Atmospheric Architecture in Asia A Photo Story on the #DragonRoute

By Abi King | Asia

May 24
[box size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”] “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” Frank Lloyd Wright[/box]

That gorgeous buttercup-yellow sunset above (over here if you can’t see it on your gadget-y thing) I took from a bridge in Guilin, China, at rush hour. Above the traffic and the bikes and the noise and the tearing around, this chubby round sun glided past the silhouette of a temple to create an idyllic moment of peace among the madness. It was beautiful in its own right but it also reminded me how blind we become to our surroundings. Of the hundreds or so people crossing that bridge, I was the only one stopping to look at that sunset, just because it was new to me. Everyone else, if they stopped to look at all, stopped to look at me: the strange white woman standing on the bridge taking photos.

Atmospheric Architecture in Asia

Today’s #FriFotos theme is architecture and it’s a subject that I’ll admit I don’t pay enough attention to, despite spending most of my waking hours (and let’s face it, all bar about 20 of my sleeping ones) living within it. With my mind and memory cards still full from the dragon route, I thought I’d get into the Friday feeling by sharing some of the photos that stood out for me. They’re not necessarily the most razzle-dazzle of buildings (although a few of them definitely are.) They’re just a brief snapshot of moments that inspired me.

The Temple of Literature, Hanoi


The Temple of Literature, Hanoi

The Temple of Literature, Hanoi

Hanoi’s Temple of Literature deserves a post of its own, but for now, how can you resist two dragons having a staring competition across smoking scarlet incense?

Mahabandula Park, Yangon/Rangoon

Children run across the park in central Yangon

Children run across the park in central Yangon

Much of what is written about Burma/Myanmar is so serious – and with good reason. However, I had to celebrate the architecture that allowed these children to run through the park without a care in the world…

Underground in the Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi

Sofitel Metropole Hotel bunker
Hiding from the bombs…

This place, however, has a more sobering effect. It’s the hidden bunker at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, used during the American/Vietnam war. Singer Joan Baez hid here with other guests one Christmas in the 1970s and she used her recording of the bombs dropping as part of her single Where Are You My Son?

Over Ground in the Upper House, Hong Kong

View from Gray Deluxe Restaurant Hong Kong

View from Gray Deluxe Restaurant Hong Kong

When all that stops you from tumbling to the ground, 49 storeys beneath you, is a single pane of glass, the importance of architects – and engineers, building regulations and health and safety executives – takes on a more prominent role in your mind. Or at least it does in mine.

In Awe, In Rangoon/Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda with people at night

And then, there is this: the Shwedagon Pagoda in Burma/Myanmar. Less a building, more an entire complex where hundreds come to chat, to sweep, to think and to pray.

And also to take photos. For behind every piece of travel photography, of course, there is someone who stopped and is holding the camera.

And for these shots, on this blog, that person is me.

Have a lovely weekend everyone,



Disclosure: The #DragonRoute project comes about thanks to Cathay Pacific UK, my “artistic sponsor” if you will. 

The Upper House and Sofitel Legend Metropole also assisted in this project. 

As ever, when I work with companies and sponsors, I always keep the right to say whatever I want, however I want on this site. That’s just the way it is – and always will be.



About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

The Shwedagon Pagoda is lovely with all those lights. Is it as lovely during daytime?

    Abi King May 31, 2013

    Yes, absolutely wonderful although very, very hot. Twilight was absolutely spectacular as the red and amber rays of the sun reflected off the gold and flocks of birds flew overhead. Stunning.

what can I say..the photos are just awesome.Travelling asia is on my to do list..but still haven;’t time to spare..but i hope it will be soon.

    Abi King June 14, 2013

    I hope you do too. So, so, so, SO much to see!

JhaypeeG. June 13, 2013

Nice photos! :)

TeacherGig July 27, 2013

Stunning photos. For me, architecture is the second most important part of any destinations (I do a lot of city trips). The first is food, of course. ;)

These are stunning, especially that shot of Guilin. It’s a real shame that people aren’t stopping to take photos of things like that. The Taiwanese seem to have no problem taking a look around. People are still snapping shots constantly, even of Taipei 101.

And it’s very good of Cathay Pacific to sponsor your trip. I have a very different experience with the airline and I don’t fly with them anymore. While in their care, someone opened my bag and stole my camera out of it. Serves me right for putting it in there, I suppose, but I lost all the photos of my trip to Kuala Lumpur. Maybe it’s something to mention to you sponsor?

Anyways, thanks a lot for the post, especially Yangon. Happy and safe travels!

    Abi King July 30, 2013

    Ach – sorry to hear about your camera. I had a similar thing happen with a lens and backup camera I checked in when I flew with Iberia. I noticed as soon as I got to my hotel but travel insurance doesn’t cover checked luggage (I learned that very day!) and the airline blamed the baggage handlers who blamed the bus driver to my hotel who blamed the airline so I went full circle. Very, very frustrating. So now I play Houdini games with my carry on bag to try to fit everything of importance in there. Once I’ve arrived, I unpack half of it back into my main suitcase. Annoying (and tough on the shoulders) but I can’t see another way. Pff!

    But, yes, the end result of travel is beautiful (along with the food, of course!) I’ll drop Cathay a line for you…

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