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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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Coffee

Coffee

The Rich History Of Coffee

For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crowned,
the berries crackle and the mill turns round;
On shining altars of Japan they raise
The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze:
From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide,
While China’s earth receives the smoking tide.

- Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock, Canto III (1714)

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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which first beheld them were not yet withdrawn.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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Tears of the Poppy

Tears of the Poppy

Opium, Morphine and Heroin

Opium has been recognised as a narcotic for at least two thousand years. It is thought to have grown wild in the mountains of the eastern Mediterranean from Neolithic times, and was known to both the early Greeks and Romans. It was probably introduced to both China and India by Arab traders about a thousand years ago, and soon came to be widely valued for its medicinal properties. Although it flourished in the cool, nutrient-poor hills of south-west China, it did not become a serious problem until the 18th century when Britain, seeking a way to pay for Chinese tea shipments other than with silver, began exporting opium from India to China on a massive scale. The situation was compounded as both Britain and France established colonies in Southeast Asia during the latter half of the 19th century. In Burma the British first encouraged and then prohibited opium consumption in the Burman heartland, but permitted unrestricted usage in indirectly administered areas such as the Shan States. The French, for their part, encouraged opium cultivation in their Indochinese colonies, making opium a state monopoly. As a consequence opium production, consumption and export boomed in the ‘Golden Triangle’ region, as well as in the neighbouring Chinese province of Yunnan.

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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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Venerating The River Goddess

Venerating The River Goddess

Thailand’s Graceful Loy Krathong Festival

Each year at November 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.

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Doi Chiang Dao

Doi Chiang Dao

Mysterious And Majestic Mountain of Northern Thailand

"The peak of Chieng Dao stands boldly up, 7,160 feet above sea level. It is a very imposing limestone rock, as it springs almost perpendicularly from the plain to a height of six thousand feet." James Macarthy’s description of this eastern outpost of the Upper Tennasserim range, written a hundred years ago, was the first scientific estimation of the height of one of Northern Thailand’s most spectacular formations.

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