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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…

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…

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…

Paris in Autumn 2018

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Remember the song, I love Paris? 
“I love Paris in the springtime
I love Paris in the fall I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles I love Paris every moment Every moment of the year.”

Found myself in Paris in early November with someone who has never been to Paris. How wonderful it is to see Paris from fresh eyes. I had so much to show her but since she only had 36 hours in town, it was a short and sweet visit. She wanted to see the Tour Eiffel, first and foremost, so we went up to La Terrasse at Galeries Lafayette Haussman for her first glimpse of the tower.
And lucky for us, the much awaited Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette was up. This year the tree is right side up. Last year's tree was candy themed and was upside down. At the Lafayette Café on the sixth floor, a window seat affords views of the Tour Eiffel and the back of the Opera Garnier. This is a good spot for scanning the Parisian skyline while indulging on a piece of cake.
Guest…

Finding the relics of St. Nick in Bari

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While searching for the best base for travels in Puglia, I came across Bari, a major city bordering the Adriatic Sea with convenient train connections to Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni and Matera in Basilicata. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there to learn that Bari is a destination on its own, with its fortified old town, a Norman castle, a promenade by the sea, a bustling shopping and business district and a variety of restaurants. Bari has also been a pilgrimage destination since the 11th century when the relics of St. Nicholas were brought to Bari from Myra, an ancient Greek town in Lycia (now Antalya Province of Turkey). St. Nick was known for his generosity and gift giving. Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas evolved into Santa Claus. His feast day is celebrated on December 6th. 

Cobble stone passages with religious shrines on every corner greet visitors to the old town.


The narrow alleys of the old historic center are for motorbikes and walking to better appreciate the wrou…

When to go to Malumpati Cold Spring

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There are so many exceptional beaches and swimming holes in and around Panay Island but I had never been to Malumpati Cold Spring in Antique. After checking out the attractions of Jawili in Aklan, we drove to Pandan which is a short distance from the border of Aklan province.
Everyone had the same idea as we did. Malumpati was insanely crowded. Summer break was well on its way and families were in the know where to cool down. Who can resist turquoise waters on a sweltering day?
I was naive to expect tranquil surroundings. I did find a little piece of heaven on the other side of the bridge that is enveloped by overgrown trees with hints of caves and my mind's idea of an idyllic day by the water. But it is not accessible to the public. Summer is not the best time to visit Malumpati nor weekends. I'll go back another day. Make that a weekday.

There's a minimal entrance fee to Malumpati Cold Spring. We paid 50 pesos for parking. There are people at the parking lot who say they…

Kiss my Turku

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Nothing can truly describe the wonder of seeing the Art Chapel for the first time. I was at once drawn to the blinding light at the end of the proverbial tunnel as soon as I entered the chapel. But rather than walk up to the altar, I opted to sit awhile on one of the plain pine pews to slowly take it all in and savor the peace and beauty of my surroundings. I enjoyed precious few minutes of blissful contemplation (as I was the only visitor then) until a couple arrived and the missus asked me to remove my handbag from the bench so she could take a perfect photo of the Chapel. :( 

The architect, Matti Sanaksenaho, wanted to incorporate three symbols in his design. One of them is light, in this case, the idea of "the path from darkness to light". The visitor emerges from the shadows at the entrance and is led toward the light at the altar under exquisitely arched Finnish timber.

The model for the design of the Art Chapel was a block of wood inspired by a fish which the architect…