Photo Of The Day: Sketching In Angkor Wat

As the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is truly massive, taking hours to get just a cursory view of the temple complex. While it is Cambodia’s prime attraction, there are still plenty of corners in which to find your own personal space, which is exactly what this sketch artist is doing inside Banteay Kdei. Known as the “Citadel of Chambers,” monks still lived inside up until the 1960s. Captured by Lauren Irons, “The Traveling Teacher,” and submitted to the Gadling Flickr Pool, this picture shows one man’s ability to do what many of us yearn for: find our own moments of peace within spectacular locations.

You too can have the chance at your travel photos being featured as our “Photo of the Day” by submitting it to our Gadling Flickr Pool or via Instagram by mentioning us @gadlingtravel and using tagging your photo with #gadling.

[Photo credit: Flickr user thetravelingteacher]

Photo Of The Day: Roussanou Monastery Above the Clouds

The Roussanou Monastery is undeniably beautiful. This Christian Eastern Orthodox monastery is just one of six that are listed as a part of a World Heritage Site in Meteora, Greece. When the monks settled and began the impossible construction of their mountaintop monasteries in the 15th century, the region was uninhabited. The monks simply wanted to be left to their own devices, something we can all relate to.

Captured by Darby Sawchuck, this photo was submitted to our Gadling Flickr Pool. If you’d also like your great travel photos to be featured here as a “Photo Of The Day” you can submit your photos there or via Instagram by tagging your photos with #gadling and mentioning us @gadlingtravel.

A Medieval Monastery In Estonia

Estonia
Estonia had an interesting time in the Middle Ages. Along with the other Baltic States of Lithuania and Latvia, they were the last bastion of paganism in a continent that had become entirely Christian.

Various Christian kingdoms decided this was a good excuse for conquest and launched the Northern Crusades. From 1208 to 1224, the Germans, Danes, and Swedes attacked Estonia and eventually conquered it.

Once the knights had finished their work, it was time for the clergy to step in. Prominent among these were the Cistercians, one of the most powerful monastic orders of their time. In 1220 they were rewarded with lands at Padise near the important port of Tallinn. They built a small stone chapel there and began expanding it into a large fortified monastery in 1317.

In 1343 the Estonians rose up against their occupiers and burned down Padise Monastery, killing 28 monks. The uprising was crushed and the Cistercians rebuilt the monastery better and stronger than before. It continued being a monastery until 1558, when it became a fortress protecting the landward approach to Tallinn. The building changed hands several times during the region’s many wars. It was besieged twice, the siege in 1580 lasting 13 weeks, during which the defenders (Russians at that moment) got hammered with Swedish artillery and eventually were starved into submission.

%Gallery-180500%In 1622, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden gave the monastery and lands to Thomas Ramm, Burgermeister of Riga, in exchange for Ramm giving up the city to the king’s army. I suppose the Ramm family wasn’t very welcome in Riga after that.

I visited on a quiet, gloomy winter afternoon as part of a day trip with Tallinn Traveller Tours, after a morning spent chasing the Estonian Army. Mart, my guide, led me up some slick icy steps to the top of the tower to look out over the snowy countryside. Somehow I managed not to slip and fall to my death. Writing for you people always seems to send me up unsafe heights. At least it wasn’t as bad as the minaret in Samarra.

After we made it down safely, Mart took me around the castle grounds.

“Imagine being a kid here,” he said. “We all played like we were knights in castles, but the kids around here get the real thing.”

Lots of Estonian kids are lucky that way. Forts, manor houses, and monasteries abound in the Estonian countryside. This area was fought over for centuries yet the Estonians managed to keep their distinct language and national character. Eventually they managed to get independence too.

We entered the great hall, once used for meals and services, and admired the fine arches and carved columns. From there we explored the dark, chilly cellar, where a centuries-old oven was still black from baking bread for the monks.

“Look at this,” Mart said, shining is mobile phone light on the wall.

A mosquito was perched on the cold stone.

“I’m surprised it’s still alive,” I said.

“I should kill it,” Mart said. “I hate those things. They swarm around you all summer.”

He left it alone. I was glad. I’ve always respected survivors.

Read the rest of my series: “Exploring Estonia: The Northern Baltics In Wintertime.”

Coming Up Next: Gifts from Estonia!

[Photos by Sean McLachlan]

Photo Of The Day: U Bein Bridge Sunset

Myanmar’s iconic U Bein bridge, near the ancient Burmese capital of Amarapura, is a much beloved (and photographed) site among tourists and visitors to this intriguing Southeast Asian nation. Today’s shot, taken by Flickr user American Jon, is a fantastic example of what makes this ancient wooden structure so visually captivating. The teak bridge’s long expanse, when photographed against the early morning/late day sun, makes for a striking silhouette. This particular shot is all-the-more eye-catching due to the dramatic clouds in the background.

Taken any great photos during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user American Jon]

Photo Of The Day: Find The Odd One Out

She’s pretty obvious. Striped shirt. Green pants. A stance that says, “Hey! Pay attention to me!”

This classic scene of monks outside a temple in Paro, Bhutan, is interrupted by the presence of a small, sassy little girl. Captured by Bangalore-based Flickr user Arun Bhat, the image is a powerful reminder of the modernity that is slowly seeping into Bhutan, a geopolitically isolated Central Asian nation surrounded by Nepal, Bangladesh and India.

Do you have travel photos that juxtapose tradition and change? Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.