US State Department Funds Thai Monument Restoration

The United States State Department’s Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation recently bestowed a $131,800 grant to the World Monuments Fund for restoration work at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, a historic Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

According to WMF President Bonnie Burnham, “Support from the State Department’s Ambassadors Fund will assist the Thai Department of Fine Arts with continuing efforts to protect the site in light of increasingly severe flooding in the region and will advance conservation activities at the temple.”

Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was once the capital of the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya, better known as Siam. For several hundred years, Ayutthaya flourished as one of the world’s largest cities, until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767.

Today, the remnants of the city are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the elements have taken its toll on Ayutthaya’s ancient Buddhist temples and monuments, particularly the widespread flooding that devastated much of the country in 2011. Restoration on the monuments began in 2012, and the project is ongoing.

Correction, 2/19: This article initially stated that the grant was bestowed to the Thai government. It was in fact provided to the World Monuments Fund.[Photo Credit: World Monuments Fund]

Halloween Costumes For Travel Lovers

harajuku girlIs your love of travel part of your identity? Have you trawled every Southeast Asian backwater, and explored the twisting streets and alleyways of little-known European cities? Whether your adventurous spirit takes you abroad for work or pleasure, chances are you’ve seen enough of the planet to know that certain stereotypes exist for a reason.

This year, Gadling decided to come up with some Halloween costume ideas based upon our collective experience as world travelers. Don’t take offense: We’ve all been guilty of travel crimes or attire that make our country of origin painfully obvious. Just remember, there’s a fine line between funny and racist. Don’t cross it.

Trustafarian Backpacker in Southeast Asia (gender-neutral)
Your costume consists of dreadlocks, “indigenous” necklace and bracelet, Lao beer T-shirt, Thai fisherman’s pants, and at least one tribal/Chinese character tattoo (mistranslation optional). This is my variation on Pam Mandel’s “Chiang Mai Blogger,” which includes “a MacBook Air, Nikon DX000 (one-year old, bought at bugout time), fully-stocked 401k, and crumpled-up absentee ballot, because ‘it hardly matters.’”

Euro Trash Guy
Super pointy, expensive leather shoes, douchey scarf, and tight pants n’ high thread-count tee are de riguer. Style a fashion mullet, don your trendy shades, and talk about your last holiday on Ibiza. Chain smoke, and offer mints to fellow partygoers, telling them it’s Ecstasy. Eek!

Harajuku Girl
Striped thigh-high socks, baby-doll dress or plaid school girl skirt, choppy blond or colored wig, outlandish eye makeup (or try mega-size false lashes), and crazy-high platform shoes. Don’t forget the “Hello Kitty” accessories.

hippyLas Vegas Bachelorette Party Chick
“A sash, saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” says McLean Robbins. I suggest adding a tiara, and perhaps some type of phallic paraphernalia as accessory.

Travel Writer (gender neutral)
Do not shower for several days prior. Wear whatever clothes you can find crumpled up in your dirty laundry, and carry an overstuffed daypack filled with coffee- and -wine-stained notebook, decrepit laptop, tattered guide book, and much-abused passport. Look stressed. Mutter about deadlines and bus schedules. Feign confusion, and ask partygoers what city/country you’re in. Scary.

Hawaiian Honeymooners
An easy costume for couples: just wear matching his n’ hers outfits, leis, sparkly wedding bands, and big smiles. Carry a camera and mai tais garnished with orchids. For a group, go as “Midwestern Family on Hawaiian Vacation,” and have everyone wear matching Hilo Hattie attire and leis. Before I get angry comments, allow me to note that I’ve lived on Maui twice and yes, these are both a thing.

Ashram Girl
Yoga pants, kurti blouse, hemp necklace, handmade sandals (barefoot optional), bindi, and glazed eyes. Refer to your spiritual leader by name, often. Cue ghostly sounds.

Canadian (gender neutral)
Sew the national flag on a backpack, deploy lots of “eh’s” and “aboots” in conversation, and you’re good to go. Ask partygoers if they can spare a loonie.

Ugly American (gender neutral)
If under 30, wear Greek letters/house party shirt of choice, or opt for a tee with an obnoxious saying (“Diva,” “Princess,” “Where’s the Beer?” “I’m with Stupid”). Add inappropriately short-shorts (if female) or saggy pants (male). Carry a copy of a Let’s Go guidebook, spendy tennis shoes, and spanking new backpack. Talk loudly about how hungover you are, how much all of your material goods cost (the more expensive, the better), and complain about how no one speaks any English. Shudder.
t-shirt
Older folks can wear a favorite sports team or logo T-shirt (baseball cap optional) or something comparably lacking in style, with khaki shorts, dark socks, and sandals. Carry a map and camera, and in your “outdoor” voice, ask where you can find the nearest McDonald’s, or “why no one in this goddamn country wears deodorant.” Spooky!

Aussie-on-holiday Guy
Bring lots of beer (not Fosters!), a wandering eye, and a good attitude.

Happy Halloween, fellow travelers!

[Photo credits: Harajuku Girl, Flick user Leishangthem; hippie, Flickr user madaboutasia; with Stupid, OneHorseShy.com]

Photo Of The Day: Monks In A Line

There are few visuals more familiar to the Southeast Asian traveler than a line of brightly robed monks passing down a local street. This particular monk image comes to us from the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya at the Wat Niwet Thammaprawat courtesy of Flickr user Mark Fischer. I love the bright saffron/orange color of the robes and the repeated pattern of the line of men as they stroll purposefully by.

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

Off-Course Airplane Gets Shot At By Cambodian Troops

airplane And most people get jumpy when their flight hits turbulence. Passengers of a Bangkok Airways airplane were in for a unnerving surprise when Cambodian troops opened fire at the them. The airplane was supposed to land in Siem Reap Airport; however, due to bad weather, the plane was forced to fly off course.

The shooting was a misunderstanding, as troops believed the passenger airliner to be a spy plane. This border is where, just last year, deadly clashes over territory had taken place between neighboring countries. Typically, commercial airlines do not fly around the Cambodian border, while Bangkok Airways had been six miles over it.

Luckily, nobody was hurt during the incident.

“It was dark so we could not see what type of plane it was. But it was circling many times and then our soldiers fired 18 shots from a machine gun, but it missed the plane because it was flying very high,” Commander Seng Phearin said.

[Image via Big Stock]

Photo Of The Day: Bangkok Motorcycles

If there’s one sound I remember from my travels in Southeast Asia, it’s the motorcycles. The insistent motorized whine of these two-wheeled bikes is audible everywhere you turn, from Hanoi to Bangkok. Today’s photo, taken by Flickr user halvora, is a great visual reminder of one of the most iconic images of Southeast Asia. Taken in Bangkok, the black and white image, dashed road lanes and cluster of helmeted bikers form an interesting pattern and a great reminder of this most familiar of symbols.

Taken any great photos from your trip to Bangkok? Or maybe just from your trip to Boston? Add them to our Gadling group on Flickr. We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.