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Southeast Asia Travel News

The Southeast Asia Travel Specialists Since 1999

Now you will usually see adjectives such as mysterious or enigmatic preceding the name the Plain of Jars, Laos, with the reason being – since a stone jar in itself is not so mysterious –  that archeologists can’t agree on their date or even their actual purpose so….enigmatic! The stone jars – up to 2m tall and carved out of…

From Mumbai/Bombay to Beijing/Peking, cities, and other geographical features for that matter, are rushing to shed their colonial era names and adopt what we’re led to believe are traditional, pre-colonial versions before oppressive imperialists forced the suffering locals to spell Melaka with an A and two Cs. Yes it can a bit of a goldmine for those of a cynical…

Whilst Tai groups had probably been gradually infiltrating southwards into what is now northern Vietnam, Laos and Thailand for several centuries from their homeland in Southern China the process was hastened during the late 12th and 13th centuries as the Mongol armies under Genghis Khan & Kublai Khan also extended their empire southwards. Ethnic Tai clans and tribes who would…

The Royal Enclosure is  a walled-off area slightly to the north and west of the centre of Angkor Tom and which housed the palace complex of the Angkor kings. The palace itself was constructed of wood so nothing remains except for said surrounding walls which were constructed out of laterite, the sandstone-clad entrance gopuras and some stone lined bathing pools. …

Small but well preserved brick and sandstone Hindu temple complex dating from the 11th century,  lying just east of Surin Town. (The exact reign is unknown but Suryavarman I, or Udayadityavarman II look like good suspects.) The ‘quincunx’ layout of 4 towers surrounding a central tower on a square laterite base is common in Cambodia but unique in Thailand and…

Little do most people realise when they’re whizzing along in their bright blue bus that many important routes in Thailand’s impressive 21st century road network follow the traces of, and are built over the top of, ancient roads dating from the Angkor period. (As for example with England’s road infrastructure and the Romans.) The extensive Angkor road network covered not…

Phnom Bahkeng Temple, Angkor, Cambodia… “Though the identity of Phnom Bahkeng is today firmly established, the place hardly gets the respect it deserves…..Late every afternoon, just before sunset, crowds troop up the hill, on foot or by elephant at 20 dollars a ride. Then they climb the temple’s steps to the plaza-like upper tier, which becomes as jammed as the…

Although he seems to have been on the throne for a fair while, very little is actually known about Jayarvarman III – so certainly one of Angkor’s most obscure rulers but not necessarily the lightweight he’s often portrayed to be. Son of J II, born in Hariharalaya as Jayavardhana – that much is known. Dates for his father’s death vary…

………..and oddly enough my 5 yr old’s favourite Angkor temple!? We were ready to go back to Siem Reap for a cold one whilst she was still taking ‘just one more photo’. Not quite sure why she liked the rarely visited Chau Srei Vibol so much – maybe all the trees and the hilly terrain though even at her age…

Whilst the ‘main’ temples at Angkor are now relatively well looked after there are still thousands of smaller, less known sites that dot the Cambodian countryside from the suburbs of Phnom Penh to the Lao border, north to the Dandrek Escarpment and south to the cave temples of Kampot. This French site records details of a survey undergone with the…

The ruins of the so-called ‘haunted casino at Bokor, nr. Kampot in Southern Cambodia. Certainly looks creepy enough! (Apparently heavy losers at the casino frequently threw themselves off the conveniently placed adjacent clifftop!). Bokor Town, perched high on Bokor Mountain overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, was set up as cool, breezy kind of hill-station-come-resort for hot & sweaty French colonists…

One of the lovingly restored old buildings in Georgetown’s Chinatown. As well as the extensive Chinatown area, which incorporates Little India, there’s plenty of Victorian era British colonial buildings such as the old Penang Town hall, Fort Cornwallis, St George’s Church, Penang Museum etc as well as the fascinating old Chinese clan jetties along the east shore of Georgetown.

Jayarvarman IV – c. 921/928 to 941/942 Jayarvarman the 4th – not usually considered one of Cambodia’s most revered rulers; trashed Angkor, moved the capital into the back of beyond, did away with several of his relatives, upset the palace clique but is his bad press justified? He’d declared himself ruler of the Khmer empire sometime round 921 whilst Harshavarman I,…

The slightly underwhelming ruins of Kapilapura at Angkor -probably the least visited, least known of any temple that actually appears on most maps of the Angkor Temples. Just look slightly above and to the right, (N.E.), of Angkor Wat on any standard map and you’ll see a small spot marked Kapilapura. What’s interesting about it though, apart from being able…

After a drive along the much improved road from Laos’s Muang Khua to the Vietnamese border, Wi’s gallant group have now arrived in the remote outpost of Dien Bien Phu. Anyone knowledgeable of recent history may have heard of Dien Bien Phu since it was the site of a famous, and historically very significant battle, (see Wikipedia article),  in 1954…

Well apologies to Wi who is actually leading a Northern Laos and Vietnam tour – ‘Unexplored – the Far North‘ rather than the North Thai, ‘Hills of Mae Salong‘, as I stated yesterday, but since she’s the tour-leader and she knows where she’s going that’s the important thing!  (I’ll just get back to de-worming Charlie, (the dog), and watching Spongebob…

Rajendravarman II c. 944 to 968 Even King Rajendravarman’s title itself is still a matter of debate, with historians opting for either Rajendravarman I or Rajendravarman II depending on their acceptance, or otherwise, of a Rajendravarman the 1st from Sambapura, purported to have been ruling in the Angkor area during the latter half of the 8th c. Since this does…