Tuesday, January 23, 2007

For Asther

May this moment of despair fade away,
replaced by blessings, trust and hope...

Blessings that brings love, unity and strength
upon you and your family,

Trust that God will make all things
right if we surrender to His Will,

Hope that is seed to all glad tidings and

May serenity, courage and wisdom
be with you and your family.

May all of our prayers be answered and granted.

May your daddy be well again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tapestry of Faces

Tapestry of Images out of Siem Reap

Orion recommended to visit Banteay Srey. It is indeed beautiful as she mentioned, see pix below. The Apsara authorities (the ones managing the entry to all the ruins all over Cambodia) are planning to impose a timed visit for each tourist due to the size of the ruins. It is very small compared to the ones in Angkor Area. It took less than 2 hours to arrive here from Angkor Wat. It was a scenic journey, passing through villagers and padi fields. The tuk tuk had to stop to let a big pig with black and white patches like dalmations to cross the road. I thought that was funny. The pig strided away really quick.

It was a super dusty road to travel from Banteay Srey to Kbal Spean, just like cowboy town. It is about 2 hours trip with tuk tuk. It could be the longest trip of your life due to the constant brown cloud of dust whenever a car or lorry passes by. I was brown all over when I reached the hotel at the end of the trip. When I sneezed, it was brown phelgm. When I showered, the water was brown. I showered twice. Orion suggested taxi but tuk tuk was cheaper. Frankly, take a taxi, now that I know better.

From Kbal Spean, you can trek through a jungle about 40 mins to the River of Thousand Lingas where the river beds and rocks around it have carvings, There is a small waterfall with clear clean water. It was a nice and easy trek. Two Koreans and a Indochine tourists wore heels to trek. I was so impressed.

On the way back from Kbal Spean, a detour to Banteay Samre. After a while, most ruins look pretty alike, or they just become a bunch of rocks or rumbles. In fact, the design and architecture of all the ruins are very uniform, as if they have to adhere standard code.

Visit the Water Village on Tonle Sap if you wanna see how some of the Cambodians live. It is a boat ride which cost USD15 per pax. I think it is expensive. The boatmen is only paid USD10 per month. So, if you have a dollar to spare, you can tip him. It is very depressing there, watching the lives of the villagers. People live in very small hut made of attaps. I mean it when I say small. It is so small, like the size of a bathroom of an condominium.

The water of the river is very muddy (brown) and smelly. This is the water the villages used to drink, bathe, wash and fish. The boat trip will stop at a place where you can eat, see crocodiles, visit a pathetic fish museum which showcases the fishes that can be found in the lake and also watch a girl feeding small fishes to a bunch of vicious huge fishes.

On the boat, along the muddy river.

A home. This is one of the better and bigger ones.

Villagers buying and selling vegetables and supplies.

The hut. Isn't it small? It is very sad to see the condition. It is really bad and poor.

A school. Most school here were built through donations for e.g. from the Japanese or Korean or French government.

Fishercouple beating the net to remove some small silver fish. Not as small as ikan bilis, maybe the size of a gold fish, but flat.

A Catholic Church. Must be one of the missionary churches.

Moving house. Literally moving the house, no kidding. Note the entire frame of house on the lorry. I guess they don't much, do they?

Truly, it was a pretty adventurous trip, which I did walk a lot everyday. It was enlightening too. It reminded me how lucky and blessed I am. Most of us here are. Here, we don't see ten or twenty kids without shoes and dirty clothes begging you to buy knick-knacks from them. Or eating too much bons bons from tourists when they hardly ever know about dental hygiene. There, this is their life when they are suppose to be in schools.

Tapestry of Angkor Wat

Part Five : The Angkor Wat.

When you arrive to the Angkor Wat, you will understand why it is so famous. It is very impressive, very huge and grand. It is still very well preserved, perhaps because it is the last few ruins of Angkor Area.

The famous pinnacles of Angkor Wat. I think there are 5 of them, but if you looking at them parallel, you can only see 3 of them.

Can't get a panaromic view of Angkor Wat. Look at the amount of tourist there!

A view from the top of Angkor Wat. Note the outermost wall. That's how far to walk from the entrance up to here. This is place is huge.

The bright moon over the darkening sky above Angkor Wat. I was happy to see it gleeming brightly coz moon is always special to me.

Bas-reliefs of Apsaras (what else?!) on walls.

Waiting and watching the sunrise over the Angkor Wat among hundreds of Japanese and Koreans tourist from 5.30am. The locals will bring if you a chair if you buy a glass of coffee from them for USD1. Otherwise, you can just stand. The chair is pretty useless if you are not sitting on the first row. But the coffee will keep you awake.

Waterlilies blooming as the sunrises on the pond outside the wall of Angkor Wat.

The sun shining brightly. Time to leave Angkor Wat as the next destination from here is to Banteay Srey, about an hour and half away.

Between watching a sunset and sunrise over Angkor Wat, I prefer sunrise. Don't miss it if you are there although you might need to wake up really early.

Next 2 posts will be pix of people and from all over Siem Reap. But as for Angkor Area, that's all of the 5 parts and I hope you enjoy reading and viewing the photos.

If you wanna know more, let me know. Otherwise, the Internet has pretty good resources and information on visiting all the ruins and Siem Reap as a whole.

Tapestry of Sights of Tah Phrom

Part Four : Which is more famous - the enveloping trees or the ruins of Tah Phrom?

Here at Tah Phrom, the trees are the highlights. Actually to be accurate, it is the roots of the trees that people will wanna look at and take photos of. I am one of them!

Enjoy the trees against a bright blue sky, before we see roots and more roots.

Here come the roots - swallowing/enveloping/embracing/chocking/strangling the ruins.

This gotta to be the most famous tree/roots in Tah Phrom, and prolly most photographed object too of Angkor area besides Angkor Wat.

This root, according to the tour guide to a bunch of tourists from Taiwan, which I overheard, is like the body of a snake but without its head.

More roots again...

Something different than roots found in Tah Phrom. Something that looks like "batu giling" (grinder) which my grandma used to grind soya bean to make soya bean juice, or rice to make rice powder.

And a nice carving on the wall which I like, of which you can see everywhere as well.

So enough proofs to show that roots are the main actor in Tah Phrom. I like this site too. You can walk around its perimeter which is pretty serene and it is quieter as there are less tourists. Perhaps, you can catch an occasional tired tourist taking a break or an artiste sketching away.

Next post - Angkor Wat! (the name speak for itself)

Tapestry of Sights of Angkor Thom

Part Three - Inside Angkor Thom

The largest complex consisting of several famous ruins - Bayon - Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Prasat Suor Prat and many more.

You could spend half a day here or simply two hours depending on your interests. If you love photography, probably you will like it here. Needless to mention, there are too many tourists here, so that could be a hassle when it comes to photography, unless you love photographing people.

Outside the ruins, there are stalls selling sourvenirs, paintings and the everywhere-you-can-get Angkor Wat t-shirts which cost USD5 for 4 of them. You can find lotsa food stalls too where you can have a lunch break. Don't forget to treat your tuk-tuk driver to lunch or drinks coz they will spending the entire day waiting while you explore each ruins and driving you from one ruins to another.

Here are some photos...

Entering the Bayon... this is where Delphinus reminded me to take lotsa photos of the Buddha heads. Delphi, I dedicate all photos of Bayon and the heads to you :)

Long corridor with low door frame creating a sense of maze around the ruins. It kinda make the explorations of the ruins really exciting.

Ruins at Bayon. Note the headless body on the left.

Very well preserved bas-reliefs of Apsaras (celestials nymph) dancing on pillars of Bayon.

A close up face of Avelokitesvara of Bayon. Too many heads in Bayon and after a while, they get a bit too much.

The carving of Apsaras statues here and everywhere, at most ruins of Angkor areas. Note the statues are bare-chested :P

4 faces of Avelokitesvara peering through every nook and corner of Bayon.

Into Phimeanakas and steeps steps up.

Walls surounding Baphuon. Entry is not allowed on weekend as it is going through restoration works.

Out of Phimeanakas, you will come to an open space overlooking to the Terrace of the Elephants and Leper King as well the Prasat Suor Prat (12 Towers) across the road. It can be a bit hot as there is no shade. And coz by the time you explored and reach here, it is almost early noon time.

From here you can exit through the Victory gate to explore other ruins around Angkor area. From here on too, you will prolly find most ruins kinda look a like except for the ever famous Angkor Wat.

Next post : Which is more famous - the enveloping trees or the ruins of Tah Phrom?