Posts tagged travel blog

Royal Diaries: Topcider, the Green Oasis of the Prince of Serbia…

My dear travellers and fashionistas, I hope you are doing well, because today I have one real nice surprise for you. A few days ago, I wrote you something about Gardos Kula in Belgrade, sight which makes only the heart of Zemun, on the bank of the Danube river. Today I will show you another interesting place called Topcider Park, a landmark that is on the bucket-list of every tourist who visits Belgrade.

I am sure that you at least once had the opportunity to see this park on the postcard from Serbia or on the internet, but you did not know that it was an oasis created by Prince Milos Obrenovic during the 19th century, building a court complex that was the centre of cultural and social life in the 1930s. in Belgrade.

When I mention my friends from Germany or my other friends from another countries my beloved Belgrade, they always ask me what they can see in Belgrade and what kind of architecture and natural beauties they can expect to see? When I tell them that famous word EVERYTHING, they just say, oh yes (like yeah, right…)… just to persuade them, I kindly type on the google “WHAT TO SEE IN BELGRADE” and results come up with a thousands of extraordinary pictures that evoke the beauty of the Serbian capital. After they dare to type “WHAT TO SEE IN SERBIA”, maybe after a few days, they send me a message that they are coming to Belgrade and may be traveling little a bit in Serbia. Obviously, almost every time at the end of message is sentence: “You need to go with us!”.

As I spent many years in Germany and other European countries, I have realised how much some nations in Europe are in love with their homelands. An average German will, in 90% of cases, will always choose to spend his travel budget and holiday in his own country. I didn’t even know it until I went to some German cities with my friends from Berlin and we visited their local sights, most important cities of culture and natural beauties, especially to highlight their lakes because they are really unusual and well maintained.

Having learned a lot from Germans, I decided to put it into action and to introduce some of my international readers of my blog to see some unusual places in Belgrade and Serbia as well (soon). Due to the current situation with the Corona virus, I will stay in Belgrade for a few more days until we get permission to visit other places in Serbia. I am sure you will like new interesting posts that will focus on Tourism in Serbia.

Did you know that Topcider Park is the oldest park in Belgrade? The word Topcider comes from the two Turkish words TOPZI (meaning: cannon) and DERE (meaning: stream or valley) and in literal translation it would be Valley of the Cannons, because almost five centuries ago the Ottomans performed exercises and preparations for battles in this area.

This park has always been a favorite in Serbia and a place where everyone came to enjoy nature, some rest and fun with family. The urbanization and expansion of Belgrade has led to a decrease in green space around Topcider Park and Kosutnjak as well.

It is interesting fact that in 2015, a special session of the Government was held where Topcider Park was proclaimed as the most important natural monument of culture in Belgrade. Topcider Park is located in the Savski venac municipality and is state-owned by the Republic of Serbia as a protected property of high cultural importance.

When we look a little into the history, we come to interesting information that Prince Milos Obrenovic decided to build a residence for himself and that he wished to be located in Topcider Park. In the period from 1831 to 1834, the construction of the main part of the Royal court complex was completed.

The park within the court complex began to be renovated in the time of Prince Milos, especially since the arrival of engineer Atanasije Nikolic in 1839, who also edits the first nursery garden in this area in 1846. Some historians claim that French and Czech landscape architects were involved in the construction of the park, who left their personal mark on the course of the Topcider Park.

In front of Residence of Price Milos ( itself is a tree of the London plane tree, which is also on the list of protected cultural and historical heritage of Topcider – Kosutnjak park.

It is not known exactly when this plane tree was planted, but it is believed that it was planted by order of Prince Milos Obrenovic when his Residence was built. This plane tree is considered one of the largest and most beautiful specimen of its kind and represents the living historical and horticultural heritage of Belgrade.

Residence of Prince Milos Obrenovic, which you have the opportunity to see in the photos, was built in 1831 and is a combination of tradition and cultural Serbian heritage of the 19th century. This building could be proudly compared to other objects of cultural importance of its time.

During the reign of Milos Obrenovic, this place played a very significant role as a court and at this place assemblies and meetings were held regularly. The palace was designed by architects Janja Mihailovic and Nikola Djordjevic. Some of their rich interior decoration of the building’s ceilings, walls, and niches has been partially preserved till today.

The second remodeling of Topcider Park was marked by the erection of an obelisk in honor of Milos’s return to Serbia in 1859. The position of the obelisk is carefully designed so that in the intersection of the axis of symmetry of the Residence and the church, key objects in the royal court complex are connected.

Around the obelisk were circular hedges and low conifers of regular shape. Symmetrical plantings were introduced with exotic plants, such as banana trees, which were very popular in arranging European parks in the 19th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, geometric landscaping was still present in decoration of Topcider Park, and there were numerous novelties within the court complex. You can also visit the Archibald Reiss Memorial at this cultural complex. It was erected in 1931 in memory of Dr. Archibald Reiss, a great friend of Serbia, a criminal expert and professor at the University of Lausanne.

To the Great Friend of Serbs from the Hardest Days, the Soldier of Justice, Truth and Law… Swiss Professor Dr Reiss

In the early 1920s, the landscaping of the park changed substantially, with the controlled application of the free English landscape style of landscaping and the disappearance of proper geometry.

In 1954, the 150th anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising, the former residence was opened as the Museum of the First Serbian Uprising. The museum, dedicated to the entire period of Serbian resistance to Ottoman rule known as the Serbian Revolution, later served as the basis for the Historical Museum of Serbia, founded in 1963. The Residence of Prince Milos was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, placing it under the protection of the government of Serbia.

Today, Topcider Park extends over 13 hectares, just five kilometers from the heart of the city and is surrounded by the wooded hills of Kosutnjak and the Topciderka River. Slightly neglected and forgotten, far from the former image of a splendid and lavish European park. This park is of great value and represents an unimproved potential of Belgrade.

If you want to relax and spend some quality time with your family and friends visit this incredible green oasis. I believe that all of us always need those five minutes without any noise from the “noisy” world… In this wonderful complex you have one interesting restaurant.

The restaurant “Milosev Konac” (Konak is Serbian old word which means Residence) is located in Topcider Park, and as a restaurant dates from the Second World War. The facility is located in an environmentally protected area, because it used to be for the personal needs of the Prince Milos Obrenovic, and in recent decades, this restaurant has been visited by the most eminent foreign and domestic very important persons.

The restaurant provides top-notch service with a rich selection of national and international cuisine, along with a wide selection of local and foreign drinks. I have little tip for you! If you are coming at the end of the Spring time or during Summer this is the perfect place for you and your family and friends to enjoy in the beauty of Belgrade history.

I used the beautiful and sunny time to visit this gem of Belgrade and with my photographer I have done my best to make these photos for you that I sincerely hope you will like. I hope I have been able to show you at least a little bit of the beauty of this natural and historical oasis in Belgrade.

For all the fashionistas who follow my blog with great love & joy and I have to write just few sentence for my today’s outfit, I hope my dear travellers will not love me less after this point of the post! 🙂

When winter comes, which is mostly dry and the sun rules out, your best friend in this case is a COAT. The coat may be a little more elegant than a feather (bomber) jacket, but it may be a little difficult for the coat because it can only be worn in dry and cold weather. So I decided to take advantage of these sunny days and walk my “best buddy” and together we feel the freshness and beauty of nature in Topcider Park.

OUTFIT

Coat: Burberry

Turtleneck Sweater: Loro Piana

Trousers: Loro Piana

Sneakers: Roberto Botticelli

How did you like this outfit I wore to visit the one of the oldest park in Belgrade? Have you been in Belgrade? Here spring is the most beautiful period of the year I have prepared this outfit for you with a lot of love and I hope you like it! This outfit is made by something new, something old and a unique balance is a result.

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

Best,
Mr.M

This post is sponsored by Burberry. This post would not have been possible without the selfless help of Loro Piana fashion house which helps me to express my fashion spirit with their iconic and fashionable pieces.

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

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

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

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

INDIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posts I wrote about India:

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

LAOS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOROCCO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posts from Morocco that I shared with you during 2018:

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

EGYPT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posts about Egypt I shared with you in 2019:

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

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

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

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

Best,
Mr.M

This post is not sponsored.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
Mr.M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

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

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

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

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

What are the basic principles of Buddhism?

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

The four noble truths are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wisdom

    1. Right view
    2. Right intention

    Moral virtues

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

    Meditation

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


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

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

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

Three Jewels

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

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

Five rules of morality

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

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

Meditation

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

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

What are the basic branches and schools of Buddhism?

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

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

Buddhism in Laos

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

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

Sai Bat (Morning Alms) procession

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

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

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

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

Sai Bat (Morning Alms)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
Mr.M

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

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

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

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

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

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

King’s Funeral Chapel at Wat Xieng Thong Temple

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

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

Funeral royal chariot with the remains of King Sisavang Wong

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

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

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

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

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

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal PalaceHaw Kham National Museum

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

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

A temple located within the Haw Kham Royal Complex

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

Entrance to the nature reserve where Kuang Si Waterfall is located

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mekong River CruiseKhopfa Sunset Cruise

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

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

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

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

Pak Ou cave with Buddha sculptures (outside)

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

Pak Ou cave with Buddha sculptures (inside)

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

There also was one interesting four-legged furry friend…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
Mr.M

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

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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 Georgia: Let’s go to Mtatsminda Amusement Park!

My dear travellers and fashionistas, how are you today? it’s little time left until the end of this year, have you made any plans for New Year’s Eve? Honestly I haven’t yet because all of this is kind things I always change at the last minute. When I was younger I always tried to organize myself, but eventually everything changed.

This month I was equally active with both travel and fashion outfit posts as well, so I am very proud because I did not neglect my first great love – FASHION.

When Bojana and I were reading tips about Tbilisi sights on the internet we did not find that we should see an Amusement park. However, in the end, because of our many walks through the capital of Georgia, we noticed every day a big wheel on a hill that looks very close to you, but we not knew how to ask people in an adequate way how to get to that “wheel”.

One morning at the hotel, we were trying to explain to people at the reception desk what we wanted to visit… At first, they didn’t understand us until a girl who was just starting to work showed us her phone and that wheel was on screen. Afterwards, in Georgian, she explained to them what we wanted to see and they all started to google how they could help us get there. Fortunately, there was a bus line which going there, but we were warned that the ride was a bit long and we should prepare for it.

Bojana went in search of some supermarket, as something had to be eaten at least… Realistically, the girl thought of real life things, while I struggled to find out the way on a map in Georgian language. Since we were picking up half the store and had food for 3 days (sweets were on huge discount, please understand us) finally, we were ready to go!

After an hour of searching we accidentally found the bus, since that was not his station we begged the driver to let us in, thank God the man was kind and reasonable so he let us in.

In less than an hour we found ourselves at our destination – Mtatsminda Amusement Park. I suppose because of the time when we were visiting Tbilisi it was not the full tourist season, so maybe that is the reason why the park was empty. We could not believe that such an unusual place that was made to be the real fairytale place that every child (and maybe an elderly person who strayed…) would wish to visit.

In the photo above, you can see the reason for our visit to Mtatsminda Amusement Park – the famous wheel. That day was beautiful, like a walking stroll, warm enough to walk outside with a coat or a sweater and not be cold. This time we can thank the sun because this natural light just helped us and we were inspired to do our outfit posts here.

I just want to mention that the entrance to Mtatsminda Amusement Park is free and only rides and games located within this interesting complex are paid for. There is also a small zoo and it is all located on a hill overlooking the most beautiful views of Tbilisi.

Autumn did its magic as always, so the trees got a new color that is trending this season – shades of gold colour. Nature is always in trend, we just need to look around a little better!

We spent almost 3 hours in this amusement park, the time was flying so fast that we didn’t even notice it. This is the perfect place if you want to have fun, enjoy the beauty of nature and the amazing view of Tbilisi.

This post is unfortunately also the last post from Georgia and the end of this series of posts with last fifth article we are officially ending my adventure in Georgia. I will remember this trip for a long time because I had a crazy and unforgettable time, first because I had the best company, my friend Bojana Rmandic, my colleague.

I had the opportunity to see a very unusual country that is only officially on the map of Europe. When you go to Georgia you realize that Europe has never been here.

My dear fashionistas, once again we have come to the end of last post from special series of post from my Georgian 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 Turkish Airlines and National Georgian Tourism Administration for this incredible adventure and Iota Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you to organizers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi for kind invitation.

OUTFIT

Sweater: Givenchy

Trousers: Cavalli Class

Sneakers: Loriblu

Camera: Sony Alpha 7r IILens: Sony G Master 24-70 MM

How do you like this interesting refreshing “red” outfit? Have you maybe had opportunity to visit Tbilisi before? See you next week with another interesting story from Southeast Asia. We are going to explore one lovely interesting country called Laos or Lao People’s Democratic Republic. I can’t wait to share all those beautiful photos with you.

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 Turkish Airlines and National Georgian Tourism Administration. I would like to say thank you to Iota Hotel for having us. Our days were fulfilled with special fashion adventures with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi and this 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 Georgia: My Story about ancient Tbilisi…

My dear travellers, how are you today? After a sunny & sandy adventure in far-off Africa, little Marko continued his journey to the crossroads of East and West. Georgia, a country slightly “attached” on the map of Europe, but when you go there you realize that Europe has never even been there. On this trip, I had a slightly different company and I spent some fun time with my friend Bojana Rmandic, who says for herself that she is a sociologist who has found happiness in the profession of the 21st century – influencer.

Bojana and I are pure evidence that real friendships on Instagram can exist and that distance barriers do not present the problem of keeping in touch and occasional opportunity to visit some interesting destinations together with the help of our mutual friend Turkish Airlines, which this time also helped us and once again made our dreams come true and let’s us visit the heart of the Caucasus.

After a few hours’ journey and a short visit to Istanbul, we reached our desired destination – Tbilisi. The flights went by so fast because of our interesting chit-chat we were not even aware of how long the time had really passed… After the passport control and the take-over of our luggage, we were welcomed by our hosts – organizers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Tbilisi. Yes, this is exactly the reason of our visit to Georgia, because we were invited as international influencers to attend a magnificent fashion event such as MBFW Tbilisi.

As you are accustomed to by now, this time you will hear from me some general information about the destination. Although Georgia has a population of almost 4 million, it is a country with a turbulent history that will intrigue all adventurers looking for adventure. Currently, there are no direct flights from Serbia and the countries of the former EX-YU to this country that once belonged to the Soviet Union.

Important information is that you do not need a visa to enter the territory of Georgia if you have a Serbian passport or some of the countries in the region (BiH, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Croatia). Georgia is a truly unusual country and when you land in Tbilisi you will feel that you have landed in a completely different, unusual space. Before you book your flight ticket to Tbilisi please check do you need a Visa. If you need a Visa for Russia, you probably need also a Visa for Georgia.

Surely one of the first questions that pops into your mind right now is: Why travel to Georgia? What is so special about seeing it? We, the people of the Balkans, consider ourselves to be the best hosts and welcome our guests with kindness and warmth. That all stands out and is something that sets us apart from other nations, but the Georgians ( or Kartvelians is the proper name for the inhabitants of the Caucasian state of Georgia) have advanced it and given us our a real homework to do.

They are quite similar to our mentality and are a very cordial and cheerful people. Their standard of living is very similar to ours, if not lower, since we noticed at their prices in the markets that supplies are significantly cheaper than ours. In addition, talking to a couple of locals, we learned that their average salary is about 200-250 euros, which places Georgia among the countries with low average earnings (like Serbia).

The first day in Tbilisi was spent exploring the city and “cruising” the central streets where Bojana and I already had the opportunity to see some fashion accessories that would help us complete our fashion combinations that we had specially prepared for Fashion Week in Tbilisi. The first impressions are that Tbilisi is a city with interesting architecture, since they were part of the USSR Union, one can see the direct influence of imperial Russia on local architecture. I was impressed by the fact that Georgians are extremely proud of their history and Orthodoxy, so they built a large number of places of worship – Orthodox churches.

Also on the streets we saw a variety of night street markets that we just had to visit. On the street counters we saw many interesting things and there is almost no salesman who did not call us to look at his counter and make sure the quality of the product. I have to be honest and admit that Bojana and I stuck to cheeses and sweets the most! 🙈

The first day ended in the best way possible with a full bag of cheeses that we didn’t know what to do with, so we bought some buns that thank God kept fresh and ate all the cheeses with the orange juice. Bojana is a big fan of cheeses, while I leads the way in “love for sweets”.

The next day, we began cheerfully with songs from our music playlists that we faithfully store on our phones, so that hits from ’90-es others could be heard, which some would say “just evergreen songs please”! After listening to all our songs for the good morning, we were able to go and have some breakfast, since we had already consumed a lot of energy from waving our hands and singing for our “mini-concerts”.

The first breakfast at our hotel was exceptional! Our Hotel – The Iota Hotel that hosted us during our fashion adventure in Tbilisi is a hotel that almost all tourists who have previously stayed in it rated it with the highest ratings because of 3 things that adorn this hotel. This hotel supports the local community and takes all the necessary supplies and products from local farmers and small producers, which is truly commendable! The other thing is the interior of the hotel, which is modern and minimalist with elements of nature.

In the second picture above, you can see their “green” wall, which nurtures more people every day, so that we tourists can take an amazing photos everyday next to it. To top it off as one of the most important thing that is essential to every traveler, this hotel is located in the heart of the city not far from Liberty Square and the main street of Rustaveli, which is the heart of Tbilisi.

Since Bojana and I worked together to help the hotel “reduce” its food supply, we could move on to new working victories. We decided to visit Rustaveli Street before the fashion shows and visit some of the sights. Of course, first of all, there was one good photo as proof that I was going somewhere like all the normal world and that besides jeans I could sort myself out to be elegant, but since it lasted for a while…

After some time because of the modern façade of the Museum of Georgian Fine Arts, which houses a rich private collection of classical and modern fine art by a famous local millionaire, we decided to visit it. Admission to the museum is 15 GEL (local currency is Lari and about 1 Euro is about 3,27 Georgian Lari).

I am sure I would not overdo it if by any chance I would write that this is one of the best art museums in the world. The collection is comprehensive and extensive, stemming from the founders’ private collection. The museum displays over 3500 works created by over 100 Georgian artists.

The collection spans some 70 years of the artistic period and each exhibit room is dedicated to a different artist. If you are an art lover this is definitely the place to go. Upon entering the museum you will notice an interesting staircase that is made of glass, since I have a fear of everything, plus I watched the Ruby famous Mexican soap opera multiple times I chose to go by lift while Bojana was much “braver” than me!

How did this museum actually come about? George (Gia) Jokhtaberidze and Manana Shevardnadze began collecting artwork in the 1990s. After successful entrepreneurial endeavours, Mr. Jokhtaberidze began to buy works of art as a great art lover.

On one occasion during his visit to the gallery, workers packed an image that needed to be sent overseas for some very cheap, ridiculous cost. Soon Mr. Jokhtaberidze realized that the work would be lost forever if it were so scattered throughout the world without proper collection and adequate exhibition. Since most of the artwork was created during the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain, art was not yet well known in Georgia. That’s how the mission came about: collecting, restoring and preserving Georgian art. Initially, the mission did not include the idea of building a brand new museum building, the idea was to collect and donate all the art to state museums.

However, due to the collapse of the USSR and the ensuing economic and civil turmoil, state museums were in a difficult situation and unable to store all the artwork. After collecting various works of art for 23 years and managing the largest telecommunications company in Georgia, Mr. Jokhtaberidze saw an opportunity to buy a property outside the Georgia Parliament building. The opportunity quickly turned into reality and a plan was created to build a complex of buildings that would become the Georgia Museum of Fine Arts and the Art House.

After a two-hour visit to this amazing museum, we continued our sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. During our walk down the central street of the capital of Georgia, we came across many cheerful faces who gave us directions on how to get to location where Fashion Week was held. In addition to people, we also had the opportunity to meet our four-legged furry friends who found their shelter on the garden benches of central restaurants.

Georgians are otherwise big animal rights supporters and all stray dogs are registered and chipped (if you zoom in on the previous image you will see a yellow chip with the code on the right ear of the dog). You can see the center’s special “pet stations” for abandoned dogs and cats, which people employed by city services, as well as the local population, daily clean and put fresh food and drinking water for abandoned animals.

Since we decided to take a heroic walk of a few minutes, in about twenty minutes we were at our destination and we officially arrived at our first show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Tbilisi (MBFWT) is a Georgian fashion week sponsored by the Mercedes-Benz Group that takes place every year in the Georgian capital – Tbilisi. The Committee for the organization of Fashion Week in Tbilisi was established in 2015. During the fashion week, other cultural and artistic events such as the ARTGeorgia Art Exhibition and the BENEKST International Fashion Design Contest take place simultaneously.

I promise you that one of the following blog posts will be dedicated exclusively to Fashion Week in Tbilisi where you will find out more information about this fashion event that was noticed in a short time by the most eminent people in the fashion industry.

After the shows, we decided it was best to buy something to eat and get ready for bed because Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) prepared for us an interesting plan and program for the next day.

The next morning I was officially the most happiest person at the hotel since I slept well and fully prepared for breakfast and to continue with the plan and program prepared by our friends from the Georgian National Tourism Administration in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism of Georgia.

The plan was to tour the old part of the city and go to Sololaki Hill, where the “Mother of Georgia” is located, which with great pride is jealously guarding her beloved Tbilisi.

After a few minutes drive from our hotel we reached the Old Town. I do not know if by any chance you are aware of the fact that Tbilisi is one of the oldest cities in the part of the world that lies in the southern Caucasus. Due to its favorable position, it was difficult to conquer because of the great powers, but throughout history Georgians have suffered a lot.

The only light at the end of the tunnel was Kartlis Deda, also known as Mother of Georgia, who is one of Tbilisi’s symbols today. A statue of a woman who symbolizes the spirit of a Tbilisi residents and this wonderful land located at the crossroads of East and West. The colossal statue, 22m high, represents a woman dressed in traditional Georgian costume: in her left hand is a glass of wine, as a symbol of hearty welcome to anyone with an open and pure heart who comes to town, and in her right hand, a sword is prepared, for those with some bad intentions except to be appreciated guests…

The Sololaki Hill where this landmark is located you can reach by a special cable car. The price is symbolic so that anyone who decides to embark on the journey of Georgia and visit Tbilisi should visit the old part of the city and feel the Great Spirit of Georgians who are still faithfully cherished today.

Our mood was at the highest level and our Balkan spirit was fully prepared to meet Georgian ones. The cable car ride takes a few minutes, just enough time to enjoy the view and get it recorded with your phone or camera. It is only when you reach the top of the Sololaki Hills that you really realize how big Tbilisi really is, despite its size, managed to retain its charm and the soul of the Caucasus, which carries with it a long history.

After this wonderful view from the viewpoint, we were led by a marked trail where we met many tourists returning on the cable car. A few minutes later a symbol of Tbilisi – Mother of Georgia just appeared in front of us. It was wonderful experience for us to see something like that.

We stayed there for a while, enough for Bojana and I to create adequate content for you which you gonna see next weeks on the blog. Only during the half hour we spent next to the symbol of the city did we see the large number of tourists coming to visit Tbilisi.

After we finished visiting the old part of town, a team of people from the Tourist Administration took us out for tea and to try some local sweet treats. Believe me, if I knew I was going to try some sweets I would fly over that hill without a cable car!

As we were in a hurry for the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi shows, our sweet break was a little shorter than planned, so we hurried to the hotel for a quick fix. Believe me, it is harder than you can imagine!

Another day filled with interesting fashion shows, we saw some new fashion creations that were a real refreshment in the fashion scene. We could also conclude from the facial expressions of some of the leading editors of fashion magazines that this year has been extremely inspiring for Georgian fashion designers. I can’t wait to show you some of wonderful designers which I captured during fashion shows of the most famous Georgian fashion designers.

We spent the next couple of days mostly at fashion events, so we didn’t have much time to do some tours of the city, but we managed to capture two more free days that we decided to spend on exploring the beauty of Tbilisi.

One fashion designer told us that he found his inspiration for a new collection at a local amusement park. Bojana and I just looked at him and he gave us the smile and let us see for ourselves the extraordinary beauty of the amusement park located at the highest point in Tbilisi.

Welcome to Mtatsminda Park, a famous theme park located on the top of Mtatsminda Mountain, overlooking Tbilisi. The park has carousels, slides, roller skates, funiculars and a large wheel on the edge of the mountain, offering a magnificent view of the city. This park also helped to make us some interesting photos for our fashion outfit posts.

This amusement park completely brought me back to those carefree childhood days, when I had no need to worry about everyday irrelevant things but just aimed to have fun, enjoy the cotton candy and think about what next ride I would embark on. Today is a little different instead of rides in amusement park, I got into the most complicated theme park called LIFE and every day I have some rides that can change the course of my further work, but well everything is safe while you have an invisible belt that protects you from an unplanned fall .

Do you want to hear the story how this park was established? The park was founded by the Soviet government in the 1930s and was once designated the third most visited public park in the USSR. The late Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili along with his wife, Inna Gudavadze, began transforming the park into a 21st century theme park. Badri owned the park as a charity project, with numerous commercial properties in Georgia, including the Rustavi Steel Plant, Borjomi Water Company and Imedi TV.

Patarkatsishvili became a real opponent of the National Movement Party in 2007 and as a result was no longer a favorite person of President Mikhail Saakashvili, and in November 2007, his assets, including Mtatsminda Park and Imedi TV Station, were seized by the government, claiming that the company was “more times violated “the terms of the contract and failed to pay the lease fee.

Lawyers of Patarkatsishvili’s family immediately denied the allegations, saying they were “unfounded”. Following Patarkacishville’s death at his home in England in February 2008, his widow, Inna Gudavadze, began an international arbitration proceeding against the Georgian government, claiming Mtatsminda Park, along with the rest of Georgian ownership, was misappropriated by the government. On October 29, 2008, Inna Gudavadze hosted a press conference in Tbilisi advertising for Mtatsminda Park, as well as TV station Imedi were “Badri’s Personal Projects for Georgia and the Georgian People”. In July 2011, the Patarkatishvili family reached a year with the government that saw Mtatsminda Park return to Inna, and the family was swapped for those who exempted all claims of ownership through Imedi TV.

Following the presidency of Michael Saakashvili, Imedi Television also returned Inne and her family in October 2012 under a new government. In July 2014, the Georgia prosecution launched a criminal investigation against former President Mikhail Saakashvili and official member groups for their roles in the illegal expropriation of Georgian property owned by the Patarkasishvili family.

My dear adventurers, once again we have come to the end post from special series of post from my Georgian 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 Turkish Airlines and National Georgian Tourism Administration for this incredible adventure and Iota Hotel for their huge efforts to make our stay unforgettable and I felt like at home. Also I would like to say huge thank you to organizers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi for kind invitation.

How do you like this story about Tbilisi? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Georgia? I would like to share with me your experience! See you next week with another interesting story from Tbilisi, but we will explore this amazing city through some different “fashion” angle.

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 Turkish Airlines and National Georgian Tourism Administration. I would like to say thank you to Iota Hotel for having us. Our days were fulfilled with special fashion adventures with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi and this 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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