Archive for history

Sumatra

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2014 by Thim Kwai

Sumatra is the world’s sixth largest island, situated in Southeast Asia. It’s one of the world regions with the highest biodiversity on earth. Formerly almost completely covered by tropical rainforests and mangrove forests along the long coastlines, the nature get’s rapidly destroyed in our times. The population is growing rapidly and natural habitats come more and more under pressure and extinct.

Pay a visit to the whole article on ‘Sumatra‘…

Minangkabau Royal Palace

The Royal Palace of the Minangkabau People in West Sumatra. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 1996, 2012, 2014

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Sumatra’. Read here the whole article on Sumatra.

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Bangkok

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2013 by Thim Kwai

So, the city has it’s attractions. Thailand has an interesting history, and a good deal of historical places in Bangkok are worth a visit. The historical city center is, as mentioned above, Rattanakosin Island. Near to touristic Khao San Road is the Grand Palace situated, dating back to the foundation time of modern Siam/Thailand in the years from 1782 on. Here are the three most representative Thai temples among the other 400 temples in the city. It’s Wat Phra Kaeo, which is housing the emerald Buddha, Wat Mahathat with a Buddhist ‘university’, and Wat Pho, the biggest and oldest temple in Bangkok with the reclining Buddha in it.

Between the Grand Palace and Khao San district there is the national museum which is the biggest in Southeast Asia, a national art gallery, the national theater and the national library. East and north of the Grand Palace stretches an area with a lot of historical buildings. Among them are as well many of these typical 19th and 20th century two storey shop houses. Most of them are still in use as what they always were: a shop downstairs, and housing for the shopkeeper family upstairs. In this area are also the giant swing, the city pillar shrine, an old fortress, the democracy monument and a number of old wats.

Another place worth to have a look at is Anantasamakhom Throne Hall, built in the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) before the First World War in a victorian style. Dusit park with it’s large green recreation area and a zoo inside offers a retreat from the hecticness of the megacity. The zoo is pretty big and gives an introduction into Thailand’s wildlife. In Dusit park also Vimanmek mansion is located, it’s said being the largest teak wood building in the world from about 1900.

Opposite the road at the Dusit Zoo is the house of parliament. Closeby is the government house and other government buildings.

Hualamphong railway station is an impressing building, and the history of Thailand’s railway is interesting itself. Everywhere around are old steam engine locomotives displayed. The first line opened in 1893 between Bangkok and Pak Nam at the seaside, being 25km long. In 1924 the southern railway line reached then still sleepy Hat Yai and triggered it’s boom.

A walk through Chinatown is a choice, or a walk over the amulet market between the grand palace and Thammasat University gives an idea how superstitious so many people are.

Visiting temples may be a pretty boring undertaken, but it’s rewarded by many interesting temple painting. Though it’s written in the guide books, that there were some of the finest temple paintings of the country in Bangkok, I was disappointed by what I saw. In Wat Po or Wat Borowinet the paintings are barely accessible (barred, one can not come close to most of them) and what I saw was severely faded out and needs defenitely a thorough restauration. The paintings I found in other parts of Thailand look partially much, much better, therefore most of them are clearly not of such a high artistic quality and rather painted in recent years.

There is also the famous Jim Thompson house, a traditional teak house what serves nowadays as a museum. Jim Thompson was one of the Westerners who made a remarkable career in Thailand by promoting Thai silk. He led an adventurous life, and his end is still obscure. He disappeared traceless on a short stroll in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

Another grand green part of the megacity is Lumphini Park. It’s a center for Bangkokians to do morning sports activities. No cars are allowed in here and there are lawns and bigger lakes inside. It’s possible to observe monitor lizards here, of whom not a small number life in the lakes and hideouts in the park and who lost their shyness of people.

Bangkok is also attractive for shoppers, as I pointed already out. Some of the biggest shopping malls of Southeast Asia are located here, and at some places one gets goods for wholesale prices or almost. Apart from Rattanakosin Island as the historical city center Bangkok actually doesn’t have a modern city center. The huge downtown area around Siam Square is considered as a shopping center. But Patpong district along Silom Road houses also a number of modern shopping centers, while Chinatown is a place where mostly typical Asian goods, usually foods, spices, clothes and much, much more is dealt with.

Thonburi, the place which marked the historical beginning of the megacity at the western banks of the Chao Phraya River, is no more that central, although still very crowded. Here are more house blocks situated, and furtherly to the west the city is still largely expanding, looking much shabbier than the city parts east of the river. The buildings are also far not as high west of the river.

In Thonburi lies also Thonburi railway station, a small station at the beginning of the old route to Burma. This line was built in World War II by the Japanese armee and became in a tragically way famous for a great number of prisoners of war and Asian people who were forced to built the ‘death railway’, and lost their lives due to the hardships. The best known part of the line is the famous ‘bridge over the River Kwai’ in Kanchanabury.

The highest concentration of Bangkoks 800 slums is in the south, near the city’s port. Verymost of the foreign visitors of the city never get a glance on them.

However, it’s actually not really worth to come to Bangkok for doing much sightseeing, except one is interested in culture, history or it’s peculiar nightlife. Patpong district, particularly the sideroads near Silom Road, change at sunset into one of the world’s most notorious redlight districts.

Elsewise Bangkok is rather a big hub for tourists and travellers into whole Southeast Asia, because it’s hosting the biggest airport in the world region and most flights from America, Europe, Japan and Australia and more and more other Asian countries arrive in Bangkok. From here on tourism finds it’s way to other places in Thailand and the neighbouring countries of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar or even Indonesia.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Bangkok’. Read here the whole article on Bangkok.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Angkor Wat – Monument of Superlatives

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Doubtlessly the grand temple monument of Angkor Wat is the best known building and tourist attraction in Southeast Asia. For many Angkor Wat is synonym with Angkor; though, Angkor was a whole city and even more an empire and as such much, much bigger than Angkor Wat, what merely means ‘city temple’, ‘state temple’ or ‘temple of Angkor’.

There are about a hundred more major temples in the wider area around Angkor Wat. One of them is the Bayon, another and significant different temple which is situated in Angkor Thom.

Angkor Wat is a sight of superlatives. It’s the biggest religious monument in the world, the most visited sight in Southeast Asia, the best-preserved of the whole Angkor site, the most impressive monument for most of the visitors, the only religious site of whole Angkor which remained a significant religious center since it’s foundation until today, it represents the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture, it’s the symbol for Cambodia since 1863 and decorates the national flag of Cambodia, and maybe there is more to add…

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Angkor Wat’. Read here the whole article on Angkor Wat.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender