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Yangon’s circular railway – 50 cents for a three-hour ride

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If you’re in Yangon, Myanmar and you have three hours to spare, take a ride on the circle train. This slow, rickety train goes around the city and stops at 39 small railway stations along the way. The whole loop is about 46 km long and will take approximately three hours to complete.

At every station, people get on and off and vendors sell their wares. It’s a whirlwind of colors, sounds and smells. As the train pulls out, different neighborhoods, villages, rice fields and pastures drift by. It never gets boring. And the whole trip doesn’t cost more than 50 cents.

But go quickly. Rumor has it that the circle train will be modernized. That may be good for commuters and for progress, but Yangon would lose a truly unique and wonderful attraction.

Written by Thorsten

February 24, 2016 at 9:02 am

At Bangkok’s Temple of the Coffin

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Only a few steps from the sinful streets of Patpong in downtown Bangkok lies Wat Hua Lamphong. It’s known as the temple of the coffin.

Visitors to Hua Lamphong temple can earn merit by giving donations to sponsor coffins for the poor and homeless. The temple mixes Thai, Chinese and Indian rites. There are Buddhist shrines, you can pray through the joss sticks at a Chinese looking altar, and there’s a shrine to Ganesha, the Indian Elephant god.

The temple is also home to about a dozen cows and a cow shrine. People visiting the shrine write down a prayer and pray in front of an ornately decorated statue of two cows right next to the cow pen. Then the faithful buy some food for the cows and feed them. But even though the cows seem to lead a very privileged and sweet life at the temple, at least one source says that they’re only there to be sacrificed some time in the future.

Written by Thorsten

June 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Central Embassy Mall in Bangkok

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Gucci, Prada and Paul Smith – they’re all at Bangkok’s newest luxury mall ‘Central Embassy‘. It opened on May 9, 2014 on Ploenchit Road – within walking distance to at least three similar high-class shopping malls. Though I’m not sure who needs yet another mall with stores for the super rich, the architecture is fascinating.

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Most of these pictures were taken simply looking up at the seven floors of the shopping center in its atriums. All in all, the space is vast – and that’s probably the biggest luxury in a crowded city like Bangkok.

And since Central Embassy isn’t a mall where they just play muzak, there were even some flautists and a string quartet taking care of the entertainment the day I was there.

Written by Thorsten

May 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Myanmar impressions

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I love South-East Asia and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively in this part of the world. But nothing prepared me for the splendors of Myanmar. I was totally amazed when I visited there earlier this year: wonderful people, beautiful landscapes and stunning pagodas.

Written by Thorsten

May 17, 2013 at 7:29 am

Posted in asia, travel

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Visiting Kuala Lumpur’s Chinese and Indian districts

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I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last month and strolled around the city’s Chinese and Indian quarters. Even though I’d been to KL before, I’d never been to some of the streets and temples I stumbled upon this time.

I visited the Hindu temple Sri Mahamariamman, for example. Amazingly colorful. A feast for the eye. The Chinese shrines were somewhat more serene. Strong smell of incense.

All of these places of worship, as well as the streets of Chinatown and Little India were amazing. An exotic mix of smells and sounds. Strange and wonderful to the Western eye.

Strolling through these multi-cultural streets of Kuala Lumpur, you understand the truth in Malaysia’s old tourism slogan: Malaysia, truly Asia.

Music: Last Affair & Gita Lulin Maung Ko Ko with his Studio Ensemble featuring Yadana Oou – Zega Wa (UKoKo) (Film Music 1978 “Popa Phuza”)

Written by Thorsten

October 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Wat Pho through my eyes

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Wat Pho is one of the most-visited temples in Bangkok and it’s one of the most photographed. So when I returned to the temple last weekend, I deliberately tried to stay clear of the crowds as far as that was possible and explored some of the quieter corners of the complex.

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Written by Thorsten

August 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thailand’s dusty treasures

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I like going to museums. But Thailand’s National Museum in Bangkok is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s like one of those fairy tale places that have fallen under a spell and are asleep for a hundred years.

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The museum is housed in a number of former palace building, but also comprises a Buddhist pagoda and some “newer” buildings from the 1960’s.

The strange thing is that hardly anyone in Bangkok seems to be aware of the National Museum. My taxi driver didn’t even know where it was and had to ask for directions on the way.

The museum is a very quiet place. Fallen out of time. There were hardly any other visitors at the museum the Sunday I was there. Almost the only life you saw were middle-aged Thai ladies placed in every exhibition room as museum guards – more softly snoozing than supervising the visitors.

The museum’s collection is eclectic. Everything from golden Buddhas to royal porcelain and a shell collection. From doll houses to the royal funeral chariots and a collection of shadow puppets.

All exhibits all seem a little dusty, like someone put the together fifty years ago and then forgot about them. But all in all very charming and just the place to go if you’re looking for a little quiet time in Bangkok.

Written by Thorsten

December 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Posted in asia, this and that, travel

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