Author: Bama

Paro: Bhutan’s Sleepy Gateway

Our last morning in Punakha started quite uneventfully; James and I had switched back to our pants and shirts and Kinga and Phuntsho to their gho. As usual, we left the hotel at 8.30 but this time instead of moving eastward as we’d been doing […]

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Beauty Has A Name: Punakha

On the morning of our second day in Punakha Valley, we looked up to the sky before leaving our hotel; the sun was mostly obstructed by grey clouds, although it wasn’t as windy as the day before. “There’s a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal,” […]

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Entering the Divine Madman’s Land

Once upon a time in Middle Earth, nine fellows traveled to the east to deliver a powerful ring back to its source. At one point they had to traverse the arduous pass of Caradhras, through snow-capped mountains with harsh weather and enchanted air. It was […]

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Thimphu: Up Close and Personal

“Happiness is a place.” This is the slogan of Bhutan’s tourism campaign which I saw in increasing frequency as soon as I arrived in this Himalayan kingdom. Many people travel long distances to Bhutan in search for happiness, something they can’t quite find amid the […]

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Bhutan: A Sunny Welcome

The Drukair Airbus A319 which took us from Singapore began making its descent, but seated by the aisle meant the Bhutanese sky and clouds were the only things I could see from the windows on both sides of the plane. As James was kept busy […]

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Land of the Thunder Dragon

It was probably in the early 2010s when the small Himalayan country of Bhutan caught my attention. I remember being fascinated when I learned about what the Bhutanese government has done to preserve its unique culture while at the same time opening up to the […]

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Changdeokgung: The Finest of the Five

Donning a dark blue and light pink hanbok (Korean traditional costume), our guide Jae greeted us at the gate to the Secret Garden at Seoul’s Changdeokgung Palace. Together with around 40-50 other visitors, most of them wearing thick jackets with their hands tucked firmly in […]

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Trowulan: Beauty in Red Brick

I am standing in front of Candi Tikus, its red brick structure almost entirely below ground level as if the earth was purposefully dug out so that it could fit inside. A flight of stairs made from the same material acts as the only entrance […]

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Trowulan: An Ancient Javanese City

“You’re the only person I know who comes to Mojokerto to see its ancient ruins.” Monica expressed her amusement over dinner at a modest, dimly-lit local restaurant in the East Javan city. I knew her from college and this was only the second time we […]

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Heian Shrine: A Blast to the Past

Hosting the world’s fair has become a means some countries have embraced to promote their economic progress and development agenda to an international audience. Since the event’s first run in 1851, which celebrated advancements in industrial technology in the United Kingdom and other countries, a […]

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Jongmyo: Walking alongside the Spirits

In the past, great temples, shrines and places of worship were often constructed to signify the rise of new kingdoms and empires, or to commemorate significant events, or even to appease gods and goddesses. Normally a great amount of time and wealth was expended, and […]

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10 Years in Jakarta

How much can a city change in ten years? If it’s physical appearance we’re talking about, unless it is Dubai, Singapore or places in China, the changes – notably the skyline – in most cities are usually not too palpable. But how much can a […]

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