Bayon Temples Cambodia – 216 smiling faces

Bayon temples – 216 gigantic faces

Welcome to the Bayon, built end of the 12th Century. The Bayon temples feature 216 faces, a nearly surreal masterpiece unlike any I’d ever seen. Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Bayon temples, along with Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, are easily the best 1-2 day trip you can take in southeast Asia. Here’s a 29 photo tour:

Reflections of Bayon in Angkor Thom
Reflections of Bayon in Angkor Thom. Brilliant photo by Mike Behnken
Bayon temples in the Angkor Thom area of Siem Reap, Cambodia near Angkor Wat
it’s 90-degrees fahrenheit, but I kept reading about killer mosquitos. They said it’s crucial to get vaccinated, and cover yourself from head to toe.

Who are the faces of?  They Bayon faces are said represent Lokeshvara, a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions, or even the king himself. Here’s the explanation:

Initially the faces were believed to represent Brahma, the Hindu God of creation depicted with four heads. When it was later established that the Bayon was not a Hindu temple but a Buddhist one, archeologists believed the faces to be of Lokeshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. The similarity of statues of Jayavarman VII and the face towers had led some to believe that it is the King himself whose face is depicted on the towers.

Amazing Angkor Wat in Photos

35 photo tour of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temples

Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive sites in the world, and was immediately a highlight of my southeast Asia trip. The temples are breathtaking!  While you need to visit them in Cambodia to appreciate it, below is a photo tour of the experience.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat at sunrise. This brilliant photo is from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs

Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, in Cambodia. Along with Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm, Angkor might be best two-day trip you can take in all of Asia.

Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat was built by the vanished Khmer empire. It was constructed during the reign of King Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1113 to at least 1145.

the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
photo by JonJon Pascua
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
The Library at Angkor Wat.
The Library at Angkor Wat. Photo from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat entrance - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
Count the arms...VERY powerful!
Count the arms…VERY powerful!

Scholars say the temples of Angkor Wat were built for funerary purposes, since its bas-reliefs are meant to be viewed anti-clockwise, a direction that was associated with death in the Khmer empire. This is Angkor’s only temple with tombs, despite the “Tomb Raider” movie being shot at nearby Ta Prohm, where there’s no tombs.

England vs UK vs Great Britain

England vs UK vs Great Britain – are these the same?

Do England, the United Kingdom, and Great Britain, all refer to the same place?  What’s the difference between England vs UK vs Great Britain, and what’s included in each? Is Scotland a country?  Here’s the answer in a 5-minute video that breaks these down. I’ve also highlighted some quick answers below that. You’ll understand your initial question in the first 30-seconds, but this clip does a great job with the natural follow-up questions.

For example, why is the Queen is on Canadian currency? Where do Belize and the Cayman Islands fit in?  Enjoy!

England vs UK vs Great Britain

Here’s a quick breakdown:

England contains about 80% of the population of the UK.

Great Britain includes England, Wales and Scotland. Great Britain is a geographical term referring to the island on which the greater parts of England, Wales and Scotland are situated. GB is also a legal one referring to those three territories considered together. Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, which is most of the UK but not all.

Swimming in Shark Infested Waters

Whitetip Reef Shark SCUBA Diving

I went swimming in shark-infested waters – and lived to tell about it!

This is from Sipadan, in Semporna Archipelago, in Malaysian Borneo. It was an incredible diving experience, and easily my favorite SCUBA dive site yet!

Whitetip Reef shark - notice the white on the tip of his fin.
Whitetip Reef Sharks get their name from the tips of their fin – see the dorsal fin in this photo. I was this close in Borneo!

Aren’t sharks dangerous?? This is the most common question I get when people hear my excitement about swimming with sharks.  The short answer: No. We’ve all seen the movie Jaws, but not all sharks are the same. The overwhelming majority of sharks are not dangerous (unless provoked).  These were reef sharks – people commonly refer to them as “vegetarian” sharks! Whitetip Reef sharks are curious and will swim right up to you, but aren’t often aggressive unless provoked.

Are there dangerous sharks in Borneo?  The places where I went were safe when diving safely.  Sipadan and the Semporna Archipelago also has a reputation for having Hammer Head Sharks, but the divers I met said they hadn’t seen them in a long time.

Sharks, Sea Turtles, Barracudas, & more!

SCUBA Diving in Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago in Malaysian Borneo — It was my first time swimming with sharks – they were everywhere, and didn’t seem to care much about us swimming a few feet away. Sipadan dive photos below, including sharks, sea turtles, harlequin sweetlips, school of jackfish, surgeonfish, purple antihas, big eye emperors, yellow mask angelfish, triggerfish, butterfly fish, parrotfish, unicorn fish, and more!

Whitetip Reef Shark
surprise visitors during our dive – sharks!

school of Jackfish

1st underwater SCUBA Diving photo of me
1st underwater SCUBA Diving photo of me

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Harlequinn Sweetlips

A graceful Sea Turtle swims next to us during our SCUBA dive

A graceful Sea Turtle swims next to us during our SCUBA dive

(Press SL for Slideshow, FS for Full Screen):

Hong Kong architecture photography

Incredible Hong Kong photography that makes the Hong Kong architecture look surreal

Photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze captured Hong Kong’s architecture  in his Vertical Horizon photography project. He’s made it into an 80-page book of photos from his 2012. The 26-year-old French photographer captures the city’s skyscrapers from vertical angles – all looking up. So cool!

Hong Kong photography by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze

Quarry bay - Photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze captures Hong Kong’s soaring heights in his new book, Vertical Horizon. It's a Hong Kong photography project featuring Hong Kong architecture
Quarry Bay

These vertical angles were captured through a wide-angle Sigma lens with a 10 mm focal length. Unlike a fisheye lenses, he says a sigma lens avoids distorting the urban landscape’s straight lines.

This photo reminds me of the Guggenheim museum in NYC, but it's actually in Hong Kong. The photo is part of the Vertical Horizon photography project, a Hong Kong photography collection featuring Hong Kong architecture
This photo reminds me of the Guggenheim museum in NYC, but it’s actually Tai Hang.
Hong Kong photography - Vertical Horizon of Hong Kong architecture
love the brilliant colors

Hong Kong photography - Vertical Horizon of Hong Kong architecture Hong Kong photography - Vertical Horizon of Hong Kong architecture

French photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze shot these in 2011 and 2012 for this Hong Kong photography project
French photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze shot these in 2011 and 2012
Wan Chai, an area known for nightlife. It's part of a Hong Kong photography collection featuring Hong Kong architecture facing up
Wan Chai
Hong Kong photography of Tsim Sha Tsui, an urban area in south Kowloon
Tsim Sha Tsui, an urban area in south Kowloon

Check out the full 80-page book of photos at the link below –
Vertical Horizon (English and Chinese Edition)

Book - Vertical Horizon photography project, featuring Hong Kong architecture facing up

The Vertical Horizon project is a similar style to the awesome architectural photography of Peter Stewart.

To see more posts on Hong Kong, including some of the best Hong Kong architecture.

 

50 Sunset Silhouettes – Boracay Beaches

There’s nothing quite like experiencing a breathtaking sunset, and it makes for some awesome sunset silhouettes.

We saw some of the most amazing sunsets in Boracay in the Philippines – below are the first 8 of Visit50.com‘s 50 Sunset Silhouettes!

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beaches

 

Imagine visiting a place where every afternoon was the most amazing sunset you’ve ever seen…until the next day. Boracay island in the Philippines is paradise. Loved it!

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach Kodak Moment

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach -006
Frisbee Silhouettes
Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach Paradise!
I want to go back!
Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach -008
These kids were adorable!

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach -007

Julian captures the Boracay sunset with his SLR
Julian captures the Boracay sunset with his SLR

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach -Julian enjoys the sunset

 You counted correctly – these photos were just the first 8 of Visit50.com‘s 50 Sunset Silhouettes. The rest are coming soon!

50 Countries & 50 States by Age 50