Dispatches from Asia

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Traditions & Beliefs | Balinese Cremation Ceremony

While vacationing on the island of Bali, Indonesia, an ICS team member was invited to view a Balinese cremation ceremony.

The cremation ceremony is extremely important for the Balinese because it allows the soul to be released into the afterlife.

The higher the rank, the more elaborate the preparations and decorations required.

The deceased is placed inside a coffin at the beginning of the ceremony.  The coffin is then placed inside a sarcophagus and carried to the cremation site.

An elaborate, bamboo structure – created especially for this ritual – carries the sarcophagus as well as various family members and important guests.  Other members of the ceremony carry the bamboo structure (including all passengers) on their shoulders all the way to the cremation site.  The procession is an event unto itself.  In order to avoid evil spirits, the processional route is full of starts and stops, twists and turns.

Once the whole party has reached the site, the final stage of the ritual begins.  A dance and other ceremonies are performed and the sarcophagus is burned.  Being cremated is one of the most important parts of Balinese life.  The fire is viewed as necessary to free the spirit from the body and enable reincarnation. Balinese believe the body must be consumed by fire for the soul to return to its five constituent elements known as the panca maha bhita (earth, wind, fire, water and ether).

 

We’d like to take you to Bali too!  Tell us you would like to go!

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Welcome to Myanmar!

Myanmar sits at the crossroads of Asia and stretches from the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range.

Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world

To this day Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world…a land of breathtaking beauty and charm only recently emerging into the modern world.

Myanmar offers fascinating jungles, snow-capped mountains and pristine beaches, mountain trekking and rafting in the far north to world class diving in the Mergui Archipelago.

Myanmar offers the warmest welcome in Asia and ICS Travel Group can take you there! Contact us for more information about our tours and excursions!

 

Story Behind the Image | L’ Amant House

L'Amant House, Vietnam

The Vietnam Federation of UNESCO has listed a 120-year-old house called “Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House” as one of Vietnam’s most impressive destinations.

Huynh Thuy Le was the inspiration for the protagonist in French author Marguerite Duras’s novel “L’ Amant.” His house is famous for its unique architecture blending southern Vietnamese, French, and Chinese styles.

The wooden house was built the town of Sa Dec in 1895. In 1917, Huynh Thuy Le’s father rebuilt the house like a French villa, using both eastern and western architectural elements.

Last year more than 30,000 people visited the house, including this group led by ICS guide Phan Anh “Tony” Tuan.

Street Art: Nepal
Street Art: Nepal

Seen on the Street | Street Art Series: Nepal

For the next few weeks, we would like to use our “Seen on the Street” series to highlight the tremendous diversity of artistic ability that is seen not only in markets, architecture and galleries of our destinations, but also literally on the street.

These are some of our favourite street art photos and we would like to celebrate our destinations as part of a global community of artists.

This week, we go to Nepal!

Street Art: Nepal

Street Art: Nepal

Did You Know? | Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, India

Did You Know. . .

The name “Taj Mahal” means “crown of palaces” and it took around 22,000 labourers from 1632 until 1653 to finish the construction.

In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed, marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures.

Would you like to see the Taj Mahal in person? You will love our amazing 6-day “Golden Triangle” tour

  • Experience the ancient and the modern in the capital city of Delhi
  • Gaze in wonder at the romantic white marble Taj Mahal
  • Explore the ancient and imposing Amber fort and the famous Palace of the Winds
  • Learn the secrets behind the mysterious ghost city of Fatephur Sikri

Golden Triangle Tour

 

 

Story Behind the Image | The Monkey King

The Monkey King, Datanla Falls, Dalat, Vietnam

Following the commercial success of the 2014 Hong Kong-Chinese fantasy film ‘The Monkey King’ comes this interesting photo. . .

This man dresses up and waits for fans of this ancient Chinese legend to come and take pictures.  Located at the base of Datanla Falls, photos with the Monkey King cost 10,000 Vietnamese Dong, or about US$0.50.

Datanla Falls in Dalat, Vietnam, boasts a unique hand-controlled roller coaster which can take you to the base of the falls.  You have a choice of a gondola or walking to go back up.  Numerous interesting souvenirs are also made on site. Don’t miss out on this funny and quirky film when you visit Dalat on one of ICS’s Vietnam tours.

Destination: Vietnam

 
 

Street Art: Laos
Street Art: Laos

Seen on the Street | Street Art Series: Laos

For the next few weeks, we would like to use our “Seen on the Street” series to highlight the tremendous diversity of artistic ability that is seen not only in markets, architecture and galleries of our destinations, but also literally on the street.

These are some of our favourite street art photos and we would like to celebrate our destinations as part of a global community of artists.

This week, we go to Laos!

Street Art: Laos

Street Art: Laos