In May 2012 I travelled around South-East Asia for 3 months. Having been there before on previous occasions, I was somewhat unsure if the trip would be worthwhile. Well, I was in for a pleasant surprise! There's a lot of natural beauty in this region, with the jewel in the crown being the mighty Mekong river. The Mekong has been the life breath of this region for centuries, providing viable agriculture and bountiful harvests of rice, fish and vegetables.
In terms of its religious past, this region was originally heavily influenced by Hinduism, as can be witnessed by numerous temples built to various Hindu deities. It was not till 6th century BC that Gautama Buddha's teachings reached this region through travelling monks. Buddhism then took strong roots in this region because of numerous monastries and learning centres that were established by the monks. Huge stupas in Begu, a thousand temples in Bagan and of course the world famous Angkor Vat are living testimony to the influence Buddhism has had on the daily life of folk who live in this region.
A fact that escaped me for many years was the influence of Hinduism in Vietnam. I saw an old cave in a place called Marble Mountain, which is on the outskirts of Da Nang in Central Vietnam. Inside this cave, there is an ancient Shiva Lingam which is still revered by local vietnamese people who offer incense to it on a regular basis. Amazing stuff!!
Overall, the trip was quite memorable. As always, I took lots of pictures but have only uploaded a few for your viewing pleasure.