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Cambodian Apsara Dance

Apsara is a traditional Cambodian dance which has its origins in the sacred dances of the apsaras. . .the mythological seductresses of ancient Cambodia!

Cambodian Apsara Dance

There is a strong cultural tradition of dance in Cambodia which has influenced techniques of nearby Thailand and Laos.  The moves are intricate and particular dances can take years to learn.

Apsara are spirits of the clouds and water in Buddhist and Hindu mythology.

Dance also became a religious tradition because it was designed to bring divine blessings to the king and his people.  During the Angkor period classical ballet dancers were central to the royal court and followed a very structured form.

Folk dancing is less structured, with dancers responding to the rhythm of drums while they act out tales from Cambodian folk stories. The drummer has the most important role in folk music as he sets the rhythm. There is no system of written notation so the tunes are transmitted orally from generation to generation.

Dancers respond to the drums by acting out tales from folk stories

Not only are Apsara dancers found throughout the majestic ruins of Cambodia’s Khmer empire, the dance continues on as a cornerstone of Cambodian culture.  When you visit one of our many destinations in Cambodia, don’t forget to take the time to see this ancient and beautiful tradition.

To learn more about the Customs & Traditions of Cambodia, click here:

Cambodia – Kingdom of Wonder

 

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Did You Know?  |  Vietnamese Dragon Lord

Vietnam Creation myth

 

Did you know that the Vietnamese creation myth tells that Vietnam began with “Dragon Lord” Lạc Long Quân and his fairy wife Âu Cơ?  They had 100 children which are the main 100 family names in Vietnam.

They had 100 children which are the main 100 family names in Vietnam

Among these 100 children are some major spirits such as the Four Immortals (another popular legend in Vietnam). . .the giant boy Thánh Gióng, the mountain god Tản Viên Sơn Thánh, the marsh boy Chử Đồng Tử, and the princess Liễu Hạnh.

If you would like to visit the land of the “Four Immortals” consider our 9-Day Vietnam Classic tour!

  • Shop for bargains along the narrow alleyways of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
  • Cruise around the mystical landscape of Halong Bay and visit caves and grottoes
  • Get a glimpse of royal life in the Nguyen dynasty in the 17th century city of Hue
  • Experience incense filled temples and a deserted palace in Ho Chi Minh
  • Explore a floating river market and tropical fruit orchards in the Mekong Delta

Click Here to Learn More

Vietnam Classic tour

 

Top 10 Interesting Mosques In Southeast Asia

To celebrate the truly amazing diversity in language, culture, tradition and religion in our destinations, we would like to take the time to introduce some genuinely interesting mosques in southeast Asia.

From the quaint, quiet, and humble to the ostentatious, grand and glittering, we hope these architectural marvels of one of the worlds oldest major religions will inspire you to travel with us at one of our many destinations.

Masjid Azahar mosque in Vientiane, Laos

Masjid Azahar  |  Vientiane, Laos

There are just two mosques in all of Laos and both of them are in Vientiane. The Masjid Azahar caters mainly to Muslims of Cambodian origin, most of whom are small traders in herbal medicines.

Read more

Meet The Guides | Tran Anh Thu, Vietnam

Tran Anh Thu guides ICS guests on a tour of the Mekong River, Vietnam
ICS tour guide, Vietnam

Tran Anh Thu guides ICS guests on a tour of the Mekong River, Vietnam

For the past 6 years, Tran Anh Thu has escorted ICS guests. She is one of the real, local guides who take care of our travellers during the shore excursions throughout the Mekong delta. . .including destinations like Cai Ba, Sadec, and Tan Chau. Thu has gotten many compliments from guests, including three National Geographic journalists.

We sat down with Thu to get to know her and to find out more about her life and her work with ICS. Here’s what she said. . . Read more

Story Behind the Image | Wood Carver

After you see Datanla Falls in #Dalat #Vietnam and take the wild, hand-controlled roller coaster down, you’ll see vendors offering everything from ice cream and beads to jewelry and wooden sculptures…including artists making sculptures directly on location.

You can smell the faint scent of hardwood sawdust from the sculptors sandpaper

You can smell the faint scent of hardwood sawdust from the sculptors sandpaper, and see dozens of different kinds of chisels and wooden mallets lying at his feet.  Next to this man are others making different kinds of sculptures as people move all around them.

Did You Know? | Dragons, Volcanoes & Islands

Did You Know . . .

. . . You can sail on a traditional schooner to see amazing Komodo dragons, smouldering volcanoes and uninhabited islands.

Komodo dragons, smouldering volcanoes and uninhabited islands

ICS offers a stunning 7-day cruise to some of Indonesia’s lesser-known and most exotic islands.  These are the places you don’t typically see on the usual tours… including the Flores, Mesa, Rinca, Komodo, Sumbawa, Satonda, Lombok and Gili Islands.
 
Many activities are available, including some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkeling!

Learn More

 

Traditions & Beliefs | Diwali, a festival of lights

Diwali candles

Diwali is know as the “Festival of Lights”

 Later this week, many Hindus will celebrate Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights.”  The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night. In the Western calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

Diwali also marks a major shopping period in India. In terms of consumer purchases and economic activity, Diwali is the equivalent of Christmas in the west. It is traditionally a time when households purchase new clothing, home refurbishments, gifts, gold and other large purchases. The festival celebrates Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and investment, spending and purchases are considered auspicious. Diwali is a peak buying season for gold and jewelry in India. It is also a major sweets, candy and fireworks buying season. At retail level, about US$800 million worth of firecrackers are consumed in India over the Diwali season.

Story Behind The Image | Lampang Fisherman

Traditional Fisherman, Lampang, Thailand

Along the banks of rivers and streams around northern Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, local people still rely on intricate hunter-gatherer traditions for their daily subsistence and livelihood. Here in the small provincial capital of Lampang (where ICS operates tours to nearby UNESCO-recognized temples) a lone fisherman uses a unique looking net to capture small fish.

Along the river are a number of boutique guest houses.  In the high season, special sights like this one are quite common. Despite the growing economy and development of locations like Thailand, tradition and subsistence farming is still common-place, even in downtown areas like the photo above.

This photo was taken on the peaceful Wang river (which feeds into the Ping river that runs through Chiang Mai, another of our northern Thailand destinations).

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