Exploring Beijing’s White Cloud Temple

Sunday, 26th of November, 2017


Apart from the many well-known tourist attractions Beijing has on offer there is a surprisingly large number of remarkable sights that draw a lot less attention to themselves. Beijing Bai Yun Guan is honored as the chief temple of the Three Ancestral Temples of the Quan Zhen Taoist tradition. Originally called Temple of Eternal Heaven, it was built in 741 A.D. under Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty. In the Song dynasty it was renamed Tai Ji Gong. At the beginning of the Yuan dynasty, Master Qiu Chang Chun was appointed to this temple by Genghis Khan to preside over Taoism in China, upon which it was renamed Temple of Eternal Spring. After Qiu Chang Chun’s death, Chu Shun Tang was built to enshrine his physical remains, a hall located east of the Chang Chun Gong. In the early Ming Dynasty, the temple was ruined by war. Since only Chu Shun Tang remained it became the center of rebuilding and the temple was renamed White Cloud Temple. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the temple has undergone three extensive renovations with support from the Chinese government and so the traditional magnificence of this time-honored temple had been revitalized. At present the temple buildings cover an area of approximately 10.000 square meters, including nineteen deity halls carefully aligned along three north-south axes, with a rear garden, the overall area of the temple is about 60.000 square meters. Listed as a historic site under the protection of the Chinese government in 2001, it houses the offices of the Chinese Taoist Association, The Institute of Chinese Taoist Culture, the Chinese Taoist College and the Editorial Department of the Journal of Chinese Taoism.


Ayutthaya – Bang Ian Night Market & the Wat Mahathat

Ayuthaya, Friday, the 3rd of October 2017


In Ayuthaya one of the most famous sights is a single severed buddha head that looks out from under the tangled roots of an ancient bodhi tree. It’s hard to imagine how it got there since the body of the statue is long gone, but there might have been a shrine in front of the tree once that held an image of buddha. On the day we arrived in Ayuthaya light rainshowers kept coming down, convincing us to postphone the sightseeing to the next day. We did take a long walk around town though and found the Bang Ian night market around nightfall.



The next day, the first thing we went to see was the Mat Mahathat, the temple that holds the bodhi tree with the buddha head. It opens early in the morning at 8am and we were almost the first to buy a multi temple pass for the day. The temple ground was muddy and wet from the rain the day before and it didn’t take us long to ruin our shoes. But even with all the dirt and the bad weather it soon became quite clear that we were at a place that used to be of great importance once. Before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand, Ayuthaya was the center of Siamese power. And the city still is peppered with ancient Khmer ruins, making it an ideal gateway city to the history-ladden other cities in Central Thailand.


Panorama Langkawi – SkyBridge, SkyCab and the 3D museum

Day 3 – Monday, the 25th of September 2017



A lot of time and effort went into the planning of this year’s October holiday. As with almost any destination, the LP is a good first source of information and inspiration. One of the things highlighted was a cable car ride up Langkawi’s Machincang mountain, on top of which a suspended sky bridge gives a 360 degree view over the bays and small islands of Langkawi.  It is also said to be longest free span and curved bridge in the world and is suspended on a single pylon 82m above virgin jungle. The SkyCab going up to the top also holds an entry in the Malaysia Book of Records as the country’s longest free span mono-cable car, and will carry you over a distance of 1700m past two pretty waterfalls and above the tropical canopies of the thick jungle vegetation below.

The incredibly long monday morning queues waiting to enter the SkyCab.

I was temped to buy the advertised express way tickets online to avoid long queues at the SkyCab, but Jelte convinced me to try our luck and purchase tickets at the counter on site. As it turned out this was money well saved, since upon our arrival at the entrance late on a monday morning only some 10 other people were waiting to buy tickets. There are different types of tickets available, with one offering a ride in a glas bottom gondula. This type is three times the price of a regular ride, the latter of which didn’t seem half bad considering the magnificient view we expected. Unfortunately, the windows of our gondula (and probably of every cable car) were pretty badly scratched up, so the look outside was always partly obscured by a thousand or so hairline cracks. But even with the air-condition broken and with no opening in the windows to let in some fresh air, the 10 minute ride up to the top of the mountain was quite cool. Haha.


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Included in the entrance ticket to the SkyCab came the entrance to Panorama Langkawi’s 3D museum. Leaving your shoes at the entrance, you walk through a variety of themed rooms that let you be part of the wall drawings.


Since this was our last day staying in a luxury resort with infinity pool access, we only spend a couple of hours at the Panorama Langkawi, before getting back into a cab and taking the 45 minute ride to the other side of the island.

Dataran Lang – The 12m tall statue of an eagle poised to take flight.

The hotel is located on the south east end of the island, with the road going right past Langkawi’s signature Eagle Square, so we took the opportunity to pay it a quick visit before heading back. The harbour was as good as deserted due to the intense midday heat, and so the only other people there were a group of 10 boys visiting from China ( – go figure!), who offered to take a picture for us.

We would already leave for Penang on the first ferry the next morning at 10am, the tickets for which we purchased right there next to the Eagle Square at a small row of counters next to KFC (only one of the booths sells ferry tickets to Penang). And with that we ended our half-day trip and walked straight back up the road to our resort, spending the rest of the day lounging in the pool drinking coconut cocktails by the Andaman sea.