Welcome to Moscow! Metro Tour..why? because it’s cool!

Finally, the Russian Metro is very simple (in a way).  The main line for most tourists will be the “brown” circle.  Again see map.  You can just get off the train, snap some pictures, take it all in, and board the next train.  Again, ALL FOR 50 Rubles!

Written from Swissotel, Moscow on July 28 2016

Serbian villages – hidden treasury of Serbia

You need some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city, from all the noise and pollution? You long for a place where such things are unimaginable? Where people enjoy the company of nature and other people, and not phones and the Internet? Where your first neighbors will be fragrant flowers and amazing animals, and your best friends clean air and a fresh breeze? Let’s go then!

 

Kremna Village

You’re intrigued by old prophecies? You’re driven by an inexplicable energy? You enjoy seeing nature’s riches of magical beauty? You still don’t know why we’re asking you all these questions? The answer lies in Kremna – an unusual village where prophecies, mystical energy and lush nature meet.

The impressive valley between the Tara and Zlatibor mountains is known for the famous Serbian family of prophets. The Tarabić family have foreseen a huge part of Serbian history and made the village of Kremna famous. So come here and check for yourself!

 

Trsic Village

Right in the spot where nature and history, culture and art, value and tradition meet, the beautiful village of Tršić lies. This small village near Loznica is known as the birthplace of Vuk Karadžić and the home of the oldest manifestation in Serbia called “Vukov sabor”.

Apart from that, nature bestowed upon Tršić amazing gifts. Such as the dense forests the peace of which is disturbed only by the merry chirp of birds… The winding streams that cut across green paths and clear air make this village the perfect place to escape the city rush and hectic pace of life.

 

Jagostica Village

Even though it’s on the very edge of Serbia, this destination is more than worthy of your attention. Apart from breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, the village of Jagoštica is special because of the fact that the words “urban”, “pollution” and “crowds” mean nothing at all. But “peace”, “quiet” and the laws of nature mean everything.

If you should ever find yourself in this village bordered by the Drina river canyon and the Tara national park, you canforget about the Internet, your mobile phone and any other gadget. But that’s what you’ve wanted in the first place, right?

 

Kamena Gora Village

Many will tell you that this place, located in the very southwest of Serbia, is one of the most beautiful in this country.And rightfully so. With its vast landscapes and its plentiful fresh air, the Kamena Gora (roughly translated as “Rocky forest”) is a unique ecological spot and a true oasis.

That is why everyone should spend at least a couple of days in this place that’s basically“plucked from heaven”. The fact that here you can encounter the oldest pine tree in Serbia, the famous 500-year-old Sacred or Old pine as it is called, is yet another curiosity of the Kamena Gora.


These are just some of numerous stunning villages in Serbia.

For more information please use the LINK

Travel – Adventure – Experience Russia

 

Russia outside its touristic “facade” Moscow with its Red Square and the Kremlin, St. Petersburg with its palaces, but in an entirely different perspective. Why not pet a wild animal in Vladivostok’s marine reserve, watch bears catch fish, take a walk on Kamchatka’s volcano, or bathe in champagne in Krasnodar region!

Vladivostok

 

On September 2, Vladivostok will host the Eastern Economic Forum, which will be attended by President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Abe. The forum members will hold a lot of meetings, discussions, round-table discussions and press conferences. And in the evenings, they will be offered an extensive cultural program.

There is a lot to see in Vladivostok: the Maritime scene of the Mariinsky Theatre; Zolotoy Rog Bay; the Russky Bridge, the masterpiece of engineering; Russky Island and hyper-modern campus of the Far Eastern University, where the forum will take place.

Forbes considered Vladivostok one of the most comfortable Russian cities for recreation. National Geographic included it in the top 10 most beautiful coastal cities of the world. From the Peter the Great Gulf even distant islands are visible, some of which are located in the Far Eastern Marine Reserve, the first marine reserve in Russia and the only one, 98% of which is the water area. More than 5,000 species of plant and animal live there.

These cherished places can not only be seen from a distance — you can go there and even touch some marine creatures. From an environmental standpoint, the reserve has a global significance, because rare birds live there, which are included in the Red List of Korea, China, Japan and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. For those who prefer active holidays, Vladivostok provides plenty of opportunities: windsurfing and kite surfing, diving, sea kayaking and extreme jumping from the cliffs into the sea.

Kamchatka is a true paradise for tourists. Here you can walk along the slope of an active volcano; watch bears catching fish; take a swim and take selfies with the geysers in the background. There are also waterfalls and glaciers there.

Ice Cave

 

And that is just a tiny part of mysterious Russia.

 

 

Empires, Dictators and Kings

A brief voyage through Cambodia’s turbulent but fascinating history

Legend has it that the land now called Cambodia was the result of a marriage between an IndianBrahmin and the daughter of a dragon king. As a dowry, the dragon king drank the waters inundating his aquatic kingdom, then bequeathed the land to his new son-in-law.
The oldest archaeological artifacts in Cambodia are stone tools dating from 6,000 to 7,000BCE and, by the beginning of the Christian era, it is believed that Cambodians spoke a language resembling modern Khmer. The first cohesive Cambodian states arose around this time in the Mekong Delta. The largest of these kingdoms, which traded extensively with India and China, was called Funan
by the Chinese.

As Funan waned in the 6th Century, a kingdom named Chenla emerged. Its sprawling 7th-Century capital, Sambor Prei Kuk, can still be seen in present-day Kampong Thom province. Like Funan, Chenla largely borrowed its religious and cultural life from the Indian subcontinent. Both Chenla and Funan were dominant forces in a land dotted with rival kingdoms and principalities. In the late 8th Century, an ambitious ruler named Jayavarman II began uniting these disparate settlements through alliances and conquests. In 802, Jayavarman II declared himself monarch of a newly unified Cambodia, thus birthing the Khmer Empire – one that would go on to dominate mainland Southeast Asia for the next 600 years.

Towards the end of the 9th Century, Angkor became the seat of the Khmer Empire. Built by a succession of kings, the city’s jewel, Angkor Wat, was constructed in the early 12th Century.
Under the reign of Jayavarman VII (1125 to 1218), Buddhism replaced Hinduism as the empire’s state religion. The monarch is also credited with constructing the walled city of Angkor Thom and the majestic Bayon temple. Drought, population pressures and the failure of Angkor’s complex hydrological system coincided with the rise of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in present-day Thailand. A series of conflicts with this ascendant power in the 14th and 15th centuries hastened Angkor’s demise, and by 1431, the city had been sacked and largely abandoned. The next four centuries are commonly referred to as Cambodia’s ‘Dark Ages’. Besieged by Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east, the country was in danger of disappearing from the map until King Norodom I was coerced into establishing a French protectorate in 1863. The capital was moved from Oudong to Phnom Penh, and French colonialists began arriving to exploit the country’s resources.

In 1941, the country’s French overlords placed 19-year- old Prince Norodom Sihanouk on Cambodia’s throne. After much passionate lobbying, King Sihanouk secured Cambodia’s independence in 1953, ushering in a ‘golden age’ of peace, prosperity and cultural development that would end with the outbreak of the Vietnam War. A coup d’état in 1970 saw Sihanouk – who had dominated his country’s political affairs – deposed. For the next five years, the government of pro-American General Lon Nol vainly fought off a mounting communist insurgency. On April 17, 1975 the communists captured the capital, beginning the brutal rule of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge. Under Pol Pot, urbanites, artists, intellectuals and ethnic minorities were systematically eliminated as the communists sought to transform Cambodia into a Maoist agrarian utopia. An estimated 1.7 million people (about 20% of the population) died in this period – half from starvation and disease, the other half from execution.
The Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror was brought to an end by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979. The Khmer Rouge took refuge in the west and the north of the country, sparking a civil war that would last for two decades.  Along with the Vietnamese came a clutch of former Khmer Rouge fighters who had fled their party’s internal purges. Among them was a chain-smoking ex-guerrilla named Hun Sen who had lost his left eye during the 1975 capture of Phnom Penh. Initially installed as foreign minister, Hun Sen became his country’s prime minister in 1985 at the age of 33. The Vietnamese withdrew in 1989, leaving Hun Sen and his ex-Khmer Rouge comrades in power. In 1992, the United Nations arrived in the country to implement a peace deal between Cambodia’s warring factions. A 1993 UN-organised election saw Sihanouk’s son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, win the poll, but with Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) refusing to cede power, a co-prime ministership was established. In
a 1997 coup, Ranariddh was ousted from power. Meanwhile, in 1999, after decades of fierce fighting, the CPP- controlled army finally managed to dismantle the Khmer Rouge. Elections in 2003 and 2008 saw the CPP win easy victories as Cambodia’s royal family disappeared as a relevant political force.
The past decade has brought much- needed stability to this small Southeast Asian kingdom. Cambodia now boasts an impressive GDP growth rate of about 7%, fuelled primarily by its growing garment and tourism industries. Surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, moreover, are finally being brought to trial, and with an influx of foreign investments, many Cambodians are enjoying rapid improvements to their quality of life. However, in the country’s 2013 election, CPP hegemony was challenged for the first time in 15 years. Riding a wave of youth support, Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) surprised the pundits by making huge gains in the country’s 123- seat parliament. Earlier in the year, 61-year-old Hun Sen publicly stated that he would rule until the age of 74 but the election result threw that into doubt. For almost a year, the CNRP – contesting the results – refused to take up their seats in the National Assembly and it was not until July 2014 that a deal was struck between the two main parties and the CNRP took up their seats. With some forecasting a move towards true representative democracy, and with a youthful, tech-savvy population becoming more and more engaged, the next few years could be a turning point in Cambodia’s trajectory.

This article first appeared in Discover the essence of Cambodia – Annual 2015 Travel Edition

 

Tour to Koh Ker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Koh Ker is a remote archaeological site in northern Cambodia about 120 kilometers (75 mi) away from Siem Reap and the ancient site of Angkor. It is a very jungle filled region that is sparsely populated. More than 180 sanctuaries were found in a protected area of 81 square kilometers (31 sq mi). Only about two dozen monuments can be visited by tourists because most of the sanctuaries are hidden in the forest and the whole area is not fully demined.

Koh Ker is the modern name for an important city of the Khmer empire. In inscriptions the town is mentioned as Lingapua (city of lingams) or Chok Gargyar (sometimes translated as city of glance, sometimes as iron tree forest).

Under the reign of the kings Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II Koh Ker was briefly the capital of the whole empire (928–944 AD). Jayavarman IV forced an ambitious building program. An enormous water-tank and about forty temples were constructed under his rule. The most significant temple‑complex, a double sanctuary (Prasat Thom/Prang), follows a linear plan and not a concentric one like most of the temples of the Khmer kings. Unparalleled is the seven‑tiered and 36-metre (118 ft) high pyramid, which most probably served as state temple of Jayavarman IV. Really impressive too are the shrines with the two‑meter 6 ft 7 in high lingas.

Under Jayavarman IV the style of Koh Ker was developed and the art of sculpture reached a pinnacle. A great variety of wonderful statues were chiselled. Because of its remoteness the site of Koh Ker was plundered many times by looters. Sculptures of Koh Ker can be found not only in different museums but also in private collections. Masterpieces of Koh Ker are offered occasionally at auctions. These pieces in present times are considered stolen art.

The site is about two and half hours away from Siem Reap, and basic visitors’ facilities are now being built. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience lonely temples partly overgrown by the forest.

 

Prasat Thom of Koh Ker (ancient name of the site: Chok Gargyar (the Island of Glory or aka Lingapura)), a 6 step pyramid with central tower, built during the reign of Jayavarman IV (posthumous name: Paramashivapada) 921 – 941. An enormous Linga (18m) used to be at the top of this pyramid and in the central sanctuary, it’s now disappeared. At 35m, this pyramid is taller than Angkor Wat.