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Showing posts from March, 2019

The Names of Zurich

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How much of Zurich can you see in an afternoon in late fall? The surprising answer is, a lot! I was in Zurich to catch a flight back to the U.S. and had a few hours to sightsee. After checking in at the hotel and reviewing the city map the receptionist gave me, I hurried down to Bahnhofstrasse and followed the busy shopping street towards Lake Zurich. My first stop was at Augustinergasse, a cobblestone street with overhanging balconies. It is in the Alstadt or Old Town which is the historical center of the city. Some of the most important landmarks like the Fraumünster, the Grossmünster, Peterkirche and the guild houses are found in the Alstadt. 

The stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in the Fraumünster was at the top of my "must see" list. As luck would have it, a rehearsal for a music concert was in progress during my visit so I lingered and enjoyed the performances of two gifted singers while studying the works of Chagall and Giacometti. An added bonus was the crypt whe…

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

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Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn rises above the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Its spires are symbolic of Mount Meru (center of the world in Buddhist cosmology) and are richly trimmed with ceramic tiles and fragments of Chinese porcelain.

The Khmer style central prang or spire is about 79 meters high (259 ft).

There are four smaller towers surrounding the central spire, an architectural feature that pays homage to Mount Neru. Notice the ornamented figures of Chinese soldiers that seem to support the tower.

These prangs glitter in the light from the ornamentation that define the temple complex.
A gilded door leads to one of the halls in the temple complex.
The Niramitr Buddha sits calmly in the ordination hall
How to get there:
Take the river express ferry to Tha Tien near the Grand Palace and Wat Pho then transfer to a shuttle boat that crosses the river or take one of the more pricey tourist boats that stops at Wat Arun. Entry fee to Wat Arun is 50 baht.

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Images by TravelswithCharie


Images of Buddha at Wat Pho

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There are hundreds of images of the Buddha at Wat Pho. In fact, King Rama III saw to the restoration of Wat Pho for the purpose of showing the images of Buddha in various positions according to Buddhist beliefs. This restoration and expansion of the temple started in 1832 and lasted for 16 years. Images of the seated Buddha, the standing Buddha, the meditating Buddha and the reclining Buddha are found in Wat Pho.

Here are some of the images of the standing Buddha. 

Buddha Maravichai The Buddha obtained enlightenment after meditating for 49 days under the bodhi tree. He found the answer to the causes of suffering which are greed, selfishness and ignorance. The Noble Eightfold Path preached by Buddha is the way to end suffering. These are: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

It is written that a mad elephant charged at the Buddha during his enlightened state and was pacified. The elephant …

Spirit Houses in Thailand

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Spirit houses are found in many countries in Asia. Some spirit houses are meant for the appeasement of spirits who dwell in the land and others are for the veneration of Phra Brahma, the Lord Creator in the Hindu religion. Sometimes a spirit house becomes a shrine when worshippers believe that their prayers were answered after making an offering at a particular spirit house. 
The image of the four-faced Brahma dwells in this open-sided spirit house. Each of Brahma's faces is symbolic of kindness, mercy, sympathy and fairness. Offerings of flowers, fruits, rice, bottled water and red Fanta fill the dais of the altar. Why red Fanta? The answer could be, according to some sources, the color red is the symbol of blood and red Fanta replaces sacrificial blood. It is also sweet and the spirits like it. Glittering glass and mirror mosaics adorn this spirit house with Brahma surrounded by figurines of people and animals.
This wooden spirit house resembles a Thai house and stands behind a gli…

The School on the Hill

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It was after lunch when we decided to go and give school supplies to the children at an elementary school in the hills of Mararison Island. The climb was difficult under the sweltering heat but this view of the Antique coastline was well worth it. We hired an enthusiastic guide who made sure we saw as much of the natural beauty of the hills as we possibly could and in the safest manner. She also helped us carry some of the school supplies we prepared for the children.  The elementary school used to be by the beach until a typhoon devastated the island and destroyed the classrooms. The school was then rebuilt on top of the hill. There are concrete stairs to get there which are easy on young legs. We opted to take the unpaved trail lined with roots of overhanging trees because it was an easier climb but treacherous when wet. The trees provided shade from the heat.

There are less than a hundred students at the school. Only a few kids were at school on the day we visited as some of the chil…

Where to go in 2019

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Egypt
Where are you off to in 2019? Have you made any plans yet? If not, here are some of the places recommended by travel experts from various magazines, newspapers and travel book publishers to inspire your wanderlust. Puerto Rico is the favorite place to visit in 2019. And the Azores is gaining recognition as one of the best "new" destinations. 

Check out my travel article about Puerto Rico, Love of Art Enriches Life.
https://www.travelswithcharie.com/2005/11/love-of-art-enriches-life.html
New York Times 52Places to Visit Puerto Rico ranks first on this list followed by Hampi in India, Santa Barbara, California and Panama. Read more about these 52 places to visit in 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/travel/places-to-visit.html
Condé Nast Traveler 19Best Places to go in 2019  Among the places recommended by Condé Nast editors are Japan, Egypt, Istanbul, Siargao in the Philippines, Singapore, and Puerto Rico. To read about these exciting destinations, click on the link…

The Reclining Buddha

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The Reclining Buddha or Phra Buddhasaiyas is 46 meters long and 15 meters high (150 ft by 49 ft). Sihasaiyas refers to the sleeping/reclining posture of a lion.  

Phra Vihara, the hall of the Reclining Buddha was built in 1832 during the reign of Rama III. The figure is made with lacquered and guilded stucco over a brick-based corpus.

The Buddha’s head rests on two box pillows inlaid with glass mosaics and is supported by his right hand.
The feet of the Buddha is 5 meters in length and 3 meters in height (16 ft by 9.8 ft). Notice his toes which are all even in size and height.
The soles of the Buddha's feet are inlaid with mother of pearl and have 108 panels showing the auspicious symbols with which he is identified. These auspicious symbols can be grouped into three categories: symbols of fortune and prosperity such as the lotus, attributes of greatness of the king such as the throne, and religious cosmology such as the ocean and heavenly forest. There are two circles, one on each fo…

Orchids are symbols of love and beauty

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Phalaenopsis On the way to the floating market in  Damnoen Sadauak, we stopped at the Samut Songkhram Coconut Sugar Farm where these exotic orchids grow in their garden. 

According to feng shui practices, orchids are symbols of perfection, happiness, love and beauty. So when someone gives you orchids, you are loved! 

Orchids bloom once a year and to see them bloom in your home is quite rewarding.  

Cattleya Cattleyas need a lot of light and thrive in dry climates. When growing at home, they should be placed near the window that receives a lot of sunlight.

Cattleya

Vanda Vandas and dendrobium orchids are among the most widely used orchids for leis. They are so exquisite that wearing one is pretty special. They are not fragrant and I personally can't wear it for too long.

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Images by TravelswithCharie

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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Two hours south of Bangkok is the bustling floating market of Damnoen Saduak. Visitors can't wait to get on a small boat to shop along a narrow and short stretch of the khlong (canal) where boats jostle for position and vendors display their offerings to eager buyers.


The most attractive offerings are the fresh fruit, steaming bowls of soup and local delicacies. I watched from the platform as soup was prepared by a vendor in his paddle boat. His sign reads: boiled rice soup, noodle soup, pasta soup at 30 baht per bowl. It was fascinating to watch the steam rising from the pot as he prepared the soup. It smelled so good and I became hungry watching him cook.


This lady is making sticky rice in a rainbow of colors. Mango sticky rice is a dessert staple in Thailand as is the rice black pudding.


This boat is laden with bananas, macopa (mountain apple), guava and young coconut trees, among others.


Leather goods are a hard sell when customers are busy eating.


Stop the boat! These folks need h…