10 Most Beautiful Buddhist Temples

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Beautiful Buddhist Temples

Since its beginnings in India, Buddhism has spread around the globe. Today, you’ll find  followers anywhere in the world, along with the beautiful and unique temples dedicated to the Buddha. They range from fantastically ornate to wonderfully spartan. Each one is worth a visit, but some are absolutely breathtaking!

Visitors are usually warmly welcomed at Buddhist temples. However, it’s important to remember that these gorgeous spaces are places of worship and reverence. During your visit, dress modestly (covered shoulders and knees are a must), keep your volume low, and be respectful when taking photos. With these guidelines in mind, you’ll be ready to explore the 10 most beautiful Buddhist temples in the world.

Boudhanath, Nepal

Boudhanath, Nepal

Credit: toiletroom/Shutterstock

The dome, or stupa, of this temple is one of the largest in Asia. Paintings of a pair of eyes adorn each of the four sides of the pagoda, symbolizing that Buddha sees all and knows all. Built around A.D. 600, this temple is still one of the most popular attractions in Kathmandu. According to Lonely Planet, legend has it that a prince built the temple as penance for accidentally killing his father. Today, worshipers visit the temple at sunrise and sunset to offer prayers of thanksgiving. All visitors are welcome to join in.

Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

credit: Kirkikis/iStock

The only American site to make this list, this temple sits on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It’s also one of the newer temples on this list, built in 1968 as a tribute to the Japanese immigrants living on the island. So, the site’s architecture mimics that of Buddhist temples in Japan.

The Byodo-In temple has also been featured in several American television shows, including LostHawaii Five-O, and Magnum P.I. The site welcomes worshipers of all faiths and hosts many events throughout the year.

Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong

Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong

credit: miralex/iStock

Tucked just outside Hong Kong’s busy Central district, the Man Mo temple offers a quiet refuge for all visitors. It’s a surreal experience stepping inside the temple. Spiraling incense coils adorn the interior, hanging from the ceiling and numbering in the hundreds. The incense gives the temple a smokey, other-worldly ambiance. The coils are lit by worshipers as offerings to the Buddhist gods of literature and war.

Category IconGeography
3pts

Daily trivia question

Test Your Knowledge!

How many provinces does Canada have?

PLAY!Plane icon

Jokhang, Lhasa

Jokhang, Lhasa

credit: willyseto/iStock

The oldest parts of this temple date back to A.D. 652. According to one story, the Tibetan king Songtsan Gambo tossed his ring into the air and declared he would build a temple wherever it landed. After the ring landed in a lake, a shrine or stupa emerged from the waters.

Today, the temple is a sacred religious site for Tibetan monks. It has certainly survived its share of challenges. The temple was ransacked by Chinese Red Guards during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Thereafter, it became a storage space and hotel before being re-sanctified as a temple more than a decade later. It caught on fire recently, and some speculated it was due to arson. However, thousands of worshipers continue to make a pilgrimage to the site every year.

Seiganto-ji, Japan

Seiganto-ji, Japan

credit: coward_lion/iStock

The name of this temple translates to “temple of crossing the blue shore.” Whatever one calls it, the Seiganto-ji temple is picture perfect. Its strikingly red structure sits near the Nachi Falls within the forests of the Wakayama Prefecture. The site itself has been a place of worship for more than 1,500 years; the original temple was reputedly built by a wandering Indian monk.

You can enter the site for free, but there is a small donation to enter the pagoda. It is, however, one of the easier temples to reach. The Seiganto-ji is just a quick bus ride from Shingu station. Be sure to check out these tips for traveling to Japan.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

credit: Sean Kruger/iStock

Angkor Wat is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world. It was even the filming location for Angelina Jolie’s 2001 Tomb Raider movie. Interestingly, it started as a Hindu temple before transitioning to a Buddhist place of worship. Like many of the other locations on this list, Angkor Wat isn’t just made up of one building. It’s a temple complex situated on more than 400 acres, making it one of the largest religious sites in the world. Angkor Wat is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

credit: Zzvet/iStock

This site boasts thousands of temples. Built over a thousand years ago, the original 26-acre site contained over 4,000 temples. Today, more than 2,200 temples still exist at Bagan. The Telegraph calls the site “a gloriously unsullied destination.” The site is as famous for its hot air balloon rides as it is for its temples. Balloons take off at sunrise and provide a magnificent view of the area’s temples and landscape.

Paro Taktsang, Bhutan

Paro Taktsang, Bhutan

Credit: Sompol/Shutterstock

Paro Taktsang clings to the side of a mountain, perched on a cliff that looks almost too small to hold its structure. You can only reach this mysterious temple on foot via one of three different paths. Visitors decorate the paths with ribbons and bunting and treat the walk as a sacred path up to the temple. The treacherous terrain is why the temple burned down in 1998, however. Rescue vehicles weren’t able to reach the temple to put out the fire. Paro Taktsang has been rebuilt since then and is again open to visitors.

Wat Rong Khun, Thailand

Wat Rong Khun, Thailand

credit: Pipop_Boosarakumwadi/iStock

Also known as the “White Temple,” this beautiful site has been open to the public since 1997. The building is constructed from immaculate white plaster, which symbolizes Buddha’s saintliness.

Since the builders also mixed bits of glass into the plaster, the entire structure sparkles in the sun. According to Slate, the mirrored surfaces are there to symbolize self-reflection. Built by an artist, it’s probably the most unusual Buddhist temple on this list.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

credit: pat138241/iStock

The third Myanmar temple to make the list, the Shwedagon Pagoda is one visitors to the country won’t want to miss. The temple stands over 110 meters tall, an imposing structure in its surroundings.

Its most striking feature, however, are the gold plates that cover its structure. Not only is it covered in gold, but many of the spires are also topped with diamonds. One diamond weighs in at a whopping 72-carats, according to the official temple website. The temple even houses strands of the Buddha’s hair. While it’s stunning to look at, it’s also a great location to learn more about the Buddhist religion.

7 Countries Without a Legal Drinking Age

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Out of 195 countries recognized by the United Nations, only about a dozen don’t have a legal drinking age. Some of these countries have a long history of conflict, making them unsafe for travel. Meanwhile, others continue to grapple with infectious viral outbreaks. The remaining seven countries without a legal drinking age, however, can serve as great travel destinations for people of all ages.

Cameroon

Credit: mbrand85/ Shutterstock

Like other countries on this list, Cameroon has a legal drinking age for alcohol consumption in a public venue. Patrons under age 18 can drink alcohol in a bar or restaurant when accompanied by an adult. These age limits don’t apply when drinking off-premises, however.

Note that, as of July 2019, Cameroon continues to experience political turmoil. Check for travel warnings before heading to Cameroon, but don’t discount this charming and diverse country. Its rich history and culture make it a great adventure travel destination. You’ll also love the pristine white sand beaches, mountains, and rain-forests.

São Tomé & Príncipe

Credit: MartaTari/ iStock

Africa’s second-smallest nation lies in the Gulf of Guinea and welcomes travelers from around the globe. No age limits exist for alcohol consumption here.

Composed of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe offer visitors exciting options for water sports, jungle exploration, and ecotourism. With only 7,000 residents, Príncipe is especially geared towards nature-lovers and outdoor-enthusiasts who enjoy unspoiled locales.

Visitors can also take in the Portuguese-inspired architecture on the islands. Be sure to check out the large network of plantations, which once served as the center of global cocoa production. The islands are also famous for their location: you can cross the Equator at Rolas Island, which lies at the southern tip of Sao Tome.

Haiti

Credit: Rotorhead 30A Productions/ Shutterstock

Haiti gained attention in the last decade due to a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Efforts to rebuild the country continue today. The country draws aid workers and humanitarian organizations that accept volunteers for community development projects. Taking your teenagers to Haiti on a spring or summer vacation will be a trip to remember. There’s no drinking age here. Note, however, that alcohol won’t be sold to minors below 18 years of age.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to visit picturesque beaches on the north shore of Haiti near Cap Haitien, where you can also observe beautiful French colonial architecture.

Antigua and Barbuda

Credit: peeterv/ iStock

Nestled in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda is another two-island country. Beach lovers and sun-worshipers adore the white and pink sand beaches on these stunning islands.

Above all, opportunities abound for snorkeling and scuba diving excursions. Participate in one of these excursions, and you’ll see amazing marine life living among the island reefs. Those who want to drink at one of Antigua’s world-class restaurants or cafes must be at least 16 years of age. But, don’t fret. No drinking age exists for enjoying a tropical drink elsewhere on the island.

Bermuda

Credit: wwing/ iStock

Like some of the other countries on this list, Bermuda has no drinking age for those who consume alcohol outside of bars and restaurants.

Those who drink in public establishments must be 18 years of age, however. Bermuda is a one-stop-shop vacation destination which offers something for every type of traveler. Beyond the incredible pink sand beaches, Bermuda is also famous for sailing, whale-watching as well as various types of water-sports.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy hiking and biking through Bermuda’s picturesque landscapes. Meanwhile, golf enthusiasts will appreciate playing a few rounds of golf at one of the island’s championship golf courses.

Grenada

Credit: Falvio-Vallenari/ iStock

Grenada, affectionately known as the “Spice Isle,” is the last Caribbean country without a legal drinking age on this list. Note, however, that those who drink in a bar or restaurant, must be at least 16 years of age.

Although Grenada boasts silky white sand beaches, characteristic of many Caribbean Islands, it’s most famous for its simplistic, laid-back atmosphere.

The country is also known for the beautiful waterfalls at Grand Etang National Park and its diverse British, French, and African-influenced architecture.

Additionally, Grenada is a favorite destination for scuba divers. Aside from its colorful coral reefs, Grenada also has an underwater sculpture park and exciting shipwrecks to explore, such as the famous Bianca C (known as the “Titanic of the Caribbean”).

Cambodia

Credit: Akarat Phasura/ Shutterstock

Cambodia has no drinking age, regardless of whether you’re in a restaurant, bar or another public establishment.

Accommodations are inexpensive, and the country offers multiple experiences for various travel interests. Cambodia is generally safe. For more information, check the travel advisory at the U.S. Department of State when making travel arrangements.

Through the decades, Cambodia’s government has become more open and its citizens have continued to thrive. Don’t skip Phnom Penh, the capital, to learn about Cambodia’s history under the Khmer Rouge and to enjoy some amazing street food. During your stay, you won’t want to miss the famous temples of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beach lovers should head to the south to enjoy some of the most unspoiled beaches in Southeast Asia.

The Tastiest Asian Dishes You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Tastiest Asian Dishes You’ve Never Heard Of

Everyone loves some good Chinese takeout on the right occasion, but there’s a whole lot more out there than Kung Pao chicken and beef-and-broccoli. Depending on where you travel in Asia, people eat just about everything that moves, and a big part of the secret is that they learned how to make it delicious. Without dabbling too far into the bizarre, there are a handful of absolutely decadent dishes within Asian cuisine across the continent that you’d do yourself a disservice not to try.

Nasi Lemak – Malaysia

Credit: bonchan / iStock

Nasi Lemak is the national dish of Malaysia. The literal translation of its name is “oily rice,” but “creamy” makes for a more accurate (and appetizing) contextual translation. The preparation of the dish starts with soaking rice in coconut cream before it’s steamed with pandan leaves. The fragrant rice is served wrapped in banana leaves with garnish of cucumber slices, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, and fried egg. This is a popular breakfast food.

Kare-Kare – Philippines

Credit: arvie caballero / iStock

This Philippine stew derives its name from the word “curry,” but it’s nothing like anything you’ve had at an Indian or Thai restaurant. The broth is made from stewed oxtail, beef, and tripe, though it can sometimes be made with seafood, vegetables, or offal. The broth is mixed with savory peanut sauce to make a thick and complex flavor profile.

Char Kway Teow – Malaysia

Credit: Kadek Bonit Permadi / iStock

If you don’t know about Asian pork buns, then you need to find your nearest dim sum restaurant as soon as possible—but this lesser-known Malaysian street food is just as delicious, though not quite as portable. The name translates to “stir-fried rice cake strips,” which is a somewhat straightforward description. The noodles are browned with soy sauce and served with meat, fish cake, egg, and sausage to create a stir-fried street-food delight.

Amok Trey – Cambodia

Credit: Zoltan Tarlacz / Shutterstock.com

To celebrate the Water Festival in Cambodia, the locals serve their traditional dish, Amok trey—a light and colorful dish. The preparation involves coating a fish with thick coconut milk and freshly ground spices known as kroeung, though many dishes offer variants served with chicken, beef, and other alternatives. It’s then steamed in banana leaves to form a thick curry that features noni leaves and fingerroot.

Gamjatang – Korea

Credit: fishwork / iStock

This spicy Korean soup uses a broth made from pork neck bones with red hot peppers. The high heat of the broth-making softens the meat to its ideal tenderness. Potatoes, cellophane noodles, radish greens, green onions, and perilla leaves are added to the soup to make a savory-spicy treat. Though it used to be nearly impossible to find the soup outside of Korea, these days it’s featured prominently in Korean restaurants in the United States and abroad.

Babi Guling – Indonesia

Credit: WEKWEK / iStock

There’s a hint of irony to be found in that one of the most delicious pork dishes has its origins in a Muslim-majority nation, but the Balinese know how to cook a pig. The slow-roasted pork is seasoned with ginger, galangal, turmeric, chilies, and shrimp paste to make a sweet, spicy, and savory profile that compliment the tender-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside porcine.

Rendang – Indonesia & Malaysia

Credit: asab974 / iStock

This food of the Minangkabau culture sits on the fence as to its status as a curry, but its classification has no bearing on its flavor. There’s a whole laundry list of ingredients that goes into rendang, including ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chili’s, anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and lime leaves among others. The ingredients are slow-cooked until all the liquid is gone and the meat is well-done, which makes for hefty absorption of the intense flavors.

4 Largest Religious Monuments in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Largest Religious Monuments in the World

There might be one thing that most religions can all agree on: bigger is better.

Practitioners of all faiths have aimed to express the extent of their devoutness through the size of their temples and statues. Competition among the faithful has led to the creation of bigger and bigger monuments all over the world. Just take one look at the massive cathedrals of Europe, mosques in the Middle East, giant Buddha statues throughout Asia, or even modern megachurches across the Bible Belt, and you’ll see plenty of examples of grandiose religious architecture on display.

Case in point, here are four of the largest religious monuments in the world.

1. Karnak Temple Complex – Luxor, Egypt

Credit: nodostudio / iStock

One of the biggest religious monuments is also one of the oldest. The Karnak Temple Complex was constructed by the ancient Egyptians over the course of several centuries, beginning during the Middle Kingdom. Parts of the temple were used continuously for more than 2,000 years to worship a panoply of Egyptian deities.

The complex covers more than 200 acres and includes several temples and monumental halls. One of the most well-known sections is Hypostyle Hall, which is supported by 134 columns, each 72 feet tall. The hall was the setting for an iconic movie scene from “The Spy Who Love Me”, in which James Bond is chased by the vicious henchman Jaws.

2. Borobudur – Central Java, Indonesia

Credit: Timon Peskin / iStock

Located on the island of Magelang in Central Java, Indonesia, Borobudur lays claim to being the largest Buddhist temple ever constructed. It was built during the 8th and 9th centuries by rulers of the Syailendra dynasty. The dynasty ruled Java up until the end of the 10th century.

The temple, which is built around a natural hill, covers a total surface area of more than 26,000 square feet. At its center is a large stupa, a domed Buddhist shrine intended for meditation. Surrounding the main stupa are three circular platforms containing 72 smaller stupas, each with a Buddha statue inside. The base is made up of five square platforms, with the main foundation being 387 feet on each side. Symbolic carvings cover the walls and depict religious imagery, including the spread of Buddhism to the Indonesian archipelago.

Following the decline of the Syailendra dynasty, Borobudur was abandoned for centuries and overtaken by the jungle. The monument was rediscovered during a brief period of British occupation at the start of the 19th century. Thomas Stamford Raffles, the appointed governor-general of Java, heard tales of a massive temple hidden deep in the jungle. In 1814, a Dutch engineer sent by Raffles found Borobudur buried beneath vines and dirt.

The first restoration of the site did not start until 1907, after decades of continued decay and looting. UNESCO started a modern restoration of the temple in the 1970s and named Borobudur a World Heritage Site in 1991. Today the temple is a major tourist attraction, bringing in millions of visitors each year.

3. Spring Temple Buddha – Lushan County, Henan, China

Credit: Stacia020 / Shutterstock.com

At a height of 420 feet, the Spring Temple Buddha in China’s Henan Province is the largest religious statue in the world. Including its base, which serves as a Buddhist temple, the entire structure reaches a height of 682 feet—more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.

The statue opened to the public in 2008. Including the supporting structures, it took 11 years to build and cost around $178 million USD, according to Zhou Mingqi, an analyst with tourism consulting firm Jingjiang Consulting. It took 238 pounds of gold to plate the copper statue. Ironically the statue is located in one of China’s poorest counties.

4. Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Credit: tbradford / iStock

Built by the Khmer Empire in the 12th century, the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia is widely recognized as the largest religious building in the world. Spanning more than 402 acres, it was originally built as a Hindu temple in honor of the god Vishnu. It was designed to represent Mount Meru, the Hindu equivalent of Mount Olympus. Construction was a monumental undertaking. According to inscriptions, a workforce of 300,000 people and 6,000 elephants toiled to build the temple complex.

By the end of the 12th century, the temple converted to use as a Buddhist temple, as that religion became a stronger force in the region. Unlike Borobudur, Angkor Wat was never completely abandoned and remains an important site of worship for Buddhists to this day. It is also a major tourist destination, drawing more than 2 million people each year.

Trending on

You may like

Sponsored Links by Taboola

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

 

I was born in the mid 1950’s and grew up watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news. Mr. Cronkite was by most considered to be the “most trusted man in America.” Whom is it that you totally trust the most in American news media or within the political realm today? With all the news outlets of today all trying to get you to watch or listen to them I find it difficult to put much trust in any of them. There are two main reasons for that, one is that each of these outlets are companies, they are ‘for profit’. Two is the consideration of where are they getting their information?

 

I am in my early 60’s now so during the past 50 years or so we here in the U.S. have been constantly told that we are the good guys and governments who are Communist are the bad guys. From all of the reading and studying that I have done over the years I really don’t doubt that these Communists governments are far less than friendly toward their own population nor to others. Communists seem to think military first and usually military only and it is a proven fact that very few people who are military oriented are very good public leaders. Military frame of mind and civilian frame of mind seldom seem to end up within the same person. Then again within the non-communists countries the people have to put up with politicians who seem to change their mind like farts in a breeze. Here in the U.S. we the people have learned a lot since the NSA murdered John and Bobby Kennedy back in the 60’s. When Nixon was President he illegally expanded the war in Vietnam into Laos and Cambodia. We had military personal who died there or were captured there that our government turned their back on as well as their families basically saying they must have deserted. When the U.S. officially left Vietnam Nixon got on TV and said there were no more POWs in southeast Asia, knowing very well that he was lying to the people. Reality comes down to the fact of truth or not the truth, trust or not being able to trust.

 

Now I am going to talk about current events here in the U.S. and this reality of trust or no trust. On a personal level can you trust a person on really serious matters when you absolutely know as a fact that they have lied to you many many occasions?  In the last 24-36 hours we have been hearing on the news that Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. spy drone. The early news strongly hinted that the drone was over Iranian land which by all forms of international law would have been a violation committed by the Americans and Iran would have had every right to shoot it down. By international law every country which borders a body of water has 12 miles sovereignty except for China’s Communists government who seems to want to claim at least a few thousand miles sovereignty but that is another story for other articles. Now the U.S. government is saying that the drone was 21 miles off of Iran’s coast and if this is true then basically Iran committed and act of war against the U.S. and the U.S. government would have the right to retaliate against Iran. The issue is, how can we trust our own government when they and especially our President is a habitual liar? President George W. Bush’s lies paved the way for us to start a war with Iraq. Personally I believe that he was just trying to show his Daddy that he could ‘one-up’ him and take out Saddam. Think of the cost of those lies in terms of thousands of people dead and about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money thrown into that bloodbath. Today’s news headline said that some of the Republicans in the Senate were upset that President Trump called off a bombing raid in Iran that would have started an all out war with them and their allies. Going to war with anyone should not be a partisan matter and going to war should not be in the hands of one person. If we are going to enter a war this war should be voted on and passed by at least 2/3 of the Congress and the Senate. This is not a computer game, many thousands of people will die. So, what is the truth on this matter, can you or I honestly trust anything that Mr. Trump says? Personally I don’t. Credibility is something that our leaders no longer have, their word is not good enough any more. If we go to war with Iran they have many allies including many sleeper cells within our own borders, many Americans on American land will die, life as we have always know it here in the States will be over. But, how the hell can we the people ever know if what we are being told is the truth, or just another lie.

 

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

The Mekong Basin. Photo from the website of The People’s Stories project. Used with permission

In 2014, several indigenous communities in the Mekong started recording their stories and legends with the help of a group of researchers who are exploring how these narratives can help exposing the destructive impact of large-scale projects in the region.

The Mekong is one of Asia’s great river systems which flows through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is rich in biodiversity and a vital source of livelihood for millions of farmers and fisherfolk.

In recent years, several large-scale projects such as hydropower dams have displaced residents while threatening the river basin’s ecosystem. Despite protests, the construction of dams has continued, especially in Laos and Thailand.

In partnership with Mekong Watch, a Japan-based group advocating sustainable development in the region, several community elders in the Mekong began recording some of their stories and legends in 2014 that revolve around nature. Mekong Watch believes that these stories “have played an important role in protecting nature by avoiding the over-exploitation of natural resources.”

Mekong Watch asserts that part of the commons that need to be protected are not just natural resources but also “intangible heritages” that can be shared and accessed by the local community. Toshiyuki Doi, senior adviser of Mekong watch, adds:

People’s stories should be regarded, recognized, and respected as Mekong’s commons, especially these days when they are losing their place in local communities to more modern media, and are not passed on to next generations.

Areas in the Mekong where researchers conducted fieldwork. 1. Kmhmu’ in northern and central Laos; 2. Siphandon in southern Laos; 3. Akha in northern Thailand; 4. Thai So and Isan in northeastern Thailand; 5. Bunong in northeastern Cambodia. Used with permission.

The group was able to collect a total of 102 stories in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Stories were recorded, transcribed, and translated into the national languages of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia before an English version was made. Mekong Watch published these stories as pamphlets in both printed and digital formats, and used them during environment workshops they conducted at the communities.

Since late 2016, we have used people’s stories to provide environmental education to children in rural Laos and Thailand. We have hosted workshops in schools and local communities to guide children, and sometimes adults, to collect stories from elderly people, learn from the stories, and turn them into reading materials.

An example of a workshop involves the retelling of the story of ‘The Owl and the Deer ’from Kmhmu’ people in central and northern Laos. The story is about an owl who lost his ability to see during the day after cheating a deer.

During a workshop, young participants are asked: “What kinds of animals appear in the story?”, “Can you see these animals in your village?”, and “If there are fewer of these animals in your village than before, why do you think this has happened?”

After this, participants are encouraged to connect the story to the deterioration of the environment in their communities.

In Champasak Province, south Laos, the legend of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the Sida bird is used to highlight how a dam project is disrupting the seasonal migration of Mekong River fisheries.

Another story also from southern Laos is instructive on the value of resource management:

The story about the Rhino Head was recorded on November 16, 2014, at the Songkram River bank in northeast Thailand. The narrator was Mun Kimprasert, aged 68. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

Once, a soldier stepped into a spirit forest. He discovered a lot of tobacco leaves there and collected them. However, when trying to leave the forest, he could not find an exit. It was because he took more tobacco leaves than he could possibly consume for himself. No matter how hard he searched, he could not find a way out of the forest. Realizing what might have been the problem, he finally decided to return the tobacco leaves to the forest. The moment he dropped them on the ground, he was able to see an exit in front of him.

In northern Thailand, a story by the Akha people about the origin of the swingteaches self-sacrifice through a heroic episode of a brother and a sister who put the world in order.

In northeast Thailand, a folktale about Ta Sorn narrated by Tongsin Tanakanya promotes unity among neighbors in a farming community. Another story recalls how the hunting of a rhinoceros led to the formation of salt trading in this part of the country.

In Bunong, located in northeast Cambodia, there are stories about rituals to fix bad marriages and planting and harvest ceremonies narrated by Khoeuk Keosineam. There is also the legend of the elephant as retold by Chhot Pich which reveals how villagers who once poisoned a river were punished by the gods and turned into elephants. It explains why elephants were comfortable living with humans but, after several generations, they forgot their origins and went to live in the forest.

Hea Phoeun from the Laoka Village, Senmonorom, Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia shares a village ritual on how to fix an ‘unfit’ marriage. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

For Mekong Watch and the threatened communities in the region, preserving these stories is integral in the campaign to resist projects that would displace thousands of people living in the Mekong:

These stories can help form their identity as a community member and identify with the environment. By means of stories, the communities search for ways to accommodate and/or resist changes that are taking place in the Mekong river basin.

Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

Kem Sokha was arrested at his home in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, early Sunday. His daughter said his whereabouts were unknown. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The leader of Cambodia’s main opposition party, Kem Sokha, was arrested early Sunday at his home and accused of treason for participating in what the government said was a Washington-backed plot to undermine the country’s leadership.

A top official for Human Rights Watch in Asia called the arrest a “disastrous setback” for Cambodia as its long-ruling authoritarian prime minister, Hun Sen, consolidates power in advance of elections scheduled for next year and marked a further deterioration in its relations with the United States.

Mr. Kem Sokha took over as the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party earlier this year, after his longtime predecessor, Sam Rainsy, who is living in exile, resigned from the post after being pursued in several criminal cases.

Mr. Kem Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya, who also is a party official, said more than 100 police officers arrested her father and his bodyguards without a warrant. A video posted on Facebook showed Mr. Kem Sokha wearing handcuffs as he was escorted into an unmarked sports utility vehicle by officers wielding AK-47 assault rifles.

Kem Sokha and all bodyguards are taken away by 100-200 police without warrant after they raided his home,” she posted on Twitter shortly after his arrest. “We don’t know where they take him.”

Continue reading the main story

Late Sunday, she said, her father had been taken to a remote prison on the Vietnamese border known as CC3 and was being held without access to a lawyer.

The government said it had evidence that Mr. Kem Sokha was involved in a secret plot and had conspired with foreigners to damage the country. “The above act of this secret conspiracy is treason,” the government said in a statement.

Although Mr. Kem Sokha has parliamentary immunity, the government said he could be arrested without a warrant because he was caught committing treason “in flagrante delicto.” As evidence, it cited a four-year-old video of Mr. Kem Sokha, in which he says in a speech that he received advice from the United States on building an opposition movement.

Arend Zwartjes, a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, had no comment about the accusations by Cambodia that Washington had conspired with Mr. Kem Sokha. But he said that the government had noted the arrest “with grave concern,” adding that the charges “appear to be politically motivated.”

Founded in 2012, the Cambodia National Rescue Party poses the first genuine challenge in years to Mr. Hun Sen’s rule. In an interview with The New York Times in June, Mr. Kem Sokha said he hoped his party could win parliamentary elections next year and effect a peaceful transfer of power.

“The bottom line is that the people have already decided for change,” he said. “That is, they have already made up their mind, and if the ruling party is in some way preventing that change through free and fair elections, the international community needs to use all the leverage they have to counter that in order to avoid violence.”

Speaking to a group of garment workers on Sunday, Mr. Hun Sen reiterated the accusation that Mr. Kem Sokha had conspired with the United States. A similar claim was made on the official Facebook page of the prime minister’s son Hun Manith, a two-star general and head of military intelligence for the Cambodian Army. “Kem Sokha betrayed Cambodia,” he wrote, adding that he confessed “to long term plans with the United States of America.”

David Chandler, a professor emeritus at Monash University in Australia who worked as a United States Embassy official in Phnom Penh in the 1960s, said that the situation in Cambodia had become “genuinely scary” in recent months.

He said that Mr. Hun Sen has long been suspicious of Washington’s intentions and believes that a strong element of United States policy is regime change.

“I can’t see why or how Hun Sen will turn back from where he seems to be headed,” Mr. Chandler said, “and I don’t think he wants to.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Hun Sen’s government has cracked down on independent news outlets and democracy advocates, after local elections in June in which the opposition party made unprecedented gains.

An independent newspaper owned by an American family, The Cambodia Daily, said it would halt publication on Monday because of a dispute over a tax bill of more than $6 million, and at least 15 radio stations have been ordered to stop broadcasting programming from the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

The government also ordered the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute, a pro-democracy nonprofit organization that is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party of the United States.

It has become common in recent months for Cambodian officials to accuse the United States of hypocrisy and interference in Cambodian affairs. A government spokesman, Phay Siphan, denied any tensions with the United States, however, describing the recent developments as “a coincidence” and proof of the government’s commitment to rule of law.

Mr. Kem Sokha’s arrest was quickly condemned by opposition leaders and international human rights activists.

“The arrest of Kem Sokha is a disastrous setback for Cambodia’s human rights situation,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

He urged other nations to put pressure on Mr. Hun Sen. “The international community, which provides a major percentage of the Cambodian government’s annual budget, should put Hun Sen on notice that if he doesn’t reverse course, it will be impossible to consider next year’s elections free and fair,” he said.

The arrest also drew fire from Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, an association of members of Parliament from Southeast Asian nations.

Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chairman of the organization, said the arrest violated the immunity protection that should be afforded Mr. Kem Sokha as a member of Cambodia’s Parliament.

“With national elections on the horizon, it is clear that this is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to crush the opposition before the campaign even starts,” Mr. Santiago said. “For months, we have been witnessing the escalation of government attempts to cripple the opposition, but it appears now that Prime Minister Hun Sen is so afraid of what might happen in a genuine vote, he won’t allow for competition at all.”

China: 122 fraud suspects repatriated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS/SHINE)

 

122 fraud suspects repatriated

China Is Playing The U.S. And The World For Fools Over North Korea And Putin And Iran Are Assisting

 

 

The President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping and his Communist Party leadership are playing the U.S. Government and the rest of the world for ignorant fools concerning North Korea’s little fat boy with the stupid haircut. This week there was a meeting in Manila, the capital of the Philippines of the Asian countries and a huge part of the conversations were about how the governments of China and their Ally North Korea are a huge danger to all of Asia and to the rest of the world. Also this week the U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 to increase sanctions on North Korea because of their missile program. China and Russia voted for the sanctions against North Korea yet I find it very difficult to believe anything that the leadership in China or Russia have to say. It is said that North Korea exports about three billion dollars of products each year, mostly raw materials. These new sanctions is said to chop off about one billion of that three billion cash influx to the North Korean Regime. This income goes to the State, meaning it goes to Kim Jong Un who in turn spends most of that cash on his military and his missile program. The new sanctions did not include the oil that China and Russia sell to North Korea. The U.N. says that almost all of the oil sold to North Korea by China and Russia are on an  ‘IOU’ basis.

 

Now I would like to speak with you about why I say that China is playing the U.S. and the rest of the world for fools. It is no secret that the leaders of China and Russia have no love loss for the Western Nations and especially for the U.S.. Only and idiot (Donald Trump) would believe that these folks are our friends as Mr. Trump has said of Mr. Jinping and he seems to have a love affair with Mr. Putin. For those who pay attention you should notice that the mobile launching vehicles are the property of China. One should also notice that the rockets now being fired by North Korea look exactly like China’s rockets. The free worlds security agencies say they are surprised at the rapid advancement of North Korea’s missile program, it is obvious that they are getting help from another government and it is pretty obvious who that country is. The more the U.S. engages with North Korea the less the world focuses on the atrocities and the aggressiveness of China and Russia. The countries of Asia are worried about the aggressiveness of China as the Summit in Manila laid bare. North Korea was bumped to the number two concern to these Countries. If the world does not reign in the Communist Leadership of China they will soon totally dominate all of Asia, and that does include India and the leaders of India know this. Mr. Putin had better not trust the Chinese governments hunger for land but honestly I do not believe that Mr. Putin is that big of a fool as he knows well the methods that one larger country takes over another country while saying it belonged to them anyway.

 

For those who were paying attention to this sort of thing, North Korea’s #2 Official is currently on a ten-day visit to Tehran Iran. These two Countries have two total different ideologies concerning how they look at the world. Iran’s it based in total religious hatred of everyone whom is not a devout Shiite Islamic, North Korea is all about the hatred inside the brain of their crazy little fat boy with the horrible haircut. China is quickly positioning themselves to be the worlds biggest most powerful military led country in all of Asia and the Pacific theater .  Kim Jong Un has always had the desire to make the whole Korean Peninsula into one Korea with himself as the Ruler. If China, North Korea and to a smaller extent Russia could run the U.S. Military out of that region all of the other smaller countries will fall to China’s domination and many of the Asian Countries realize it. Unfortunately there are some countries leaders in the region who are being bought by China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ project like Cambodia and the Philippines. Sri Lanka is a Nation who excepted the ‘help’ from China to help build up their infrastructure with Chinese loans at high interest rates and now China is demanding repayment before the construction is even finished as the economic benefits have not yet started to flow in. Countries will lose their own right to rule themselves because of this pariah in Beijing. All a person has to do is to pay attention to the realities on the ground, it does not take a genius to figure these things out and the Lord knows the U.S. does not have a genius in the Oval Office.

Vietnam Urges Stronger Stand Against China At ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN DAILY TIMES)

 

MANILA: Vietnam urged other Southeast Asian nations to take a stronger stand against Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, as a tense regional security forum began Saturday with North Korea also under fire over its nuclear program.

Ahead of the launch of the annual gathering of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam made a bold play against China with a raft of suggested changes to a planned joint communique.

It set the stage for what was expected to be a fiery few days of diplomacy in the Philippine capital, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks from Sunday.

The meetings will take place as the United Nations Security Council votes this weekend on a US-drafted resolution to toughen sanctions against North Korea to punish the isolated regime for its missile and nuclear tests. The United States said it would also seek to build unified pressure on the North at the Manila event — known as the ASEAN Regional Forum — and Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Pyongyang would receive a strong message.

But on the South China Sea dispute — one of Asia’s other top powder keg issues — there was far less consensus with Vietnam resisting efforts by the Philippines to placate Beijing, diplomats told AFP.

Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday.

According to a copy of a draft obtained by AFP, Vietnam lobbied for ASEAN to express serious concern over “construction” in the sea, in reference to China’s ramped up artificial island building in the disputed waters in recent years.

Vietnam also wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that a planned code of conduct for the sea with China be “legally binding”, which Beijing opposes.

The lobbying occurred when the ASEAN foreign ministers held unscheduled and informal talks late on Friday night.

“The discussions were really hard. Vietnam is on its own to have stronger language on the South China Sea. Cambodia and Philippines are not keen to reflect that,” one diplomat involved in the talks told AFP.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building the artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.

Alongside Vietnam, the Philippines used to be the most vocal critic of Beijing’s expansionism.

But, under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has sought to downplay the dispute with China in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

China has in recent years also successfully lobbied other ASEAN nations, particularly Cambodia, to support its diplomatic maneuvering in the dispute.

At the ASEAN opening ceremony on Saturday morning, Cayetano confirmed there had been strong debates on Friday.

“You have to excuse my voice as, my colleagues, we kept each other up until almost midnight last night. In the true ASEAN way we were able to passionately argue our national interest,” Cayetano said.

Various diplomats said that Vietnam was likely to lose its battle to insert the strong language against China, with the Philippines as host of the talks wielding greater influence.

ASEAN is set to this weekend endorse a framework for a code of conduct with China, which is meant to pave the way for more concrete action.

 

 

Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.