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Loy Krathong In Laos

Loy Krathong In Laos

Reasserting a Tai Cultural Heritage

Every November at full moon people gather by stretches of open water throughout Thailand to celebrate Loy Krathong. Small but elaborate lotus-shaped creations bearing traditional offerings of flowers, incense, candles and a coin are floated in countless numbers on streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and even the open sea to reverence and pay homage to Mae Khongkha, the goddess of rivers and waters. Each tiny float also carries with it the dreams and aspirations of the sender.

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A Season In Mae Hong Son

A Season In Mae Hong Son

Thailand’s "Valley Beyond The Clouds"

Nowadays it may be difficult to believe, but Siamese officials once dreaded being sent to work in Mae Hong Son, the Kingdom’s most distant - and until recently most inaccessible - province. On consideration, however, past fears of being sent to "Thailand’s Siberia" are easier to understand. Hidden in a long and narrow valley several mountain ranges beyond Chiang Mai, the region had few attractions and numerous afflictions - endemic malaria, banditry and a plethora of troublesome spirits, to name but a few.

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Pondicherry

Pondicherry

Where India Meets France

For most people, images of European imperialism in South Asia are inextricably bound up with the poetry of Kipling and the pomp of the British Raj. Yet few people, by contrast, are familiar with the former French Indian Territories, administered from the sleepy colonial enclave of Pondicherry until their return to India in 1954.

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Thailand’s Tempting Regional Cuisines

Thailand’s Tempting Regional Cuisines

Central Thai Food is Justly Celebrated World-Wide - But The Kingdom’s Less Well-Known Regional Cuisines Are Equally Delicious!

Just thirty years ago Thai cuisine was relatively unknown beyond the frontiers of the Kingdom and a few small ethnic enclaves, such as the Thai district of Los Angeles. The past two decades have seen a dramatic change, with Thai restaurants springing up all over the world, from Paris to Sydney, Seoul to Johannesburg. Thai has become the ‘in’ cuisine, as much on account of its healthy, low cholesterol and low fat content as for its spicy taste and elegant presentation.

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Sigiriya

Sigiriya

The "Cloud Maidens" Of Sigiriya

"Sweet girl, standing on the mountain, your teeth are like jewels, lighting the lotus of your eyes.

Talk to me gently of your heart…

Who is not happy when he sees those rosy palms, rounded shoulders, gold necklaces, copper-hued lips and long, long eyes." - Graffito, Sigiriya Mirror Wall, c. 800 AD

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Khajuraho

Khajuraho

Khajuraho: A Celebration Of Cosmic Union

In 1839 Captain T.S. Burt of the Royal Bengal Engineers published in the pages of the prestigious Journal of the Asiatic Society an account of his discovery of an overgrown and abandoned Hindu temple complex in central India. The good captain, writing in the restrained style of the early Victorian era, noted that:

"I found in the ruins of Khajrao seven large diwallas, or Hindoo temples, most beautifully and exquisitely carved as to workmanship, but the sculptor had at times allowed his subject to grow rather warmer than there was any absolute necessity for his doing; indeed, some of the sculptures here were extremely indecent and offensive..."

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Sublime Petra

Sublime Petra

Rose-Red Caravan City Of Ancient Jordan

Not virgin white - like that old Doric shrine
where once Athena held her rights divine,
but rosy-red - as if the blush of dawn
which first beheld them were not yet withdrawn.
The hues of youth on a brow of woe
Which men called old two thousand years ago!
Match me such marvel, save in eastern clime;
a rose-red city - "Half as old as Time!"

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Socialist Realism In Laos

Socialist Realism In Laos

Final Frontier for Socialist Realism

Languid, land-locked Laos, "last frontier" of the cold war, innocent victim of meddlesome neighbours and predatory super-powers, is an unlikely setting for the imperial twilight of an essentially European art form. And yet, here by the banks of the mighty Mekong and there by the stone-age burial urns of the Plain of Jars, long after its demise in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the school of art known as ’Socialist Realism’ is on its last Laotian legs.

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