Category Archives: Kids Blog

The Jain Temple in Ranakpur

We visited a Jain temple in Ranakpur (half way between Udaipur and Jodhpur) that is one of the most well known for the religion and attracts practicing Jains from all over India and the world. Before we start, lets explain who Jains are and what they believe:

Jains believe that all living things have a soul that should not be destroyed. That means everything, literally, from animals to bacteria.

The Jain population in India is approximately 4 million strong. The whole population of India is over 1 billion (2nd to China) which makes the Jain group 0.5% of the general population.

Jains are strict vegetarians; some of them are so strict on their food they wont eat any vegetables that have roots because the vegetable itself will have millions of bacteria. In other words, food like potatoes, radishes or carrots that grow under the ground are sacred.

Jain temples are expertly carved as you can see in the photos. The time that it takes to do this expert work takes years and costs a fortune as you can imagine.

Jains are known to be a very wealthy group and excellent business people in India and abroad; just as they take their religious practice seriously, so do they in work.

On our drive to Jodhpur, we stopped to tour the 15th century Jain temple in Ranakpur. We did not know about it but our guide thought that we would appreciate the temple and our timing was perfect because non-Jains may only enter for a few hours each day when they are not worshipping. We paid and got the audio guide before entering the temple. We learned many things such as the Jains believe that if they crawl under a statue of an elephant in the temple it will bring good luck.

After further research for this post, this temple was dedicated to Tirthankara Adinatha*. We found interesting nooks and crannies that the audio guide pointed out including one of the pillars was slightly leaning to one side and this was done on purpose! The reason the pillar is not straight is to show that life is not always perfect and there is always something that is needed to get closer to God or excellence.

This temple is completely made out of marble and is said to be one of the most spectacular. I believe it too after walking through this place! Jains come from all over the world to worship there. The man who created the temple (Dharma Shah) dreamed about making a temple. He hired workers to build it exactly as he had seen it in his dream. There are over 400 pillars and no two pillars are the same when you look at the intricate carvings of animals, Gods, and flowers.

While I could never be a Jain because of my love for foods especially burgers and steak, I definitely appreciate the Jain people and their commitment. We saw Jains walking along the highway wearing white robes as the walked miles and miles on a pilgrimage to visit this temple and others in the Rajasthan region.

*Lord Rishabhdev also known as Lord Adinath was the first Jain Tirthankar of present time cycle. He lived before civilization developed. Because of this, he had the name of Adinath – the original lord. He became a Siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma.

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Birthday Recap

I noticed that I have not given the world a thorough read of my birthday last month. Lets start with the fact that I turned 14 on March 16th in Vang Vieng, Laos which is north of Vientiane (the capital). VV is known as an outdoors activity town where there are a bunch of really fun things to do – perfect place to celebrate if you ask me.

The first order of the day was that I allowed my family to sleep in until 10 (I am the birthday boy so rule the family)! We decided on a place for breakfast that my parents like because of the coffee; I didn’t mind because I chose a special spot for dinner. After breakie, we went back to our rooms to get ready for the activities planned for the day.

First stop ZIPLINING!!!! The zip lining was loads of fun! We were flying through the air like a monkey and bird combined in one. Spoiler Alert: at the end they did a long zip-line and pulled the ropes up and down so that you were bouncing as you flew down to the base camp. I’ve done zip lines before and this one ranks up there with the best.

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After that there is a water cave where you go into a pitch-black cave on inner tubes. They have ropes that you hold onto so that you don’t drift off into the darkness and luckily they give you head lamps to see (my dad’s did not work!). I remember humming to myself the batman song as we pulled ourselves deeper into the cave. It took about 10 minutes or so going into it and we went as fast as we could to get out because there were 20 Korean tourists coming in (No Photos unfortunately).

After the zip line and cave adventure, we headed back to town to Smile Beach which has a bar for fruit shakes and hammocks to chill out. The river has rapids there and it’s fun to wade in the water on tubes but even more fun when you splash the other tubers coming down the river! I was a big surprise to quite a few people that got wet coming by our beach! We stayed until sunset and then we went to my birthday dinner. I wanted to have Mexican and the good news is that VV has a really good Mexican spot. We shared french fry nachos which is like regular nachos except with fries instead of chips – yum! I ordered an enchilada that filled me up. We walked back to the hotel after a hearty meal and went to bed quite easily after a great day of fun. One that I will never forget!

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I splashed the guide!!!

I splashed the guide!!!

Koh Lanta ⎮ Beach, Eat, Beach, Sleep, Beach!

To begin with, we all LOVED Koh Lanta!!! The beachy weekend vacation time went by WAY too fast for 5 days! For this time, we had two other guest backpackers staying with us for 10 days -my aunt, Sarah, and her friend, Amanda, from San Francisco – We all had a great time in Koh Lanta! Some day, I hope to come back!

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The now 6 of us arrived from Bangkok and were pumped to get some beach time in! The last time we had beach was in Indonesia back in late December/early January! After a quick AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Krabi, we hopped into the van to take us to the Chaw Ka Cher hotel and it took a lot longer than we had hoped. We had to take two ferries but when we were finally there, it was nice, really nice! I think we were all very impressed with the hotel – good food, service, pool, & rooms- and enjoyed it very much. We were all pretty tired that evening so we stayed at the hotel to eat. The food was great and we finished off the evening with a good game of hearts!

The next morning, we had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel and went to the closest beach from where we were – Relax Bay. I think this beach was the best beach. It was very peaceful and calm with plenty of little food restaurants around. Sarah got a massage there and the rest of us read and swam and just plain chillaxed. We got back to the hotel later in the afternoon and chilled more by the pool. For dinner, we went out to a place called Thai Cat. Overall, it wasn’t bad but we’ve definitely had better!

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The Scouts!

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GoPro-ing fun!

 

The following morning came and went and we found ourselves in another beach, Klong Dao. The second beach had more people, shops, restaurants and was a lot bigger than the one before. We found a nice spot in the shade and did our beach chillaxing thing again! Sarah got another massage there but not as good as her first with the real strong old lady at the first beach. We had a good lunch where Sebastian ordered a pineapple fried rice. It’s probably the opposite of what you’re thinking though, with pieces of pineapple in the rice. It was more like a real pineapple cut in the inside with fried rice in it! It was delicious! After lunch, Amanda, Sebastian, and I rented two paddle boards and went on a little adventure. Brother and sister shared a board while Amanda got her own. We took several GoPro selfies and photos. Our adventure was a lot of fun! (just out and in to a little beach next to the big one) We relaxed a bit longer and then went back to the hotel. After chilling at the hotel, we got ready to go to our cooking class! (Sarah, Amanda, Mama, Sebastian, & me) The truck picked us up and took us to the Cooking School, Lanta Thai Cookery School. All the other students were women so Sebastian was the only boy and together we were the only kids! As a group, all the students had to choose 4 dishes to make and eat after. We all ended up deciding on the papaya salad as an appetizer, fried spring rolls, pad thai, and red curry. We all received a cookbook and certificate at the end of the class to try out the other recipes like mango with sticky rice! The food turned out great and it was so much fun to make. It was definitely worth it and we will certainly try them again when we get home to Florida!

The next day, we rented 3 scooters for the 6 of us. Sarah and Amanda rode together, Mom and Sebastian, and Dad and I. Our destination was Bamboo Bay beach. We swam all morning and had a great lunch at the Baan Phu Lae guesthouse. As we were leaving to go to Kantiang Bay beach to watch the sunset, two men on a scooter came by. We had all stopped to wait for each other to catch up when the man driving the scooter turned pushing the gas, and accidentally rammed straight into Sarah and Amanda’s scooter. Amanda did a kind of flip roll off the scooter and Sarah was leaning to the side about to fall over with all the weight of the scooter on her. Luckily, there was a small pole in between the two of them so it was pushing against the scooter and it did not fall but the impact broke the mirror of Sarah’s scooter. The two men from the other scooter rushed over to see if everyone was okay, and good thing everyone was okay! In the end, Dad and I rode back to the hotel with the guys and they had to pay for the broken rearview mirror and gave us some money for Amanda’s ripped skirt! Gladly, it was just a scare and the girls and Sebastian were waiting for us at Kantiang Bay sipping cocktails and waiting for the sunset over the Andaman Sea.

Our last beach day was spent in Kantiang Bay again in the morning and Relax Bay again in the afternoon. We all got massages at Relax Bay and they were REALLY nice! This time I got to drive the scooter to the different beaches and it was SUPER fun!! To wrap up our time in Koh Lanta, we went to an excellent 5 star restaurant, Yang Garden. This was a FANTASTIC farewell dinner and ALL of us enjoyed it very much! For dessert, we had a Thai Creme Brulee and a Chocolate Truffle. Yum!

This wonderful beach relaxing time got us all prepared for Laos! Farewell, Koh Lanta! We will return…;)

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The Girls

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