The British Ceramics Biennial Stoke-On-Trent Travel Blog Post

The Fifth British Ceramics Biennial (BCB)

Stoke On Trent 2017
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a huge pottery and ceramics fan, in fact so much so I have run out of space to house what I already have never mind adding more, which I continue to do!. Well for pottery and ceramic lovers like myself this is the must visit/see event of the year every two years, if you know what I mean, and not to be missed, given that it’s only on every second year, biennial right! Myself and Oliver had visited the event for the first time in 2015 and liked it so much had planned a full weekend around this year’s visit. Sadly Oliver’s Dad passed away requiring Oliver’s return to Malaysia so this visit was solo and this post is dedicated to the memory of Oliver’s Dad, may he rest in peace.

The event is staged across nine venues in and around Stoke-On-Trent including the fabulous Wedgwood museum which offers free entry to the museum during the biennial. In fact the event offers free entry to all venues making it an attractive draw for all. There is also lots of interactive events aimed at families with kids. A great way to introduce the next and coming generations to the wonderful world of ceramics and pottery. The main exhibition hub is located in the China Spode Factory dating from 1770 a fabulous location, if a little on the chilly side, or at least at this time of the year (October).

Eusebio Sanchez won this biennials Fresh award with his quirky colorful and molten figures, and although they may not be to everyone’s taste I loved them.

Spode China Hall



What I particularly love about the Festival Hall (Spode China Factory) is the sheer amount of space on offer to the artists allowing their work to breath and display effortlessly, reminds me a bit of the Turbine hall at Tate modern in London. The organisers are to be credited in not trying to cram too much in, but instead allowing a very comfortable amount of space to each exhibit, a boon for both artist and viewer.



Best fun and one of the pieces I most covet would have to be “My Inner Beasts” by Malene Hartman Rasmussen fabulously quirky and colourful it explores the nature of the inner bests within each of us and is described by the artist as follows;

“Everyone has their own inner beasts.
Most people are good at keeping them locked inside.. but not me.
Often they come out when I least expect them to and getting them back inside again to the safety of the darkness can be a difficult task.
I have confronted these anguish beings, removed them from their natural habitat to study and examine how they react in the light.
Trapped inside they grow ragingly huge, but outside their sadness and melancholia shows and they become small enough to put on a shelf.
Maybe if I am lucky, they will stay there for good.”






Probably my absolute favorite of the exhibition would have to be Place and Practices and instillation in two parts by Juree Kim with one housed at the main festival hall Spode China Hall and the other at the Wedgwood museum. Title Evanescent Landscape: Terraced Houses it is astonishing in both originality of form within its social context along with the intricacy of its detail.  Cannot help but think of 2 Jags Prescott’s and the number of perfectly good Victorian tenements he was responsible for destroying with his misguided regeneration policies.


The British ceramics biennial brings together potters and ceramicist from across the globe with over 100 artists contributing to this year’s event and this time involves a collaboration with ceramic artist from Korea, Juree Kim.


Top Tip

When visiting the China Hall be sure to head to the back of the building and visit the Spode museum. We missed this place last time and I only stumbled upon it by chance this time. It does have its own car park but it’s very small. I will post a link to its address at the bottom of the post. It’s well worth a visit and is currently trying to get funding to revamp the space in order to display the full historical Spode collection which I am told is full and complete and on the same scale as the Wedgwood collection. They also have a very interesting exhibition on at the moment of contemporary local ceramic artists. You may even get to see the Beatles. There is also a worthwhile instillation titled Salon De Refuses comprising of works by local ceramicists displayed in gallery One One Six located inside the Spode museum. With works by Andy Edwards (Beatles Statue) , Nick Marsh and Philip Hardaker.  My personal favourite would have to be the work of Nick Marsh. I love the very earthy rustic rusty but refined tones and shapes of his vases in particular, in fact I want one!!


Piece by Nick Marsh

Even the Beatles make an appearance here! Work by Andy Edwards

The Wedgwood Museum


I’ve heard of pimping your ride but imagine having your pram pimped by Wedgwood, how cool is that!!



The second part of the instillation by Korean artist Juree Kim

The Wedgwood tearooms inside the museum are very grand indeed.

Airspace Gallery

Fount exhibition at Airspace Gallery comprises two proposals for public space water features that are currently being discussed by Stoke Council and offer a radically different approach than the usual identikit public realm features one tends to find both all over the UK & Europe and increasingly the world. This offers a vision with o more unique quality and localised take on what is possible. It remains to be seen whether the council will have the vision and foresight to both engage with them and take them up on their ideas, there’s always hope! I particularly like the Dog drinking font water feature.


Part of the Mark Malerko instillation.


I also liked the Katharine Morling displayed at the Potteries Museum and art gallery inspired by the Hoard find in Staffordshire, wonderful mythical creation that would not look out of place in any number of Sci Fi movies

Another of my likes is the  works of Emma Bailey spotted in the Spode Museum shop she was the last free hand painter to work at the Wedgwood factory before it sadly went bust. In fact I liked her work so much a bought a piece.

An interview with Emma along with her work feature in the you tube clip which you can find by clicking this link  This is a fascinating short film on the history of pottery in Longton, Stoke on Trent, well worth a watch.

A few links to featured artists and further information of the British Ceramics Biennial.

Stoke Sculpture trail click this link for info

For more info on Malene Hartmann Rasmussen click this link

For more info on Juree Kim click this link

For more info on Andy Edwards click this link

For more info on Katharine Morling click this link

For more info on Nicholas Marsh click this link

For more info on Philip Hardaker click this link

For more info on Mark Malerko click this link

For more info on Elena Gileva click this link

To find out more about the Airspace gallery click this link

For more info on the British Ceramic’s Biennial click this link

This list is by no means definitive or complete but is merely a set of links to artists whose work I particularly liked and feature in my picture gallery.

If you are planning on visiting the next time round I would recommend at the very least an e overnight stay and possibly two as there really is so much to see. I opted for an apartment in Leek booked through Air B&B. I can highly recommend Leek particularly if driving as its a short drive from Stoke and is a charming historic English market town. There is also a very good antiques market on every Sunday in the town square and well worth a browse.

For info on the Air B&B apartment click this link. This is a great apartment centrally located in the old town and a very nice host. Can highly recommend it.

I’m already looking forward to the next one in 2019.

Europe Germany

Berlin Holiday Weekender Travel Blog

The Berlin Blockade lasted 318 days during which time, 275,000 planes transported 1.5 million tons of supplies with a plane landing every three minutes at Berlin’s Templehof airport. The old airport runway and surrounding fields have now been transformed into a large open park.

Berlin…………city of myth, city of history, city of division, city of rebirth. Whenever a mention of Berlin I can immediately hear in my head the soundtrack to the movie Cabaret, und cabaret, und cabaret, und cabaret, made famous by Liza Minnelli in the movie of the same name. That and Christopher Isherwood who wrote the wonderful novels, Goodbye to Berlin and Mr Norris Changes Trains, all topped off in the background to the smoky husky tones of Marlene Dietrich’s very special brand of drawl English.

Hauptbahnhof Berlin central railway station

I had first planned to visit Berlin as a teenager at the invitation of some Viennese visitors I met one summer in Dublin. They had invited me to join them on a trip to the city to spend Christmas in a Berlin squat. That was in the early 1980’s if memory serves me correctly. In the end they decided to stay in Vienna for the Christmas, so I went there instead. My only other connection with the city, unfortunately, had a more sinister outcome. On a subsequent visit to what was still known as Czechoslovakia, and still at the time part of the USSR, I happened to meet and form a friendship with a guy from East Berlin who was on his annual holiday in the Czech capital, Prague. For people living in the USSR and including East Germany it was basically one of a very limited number of places that citizens of what was then known as  GDR were allowed to visit, as well as being virtually all they could afford anyway. On my return to Ireland we exchanged a number of letters and I, in my naivety at the time, was quite open about how repressive I thought the communist system and the USSR. He, for his part, was quite open about how difficult, depressing and limiting life was in East Berlin, until one day about a year later one of my letters was returned, stamped person and address unknown. That was the last time I heard from him and to this day I still do not know what fate befell him, but I held him in my thoughts as I visited the remains of the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery.


Only now, August 2017, have I finally managed to make it to Berlin and these are my impressions of the city and its people.

First things first, Berlin is huge! Probably similar in scale to London, an that is an important factor to bear in mind when choosing the location of accommodation for your visit. It has three main modes of transport for getting around, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, & buses, whilst the old east side still has tram lines, as they were a mainstay of the old GDR. We stayed in the fabulous boutique, but ultra-contemporary, Hotel Ku’ Damm 101 which is well located if you like top end luxury shopping, think Hermes, Gucci, Bentley et al. It also has very good bus links to the central shopping areas, think Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Road, London, all the mainstream big brands like H&M, Zara et al. But then, I don’t visit places to see what I can look at and find at home. To really get a proper look around Berlin and make the most of any visit without feeling rushed I would say you need at least 4 full days to fully appreciate all it has to offer. Even then that’s just about enough to scratch the surface.

Top of my list is the following

The Reichstag Dome, a Norman Foster jewel, set atop the roof affording endless and 360 degree views across all of Berlin. It needs to be booked in advance, due to it popularity and the limited numbers of places per day. Best to book as far in advance as you possible can. Also, if you trip includes a weekday then aim to visit on one of these, rather than a weekend when it will be at its busiest. We booked for a Monday and had virtually no waiting time before entry. Link to booking site is at the bottom of this post.

Norman Foster Dome Reichstag

Contemporary reflections

Following a visit to the Reichstag you are within walking distance to the Brandenburg gate the walk to which takes you past the somber and haunting holocaust memorial to  the Sinti and Roma people murdered by the Nazis.

Memorial to Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust with a view to the Reichstag in the background

In need of little introduction The Brandenburg Gate

Following a wander around the Brandenburg gate it is then a short walk to the Jewish Holocaust memorial. Picture further down in this post.

Signs, Symbols & Things spotted on the streets


Wooden sculpture on high

Barbers shop sign

Window display laughing mannequin

Street Art

Glasses shop window display

I really don’t get what a banana and a woman in a bath has to do with designer glasses, do you?

Symbolic eagle, wall Templehof Airport Wall

Next on my list has got to be the area of Bergmannkiez a great neighborhood to wander with some wonderful local restaurants and cafes and also home to the first vegetarian butchers shop “Der Vegetarische Metzger” I have come across. This is a great place to stop for lunch. I had a crispy chicken burger and honestly it was hard to believe that it was meat free. A short walk from here is the eerily abandoned Templehof Airport.


Mauersegler Market

A visit to Berlin should definitely include a Sunday in order to take in a visit to the wonderful Mauerpark. Particularly if the weather is good as this place really needs a sunny day to be enjoyed at its very best. Possibly one of the best, if not the best, markets I have seen anywhere in the world, particularly if the weather is good. It has everything from handmade jewelry, to food, to bric-a-brac. The Sunday we visited it was packed and the atmosphere great!!


A perfect day to display

Vintage camera stall

Hats off to the fall of the Berlin wall and communism

Toy boats


Poetry on demand

Vase of flowers Supersonico Restaurant Berlin

Wall display Supersonico

Pattern, colour and trees

Railway line

Railway station clock

Doggy bag

Oberbaum Bridge

Following this we head to the East Side Gallery, which basically comprises a preserved section of the Berlin wall. Now transformed into a gallery of works by painters from around the world depicting both the history and horrors that the wall stood for. This was one of the highlights for me and a moving testament to the suffering endured by the peoples of the GDR. This should also stand as testament to the failure of communism and act a wake-up call for any today who might imagine a future under any form of socialist communist regimes.

Sign East Side Gallery

Berlin Wall

Mural portrait of Andrej Sacharow

This mural portrait of Andrej Sacharow  is a tribute to his work and life. Originally a Soviet nuclear physicist, he became a dissident and human rights activist.  He became concerned about the moral and political implications of the nuclear technology he had invented and turned to activism for nuclear disarmament and human rights. Andrej Sacharow died in 1989 a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall

Trabant mural East Side Gallery

The Trabant was an automobile, of sorts, produced from 1957 to 1990 by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in Zwickau, Saxony It is often regarded as a symbol of the defunct East Germany and of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in general. Nevertheless, it was very sought after in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact such was its status, and being the only available car in the GDR there was reputedly a two year waiting list for one, that is for the minority who could afford one in the first place. Communism, aah the good old days!

Old Trabant Police Car

Potsdamer Platz whilst interesting and certainly worth a look around would not be top of my list for a return as it’s a little to mono global for my liking.

Bahnof Potsdamer Platz

Inset plaque line of the Berlin Wall, built 1961 torn down 1989.

The central districts of the city are worth a wander, with Museum Island a visual highlight. Which brings me to the TV Tower, a Berlin icon and visible for miles around from virtually all parts of the city, it is however somewhat ugly up close. Although I’m sure the views are spectacular from its restaurant, I gave this a miss.

Berlin Cathedral Museum Island

The Fernsehturm TV Tower

TV Tower

Lenin, a delusional idealist and writer with terrible ideas that in no small part led to the murder of millions. If ever there was a statue to be torn down this one would be pretty close to top of my list!!


Street performer


Holocaust memorial Berlin.

For me the real power of this memorial instillation is fully appreciated when walking in between the oppressive undulation and changing cubes, always grey, but catching sight of the greenery in the distance, a stark frame, yet always beyond the reach of this soulless maze. redolent of gasping for air, a claustrophobic melancholy.


Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

All of the oldest surviving buildings seem to be churches and cathedrals, save for the remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, bombed during the second world war its remaining bell tower and hall  now stands as a peace monument.

A place to relax and catch the sun

Sculptural twist

Water feature fountain

Other observations

Berliners are generally very laid back, friendly and approachable, whereas Berlin police are not at all friendly and seem to think you a criminal, or insane, should you dare to ask them a question.

Public transport, and in particular the U and S Banh, are very erratic being a bit unreliable and hit and miss. We had to get off countless trains and catch link buses between stations that were closed. On one occasion the train we caught from the center and was that was supposed to go direct to Potsdam instead terminated in the middle of nowhere without explanation. On quizzing the driver stating the train had said Potsdam both on the front display and on the departures board, he smiled and said, really, oh well, before closing his door and taking his empty train back towards the city.

Berlin also seems to have more south east Asian restaurants than I have seen in any city outside of South east Asia. So if you hanker after Japanese Sushi, or Vietnamese Spring rolls, you will be well served, indeed one of the best meals we had was in a Vietnamese restaurant in the historic inner city Potsdam, more of which in the second blog post focusing on Potsdam, next on my list and a place I wish I had had more time to see and one I would revisit. In fact, I would come back and stay here, hire a car and spend a few days exploring the areas around the palaces, as it’s a beautiful landscape and location steeped in history and wonder.



Getting there

We flew with Easy-jet from Manchester using air miles collected from Emirates and convertible to EasyJet thus the flights were free. The only negative being the arrival time of just after 11:30pm meaning public transport to the city was very limited

Click this link for info


Staying there

We opted for Ku’ Damm 101 as it was mostly pad for using accumulated Avios points. Stills it’s a great contemporary hotel with big comfortable rooms a snazzy bathroom and a wonderful breakfast.

Click this link for info


Getting around

We bought Berlin Welcome card which is basically a travel card permitting travel on all public transport. We got the one that included Potsdam for a couple of extra euros.

Click this link for info

There is also the more expensive option of the Berlin Pass which also includes entry to over 60 attractions but it’s very expensive and therefore only worth it if you intend to visit a lot of museums.

Click this link for info


Eating out

I wouldn’t call Berlin as a particularly foodie place unless you are a committed carnivore. I found it quite limiting in terms of choice, but I can recommend the vegetarian butchers shop “Der Vegetarische Metzger”

Click this link for info


Another great place with a very reasonably priced set lunch menu and close to the Mauerpark is this great new Italian Supersonico. I love the sleek classic Italian décor very smart in that typical Italian way.

Click this link for info

Another was a Tex Mex we stumbled across and just around the corner from

Friedrich Strasse U-Bahn. In fact it’s built into the railway arches below. We visited here a couple of times as the food was consistently good including vegetarian options as well as being reasonably priced.

Click this link for info

2 part post, next post Potsdam

In conclusion what I realise is that I have merely scratched the surface of this great city and its surrounds which beckons a recall at some future date.


Europe UK

Sheffield in 24 A Travel bloggers guide to the City


Sheffield in 24

An action packed city adventure


Guide book to Sheffield

Despite having visited Sheffield twice before in the past it took an invitation from the Mercure “St Pauls Hotel and Spa” for me to truly discover what this oft overlooked UK city has to offer.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a group of travel and lifestyle bloggers to be invited for an action packed 24 hour city visit.

St Pauls Hotel and Spa, being Sheffield’s only 4 * Hotel, is the perfect spot to stay, being centrally located, and as if that wasn’t enough, it also boasts doors leading directly onto the fabulous Tropical Winter Gardens. Having stayed at the Mercure in the past I arrived early, check in is 2pm, in order to take full advantage of the hotels Spa and Pool, free to use for hotel guests, it also offers a range of therapies and massages at an additional cost. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the spa area has had a makeover, with both the steam sauna and dry sauna benefiting from a complete overhaul, this is the perfect way to unwind before heading out for the evening.

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Asia Cambodia

Leaving Phnom Penh, Travel bloggers tips and tales

Leaving Phnom Penh For Sihanoukville

Having left it too late to buy a ticket for the Giant Ibis bus to Sihanoukville the hotel we stayed at recommended another bus company which they claimed is just as good, and, as it costs the same I take the bait, buy the tickets, how wrong can you be. We ended up with tickets on Vet bus run by Virak-Buntham Express Travel & Tour. Like most bus companies in Cambodia they collect you from your hotel about an hour before scheduled departure time. The pickup van, a dilapidated and rusting wreck, from the hotel told me this was going to be an interesting experience come what may. Whilst the actual minivan bus turned out not to be too bad what no one could prepare you for was the insane driver to match the general level of insane driving that is Cambodian road travel. And yes, I have lived to tell the tale, but I reckon the stress of the journey may well knock a couple of years off my life expectancy.  To give you some idea of the speed we went at we managed to pass the Giant Ibis bus plying the same route, but which had left Phnom Pen and hour before our departure time. In reality we had little choice as we had a hotel reservation in Sihanoukville and a well-planned itinerary. The next bus journey to Kampot turned out to be equally as hair raising, although mercifully half the distance. In a word never again!!


Otres Beach Sihanoukville

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Asia Cambodia

The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek) and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek) and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

Both of these places are the main draws for travelers to Phnom Penh and visited on the same day by most as a combined package. It makes for a somber, sober and saddening day, planting memories of images and scenes that are likely to stay with you and last a lifetime. No bad thing, although we did witness some disrespectful idiots taking selfies in an around the Stupa that houses the skulls of the dead. Whilst another group of young adult Australians I witnessed were loud and behaved as if they were visiting a theme park. At the risk of sounding, or being, preachy visitors should show their respect for all who died in these dreadful places by observing an air of solemn calm and quiet reflection.

The Entrance to Choeung Ek Genocidal Center

The Killing Fields, once the site of an orchard, memorialises and symbolises the final expressions of barbarity of the Khmer Rouge,  the final resting place for the murdered, located about 17 Kilometres outside Phnom Penh most arrive here by Tuk Tuk.

The Memorial Stupa. This Stupa houses the skulls of many of the victims found buried around the site now known as the Killing Fields. Depressions in the ground are the sites of excavated mass graves.

It is estimated that from a population of some 8 million people about a quarter were either murdered or starved to death during the reign of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. For me, although witness of the remains of the mass graves is an awful reality, the most harrowing and difficult to comprehend aspect of the place is the Killing Tree that was used to kill babies and children in the most horrific fashion by bashing their skulls against it. I cried a lot this day and in the end despaired for us as a race when my thoughts turned to current day events taking place in Syria at the behest of another couple of murderous dictators, Assad and Putin. For the sad truth is, humanity it seems will never learn.

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Europe UK

North Wales Off The Beaten Track

Day Tripping North Wales, Walking in Sunshine, Almost!

With the first weekend of proper blue sky sunshine upon us and a bit of heat in the air to accompany, thoughts turn to getting out of the city, even if just for a day and heading into the countryside.

Living in Manchester we are lucky enough to have a host of easy to reach destinations whether traveling north, south, east or west. That said, it is never a difficult one you make in choosing Wales, one of my favorite places on the planet. It doesn’t matter how far or wide I travel this globe of ours I never tire of trips to Wales, where even a familiar landscape causes me to smile as the light shows it in a subtle different and ever changing fresh perspective.

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Asia Cambodia

A Travel Bloggers Impressions of Phnom Penh

A Travel Bloggers Impressions of Phnom Penh Cambodia in Words & Pictures

Monument to the late King Norodom Sihanouk with independence monument in background

I first visited Phnom Penh about 4 years ago and was struck this visit by the rate of change and the speed of development taking place in this city on the move.  This is fast turning in to and exciting vibrant and great city to visit in South East Asia. No longer just a stopping post for visiting the Killing Fields and S21 but is fast becoming a destination city in itself.


Memorial statue and monument to the Vietnamese army for their part in driving the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh

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Asia Cambodia

Kompung Khleang, Angkor Province, Cambodia

A Travel Bloggers Guide to Off the Beaten Track in Angkor, Cambodia.

This blog post focuses on my return visit to the community of Kompung Khleang, Angkor province, Cambodia. This is a village largely centered on and living off the Tonle Sap Lake and river that feeds into it. It is not a pretty, or sanitised tourist place, but rather, offers a glimpse into the reality of life for most of Cambodia’s population i.e. poor. This was my second visit and I am once again struck by the warmth and open generosity of the people who live and work along its shores. It is also a place that few who marvel at the many sights or Angkor and Angkor Wat will see, as it lies off the beaten track and has not suffered a tourist makeover. But for those who have a genuine interest in how the majority of Cambodians live and survive in this part of the country it is a good starting point. From a personal perspective I cannot imagine visiting any country, and particularly one steeped in such a profoundly  creative and important history, and not be interested in the inhabitants, who are after all the ancestors of it creator’s. Behind the laughter smiles and warm welcome lies the cruel truth of a life expectancy of 40 to 45 years due to Dengue fever and Malarial mosquitos. Still the children will rush forth at the mere sight of a stranger using it as an opportunity to share their few words of English “Hello mister, where you from?” They are quick to smile and delighted when asked to gather for a picture. It is also a place full of strong colour form the vibrant blues of the clear sky mirrored in the shades of blue in the house and building and set dramatically by the rusty burnt orange colours of the mud roads. The road eventually terminates in the village square beside a monastery school and boat jetty where we take our river and lake trip out to the vast expanse that is Tonle Sap Lake and the floating villagers who call it home. I cannot imaging visiting Siem Reap or Angkor again in the future and not paying yet another visit to this fascinating place.


Stilt House on Tonle Sap River

All houses are built high on stilts as the water level raise dramatically in the rainy season.

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Asia Cambodia

A Travelbloggers Guide to Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Travelbloggers guide  and top tips for Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia


This was to be my second visit to Siem Reap and the temples and ruins of Angkor. Spread out over an area of some 600 acres amidst the tropical humidity of Cambodia it is at once beguiling and mysterious in its state of semi ruin, a state accentuated by the creeping gripping roots of giant fig trees that have embedded themselves into the stonework and structure of so many of these part ruins. Indeed it is this very otherworldly quality that led Hollywood to use it as the location for large parts of the film Tomb Raider.

To sum up my experience of the return to Angkor In a word magical!!


Angkor Wat itself is surrounded by a 650-foot wide moat encompassing a perimeter of more than 3 miles, it is approximately 13 feet deep. This water way adds further to the enchantment of the area as a whole. The trees and roots that add so much drama and structural damage to the remaining temples are those of the Ficus strangulosa tree, a member of the fig family of trees. Although they caused a lot damage to the structure of a  lot of the temples, in some they have become so embedded as to become part of the supporting structure. In  many it is hard to see how they could be removed at this point, without causing further major damage to the remaining element. They also add to the drama and mystery of the area, having become synonymous with the temples and aesthetic of this region throughout the world.

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Asia Thailand

A Travel Bloggers Guide to Chiang Mai Thailand, Top Travel Tips

Chiang Mai, Thailand

A travel bloggers insight guide and recommendations.

There are 6 main reasons that tourists to travel north of Bangkok to the much more relaxed and chilled out city of  Chiang Mai. One: To see the exquisite Buddhist temples, Two:  Because it is a much more relaxed and safer place than Bangkok, Three: As the gateway to jungle trekking into the surrounding mountains, Four: Probably most popular of all, to visit and experience a close up encounter with elephants. Five: For Thai massage and Six: Last but not least, the food!!

I had first visited Chiang Mai in 2014 as the meeting point with a tour guide for a 3 day trek up into the rain-forests of Northern Thailand, a trip that had turned out to be one of the best experiences of my travel adventures. For the few days spent in Chiang Mai on either side of the trekking adventure I had grown to like the laid back and friendly atmosphere of Chiang Mai itself. Based on this the aim of my return was simply to relax and enjoy that laid back atmosphere. Having gone trekking in the past I also wanted to have a close up encounter with elephants, but at a place that have a No ride policy. It is an unfortunate truth that many tourists visiting this part of Thailand do so with the aim of taking part in an Elephant encounter which has led to the rise of many unscrupulous and unethical Elephant farms. I use the term Elephant farm deliberately as they are little more than exploitative and cruel places run by people with little care for elephants, other than how to exploit them.

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