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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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Postcard from Sri Lanka: Signs are everywhere…

Hi everyone, how are you today? I hope you are well and you are spending this sunny Sunday in nature with your family and friends. Sunday is reserved for some good time,  a nice rest with people who you love and for that famous psychic preparation for the next working week. Do you have any special rituals? I’d love to share with me some of your tricks!

Today, I decided to continue with a series of posts from Sri Lanka, so my best therapy right now is the writing of this post. When I’m writing posts I’m so calm down and I feel some peace. Honestly, I’d love to find some new hobby! ?

 

 

In the previous post, you read how I arrived in Sri Lanka and how our first blogging days looked like there. Sri Lanka is an exceptional island. I felt the freedom to give it the nickname – The Island of Dreams, this epithet simply best describes an island like Sri Lanka. On Sri Lanka everything is possible! ?

 

 

These days I got a lot of questions about how I manage to travel and spend time on nice and exotic destinations? I decided, as always, to sincerely discuss with you about this. I’m sure that you have ever heard of Press Trips – Media Trips so far. What are those trips? Traveling for the media is a special type of travel where representatives of various media outlets (printed media or online media) are invited to visit the particular destination.

 

 

This time I received a kind invitation from the Tourism Board of Sri Lanka to visit their country. This was an exceptional honor for me, because since now I only had only the opportunity to hear the wonderful experiences of my friends and acquaintances about this  wonderful island. Without thinking, I accepted the invitation and I started to pack my bags for this journey.

 

 

Press trips are very interesting and educational, when you have chance to meet with some new religion and to learn something new about culture and their customs. On the other hand, press trips can be very hard and literally to kick you off your feet. I admit, I am a person who is not perfect shape, but adrenaline and the desire to discover new things are stronger and I’m just push myself to go further.

 

 

At the end, everything comes around to you again! Just imagine the fact that you are traveling a long distance and that you have to change the hotel almost every day, maybe it’s fun to do it, but think again… 11 days, 10 nights, 8 different hotels. Little Marko needs to unpack, iron the nice things you will wear that day, pack them again. Do not think about those lizards on the wall that you first thought were those are nice toys on the wall.

 

 

My first contact with the Resort type of hotel in Sri Lanka was fun, crazy and unforgettable. At a first sight, I was surprised and delighted by the details, real lizards on the wall, I thought that they are a nice decoration on the wall until they started to move their tails and they were making some strange robotic sounds, which made me really think their batteries were out and my first thought was: “Oh, my God is how I will sleep tonight!”. Believe me sometimes I have a problem when I’m traveling, maybe first two or three days I sometimes don’t sleep at all and you can guess that feeling of tiredness is always uninvited guest on the trip…

 

 

With smile on my face, I get out of my hotel room and I went to see what is waiting for me for the dinner. There was live music, instruments that I haven’t had the opportunity to see before. Instruments that attract attention with their interesting shape, but believe me with the magical sound that I you imagine that you are in heaven… Good mood, nice food and hanging out a little with my colleagues. We had some conversation about some of our experiences from previous press trips.

Everything was just perfect until I just heard a sentence that I did not want to admit that it was true: “Marko, those are geckos, they are not toys, they are real lizards! “. I am a huge animal lover, there is no animal that I didn’t have as a pet, the list is long… I’ll just say that I had a wonderful pair of Canadian squirrels, then you can understand how much I really love animals … It’s all nice, but reptiles and insects are not exactly my favorite animals, I really love when I meet them for a few minutes outdoors and everyone after goes their own way.

 

 

The time has come to go back to the room… Now I knew that my childish statement that in my room are the simple lizard’s toy wasn’t true, so I could only pray to God that they went outside somewhere, it’s night for God sake, they also have some interesting night life. I entered the room and I felt so happy because there were not lizards in the room, you do not know what relief was in that moment. Don’t worry it was not the end, I had a crazy night with lizards, I didn’t sleep that night at all, but I realized the next evening that he was just a passing guest, just like me!

I would like to share today with you the photos that I have made in the hotels. Very interesting landscapes, who would say that a man can do so well photos in a hotel, I learned a lot of wise advices in one of the hotels… Because of that, this post was given the title: Signs are everywhere. So let’s start!

 

 

The first hotel that I’m about to write today is a true paradise for all our senses. Beach, melody of waves, a coconut… I walked almost a mile by the beach and I didn’t have the chance to meet anyone. You can just sit on that perfect beige sand and watch how the Indian Ocean waves showing you their beauty. Hotel Jetwing Surf is the first surf luxury resort hotel of this type in Sri Lanka. It was opened in December 2017, it’s still a pretty new, but because of the staff you would never notice it, you would think that this hotel has been there for a long time.

Why is this hotel special? It is special because of its position and in less than 2 minutes you have the opportunity to enjoy the charms of the Indian Ocean. The hotel consists of 20 charming villas, very interesting design. I saw the first time a squirrel on the coconut tree. It was so funny!

 

 

I was impressed because of special faucets whose was made of special shells, very unusual and original! The bathroom of every villa is located outside and is a very unusual concept, showering under the coconut tree is an unforgettable experience… Don’t worry until then I got used to the lizards and other animals. The hotel is very interesting and anyone who is planning to visit Sri Lanka and you want to explore to the east  coast should visit this amazing hotel.

 

 

 

New morning, new challenges! It was time for little Marko to pack up again, to check all his stuff and just try hard not to forget the chargers for his “toys” (cameras)! We said bye to the wonderful staff from the hotel and continue our journey in our famous white blogger van.

The trip to the next hotel was very long almost 7 hours drive, and if we count on a break for lunch, then it’s a trip of some 8 to 8 and half hours…

 

 

For the first 2 to 3 hours I have to admit that I was a hero, but the tiredness finally defeated me. My colleagues somehow successfully tried to wake me up when we reached this beautiful waterfall. The smell of water, the sound of the water that cross the rocks, and you make sure you do not splash your camera… It was a real adventure! As soon as I returned to the van, I decided to continue with my beauty sleep for the rest of the trip. 😀

 

 

Destiny wanted from me to wake up a few minutes before coming to the next hotel. It was so quiet in the van because youtubers have slept… I managed somehow to catch the Internet because it was possible only in the cities because of the provider network. The phone started to act so crazy, I thought it would explode of vibrations because my mom’s 275 messages: “Where are you ?, Markooo where are you?” And other famous messages that you all know well when your mother is looking for you. I just started to eat that cold lunch because I slept that most important part – LUNCH!

Thanks to my colleagues and drivers who were wonderful so they knew about what I was eating, they ordered for me and saved my lunch, but my mother, as always, knows to catch the right moment, she called me againg… Thanks God I managed through a whisper to explain to my mother that I was not kidnapped, I just slept a little and I’m just trying to eat something right now and just to explain to her that she was interrupting me while I was trying to eat something and I didn’t want to wake someone from the group they slept so tight.

 

On this trip the Sri Lanka Tourism Board managed to fulfill all my expectations, each hotel was better than the previous one. I will not even mention the food, I always had the feeling that I am in paradise when I see all those wonderful cakes! Thank you for this wonderful experience!

 

 

When we arrived at another hotel, we didn’t have the feeling that we are in Sri Lanka. This hotel with it’s elegance and formal looking at first glance there is no exotic note that is expected to be when you are in a place like Sri Lanka. Welcome to Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya!

This building was originally a  holiday residence of the famous governor Edward Barnes. Today, this beautiful huge villa, called by some in the joke, has nearly 160 rooms. Impressive, isn’t it?! Interestingly, the construction of this residence cost less than 10,000 British pounds. Of course, you must have in mind that the money at that time had a completely different value. ?

 

 

Hotel Nuwara Eliya is well known for its gardens. To remind you, in this post, I wrote about a hotel in which I learned some very wise things which changed my view of life. In gardens of these wonderful hotel you have wooden boards that show a certain periods in the life of one man with a little help of wise sentences. It depends on us which way we will choose in life, but signs along the way can be of great help in life.

 

 

Beautiful flowers, roses, magnolia trees… A true paradise for all our senses! If you are a huge fan of bright colors, this place is perfect for you! If you like nature, this is the right place for you! I had the opportunity to rest a little and enjoy in the beautiful sun rays in this charming garden.

 

The feeling is gorgeous, you just need to close your eyes and to listen the sounds of the birds and you will have some new moment to remember for the rest of your life.

 

 

Sometimes photos are very powerful, the real power of photography is incredible. A month ago, I was in this beautiful place today as I write this post for you, when I’m looking at these photos they reminds on that incredible journey, I even feel the scent of flowers in that garden. These are not hallucinations, they are just nice memories.

 

 

Guys, we have come to the end of this second post from this series of posts about my adventures from Sri Lanka. I sincerely hope that you enjoyed and I would love to hear your opinion. Have you been in Sri Lanka? Are you planning to visit this tropical paradise? We’ll see next week what Sri Lanka has to offer us and we continue this amazing adventure! ?

If you have any questions, comments, suggestion or message for me you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as you know, you can always contact me via mail or social media, and you can find it on the CONTACT page.

Best,

Mr.M

 

 

The post is sponsored by the Tourism Board of Sri Lanka, the hotel chain Jetwing and the Hotel Nuwara Eliya. For all those beautiful photos I used the Sony Alpha 7r camera.
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Sri Lanka: The Island Where Dreams Live…

Hello guys, I hope you’re good and this nice time helps you to get through this working week so easily. There is still a little time left to the weekend, so the countdown can start now slowly! I think this is a perfect time to start a new series of posts and to discover all the beauties of a little paradise island country. Let me introduce you to one of the  most beautiful island – Sri Lanka!

 

 

When I received a mail from Sri Lanka’s tourism board, I couldn’t have read it all because of the excitement which I felt in that moment! The only thing I read was a sentence that I repeated in my head for a few minutes until I have finally come to myself and realized that I have the chance to visit such an exotic country: “Mark, are you ready for an adventure? Sri Lanka is calling you!”.

 

 

For a moment, I thought it was some early brilliant prank for April Fools’ Day, because the start of the trip was planned on April 1st and I just didn’t give up some importance. Of course, as always I just can’t sit like that so I checked with my colleagues bloggers.  I realized that it was time for the little Marko to visit Sri Lanka! My happiness in that moment I just can’t describe with the right words, there were tears of joy, my mom wanted to go with me, and there was a real mini drama in the house for a couple of days… After few days my mother, who as you know is my photographer, she forgave that I wouldn’t take her with me on the Sri Lanka’s trip.

 

 

The days have passed, the time for the journey was getting closer and closer, and I was secretly hoping that it was not a prank and I would really go to one such trip like that…

Three days before the trip I got my flight tickets and of course again you can just imagine me how I’m running through the house and screaming with joy, because that was the sign which I was waiting for…

 

 

The first day of the April, the unusual morning crowd in the downtown of Belgrade I hardly managed to get out and with a couple minutes of delay I checked on my flight and finally I’ve started my new adventure. That day I will remember, that is for sure! I didn’t feel the tiredness of the previous trip or the cry of frightened babies. I just couldn’t have missed reading of “professional travel literature” – Guide: How to survive Sri Lanka and some old issue of Hello magazine…

 

 

Well, landing in Doha it didn’t get to be scary as I was in India recently, so I acted like a true “professional” traveler and I went straight to the boarding gate for the Colombo.

After 11 hours of reading some “interesting” literature, few naps and 2 movies, Little Marko arrived to Colombo. First Impression: “I will die, here it has almost 37 degrees outside and it’s 4 am… God what’s waiting for me all those days!” I must admit they have very interesting airport. You wouldn’t expected to find a nice house technique at the airport itself! My mom still can’t forgive me when I told her how cheap the washing machine is. She has almost a heart attack because of sadness why I didn’t buy her a new Candy washing machine… of course it’s a joke! She was very happy when she saw a new pair of earrings, like any other woman! ?

 

 

The flight from Doha to Colombo was very interesting, although it was early in the morning and there was a lot of light there, so there was no feeling of how much hours you really traveled…

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a real pearl of the Indian Ocean. The next day was interesting, together with my colleagues instagrammers and youtubers  I had the opportunity to enjoy in the magic of the Colombo. Just imagine walk the coast of the Indian Ocean and the temperature 37-degree, believe me it’s a real adventure. I was pretending that I’m hero just for two hours. I must admit that walking was worth because I’ve got a nice tan. 🙂

 

 

Sigiriya… The city of kings, a city that intrigues visitors with its history. Whether you are a lover of history or art, Sigiriya is the perfect place for you. And even if you just want to see more on Sri Lanka, Sigiriya for sure will stay in your memory for a long time.

Sigiriya or “Lion Rock” as a term or word is not widely known to people, but when someone shows the image of Sigiriya everything is changing. Almost everyone knows about the existence of this geological formation that the mighty Kings of Sri Lanka have turned into a fortress. Sigiriya is often called by people an eighth world miracle. Whether or not we will leave it to someone else to decide but it is certain that this natural formation and building is one of the main reasons for traveling to Sri Lanka. I would like to take the opportunity to say big thank you to Sigiriya Hotel for hospitality and kindness.  It’s a warm recommendation from the heart! On the picture below you can see that amazing Lion Rock from the Sigiriya hotel, isn’t it just wonderful?

 

 

The “Lion Rock” is a volcanic origin. It emerged as a hardened magma of long ago active volcano, which in the course of time has gained the shape that we now have the opportunity to see. Due to its position and natural shelters, the Lion Rock was inhabited since the prehistoric times. People who lived on and around, they left their stamp by building many caves and shelters. Since the end of the 20th century Sigiriya (Lion Rock) is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

 

 

Since Sigiriya has no epithet of a religious building, you do not have to worry about dressing. It is very important that you know that when you visit religious buildings on Sri Lanka, regardless of the temperature for men it is important that they have to wear long trousers, they are allowed to be made of linen or some other light material for summer. Women are allowed to wear skirts or trousers just below the knee.

 

 

Guys, my advice for you is to go as early as possible on an excursion, there is a possibility that you will stay out of the crowd for a long time and the temperatures can be very high. Also the information you should know before you go on a trip is that there are more than 1200 steps on the Lion Stone, so whoever plans to climb to the very top should be in very good condition. I’ve reached the top, I really don’t even know how I did it. I thought of myself as a Rambo with that famous music from the movie, but I think I looked like a fallen mountain hiker who got lucky to get to the top! I’m honest at least! 🙂

 

 

At almost all of our excursions we met a lot of pupils from elementary schools, there were even pre-school children who always greeted me with the smile and with the famous question: “Where are you from?”. Very kind and nice children, they were really cute, even they were in a better shape than me! Whatever I am proud of myself, I have managed to climb this tall rock! 🙂

 

 

 

 

The view from the top was unbelievable, but I was most delighted when we got back to our van! ? The Lion’s rock is a real challenge for alpinists and for people who just love hiking, this was a great success for me and as I’m writing this post now, I just feel the same muscle pain which I had during this adventure. The blogging crew continues their journey and the next destination was the Kaudulla National Park. It’s time for safari guys!

 

 

Safari in Kaudulla National Park is the best activity on Sri Lanka that you shouldn’t miss. This is a unique opportunity to see the wild Asian elephants in live. This is the only place in the world where you can come this close to these wonderful animals. You can see their daily activities like eating, drinking water and swimming. Believe me it’s very interesting place.

 

 

It is very exciting when you have the chance to see elephants in their natural environment and at least feel the wild life of nature for a moment. Elephants move freely, we had a chance to see their mating…

I think they wanted to have a public! I thought for a moment to watch some reality TV show! But here the main actors are animals! ?

 

 

Third day on Sri Lanka’s adventure was slowly approaching to the end, a blogger crew came back to the hotel. Some people from the crew still had more energy to spend so they made a party. But for little Marko this day was too much and he went to sleep a little… I know, sometimes I’m very boring person!

Rise and shine sunshine! New day is up, little Marko has filled the batteries, and he has also prepared the batteries of cameras, so everything is ready for the action! Or maybe not ?! Maybe I’ll just chill a little and take another nap!

 

 

Finally, it was time for the beach! The east coast on Sri Lanka was not explored so much and we were the first group of international online media, which was visited this part of Sri Lanka. That was a great honour for us and this way I would like to thank the Sri Lankan tourism board on this amazing journey.

This was a very exciting trip, very fun when you have a good company everything is different! I was in the crew with the famous youtuber! He is well known in Canada, America and the Philippines, and he has millions of subscribers because he has multiple channels on the You Tube. His name is Mikey Bustos.

He is a very positive person, even I became a fan of vlogging now (Vlog – is making the videos of daily activities that would be interesting to the audience, a lot of bloggers and youtubers are doing that).  You can see me in his vlogs. It was so fun to make videos with him and Raquel and RJ (Romeo). Raquel and I just found out on this trip that we are real soulmates, why? We both have many interesting thing in common and both of us love photography.

Mikey, Raquel and Romeo were my companion with whom I spent most of my time in Sri Lanka. I can’t wait to see them again! Maybe we will catch up on my trip to the Philippines. Beside us, there were also professional photographers from Turkey and I aslo learned a lot of useful tricks! Thanks guys! ?

 

 

The ocean, the sun, but there is no more time to rest. Our break on the beach are interrupted by our guides and they remind us that it’s time to go on tour of the Hindu temple dedicated to the God of Shiva.

 

 

This is also one of the largest Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to the Shiva, a god whose role is to destroy the Universe at the end of the existence of the world. The symbol of the Shiva is a phallus, which is an indicator of the male role in fertility and birth. Shiva is also a god of good and evil at the same time. It is easy to calm him down and at the same time it is very dangerous and very easily reveals its wrath…

 

The temple is very interesting and on the walls of the temple you can see God Siva in various situations. It was not allowed to take the photos in the temple, but you have the opportunity to see the diversity of colors on the photo above. I hope I have shown you this beauty and the vividness that this temple has.

 

 

After visiting the temple, we had the free time to explore the area and after that we were tired, but very happy and we returned to the hotel to charge our batteries for the new day.

Guys, we have come to the end of this first post from this series of posts about my adventures from Sri Lanka. I sincerely hope that you enjoyed and I would love to hear your opinion. Have you been in Sri Lanka? Are you planning to visit this tropical paradise? We’ll see next week what Sri Lanka has to offer us and we continue this amazing adventure! ?

If you have any questions, comments, suggestion or message for me you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as you know, you can always contact me via mail or social media, and you can find it on the CONTACT page.

Best,

Mr.M

I would like to thank Sri Lanka Tourism Board for this amazing adventure, as well I would like to say big thank you to hotels: Movenpick, Sigiriya Hotel and Nilaveli Beach Hotel.

 

 

This post is sponsored by Sri Lanka Tourism Board and Sony. This photos are made with the little help of Sony Alpha 7r and Sony RX100 Mark V.

 

 


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Maharajas Express: Last Call For Varanasi

Hello guys, I’m sure you know the second part of this sentence – I hope you are good and you are ready for the new post. Today everyone is joking, some people just making jokes about my blogging. Why not, the laugh is good and healthy especially when we know that today is a day of joke – April Fools’ Day! I believe you have prepared some interesting pranks for today, just to break a daily boring monotony.

 

I’ve prepared something much better for you, I’m sure you know what it is – a new post! Today I will finish the series of posts about a magical journey through India. I feel some unusual kind of sadness, probably because of the end of a chapter of life, but there are memories and these wonderful pictures to remind me that I have achieved my biggest childhood dream.

 

 

Varanasi, the last city on the Maharajas Express trip, the city of Ganges and the city of souls. You probably know that Varanasi is famous for natural cremation on the banks of the river Ganges, but did you know that it is a city of silk and cashmere? You didn’t know that?! Now you will have the opportunity to find out more about this wonderful city. Let’s start!

 

 

Varanasi is the holiest Hindu city. It is located on the banks of Ganges word in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It represents the cultural and religious center for thousands of years and has therefore gained a flattering title that is one of the oldest cities in the world. The historians don’t have the exact information that how the city was created, but the legend says that the city was founded by God the Shiva. There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the five heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva.

 

 

It was a custom of the time that the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy and a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma’s head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground. The land of Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy religious site. Because of this, most of people believe that bathing in this holy river helps people to be cleaned from all the sins.

 

 

On the other hand, the city has a very good position for trade, so today it’s one of the main trade centers in India. We had the opportunity to visit the oldest workshop made of all types of pashmina and silk items. For the first time in my life, I had a chance to see stuff and fashion accessories that I only had a chance to see in the Indian soap operas.

 

 

After enjoying in this unusual show of colors and beauty of the precious sarees (female garment from the Indian subcontinent), our friends from India’s Tourism Board and Maharajas Express, took us to a wonderful cruise where we had the opportunity to enjoy the sunset on the Ganges.

 

 

 

After this wonderful journey, I really started to look at India with other eyes, a country with a lot of prejudice, but a country with a completely different and rich culture and customs that everyone should come here at least once in your life and feel this incredible India. People in India will always welcome you with a smile and a open heart.

 

 

The Ganges is the river of life, the river of true love and eternal hopes, the real proof that life is a passing thing and that it needs to be used in the best possible way. There is sadness here when you pass by open crematoriums. A couple of hundred meters down the river are the stairs which are used by family members who had lost their beloved ones that day and they use stairs to go down to the river and to bathe in the river just to say last goodbye.

 

 

 

A very unusual ritual but very interesting and educational. After these sad scenes, you will have the opportunity to cheer yourself up with the most beautiful view on the world and simply say to yourself, “Yes, I finally came to India!” Don’t be disturbed by mosquitoes, just believe me that you will enjoy this cruise.

 

If you remember, I wrote today that India is a far-away country with rich culture and customs. Everyone should, at least once in life to visit this amazing country. I’m sure you will make some wonderful new memories that you will remember for the rest of your life.

 

 

I would have one little please for you. If you take your way to Varanasi sometime, make sure you  will buy few chocolate bars, it’s not really expensive. You wonder why I ask you to do this? This is because of the children which you will surely meet when you take your walk along the banks of Ganges. They love chocolate, but you know because of the financial possibilities they are not able to enjoy this sort of happiness as we have a chance every day then at least sometimes to buy for us or for beloved ones…

 

 

Well guys, we have come to the end of today’s post. I really hope that you enjoyed and you learned something new today. Right now I’m on the airport and I’m waiting to check in for my new destination! See you next week and you must promise me that you will do something fun today because today is the day for the pranks!

How did you like my Indian adventure? 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 networks, you can find on the CONTACT page.

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 sponsored by Indian Tourism Board – Incredible India and Maharajas Express.

 

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