In Search of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Roll Back to 1993

From August to October 1993 I was backpacking through Europe with two friends, Lee Gagne and Natalie Roussy.  We had Euro-rail passes and travelled pretty much everywhere in Europe.  In Rome, I made a special request to go looking for the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi.  Why?  I was taking European history at Carleton and learned he was a national hero who had helped establish the unification of Italy in 1860.  All I had was a couple of paragraphs on his history (as this was pre-internet).

We spent the day trudging up and down some hills, stopping for beer and wine, and we never did find the statue.

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Kanchanaburi, Thailand – The Death Railway

I have watched the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, many times.  It is a story of leadership and perseverance in the harshest of conditions.  The late Sir Alec Guinness is one of my favourite actors whether in leadership role as Lt Col Nicholson for this movie, as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, as Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia, or as the infamous Jock Sinclair in Tunes of Glory.

The problem is the movie was fiction based on an author who knew very little about the true incidents that occurred to build the Death Railway although he did suffer forced labour at the hands of the Japanese for two years as a POW.  I now have a greater appreciation of the true story and the hardship endured.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

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Ta Prohm – Temple in the Trees

King Jayavarman VII built the temple in dedication to his mother. Construction began in 1186 CE. The temple honours Prajnaparamita (the goddess of wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism). We know the temple from the Angelina Jolie movie Tomb Raider.

Iconic Shots from Tomb Raider

The tree with the roots growing in the temple is the main image which makes people think Ta Prohm.  The other, the image of a Buddha surrounded by tree roots, is also popular.  hmm.. are we sure about that second one?  Read on to find out!

Chinese tourists crowd around to take photos of the Tomb Raider Crew from Canada

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Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, built by Jayavarman VII in the late twelfth century.  He was the greatest of the Khmer Kings.

Surrounded by a moat and walls the remains of Angkor Thom demonstrate a powerful empire.  The remains include the temple of Bayon, the Baphuon, the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King.

The temple of Bayon has 2000 faces on 54 towers

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What about the Vietnam War?

I have had a couple of questions about the Vietnam War and whether we have visited battlefield sites or not. We haven’t.

Is it Over?

The Vietnam War ended 40 years ago and is still a major part of society.  Spoiler alert: the North won.

Resistance statue in front of the Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City

The Government of Vietnam is Communist although they are opening up to more foreign investment including tourism.  Major western companies like McDonalds have broken into the market but are not as big as one would think.

I have fairly limited knowledge of the Vietnam War based on some historical readings and tainted by Hollywood movies.

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Nijo-jo Castle

Tokugawa Ieyasu is an important name in Japanese History.  Appointed Seii-Taishogun (or Shogun) by the Emperor in 1603 after he unified Japan and ended the Civil War.  Under his rule he established the Tokugawa Shogunate which lasted over 260 years.

Tokugawa announced his appointment at Nijo Castle and used the castle as his residence when visiting the Imperial City.

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