After Ice Asian Trip 2008


Advertisement
Thailand's flag
Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok
October 17th 2008
Published: October 17th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
My first lay-over after spending five months in Antarctica is in the beautiful city of Christchurch New Zealand. During the next several days I strolled thru-out the Botanic Gardens.
Bordered by the graceful Avon River, the Botanic Gardens truly reflects Christchurch's reputation as the garden city. Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English Oak tree, It boasts the finest single collection of exotic and indigenous plants in New Zealand, with spectacular year-round displays and more than 30 hectares of walking tracks, majestic trees, sweeping lawns, feature gardens, conservatories and woodland areas. Specimens are well labeled and sure to delight even the most reluctant gardener.
A loop of the gently-flowing Avon River, criss-crossed by bridges, encloses a large part of the Gardens while the adjacent 164 hectare Hagley Park enhances its natural splendour. Admission is free.

My second layover is in Auckland, New Zealand. I had another three wonderful days here, and participated on every free tour of the city and surrounding area I could sign up for. New Zealand is considered the adrenalin capital of the world. Once one signs the waver, there is no going back, no suing for damages or injuries. One of New Zealand’s major
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
attractions for adrenalin junkies is the leap of Auckland’s famous Sky Tower - 192 metres straight down!
SkyJump is one of New Zealand's most thrilling tourist attractions and one of Auckland City’s 'don’t miss!” experiences. SkyJump can be described as Base Jumping while attached to a wire - just like a movie stuntman. You’ll fall very fast (approximately 85kph) for around 11 seconds, and then come to a very smooth landing in the plaza below.
Auckland is New Zealand's largest urban area with a population of just over a million people. It is not, however, the capital, although it was at one time, until the capital moved to Wellington. Auckland is the centre of commerce and industry, and is perhaps the most vibrant, bustling and multicultural city in New Zealand. Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world, and this cultural influence is reflected in many different aspects of city life.
The city's landscape is dominated by volcanic hills, the twin harbors, bays, beaches and islands. Its nickname 'the city of sails' is very apt. Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Auckland is dotted with volcanic hills, many of which were once the
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
site of Maori pas, or fortified villages, and which currently afford great views of the city. Auckland lies between the Waitemata and Manukau harbors, and its geography is such that glistening waters seem to beckon from every point. It is a water lover's paradise, with some of the best beaches, swimming, diving, fishing, sailing, windsurfing and water sports in the country.

Singapore - The first major stop on my Asian trip. Three days of Relaxaction and warmth before I traveled deeper into Asia.
From the opium dens of the past to the hi-tech wizardry of today.
Singapore has traded in its rough-and-ready opium dens and pearl luggers for towers of concrete and glass, and its steamy rickshaw image for cool efficiency and spotless streets, but you can still recapture the colonial era with a Singapore Sling under the languorous ceiling fans at Raffles Hotel.
At first glance, Singapore appears shockingly modern and anonymous, but this is an undeniably Asian city where Chinese, Malay and Indian traditions from feng shui to ancestor worship create part of the everyday landscape - colourful contrasts that bring the city to life.
Pre-20th-Century History
According to ancient Malay legend, a Sumatran prince encountered a
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
lion - considered a good omen - on Temasek, prompting him to found Singapura, or the 'Lion City'. It mattered little that lions had never inhabited Singapore (more likely he saw a tiger); what did matter was the establishment of the region as a minor trading post for the powerful Sumatran Srivijaya empire and subsequently as a vassal state of the Javanese Majapahit empire in the mid-13th century.
Singapore might have remained a quiet backwater if not for Sir Stamford Raffles' intervention in 1819. The British had first established a presence in the Straits of Melaka (now called Malacca) in the 18th century, when the East India Company set out to secure and protect its line of trade from China to the colonies in India. Fearing another resurgence of expansionism by the Dutch - which had been the dominant European trading power in the region for nearly 200 years - Raffles argued for an increased British presence, which he was promptly given. Under his tutelage, Singapore's forlorn reputation as a fetid, disease-ridden colony was soon forgotten. Migrants, attracted by a tariff-free port, poured in by the thousands, and a flourishing colony with a military and naval base was established.
Modern
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
History
Singapore's inexorable growth continued into the 20th century. However, the outbreak of WWII brutally exposed the fallacy of British might: they suffered the ignominy of defeat when Japan invaded the colony in 1941. The British were welcomed back after Japan's surrender in 1945, but their right to rule was no longer assured.
By the 1950s, burgeoning nationalism had led to the formation of a number of political parties as Singapore moved slowly towards self-government. The People's Action Party, with the Cambridge-educated Lee Kuan Yew as leader, was elected in 1959. Lee became prime minister, a position he was to hold for the next 31 years. In 1963, Singapore formed a union with Malaya (now Malaysia) but, by 1965, the nascent federation was in tatters. Singapore became independent soon after and was once again the economic success story of the region. Shrewd and pathologically pragmatic, Lee fashioned a government heavy on strict social order and the suppression of political opposition.
Lee Kuan Yew resigned as prime minister in 1990 and was replaced by Goh Chok Tong, a leader more inclined towards consultation and liberalism. The country's first presidential election was held in August 1993 - prior to that, presidents were
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
elected by members of parliament. In 2004, Lee Kuan Yew's son, Lee Hsien Loong, took over as prime minister, with Goh Chok Tong assuming the new role of Senior Minister and Lee Kuan Yew becoming Minister Mentor.
Recent History
Economically, the Southeast Asian region's late-'90s downturn (a euphemism if ever there was one) hit Singapore as hard as anywhere else - in one three-month period in late 1998, unemployment doubled. The city-state is slowly bouncing back, however, and on the street things are lively as ever, though the exodus of well-trained professionals seeking glittering international opportunities is a growing concern.

My fourth stop on my Asian trip is in the city of Bangkok, Thailand. I spent three days in the city on my way to Cambodia and another three days before I flew back to the United States in March 2008.
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and by far its largest city with an estimated population of over 11 million. Bangkok is one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities. Created as the Thai capital in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, Bangkok is a national treasure house and Thailand’s spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
diplomatic centre.
Bangkok exceeds 1,500 square kilometers in area and is home to more than one-tenth of the country's population. Major tourist attractions include glittering Buddhist temples, palaces, timeless “Venice of the East” canal and river scenes, classical dance extravaganzas, and numerous shopping centers.
Just under 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveler-friendly cities in Asia. A furious assault on the senses, visitors are immediately confronted by the heat, the pollution and the irrepresible smile that accompanies all Thais. Despite the sensationalized international news reports and first impressions, the city is surprisingly safe and more organized than it initially appears, and full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The high relative humidity and warm temperature favor the growth of tropical plants — you'll find exotic orchids and delicious fruit everywhere. Bougainvillea and frangipani bloom practically everywhere. Thai cuisine is justifiably famous, varied, and affordable. Bangkok for many, represents the quintessential Asian capital. Saffron-robed monks, garish neon signs, graceful Thai architecture, spicy dishes, colourful markets, traffic jams, and the tropical climate come together in a happy coincidence. It is difficult to leave with lukewarm impressions of the city.
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

There are many ways to get around in Bangkok. Those of us who are addicted to driving in our own vehicles may experience severe culture shock when hiring a car to drive in Bangkok for the first time. Nerves of steel are not mandatory, but are highly advisable.
Many people simply cannot cope with the constant deluge of motorcycles, weaving precariously in and out of everything at breakneck speed. Not to mention the taxi cabs which are notorious for their unpredictable and sudden stops and starts, without benefit of mirrors or indicators. Add to that mix many multi-coloured coaches, smoke belching buses, and heavy goods trucks, and you have some idea of what to expect.
To get a real feel of Bangkok, take a city bus. There are many routes and the network covers the city. You have the option of selecting a bus with or without air conditioning. To summarise your options with regard to travel by bus, the green ones are privately operated and often completely full. The red bus (often blue and white too) are government operated. Buses which offer AC are cream/blue and orange.
And no article about getting around in Bangkok is complete without mention
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

The KZ1 yacht was a 1988 America's Cup challenger from New Zealand. KZ1, designed by Bruce Farr, was skippered by David Barnes along with a crew of 40 from the Mercury Bay Boating Club in Whitianga. The KZ1 was given the nickname of the Big Boat or Big Beauty by financial backer, Sir Michael Fay. Many saw the size and wide deck gave the boat a nick-name of The aircraft carrier. KZ1 prompted American skipper Dennis Conner to build a catamaran Stars & Stripes (US-1). Conner won the challenge, but most of the battle was fought in court. The KZ1 is now on display near the maritime museum in Auckland.
of the distinctive “tuk-tuk” or three wheeled covered motor-cycles. These are fun, but beware, try to avoid being stuck in a traffic jam in one, as breathing in belching exhaust fumes is not recommended.
Believe it or not, getting around Bangkok is also possible by boat. The Chao Phraya river is navigated by a couple of types of boats including the Chao Phraya Express, which runs from Wat Rajsingkorn to Nonthaburi and costs a mere 10 bt. This route will include many of the most popular tourist attractions such as the Grand Palace.
Yet another water option are the canal boats. Always faster than cars, these canal (khlong) services are inexpensive. Take care boarding and disembarking as they tend to take off really fast.
Then there are taxi motor-cycles. The drivers wear orange or green sleeveless jackets. They tend to congregate in sois (side streets). A ride should be no more than 25 bt and sometimes the convenience of being able to weave in and out of traffic snarl-ups negates the extra risk you are taking by using this form of transport.

My main reason for visiting Asia this year was to visit the temples of Angkor.
In 2007
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

General characteristics Crew: 30 to 40 Length (overall): 36.57 m (120 ft) Length (waterline): 27.43 m (90 ft) Beam: 8.07 m (26 ft 6 in) Draft: 6.40 m (21 ft) Sail area (upwind): 627 m² (6749 ft²) Sail area (downwind): 1,600 m² (17,300 ft²) Mast height: 46.78 m (153 ft 6 in) Displacement: 39 tons Hull material: Carbon fiber, Kevlar/Nomex sandwich Rating: Free, 90-foot LOA
an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world with an urban sprawl of 3000 square kilometres. The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres in total size. Angkor could have supported a population of up to one million people.
If you've read anything at all about Angkor Wat, you'll probably know at least three things: Angkor is one of the most beautiful and suggestive place on the planet, the Angkor Wat Temples area is much bigger than the Angkor Temple alone, and last, nothing is homogeneous, being the temples built in different times, during a four centuries process.

Angkor Wat
This temple is 1,5 km² x 1,3km and built by Suryavarman ІІ and is considered the biggest Asian pyramid. It is 65m high and divided in several layers. The central part has on the four corners four towers in the shape of a lotus flower. This temple is the largest and most breathtaking temple of the whole complex. The most famous decorations of Angkor are the heavenly nymphs (Apsara), there are more
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBD, Auckland City, New Zealand. It is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast,[1] making it the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and the 12th tallest member of the World Federation of Great Towers.[2] Due to its shape and height, especially when compared to the next tallest buildings, it has become an iconic Auckland structure, often used in logos and promotions
of 300, each one is unique and in total we can group them in 30 different styles. The central temple complex is an 800 meters long bas-reliefs, includes the Battle of Kurukshetra, the Army of Suryavarman II, Heaven and Hell, Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Elephant Gate, Vishnu Conquers the Demons, Khrisna and the demon King, Battle of the Gods and the Demons and the Battle of Lanka.

The Bayon
Built by Jayavarman VII the temple stands in the center of Angkor Thom. With its 54 towers and 216 faces of Avalokiteshvara, this temple looks best in the morning just after sunrise or at the end of the afternoon as the sun shines on the faces. Its magic is does not appear from a distance, it looks more like a pile of stones. But coming close to the temple the faces start to appear and reveal its magic on you. The temple was built on 3 levels:the first 2 are rectangular, while the 3rd is circular. The Bayon has over 1.3 Km of bas-reliefs corresponding to more than 11.000 figures. Most of them depict every day's life scene of the Cambodia in the XII century. Inside the Bayon,
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Maunga-whau Mt Eden is one of Auckland's most famous landmarks. As the highest volcano on the Auckland isthmus it provides good views over the city and the Waitemata Harbour. Close to the centre of the city, Mt Eden is a constant reminder that Auckland is situated on a potentially active volcanic field.
we suggest you to visit The Cams of the Run, Linga worship, A Naval Battle, The Chams vanquished, a Military Procession, Civil War, The All-Seing King, Victory Parade, The Circus comes to Town, land of Plenty, The Chams retreat, The Chams Sack Angkor and the Chams Enter Angkor.

Ta Prohm
Still covered by the jungle this place is exactly left as they found it. The Ta Prohm is not only a possibility to imagine how the whole temple complex looked like when re-discovered in XIX century The trees swallowed the temple and nature takes back its space, and it has been left like this. Don't miss this astonishing mix of nature vs humans. The charm of this temple is, you don't know where (or when) the nature finish and the human work starts or vice versa. Amazing!

Elephant Terrace
A 350 m long terrace of elephants. It was used as a giant viewing stand during public ceremonies, royal ceremonies and so on. Many lions decorate this enormous path. Now it's surrounded by the green and very relaxing, but try and close your eyes, imagine thousands of peoples on it, then the army, the king,the music, the dance. Daydreamers
New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

Tour bus runs on cooking oil A New Zealand adventure tour company is claiming a world first with a bus that runs on used cooking oil.
will have tough time to leave this place.






Additional photos below
Photos: 342, Displayed: 31


Advertisement

New ZealandNew Zealand
New Zealand

Stray, a "hop-on-hop-off" bus network aimed at the backpacker market, has launched the bus to produce cleaner emissions and significant savings on running costs.
New ZealandNew Zealand
New Zealand

The upper portion of the tower contains two restaurant levels (one, 'Orbit' with revolving seating, turning 360 degrees once every hour ) and one cafe level, as well as two observation decks (including some with sections of glass floor). The tower attracts, on average, 1,450 visitors per day (over 500,000 per year).
New ZealandNew Zealand
New Zealand

Jumpstart your Kiwi adventure by leaping 192m (630ft) from Auckland's spectacular Sky Tower. This OSH approved device means jumpers can "base-jump by wire" falling for approximately 16 seconds at around 75kph. Unlike bungy, Skyjump participants do not hang upside down or bounce around.
New ZealandNew Zealand
New Zealand

Free flowing water fountain-Auckland.
New ZealandNew Zealand
New Zealand

Auckland Cityscape
SingaporeSingapore
Singapore

Prior to European settlement, the island now known as Singapore was the site of a Malay fishing village at the mouth of the Singapore River. Several hundred indigenous Orang Laut people also lived along the nearby coast, rivers and on smaller islands. In 1819 the British East India Company established a trading post on the island, which was used thereafter as a strategic trading post along the spice route.
SingaporeSingapore
Singapore

Singapore would become one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire, and the hub of British power in Southeast Asia. The city was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, which Winston Churchill called "Britain's greatest defeat". Singapore reverted to British rule immediately postwar, in 1945. Eighteen years later the city, having achieved independence from Britain, merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. However, less than two years later it seceded from the federation and became an independent republic on 9 August 1965. Singapore joined the United Nations on 21 September that same year. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
SingaporeSingapore
Singapore

Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has been on the rise. Foreign direct investment and a state-led drive to industrialisation based on plans drawn up by the Dutch economist Albert Winsemius have created a modern economy focused on electronics manufacturing, petrochemicals, tourism and financial services alongside traditional entrepôt trade.[citation needed] Singapore is the 8th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. This small nation has foreign exchange reserves of more than US$177 billion.


Tot: 0.152s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 8; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0331s; 24; m:apollo w:www (50.28.60.10); sld: 3; ; mem: 6.4mb