Posts tagged asia

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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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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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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Letters from Laos: Luang Prabang, a magical fairy tale about the land of 1000 elephants…

My dear travellers, Happy New Year! I wish you much health, happiness, love and of course plenty of new adventures to remember! Life is one album that we ourselves fill with images that marked our existence. Today I am happy because this is my first post in the New Year and we continue our adventure in Laos, the smallest country in Southeast Asia.

In previous blog posts, you have had the opportunity to get to know the capital of Laos – Vientiane and to learn more about the largest Buddhist religious holiday, That Luang Festival.

Today I will take you to Luang Prabang, which many people call as the “land of 1000 elephants”. It is a city located in the mountainous north of Laos, which is also the capital of the Luang Prabang province.

If you are planning to visit Luang Prabang, it is best to use plane, in which case you will have a shorter flight of less than an hour from Vientiane. This trip was amazing and exciting, and it would not have been possible without the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Lao which I thank on this occasion for the kind invitation.

As I am a big animal lover, I have always had the desire to touch an elephant and see it live in its natural habitat. That is my wish which I shared with the team from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Lao.

They have made every effort to fulfill my wish, and for that I am truly grateful to them for fulfilling one great wish for one child trapped in an adult’s body!

After a short drive, we came to Chateau Orientale a small family-run hotel-resort that has its own little paradise – a “Elephant Shelter” that currently houses two elephants. I didn’t know that until the lunch. They mentioned some tour where we will visit the local waterfalls. Just like that after the luch, I got ready. I wasn’t alone, one iconic tourism legend also went with us – Mr. Klaus Gengenbach, the man who connected the Middle East with Germany 40 years ago when he introduced the first flights to Dubai.

I had heard about his work in Germany after working with many local tourism organizations, so his name was featured in their brochures, but I didn’t get a chance to get to know him personally.

I have to be honest so at first I didn’t know who I was having the privilege of talking to because I was a little tired so my observation skills for details and facts was quite low that afternoon… The only thing I noticed was that a person from the Ministry in talking to Mr. Gengenbach mentioned a a strange word repeatedly – Sang (which in Lao means elephant).

At first I thought it was the name of one of the local waterfalls, until the moment when we were joined by a younger guy who introduced himself as a local guide who had some unusual whistle with him.

Suddenly, we stopped in one field and the “local guide” started calling someone, since that didn’t work, he used his whistle. Not a minute passed, I heard a familiar sound. A representative from the ministry noticed that I had become incredibly excited and he just said, “Sang is coming now!”

Then I finally figured out the meaning of the word Sang! The elephants living in this park as part of the Chateau Orientale resort have been rescued and now this is their new home. They are taken care of by two trainers and these elephants are not used to transport tourists. They are protected and you can enjoy with them, feed and have an interesting bath time with them, after which they return to their paradise, which is the only acceptable solution.

Elephants are indeed noble and highly intelligent and sentient animals that humans unfortunately exterminate because of ivory (tusks) and are used in captivity as a fun item, which is not at all commendable.

Elephants are the largest terrestrial mammals in the world. At birth, the cub can weigh up to 100 kg. The gestation period for an elephant female is between 20 and 22 months, which is also the longest gestation period for all mammals on the planet. Elephants can live for more than 70 years.

Today, there are only three other types of elephants species in the world:

     – African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
     – African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis)
     – Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)

I’m sure that you maybe wonder why these trainers are here? Their role is to help the elephant to adapt to their new environment and help them live in harmony with their natural environment. Due to the previous experiences of this couple, they are accustomed to living with people and they are not able to live with their herd in nature.

There is a great possibility of rejecting from the herd as it was necessary to find the ideal solution for these two elephants.

During my visit to this unusual elephant shelter, I had the opportunity to learn some new facts about these extraordinary beings. By their nature, they are very headstrong, can be dangerous to humans, but in wildlife they never attack the first, only in self-defense.

When a baby elephant is born or taken captive, they lose that wilderness call over time, and some individuals will never be able to return to the wild, especially if they were raised in captivity because they did not have an adequate model to model their wildlife.

Because they are dependent on the goodwill of people, so many orphanages have been opened in many places in the world for elephants, their only hope of survival. At this shelter, a small paradise within the Chateau Oriental Resort, trainers strive every day to allow this pair of elephants to live beautifully and comfortably.

Have you ever wondered how much this mammal can eat daily? Elephants eat about 150 kg of grass, twigs, tree bark, carrots and fruits EVERY DAY. In order to eat so much food, he has to spend three quarters of his time eating. Now imagine that you live in a place where there are no abundant fruits every day, that means someone has to come and give you a hand of help.

Because it is vital to keep this couple in a resort, they strive to provide 70 to 100 kg of fruit each day with the help of local farmers who, at extremely low prices and food donations, help this resort survive.

That’s really nice on their part, and the more commendable thing is that the whole local community is working hard to maintain this little paradise by collecting donations for daily living and if ever needed healing for these lovely creatures.

The male was more open for communication, while the female needed some time to be free and socialize with us. They are an extremely caring couple and each of them has a difficult story and they just met at this shelter and loved it. It is the female who takes the lead, she can attack the male and leave, but after a few minutes she looks for him in the park.

On one occasion, when they quarreled, they moved the male to a nearby village for two days, the female tried to find the male in park, after she came to the hotel to show concern for her partner and wait literally 24 hours as a kind of quiet protest to return her partner. The owners and people working at the resort couldn’t believe how the female reacted when she spotted the male and they went across the river to their home…

I spent the most beautiful 3 hours with these animals and our time was so much fun, because the two of them were just in the mood for socializing. Someone had to take a break too! Of course, this is a joke, the truth is that the female wanted to dry because she was extremely angry with the male who seemed to be overdoing the refreshment in the river.

When you do not want to give all the bananas one at a time you get a scoop on your head which can be shown in the picture above. Elephants are fascinating animals and very intelligent just like humans have their virtues and disadvantages, and even those moments when they make some funny situations like this in the photo above. 😉

I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet people like the owners of Chateau Orientale Resort, their employees and the people who help them run the hotel smoothly.

Somehow I found the strength to say goodbye to the elephants, so it was the time to really see some local waterfalls. In Laos, nature is divine and for me this was a totally new lifetime experience.

With the help of the Chateau Orientale hotel-resort, which in addition to the accommodation service, as a tour operator, successfully organizes numerous half-day and full-day tours where you can discover the charms of Luang Prabang area and enjoy the beauty of nature.

They have succeeded in an unusual and unique way of proving to me that their motto is really true, which is: “Time (here) does not exist!”. Indeed in Luang Prabang you feel like time has stopped and everything is dedicated to nature.

Man is here as a observer who came to enjoy the beauty and to use the modern technologies to record and share it with his family, friends and the rest of the world, of course, if he uses social networks.

During my half-day tour, I had the opportunity to feel the peace and serenity next to the Tad Sae Waterfalls located along the tributary of the Nam Khan River in Luang Prabang Province. They are located about 18 kilometers southeast of Luang Prabang and about 2 kilometers from Bak En village.

The day was fulfilling and it was time for Mr.M to return to the hotel to rest and sum up his impressions. I have to admit, that day was my most exciting day in 2019 because I had the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream. It may seem ridiculous and childish to some, but when your childhood dream is fulfilled you have the impression that the whole world is yours!

I used my last atoms of strength to get a little refreshment and nap, I tried to fall asleep, but it didn’t work, so I decided it was better to edit the photos. I’m one of those people who thinks that the sooner you start working, the sooner you finish, and the more time you will have for rest and fun.

The next morning, I woke up because of the strange sounds of “parrot fight” that were in the resort of the main mascots. Looks like someone ate more mangoes and papayas than followed, it was an interesting brawl…

Like every morning, you have to get up and get yourself resfreshed, but this view is definitely different from the one I have the opportunity to see in Belgrade and Berlin… There are no tall buildings and office skyscrapers, just pure nature and wild life.

Before breakfast, I decided to visit the resort and share with you what a distant paradise on earth looks like in Southeast Asia. I think that after these photos you will want to come to Luang Prabang and feel the untouched nature of Asia and visit the elephants.

Welcome to Chateau Orientale, a natural temple where you can rest your body, soul and all your senses. In the picturesque setting beside the exquisite riverfront locations, you can see in the ancient oriental oasis in the heart of the Lao Jungle.

Take the journey of our ancestors to the Middle and Far East, enjoying a unique experience. Allow your senses to flow in the pleasure that makes the atmosphere this tropical paradise special. Chateau Orientale is a place where time does’t exist…

Chateau Orientale is a mini-resort with only 4 accommodation units and uses this fact to provide the best possible personalized service to make every stay in this quaint paradise an unforgettable lifetime experience that you will remember.

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 Chateau Orientale family run hotel-resort 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.

How do you like this story about Luang Prabang, the land of 1000 Elephants? 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 Luang Prabang and we will see what beautiful places are hidden in this wonderful part of Laos.

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 Chateau Orientale hotel-resort for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me!

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Letters from Laos: That Luang – The Festival of Love and Sharing…

My dear travellers, how are you today? We have reached the end of December, counting the days until the famous New Year’s Eve with the hope that the new year will bring us many beautiful things and moments to remember. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all my readers, the biggest and most joyful holiday – Christmas.

Christmas is a holiday that teaches us special values, where spiritual advancement is to put man first and not things. Holidays teach us that this is the perfect time to forgive, start some new beautiful things, and to come together and help one another.

Since Christmas and New Year’s holidays are a time of giving, I decided to give you something valuable – the knowledge. The saying “knowledge is power” has been said and repeated so many times that we can accurately predict in what situations people will take advantage of this sentence. Man learns while is still alive, and yet we are social beings who are curious and each of us has the will and desire to expand our knowledge in certain areas.

In my previous post you had the opportunity to get know little better with the capital of the smallest country in Southeast Asia, the People’s Republic of Laos – Vientiane. You were introduced to the culture and customs, but also learned the reason for my visit to this distant and unusual country. Before I begin today’s post, I would like to thank the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Laos and Qatar Airways for this exceptional experience.

Last time we started the story of the That Luange – “Great Stupa” and the “Boun That Luang Festival“. Boun Pha That Luang is the most significant religious event in Vientiane as well as in the entire People’s Republic of Lao. It is held for three to seven days during the full moon every 12th lunar month (November, but sometimes it’s the end of October).

The festival begins with a colorful parade of local Lao people with wax candles and flowers (Phasat Pheung), which opens the festival the evening before the official start at Wat Simeuang (Wat Si Muang) Buddhist Temple. The procession continues the following afternoon from Wat Simeuang Temple to Pha That Luang (Great Stupa). People carry flowers, candles, incense and wax castles decorated with flowers and banknotes.

The “wax castles” are not really castles, but a tall decorated yellow “trees”, with wax petals, further decorated with gold papers and banknotes.

During this religious event, people like to wear the best what they have in their wardrobe for this parade, and there is a famous parade of men and women dressed in various Lao costumes with multicolored ethno details, dancing and playing traditional music and songs as they approach the Grand Stupa.

“Wax castles” have been an integral part of the Lao people’s lifestyle for many years, and bringing one of them to the Great Stupa during the That Luang Festival can spiritually contribute to improving the state of mind and body.

As I wrote in a previous post during That Luang Festival, monks and people from across Laos gather to celebrate this holiday with a three-day religious ceremony, followed by week-long festivities, during the day and night as well.

Every morning (especially on the last day of the festival, when these photos you see in this post were made) a large mass of people gather at dawn in the front of That Luang – the “Great Stupa” to give alms to hundreds of monks who come here from all over the country and to worship homage to the Great Stupa. The afternoon is reserved for an esplanade gathering for Ti Khee’s traditional game, played with a ball and a long curved stick, it is look like a game of hockey.

As the Festival approaches to the period of full moon, people from all over Laos will gather around That Luang to join in on the last candle parade. It is a truly amazing event, you will see the procession pictures later in this post.

Many members of the Lao community who are otherwise living abroad return to visit their families in Laos during the That Luang Festival. I would also recommend anyone planning to visit the country to come this time of the year. For those interested in Lao culture, it is a good opportunity to get to know their culture by observing religious events and observing some customs. The weather is also nice and warm, and Vientiane is more lively and colourful at this time of the year.

This holiday brings together all generations from the youngest one who are interested in touching absolutely everything, a little few years older teenagers who came with their friends, to those more mature generations who have been celebrating this great Buddhist holiday for years with great joy in their hearts.

During this whole trip, the time difference of +6 hours was only on my mind, and I kept thinking about what my family is doing in that moment. Specifically, on this last day of the festival, I was thinking: “It is an honor for these people when they can get up at three, four o’clock in the morning and get ready for the holiday parade!”. You cannot understand their dedication and strength of their will when it comes to the That Luang holiday. In fact, those 7 days they do not go to sleep because the holiday lasts for the program is designed on a 24/7 system. It is quite interesting!

During the ritual of giving alms within the temple and on the way out, everyone is sitting quietly on the mats and listening to prayers. Some people pour water on the earth and ask Ngama Thorani (the goddess of Earth) to tell the spirits of her relatives to come and receive their gifts, while others release the birds from the cage to receive “greater merit.”

Everyone is trying to enter the Grand Stupa when the formal part of the ceremony is over to give alms to the alms, light candles and incense and pray for happiness. The last day is reserved for a traditional outing, when people eat cooked chicken, rice and noodles with their friends and family.

I was able, with the little help of a team from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, to enter the Grand Stupa a little before the others so that I could show you some of the customs practiced by the locals during the That Luang Festival. Along the way, I also participated in giving alms and gifts.

When you enter the Great Stupa – That Luang, you can find monks to give your gifts and contributions. If you are wondering if there is any order of giving and who has the advantage of the monks in taking gifts and donations, it is all individual and depends on the goodwill of the local population.

Perhaps a small preference is given to young monks, novice monks who are very sympathetic and because of their decision to join the monastic ranks of the temple in such a way, they count people’s sympathies. There is a rule that the youngest members of the temple must be nine years of age in order to be eligible to attend a Buddhist school and become Buddhist monks.

It is very difficult to enter the Grand Stupa in the early morning hours, those selected who manage to enter feel a great kind of pride and strive to respect the customs that religion allowed to them. One of the customs is a walk three times around That Luang stupa for happiness and health.

Since I had the opportunity to sit in the courtyard of the Great Stupa by the afternoon, I had the impression of seeing all the same people, however, they are changing and new ones are coming who want to do their “duty” for a better tomorrow.

Being almost two meters tall, it is not difficult at all to spot this red jacket, so many people approached me asking me to take a picture. At the end I just squatted and people came to take pictures with me with joy.

Lao people, regardless of age, are big fans of social media, so when they heard that I was a blogger who came from Europe to promote Laos they wanted to take some pictures with me. This was very nice and unusual for me, so I tried to meet almost all interested people and set aside time for little photo shoot.

It was time for lunch and a short break, so we decided to go to the restaurant and after that I rest for a while. After a couple of hours, we returned to the Grand Stupa again to attend the closing ceremony of That Luang Festival with a monk parade and a candlelight ritual.

The closing ceremony of That Luang Festival itself has a special festive tone. The locals carry special bouquets with flowers and candles to enter the “procession of light”. The procession is led by monks and they tour several circles around the Grand Stupa. Of course, on the last day there is an accompanying music program and special games organized as part of the festival.

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 Crown Plaza Vientiane and Landmark Mekong Riverside hotels 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.

How do you like this story about That Luang Festival? 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 discover together why Laos is called as “The land of 1000 Elephants”.

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 Crown Plaza Vientiane and Landmark Mekong Riverside hotels for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me! I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.

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Letters from Laos: Vientiane, the Lost Treasure of the riverside of Mekong

My dear travellers, how are you today? I don’t know if you were surprised with this unusual “spring” time in the middle of December. Hopefully the climate will balance here in Europe because I don’t think this is natural. .

I would like to pass it on the subject of my today’s post and I will finally and officially “send” my first letter from Laos! A few months ago when I was invited to visit this smallest country in Southeast Asia, I was thrilled because I love to learn about a completely different culture and religion that is not so close to us from Europe – Buddhism. A team from the marketing promotion department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Laos invited me to visit their lovely country and feel the beauties of the Asia.

During our e-conversation, I found out that I was the first blogger in the world to visit the People’s Republic of Laos in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of Laos and their local partners. Later, the world airline Qatar Airways became involved in this project, which enabled little Marko to go the way of the East. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the realization of this project: the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Laos, Qatar Airways, and other local partners that I will mention in some of the following posts.

My room view in Crown Plaza Vientiane Hotel, isn’t it just great?

The purpose of this FAM trip is to get to know the People’s Republic of Laos through the prisms of culture and religion. Laos is a socialist country and the only country in Southeast Asia that does not have access to the ocean. Located in the heart of the Indochina Peninsula and borders Myanmar (Burma) and China in the northwest, Vietnam in the east, Cambodia in the southeast and Thailand on the west and southwest side.

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the bank of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1573 due to the fear of the Burmese invasion, but was later looted and completely overthrown in 1827 by Siamese (Thailand). Vientiane was the administrative capital during French colonial rule, and due to recent economic growth, it is now the economic center of Laos. The city has more than one million inhabitants.

Vientiane is known as the home of the most important national monument in Laos: That Luang, which is a famous symbol of Laos and an icon of Buddhism. Other notable Buddhist temples can be found here, such as Haw Phra Kaew, which housed the Emerald Buddha figure earlier.

The name of the city comes from Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism. Although the original meaning of the name of the city is “sandalwood city” (sandalwood – a powerful ancient tree), as ancient Laos inscriptions show (pictographically written, unlike the modern Lao language, which is written phonetically), in modern Lao, the meaning of the name Vientiane is ambiguous. Many, if not most, Laos people claim that the name of the city means “city of the moon”, while many also claim that the name of the city means “sandalwood city” because the words are spelled similarly and pronounced in the same way as in modern Lao language.

Most academic and historical sources in Laos actually support this claim, reinforced by the city’s Thai and Khmer names, and both retain the etymological spelling, which indicates the persistence of the exact meaning of “sandalwood city”.

On the picture which you can see above, you have the opportunity to see the greatest shrine in the Buddhist world – Pha That Luang (the Great Stupa) is a large Buddhist pillar encased in real gold and is located in the heart of the city. Since its inception, it is believed to have originated in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several major reconstructions, mostly in the 1930s, due to foreign invasions of the colonial powers in this area. That Luang is considered the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.

The architecture of this feast influences Lao culture and identity and thus became a symbol of Lao nationalism. The stupa today consists of three levels, each depicting part of the Buddhist doctrine. The first level is 67 meters by 226 feet (68 meters); the other is 47 feet long by 157 feet long; and the third level is 98 feet (29 meters) along each side. From ground level to the top, Pha That Luang is 44 meters high.

Only the top of the stupa is covered with real gold, the rest of the stupa is painted gold. The area around Pha That Luang has now been officially closed to prevent traffic.

What is the main reason for my visit to Laos? By the invitation of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of Laos, I came to attend the celebration of the largest Buddhist holiday – “Boun That Luang“, the largest religious holiday held in Vientiane for three days to seven days during full moon periods, on each 12th lunar month – November.

Monks and people from all over Laos are gathering to celebrate this holiday with a three-day religious ceremony, followed by week-long festivities, both during the day and at night. The procession of believers begins at Wat Si Muang in the city center and continues at the That Luang stupa to offer the monks their gifts (“offerings”) to collect enough merit for rebirth and a better life.

The religious part of this holiday implies that people, carrying flowers, bank notes, food and candles as a side dish, circle around That Luang three times in honor of the Buddha. Folk and other popular troupes and plays add to the significance of this festival.

In the next post, I will explain in more detail some of the customs that the Lao people observe during this holiday. It is extremely interesting and completely different from what we do in Europe and the Balkan region. This is one of the basic reasons why I love my job. I am always able to meet some new and unusual cultures and thus have the opportunity to expand my knowledge of particular cultures and religions.

The mentality of the Lao people is very similar to ours in Serbia, they are extremely hospitable and treat the guest as a member of their family. Their culture is different, as is the way they dress. In the picture above, you have the opportunity to see what a young girl who is going to celebrate with her husband at the That Luang Festival looks like.

They are extremely caring and willing to help tourists. I dropped a small amount of money in a huge crowd and one kid ran after me a few yards to back my money.

My view from Landmark Mekong Riverside Hotel… It was magical!

During my visit to Vientiane, I went to the That Luang Festival several times at different times of the day so that I had complete insight into how the cultural program was held during the festival. Of course, during my little breaks I enjoyed the view from the terrace of my hotel room which had exceptional views of the Mekong River.

Of course, a team from the Ministry of Tourism did their best to arrange for me a tour of their most famous Buddhist temples, which you will have the opportunity to see in the pictures that follow this post later. Can you imagine how many Buddhist temples one of the smallest countries in Southeast Asia can have, like Laos? Please note that this country has a population of just under 4 million…

There are hundreds of temples in Laos that pay homage to Buddha and monks and nuns. These great places are reason enough to come and visit Laos. They say that they are the only countries in the world that have so many temples that they can devote to one of the many temples each day of the year. Isn’t it just interesting?

One of the most famous Buddhist temples in Vientiane is Wat Si Saket. The temple was built in 1818 by order of King Anouvong (Sethathirath V.) Si was derived from the Sanskrit title of honor of Sri, prefixed to the name of Wat Saket in Bangkok, and renamed by the contemporary of Anouvong, King Rama I.

Wat Si Saket is built in Siamese style of Buddhist architecture, with a surrounding terrace and a five-storey roof instead of the classical Lao style. This may have remained safe, since the Siamese armies that ravaged Vientiane after the Anouvong rebellion in 1827 used the facility as their headquarters and accommodation.

This temple is considered to be the oldest temple that still exists in Vientiane. The French colonial government rebuilt Wat Si Saket in 1924 and again in 1930. The Wat Si Saket Temple contains a cloister wall with more than 2,000 ceramic, silver, gold and wooden Buddha paintings. There is also a museum within this complex.

There are over 10,000 Buddha sculptures of various sizes and styles in this temple. The temple also has wonderful architecture and layout, with a history dating back to 1818. Most of these statues were made between the 16th and 18th centuries. You can also find a wooden snake-shaped trough used during the Lao New Year celebration (you can see in the photo above).

If you decide to visit the temple during the early hours of the morning, you will surely find many locals praying, giving their contribution (“merit offer”) and offering food to the monks. I will write about this in more detail in the following posts that I have prepared for you.

I was fascinated by the architecture of this temple, primarily because for the first time I came into contact with the culture of the Far East and this is something completely different from watching a show. This trip allowed me to learn something new about Buddhism as one of the world’s largest religions and to feel what it was like to live in Laos.

Not far from this temple is another Haw Phra Kaew Buddhist temple (now it is converted to the museum). The temple was built in 1565 for the purpose of guarding the Emerald Buddha, this temple has been rebuilt several times. The Haw Phra Kaew Temple was built in 1565-1566. after King Setthathirath, after moving the capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. The temple was built on the foundations of the royal palace to house the figure of the Emerald Buddha, which Setthathirath brought from Chiang Mai, then the capital of Lanna, to Luang Prabang.

The temple was used as Setthathirath’s personal place of worship, and therefore there were no resident monks in this temple unlike other temples in Laos. The Emerald Buddha remained in the temple for over 200 years, but in 1779 Vientiane was conquered by Siamese General Chao Phraia Chakri (who founded the current Thai Chakri Dynasty), the figure was taken to Thonburi and the temple destroyed.

The Buddha figure is currently located in Wat Phra Kaev, Bangkok and is considered a treasure of Thailand. The temple was rebuilt in 1816 by King Anouvong, and instead of the lost Emerald Buddha, they decided to create a new Buddha figure. However, the temple was again destroyed in 1828, when King Anouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to regain complete independence and Vientiane was razed to the ground.

The temple was rebuilt with the help of the French between 1936 and 1942 during the colonial period of French Indochina. The remaining remains of the foundations of the old temple were used as the basis for restoration; although they followed the blueprint for the construction of the old temple, the rebuilt temple is more reminiscent of a 19th-century ubosot or sim in Bangkok. For several decades, in the 1970s, the temple was transformed from a place of worship into a museum. The Government of the People’s Republic of Laos rebuilt this temple in 1993.

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 Crown Plaza Vientiane and Landmark Mekong Riverside hotels 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.

Patuxay Monument (Victory Arch)

How do you like this story about Vientiane? 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 Vientiane, but we will find out more about That Luang Festival.

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 Crown Plaza Vientiane and Landmark Mekong Riverside hotels for having me. This trip was an extraordinary experience for me! I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.

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Letters from Azerbaijan: Baku, a modern city made of traditional dreams…

My dear travellers, welcome to my blog! The holiday mood is ON, so there is a plenty of time that we can spend on a nice trip. As I promised you a few days ago in the previous posts, August will be very interesting time as we will discover some new unusual destinations together.

When I received an e-mail from the National Tourist Board of Azerbaijan few months ago, I could not imagine that this summer I would have the opportunity to get to know a whole new culture of Azerbaijan. The first email I received from them was short, but it was straightforward with the question of whether I was free this year to meet the land of fire, which is located somewhere between Europe and Asia. I couldn’t even think about the trip, but my minds were already somewhere in the Caucasus region.

In collaboration with the Tourism Board of the Republic of Azerbaijan and their national airline Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), I was able to visit this incredible country and I’ve got an amazing opportunity to #takeanotherlook. In July, my photographer and I just checked in our suitcases full of dreams and we started our adventure!

After less than 5 hours from cozy Berlin, my photographer and I jumped into summer outfits, because surely the temperature difference at that point was about 20 degrees. Azerbaijan Airlines definitely “bought” me for a little interesting little sign of attention! They had an ice cream on the flight, so far it was the first time that I experienced that on a flight I have dessert like this, so you could enjoy on their flights with this lovely summer sweet treat.

Journeys are a wonderful thing and anyone who is able to go around the world you should pick up magnets just to have some nice memories from the trips, until as they can normally open the door of the refrigerator! 😀

In my case it will be my aspirator in the kitchen where there is no room for new magnets anymore. My mom constantly criticizes me, but again somehow we clean the dust on the aspirator together, so I’m the one who even though I’m scared of heights, climbing on the ladders while mom is cleaning the magnets which I give to her… And so the same story repeats every 2 to 3 months. Sometimes is hard, but that is the price of having some priceless memories.

This is the first picture I made in the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku, a city that you will learn more about in today’s post. At first sight, Baku looks like one city from the future, you see all those skyscrapers that just don’t know which one is bigger. As you approach to the center, you realize that the city has some unusual warmth and architecture is totally different than in other countries.

Previous rulers and politicians have been great lovers of the arts and aesthetes who have strived to beautify their country in the best possible way. The inspiration for the architecture of Baku comes mostly from Europe, specifically from Italy and France, where architects have found unrivaled inspiration.

Baku represents the social, cultural and industrial center of Azerbaijan. In recent years, Baku has become an important place where many international cultural events take place. Azerbaijan hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, European Games 2015. Baku, the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix of 2016, also hosted the 2018 UEFA League Finals and will be one of the UEFA Euro 2020 host cities. Impressive isn’t it?!

Since my photographer and I arrived in the evening, we wanted to rest and to prepare for the next day. We had a real adventure and a long tour which will help us to get know Baku! The next morning I woke up fresh and with smile on my face and we could start our first official day in Azerbaijan!

The nice weather, the sun, the full camera battery and the ready photographer was just enough for me to start a new adventure! Of course, my photographer immediately did his best to show me how good I could look in Azerbaijan. I think because of my beard, I was able to pass all out like an Azeri guy…

Shirt: Makia 
Backpack: Picard

Whoever has followed my stories on Instagram certainly remembers the intensity of the wind and then I fully understood those words of our old wise people: “The wind blows so heavily that it carries the trees!”, Now I had the opportunity to feel it on my skin. It was quite exciting!

In the picture above in the background you can see 3 buildings that are symbol of the city. Surely you’re wondering why they’re the symbol of the city? These are just three ordinary, beautiful modern buildings. You get the right answer to that question in the evening when these buildings, with the help of modern technology and ice screens, become the “Towers of Flame” that are a symbol of Baku.

After we had finished our photo shooting and we used the morning light, our guide Tural came to us, who was there to reveal to us all the secrets of this lovely land, which lies somewhere between East and West, somewhere between Europe and Asia. Tural told us that if we want to get to know Baku better, we must visit the old part of the city first, because that is the only way to understand the real value of this wonderful city.

About 100,000 years ago, the territory of modern Baku and Apheseron was savannah with rich flora and fauna. The first traces of human settlement date back to the Stone Age. Since the Bronze Age, rock carvings have been discovered near Bajil and a bronze figure of small fish has been discovered in the Old Town.

These findings led many to the existence of Bronze Age settlements in the city. Near Nardaran, at a place called Umid Gaia, a prehistoric observatory was discovered, on which rock images of the sun and various constellations were carved along with a primitive astronomical board.

Further archaeological excavations revealed various prehistoric settlements, temples, statues and other artifacts in and around the modern city. In the 1st century BC, the Romans organized two Caucasian actions and reached Baku. Near the city, in Gobustan, Roman inscriptions dating from 84-96 BC have been discovered. This is one of the earliest written evidence relating to Baku and Azerbaijan.

Maiden Tower (Azerbaijan: Kız kalası) is a 12th century monument located in the Old Town of Baku, Azerbaijan. Along with the Shirvanshah Palace, dating from the 15th century, it forms a group of historical monuments that were listed as a cultural property by the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001. It is one of the most prominent national symbols of Azerbaijan, so this tower can be found on Azerbaijani banknotes and coins.

There are various mysteries and legends related to the Maiden Tower. However, the main mystery is the design and purpose of the tower itself. In the meantime, there are 20 legends related to the Maiden Tower. A large number of them are related to the Islamic and medieval period of Baku history. Quite a few legends are deeply rooted in Azerbaijani Zoroastrian or pre-Islamic history, religion and culture.

Probably the most famous legend is that of a fiery-haired girl who rescued the Baku people from slavery. The epic shows the roots of the Azerbaijani Zoroastrian faith and culture and reaches to the modern day.

The view from the Maiden’s Tower is amazing and it is worth climbing to the very top where I was able to take the photo you can see above. The Maiden Tower houses a museum that tells the story of the historical development of the city of Baku. It also owns a souvenir shop. The view from the top crosses the streets and minarets of the Old City, Baku Boulevard, De Gaulle House and Baku Bay View.

The Old Town is the first ideal stop for every tourist who comes to meet Baku. It is a city with a long and rich history that will intrigue everyone, legends that leave people breathless.

Azerbaijan is different, their culture is unique and when you come in contact with it you should be open minded to understand its value and essence. This trip has completely changed my picture of countries in the East.

After tour of the Old City, it was time to visit unusual modern part of Baku. As we crossed the line from traditional part of Baku that led straight into the modern era of new Baku, our guide told us so many legends about the emergence of modern Baku that even 10 posts would not be enough for you to write down all the stories in detail.

On the other hand, somewhere in the streets of modern Baku you will see a bunch of cars and very wide boulevards that are mostly one-way streets. To be clear what I’m talking about since I was a kid growing up in Europe, one ordinary boulevard in downtown Baku is wider than some boulevard in Paris and all lines are one-way. Maybe now you can just figure out what I’m talking about.

T-Shirt and Trousers: Loro Piana 
Backpack: Picard

Little Marko didn’t miss the opportunity to take some photos on the streets of Baku, the photos turned out great at the end thanks to my photographer. Due to its unusual architecture, the city is extremely photogenic, so it was easy to make good pictures. Baku has some special energy, which perfectly matched my sensibility.

In the heart of the city is a monument to Nizami Ganjavi, a medieval Persian poet in Nizami Square. The opening ceremony of the monument was held in April 1949.

The position of the monument is set symbolically so that the famous poet will look in the arts – the National Museum of Literature Nizami Ganjavi. This museum represents the largest and best collection of rich Azerbaijani culture. Collecting, researching and storing scientific and other materials on Azerbaijani literature and culture presents these materials in the exhibition and is the main objective of this museum.

Sculptures of eminent Azerbaijani poets and writers were placed on the facade of the museum by this order: Muhammad Fuzuli, Molla Panah Vagif, Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Khurshidbanu Natavan, Jalil Mammadguluzadeh and Jafar Jabbarli. There are 120.000 exhibits in the museum’s rich collection.

In the picture above you can see what the Heydar Aliyev Foundation looks like. This institution is a charitable foundation headed by First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyev. The foundation is named in honor of the former leader of Azerbaijan – Mr. Heydar Aliyev, who was also the father of the current President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. The people of Azerbaijan really appreciate and love Mr. Heydar and many establishments in Baku is named after by him. In this post I will show you what the Museum of Modern Art looks like, which also bears his name – Heydar Aliev Centre.

By the time, Baku became a metropolis with sophisticated architecture. Each corner is unique and original, the parks are beautiful (especially Philharmonia Garden which you can see in the photo above) and represent a real little paradise where you can rest your eyes and soul. Surely you may be wondering how Baku “became so green”? Tural told us an interesting legend that Baku has become so green.

Few decades ago, Baku was like a desert, they had oil, but they had no nature at all. The rulers implored their dear guests who plan to visit Azerbaijan to bring seeds of their plants and plant trees instead of expensive gifts and to contribute to the improvement of nature in Baku.

However, it did not help too much either! Then they thought of asking their customers to send a certain amount of soil for each gallon of oil sold, to allow them to create suitable conditions for the land to be able to plant some plants and plant trees. That’s how this “green” story began, and so Baku became a green oasis where you can find pomegranate trees. I have to admit that in Azerbaijan, for the first time in my life, I saw the trees of pomegranate.

After we are done with the city tour, it is time to fulfill my promise and present to you the collection of modern art – the Heydar Aliyev Center. The Heydar Aliiev Center is a 600,000-square-foot construction complex in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, and she is recognizable for its distinctive architecture, curved style that emerges from sharp angles.

The center is named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and the president of the Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 to October 2003.

As a great piece of post-modern architecture, the shape of the building is an eternal cycle of life, which connects the past with the present. The building has a conference room, galleries, museums and more and the basic idea is to unite people of different backgrounds in the place of common ideas. The building won the prestigious London Museum of Design Award in 2014.

In this rich art treasure house you can always find masterpieces of contemporary art. In addition to modern art, one part of the center is dedicated to Mr. Heydar Aliyev, a man who was the father of democracy in Azerbaijan and the president for life of the Republic of Azerbaijan until his death in 2003. A museum dedicated to his life and work depicts the political development of Azerbaijan until modern times and when his son Mr. Ilham Aliyev became the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Also, you can learn some new and interesting information about Azerbaijan, see what the Scriptures and the Koran looked like, as well as some of their traditional musical instruments. This museum is unusual and has an interesting doll exhibition. The dolls are made to look natural, I also learned that the hair, eyelashes and eyebrows on the dolls are also natural.

Also, I was impressed by the exhibition of dolls depicting society in Azerbaijan. The museum is suitable for all ages, so I’m sure it will be enjoyed by both young and slightly older visitors. Believe me, fun is guaranteed here!

For the end of today’s post, I decided to show you the Bibi-Heybat Mosque. The Bibi Heybat Mosque (Azeri: Bibiheibət məscidi) is a shrine located six kilometers southwest of Baku, Azerbaijan. Fatima al-Sughra, daughter of Imam al-Kazim, was buried in this mosque.

This place is also called Pir Bibi-Heibat and is referred to by the locals as the Fatima al-Zahra Mosque. The mausoleum was built during the Safavid dynasty, but was destroyed when Stalin conquered the area. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Azerbaijan, the President of the country ordered that this shrine be restored.

This mausoleum – the mosque hides a very sad love story, but of course it is part of history, there are many legends, but people always believe in the power of love. This mosque was decorated because its original purpose was to be the place where the daughter of the imam would rest in peace, but later it became a mosque.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our post. 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 National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Airlines for this incredible adventure and Boulevard Hotel Baku for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Azerbaijan? Have you ever visited Baku? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Azerbaijan before? I would like to share with me your experience! In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Azerbaijan, and I will show you one interesting Lahij village which I visited during my visit. Stay tuned!


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 National Tourism Promotion Bureau of Azerbaijan and the national airline company Azerbaijan Airlines and Hotel Boulevard Baku. I also thank my friends from Loro Piana, Makia Clothing and Picard Lederwaren for amazing outfits and my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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My travel (fashionable) memories…

Hello everyone! My dear ones, how are you today? I must admit that this little fresh time in Helsinki has prompted me to write this post. I’m just looking at my suitcase and asking myself, why I didn’t bring with me gloves which I need so much now here in Helsinki… After almost every special travel – fashion outfit post, you have asked me how I can be so “perfect dressed” for the trip and how much of clothing I bring with me on the trips. I decided to finally answer some questions. 🙂

I am just like any other ordinary person, I had a lot of downs and ups and at the very beginning of my blogging career I made many mistakes. The blog has taught me that I need to be practical and wear as less clothing as possible, to be carefully chosen and not to overload my suitcase. Sometimes, I repeat my old mistakes…

When I went to India, it was in February this year, I had no idea what exactly I should carry there, so I took it “elegantly” with nothing less than 30 kilograms of luggage because there was a crossover weather time. My luggage included 5 fashion outfit combinations and 4 pairs of shoes. Result: FAIL! From all those clothes I wore only two dress combinations and three pairs of sneakers/shoes. People mostly miss out on a traveling when they pack the travel bag when it comes to that famous crossover period between “winter and spring” and “autumn and winter”… You never know when it will fall some rain or simply get cold, whether there will be stronger winds and other weather disasters.

So in the far, far India, I took almost clothes for all 4 seasons, under the parole much is better than nothing! I did that because I don’t even want to imagine that I will get sick on the trip, this is most honestly my biggest nightmare, I believe as most people also do not like that. Flu can ruin the mood on the road and slow down the person, and as a blogger, it would be an additional obstacle for the successful completion of everyday work on the trip and that would affect on the quality of my content for blog and social media as well. 

My first and the most important advice: When traveling to some far destinations during crossover weather season period, it is best to bring some thinner sweaters, which are made of thicker cotton and you should bring a thinner jacket which is good for windy time. In this way, you will avoid the famous “boiling” effect and you will not have a problem with sweating. As soon as I get a little sweaty with open jacket, I’m getting the first symptoms of a cold…


“Life in suitcases” can sometimes be very stressful and unpredictable, but a person gets used to it very fast. It’s not easy for an organism to get used to great climatic variations, so you should give your body an adequate one and pay attention to immunity. The body needs an extra energy intake to “break through” the day on the trip, especially when you are eager to see everything in a shorter period of time.

That is why it is necessary to rest as much as possible and there is not a lot of parties on the trips. You lose your energy unnecessarily and the next day you will not be able to start your day normally. A minimum of 9 to 10 hours of sleep is needed to bring your body in the best shape for the exploring the world. I’m sorry, my dear “party maniacs”, but that’s right! Fortunately, I do not have a problem with that, but I noticed that some of my colleagues bloggers like to spend the nights out on the trips, so they are not sure where they are when they wake up in the morning, because they are so tired.

Let’s go back to the main topic of this post: How to dress up well in difficult times of seasons during the year. The worst is when you travel to exotic areas during the winter period, because in Serbia and Europe it’s still very cold at the time, and no one can’t just easily judge what can be expected there at the final tourist destination.

Germany, for example, is a bit colder than Serbia, weather conditions in Berlin are often more difficult than in Belgrade. There are similar temperatures, there are sometimes larger differences in the same but subjective sense of wind is incomparable.

For example, last winter 2017/18 in Germany was colder than it was in Serbia. I only remember how my visit to Dresden was stiff with cold and I barely did shooting in the city. Regardless of all weather conditions, Dresden stayed in a beautiful memory and I would like to visit it again in the near future. In winter, it is much more difficult for a person, regardless of gender, that women and men are very hard to pack their winter things for the trip, because things are big and fluffy, so jackets can’t just fit in the suitcase properly.

My most honest advice is that you always have two winter jackets for the trip, one thick in which you will travel and another light one which you can pack and “compress” in a suitcase. Just one sweater of neutral color is enough, two pairs of pants are desirable to be one of the jeans, the less chance you will need to iron them and we all know that we are sometimes not very able to iron on travel.

I must admit that my trip to Sri Lanka in April this year was one of the most challenging trips in my blogging career. When you go there in Spring time, temperatures can range from 10 to 30 degrees depending on which part of the island you are going. One day I collected shells on the beach to enjoy the sun and warm Indian Ocean, the next day I’m in a jacket on tea fields…

Then it finally came spring mood, the time when you can wear short sleeves with thinner classic jacket, my favourite fashion piece. Spring and early autumn are the best periods of the year because it is neither too hot nor too cold so that it is much easier for a person to choose clothing.

Spring came with me in Salzburg this year, the city of Mozart, a music prodigy who was a real legend. Just imagine one young man who just conquered the world with his music. People of Salzburg are very proud, because he was born in Salzburg and now he is a symbol of their city. That is a huge privilege! It was a huge honour for me to visit his city and to present Salzburg on my blog.

To be honest, I did not feel the change of spring into the summer this year, there were no such sudden temperature differences, but I felt the real summer in Morocco in early May this year. An interesting trip, I met some new people and I make some new friendships there. There was an unusual friendship in Marrakech, so I would like to use this occasion to remind you on the beautiful young camel Melek, who was very kind and polite so my friend and photographer Saul captured begging of our friendship.

Melek is one beautiful angel, which is also the true meaning of her name. Morocco is a wonderful country and it was a great pleasure for me to have a chance to visit this Kingdom. The rest of the summer was exciting, so I took the opportunity to rest a bit, but I also continued to work, so this year I also had a working summer and I must confess I really enjoyed it.

You’ve been asking me for a lot of things that I did not go somewhere on vacation, so did I lose my desire and the will to write posts? My job is my little satisfaction, of course the blogger’s job can sometimes be very tough, especially when you write and edit images for hours for a couple of days in the row to get the content for the blog as expected in high-quality as always. I love my job and I didn’t regret for one second for choosing this career instead of my career of economist.

Writing is my first passion, something that relaxes me, pictures are just an add-on, and while I describe my experiences and adventures from the trip, I’m always reminded by some new details and it always finish good for me. Because of all these beautiful moments, I admit I love my job. I like to meet the world and when we are talking about traveling then I am completely tireless, although at the end my body sends me a warning message that it is time for a break, so suddenly I get sick for 2,3 days as a forced break. After that I continue on, as if there was nothing, because life is short, and we need to experience all these great adventures that each of us is waiting for!

My dear ones, once again we have come to the end of this special post. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! Don’t worry in a couple of days I will publish a new post where we will continue together to enjoy the charms of traveling and we will explore one of the shopping spots in Italy. I just can’t wait to show you what my friends from McArthurGlen Noventa Di Piave Designer Outlet and I have prepared for you guys. I promised that i will write a similar post like this this winter and I will make a new summary with all your guys and I will start with my favourite month in the year – September. I’m sure you know why that month is so important to me, but I will remind you again… Because it’s my birthday! 🙂

 

How do you like this post? Have you prepared everything for this Fall? I would like to hear your opinion! 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.

As I promised we’ll see again in a couple of days, so if something new and interesting happens to me, I promise, I will write to you!

Best,

Mr.M

 

 

This post is not sponsored.



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Istanbul: The City Where Two Continents Meet

Good morning my dear travelers! How are you today? I sincerely hope that you are good and that you are ready for a new adventure. Since you all know how much I love traveling and that this is my second biggest love in life (after fashion of course!) today you will have the opportunity to meet the city I really love – Istanbul. I’m sure that you have watched sometimes in your life some Turkish soap opera so far and that you have seen some scenes where Istanbul is presented like some heaven where you need to go and feel it!

That was me few years ago when I was watching some Turkish movie and almost every scene was in some part of Istanbul and i said to my mother: “Mom, we must go there!”. After 3 months my mother and I was on the flight to Istanbul… That was my first visit to Istanbul, ten years ago… At the beginning of this post, I would like to thank the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau for hospitality and this fantastic adventure.

Istanbul is maybe not the main capital of Turkey, but has taken over time the role of the largest tourist center where people from all over the world come to get know with the city of hedonist and delights. In addition to this, Istanbul also has another great name – The City of Tulips. There are many names and each of us will always have the opportunity to give Istanbul its name depending on what this fascinating city will associate you the best. Istanbul is the only city in Europe that is located on two continents, Europe and Asia. The European part is new and modern while the Asian is traditional and where you have the opportunity to feel that old spirit of the Ottoman Empire.

Istanbul is a city that never sleeps. The European version of New York, which attracts an increasing number of tourists each year with its bright rhythm of life. Do you want something nice to eat? Istanbul is a city of kings food and delights, you can not stay hungry here, and prices are more than affordable.

Want something nice and interesting to buy? Istanbul is a city that can offer you everything your heart desires, the price range is from 1 euro to incredible luxury sky rocket prices, for everyone’s pocket and for everyone’s taste. I will only tell you that they have over 20 outlet shopping centers where you can buy really good and interesting things, and you will not spend a large amount of money. All you need is a card for transportation and a lot of time because Istanbul is a multi-million city where crowds can be very exhausting and you must be prepared to wait.

Now, let’s move on to my favorite topic – Turkish candies and delights. Baklava and other deacons are the reason why I do not have small money coins to buy a magnet for a fridge, but I spend everything on these treats. Of course, the prices of these treats vary depending on whether you are buying them in “famous” places reserved exclusively for tourists or you may go to some neighboring parallel streets and you can buy for the same value of money some kilo of those delicious delights.

Believe me, who did not try halva at night and did not pray in the late night hours on the reception desk for the knife, where the staff watches you as you’re probably planning to cut off the veins in the room, that person definitely doesn’t know the basic definition of hedonism in Istanbul. Yes, that’s my mom and I in the early morning at the reception desk when we have some strange tired eyes, but in the bag there is a packet wrapped in white glossy paper covers the main reason why we are looking for that knife. I know, it does not fit into that nutrition plan and nutrition program where you can not eat anything after 6 pm, but they never wrote that it’s forbidden if you come across a precious chocolate halva with pistachios in Istanbul.

The exact working hours of restaurants and shops in Istanbul are indefinable. On one occasion I came to Istanbul at 2 am and everything was open and the people were on the streets as if it was 8 or 9 in the evening. The second time I came about 11pm hours and the streets were so empty… You never know what you can expect in Istanbul, but you need just one thing to have on mind when you are in Istanbul. Whatever happens in Istanbul, stays in Istanbul… It will just a small secret between you and Istanbul, don’t worry Istanbul is a good friend it will hide your secret.

The real “life” in Istanbul is taking place in the small streets which you can see everywhere in the city. There you will notice the couples love who have some “serious” problems and they are arguing in Turkish, but in the end they end of story they make up as if there was nothing. The music which you hear from clubs has a some interesting pop – RnB sound with Arabic melody.

Since I’m not going to make you envy anymore with those photos of food, it’s not fair I know, but if for your consolation during this last visit to Istanbul I didn’t feel these deacons, but I just enjoyed taking photos of them. Okay, that’s it for today! Finally, I wanted to give you a warm recommendation where you can stay in Istabul if you want to spend more time in the central area of ​​Beyoglu – Taksim Square.

Konak Hotel is located not far from the Beyoglu center area, more precisely from the famous Taksim Square. It is the square from where famous red trams go through Istiklal street, the main street. In addition, Konak Hotel is close to Nisantasi area where it is a true paradise for shoppers with a “deeper” pocket. I sincerely love to go there just to enjoy in the beauty of shops windows and to enjoy the decoration of the showcase while I share the bagel with a cat and I’m pretty happy to say, the cat is also very happy and little fat, but at the end we have each other to share that moment.

Why I love Istanbul? I love Istanbul because it is a city of diversity and because it is a city of contrast. There are differences in which you can enjoy, maybe we have different religions, but we have a lot of similarities. We have problems and similar reactions to some life situations. I love to see reactions of mothers with the children on the street who can not get right with the endless play of their children. Those interesting cute argues on Turkish language you will smile and enjoy, maybe you will learn some new words! 🙂

My dear travelers once again we have come to the end of this post, time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! Don’t worry in a couple of days I will publish a new post where we will continue together to enjoy the charms of traveling and we will continue our adventure in Salzburg. I will try to leave you now for a moment just because you maybe would like more to enjoy in the beautiful view on the last photo of the post!

How do you like this story about Istanbul? I would like to hear your opinion! 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.

As I promised we’ll see again in a couple of days, so if something new and interesting happens to me, I promise, I will write to you!

Best,

Mr.M

 

The post is sponsored by the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau and Konak Hotel. For these beautiful photos I used the Sony Alpha 7r  and Sony RX100 Mark V camera.

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