9 Beautiful Buddhas in Singapore

The Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 9 Beautiful Buddhas.

Statues of the Buddha have inspired devotees through the ages.  In Singapore I first discovered for myself the astonishing beauty of Buddha. The Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore has a wonderful collection of Buddhas, presented in an elegant, dramatic and historically informative manner. 

What is it about these statues of Buddha that is so compelling? Does the Buddha remind us that although life is challenging in so many ways, we can find peace in our own solitude?

Gentle kindness, reflection, mindfulness, gratitude...... 

See another 9 beautiful and  majestic Buddhas from Bagan Myanmar .

Here are 9 more beautiful Buddhas from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.

Beautiful chanting......

9 Beautiful Buddhas in London, England

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

It was an unexpected delight to further my collection of Buddha images in London, England, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Here, the statues of the Buddha are small, but elegant. The mudra, or meaningful hand gestures, tell the teachings of the Buddha. Stunning, with gentle kindness apparent in each expression. 

We missed the Radiant Buddha, and so I must return.   

Enjoy these beautiful images....

See another 9 majestic and beautiful Buddhas from Bagan, Myanmar.

View another 9 stunningly beautiful Buddhas from Singapore.

Buddhist chanting...

Five Reasons to Bring a Travel Guidebook

Lonely Planet Collection 
Yes, travel light, keep books to a minimum, but take a reliable current paperback guidebook and supplement with IPAD internet research.

#1. Use the Guidebook to Plan.  Prior to departure, discover vital facts about health, currency, transportation, weather, culture and history long before you take flight.  Either plan your trip in great detail or roughly, whichever you prefer, but have some idea of your agenda. If you only have one day in Istanbul, and want to see the amazing Archaeology Museums, the guidebook will inform that the Museums are closed on Mondays.  The internet is fine for looking up one thing at a time, but a guidebook provides everything you need to plan – quickly and reliably. 

#2. Travel Wisely and Well.  Well- researched guidebooks suggest the best sites, walk you through museums, take you on historic street walks and recommend good restaurants and lodgings.  They provide advice for gay travelers, and make recommendations for parents travelling with kids. It isn't possible to ‘see’ everything, so a good guidebook lists the sites not to miss and helps identify those that may not interest you. In essence, they help you to use your limited time wisely and to your liking.

Getting our bearings in Rome with guidebook
 #3. Ease of Use.  Guidebooks are still better 'on the street’ than e-books.  E-books are hard to flip through or find info in and although the technology may improve, many still can’t be read in sunshine.  For now, the paper guidebook is easier to read when on your daily travels.  With detailed maps for walking, a paper book still seems friendlier to use as you wander. A paper book can be quickly opened and read in a more comfortable stance. Make notes in it, place stars beside favorite restaurants, jot down transportation details. The book allows you to flip to everything you need.
#4. Generally Reliable (but not always). A guidebook might not be perfectly up to date, especially regarding restaurants.  Is the establishment still open, has fame ruined the ambiance or  raised the prices?  Check on the internet (Trip Advisor is OK) for current views, but use the guidebook to get you there.  We find that guidebook recommendations for restaurants tend to have good quality of food, but we don’t limit ourselves to just guidebook recommendations, or just Trip Advisor. For lodging, a guidebook shows you exactly where the accommodation is in relation to other sites. Location is important for exploration on foot. Guidebook recommendations for lodging do not and can not list all the great places to stay, but generally, you will not get stuck with unacceptable accommodation with a guidebook recommendation. We don’t rely solely on guidebook advice for lodgings, but we do often want to stay in the inviting, smaller hotels they recommend. The best get booked early.

#5. Trip Memento.  After your  trip, the books make a handsome display on your bookshelf. You have, for your everyday viewing, visual reminders of your trips at your fingertips.  Your own notations serve as advice for others, and for yourself should you return. What was that restaurant we loved; the name of that fabulous museum?

A Recommendation: Lonely Planet.

Lonely Planet books are generally thorough and well organized, not perfect, but invaluable, even so.  We use others, too, but rely on Lonely Planet.  Buy the lightest book that suites the trip. Don’t buy the thick book for India if you are just going to go to Rajasthan. Many good guidebooks come as e-books too.  If you find that e-books suite you well, use one, but whatever choice you make, a good guidebook will enhance your journey. 

9 Beautiful Buddhas in Bagan, Myanmar

#1 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar

The Buddhists of Myanmar revere the ancient, sacred statues of Buddha found throughout Burma. Many of the stunning, towering Buddhas of Bagan are covered in gold leaf. 

The temples, monasteries, and pagodas of Bagan were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, when the ancient city was the capital of the region of Pagan, later to be known as Myanmar or Burma. 

Of the 10,000 original structures, just over 2000 remain.  This amazing sight is particularly gorgeous at dawn or sunset.

#2 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar

#3 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar

#4 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar

#5 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar
#6 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar

#7 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar
#8 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar

#9 Beautiful Buddha of Myanmar
The Buddha statues of Bagan are magnificent. They tower, in their original halls of worship, so majestic and powerful, yet so gentle and kind. They loom large, but each one provides, through expression and mudra (hand gestures) teachings of the Buddha.

Bagan, Myanmar Sunrise.

Buddhist Monks in Bagan, Myanmar
See 9 more beautiful Buddhas from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.

View another 9 stunningly beautiful Buddhas from Singapore.

UNESCO World Heritage Cella Septichora, Early Christian Burial Site in Pecs, Hungary

UNESCO Early Christian Burial Site of Sopianae, Pecs, Hungary
 A few hours south by train from Budapest is the university town of Pecs, a cultural center of Hungary
, a lovely medieval and modern town with multi-cultural roots, and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Early Christian Necropolis of Pecs.  This archaeological site is part of the ancient city of Sopianae, founded by the Romans almost two thousand years ago and once home to 10,000 people. The city of Pecs, with a population of 150,000, now completely overlays the ancient town of Sopianae.
Early Symbol of Christianity at Pecs

The Romans introduced Christianity to the area and by 400 AD,  the trading center of Sopianae had a significant and large Christian population. Three ancient Christian burial grounds are just outside the old walled town of Sopianae. Here are tombs, numerous family burial chapels, monuments and mausoleums. This type of Christian burial site, with many grouped stone ceremonial buildings and chambers, was unique for this era in Europe. The well-preserved 1600 year old site is, therefore, historically important. 

From the town center in Pecs we easily walked to the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cella Septichora, Early Christian Cemetery. The burial chambers excavated here, around the Szent Istvan Square, date back to the 4th century.

Cella Septichora, Early Christian Cemetery, UNESCO World Heritage site at Pecs, Hungary

Early image of Mary?

                                                                                                   The UNESCO Center is a low, concrete structure, nestled into the surrounding plaza and steps. It's easy to miss. The small entrance and initial courtyard chamber are well-lit due to a glass roof, that serves as the floor of the public square above. Through tunnels we ventured into deeper burial chambers with remnants of biblical frescoes and Christian and Roman imagery. 

In the two story barrel-vaulted Saint Peter and Paul Chamber, the Apostles point to an early Christian symbol of Jesus,  a circular Christogram with Greek letters. The garden of Eden and other biblical stories are depicted as well as a faded portrayal of a woman, possibly the Virgin Mary. It was fascinating to see these Christian images created only a few hundred years after the death of Christ. 

We later toured the nearby Mausoleum, with a large sarcophagus and 4th century images of Daniel and lions, and Eden. Go to the Cella Septichora Visitor Center first to get information about the Mausoleum. The UNESCO site was closed on Mondays.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Cella Septichora, Early Christian Necropolis, Pecs, Hungary

Fresco in Saint Peter and Paul Chamber, UNESCO

Some guidebooks make reference to another archaeological site nearby, on Apaca Street. We sought this out first, but could not find it. This left us wondering if the UNESCO site existed. It does and once located, it was worth the effort to find.   Ask for the Cella Septichora, Early Christian Cemetery.

This World Heritage site is well protected and beautifully displayed. Although not expansive, it is of significance as one of the largest and best preserved early Christian burial grounds in Europe. It was interesting, well-presented, reasonably priced and like most UNESCO World Heritage sites, invaluable for its preservation of human history and culture. In Pecs, be sure to seek it out. The Center is also used for current cultural events by the citizens of Pecs.

Apostles point to early Christian symbol of Jesus, UNESCO World Heritage, Pecs, Hungary

More information on the World Heritage Pecs site.

Pecs, Hungary with medieval roads

Pecs, Hungary, with temporary Leonardo da Vinci exhibit -the Horse.
Center Square of Pecs, Hungary

13 Important Travel Tips

Udaipur, India - Beautiful Travel Destination
1. In your 'carry-on' take a change of clothes, medications, electronics, money & credit cards, passport, ID, travel documents and your camera. If your checked luggage is lost, you will survive.

    2.   Pack light, travel light. If you must shop for gifts, buy light, small items. In Budapest buy paprika; Thailand, silk scarves. Buy heavier items at the end of the trip. Shopping takes time, money and weighs you down. Resist.

3. Read up before you go to appreciate the cultural experience. Learn at minimum a few words of the local language, such as ‘thanks’ and ‘hello’. 
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Small plates in Bagan, Myanmar
    4.  As a pedestrian, be aware. Cross streets with the locals. Not every city is pedestrian friendly – some are downright hostile.

    5.  Beware the ‘soft’ scams. Even the most experienced travelers can be fooled. Don’t go with strangers who approach you on the street and don't take their advice. Make your own plans and stick to them.

    6. Use public transportation from the airport. Research this before you go and save cash and time. Singapore, Athens, Rome, London, Amsterdam, Paris  all have fast public transit from the airport. Sometimes your hotel can arrange for a pick up at the airport. This may be the best option in cities like Delhi or Hanoi. Ask your hotel for a good  local travel agent, too. Generally, they won’t steer you wrong.

    7.  Enjoy great food  as you travel, but use common sense.  Creamy foods should be cold, hot foods should be hot, not lukewarm. Take medications to combat diarrhea, constipation and vomiting.  

Shopping in Udaipur, India

 8. Arrive early. Check departure times and departure locations. Where is the train station or bus depot? Leave enough time. 

    9.   Buy a good guide book. E-readers are fine for reading indoors, but not great as 'on the street' travel guides. They are hard to read in daylight and difficult to flip through when on the street. 

       10. In the tropics, stay cool. Get a room with air conditioning. You will need it to get a good sleep. Mosquitoes? Tuck the mosquito net under the mattress really well! Cover up and wear bug repellent. 

View from the hotel room in Delhi.
11. Resist riding on motorcycles or mopeds. We have encountered MANY injured travelers. Thinking of deep sea diving, or para-sailing? Safety is not always a priority on the tourist beach.   CAUTION!  Is the equipment truly safe, is the training excellent, is the company reputable, are you insured for injury?
    12.  Buy medical travel insurance.You think you are healthy and nothing will happen to you? Maybe not, but maybe so. Get your shots before you travel, too.

   13.  Keep your valuables secure on your person. Zip them up.

Mount Popa, Myanmar

We climbed to the top of Mount Popa, 777 steps.

Rendition of Nat spirits at Mount Popa
Nat Worship in Burma.

Some Buddhists in Myanmar, especially those in rural areas, worship Nats.  Nats are uniquely Burmese. They are spirits or guardians and protectors with dominion over people or things.  The worship of Nats  pre-dates Buddhism,  which became the national religion of  Burma in the eleventh century.   Nat worship was a form of animism, especially popular with the hill peoples of Myanmar, but practiced all over the country.
Mount Popa, Burma
Mount Popa, an extinct volcano in central Burma, was  home of the most important Nat, the Lord of the Great Mountain, and his Sister Lady Golden-Face.  In the ninth century they became the guardian gods of the city of Pagan.  Nat worshippers travelled to Mount Popa for a feast at the full moon in December.  Animals were sacrificed,  people drank palm toddy wine and danced. Full moon festivals were common throughout Burma in Nat worship.

Atop Mount Popa, monkey's view of Myanmar.
In the town below Mount Popa
Although pre-Buddhist practices, such as astrology, alchemy and the worship of Nats, were suppressed when King Anawratha unified Burma in the eleventh century and made Buddhism the national religion, Nat worship continued. The King eventually integrated Nat worship into Theravada Buddhism,  added one of his own to the traditional 36 primary Nats, and replaced other Nats with his own dead war heroes. 
Today in Myanmar, Nat worship continues, side by side Buddhism, with pilgrimages and festivals held throughout the country. Nats are similar to Saints, some with human characteristics, such as drinking and smoking. Some protect the environment and dwell in the forest or mountains, and environmental destruction could bring their rath.   Nats are spiritual friends of the Burmese people.

Nats guard Buddha in Bagan. Stop, and look, they seem to say.

Mount Popa is a day trip from Bagan. On the way to Mount Popa from Bagan, we stopped to see how palm oil, palm candy (jaggery) and palm toddy wine are made, the old fashioned way. The drinking of toddy, wild dancing and traditional hsaing music enduce the trance at a Nat festival, and assist in the belief that revellers are possessed by the Nats.

Palm Toddy

Grinding to make palm oil

Mount Popa, as an important shrine to Nat worship, was an extremely interesting place to visit. Monkeys inhabit the temples, and we enjoyed watching them, keeping our distance because they can be aggressive. The climb up to the top, 777 steps in bare feet, was not too difficult. Mount Popa does not have the beautiful old buddhas, pagodas and temples of Bagan, but as Nat worship is still prevalent in Myanmar, Mount Popa is culturally important.  

In Mandalay, Myanmar