Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kuang Si waterfall, Luang Prabang's highlights

The Kuang Si water fall is about 30 kilometers south of the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Laos. The falls and the nearby bear sanctuary is a favorite trip for tourists while in Luang Prabang. The Kuang Si water fall begins in a pool atop a hillside. This pool leads to the main fall with its 50 meter cascade. Further down numerous turquoise blue pools collect the water on its way downstream.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Buddhist monks in Isaan and Laos

Buddhism is the most important religion of Laos and Thailand's northeastern provinces, also known as Isaan. Buddhism practiced in this region follows the Theravada (literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", which is the oldest surviving Buddhist school) tradition.

The form of Buddhism practiced along the Mekong River countries Thailand and Laos is a unique version of Theravada Buddhism and is the corner stone of the local culture.

Buddhist practices and beliefs are often closely tied to animist and ancestral spirits beliefs, particularly in rural areas.

In Isaan and in Laos one does not need to walk far in a village to encounter a Buddhist temple and monks living there. Monks in their saffron or orange colored robes are easy to recognize.

By getting up early in the morning, monks can be seen in long lines walking with dignity to collect alms from laymen.

Lay persons by offering alms engage in merit making activities. These activities include offering food and other basic necessities to monks, making donations to temples and monasteries, burning incense or lighting candles before images of the Buddha, and chanting protective or merit-making verses from the Pali Canon.

In evening times, one can listen to their divine chanting in the temple or just have a seat and enjoy sitting with the monks and watching them.

Two different monastic roles in Theravada can be observed and described: the role of the urban scholar monk and the rural or forest meditation monk. Both serve their communities as spiritual teachers and provide instruction in basic Buddhist morality and teachings.

The minimum age for ordaining as a Buddhist monk is normally 20 years. However, boys under that age are allowed to ordain as novices. Almost all boys spend some time (usually around 3 months) in their village temple to gain merit. In some more remote areas the local temple is often the only place of education. Monks follow 227 rules of discipline, while nuns follow 311 rules.

Therefore men who have ordained as a monk may be seen as more fit husbands by many women...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Khiri Travel Launches ‘Tribes and Rivers of Northern Laos’ – A 7 Day Tour

BANGKOK, THAILAND, 4 February 2010 – Khiri Travel has launched a “Tribes and Rivers of Northern Laos” tour. The luxury seven-day tour is part of the company’s Khiri Gold collection of travel experiences. Khiri Gold tours are designed for discerning top-end travellers who require authentic travel without compromising comfort levels.

The tour explores the northern Laos UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang and its surrounding areas for two days. Then the focus moves to the exotic array of hill tribe minority villages available from the Muang La luxury boutique resort in Udom Xay province. The area is deep in the mountains of northern Laos on the way to the Chinese border.

From Muang La Resort, there are trips by 4WD and gentle hikes on foot to visit an Akha village perched on a 3,000 foot mountain top. In the village the women folk wear colourful headdresses adorned with silver coins. Guests also explore Hmong, Lao Loum and Khmu tribal villages.

Khiri Gold’s “Tribes and Rivers of Northern Laos” trip includes five hours on a comfortable riverboat cruising on the Nam Ou River. Guests enjoy a picnic lunch on a secluded river beach amid some of the most dramatic scenery in Southeast Asia.

“We are confident that discerning guests will love the Muang La boutique resort,” said Marc Albert, the Country Manager of Khiri Travel Laos. “The resort is surrounded by forests, rice fields, and hot water springs that are thousands of years old. A Buddhist temple on the valley side adds spirituality to a place that has changed very little through the years.”

Muang La resort consists of three wooden villas of ethnic design. Local Laotian art in the rooms add to the experience. A unique feature of the resort is its candle-lit Lao sauna, where steam is scented with natural herbs and grasses to create a truly relaxing experience. There is also a large spa plunge pool for guests to luxuriate in.

At the resort, guests can select where they would like their dining table placed in the gardens which are lit by torchlight and candles in the evening. The Muang La resort serves a fine selection of wines and champagne.

Guests also spend over two and a half days exploring the attractions of Luang Prabang and the surrounding area. Highlights include walking tours and visits to textile galleries, weaving centres, museums and temples. Early risers can witness the moving sight of long lines of bare-foot monks on their silent morning alms rounds.

Visitors also get to inspect the Pac Ou caves which contain up to 3,000 Buddha images, many of them inlaid with semi-precious stones.

According to Willem Niemeijer, co-founder of Khiri Travel, guests can now explore many culturally-rich corners of Indochina without compromising comfort levels, service standards or food and beverage options. “Khiri Gold itineraries open a new world of possibilities to top-end travellers. It’s a growth trend we see continuing, especially in source markets such as Europe, North America, Australia and among expatriates in Asia.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Phu Foi Lom - Eco Park near Udon Thani...

Phu Foi Lom is an Eco-tourism destination which provides different activities for nature lovers, such as hiking, trekking and relaxing in a garden style area of approximately 192'356 Rai of land.

Phu Foi Lom is part of the Pan Don Pa Ko National Reserved Park, where rare flora and fauna can be spotted.

Phu Foi Lom is located about 40 kilometers southwest of Udon Thani.