I think this is some sort of beetle.

After seeing the lizards I got in a mood for some macro. There were some cool bugs in India. A yellow wasp, some huge ants over a centimeter long and this crazy cool black beetle thing. I don’t know much about bugs either, but I thought they looked pretty cool. There isn’t to much to say about them I guess, but I think I should try to get some pictures of Thai bugs too so that I can compare them at some point.  I do love Macro!

A wasp searching the flowers for something.

A wasp in flight.

Lizard in India

The lizards were popping there heads out of the bushes just enough to catch bugs.

I thought these lizards were pretty cool. They were in the garden around the temple in India honoring the spot where Buddha died. The one on the top popped out of the bush while I was walking buy and completely made me jump. After that I had fun just walking them pop in and out of the bushes. I don’t know what kind of lizard they are as I’m not an expert when it comes to animals, but if anyone does it’s be neat to know. I know a guy passing by trying to tell me that he is an English speaking tour guide of the area mentioned that it was a dangerous lizard. Though seeing how small it is I’m not sure I believe him, I think he was just disgruntled that I didn’t want his guide services.

A hunting lizard in India

Sunrise on the Ganges

Morning baths on the Ganges.

In India I was lucky enough to get a chance to take a boat tour of the Ganges during sunrise. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The river wasn’t clean or pristine but I was surprised at the fact that that it didn’t seem as bad as I had assumed with all the talk of pollution.

The tour went past a few of the major bath areas as well as one of the cremation sites.  For the Hindu religion the Ganges is the very holy river.  Some believe bathing in the water will clear your karma, allowing you start anew.  Others believe that if you are cremated and put into the water you will have a direct path to Moksha, a stage where they become one with the creator Brahma allowing them to be released from the rebirth cycle.  I had never seen a dead body before so going past the boats of bodies waiting for cremation was very chilling for me.  The bodies were covered with cloth, but the outline of a human was clear.  It was a very sharp contrast to the young children playing as they bathe a mere 100 yards away.  The power of the Ganges in the Hindu culture became clear to me in that moment.

Buildings along the Ganges river.

And yes that is a monkey sitting on the ledge.

Inside the Temple

The shrine of the Thai temple in Gaya.

Here are some pictures for an inside look of the Thai temple in Gaya. The shrine not only features Buddha but also many symbols of Thailand including a portrait of the King on the side wall. There were also other tables that contained more pictures of the King. He is very important to the Thai culture and you would be hard pressed to find a temple in Thailand that does not honor him as well. On the other walls however traditional Thai style gave way to more traditional Indian style of decorating. The walls are painted with murals depicting the stories of Buddha in an Indian stylized form. On the back wall is the a story of bringing Buddha and his teachings to Thailand. It seems that in this story they load up a boat to sail towards what is seen background a the a city of the Thai Royal Palace (Bangkok). Yet a storm breaks out and the boat sinks. In the end Buddha is saved and carried to safety by a Goddess  so that his teachings can spread through Thailand.

Loading the ship to sail for Thailand.

The back wall mural, painted in an Indian style, at the Thai temple in Gaya.

A close up of Buddha being carried to safety by a Goddess at the Thai temple in Gaya.

Thai Temple in Gaya

Thai Temple in Bhodagaya

Along the Buddhist pilgrimage there are four main points. At those spots (as well as many others) other Buddhist countries have built temples in the area to honor these spots and give pilgrims from their region a place to stop. Thailand has lots of these temples. According to the Indian tour guides Thai tourism to that area has been becoming very popular in the last few years. The temple in Gaya was where we went first so that some of are party could become monks.  The Thai style roofs are easily recognizable amongst the skyline of temples as a symbol of home for Thai natives.

Roof of the Thai temple in Gaya

Fruit Sales

A street of vendors in Bhodagaya

A street of vendors in Bhodigaya

Bhodigaya was my first real glimpse of the streets of India. With the bright sun the colors seem even more vivid. The is no question that there is obviously poverty, and of course things are dirty, but it seem like you’ll become dirty being there.  The streets of Thailand have open sewers which make much of the streets smell horrid.  It seems the complete lack of sewers seems to work to India’s streets advantage a bit in that way.  Also there wasn’t large amounts of litter on the streets at least in the areas we were in.  Or perhaps it’s just the distracting beauty of the colorful saris that keeps one from noticing it.  The small fruit the vendor is selling here is gooseberries.  I sadly didn’t get to try any while I was there.

Welcome to India

A market street on the way to a temple.

I arrived in India early yesterday morning. I was lucky enough to get a small burst of somewhat stable internet tonight so I thought I would make a short introduction to India. I think India is amazing. It’s like no other place I’ve ever been to. That does not mean it’s all roses in the least, just different, and for me the positives out way the negatives. The country itself is beautiful. The people almost all speak good English as well. This of course has it’s down side when the beggars bombard you though. There is a lot of poverty, and that does tug at the heart strings, but there is also a lot of beauty in the quaint lives of some of the less poor. India is a country that is growing with out a doubt but they aren’t industrializing at the rapid speed of Thailand. I like that that. I think I’ve decided I like place to be either finished with industrialization or not quite started. I’ve got tons of photographs that will eventually make their way on here. I’m also learning a lot about Buddhism since this is a temple tour. Not to mention I am loving the food here!

My Dad and Prapa arriving in India

MSG Free Zones

Once upon a time on a little island nation filled with great scientists one of these men discovered that the human tongue could taste not just sweet, sour and bitter, but also the taste of pure protein.  With that the scientists went on to package and mass market that wonderful new taste in what they sold as the miracle ingredient of MSG!  These days MSG is everywhere in Asia.  It’s almost impossible to avoid, which is a very bad thing for Westerners how happen to be much more sensitive to it than Asians.  MSG has shown signs of potentially being very bad for the body anyways.  To top it off my Dad is severely allergic to MSG, so we have to avoid completely.  That is not a very easy task and makes our choices for eating very slim.  MK is one of the few chains that are MSG free.  This is a picture of my first meal there (and in Thailand), a vegetable noodle that was pretty good.  Other than that we have two main restaurants we go to that my Dad can eat.  So if you ever go to Thailand be sure to search for MSG free places.

Food from MK, veggie noodles.

IT Square

IT Square

Up until last week pretty much the only thing I had seen of Bangkok was IT Square.  It’s a big mall with lots of computer and techy stuff.  Malls are the big thing over here.  After work or school the big thing is to go to the mall.  They have a lot more vendors outside of the stores than American malls, but otherwise are pretty similar.  They are more crowded as well though and cluttered, I prefer my malls with more order to them.  Every town wants a mall these days.  Malls and super stores are how they mark their highway exits even.  It’s all about consumerism in modern Thailand, I think they might even give the 80s youth a run for their money.

Materialism rules all.

Snake Oil

A real snake oil.

There really isn’t to much to say about this one. It’s an odd little Chinese remedy, a true snake oil. My dad studies public health so he has to take traditional cultural remedies into consideration when they study diseases.  Mostly though, it was just so neat I needed to take a picture. If anyone knows more about the meaning of the snake and the scorpion please let me know.