Wat Phu Tok: the most dangerous temple in Thailand?

In Thailand, a country where the majority of inhabitants are Buddhist, there are temples scattered everywhere, even on mountains which are not that practical to build a worship place. Welcome to Bueng Kan province, far in the northeastern Isan region. It’s one of the lesser visited provinces, and you will love it if you are in search for peace, nature, and something off the beaten path. Without a doubt, Wat Phu Tok (วัดภูทอก) is one of the most unique, thrilling, (and scary) temples in Thailand. And, above all, a visit…

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Kanmangafuchi Abyss and the mystery of Jizō statues

Nikko is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo, and for more than a good reason: it’s got gorgeous shrines, tons of history, and is situated in a really beautiful nature. But besides all the standard stuff you’d see in a trip to Nikko, Kanmangafuchi Abyss (憾満ヶ淵) is probably the most interesting. The area practically untouched by tourists boasts beautiful ravince, rows of shrines, and also a row of stone Jizō statues. How many? Nobody knows for sure, because apparently each time you count them, you end up…

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Bangkok’s “David Beckham Temple”: one of the world’s weirdest religious buildings

Bangkok’s temples are truly a wonder to visit, but after a few days of battling the crowds, the appeal of gilded Buddha statues may start to lose interest. Thus, when you’ve visited the major attractions, why don’t go to Wat Pariwat, a one-of-a-kind temple down the Chao Phraya River? Wat Pariwat gets its famous nickname, “David Beckham Temple”, from a gold-plated statue of the English former football player holding up a statue of Buddha. But that’s just one of the unexpected characters you’re bound to notice visiting this unusual holy…

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7# Ul Boov: the Mongolian “shoe sole cake“

We are in Mongolia. Tsagaan Sar, arguably Mongolia’s most important holiday, is the celebration of the Lunar New Year, held a month after the first new moon following the Winter Solstice. Tsagaan means “white” and Sar can be translated as “month” or “moon”. When locals celebrate the Lunar New Year with a days-long holiday, that like the best holidays, is all about family, the centerpiece is usually a fabulous ul boov. Ul boov in the lyrical, literal style of the Mongolian language means “shoe sole cake”, probably a humble name…

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“Sokushinbutsu”: the self-mummification ritual and the myth of non-death

Although the Japanese climate is not exactly conducive to mummification, somehow a group of Buddhist monks from the Shingon sect discovered a way to mummify themselves through rigorous ascetic training in the shadow of a particularly sacred peak in the mountainous northern prefecture of Yamagata. If for Christians the death represents the moment of transition towards eternal life, which should be much better than the brief earthly existence, for Buddhists life and death chase each other in an eternal cycle of reincarnation, from which it is possible to go out…

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