Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Buddhists earn merit by dropping small coins in each of the 108 black bowls at Wat Pan Tao in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Click on title to view photo in large format: Buddhists earn merit by dropping 108 coins of small denomination in each of the 108 black bowls at Wat Pan Tao in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This area of town is rife with old wats, mostly because at least four were build to serve Wat Chedi Luang, which sits next door and is arguably the most important Wat in the city. Pan Tao is believed to have emerged in the late 14th century as a center for the casting of Buddha images used at Wat Chedi Luang. Read More

Brick Chedi constructed in the Mondop style and Viharn (worship hall) at Wat Jet Lin in Chiang Mai, Thailand, dates back to the 16th century

Click on title to view photo in large format: Brick Chedi constructed in the Mondop style (left) and Viharn (worship hall) at Wat Jet Lin in Chiang Mai, Thailand, dates back to the 16th century. But the real surprise of this temple complex is found behind the Viharn. Here, a bridge covered in woven bamboo mats leads across a pond, where humongous lily pads float and giant catfish break the mirrored surface to slurp insects. It is believed that a king of the Mangrai dynasty ordered Read More

Exquisite views of of the city unfurled as I climbed the Golden Mount in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve. To the west, the multi-tiered pagodas of the Grand Palace were visible. Modern skyscrapers of dazzling glass and steel dominated the skyline to the east. In other directions I spied the cables of the Rama IV suspension bridge over the Chao Phraya River and the curvaceous Democracy Monument. How had I not known about this place, after so many years of visiting this exotic capital of the Orient?

One of the gorgeous 360-degree views of Bangkok as you climb the stairway to the Golden Mount

One of the gorgeous 360-degree views of Bangkok as you climb the stairway to the Golden Mount

The 318 shallow steps leading up to the Golden Mount wound around the hillside like a coiled serpent, passing shrines, mist-shrouded statues, rows of ancient bronze bells, and, near the top, a giant gong said to bring good luck to those who ring it with the suspended log. Read More

Thais make offerings and pray at the Golden Mount in Bangkok, Thailand on New Year's Day

Click on title to view photo in large format: On New Year’s Day, Thais make offerings at the Golden Mount in Bangkok, Thailand. The Golden Mount is part of the Wat Saket complex, which includes a Viharn (worship hall), consecration hall, and and convocation hall, along with a myriad of smaller temples and stupas (chedis). Most structures surround the hillside upon which the Golden Mount rises. Read More

Wat Suthat Thepwararam in Bangkok, Thailand, features 156 Buddha images and is surrounded by eight-tier hexagonal Chinese pagodas carved of stone

Click on title to view photo in large format: Wat Suthat Thepwararam in Bangkok, Thailand, contains 156 Buddha images and is ringed by eight-tier hexagonal Chinese pagodas carved of stone. The Viharn (worship hall) features frescoes depicting the 24 incarnations of the Buddha and exquisitely hand-carved teak door panels. This photo was taken on New Year’s Eve Day as the Wat was preparing for Read More

The Giant Swing in Bangkok, Thailand, stands in front of the City Hall. It was formerly used in a Brahman Hindu ceremony and later dedicated to the Thai King.

Click on title to view photo in large format: The Giant Swing in Bangkok, Thailand, stands in the center of the city, with the City Hall on one side and Wat Suthat Thepwararam on the other. The teak contraption was formerly used in a Brahman Hindu ceremony, during which young boys attempted to swing high enough to grab a bag of Read More