As I've said before, this is one of my favourite things to see in Bangkok. This time it was a school trip (To find out about the costs and benefits of tourism, if you're interested.). We were supposed to go to the Grand Palace but it was felt that it would be absolutely rammed (correctly) so this was the substitute.
Although you don't always go exactly where I would have chosen (been here before so somewhere new for preference), it does mean I get to go to some cool places. I didn't even have the hassle of having to organise this one. Nor is it just a jolly, however, please note. There is a proper educational purpose to the trips and you are legally responsible for a bunch of teenagers. So, all the jokes about counting people and nagging about seatbelts do have a purpose. Having said that, it doesn't mean that it isn't a pleasant change either.
These are just a few shots taken with my phone. Their purpose was to back-up the evidence the students were collecting on tourism, but a bunch of photos of scruffy 15 year olds huddled over clip-boards wasn't that exciting to be honest.
These were part of a troop of monkeys. In fact they are Grey Languer Monkeys. The picture above looks like the baby, especially, has been superimposed but that was how it was shot. This baby was allowed to play but Mum (presumably, mum) kept a close eye on it.
On the way back from one of the safaris in Sri Lanka, the driver pulled off the main road and stopped in front of tree that was full, and I do mean full, of sleeping bats.
All hanging upside down as they do on the telly.
And again, but this time a bit closer through the zoom. They are much bigger than I thought they would be.
I feel this should be a longer post because it was an amazing sight but there isn't really much else to say. But it was pretty cool!
We were encouraged by several people to climb up the hill and have a beer at Helga's folly. It is a hotel cum bar high above Kandy. It's a short but steep climb up from the lake side but a nice walk. The eponymous Helga knew lots of famous people and the walls are covered in their pictures and, the whole place in general, with the endless crap that was collected.
The guidebooks very definitely say it's seen better days and it's a bit past its best but worth seeing as you won't find owt else like it.
True! It is one of the strangest places, I think, we have ever visited.
I thought it looked like a VIth Form Common room, when the Ho6 has said: 'Yes, of course you can decorate it so long as you do it all.' A bit gothic and just weird.
This place was really amazing.... AND free!
I think for most people this is a day trip from Kandy but we stopped on the way down from a disappointing few days t'up North. It might have been the weather which was atrocious, or the fact that I constantly felt I was being ripped off and seeing nothing much in return.
This was much better, partly at least because the sun came out. It is a steep climb up to the cave. The guidebooks are a bit sniffy about the huge Buddha at the bottom of the hill. It is huge and it does look plastic. However, once you've climbed up its like nothing else I've seen.
There is a danger of over-egging the pudding but I like eggy puddings. So, therefore here are some more bird shots from Bundala.
This time the pelican. Again, a bird that isn't going to win too many design awards: So much so it looks like it can't possibly actually work effectively.
It got to the point in Bundala where we didn't even bother slowing down for peacocks. They were two-a-penny. In fact, we barely paused for the tail fan-dance, thing. Quite a turnaround as 40 minutes earlier I hadn't ever seen a peacock with its tail up. I have to say it wasn't our decision to drive on but the guides.
This boy put on a bit of a show for us. He was spinning round showing his tail in all its glory. Never did get a glimpse of the hen he was trying to impress though.
I have to say that I absolutely loved this place. It was just 4 hours driving round beautiful scenery and seeing amazing wildlife every few minutes. The only downside was we were expecting to see flocks of flalelamingos and there weren't any.
It was far, far quieter than the next door Yala NP. However, Bandula doesn't have leopards. Which were amazing.... See previous posts. I couldn't say that we had the place to ourselves but you were definitely on your own most of the time. It was muy peaceful! The stillness, the dawn light, the coolness all added up to make this stunning.
I think, probably, that the stars of the day were the painted stalks, although we did see a whole load of amazing stuff... See future posts... these were just lovely and unusual, elegant and gawky. Yeah, I though they were pretty cool
This is one of the iconic sights of Sri Lanka: People fishing from poles stuck out in the sea. The only thing these guys fish for now are tourists.
We managed to haggle them right down in price by walking off (convincingly) and then letting another group pay the full price to view them on the poles and then we chucked a small amount on top. However, I did feel like I was being exploited. Not sure why though. I'd happily pay to watch actors or dancers put on a show. Why shouldn't they earn a living from it? Also, nobody was unpleasant or forced us to pay or was underhand or anything, but still... I think it was because even once people had paid they really looked they would really rather be doing almost anything else.
Also, now I come to think of it I still owe my mate Dean for my share of their fee. Ooops!
In all those years we lived in Brunei, I never saw a single hornbill. This, apparently, is the Malabar pied hornbill. I hadn't realised quite how big they were. I suppose it stands to reason though when you think about the weight on its head it would have to be quite big.
These are supposed to be quite rare sightings in Yala, but we saw at least two.
Warning! There now follows a lot of effort for a fairly poor gag!
The second one was, of course, our last Roler so we didn't share it!
This was really close to us! So much so that it was only as we went past it that he became visible. The jeep was quickly slammed into reverse and back we went, a few metres, and there he was. A feeding wild elephant 3, maybe 4 metres from us.
Just pulling strips of leaves off the trees, standing on them and then using his trunk to strip the leaves from the woody part of the tree and then, again, using his trunk to push them into the great pouch that is his mouth, masticate , repeat.
It was all very careful, deliberate and slow. No one was going to rush this animal unless he decieded a bit of rushing is what you needed.
During our time in Sri Lanka we saw a massive range of wildlife: From blue whales to bee-eaters, peacocks to pelicans and elephants to eagles (and a whole bunch of other stuff too!).
This Crested Hawk Eagle was sat in tree by the side of the road tearing apart whichever poor, unfortunate beastie it had caught for it's tea.
I've broken with tradition and am working backwards through our Sri Lankan adventure, mainly because it just got better and better.
Our penultimate trip was to Bundala National Park, which is amazing. I'd been to Yala before and really liked it, but was loving Bundala... more of which anon. You just couldn't move for cool fauna; I was busy thinking of clever blog topics along the lines of 'don't both with Yala, its busy, just go to Bundala, it's quieter and you see amazing birds and animals. Yes, there are no leopards but, hey!'
The next day we were bouncing around Yala and I was thinking much the same, when we saw a leopard in a tree.... Really, really cool and the cynic in me just died. Well worth going to see.
To see this we joined a huge queue of jeeps and waited for our turn to gawp at it. We were really lucky as, when we got to it, it woke up. Up to this point it looked like a rug drapped in tree. It even turned around so we could see its head. Needless to say, Mrs E. was buzzing about this and really thrilled as she had missed out on this last time because girl child was ill and didn't go on safari.
Excitment over, we carried on driving around the park seeing all kinds of cool things (again more on this in future posts), but they weren't as cool as big cats. However, as we went around a corner in a deserted part of the park we saw this bad boy lying in the road. No one else around just us and him a few metres away.
A week in Singapore and all I saw was the inside of a hotel and a school. On the Friday though after we had finished work I managed a night out with a couple of good friends and then I mooched back to the Marina Bay area in the morning before my flight home.
As they say in Singapore, its the same same but different.
It's been a good while since we were in Singapore and on the face of it, it hasn't changed at all. I is still a clean well ordered society where everything just works. Its easy to mock Singapore and play to the stereotype of it being a bit dull and sanitised, but coming from either Bangkok, or even more so, China then that's just nice.
However, it was strange walking through the business district to think that it used to be the main focus of attention, in terms of a skyline, when now there's all this reclaimed land and huge projects that are the focus.
As you can see this is a Wat best visited at night. It's a long way up a hill overlooking the city. We booked a tour that incorporated a twilight Wat and then on to the main thing , this. The first one was not an umitigated success! I've seen pictures of it during daylight and it looks ace. Lots of half derilict Buddhas to give it a bit of a Lara Croft feel about it. However, one needs light to see things and it is not floodlit at all. Fine! But don't run a tour to somewhere in the dark if it's going to be, er, dark.
This is an amazing temple, well actually a series of temples. I think it's really a monastery rather than a single temple. The one below is only open to males and is truly spectacular. The pictures don't really do justice to the amazing murals on the walls all the way around it.
As the sun goes down, the crowds leave and the lights go on.
This is a restored 14th century Buddhist temple. Its a bit a schlep from the other major temples in the city, but I suppose it depends from where one starts. Anywho, its very, very impressive.
Construction on Wat Phra Singh began in 1345 when King Phayu, the fifth king of the Mangrai dynasty, had a chedi built to house the ashes of his father King Kham Fu. A wihan and several other buildings were added a few years later.
This is one of the traditional crafts that Chiang Mai is famous for.
Although some of the smaller stupas have a touch of the seen better days/jerry built about them, this is one of the more iconic sights/sites of Ayutthaya, with the three stupas all in a row and all still standing.
Built in the 15th century it was the temple complex for the adjacent Royal palace. It once was home to a 16m high seated Buddha. This statue was covered in 143kg of gold but, surprise surprise, it was nicked and melted down by the invading Burmese.
This was getting to be hot work so time for an iced coffee and a cheeky piece of cake!
First morning in Ayutthaya and a (reasonably) early start to avoid the hordes.
This first isn't really a Wat any more but it does have an amazing, pretty massive (42m long) reclining Buddha.
Just over the road from Wat Ratchaburna is, what is probably the most photographed sights in Ayatthaya, Wat Maha That.
Again, it is demi-derelict, well, pretty much totally derelict, actually. I love the huge torso-less Buddha in the picture below.
There are numerous Stupas to wander around and, although this was one of the busier sites it was still not too over crowded despite being there on a bank holiday weekend.
Ayuttaya is an hour away by train from Bangkok and it only cost 80 baht for the 4 of us to get there (Less than 2 quid!). Not each! In total! It cost more to get to the skytrain from our house than from Bangkok to Ayuttaya.
Ayuttaya is the former capital of Siam and, in its pomp was one of the wealthiest cities on the planet. The kingdom that it was the hub of was larger than Britain and France combined. Then, it all went a bit Pete Tong. The Burmese invaded and much that was valuable was carted off to Rangoon or just destroyed. The island that was the centre of the old city is now a series of ruined Wats which make a fantastic day or two of wandering. Having arrived and enjoyed a spot of lunch, it was off to explore. The first surprise was that, for the time being, entrance was free to everything. RESULT! Could be something to do with the death of the King, but whatever the reason, you don't look a g h in the m.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.