Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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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

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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

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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

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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

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I arrived in Hua Hin, Thailand, this past December just in time to celebrate the 88th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The King, who is also known as Rama IX, is so revered in Thailand that they hold a five-day celebration for his birthday. Streets and buildings were draped with white lights and stages were setup for musical performances, but the highlight of the festival was carving what was reputed to be the world’s tallest ice sculpture of Buddha.

In Hua Hin, Thailand, to celebrate the King's 88th birthday, a crew of world renowned ice carvers created the tallest ice sculpture of Buddha ever made from ice

In Hua Hin, Thailand, to celebrate the King’s 88th birthday, a crew of world renowned ice carvers created the tallest ice sculpture of Buddha ever made from ice

Since Hua Hin is the location of the King’s summer palace, the town has always gone all-out for his birthday, however this year’s celebration was more intense than usual due to the King’s declining health. As darkness fell and finishing touches were applied to the monolithic Buddha, locals gathered in front of the historic Hua Hin Railway Station for a candlelight ceremony to pray for the King. Read More

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At the far southern end of the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand, troupes of Hua Hin monkeys roam the wharves and seafood restaurants around Khao Takiab mountain, searching for food. This Dachshund, a pet of one of the restaurant owners, was fearless when confronted by a monkey three times his size

Click on title to view photo in large format: At the far southern end of the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand, troupes of monkeys roam the wharves and seafood restaurants around Khao Takiab mountain, searching for food. This pet Dachshund was fearless when confronted by one of these these aggressive Hua Hin monkeys, which was three times his size. When the dog didn’t back off, Read More