Bayon Temples Cambodia -216 smiling faces

Bayon temples – 216 gigantic faces

Welcome to the Bayon temples, built end of the 12th Century. The Bayon temples feature 216 faces, a nearly surreal masterpiece unlike any I’d ever seen. Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Bayon temples, along with Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, are easily the best 1-2 day trip you can take in southeast Asia. Here’s a 29 photo tour:

Reflections of Bayon in Angkor Thom
Reflections of Bayon in Angkor Thom. Brilliant photo by Mike Behnken
Bayon temples in the Angkor Thom area of Siem Reap, Cambodia near Angkor Wat
it’s 90-degrees fahrenheit, but I kept reading about killer mosquitos. They said it’s crucial to get vaccinated, and cover yourself from head to toe.

Who are the faces of?  They Bayon faces are said represent Lokeshvara, a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions, or even the king himself. Here’s the explanation:

Initially the faces were believed to represent Brahma, the Hindu God of creation depicted with four heads. When it was later established that the Bayon was not a Hindu temple but a Buddhist one, archeologists believed the faces to be of Lokeshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. The similarity of statues of Jayavarman VII and the face towers had led some to believe that it is the King himself whose face is depicted on the towers.

Impressive Petra!

Petra, one of the 7 Wonders of the World

Petra in Jordan is impressive – established sometime in the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans – they carved the entire city out of the rock. They didn’t build columns – they kept carving the rock until they had columns. Given the back-story, it’s some of the most impressive architecture I’ve seen.  I highly recommend visiting Petra.

The Monastery at Petra, The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic), in Jordan
The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic)

Petra was named one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007; it was  declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

The Monastery is massive - Petra, Jordan
The Monastery is massive! Petra, Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") at the ruins in Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”)

You may recognize this spot (above photo) in Petra from the film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The movie’s fictional “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” was modeled on this 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon known as the Siq, which that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury). Siq pictured above.

in front of Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") in Petra, Jordan
in front of Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) in Jordan

Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, the site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”.

England vs UK vs Great Britain

England vs UK vs Great Britain – are these the same?

Do England, the United Kingdom, and Great Britain, all refer to the same place?  What’s the difference between England vs UK vs Great Britain, and what’s included in each? Is Scotland a country?  Here’s the answer in a 5-minute video that breaks these down. I’ve also highlighted some quick answers below that. You’ll understand your initial question in the first 30-seconds, but this clip does a great job with the natural follow-up questions.

For example, why is the Queen is on Canadian currency? Where do Belize and the Cayman Islands fit in?  Enjoy!

what's the difference between england vs uk vs great britain
image from below CGPGrey video

England vs UK vs Great Britain

Here’s a quick breakdown:

England contains about 80% of the population of the UK.

Great Britain includes England, Wales and Scotland. Great Britain is a geographical term referring to the island on which the greater parts of England, Wales and Scotland are situated. GB is also a legal one referring to those three territories considered together. Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, which is most of the UK but not all.

Swimming in Shark Infested Waters

Swimming in Shark Infested Waters – SCUBA Diving with sharks, no cage

I went swimming in shark infested waters – and lived to tell about it!

We went SCUBA diving in the Semporna Archipelago, and sharks were everywhere!  This was only my second time seeing whitetip reef sharks while SCUBA diving so I was still getting comfortable with the idea of it. Eventually I got really excited to see (and photograph sharks – we saw a dozens of sharks per dive!

I’ve received tons of questions about diving with sharks, so I’ll tell you about it here. I’ll also attempt to dispel some myths about sharks.

Whitetip Reef shark - notice the white on the tip of his fin. Swimming in shark infested waters
Whitetip Reef Sharks get their name from the tips of their fin – see the dorsal fin in this photo. I was this close in Borneo!

Aren’t sharks dangerous??

This is the most common question I get when people hear my excitement about swimming with sharks.  The short answer: No. We’ve all seen the movie Jaws, but not all sharks are the same. The overwhelming majority of sharks are not dangerous (unless provoked).  These were reef sharks – people commonly refer to them as “vegetarian” sharks!  They’re just as scared of us, as we’re the same size as them. Whitetip Reef sharks are curious and will swim right up to you, but aren’t often aggressive unless provoked.

Sharks, Sea Turtles, Barracudas, & more!

SCUBA Diving in Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago in Malaysian Borneo — It was my first time swimming with sharks – they were everywhere, and didn’t seem to care much about us swimming a few feet away. Sipadan dive photos below, including sharks, sea turtles, harlequin sweetlips, school of jackfish, surgeonfish, purple antihas, big eye emperors, yellow mask angelfish, triggerfish, butterfly fish, parrotfish, unicorn fish, and more!

Whitetip Reef Shark
surprise visitors during our dive – sharks!

school of Jackfish

1st underwater SCUBA Diving photo of me
1st underwater SCUBA Diving photo of me

?

Harlequinn Sweetlips

A graceful Sea Turtle swims next to us during our SCUBA dive

A graceful Sea Turtle swims next to us during our SCUBA dive

(Press SL for Slideshow, FS for Full Screen):

Hong Kong architecture photography

Incredible Hong Kong photography that makes the Hong Kong architecture look surreal

Photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze captured Hong Kong’s architecture  in his Vertical Horizon photography project. He’s made it into an 80-page book of photos from his 2012. The 26-year-old French photographer captures the city’s skyscrapers from vertical angles – all looking up. So cool!

Hong Kong photography by Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze

Quarry bay - Photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze captures Hong Kong’s soaring heights in his new book, Vertical Horizon. It's a Hong Kong photography project featuring Hong Kong architecture
Quarry Bay

These vertical angles were captured through a wide-angle Sigma lens with a 10 mm focal length. Unlike a fisheye lenses, he says a sigma lens avoids distorting the urban landscape’s straight lines.

This photo reminds me of the Guggenheim museum in NYC, but it's actually in Hong Kong. The photo is part of the Vertical Horizon photography project, a Hong Kong photography collection featuring Hong Kong architecture
This photo reminds me of the Guggenheim museum in NYC, but it’s actually Tai Hang.
Hong Kong photography - Vertical Horizon of Hong Kong architecture
love the brilliant colors

Hong Kong photography - Vertical Horizon of Hong Kong architecture Hong Kong photography - Vertical Horizon of Hong Kong architecture

French photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze shot these in 2011 and 2012 for this Hong Kong photography project
French photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze shot these in 2011 and 2012
Wan Chai, an area known for nightlife. It's part of a Hong Kong photography collection featuring Hong Kong architecture facing up
Wan Chai
Hong Kong photography of Tsim Sha Tsui, an urban area in south Kowloon
Tsim Sha Tsui, an urban area in south Kowloon

Check out the full 80-page book of photos at the link below –
Vertical Horizon (English and Chinese Edition)

Book - Vertical Horizon photography project, featuring Hong Kong architecture facing up

The Vertical Horizon project is a similar style to the awesome architectural photography of Peter Stewart.

To see more posts on Hong Kong, including some of the best Hong Kong architecture.

 

Sunset Silhouettes – Boracay Beaches

Sunset Silhouettes!

Imagine visiting a place where every afternoon was the most amazing sunset you’ve ever seen…until the next day. Boracay island might be paradise, and made for some amazing sunset silhouettes.  Loved it!

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach Paradise!
this is one of my favorite photos from Boracay – I want to go back!

Boracay was easily my favorite part of the Philippines. We saw some of the most amazing sunsets – this post has some of my favorites.

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach Kodak Moment, Philippines
definately a “Kodak moment!”

Nearly every day in Boracay finished with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever seen!

Frisbee Silhouettes! The Boracay beaches were fairly empty until around 5pm, when the sun began to set
Frisbee Silhouettes! The Boracay beaches were fairly empty until around 5pm, when the sun began to set

the gorgeous sky made for some awesome sunset silhouettes in Boracay Philippines

The gorgeous Boracay sky turned orange, red and purple, and made for some awesome sunset silhouettes.

Sunset Silhouettes - Boracay Beach -008
These kids were adorable!

capturing the sunburst in my hand

There’s nothing quite like experiencing a breathtaking sunset.

Julian captures the Boracay sunset with his SLR
My friend Julian captures the Boracay sunset with his SLR. We couldn’t get enough of these

Want more sunsets? I’ve put together all the sunset posts on Visit50.com at this link.
Julian enjoys the sunset in Boracay

Visit 50 Countries & 50 States by Age 50