Round-the-world cyclist recommends south east Asia temples for a unique experience
No south east Asia travelling experience would be complete without a visit to one of the ancient and fascinating Buddhist temples that dot the landscape throughout the region.
Visitors to temples in countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Laos may even find such places evoke a sense of spirituality you would not find anywhere else.
This was the experience of Charlie Walker, a cyclist currently embarked on a four-year, 40,000-mile round-the-world trip.
In a blog post on his website charliewalkerexplore.co.uk he explained that he frequently chose to stay in Buddhist temples when travelling through south east Asia.
"I availed myself of the generous hospitality of the monks numerous times on a recent ride through the region. Each night provided me with different experiences ranging from amusing to just plain weird," he explained.
In particular, he enjoyed the sense of peace and calm that can be found in the temples away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities.
However, the cyclist's most memorable experience came when he took part in a meditation session along with a group of around 60 monks at Wat Tham Tu Khao Tong temple in southern Thailand.
Initially finding it difficult to clear his mind, Mr Walker explained that he decided to count down from 300, with one count for each exhalation, while focusing on a candle flame two yards in front of him.
"My breath steadied and the count slowed accordingly. 237, 236 ... The candle continued to dance mesmerisingly, my eyes began to glaze and the crawling count required all my concentration. The orange sea's tranquil tide swept over me," he said.
"I don't remember reaching 200 but the next thing I knew, a hand settled softly on my shoulder. I looked into the deeply lined face of the woman who had showed me in.
"I was wide awake with my back bolt upright and my eyes wide open when she touched me, but my mind was utterly without thought. I was happy. I checked the time; over an hour had passed."