Text Index: Asia on the Matrix

Asia Home Page:  The slide shows on this page offer an overview of Asia in general: its people, the magnificent temples and monasteries and the sweeping landscapes. Photos from each of the following countries are included.

Bhutan & Land of the Thunder Dragon:  Bhutan is one of the most exotic places I have ever visited. A Buddhist kingdom, set high in the Himalaya mountains, Bhutan has managed to preserve its traditional way of life despite the encroachments of the modern world.

Rural Bhutan:  Photos from a tour through the beautiful Bhutanese countryside east of Thimphu, including Punakha, Wangdu Phodrang, Tongsa and the Kurje Lhakhang Monastery.

Taktsang Hermitage:  Perched more than 3,000 feet above the Paro-chu River, is the Buddhist hermitage of Taktsang. Legend holds that the great 8th century Buddhist teacher, Padmasambhava, traveled throughout the Himalayas on the back of a flying tigress and alighted at the site that is now Taktsang, which means "Tiger Lair."

Thimphu, Capital of Bhutan:  A look at the capital of Bhutan, along with a festival at the Memorial Chorten and a colorful performance of traditional Bhutanese dances.

Himalayas of Nepal - A Trek:  I spent a week trekking through the Khumbu Region of northern Nepal. Along the way, I passed through Sherpa villages, Buddhist monasteries and shrines, and saw scenery that is unequaled anyplace else in the world.

Japan - Kyoto & Nara:  These ancient cities once served as the capital of Japan – Nara from 710 to 784 and Kyoto from 794 to 1868. Both have well preserved temples, shrines and palaces from these past eras.

Ancient Capital of Nara:  A look at some of the structures from Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. Included are the massive Todai-ji temple complex, Kasuga Shrine (with its many stone lanterns) and the pagoda-style Kokufuji Temple. Also photos from the park in Nara with its surprisingly tame deer.

Temples of Eastern Kyoto:  Photos and information about the temples in the eastern part of Kyoto, Ginkakuji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion), the large Chionin temple complex, Heian Jingu (Heian Shrine) and the popular Kiyomizudera temple complex set in the hills above Kyoto.

Temples of Western Kyoto:  Photos and information about the temples of central and western Kyoto, including the stunning Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), the Nishi-Honganji and Higashi-Honganji temple complexes, and Nijojo (Nijo Castle).

Nepal – A Hindu Kingdom:  Nepal is an intriguing mixture of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The area around Kathmandu is home to great religious sites such as Pashupatinah (sacred to Hindus) and Swayambhunath (an important Buddhist site), as well as the ancient royal cities (Durbar Squares) in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. A brief trip to nearby Dhulikhel gave us a taste of rural life.

Kathmandu:  Kathmandu is an exotic city where one can find small temples tucked among the urban structures, ornate Newar style architecture and a whirl of colors, sights and sounds.

Rural Dhulikhel:  A couple of days away from the frenetic pace of Kathmandu offered a chance to see the quieter side of Nepalese life, meet some local people and enjoy a sunrise over the Himalaya Mountains.

Buddhist Stupas in Kathmandu:  There are two great Buddhist stupas (chortens) in the Kathmandu area, the magnificent Swayambhunath, which sits among many other temples and is a lively area to visit, and Bodhnath, the largest stupa and the center of Tibetan life in Kathmandu.

Hindu Temples at Pashupatinah:  Nepal is primarily a Hindu country and the most sacred site is the temple complex of Pashupatinah on the Bagmati River. Hindu ascetics, cremations and a variety of colorful ceremonies can be observed.

Durbar (Royal) Squares Near Kathmandu:  In the Kathmandu area there are three Durbar (or Royal) Squares that contain well preserved temples, palaces and examples of Newar art and architecture. They are: Bhaktapur (the most ornate), Patan (perhaps the most refined) and Kathmandu Durbar Square, which is easily accessible in the center of Kathmandu and is also near the Kumari Chowk (House), home of Nepal's "Kumari", a child goddess.

Singapore – A Modern City-State:  Singapore was my first stop in Asia and proved to be an excellent introduction to the continent. The city is a crossroads for many of Asia's major cultures.

Thailand:  I was only able to spend less than two full days in Thailand and only got to see parts of Bangkok. Most of the photos are devoted to the magnificent Grand Palace complex, a "must see" in Thailand.

Tibet - Roof of the World:  Despite its unwilling inclusion as an "autonomous region" of China, and the strife and wrenching changes this incorporation has caused, Tibet has managed to retain much of its traditional Buddhist culture. The temples and monasteries make for a fascinating glimpse into another way of life.

Lhasa, Capital of Tibet:  A look at the capital city of Lhasa, which is rapidly changing from a traditional Tibetan religious center under the influence of Chinese businesses and immigrants.

Rural Tibet:  Outside of Lhasa it is still possible to see Tibetans going about their daily lives as they have for centuries – tending sheep in the barren hills and plowing fields by yak-drawn plows. The countryside of Tibet has a stark and desolate beauty.

Potala Palace:  The Dalai Lama's former winter palace and the administrative and religious center of Tibetan Buddhism were all once housed in the magnificent and sprawling Potala Palace, an unbelievable structure set high on a hill in Lhasa. Also included are photographs of the Dalai Lama's former summer palace known as Norbulingka Palace.

Jokhang Temple:  The Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is Tibetan Buddhism's holiest site and the destination of many pilgrims coming into the city. It is an ornate and colorful temple and the surrounding Barkhor is a lively place to witness traditional Tibetan life.

Buddhist Monasteries:  There are many large Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, many having been restored after the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Included here are photos and information about the huge Drepung Monastery near Lhasa, the interesting teaching monastery of Sera Thekchenling, Samye Monastery, built on the site of the first monastery in Tibet, and the Panchen Lama's traditional seat at Tashilhunpo in Shigatse (a slide show that also features a few photos of the magnificent Buddhist stupa known as the Kumbum in Gyantse).

Asia Information:  Tips and information for travelers considering a trip to Asia. There are links to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, visa information, recommended hotels and an excellent travel company.

Asia Regional News:  Recent news from Asia.