Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tropical Island Getaway

Over my last weekend I went to Koh Samet. It is a small island about 3 hours South of Bangkok. I traveled with my friend Sina. We left on Friday morning. We took a taxi to the nearest bus station where we got a small van to take us South to catch the ferry.

On the ferry we met a Dutch couple, Fritz and Yeti. They are experts in mindfulness and meditation. Fritz was actually a practicing Buddhist monk for 5 years and speaks fluent Thai. Fritz and Yeti had just completed a 4 week meditation retreat at a temple somewhere in Thailand. During their retreat they only saw each other a few times and neither of them spoke for the entire four weeks! I think that Sina and I were some of the first people they conversed with. They had been to Koh Samet many times and knew the island very well. They helped us get accommodations for the first night and we saw them frequently throughout the weekend. On my last night, they invited us to dinner with them. It was a really nice meal and there was a fire show. I didn't take any photos because my phone was dead, but the three Cambodian guys did some amazing stuff with flaming hoops, balls, chains, and sticks. The youngest performer couldn't have been older than 11.

Because it was Valentine's weekend and the start of Chinese New Year, the island was busy so our first night of accommodation was not so great (no ocean view and very dark) and it was a bit over priced. We couldn't stay another night at that place so we searched elsewhere. We found a gem called Lablanc Bungalow Resort. We weren't on the water, but it was cheap and we could sea the ocean so it was an improvement.

We spent a lot of time on the beach and on the porch of our bungalow. It was the most relaxed holiday I have ever taken.

All together I think I spent less than $130 for travel, accommodation, and food.
Scootergram!

View from our Bungalow ($18 a night).

Shout-out to Donnie and Jara! I hope they are staying warm in Canterbury!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Still On My Mind...




Church above the Ossuary.



It has been approximately eight months since my trip abroad to Central Europe.  As an evening student, I never thought I would get the chance to embark on such a memorable journey.  But I did - and memorable it was!

One of the things I remember most - but haven't already written about - was the Sedlec Ossuary, or the "Bone Church" located in Kutna Hora, which is about an hour's drive from Prague in Czech Republic.
Coat of Arms
 













A brief history from the Ossuary's webpage (http://www.ossuary.eu/index.php/en/ossuary):

A monastery was founded near the site in 1142. The monks' primary task was land cultivation. In 1278, the Bohemian king sent the Sedlec abbot on a diplomatic mission to the Holy Land. When leaving Jerusalem, he took with him a handful of earth from Golgotha, which he sprinkled at the cemetery of the Sedlec monastery. As word spread, the cemetery became famous, and the desire to be buried here grew among Central Europeans. 

Bone Chandelier
After 1400, an abbot established a Gothic style church in the middle of the cemetery, and under it was placed a chapel destined for bones from destroyed graves, a task given to a half blind monk sometime after 1511. The current arrangement of the chapel goes back to 1870 and is the work of a Czech wood-carver, FrantiĊĦek RINT and his wife.
 
The Sedlec Ossuary contains the remains of roughly 40 000 people and is a World Heritage site.

While a destination like this may not suit everyone, it was a remarkable sight to see, and I am glad I took the opportunity to see it!


Display of Skulls   






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