries.

On the other hand, for all gourmets, Malta is a real little paradise because you have the opportunity to enjoy the unusual specialties of this Mediterranean island.

Malta also has a large number of natural beauties such as numerous caves, coves and natural monuments. Don’t forget when you’re done touring the sights and enjoying the many delicacies, don’t forget to do your shopping or take a walk along the promenade in Sliema and Bugibba in the evening.

Mdina is a fortified town in the northern part of the island, which throughout history in the period from ancient times to the Middle Ages served as the capital of the island. The city is still fortified inside the walls and has a population of just under 300 people, but next to the neighboring town of Rabat, which is named after the Arabic word for suburbs. According to the latest data, the two cities together have just over 10,000 inhabitants.

Mdina still remained the center of the Maltese nobility and religious institutions. Assets are still largely passed down from generation to generation. The city never managed to fully regain its significance that it had until 1530, which also led to the popular nickname “Quiet City” by natives and tourists. Mdina is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is currently one of the main tourist attractions in Malta.

Vilhena Palace also known as the Magisterial Palace and Palazzo Pretorio, is a French Baroque palace in Mdina, Republic of Malta.
Vilhena Palace is open to the public as Malta’s National Museum of Natural History.

Today, Mdina is one of the main tourist attractions of Malta, which annually hosts about a million tourists. You can experience the city as an interesting mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, including several palaces, most of which are privately owned. In the period from 2008 to 2016, a major restoration of the city walls was carried out.

Cathedral and Monastery of St. Peter in the heart of Mdina, Malta.

During my visit to Malta, I visited Valletta, Mdina, Rabat, Sliema, the small traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk (Marsa-Shlok) and the island of Gozo. This interesting island country has left an impression on me and I sincerely hope to visit Malta soon.

Posts about Malta that you had the opportunity to read on the blog:

  1. Letters from Malta: The Mediterranean Love at First Sight…
  2. Letters from Malta: Mdina, Silence speaks more than Words…
  3. Letters from Malta: My glamorous Escape to Valletta
  4. Letters from Malta: Gozo, your new happy place!
  5. Letters from Malta: Stylish and Fashionable Summer on the streets of Valletta (fashion outfit post)
  6. Letters from Malta: My second day on Malta Fashion Week (outfit)
  7. Last Letter from Malta: Dear Diary, it was amazing! (outfit)
Marsaxlokk is a small traditional fishing village in Republic of Malta.
Marsaxlokk is a small traditional fishing village known for its colorful boats “Luzzus”

CYPRUS

The Republic of Cyprus is an island country located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its geographical position, Cyprus represented a crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, and many traces of ancient civilizations are still present, such as Roman and Byzantine.

One interesting fact that I learned from the representatives of the National Cyprus Tourism Office is that Cyprus is actually the warmest island in the Mediterranean. It is also called Aphrodite’s Island, because, according to one of the many legends, the Greek goddess Aphrodite was born here from sea foam. The most visited summer resort in Cyprus is Limassol, a city famous for its unrealistically beautiful beaches.

TRAVELING AFTER COVID-19: Cyprus is now ready to welcome travelers from several countries. Having successfully dealt with the Covid-19 epidemic, that you can explore this beautiful island once again. For further info regarding traveling please visit the official portal of Cyprus tourism.

Aphrodite's Rock, a landmark located near Paphos. Republic of Cyprus, Europe
Aphrodite’s Rock, a landmark located near Paphos.

Nicosia is the right place for fans of the combination of modern and traditional. The capital of Cyprus has adorned the old part of the city since the 12th century with an unusual promenade and cobblestone cafes. A place where history intertwines with the modern world.

The Liberty Monument in Nicosia

Larnaca is a few kilometers away from the largest international airport in Cyprus. The city is located on the southeast coast and is the oldest city on the island. In addition to Limassol, Larnaca is one of the most luxurious resorts whose port is visited by visitors from various parts of Europe and the world with new models of yachts.

The building of the administration of the Larnaca region, which is located in the center - Europe Square near the main Promenade. Larnaca, the Republic of Cyprus
The building of the administration of the Larnaca region, which is located in the center – Europe Square near the main Promenade.

Larnaca has modern equipped sandy beaches rated with high marks, which contributes to the development of tourism. The city is known for its landscaped promenade, which is located along the coast, along which there are rows of palm trees. One of the most famous sights near the promenade is the church of St. Lazarus.

Posts about Cyprus that I shared with you on the blog:

  1. Letters from Cyprus: Everyone needs a little Vitamin Sea
  2. Letters from Cyprus: Nicosia, City of History and Freedom
  3. Letters from Cyprus: Everything you need to know about Limassol and Paphos
  4. One Little Red Postcard from Cyprus (fashion outfit post)
Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaca

My dear travellers, we have reached the end of this special post where I briefly tried to compare the beauties of these two unusual island countries in Europe. This is just the beginning of this special series of posts where I will try to describe some of my other observations that I forgot to share with you while I was writing previous posts about those destinations and of course you will have the opportunity to remind yourself some of my previous posts and all together “renew” the material.

Have you maybe had the opportunity to visit some of these gems of the Mediterranean? What are your experiences? Did you like Malta or Cyprus more and I would like to hear your reasons. I would really like to hear some of your experiences and I would be happy to read your impressions in the comments.

Harbour in Larnaca

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story about Belgrade!

Best,
Mr.M

Morning in Limassol

This post is my gift to all my loyal readers who wants to learn something new about tourist destinations. The post is for informational purposes only and is not sponsored.

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Letters from Serbia: Subotica, charming Town of Northern Serbia…

My dear travellers, how are you today? In the past few months, due to a situation called Corona, the way of life has changed. Unfortunately, a lot of human lives have been extinguished, people’s consciousness has changed and we have started to take more care of ourselves and our health. Many companies closed down, and lot of people lost their jobs and unfortunately this is global thing. The economy has been seriously affected, especially tourism as a sensitive activity has suffered great damage.

This year will be dedicated to domestic and regional tourism because those are the only possibilities of this tourist season. I sincerely hope that everyone will be able to plan their vacation in the best possible way and get to know their country and region a little better.

Reichl Palace, a living masterpiece by architect Ferenc Reichl

I am sure that at least some of you had a feeling of desperation and helplessness during this period, so I tried in every way to find some kind of inspiration. I was helped by a one work assignment given to me by a fashion label and their only request was to take pictures in some interesting environment and to find some interesting city in Serbia.

After searching for some interesting destinations in Serbia on the Internet, pictures of the city of Subotica gave me inspiration for work and I decided to sit in the car and visit this gem in the very north of Serbia.

Do you want to start a new adventure? It is a question that goes through my head every day and I believe that each of us sometimes needs a change of environment, at least for a short time to escape from the daily routine. When I set off my road trip for Subotica, I felt great excitement because I didn’t know what was waiting for me there, and the pictures were promising.

Subotica is the northernmost city in Serbia and the second most populous in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. A city with its interesting geographical position in the heart of the Northern Bačka district. Throughout history, many names have been used to show the beauty of this unusual center of Hungarian Art Nouveau.

The Subotica Promenade

During the history, the city changed about 200 names. You must be wondering why? Subotica is a city where people of different ethnic origins lived from the Middle Ages until today, and it was also under the rule of several different conquering forces. It is interesting that all the inhabitants wrote about Subotica and gave the name of the city in accordance with the spelling and grammar rules of their language, but in most cases, they have not changed the way they are pronounced until today.

The Subotica City Hall and the monument to Tsar Jovan Nenad

Today’s name of the city of Subotica comes from the word that means the day of the week “Saturday” and first officially appears in the middle of the 17th century. However, the opinion of the inhabitants is that the town was named after Subota Vrlić, the treasurer of Emperor Jovan Nenad.

Of course, as always, there are more legends that have been passed down from generation to generation and more sources of information, but I think that these two assumptions about the origin of the name of the city of Subotica are true. Do you perhaps know what was the official first name of this city?

Some historical writings prove to us that the first officially documented name of the town was Zabatka, which dates from the 15th century. There are various theories of the history of the origin of this name. According to one of the theories, it is actually one of the variants of today’s name of the city in the Hungarian language, which reads Szabadka.

In accordance with this theory, this word derives from the adjective Szabad, which in Hungarian means “free” and the suffix “-ka”, which is interpreted as a diminutive – diminutive. Therefore, in the free translation of the original name of today’s Subotica, we can interpret it as a “small” or “free, lovely place”.

Park on the central Republic Square

Subotica is certainly one of the most intriguing cities in Serbia because it has the largest number of buildings built in the spirit of modern artistic architecture. The town house and synagogue, which were built at the beginning of the 20th century, stand out because of their timeless beauty.

They were built according to the plan of the same team of Hungarian architects, Mr. Marcell Komor and Dezso Jakab. Another marvel of the architecture of the Hungarian Art Nouveau in Subotica is the Reichl Palace, built by the architect Ferenc Reichl as his masterpiece of life. Once the palace was his home and office, today it is an object of exceptional cultural significance where the Gallery of Modern Art “Art Encounter” is located.

Church of St. Teresa of Avila

Church buildings such as the Cathedral of St. Theresa of Avila, the Franciscan monastery, the Orthodox Church and the Hungarian synagogue built in the Art Nouveau style typical of the early 20th century are some of the sacral buildings you can visit in Subotica.

The Cathedral of St. Teresa of Avila was built in the late 18th century in a typical Baroque style. Subotica was part of the Habsburg monarchy at that time. The cathedral was designed by a Hungarian architect named Franz Kaufmann. On the roof of the church, between the two bell towers, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary.

You must be wondering how the crack in the central part of the building was created? Construction experts believe that the two bell towers began to sink and that they were gradually pulling the church nave to their side, as a result of which a crack appeared in the very middle of this sacral building.

This mistake was made in the construction of the church itself, and a little crack caused a serious crack, which experts have been trying to repair for years. It is believed that due to the excessive pressure exerted by the bell towers, which are higher and heavier than the central part of the building, the subsidence of the terrain additionally affects and in that way a crack was formed on the church.

Monument to the victims of fascism

The monument to the fallen fighters and victims of fascism is a cultural asset in the very heart of Suborica, a mausoleum where the remains of the greats of the Subotica workers’ movement and revolutionaries who died in the fight for freedom of the North Bačka district. The monument consists of three parts: a pedestal, an access plateau and a tomb.

The Jakab and Komor Square Synagogue in Subotica

The synagogue in Subotica is the only remaining sacral building built in the style of Hungarian secession in the world. It was built by the Jewish community, which at that time had around 3,000 members. Its architecture emphasizes the dual, Hungarian-Jewish identity of its builders, who lived in the multiethnic, majority Catholic city of the Habsburg Empire.

National Theater in Subotica

The original building of the National Theater in Subotica was built in the middle of the 19th century as the first monumental building of cultural significance in Subotica. Unfortunately, it was demolished for the purpose of renovation by the city authorities about ten years ago, although at the end of the 20th century it was declared a historical monument of exceptional importance. Residents believe that by demolishing the original building of the National Theater, Subotica has lost its charm.

Monument of Holy Trinity

The monument of the Holy Trinity shows the harmony and unity of the citizens of Subotica at a time when the population was working together to clean up the swampy parts of the city. This is not only a cultural good but a symbol of faith, hope and unity all with the aim of improving multiculturalism and creating a better community.

Subotica is truly a real gem of the Northern Bačka district and I sincerely advise everyone to visit this city and see for themselves the true beauty of Northern Serbia. When you finish your visit to Subotica, not far from the city bustle, only seven kilometers from the center of Subotica, there is Palić, the most famous health resort and picnic area.

Why visit Palić? Palić is known for Palić Lake, which has been one of the most visited places in Serbia for many years. Have you perhaps heard some of the many legends about the origin of this lake?

According to a legend that was passed down from generation to generation, Lake Palić was created from the tears of the shepherd Paul, who lost his flock exactly where the lake is today. That is why many people today “claim” that the water in the lake is salty because of tears of this desperate shepherd.

Palić Lake

How did you like this interesting story one of the most famous city in North Serbia? Have you visited Subotica and Palić? Here spring is the most beautiful period of the year I have prepared this travel story for you with a lot of love and I hope you like it! I hope that you will maybe visit Serbia this summer and enjoy in the colours of the natural beauties of Vojvodina. Have you already made some plans what you are planning to visit after this lockdown?

Palić Lake

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story about Belgrade!

Best,
Mr.M

This post is my gift to all my dear travellers, who wanted to learn something new about Serbia. The post is for informational purposes only and is not sponsored.

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My Side of the World: Sonja Lapatanov

My dear adventurers, how are you today? After the first special blog post – an interview with Ms. Vesna Jugović de Vinca, I received a lot of emails and messages on social networks with suggestions whose “side of the world” you would like to see on my blog. I admit that I received a lot of interesting proposals, but one name stood out in particular – Sonja Lapatanov.

Sonja Lapatanov

She is one of the most famous ballet artist, choreographer and adventurer. Sonja Lapatanov, a world traveler who has traveled over 100 countries around the world. She has written several exceptional travel books (In Serbian language, these titles are just translated): In the lap of the Himalayas, Paradise Islands, Mama Africa, Mundo Maya, The Milky Way of the Ocean, The Green Continent. This tireless creative and adventurous soul took advantage of the days of quarantine and is just finishing her new book, which should soon be on our favourite shelves in bookstores all over Serbia and Balkan.

Algeria: Miraculous formations in the Sahara

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Sonja for her time and for being able to share with us the memories of her amazing journeys. This interview will be really special and will be divided into two parts. Let’s go on a trip around the world with our famous world traveler Sonja Lapatanov!

Algeria: Among carpets and pillows

1. You are raised in a medical family and I’m sure you’ve been surrounded by white coats since childhood. How did you resist that phenomenon and become a ballerina?

Sonja Lapatanov: Medicine and white coats were a family tradition and an integral part of my life. I was surrounded by doctors, books in the field of medicine, stethoscopes, pressure gauges, beakers, surgical instruments, various bottles and patients, because my grandfather had an office in the house, until the then government banned private practice. It was logical for me to continue the family tradition and for dermatovenerology to be my specialty.

Southern Ethiopia: In the village of Konso people

In the house where we lived, Russian emigrants gathered. Among them was Mr. Bogdanovski. I was a restless child, so he suggested to my parents that he take me to the ballet school “Lujo Davičo”, where my indomitable temperament would be curbed through physical engagement. That’s how it started!

Pakistan: Famous Pakistani trucks

2. You have an interesting combination of Russian-German origin. What led you more in life: Russian poetics or German pragmatism?

Sonja Lapatanov: It depended on the situation. But it was not always easy to choose the east, or the west, which constantly intersect in my being. In childhood and early youth, the Russian soul was more dominant, and as life inevitably progressed, the German Prussian heritage prevailed.

Libya, Sahara: the magical desert Mandara lakes

3. What was your first association with Belgrade in the late fifties and sixties of the 20th century? Can you make a parallel between Belgrade then and now?

Sonja Lapatanov: In the “Age of the Crown”, when nature may have warned humanity for the last time that it has had enough of oppression over our planet, my Belgrade from the years you mention has returned to me. Unfortunately, only briefly. As soon as the state of emergency was lifted, hygienic and sanitary measures gave way, and ugly habits took over the city again. Traces of negligence and arrogance are already visible in some parts of the city; discarded protective masks and gloves and various waste.

South Africa: Cape of Good Hope

At the moment, at least in my area, Belgrade is beautiful, peaceful, quiet, safe, dignified, educated, full of greenery and birds that sing and chirp again. The streets are clean for now, spared thousands of thrown cigarette butts rolling down the street, chewing gum stuck to the sidewalk, body secretions from the nose and throat, trampled dog feces… Belgrade was like that until the end of the eighties, and then everything went down the hill. Since then, I have not made any kind of parallels!

Guatemala: Tikal, archaeological site

4. You were educated in Moscow and New York. What made a bigger impression on you as a ballerina, and what as a girl who comes from Eastern Europe, towards whom there are still numerous prejudices?

Sonja Lapatanov: Common to both metropolises was and is, the supreme art of the game; classical ballet on one side and musical, jazz and modern ballet on the other. Both sides left strong impressions, because it could not have been otherwise. After gaining impressive knowledge and vast experience and an internship at the Bolshoi Theater, I achieved my goal; to professionally improve and be the best.

Galapagos, Isabella Island: A little gossip with a sea lioness

As for prejudices, they are not in the art. We speak a universal body language, which everyone understands, and as a worldly woman, who does not have two relatives of the same nationality, I belong to the East and the West, as well as the North and the South.

Guatemala: Life in Chichiikastenango

5. You are considered to have set new standards in the field of choreography and stage movement. Were you aware of that then or did it become clear to you much later?

Sonja Lapatanov: Everything was clear to me from the beginning! After professional training, in the Russia and the USA, I dedicated myself to pedagogical and choreographic work, as well as the stage movement, developing into a creator of a special and original style, recognisable in countless theater performances and other types of stage performances.

Zimbabwe: Knox dance in front of the Queen and the King

I expertly incorporated steps and dance into the fabric of the play, contributing to the fact that in contemporary theater, stage movement and choreography become an important element of the director’s concept and the plays themselves. Based on my work in 1996, the Sterija Award for Choreography and Stage Movement was established, which I am especially proud of. For my creative work, I have received excellent feedback from the audience and critics, and I have won numerous significant professional and social recognitions and awards.

Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls

6. You are one of the first, if not the first, choreographer who went beyond the strict boundaries of theater and collaborated with the great music stars of the former Yugoslavia. Such a move is not always viewed favorably by your colleagues. How did that collaboration come about and how did you experience it?

Sonja Lapatanov: Older colleagues also collaborated with the music stars of Yugoslavia before me, and that was then called show business. At the time when it was called a spotlight stage, I got into that story, at the invitation of the manager, or the artists themselves. The mention of the star stage is mostly identified with the gallery of all kinds of naked singers on the front pages of the “yellow press magazines”, which unhappily defined the show business as something that implies vulgarity.

Ladakh: Little break on Pangong Lake

Many of them didn’t like those words, while the “show business” expression is much more acceptable. People from cultural circles are especially sensitive to the star stage, who perceive the term as something third-class, as evil and upside down. In essence, pop and show business have the same meaning and identical frameworks in which they operate. My collaboration with pop artists has always been at an enviable level, because how could it be otherwise with Zdravko Colic, Bebi Dol, Brena, Ana Bekuta, Dragana Mirkovic, Rambo Amadeus, Goran Bregovic, Alen Islamovic, Zorica Kondza, Biljana Ristic, Suzana Mancic , Bane Mojicevic, Stevan Andjelkovic, Marija Serifovic…

Ladakh: On the Changla pass

There were some people who were not kind to me because they could not enter to my team of players, those who accompanied the singers and some colleagues who later reluctantly accepted to do choreographies with newly arrived singers and future stars of the same “stage”. For my players, that cooperation was a solid source of income, they had a long service and health insurance. We were all satisfied with that cooperation.

Grenada island: Spice and fruit sellers

7. Due to the nature of their work, ballerinas “retire” extremely early by the usual standards. How did you experience that? Did traveling serve you as a new life challenge?

Sonja Lapatanov: I was not very shaken, because even then I was actively involved in pedagogical work, choreography and stage movement for theater performances in Belgrade and throughout Yugoslavia. I worked a lot, as many as 12 shows a year, sometimes two at the same time, say; one in Subotica and the other in Nis. Home in Belgrade, I just came to change my wardrobe! There was work, creativity was at its peak, as was inflation! From signing a contract, to paying a fee, hyperinflation would eat everything up! It was the highest inflation recorded in Serbia and one of the highest in the history of mankind.

Cambodia: Fields of Death

Product prices grew very fast, even in just a few hours the Yugoslavian Dinar (currency which was used in those times) became just a piece of paper. The exchange rate of the brand jumped every day. More and more money was printed and the new banknotes had more and more zeros. The shops were empty, and for a jar of cucumbers, 2,100 dinars had to be set aside, and for two liters of milk, or 200 grams of mustard, as much as 500 billion dinars! Terrible!

Southern Ethiopia: Members of the Mursi tribe

Thanatos and Eros, those compounds of opposites in life, life and death, happiness and sorrow, pain and enjoyment… destruction and creativity, which sustained me then and thank him! Traveling is my eternal life challenge. My ancestors migrated from one end of the world to the other, which is characteristic of the human race, including me.

Libya: Qasr Al-Haj

8. When did you feel that travel had become more than an adventure and had become your second occupation?

Sonja Lapatanov: From the moment when I started with writing books.

Libya, Sahara: The Finger of Allah

9. You have visited almost all countries of the world. What encouraged you to visit countries that go beyond the tourist framework and which most people never intend to visit?

Sonja Lapatanov: There is an answer in your question. I was encouraged by the fact that the countries I like to visit go beyond the tourist framework and that a small number of people intend to remind them!

Southern Ethiopia: Houses of the Dorze people

10. You say for yourself that you are an adrenaline addict and that your favorite destinations are in Asia and Africa. Which trip caused the greatest adrenaline?

Sonja Lapatanov: That’s right, I am a curious, adrenaline junkie and adventurer eager for knowledge. I constantly need to improve my being spiritually and intellectually. In that sense, I need changes. And it doesn’t hold my place! Many situations caused euphoria, some brought tears, some fear, some sighs and admiration… in Africa Sudan, Tanzania and Namibia, in Asia Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan…

Oman: In a desert oasis

My dear travellers, I hope you like my new post in column on the blog “My side of the world” and that you enjoyed it with my guest today. We will continue our trip around the world in a few days with our Sonja Lapatanov.

I would recommend you to take a look at the other pictures that dear Sonja set aside in the gallery especially for us to see what kind of beauties our earth hides.

French Polynesia, Tahiti: In the company of a tattoo artist

 If you have a suggestion when you would like to see and whose side of the world you would like to discover, you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story!

Best,
Mr.M

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My Side of the World: Vesna Jugovic de Vinca

My dear travellers, I hope you are well and ready for a new post. I have decided to create new content for you in the form of special interviews with people who have traveled around the world. Travel is the most beautiful gift of life that can give us the best form of non-formal education.

My guest today is Vesna Jugovic de Vinca, a cosmopolitan, and a woman who has been striving for the best possible display of all dimensions of beauty for over two decades. She is the woman who was able to connect us to the world in the most difficult moments. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her time!

1. It is considered that you have set the standard in organizing beauty pageants in the Balkans and in Serbia and through the Miss Serbia project have opened the door to our country for some new opportunities. Were you aware of that in the 1990s or did it become clear to you much later?

Vesna de Vinca – I think that was my destiny. It was a system of decisions that I was “like” forced to make. I wanted to escape from the hard times of war reporting where, as a National Television journalist, I saw and filmed horrors and stepped almost into a world of hopelessness. I bought 1995 world miss licenses to elect Miss Yugoslavia – from Donald Trump who was then the owner of the Miss Universe organization and from Julia Morley, who owns the Miss World Organization. It was at the worst moment when Yugoslavia was notorious and banished from the events of world culture and sports.

Despite everything, I was able to “hook” us (Yugoslavia) into the world. It was probably our proverbial – stubbornness! Since 2006 when we split up, I have become a license holder for Miss Serbia and Miss Montenegro. Let’s not forget that the Miss World event is watched by over two billion people every year, including us as participants. It looks like the Olympics. I brought that new task in my life, the choice of official beauty, to an institution level. I have lasted for more than two decades despite difficult situations of sanctions, war, bombing, coups, political and economic turmoil.

2. For over two decades, you have been striving to portray beauty as something more than an aesthetic ideal, and that it is more a matter of psyche and spirit. Can beauty beat the time?

Vesna de Vinca – Beauty can beat time. Beauty is the heart of creation. It’s a special kind of energy. It is a special talent, which perishes like any talent if it is not respected and developed. Beauty is developed by mission. If it is understood as private wealth used for narrowly private successes, beauty is going to be crowned with the time.

If it is understood as a gift of God, as something that is not yours and that you did not deserve, but was given to you from above and “given” – it can last. So, if we put our beauty in the mission of affirmation of nobility and goodness, wisdom, helping one’s neighbor, affirmation of wonderful values – beauty lasts, because it is always colored again by the most beautiful energy beam of light inside, light that is corrected and exits through eyes and pores on the skin.

3. Due to the nature of your business, you have had the opportunity to visit almost all countries of the world. Have you had the opportunity to visit countries that go beyond tourism? (like Ethiopia, Brunei and similar destinations) Did the trips help you find yourself in a new life challenge?

Vesna de Vinca – Travel has become my religion. I have formed this particularly exciting picture of the world both as a journalist for many shows from all continents and as a producer of beauty and fashion events. So far I have visited 71 countries of the world, always as a traveler, never as a tourist. Honestly, I despise consumers in all areas, including tourism. The main motive for the trip should be discovery. The end of the journey must be the knowledge that we have improved. If that is not the case, then it is a matter of false splendor and exclusive summer resorts with photos that we post on social networks to make ourselves important.

Of course, I was also in countries, areas insufficiently discovered. I was so before this terrible war in Syria in Aleppo, riding the Euphrates, watching the Christian cells on the banks of this Bible river. I will never forget that. In the barren mountains of northeastern Syria, Qalamuna, in a village, the small town of Malula, where at that time there were about 5,000 inhabitants who spoke the only language in Christ – Aramaic, I went to research whether to make a film about it. The village was soon destroyed, and the inhabitants scattered all over the planet. Isis urged them. What a tragedy.

In Africa, I visited Tenge Njenge, the most creative village in the world, where sculptures resembling Henry Mura and Brancusi are sculptured and made by illiterate villagers, elderly people and children. I made a documentary about that, I think it’s very good. In Libya, when I was with Gaddafi and did an interview back in 1992, I went with the team to the center of the Sahara, to Gadamesh and talked to the Tuareg, desert samurai, filmed unforgettable scenes with which I begin two shows about a “colonel who has no one to write letter to”.

In Vietnam, I was on an island that in the “6 sense” system near Nya Trang. On that island, when you disembark, you return an hour or two earlier, to wake up earlier and, like the Robinsons, consume a day as much as possible. It is one of the most amazing tourist-exclusive centers where Cavalli and one of the sons of Prince Charles were at that time. Only bicycles are ridden, rivers are skipped, everything is designed to look natural and in fact the top quality is everything from showers to everything else. No phone. They make you forget the time and the burden of the outside world.

Here is another story from Cancun. It was the trip to the center of Mayan civilization and one of their guides is actually a tough Mayan nationalist and May language teacher. At first he thought I was American so he was grumpy, but when he realized where I was from and that I was a journalist he dedicated himself to me completely and took me through the Mayan civilization as their kind of ambassador. I also have a photo with him, it really was a kind of discovery.

4. In one interview you mentioned that your father is deserving and that he helped you discover the world. Which journeys do you remember with your father?

Vesna de Vinca – Although he went to another planet a long time ago, my father Minja Jugović still lives in me. Even today, I talk to him sometimes. It seems to me that I still haven’t realised yet how he made me a fearless, natural, resourceful and incredibly terribly curious person. Our most valuable journey together has always been the journey to the center of our family roots, to Bjelopavlice in Montenegro, where my family Jugovici from the Brajovic Brotherhood originate.

There on the river Zeta, my dad taught me about our ancestors and Njegos. I think I know over 30 generations of the family backwards, by heart as a song. We hunted frogs and eels with the children from the village of Kosić, played fircik (marijaš – card game) and preferences with the elderly, learned about the heroes and listened to anecdotes about the family that we still retell today.

My grandmother’s name was Gaja, and “gaja” means planet. Imagine what a wonderful name. Our property is like a dream, beautiful. Grandpa bought it twice. He went to America for the first time and worked in the mines, got married, had children and then lost his land. Then he packed up again and went to Marseilles to work on the salt pans. So he bought the same property again. Tough and persistent family – my dear Jugovici. Even today, the trip to Kosić, is always a new excitement for me.

5. Did you go to the same destinations again and did you happen to be disappointed with something that had previously delighted you or that you were delighted with something that seemed ordinary to you for the first time? Should you turn around the second time when something thrills you at first sight or should the experience not be spoiled by a replay?

Vesna de Vinca – I rarely go back to the “crime scene”!? New places need to be discovered. However, I always want to go to Jerusalem, Israel and Greece again, again and again. In Jerusalem, every atheist feels like a pilgrim. It is a source of special energy. Even looking in that direction from Belgrade, always fills me with a new light of knowledge about the sacrifice of Christ, who suffered all our sins on the cross – until then.

I would always go back to the Church of Christ’s Tomb, to Masada or to Bethlehem. Greece is definitely the most beautiful country in the world. You will never visit all the Greek islands and all the beauties of its ancient magic for life. I want to live in Greece. I also love Miami, actually Key Largo, where my friend Chris has a house on the ocean. The road to Key West, where Hemingway lived, is wonderful. That way across the ocean, I always love to pass by.

6. I know from my experience that travel is actually learning about the culture and history of a nation. Whose culture impressed you the most?

Vesna de Vinca – If I had to choose, I would choose the cultures of the Maya, the Greeks, Israel and India. India is a country that is entered at 1000 entrances but has no exits. Once you enter, you are obsessed with that diversity of everything. My trip to Sai Baba’s birthday, in Putaparta, is something not to be forgotten. Hey, I forgot the second most beautiful country in the world – Sri Lanka.

7. Did some trip disappoint you in the sense that you expected much more from that country, but you realised that sometimes good advertising is responsible for the overestimation of a certain destination?

Vesna de Vinca – At the first sight, I was disappointed by Nigeria. It is a land of car and shipwrecks. It is a country where there is no street light. It is a country where they tried to instill fears of crime in me. That’s how I saw it in the beginning.

But it turned out that country is a place where was no end to the curiosity. I will never forget the trip to the island where a married couple of priests live, who are elite intellectuals and very rich people, who decided to spend their lives in that environment where it is difficult to watch unhappy and poor people. You don’t know who to help first… Wonderful creatures!

8. Which distant country would you say is most similar to Serbia and why? Is there somewhere else in the distant world of our mentality or are we still unique?

Vesna de Vinca – The most similar country to Serbia is Portugal. I’m actually talking about the similarity of one people, the mentality. Then there are the Romanians, with whom we have never had a dispute in history, let alone a conflict. Maybe Irish and Welsh. Once in Hollywood, I had lunch with Catherine Zeta’s brother Jones – David. It was a completely Welsh team. It’s the same for me! And of course our wonderful Greeks.

9. Do you remember the feeling when you first organized the beauty pageant “Miss Serbia”? The moment when you proclaimed the first most beautiful girl in Serbia and realized that you became a pioneer in the promotion of Serbian beauties in the world.

Vesna de Vinca – I was excited because for the first time there were so many problems in Sveti Stefan and Cetinje in 1995, that I just waited impatiently for the end, to finish as soon as possible. I barely survived that pageant. That’s a long story. But I learned so much during that night that I would learn it all in the normal way for years. Here are the beauties in trouble. Everything in life is relative!

10. If you had to choose only one determinant word, what would you answer to the question of who is Vesna Jugovic de Vinca. A beauty promoter, a passionate traveler or a journalist?

Vesna de Vinca – Researcher of life! It’s an infinitely exciting “job”. It seems to me that even when I go to that world, I will feel great excitement and curiosity – what awaits me there? That would be a success.

I hope you like my new column on the blog “My side of the world” and that you enjoyed it with my guest today. If you have a suggestion when you would like to see and whose side of the world you would like to discover, you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page. See you soon with another interesting story about Belgrade!

Best,
Mr.M

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European Capitals of Culture: Salzburg, Riga and Dresden…

My dear travellers, how are you today? I sincerely hope that you are doing great and you are safe and healthy according to this situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Have you ever thought that traveling is a form of non-formal education? Did you notice that you learned something new after every trip? Every visit to a museum or some other sights helps us to connect with other cultures. Today I have decided to write a new post in which I will try to compare three different European capitals of culture that are completely different and which I consider to be real gems in Europe. When you mention Austria, Latvia and Germany, what do you think do people think at first about these three countries having something in common?

Livonia, the original name of one of the areas of present-day Latvia, was influenced by the German Livonian Sword Brotherhood (Schwertbrüder) from the 13th century until the 16th century when the Livonia Institute was abolished by local aristocrats. After that period, Latvia had a tumultuous history and until its final independence in 1991 was influenced by many European emperors.

Getreidegasse Street makes the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town so special and recognizable by its large metal sign shop …

On the other hand, we have two neighbors, Germany and Austria, who share a common language. It is more difficult for foreigners to recognise different pronunciation and dialects, which may be why Austrians and Germans sound exactly the same and foreigners are often confused. Neither Germans nor Austrians like to talk about it. When it comes to the most common stereotypes, many people think that what is true of Germans is that the same applies automatically to Austrians. However, this is not exactly the case and you will often hear Austrians talk about what Germans are like in the same way we do with our neighbors in the region. You never have to say which one is better in sports or which one has a better sense of humor, it is better for you to skip this topic…

In any case, these are all general impressions, believe me you will only get the right picture if you have the opportunity to meet the Germans and Austrians, especially if you have the opportunity to work with them or otherwise spend more time in their countries. Today I will try to bring you closer to their cultures and ways of life – lifestyle.

A building in the heart of Salzburg where the musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

Salzburg or Solnograd as even older people in Europe call it the fourth largest city in Austria. It is a city that proudly boasts the most famous musical genius at every turn, a composer who has left behind a great artistic heritage – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart Café, Mozart Hotel, Mozart Bakery, Mozartkugel, Mozart Ice Cream… Everything you can imagine in Salzburg in its name can proudly carry the Mozart attribute, but you must have a special license for this legal work, because Mozart is a trademark today. How did this town on the Salzach River get its name?

In the immediate area of Salzburg are the famous salt mines, which were exploited until 1989, when the mines were completely closed. Today they are the biggest tourist attractions of the city. The German word “salz” means salt, which is why the name of the city literally means “castle or fortress of salt.”

When I received an invitation from the Salzburg Tourism Board to visit their city and to find out more about their history and way of life, there is little to say that I was thrilled. I had the opportunity to get to know the city in a completely different way. I was able to visit the family candy factory where Mozartkugel are made according to the original recipe, I met craftsmen who still today make unusual products and souvenirs that this city is known for.

Of course I visited various museums, outdoor monuments and the most famous lookout point in the city. Also interesting was a visit to the tomb of Marianne Anna “Nannerl” Mozart, the birth sister of the composer Mozart who assisted her brother and performed with him. She had an unusually turbulent and sad life and because of her life story I decided to single out and visit her grave in Salzburg.

Salzburg is a small town with an interesting history where you will always have plenty to see and explore. In my blog posts I shared with you in 2018 on the blog, I did my best to share with you some of my stories about this lovely city in Austria.

Posts which I wrote about Salzburg:

  1. Salzburg: The eternal classic in the heart of Austria
  2. I love Salzburg, because…
  3. Salzburg: Fashionable Fairy Tale Come True (fashion outfit post)

I will take this opportunity to quote myself as I still thank the same and stand behind this statement of mine:

“Salzburg is perhaps a small town, but believe me nothing is behind the bigger capitals in Europe. In the main street you will find all the most famous world fashion brands. Nice restaurant, wonderful view it will be enough to enjoy in the beauties of the city like Salzburg. You can buy one pack of original Mozart chocolates and you will be very happy, it’s much better than buying of expensive shoes but you will feel much better! I will write you in the next post about famous Austrian Folkwear, I’m sure you will love it! ”

RIGA, LATVIA

Riga is a city that I have always wanted to visit but never had enough funding for that trip and after I started working I did not have the free time to visit the capital of Latvia, which is considered to be the heart of the Baltic. When we say the Baltic, we immediately think of the cold, but I always think of three fairytale countries: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

My first visit to the Baltic was in 2018 when I visited their “brother” city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, as part of a project with the Helsinki City Tourism Board and the Finnish Tourism Board. Even then, I promised myself that I would visit other Baltic capitals, today I can say that I partially fulfilled that promise because I visited Riga, but I have not reached Vilnius yet.

I am sure that I will succeed if God gives health to what our people say and that Mr.M will soon embark on a journey to Lithuania and complete my Baltic adventure.

The invitation to visit the capital of Latvia came during my trip to Azerbaijan where one day I received an email from my PR agency do I want to visit Riga? The schedule was very tight since I was visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole, and at that moment I was in Azerbaijan, we did not know at all how to carry out the possibility that at that time Marko would clone and manage to visit the jewel of the Baltic – Riga.

I managed to somehow reschedule the travel dates and made myself almost 4 days of “space” and together with my photographer who was crazy about the sound of the engine of the plane and my mom who joined us decided to take a break and learn something new about this part of Europe.

airBaltic was wonderful so we all had the opportunity to feel the comfort of traveling in Business class with them on the Berlin – Riga route and this time I thank them for the kindly invitation and for being wonderful hosts and really doing our best to experience Riga as their second home. Mom and I were fascinated by the shops and the stunning number of outlets located in the heart of the city, while the photographer was fascinated by the architecture.

Riga is an ideal city for rest, leisure and adventure. You want to try their cuisine, believe me you will have a lot of restaurants in the Old Town, which makes the city centre warm & rich with many restaurants of Latvian and international cuisines so that all gourmets lovers can enjoy.

Riga is a European city of culture and has numerous museums and monuments. In addition, the city always strives to preserve its culture and organizes numerous cultural and artistic events every year.

The old part of Riga (Vecrīga) makes only the heart of the capital, located on the right bank of the Daugava River. In this part of the city there are many sights, of which the most famous is the Church of St. Peter, the saint who is also the patron saint of Riga. The Old Town is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Europe as it has the largest number of secessionist (jugendstyle) buildings in all of Europe.

Posts I wrote about Riga:

  1. Letters from Latvia: Explore Riga with airBaltic!
  2. Letters from Latvia: One Artistic Day in Riga

Riga is truly an exceptional city to remember, I’m sure this city left no one indifferent. Honestly, I would love to return there soon, especially for the sights I didn’t get to see. I hope to have some new stories for you about this interesting city soon.

DRESDEN, GERMANY

In Germany, in the heart of Saxony, somewhere on the bank of the river Elbe is Dresden. An unusual city with rich Baroque architecture that managed to rise from the ashes after World War II. Dresden was a city that was razed to the ground during World War II. After the end of the war, the city belonged to East Germany and was not heavily invested. This was the case until the 1980s when the city began to rebuild.

If you decide to visit Dresden, trust me you will not go wrong because you will be able to enjoy the beauty of royal treasures left in museums. Unfortunately, much of the jewelry from the Green Vault Museum was stolen in the middle of last year.

It was my last time in March 2018 and I was able to visit the Green Treasury Museum which houses royal priceless jewelry. Today, some of the treasures are in other museums in Dresden and I believe that this beauty would be felt by all of us at least once in our lives.

Of course, in addition to outdoor jewelry, you can see the largest crown in the world… I think this is also one of the most visited places in Germany and anyone visiting Germany will go to Dresden to see this attraction.

For many tourists, Dresden is marked out as a special shopping destination. Shopping is special in Dresden because right in the center there are interesting sights and cultural monuments in the middle of the shops of famous international brands.

The most famous Baroque style building in Germany is located in the heart of Dresden. The Zwinger Palace was built at the behest of Saxon Prince Augustus II of Jakob in the late 16th century and was intended to commemorate the ceremony and ceremony. I think you should visit the Zwinger Palace, even if you have a couple of hours to visit Dresden, trust me you will remember, and you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Crown.

Posts I shared with you about Dresden:

  1. Dresden: The City of Kings
  2. Fall on the Crown of Dresden

How did you like this second post about interesting destinations that I visited during 2018 and 2019? This is just the beginning of this special series of posts where I will do my best to briefly write down some of my basic observations that I missed sharing with you while writing posts, and of course you will have the opportunity to remind yourself of some of my previous posts and to “renew” knowledge all together.

Have you ever had the opportunity to visit some of these cultural capitals in Europe so far? I would love to hear some of your experiences and would be glad to read your impressions in the comments.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post is not sponsored.

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Mr.M Travel Diary: How Traveling Can Change Your Life?

My dear travellers, how are you today? I really hope you are in the perfect mood and you’re ready for a new post. In the previous post, I asked you for advice about blog content, as we will have little difficulty doing business in the tourism industry. Due to the spread of the Corona virus, world-class tourism will have great consequences as well as other services. For today, I have prepared for you a special post in which I will compare 4 destinations that are somehow “related”.

Travel is itself a great gift that life gives us and when we have the opportunity to explore new cultures and connect with other people. Whether it is a classic tourist trip or a business trip, the journey itself provides an opportunity to expand our knowledge and perspectives that will allow us to more easily to accept some of the new changes that are being imposed on us over time. Man is a social being who tries his best to feed his curious side, and scientists have confirmed that travel is the best “soul food”.

When it comes to travel, it is not the destination that matters, but the company you choose as your travel companions, because you mostly do not go alone. The destination is completely irrelevant, it can also be something in your immediate vicinity of where you live, to some of the farthest points on Earth. The possibilities are great, the question is what are your personal interests.

INDIA

The first destination I decided to write you some of my impressions on today is far away country called India. I had the opportunity to visit this unusual and populous country in Asia two years ago, in 2018, when I was selected by thousands of bloggers from all over the world to visit this amazing country. At that moment, I was really excited and fulfilled with both business and emotional sides. Firstly, it was a great honor for me to be selected from so many bloggers in the world and to organize my trip in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of India. On the other hand, I fulfilled my biggest childhood dream and I visited the country about I heard the stories of my father who visited India many times.

I always dreamed of visiting the famous Taj Mahal and seeing the “River of Life” – the Ganges River flowing through the most famous historical city – Varanasi. As financial situation in the Balkan region is on average, poor level, most people only dream of going to India once for the lifetime or stay dreaming visiting this country. I was fortunate enough to fulfill my dream and embark on an incredible journey that I am sure would honestly not be able to raise money on my own and provide this kind of adventure which worth few thousands of dollars.

This trip was special because I was able to discover all the beauties of the Golden Triangle in India, thanks to the National Railways of the Republic of India, which helped me get in touch with the management of the Maharaja’s Express, a train everyone says is a “5 stars hotel on the wheels ”. Their team was carefully listening to my ideas and they were fulfilled my wishes so we made an unusual trip where we added a little more cities in their itinerary and I’ve got an unusual and magical trip through India.

It was my first long distance trip where I had the opportunity to get to know a whole new culture and to get to know the beauties of one of the most populous countries in the world – India. For 12 days of unusual train journey, we toured the quaint cities in the heart of India every day, and on this occasion I made a lot of interesting stories which I shared with you on the blog in 2018. It was a journey that fulfilled my childhood dreams, on the other hand I was extremely proud because I came to India for my dedicated blog work.

I think that everyone should visit India at least once in your lifetime just to see the beauty of the diversity of cultures and that Hindu culture may be far away to us, but at heart we will understand each others. Of course, it is necessary to save enough money to be able to feel the magic of this country and I think that for 1200 to 1500 euros you can buy plane tickets when airlines have some special fare sales and for that budget you can also provide decent accommodation and visit some of the most famous sights in India.

With pocket money you will need about 1800 to 2000 euros for a trip like this. When it comes to far distant destinations, most of the budget is spent on airline tickets while accommodation, food and basic necessities are not that expensive. That is why it is important to take advantage of the special actions that airlines occasionally carry out and by buying tickets to distant destinations like India.

At the very end of this remarkable adventure, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Varanasi, through which passes the “river of life” – the Ganges, which is of great mythical importance to the Indians. This is not an ordinary city, this is a place where the deity Shiva meets the Mother of Ganges daily. Hundreds of dead people are being burned here every day, who in this way get rid of the classical cycle of life and go to a holy place. It may be a bit morbid for our European understanding and way of life, but for Hindu culture this is acceptable as a cult that have some special order of process of life in their country.

If you want to understand Hindu culture, it is necessary to go there without any prejudice. If you go with some initial negative attitude, you will not be able to understand and see the contrast and all the beauty and diversity of this unusual country. My advice is to book your ticket and when you have the ideal opportunity not to think too much and enjoy the beauty of this far away country.

Posts I wrote about India:

  1. India: Land of Smile and Happiness
  2. India: When Dreams Come True!
  3. India: Last Call For Varanasi
  4. India: Red is the Color of Joy (special fashion outfit post)

LAOS

A country that can be compared to India in some ways, not only do they share a place in Asia, but in both countries it is natural and their cultures are so unreal and different. When it comes to the size of these countries, it is impossible to compare, because Laos is one of the smallest countries in this part of the world.

No matter the size, this tiny green emerald of Asia can, due to its turbulent history and unusual culture, is great “rival” to India. This trip is a little fresher for me because this adventure was realised at the end of last year, in November 2019.

First when someone mentions Southeast Asia, the first associations are long and exhausting flights. Yes it is true, especially since you have to change several airports and flights to get to Laos, but when you step on the soil of this paradise of greenery you realize that it was all worth it. This is a land where you can rest all your senses. Unlike in India, Laos is for all lovers of nature and more peaceful tourism. Here you can come to really rest and learn something new about Lao culture and Buddhism in a completely different way.

It was a great honour for me to be one of the first bloggers in the world to have a chance to visit Laos in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The main goal of my visit was to promote Lao culture, traditions and their customs. I wanted to attend on their most important Buddhist religious festival, and a ministry team led by a minister made it a point to experience the beauty of sharing joy with others in mid-November when That Luang Festival is usually held.

In addition to the capital of Laos – Vientiane, I also had the opportunity to visit Luang Prabang, a city of great historical importance to the Lao people. It was once the “cradle” of the Lao kings and from there the influence spread to the rest of the country, until the role of the capital after the kingdom collapsed was officially assigned to Vientiane.

Laos is a country where you can explore the beauties and charms of untouched nature and learn some new historical facts about this part of the world. Believe me, no matter the size of this small country, it is all disproportionate to the injustice and fate of the Lao people throughout history.

In addition, you will learn more about their culture, traditions and religion. After this visit, I got a whole different view of the world with the help of the prism of truth that Buddhism gives you.

If you find the right guides to explain the essence of Buddhism and some of the basics of the rules and principles of this religion, you will understand some of life’s truths and injustices in life. Perhaps this will help you see your life problems from a whole new angle.

Posts I’ve shared with you about this beautiful country:

  1. Letters from Laos: Vientiane, the Lost Treasure of the Riverside of Mekong…
  2. Letters from Laos: That Luang – The Festival of Love and Sharing…
  3. Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, a magical fairy tale about the land of 1000 elephants…
  4. Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, the Historical Cradle of Lao Kings…
  5. Letters from Laos: Buddhism is the Heart, where all People can find Peace…

MOROCCO

Morocco is one of those countries in Africa that you fantasize about after seeing a movie or your favorite series. So it was the case with me when I dreamed about this country after I met her “cinematically” after I “saw” as a child in the last scenes of the famous movie “Original Sin” with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas and the series “Forbidden Love”. Where, in addition to Marrakesh, who played the leading role, was somewhere between the city walls and forbidden the love of the beautiful Moroccan girl Jade and Lucas, the love of two young people who defied all laws.

According to my social channels, Morocco is the destination that has caused the most emotion in most of my readers. Honestly, the same was the case with me. For a while, I dreamed of visiting Morocco and feeling that mixture of Africa and Europe in French language. Morocco is a country that you cannot describe in just three words. It is a country of contrast and to which I have given the epithet “Sand Fairy Tale”.

Marrakech is a dream city and it was a cradle of inspiration from one of the greatest fashion virtuosos, who certainly marked the 20th century fashion and made a real way for French design and creation.

In addition to Marrakesh, the serenity of blue azure shades of blue brings an unusual city on the Atlantic coast. Esauira is a picturesque fishing town. Due to the climatic conditions, he was given the sympathetic nickname “Town of the Winds”.

There is a very interesting festival that is organized every year in the fall and is dedicated to all dragon lovers. I may not have had the opportunity to feel that adrenaline, but I did enjoy the beautiful pictures shown by the guides from the Tourist Organization of this incredible city.

I found out a few more interesting things about this quaint town. Did you know that this city used to be known as the Portuguese name Mogador, which in Berber means a wall, because Portuguese Mogador was strongly fortified. It was because of these walls that Esauira was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Africa in 2001.

The reason for my visit to this unusual country was the Gnaoua World Music Festival, which is a musical treasure trove of elements of jazz, pop and rock music, and trying in every way to explore some new musical directions. An interesting event that brings together artists from all over the world with famous artists who are members of the Moroccan ethnic group of peoples better known as Gnaoua or Gnawa.

I will remember this trip for the incredible blue and sandy scenery and smiling faces of Moroccans. It is the people that sets each country apart, many people think it is irrelevant, but it is the people who help differentiate a particular country from the rest. Collective behavior depends on whether the state will receive a positive or negative “rating”.

I hope to have the opportunity to visit Morocco soon again and to continue my adventure where I left off. Morocco is one exceptional country that gives us a lot of opportunities and it has been a great pleasure for me to feature it on my blog.

Posts from Morocco that I shared with you during 2018:

  1. Letters from Morocco: My Incredible Adventure in Marrakesh
  2. Letters from Morocco: Essaouira, the Blue Diamond of Atlantic Ocean
  3. Letters from Morocco: Little Piece of Heaven in the Heart of Marrakesh
  4. Letters from Morocco: One Fashion Story from Essaouira

EGYPT

A country with a long and fascinating history that marked human existence. The cradle of a civilization dating back a little over 4500 years, whose history we had the opportunity to learn in primary and secondary schools. When you mention Egypt, the first association with this ancient civilization is the “eternal” monuments that are one of the seven wonders of the world – the pyramids.

As we approached Cairo, I couldn’t even imagine that I would get a chance to see those incredible sights located not far from Cairo on the Giza Plateau. Only when you land in Cairo and head to Giza do you realize how small a man is, but with great effort he can do great things. The pyramids are the result of human efforts to work a miracle for the “gods on earth” as the rulers and pharaohs enjoyed the reputation of mythical beings at that time.

In October 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the center of Hellenistic culture, Alexandria and the jewel of the Red Sea – Hurghada, in addition to Cairo and Giza. It was my honor and great pleasure to be the Destination Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt this year at the Belgrade International Tourism Fair held a few days ago in Belgrade.

42nd Belgrade Tourism Fair marked this year and I am glad that for the first time in many years, Egypt was the partner country of such a significant event in Serbia and the Balkan region as well.

I hope that after resolving this current situation with the Corona virus, it will bring things back to normal and that at least towards the end of this year, tourism will be a bit lively. Tourists have always been dear and welcome guests to this country in Africa, and I’m sure the Egyptians welcome us this year with open arms.

In addition to exceptional resorts and landscaped beaches, Egypt is also known for its many cultural monuments and archeological sites. If you have the time, make some plan to visit Alexandria, a city named after Alexander the Great, the greatest conqueror. An interesting anecdote is that Alexander never actually saw the city but continued his march, but was buried in Alexandria after his death.

Maybe Alexander the Great did not have the opportunity to see Alexandria, but he tried to arrange it in his own way, so he hired urban planners and architects who, based on his ideas, edited Alexandria.

Posts about Egypt I shared with you in 2019:

  1. Letters from Egypt: Story about Golden time of the Pharaoh’s Empire…
  2. Letters from Egypt: Lost Kingdom somewhere between priceless Treasures of Egyptian Museum in Cairo…
  3. Letters from Egypt: Alexandria, the City of the great Charm…
  4. Letters from Egypt: Hurghada, heaven Saphir of Red Sea…

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end of our first special post where I will share with you some of my personal experiences which I forgot to write you during posting regular blog posts. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from airline companies and Tourism boards for all those incredible adventures. I hope we will continue our new adventures soon!

How do you like this post? Do you have some ideas? Would you like to see some other interesting reviews about destinations which I’ve already visited? Now is the perfect time to tell me and I will do my best to tell you everything about some destinations what I forgot to tell you before! 🙂

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post is not sponsored.

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Letter from the Middle East: Dubai, the Center of Modern Oriental Luxury…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Today is the perfect day to start a new adventure, so this rainy Tuesday is perfect time for a new post! Journeys are truly gift to a gloomy everyday life and one has the opportunity to have fun and at least for a few days forget about daily problems. When it comes to travel it doesn’t matter the destination, the most important thing is that the person doesn’t go alone and to make a good plan of the program of the trip where everyone will have fun and have a nice relax.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the flydubai airline and the Dubai Tourist Board (Visit Dubai), which made it possible for my photographer and I to experience the beauty and charm of a center of modern oriental luxury such as Dubai.

When the flydubai airline began operating in 2009, the goal was to connect with their passengers and transport them to as many destinations as possible daily. Today, flydubai flies to more than 90 destinations and is constantly adding new destinations to their “sky” network.

Over 70 million travelers have given their trust and with flydubai they have visited the largest and most famous city in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai, making them the second largest carrier in UAE. The vision and support of the Dubai government created new opportunities for travel, tourism and commerce and improved connectivity by increasing access to Dubai and connecting with the rest of the world.

With increasing demand and an daily-expanding sky network, flidubai has added a number of new destinations in its offer. Having already opened routes to Africa, Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the goal is not only to expand the network of destinations, but to make the route as efficient as possible, with more regular flights, direct flights and new aircraft with which will make every trip unforgettable.

Flydubai Business Class offers a more comfortable, relaxed and completely new flying experience. At the airport, you will have benefit from faster check-in and priority airport services, including a special check-in desk, boarding and bus service. You can also relax before your trip in the business lounge at Terminal 2 Dubai International Airport, and if your flight departs from Terminal 3, you can use one of the many Emirates business class lounges, of course, and the ability to enjoy lounges at airports around of the world using the affiliate networks of the airlines to which flydubai belongs.

On the board, you will be able to enjoy the personalized, professional and superior service of crew members who are in the service of business-class passengers. Choose a delicious meal from the menu where you can find specialties from a variety of international cuisines. My recommendation is to try Arabic cuisine specialties and I am sure you will enjoy the undiscovered flavours so far!

The flight from Belgrade to Dubai takes about 6 hours on average and I believe that your flight will be comfortable and fun, whether you choose to travel economy or business class with flydubai. Friendly staff, landscapes you’ll encounter along the way and who knows, you might meet someone on the flight.

I was able to meet an interesting lady in her late years who is visiting her daughter in Dubai. I have learned so many interesting things about this quaint modern city and received first-hand recommendations what I should not miss in Dubai!

Dubai is the most populated city in the United Arab Emirates and the capital of Dubai. Located in the eastern Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf coast, Dubai has occupied the central business center of Western Asia. It is also the world’s premier transportation hub for travelers and goods. Oil revenues helped accelerate the development of the city, which was already a major trading hub.

Today, less than 5% of the Emirates’ revenue comes from oil. Research from the Center for Regional and International Trade shows that, since the early 20th century, Dubai’s economy has largely relied on revenues from trade, tourism, aviation, real estate and financial services.

The history of human settlement in the area where the United Arab Emirates is now located is unusual and very complex. A large number of historical records point to the closely related trade links between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia civilizations.

Archeological sites in the emirate of Dubai, especially in Al-Ashoosh, Al Sufouh, and extremely rich sites from Saruk Al Hadid, show settlement through the periods of Ubaid and Hafit, the Umm Al Nar and Wadi Suk periods, and the three Iron Age in the UAE.

This part was known to the Sumerians as Magan and was a source of metal ores, especially copper and bronze. The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast receded inland, becoming part of what is now the city’s coastline. The great find is pre-Islamic pottery found in the present-day city of Dubai, dating from the third and fourth centuries.

Before the introduction of Islam in the area, people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar). Following the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph of the Eastern Islamic world invaded Southeast Arabia and expelled the Sassans. Excavations at the Dubai Museum in the Al-Jumairah region (Jumeirah) have found several artifacts from the Umaiyad period. The Venetian pearl dealer Gasparo Balbi visited this city in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) which was significant at that time because of the pearl trade.

Dubai is thought to have been established as a fishing village in the early 18th century and by 1822 it had acquired the status of a city of between 700 and 800 members of the Bani Ias tribe and was subject to the rule of Sheikh Tahnun bin Shakhbut of Abua Dhabi . However, in 1833, after a tribal altercation, members of the Al Bu Falasah tribe separated from Abu Dhabi and settled in Dubai.

The Abu Dhabi exodus was led by Obeid bin Saeed and Maktoum bin Butti, who also became supreme authorities in Dubai until Obeid died in 1836, leaving Maktum in a bid to establish a new Maktoum dynasty.

Dubai signed the General Maritime Treaty of 1820 and together with other countries, following the British criminal expedition against Ras Al Khaimah of 1819, which also led to the bombing of the Gulf coastal communities. This led to a permanent maritime truce of 1853. Dubai, like its neighbors, also signed an exclusivity agreement in which the United Kingdom assumed responsibility for the security of the emirates in 1892.

Throughout the 1970s, Dubai continued to develop thanks to oil and trade revenue, even as an influx of immigrants fleeing the Lebanese civil war. Border disputes between the emirates continued after the formation of the UAE. In 1979, a formal compromise was reached that ended all disagreements. Jebel Ali Harbor was established in 1979 and JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone) was built around the port in 1985 to allow foreign companies unrestricted imports of labor and capital.

Dubai Airport and the aerospace industry also continued to grow at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately for the 1990 Gulf War, Dubai experienced a major negative financial effect as major investors withdrew their money and chain stores closed their stores, but afterwards the city recovered in a changing political climate and managed to overcome all political and financial problems.

Later in the 1990s, many foreign trade communities – first from Kuwait, during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain, in times of Shia unrest – moved their business to Dubai. The city had bases for filling up Allied forces in the Jebel Ali Free Zone during the Gulf War. The massive rise in oil prices after the Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.

The number of tourist attractions and activities has increased significantly in recent years. There are many more options now than before, because all the activities were part of many hotel chains because the city did not have tourist attractions. Just the opening of the large Dubai Mall and the construction of the heart of the city (Dubai Downtown) have helped to expand the number of tourist attractions that make Dubai one of the most recognized in the world today.

The most striking attractions that have certainly changed the look of the city are the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain.

Burj Khalifa is known as the tallest building in the world. Visitors can take a special elevator to the 124th floor, which is known as the most beautiful vantage point from which Dubai can be seen in the palm of your hand. The Dubai Fountain, on the other hand, is the largest music fountain in the world that you can always visit for free, and it is part of the Dubai Mall.

Of course, besides the fountain at Dubai Mall, you can enjoy the winter magic at the spacious ice rink, aquarium and KidZania which is designed as a modern children’s playroom, believe me you have never had such a chance to see in your life. Honest to not be 27 years old, I would go play there all day long without break!

Bastakiya is known as a neighborhood marked in all travel guides and magazines as the old part of Dubai with a soul in which to keep the old city spirit and heritage. It was built at the end of the 19th century thanks to the Persian merchants who were attached to Dubai because of the easy and easy way to trade, and this is why this part of the city is named after the city of Bastak located in the south of Iran.

Many renovated buildings in this part of the city today still have special air conditioning systems called “Wind Towers” which was an interesting concept for the air conditioning of homes and commercial buildings. Today, most of the buildings in this part of the city are privately owned – homes and there are buildings of great cultural and social importance such as:

  1. Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Center
  2. The Museum of Dubai
  3. Arabian Tea House (formerly Basta Artistic Cafe)
  4. Majlis Gallery where works by local and international artists can be found.
  5. Ostra Gallery where you can find works of contemporary modern art and sculpture

Exactly 7 years ago, in February 2013, the Dubai Miracle Garden, a 72,000-meter flower garden, opened as part of the Dubailand complex. It is the largest flower garden in the world. The garden has a total of 45 million species of flowers maintained through a special irrigation system that uses wastewater that has been treated and plants are irrigated using a drip irrigation system.

During the summer from late May to September, when temperatures can be extremely high, with an average temperature of around 40 degrees, the garden is closed to the public.

Seeing the garden in full bloom with its 150 million flowers arranged in colorful bows, patterns and the myriad of shapes it forms is truly a magnificent experience for all your senses. Dubai Miracle Garden won two Guinness World Records for the largest vertical garden in 2013 and the largest flower sculpture in the world, shaping the shape of the 2016 Airbus A380.

The distinctive sculpture in this park is a masterpiece 18 meters high and is also the first Disney flower display in the Middle East and is made of almost 100,000 plants and flowers and weighs almost 35 tons. Every year, Dubai Miracle Garden changes its look and shows visitors a whole new concept and design experience. This unusual garden is visited by more than 1.5 million visitors a year.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of the special blog post from Dubai. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Dubai Tourist Board – Visit Dubai and flydubai for this incredible adventure and Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you for this great adventure.

This time, flydubai recognized the quality of my work and they wanted to be part of this amazing project. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of Middle East in a completely different way.

How do you like this story about this oriental luxury centre of the Middle East called Dubai? Have you maybe had a chance to visit United Arab Emirates? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Visit Dubai and flydubai airline company. I would like to say thank you to Four Seasons Hotel DIFC for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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Letters from Laos: Buddhism is the Heart, where all People can find Peace…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Today I was just thinking about the passing of time and how some moments in life last much shorter than we thought. In today’s post, I will do my best to explain to you some of the basics of Buddhism and to evoke the beauty of the temples I had the opportunity to see in Laos.

Today is the day we will say goodbye to Laos on my blog and this is officially my last Lao “letter” which I will share with you. It was a memorable adventure that would not have been possible without the selfless support of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of PDR Lao and airline company Qatar Airways. This way, I would like to thank them heartily for this extraordinary experience that has allowed me to get to know a whole new culture.

Buddhism (Buddha Śãsana – Buddha’s Teaching) is the fourth largest religion in the world with over 520 million followers, known as Buddhists. If we look at this figure from a global point of view, it is over 7% of the total population on the planet. Buddhism itself encompasses different traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practices that are largely based on the original teachings attributed to the Buddha and the resulting interpreted philosophies.

That Luang (Great Stupa) is the symbol of Lao and an icon of Buddhism in Laos.

It originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, and spread throughout much of Asia. The two major existing schools of Buddhism which were recognized are: Theravada (the oldest preserved school of Buddhism) and Mahayana (Sanskrit: the “The Great Vehicle”). There is also a third school of Vajrayana Buddhism (Tantric Buddhism).

Buddhism spread throughout the 45 years of the Buddha’s teaching and centuries after his death, spread across the Indian subcontinent and then into Central, South, East and Southeast Asia. Although Buddhism is often perceived as an apolitical religion, it has always exercised significant political influence in the countries in which it is present. It is often stated that the history of Buddhism, unlike other religions, knows no exile, inquisitions, religious wars, hunting heretics and burning people and books in the name of defending dogma. In the early 20th century, Buddhism arrived in Europe and America.

Most Buddhist schools share the goal of overcoming suffering, the cycle of death and rebirth, either by attaining Nirvana or by Buddhahood. Buddhist schools differ in showing the right path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicality assigned to different Buddhist texts, and their specific teachings and belief practices. Widely accepted beliefs include finding hope and refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangi, respect for moral principles, monasticism, meditation and cultivation of Paramit (perfection or virtue).

That Luang temple during Boun Pha That Luang Festival in Vientiane, Laos

Buddhists have the highest part of population (approximate figures expressed in millions) in: China (including Tibet) (102), Japan (89.5), Thailand (55.5), Vietnam (50), Myanmar (41.6), Sri Lanka ( 12.5), South Korea (10.9), Taiwan (9.2), Cambodia (9.1) and India (7). In some Southeast Asian countries, Buddhism is still a state religion.

Buddhism today can be divided into three major branches: Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Of the total population of 524 million Buddhists, it is estimated that 56 percent of Mahayana followers, 38 percent of Theravadas, and 6 percent of Tantric or Tibetan Buddhism.

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

How did Buddhism come about? Who is responsible for the emergence of this present-day world religion? I will do my best to provide you with as always, comprehensive and specific answers. Siddhartha Gautama was a wise and traveling teacher who lived in the territory of present-day northern India and Nepal. In Buddhist life, the Buddha becomes the mythical prototype of the “divine man” in accordance with Hindu tradition, which has many features in common with idealized perfect beings in other religions.

Siddhartha Gautama was born about 560 B.C. n. e. in the small republic of Shakya, in present-day Nepal, at a time when it was one of the hubs of intellectual and spiritual activity. Siddharth’s father was a member of the council of the Saky Republic, and he described himself as a Kshatriya, a member of the ruling caste. However, Siddhartha left the palace and became a beggar named Gautama. As he left the two teachers who taught him something akin to yoga philosophy and practice, he joined, along with five other students, the cruel torment of the body.

Realizing the futility of such ruthless asceticism, he began to preach moderation as a middle ground. After awakening (liberation), he first went to Varanasi to give his first word on the four noble truths to the five beggars he lives with during his six years of ascetic life; it is known as the “Word of the Dharma Point Initiation.” After hearing it and believing it, they set up their first followers. Following the initial proposals, the cultivated community grew spectacularly, attracting priests, kings, and ascetics. For the next 45 years, the Buddha was proposed throughout Northeast India. Indian Buddhism, along with other growing ascetic movements, was chosen by a self-serving and stratified Hindu society.

After the Buddha’s death, his successor became Mahakashyapa, not the faithful disciple and secretary Ananda, who had been in the direct service of the Awakened for twenty years, had no free time to use meditation to become Arhat (Holy).

What are the basic principles of Buddhism?

The four noble truths are the fundamental concept of Buddhism. It is through their understanding that Shakyamuni Buddha (as the Buddhist founder, Siddhartha Gautama is often called) experienced awakening and nirvana. In this sense, the aspiration and effort to understand the four noble truths, not only at the intellectual level but, above all, at the intuitive level, the so-called. by direct knowledge, they are the essence of Buddhist teaching. It is thought that this was the topic of the first sermon the Buddha delivered after he had awakened.

The four noble truths are:

    1) The Noble Truth of Suffering – there is suffering in the lives of all beings.
    2) The Noble Truth About the Origin of Suffering – There is a Cause of Suffering, which are attachment and desire (pali: tanha – desire, thirst) that arise from ignorance (avidya)
   3) The Noble Truth About Cessation of Suffering – There is a Way to Overcome Suffering by Dropping and Eradicating Attachment and Desire
   4) The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering – there is a way to eliminate attachment and desire, which is the eightfold noble path

When referring to the four noble truths, the Buddha is often compared to the physician because the truths are exposed according to the ancient Indian medical model:

    1. There is a disease (diagnosis)
    2. There is a cause of the disease (analysis of the factors that lead to the disease)
    3. There is a way to cure the disease (finding out the prognosis and the existence or absence of a way to eliminate the cause of the disease)
    4. Prescribing a cure or a way to cure the disease

This approach to the problem is one of the key features in the discussion of Buddhism in relation to other religions. Namely, this avoids metaphysical speculation and the need to believe in what is being exhibited. In each of the four noble truths, references are made to phenomena and concepts that are wholly within the realm of each person’s experience, which enables him or her to make judgments about the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the subject matter of the discussion.

Moreover, in Buddhist writings, the Buddha precisely insists on this, empirical, approach and non-reliance on blind belief in his words. The Buddhist is expected not to accept all of the above merely on the basis of faith in truth, but to insist on actively re-examining learning through personal experience and analysis of that experience, since, according to the Buddha, it is the only way to reach true knowledge and thus liberation from suffering.

A temple located within the Haw Kham Royal Complex in Luang Prabang, Laos.

It should be pointed out, however, that it would be wrong to say that religion has no role in Buddhism. On the contrary, the term shrada is an essential element of Buddhist teaching. This term is roughly translated as faith, though it encompasses confidence, perseverance, modesty and perseverance. Although the Buddha opposes blind beliefs based on authority, tradition, and the like, there remains a need for a certain amount of faith in Buddhist teaching. In principle, shrada is the result of deep reflection and accumulated experience.

In the context of the four noble truths, this is primarily about the fourth – the belief that the eightfold noble path really leads to the destruction of attachment and desire. The only proof of the effectiveness of the Noble eightfold path and Buddhist teaching as a whole is the attainment of nirvana by Shakyamuni Buddha later, arhat (one who is worthy; a person who attained awakening and nirvana but not independently, as in the case of Buddhas, but the next Buddha’s teaching) .

Since there is no way to objectively and directly verify that these individuals have truly achieved their relief from suffering, it remains for us to accept this possibility as true on the basis of trust. Although in different Buddhist schools the degree and objects of faith, or trust, differ, we can say that faith in the truth of the eightfold noble path is common to all schools. In this way, faith in Buddhism plays the role of a person’s initiator on the path to awakening and nirvana.

Wat Mai Suvannaphumaham or Wat Mai (New Monastery) Buddhist Temple in Luang Prabang.

The noble eightfold path to the teachings of Gautama Buddha is the path that leads to the cessation of suffering (dukkha) in human life. Essentially a practical guide to living, based on ethical and meditative discipline, the Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth member of a group of four noble truths that shaped and initiated the development of the later Buddhist tradition.

As the name implies, there are eight elements of the noble eightfold path, and they are divided into three basic categories:

    Wisdom

    1. Right view
    2. Right intention

    Moral virtues

    3. Right speech
    4. Right action
    5. Right livelihood

    Meditation

    6. Right effort
    7. Right mindfulness
    8. Right concentration


In each of these parts of the noble eightfold path, the word “right” is a translation of the word samyañc (sanskrit) or sammā (pali), which signifies completeness, harmony, and also carries the meaning “perfect” or “ideal.”

Although parts of the path are numbered, this does not mean that they are a linear series of steps that one must take one at a time to advance toward enlightenment; instead, they should be developed more or less simultaneously, as much as individual abilities allow, because progress in one direction facilitates the development of other qualities, so that they complement and support each other.

In Buddhist symbolism, the noble eightfold path is often represented by the Dharmachakra, whose eight spiders represent the eight elements of the path.

Three Jewels

The three jewels are the three main features of Buddhism, that is, three things in which every Buddhist can find refuge. Therefore, they are also known as three jewels. That are:

    Buddha (The Awakened)
    Dharma (The Practice)
    Sangha (The Community)

Five rules of morality

There are five moral principles in Buddhist religion that every follower must adhere to, namely:

    1. Don’t kill or hurt other living things,
    2. Don’t steal,
    3. Don’t abuse sexual pleasure
    4. Don’t misuse speech (don’t lying)
    5. Do not consume alcohol, drugs or other substances that disturb consciousness.

Meditation

Buddhist meditation is a series of techniques that develop awareness, concentration, calmness and insight. Buddhists practice meditation as part of the path to enlightenment and nirvana.

According to Buddhist understanding, meditation represents an activity in which one seeks to overcome discursive thinking, to destroy or prevent adverse mental states, and to initiate or establish favorable mental states. The essence of Buddhist meditation lies in the collection of mindfulness and awareness, mindfulness and observation.

What are the basic branches and schools of Buddhism?

There are two basic currents in Buddhism, Theravada and Mahayana. Both are based on earlier traditions, so it is difficult to pinpoint their origin. It was previously thought that the first Theravada school was based on canonical texts that fairly faithfully reflected the original Buddha’s teaching, while the Mahayana was derived from much later material. Today, science thinks this is not true. Vajrayana Buddhism is sometimes considered a third group, while some consider it only part of the Mahayana tradition.

Mahayana has developed as a group of schools that can be classified into two major cultural and linguistic categories: Tibet-Mongolian and Sino-Japanese. Theravada Buddhism was more consistent; it expanded without significant change from India to Sri Lanka, and from there to Southeast Asia.

Buddhism in Laos

In Laos, Buddhists make up the majority of the population. Buddhism practiced in Laos is a traditional Theravada school. Lao-Buddhism is a unique part of Theravada Buddhism and is at the root of ethnic Lao culture. Buddhism in Laos is often closely tied to animist beliefs and belief in ancestral spirits, especially in rural areas.

However, Laos is a multiethnic country with a high proportion of non-Buddhist minorities who adhere to religions that are often substantiated by symbols of “animism” but which may also significantly overlap with Buddhism, or at least contain Buddhist elements arising from intercultural contact.

Sai Bat (Morning Alms) procession

Laotian Buddhists are very devout and in the past almost every Lao man, even for a short period of time, joined a Buddhist monastery or temple. Some men also falter for the rest of their lives. As the changes that bring with it the 21st century and the innovations of modern life, this practice is currently undergoing major changes. Most people give food to the monks in order to earn merit and improve their karma.

The temples of Laos were once considered “Universities” for monks. Lao monks are highly respected and valued in Lao communities. Based on Laotian Buddhism, Laos women learn that they can only get nirvana after being born as men.

Pha That Luang, Wat Sisakhet, Wat Xieng Thong and That Dam are the most famous Buddhist shrines in Laos. Lao-Buddhism is also known for the Buddha figures performing unique Lao creations or movements, such as a rain call and a uniquely striking Lao pose, such as depicting a Buddha lying down and welcoming death, after which he would attain Nirvana.

During the colonial era, Henry Parmentier conducted a major exploration of Lao art and architecture, which continues to be crucial to the unique culture of this part of Southeast Asia before the destruction that took place in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sai Bat (Morning Alms)

Sai Bat (Morning Alms) is a longstanding tradition of Lao Buddhist culture. Respecting this tradition, locals make daily contributions to monks throughout Luang Prabang. Starting in the early morning around 05:30 the monks take to the streets of Luang Prabang and in their special bowls “Bat” collect food from locals.

The tradition has also extended to tourists, so in addition to locals, tourists are also trying to uphold the Lao tradition and culture. It was an honor for me to be a part of this truly fascinating custom.

The most important thing is to honor this ritual in silence and to contribute to giving alms only if it means more to you than a meal and you must do so with great respect. If you do not wish to give your food, be at a suitable distance and be careful not to disturb the monastic procession or those participating in the procession. Basic rules for contributing and participating in the Sai Bat procession:

1) To make your contribution, you need to buy sticky rice at a local market earlier that morning or from people who prepare daily for rice sales at places along the route where the procession of monks is held.

2) Try not to be too close to the monks when photographing, and the camera flash can be very disturbing and uncomfortable for the monks and the parade participants who contribute.

3) Wear appropriate wardrobe: shoulders, chest and legs should be covered.

4) Do not make physical contact with the monks and try to be at least 5 meters away from the monks if you are observing the ceremony. If you participate in the ceremony you may be close to a monk, but there is no conversation.

5) Please note that large buses are banned in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang and are extremely disturbing in this context. If you are coming from another city, you can reach a certain area in the city and then you can reach by foot or by car.

6) Never follow the procession in the car, as this will put you above the monks, which in Laos shows great disrespect.

7) The most important thing is participating in the alms giving ceremony, protecting the dignity and beauty of this decades-long tradition.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of the last blog post from special series of post from my Lao adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism of Lao DPR and Qatar Airways for this incredible adventure and MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you for this great adventure.

This time, Qatar Airways recognized the quality of my work and they wanted to be part of this amazing project. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of Asia in a completely different way.

How do you like this story about Buddhism and Lao longstanding custom Sai Bat? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Laos? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story and we will enjoy in the beauties of Middle East! We are going to Dubai, place where all Emirates greet! See you next week in United Arab Emirates!

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of PDR Lao and Qatar Airways airline company. I would like to say thank you to MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa and Tours for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, the Historical Cradle of Lao Kings…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Are you ready for a new adventure? Last week, you had the opportunity to see how looks like an unusual elephant shelter in Laos. Additionally, you have had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Luang Prabang’s nature, if you haven’t arrived to read my previous post or you might want to remind of some interesting details, you can do so now by clicking this LINK.

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

Today we continue our adventure in Luang Prabang and I will do my best to give you tips on what to visit in this city and to fill your time in the best possible way if you decide to visit this unusual country in Southeast Asia.

Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Lao for the invitation, as well as Qatar Airways for a wonderful collaboration.

King’s Funeral Chapel at Wat Xieng Thong Temple

Luang Prabang, literally translated as “the image of the Royal Buddha”, is a city in north-central Laos, consisting of 58 neighboring villages, 33 of which are UNESCO-listed as Luang Prabang World Heritage Sites.

It was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 because of the unique and “extraordinarily” well-preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage and mix of rural and urban parts of the city that survived for centuries, including French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Funeral royal chariot with the remains of King Sisavang Wong

The city center is located on four major thoroughfares and is located on a peninsula at the mouth of the Nam Khan River and the Mekong River. Luang Prabang is known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. The most famous of these is the Wat Xieng Thong Temple you see in the pictures. Every morning, hundreds of monks from various monasteries walk the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms.

It is the famous Monk Parade, which I will detail and introduce to you in a future post. One of the major city attractions is Mount Phou Si, a large steep hill that is 150 meters high. There is also a steep staircase leading to the Wat Chom Si Temple with a beautiful view of the city and both rivers.

Buddha figures found in the King’s Funeral Chapel at Wat Xieng Thong Temple

The city was formerly the capital of the Luang Prabang Kingdom of the same name. It was also known by the ancient name of Xieng Thong. It was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos until the 1975 takeover of Pathet Lao. The city is part of Luang Prabang district in Luang Prabang province and is the main and administrative center of the province. It is located about 300 km north of the capital Vientiane.

Currently, the total population of Luang Prabang District is over 400,000, while the city itself has a population of around 56,000 and the UNESCO protected site is home to around 24,000 people.

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

Muang Sua was the old name of Luang Prabang after the conquest of the Thai prince, Khun Lo in 698 AD. Khun Lo donated the city to his father, Khun Borom, who is associated with the Lao legend of the creation of the world. A legend that the people of Laos share with Shan and other nations in the region. Khun Lo founded a dynasty in which fifteen rulers ruled over independent Muang Su for nearly a century.

In the second half of the 8th century, Nan-Chao often became involved in the affairs of the principalities of the Mekong Middle Valley, resulting in the occupation of Muang Su in 709 AD. The dates of the occupation are unknown, but the occupation probably ended well before the expansion of the Khmer Empire in the north of Indravarman I (r. 877–89) and extended to the territory of Sipsong Panna in the upper Mekong.

Meanwhile, the Kmers established a new headquarters in Ksai Fong near Vientiane, and Champa expanded again in southern Laos, retaining its presence on the Mekong shores until 1070. Chanthaphanit, the local ruler of Xai Fong, moved north to Muang Sua and was accepted peacefully as ruler after the departure of Nan-Chao Administrator.

Chanthaphanit and his son reigned for a long time, during which the city became known as Xieng Dong Xieng Thong.

The dynasty eventually became embroiled in several principalities. Khun Chuang, the ruler who expanded his territory as a result of the war actions of these principalities and ruled from 1128 to 1170. Khun Chuang, the ruler of a dynasty that ruled over the territory and reinstated the 7th-century Siamese administrative system.

Luang Prabang was also involved in many various modern historical events during World War II and was occupied by several forces during the war (France, Thailand, Imperial Japan and China). Initially, the French controlled the city, but lost it to the Thai forces after the Franco-Thai War of 1940-1941. years.

On the early morning of March 9, 1945, the nationalist group declared Laos once more independent, with Luang Prabang as its capital, but on April 7, 1945, two battalions of Japanese troops occupied the city.

The Japanese tried to force Sisavang Wong (King of Luang Phrabang) to declare Lao independence, but on April 8 he simply declared an end to Laos’ status as a French protectorate. The king then secretly sent Prince Kindavong to represent Laos with the Allied forces and Sisavang Vatthan as representative of Japan.

 Try a class or simply have lunch at the Silk Road Café

Following the surrender of Japan to the Allies, the free French forces were sent to reconquer Laos and enter Luang Prabang, at which time the king assured the French that Laos remained a French colonial protectorate. In September, Chinese nationalist forces arrived to receive the surrender of the remaining Japanese forces.

In April and May 1946, the French attempted to conquer Laos by means of paramilitary forces to capture Vientiane and Luang Prabang and drive Phetsarath and the Lao Issar ministers from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

During the First Indochina War, Viet Minh and Pathet Lao attempted to occupy the city several times in 1953 and 1954, but were stopped before French forces could overtake it.

During the Laotian Civil War in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, a secret US air base was located in Luang Prabang and was the scene of great fighting. Luang Prabang remained the royal capital until 1975, when the communist forces of Pathet Lao seized power with the support of North Vietnam and dissolved the ancient monarchy.

Luang Prabang has many natural beauties and historical monuments that are really worth a visit. Among the natural tourist attractions are Kuang Si Waterfalls, Tat Sae Waterfalls and Pak Ou Caves. Located in the city center, Phou Si enjoys sweeping views of the city and river systems, and is a popular place to watch the sunset over the Mekong River.

At the end of Luang Prabang’s Main Street is a night market where t-shirts, bracelets and other souvenirs are on sale at the stands.

Royal PalaceHaw Kham National Museum

The Haw Kham – Royal Palace Museum and Wat Xieng Thong Temple are the most famous historical sites. Every morning, at sunrise, the procession of monks in the procession through the streets accepting the alms offered by the locals, an event very popular with tourists.

Mountain biking is quite common and people often cycle around the city or waterfalls during the day. Down the Mekong River, there is one interesting spot which is about a 15 minute boat ride from Ban Chan (a pottery village).

A temple located within the Haw Kham Royal Complex

Kuang Si Waterfall is a three-level waterfall, located about 30 kilometers from Luang Prabang. These waterfalls are a popular tourist spot in Luang Prabang. They are accessed by a specially designated path leading to the waterfalls themselves. The water flows into the turquoise blue “pool” before continuing downstream.

Entrance to the nature reserve where Kuang Si Waterfall is located

Tickets are paid, but all for the purpose of maintaining cleanliness and preserving the natural environment. Most pools are open for swimming (although at least one is closed as a sacred place).

There is also a bear shelter in the park – Tat Kuang Si. Here you can find Asian black bears known as “moon” bears are an endangered species. Although East Asian culture is believed, the millennial practice of traditional medicine has proven problematic for the bear population in this region of the region.

Tat Kuang Si – Rescue Reserve and Shelter for Asian Black “Moon” Bears

Laos is still a developing country, so adequate medical care is difficult or practically impossible to reach outside cities such as Luang Prabang or Vientiane. Most people in the more rural parts of the country are forced to rely (for lack of education and medicine) on traditional medical practices, and many come from traditional Chinese medicine or ancient Lao shamanism.

In Lao traditional medicine, bears are believed to contain certain magical properties, so they are considered to be some kind of miraculous medicine. Across the country, these rare and endangered species of bears are being captured by hunters, forced to live in tiny cages and given milk because of their medicinal properties. This type of bear was also brought to China, which unfortunately helps to stimulate the “industry”.

A breathtaking natural oasis. I encourage you to take the time to enjoy nature and dive into one of the many waterfall pools.

For the true adventurer, you can take one mini-tour walk for three hours through a minority ethnic village and forest before ending at the very top of the waterfall, enjoying magnificent views of the waterfalls.

If you decide to spend one afternoon freshening up at Kuang Si Waterfall, be sure that you gonna make a right decision. Just bring your swimsuit with you and that’s it, you can enjoy divine waterfalls.

After visiting this beautiful waterfall, it’s time for Mr.M to move on! Luang Prabang is still the most visited city in Laos today. 90 percent of the country’s people work in agriculture, and rice accounts for 80 percent of Laos’ agricultural production. This is an unexplored destination that has yet to be massively explored.

Some of the specific characteristics that make Laos unusual are the religions, cultures and traditions that persist. Surrounded by mountains, Luang Prabang is located at 700 meters above sea level at the mouth of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers.

Old Luang Prabang’s city charm is made up of over 2000 monks living in 33 gilded Buddhist temples and monasteries. This city is rich in beautiful landscapes, sustainable programs for achieving a better life for the local community, rich in culture and local villas that have been renovated and revived to operate as a special type of “boutique” type of hotels.

Wat Mai Suvannaphumaham or Wat Mai (New Monastery) is one of the largest and most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang. Its central location (in front of the night market and next to the Royal Palace) makes it one of the most visited temples of this ancient royal city.

This temple was built by King Anourout in the late eighteenth century, and expanded in the 19th century. Its restoration, during the reign of King Manthatourat (1817-1836), was given the name known today to everyone – the “New Monastery”.

Wat Mai Suvannaphumaham or Wat Mai (New Monastery) Buddhist Temple

This temple is very important to the Lao people in Luang Prabang. After the Chinese destroyed the city in the last half of the 19th century, it served as a temple to the royal family and was also for a long time obscured by Phra Bang, which is a mystical emblem in this country. It was also the residence of the highest Lao Buddhist dignitary, Pra Sangkharat.

Wat Mai (New Monastery) is one of the largest, most picturesque and most photographed temples in Luang Prabang. Located close to the popular Sisavangvong Street Night Market and affiliated with the National Royal Palace Museum, it is important for both its religious and the aesthetic beauty of the city.

The temple, founded by King Anourout (Anurat, born 1795-1817), perhaps 1796/7, dates mainly from the 19th century. The rebuilding of the timber structure probably began in 1821 or 1822 during the reign of King Manthatourat. Work on the sim, library and other supporting buildings lasted until the 1890s.

Many other structures date from the 20th century. Major restorations were made in 1943 and 1962, as well as in recent times. The wooden sim is built in traditional Luang Prabang style with additional motifs on either side.

The monastery has special significance for a number of reasons. It served as a temple to the royal family and was for a long time the residence of Pra Sangkharat, the highest Laotian Buddhist dignity.

As a result of the raids of the Chinese who ravaged much of the city in 1887 (Wat was spared, perhaps because of its beauty), Wat Mai became the warehouse of the city palladium, Prabang. In 1947, the golden statue was moved to the royal palace, today it is the Royal Palace Museum.

During the Pi Mai, Laotian New Year in mid-April, a ceremonial washing of the Buddha figure takes place over three days and the opportunity for worshipers to pay their respects.

After visiting the Wat Mai Temple we had to hurry as we were in a hurry to make a special cruise on the Mekong River. For all those travelers who do not have time to travel on a long cruise to Thailand or other provinces. The best way to experience the Mekong in a few hours would be a cruise where you can enjoy the Mekong River at sunset.

Mekong River CruiseKhopfa Sunset Cruise

Enjoy a relaxed and carefree time with Khopfa Sunset Cruise, enjoying the light breeze on your face and the warm sunshine. As you float towards the ever-growing rivers and mountains, the orange glow slowly fades in the background of the Mekong River. You don’t mind having coffee, tea or some refreshing drinks and some snacks along the way to make your mini cruise perfect.

I had the opportunity to finish my day in Luang Prabang with wine and a light dinner and I don’t think I could have imagined a better end to an exciting day in far-away Laos.

The next morning I started aboard again and embarked on a half day cruise. Mr.M set out to visit the most unusual temple in Pak Ou Cave. I have to admit that I woke up cheerfully that morning, it was all nice until I realized that the night before I did not put the appliance to charge. Fortunately I always carry more spare batteries, so some of them are charged.

Near Pak Ou Cave (mouth of the Ou River), Tham Ting (lower cave) and Tham Theung (upper cave) are caves overlooking the Mekong River, 25 km north of Luang Prabang. It is a group of two caves on the west side of the Mekong River, about two hours upstream from the city center, no matter what the distance, this is a great tourist attraction and believe me it is worth setting aside 4 hours of your time to visit this sacred place.

Pak Ou cave with Buddha sculptures (outside)

The caves are known for their miniature Buddha sculptures. Hundreds of very small and mostly damaged wooden Buddhist figures were placed over wall shelves. The figures occupy many different positions, including meditation, teaching, peace, rain and leaning (nirvana).

Pak Ou cave with Buddha sculptures (inside)

Before the caves were discovered by people from the region and tourists, during the Laotian New Year, the believers came to bathe in the caves in the hope of receiving a blessing in the coming year. Now that the caves have become a famous tourist attraction, visitors here have the opportunity to see something new and unusual.

There also was one interesting four-legged furry friend…

The cat looks a little angry in this picture, I think she was more thoughtful. I realized that a few seconds after taking the photo, because it called (meow call) for me and set me up for a round of good pampering. Luckily I had enough time to play!

By the end of the day I was enjoying the beauty of the Mekong River and went to bed early as I needed extra energy for the next day as it had to get up very early. The next morning Mr.M was obliged to get up at four o’clock in the morning as every day the “Monk Parade” began at 5:20 it was necessary to prepare food for the monks.

Together with the staff at MyLaoHome, I prepared food for the monks and was ready to go. I will explain more about the procession of the Monks in the next post that will be dedicated to Buddhism, temples in Laos, as well as the procession of the Monks themselves, where they gather food every day.

After the Monk Parade, a team from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Lao, together with a representative of MyLaoHome hotel and a tour operator specialized travel agency, took me to the famous morning street market.

This market starts from the early morning hours, just before 6am and lasts until 9am, sometimes until 10am. Unusual little center hawks become street counters where you can always find different types of food items from fresh fruits and vegetables to the most varied types of meat and fish. Everything is fresh and the Lao people respect this tradition and even tourists have become customers.

In addition to the food and drink at this market, you can find clothing and toys, so everything can be found here, as our people would say from needle to locomotive. I have to admit that I was most impressed by their temperament and cordiality.

On the other hand, as an economist and a person who has been in the business of marketing and marketing for years, I can tell you that they are sweet and good traders, so far as pricing is concerned. At the market it is important to sell the goods as soon as possible while still fresh, so a deal is always possible!

Since I was interesting to the locals, they were cordial so they offered me their specialties for free. I can tell you that “street food” is interesting to them and you won’t go wrong if you decide to taste some of the more unusual dishes. I’m sure you’ll find your favorite dish quickly!

After my visit to this unusual market, I had enough time to pack my suitcase and get ready for my flight home. Everything that is beautiful has its end, so is travel. That shouldn’t worry us, because it’s always the right time for a new adventure!

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end post from special series of post from my Lao adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism of Lao DPR and Qatar Airways for this incredible adventure and MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you for this great adventure.

This time, Qatar Airways recognized the quality of my work and they wanted to be part of this amazing project. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of Asia in a completely different way.

How do you like this story about Luang Prabang? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Laos? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story from Laos and we will continue our adventure in Laos, where I will show you the most beautiful temples in Laos and TAK BAT, which is in Lao culture very important.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,
Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of PDR Lao and Qatar Airways airline company. I would like to say thank you to MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa and Tours for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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