Photo of the Day: Laughing Buddha statue in Dalian, China

Photo of the day

Today’s Photo of the Day is of this lovely happy Buddha. Although, I’ve done some research and discovered that this figure is not actually Buddha, but a 10th century Chinese monk named Hotei. Apparently he carried around a sack of candy (it shows) to share with young children.

Just looking at the photo of this statue lightens my mood. I also really like that the photographer, Flickr user Bernard-SD, captioned it “A Work in Progress.” The statue may not be finished, but I like the idea that our lives are also a constant work in progress – which seems kind of Buddhist, or at least a little spiritual, right?

Have any photos of your travels that might solicit spiritual musing, or at least just make us smile Upload them to Gadling’s Flickr pool and we just might choose one for our Photo of the Day feature.

Afghan archaeologists race to study Buddhist site before destruction

We all remember the Bamiyan statues, those giant stone Buddhas the Taliban blew up in 2001. One of the 1,500 year-old statues is pictured here. Pictures are all we have left of them.

Now another Buddhist site in Afghanistan is under threat of destruction. This time the danger isn’t the Taliban, but a Chinese mining company. The site of Mes Aynak in eastern Afghanistan was home to a thriving Buddhist monastery in the seventh century. It’s also right next to an abandoned Soviet mine that may have the world’s second-largest reserve of copper. A Chinese mining company has invested $3.5 billion to exploit the mine and Afghan officials are eager for work to get underway.

A team of Afghani archaeologists is busy excavating the site and has found an entire monastery complex with more than 150 statues. They were originally given three years, a woefully inadequate length of time for a team of barely forty people, and now they’re being pressured to finish by the end of this year. The archaeologists fear that once the miners move in, the monastery will get wrecked.

The mine will bring much-needed jobs and wealth to Afghanistan, which is also courting adventure tours, so the in the rush to yank copper out of their land they might want to think about preserving some of their past.

[Photo courtesy Marco Bonavoglia via Wikimedia Commons]

Buddha and Picasso at the British Museum

The Fall season has started at London’s British Museum with two excellent free exhibitions.

Images and sacred texts: Buddhism across Asia starts today. It covers Buddhist art and sacred literature from Sri Lanka to Japan and explains the core beliefs of what can be a difficult religion to understand. The artifacts are from the museum’s permanent collection–one of the biggest in the world–and include many items that have never been displayed before.

Picasso to Julie Mehretu: modern drawings from the British Museum collection started on October 7 and examines the interchange between artists over the past hundred years. It begins with Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and ends with Julie Mehretu, an Ethiopian artist who is one of today’s most popular contemporary artists.

The British Museum is one of many free museums in London, including the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, National Gallery, and National Portrait Gallery. This helps cut the cost of a trip to what is otherwise a very expensive destination. The British Museum is deservedly high on every visitor’s list because of its giant collection of artifacts from every ancient culture, from Egyptian mummies to Viking swords. The ongoing series of free exhibits gives repeat visitors a chance to see something new with every trip.

Picasso to Julie Mehretu: modern drawings from the British Museum collection will run until 25 April 2011. Images and sacred texts: Buddhism across Asia runs until 3 April 2011.

Trade souvenirs when traveling – International travel tip

That White Sox hat you’re wearing above your “I hiked the Grand Canyon” t-shirt may be a hot commodity in some countries. Many items we take for granted are both unique and highly sought-after in many foreign nations.

If you find something at a vendor’s stall you like, offer that vendor something of yours in exchange for that good. Maybe he’d like your hat, or that extra shirt in your bag. While you’re not allowed to bring a cache of items into a foreign country to sell, trading items you would normally have in your luggage is perfectly acceptable. No extra luggage room is needed — and you don’t need extra cash on hand, since you’re swapping goods.

It’s not icky to give someone the hat off your head! Trading souvenirs is fun; you get to interact with the locals; and you go home with souvenirs and a great story on how you acquired them.

[Photo: Flickr | Courtneysue75]

Photo of the Day (11.29.2009)

Over the past five weeks of my trip through Southeast Asia, I’ve visited a huge number ancient temples. Ancient structures dot the hilltops and city streets pretty much anywhere you go. Perhaps that’s why today’s photo from Flickr user calendartravel caught my eye. Taken at Cambodia’s world famous Angkor Wat, I found myself drawn in by the great use of perspective. As you peer down the photo’s temple hallway, catching a glimpse of orange-shrouded monks in the distance, you feel as though you were right there in Cambodia, crawling around this amazing ancient wonder.

Want your pics considered for Gadling’s Photo of the Day? Submit your best ones here.