Ayutthaya Temples- The Second Capital of Thailand

Ayutthaya, Thailand rests just north of Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River.  Founded around 1350, the city eventually became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai.  Because of it’s central location with easy access to the rest of Asia, Ayutthaya became one of the must important trading centers in the world.  By 1700 the Siamese capital was the world’s largest city with over 1 million inhabitants. Today the Ayutthaya temples and temple ruins are some of the most impressive in all of Asia, drawing huge crowds to the small city.

Ayutthaya successfully held off many western invaders and Thailand was never colonized.  However, the Burmese successfully sacked the city in 1767, riding on elephants and knocking the heads off of every Buddha statue they could find.  The occupation was short lived, as the Chinese had seized the opportunity to move their armies into Burma.  The Burmese forces retreated to their homeland with a majority of the Thai gold, burning the Ayutthaya temples in their retreat.  The following years were plagued by civil war in Siam until control was taken by King Rama I.  The founding member of the Chakri dynasty, which still reigns in Thailand to this day, Rama I relocated the Thai capital from the ruins of Ayutthaya to present day Bangkok.

Today Ayuthhaya is home to some of Asia’s greatest temples, and the history of the place is intruiguing.  The Ayutthaya tempes are an easy day trip from Bangkok by bus or train, taking less than two hours to travel by either.

Renovations at our first temple stop
An ornamental bull

We booked a room at Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe just outside the old city.  They had bikes for rent which we took advantage of and soon found ourselves among the temples.  I purchased a large rainbow bag of corn puffs which I though would be funny to cruise around with in my bike basket.  They tasted terrible and I was a bit disappointed until I was told that the puffs were actually fish food for children to throw into the river.  We went to the river and threw some in as giant catfish swarmed all around.  We laughed about this for a little while, then biked across the river to the more famous Ayutthaya temples.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

There are temples all over the city, but the best area for biking is inside the old city’s moat where the temples are more numerous.

Wat’s Up?

One of the most popular temples for tourists is Wat Mahathat which contains the famous Buddha Head in a Bodhi tree, where one of the knocked-down Buddha heads became entangled in the roots of a giant old fig tree.

Another of our favorites was Wat Ratchaburana which you could climb inside of.  After heading down a very steep set of stairs you reach the crypt which has some ancient paintings on the walls and bats in the ceiling.

Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana
The view from Wat Ratchaburana.
It’s always yoga time for this aspiring yoga teacher
Headstands anyone?

Enjoy this post about Ayutthaya temples? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Here is a good website to book your transportation from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

 

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War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam

The War Remnants Museum is in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, Vietnam. It was created to expose the war crimes of French and American soldiers during the American War in Vietnam. Read more

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Organic Farming in Chiang Mai with Live It Global

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One of our days in Chiang Mai was spent helping our friend Julie check out organic farms for her new organization, Live It Global.  Organic farming in Chiang Mai is becoming more popular, thanks to several people who are pushing the community in that direction.  There are a lot of small villages around Chiang Mai that are mainly focused on agriculture, growing fruits and vegetables which they sell in the local markets.  It was a great experience to get out of the city and see how some country people live. Read more

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The Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls – Motorbikes in Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

The Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls rest in the hills a little over an hour’s drive outside of Chiang Mai.  This was our first motorbike adventure, and we were a little nervous about it.  There were three of us so Carrie rode with our friend Julie (who is experienced), and I drove myself.  I rented the motorbike for 180 baht from a place called Bamboo Rentals.  The gas was empty when I picked it up so they directed me towards a gas station down the road.  Luckily I had driven Julie’s bike around the lake the day before, so I survived my first leg on a read road without incident. Read more

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The Loy Krathong Festival in Bangkok

The Loy Krathong festival occurs in Thailand every year during November’s full moon.  It was also a perfect time to take my first trip to one of the Bangkok’s most impressive temples!  The Golden Mount, or Wat Saket, is Bangkok’s highest temple and sits at the top of 344 winding steps! Check out the video below which takes you all the way to the top!  It was a spiritual experience to be on top at sunset watching the faithful make their offerings and say their prayers.

Loy Krathong
Vendors selling krathongs by the Phranfa Bridge
The Golden Mount
Buddha at the entrance to Wat Saket
Loy Krathong Wat Saket
Sunset at Wat Saket (The Golden Mount)
The Golden Mount
Looking up at The Golden Mount

Below the temple at the Phranfa Bridge, I got to participate in the Loy Krathong festival.  People release “krathong” offerings — little boats made from banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense — on the canals and lakes all over the country. The festival originated as a way to honor the river goddess, but it also has Buddhist meaning. “The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.” (Wikipedia) Some people put their fingernail clippings or hair in the boats to “get rid of the bad parts” of themselves.

Loy Krathong Bangkok
My krathong

Thai people are incredibly welcoming to foreigners even when it comes to their holy ceremonies and everyone at the canal urged me to join in on the tradition.  Not one to miss out, I bought my krathong, stuffed a little broken piece of a dreadlock in it, and prayed to release my anger and my doubt, two things I had been struggling with recently. I watched the krathong float away and felt peace.  What an amazing evening!

Loy Krathong Bangkok
Krathongs float away

Enjoy this post about Bangkok’s Loy Krathong Festival? Check out our archives and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject to keep up with the adventure!

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Why Your Hostel Needs A Marketing Consultant

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We are hostel marketing consultants and in our years of traveling we have stayed at a LOT of hostels.  The difference between a good hostel and a GREAT hostel is often so small that it’s hard to notice from an inside perspective.  We have worked with almost 50 different hostels and hotels on five different continents.  Our hostel marketing, consulting, writing, photos, and videos have helped many places jump the gap from failure to success.

Here are the 5 biggest reasons why you should hire a hostel marketing consultant:

1) A Different Perspective:  

When you are at your hostel day after day, you become blind to the real problems.  You also get attached to things that are maybe not the best ideas.  A hostel consultant can help you fix problems and think outside the box.

2) Knowing What Foreigners Want:

You know what the locals want; we know what the tourists want.  Travelers want clean, easy, safe, and fun!  Places and activities that might seem unexciting to locals might be exactly what travelers want!

3) English Promotions On Different Media Types:

Eye-catching social media posts are crucial to your success.  Nowadays, many travelers only use Instagram and Facebook to plan their trips.  Having a follower base and daily exciting posts are crucial to building your business.

Here are some examples of Instagram accounts from hostels we have worked with:

4) Keeping Up With The Times:

The hostel world is always changing.  When you are managing a hostel there is little time for exploring other countries, scoping out your competition, or keeping up with events and attractions around your area.  We love travel and the first thing we do when consulting with hostels is to get to know their area like a local, but seeing it though the eyes of a tourist.

5) Professional Photos, Highlights Videos, and Blogging

We specialize in making your hostel shine!  iPhones can take pictures, but having professionally edited photos from real cameras sets you above the competition.   Highlight videos let people feel like they are actually there from the comfort of their own home.  They show how fun, clean, and comfortable your hostel really is.  We want your hostel to be a tourist attraction in itself.  A website blog highlights attractions in your area which increases the traffic to your website and your hostel!

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The website blog for Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok

How we can help:

Contact us at globaltravelernetworks@gmail.com to discuss hostel marketing and consulting help for your business!

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Click HERE for more ways to work with us!

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Cameron Highlands – Tea Country

On our way to the Cameron Highlands in the mountains of central Malaysia, we experienced our first breaths of cool air in some weeks.  Everything was green and full of life as our bus wound its way slowly up and up, honking before the tight turns to warn oncoming traffic that we wouldn’t be slowing down.  The weather was so beautiful with clouds drifting across the mountain tops.  Our destination was Tanah Rata, the main town for adventures in the Cameron Highlands.  We dropped our stuff at Kang Travellers Lodge, a simple guest house with cheap rooms and friendly staff.  Rain clouds started to roll in but we were able to hike to a small waterfall before the downpour.

cameron highlands

 

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Pretty, but unfortunately there was a lot of trash in the water 🙁

The main drag in town was very touristy but there were a few good Indian restaurants that were not expensive.  After dinner we went home and realized there was a bar attached to our guesthouse– Jungle Bar.  It was the first real bar we had been to in Malaysia.  Many of the towns are very Islamic and there are not a lot of parties happening.  Jungle Bar had a pool table and fireplace and a good collection of travelers to talk to.  It was a great dive bar with a fun atmosphere and just what we needed after only talking to each other for the past week or so.

The next morning we got up early as we had scheduled one of the tours from an agency in town.  All the companies sell pretty much the same thing for the same price and take you to different places around the area.  I think it was 45 Ringgit per person ($10) and lasted most of the day.  Our first stop was a butterfly sanctuary.  The first room was full of Birdwings, the national butterfly of Malaysia, a big blue one that didn’t want to fly very much because of the lack of sunshine.

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They also had many other insects and reptiles.  My favorites were the stick insects and other bugs that blended in perfectly with the trees.  It was a challenge to find each one.  There were also toads that looked exactly like the leaves they were resting in.  The flowers were amazing as well; we really enjoyed the place and would never have found it without being on the tour of the Cameron Highlands.

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Butterfly flower
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A beautiful butterfly flower
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These flowers produced a small amount of water that was super sweet!
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This giant stick insect was about 18 inches long!
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Can you spot the leaf insect munching away?

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Our next stop was a tea plantation.  We had never seen tea growing before so it was cool to learn about the process.  Boh (“Best of Highlands”) Tea was still owned by the Scottish family who has owed it since the 1800s.  Many workers were trimming the tops of the bushes with giant hedge saws that deposited the cuttings into large sacks.  The leaves were then taken to be sorted and processed in different ways to make the different tea styles.  They are still using the same labor contract that was created when the plantation opened, with workers working six days a week for very low wages.  Most of the laborers were immigrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal.  Most of the tea produced was consumed domestically, with some being exported but only to Indonesia and other nearby countries.  The landscape was majestic and they had a nice tea shop and cafe to enjoy the view of the nearby hills.

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There were six other people in our group and we ended up making friends with a British couple.  They were on an indefinite trip as well so we shared stories of our adventures.  After the tea plantation we got back into our Jeep and drove up a steep road.  The vegetation got thicker and thicker and our driver stopped along the way to identify different plants and let us smell things like tiger balm, citronella, and eucalyptus.  At the top of the hill was a path leading into the Mossy Forest.  This area was under a misty cloud 95% of the year which created a very surreal environment where moss grows on everything and thousands of types of plants flourished.  It reminded me of FernGully, a great movie from our childhood that was ripped off by stupid Avatar.

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Our guide said that in Borneo there are larger versions of these flowers that eat insects.

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After the Mossy Forest we stopped at an organic strawberry farm where they sold everything from boxes of berries to berry coffees to berry shakes.

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From there they left us at a hiking trail (Trail #3) that lead to another trail (Trail #5) which took us back into town.  It was a cool 1.5 hour trek through the jungle and we had a lot of fun.  Luckily we had our rain gear because it started coming down hard near the end.

We really enjoyed the Cameron Highlands.  It was wonderful to escape the constant heat and humidity of the lower altitudes and we always enjoy some outdoor time.  Stay tuned for some Island time off the eastern coast of Malaysia!

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