HOWDY! This is a platform for me to express myself. To bare my thoughts, emotions and life stories. Leaving bite-size pieces of me before I go. I graciously invite you to comment, swap stories and thoughts. Please post your comment or get in touch with me here.
So…do I like Cambodia? Mostly, I enjoyed visiting the temples of Angkor. Not to mention the good company I was with. But I was exceptionally disgusted with the locals, children and adults alike. Having said that, I did meet quite a number of nice people and monks (yes, you get them in abundance in Cambodia as well) so that sort of stroked a balance for me; between the sweet memories and the uglies-you-wanna-erase-from-your-memory-bank types. In a nutshell, I’d just like to say that this is one country you need to visit once in a lifetime - to witness the awesomeness of Angkor as well as trying mightily hard to comprehend the callous Khmer Rouge bloodshed of the Killing Fields. And then you leave the country, never wanting to return, ever again.
As always, I will start with the sole cam-whore pix of my own shadow. This time, I will only show the one I loved most. It was taken in front of the Bayon temple south gate, where I stood sandwiched between two of the devil warriors with the rising sun at the back of me. I think it’s one of the nicest shadow shots I’ve taken so far, if I may say so myself.
So, without much ado, let’s start…
DAY 1 - SIEM RIEP
[From left to right]
o We arrived in Siem Riep about 11ish local time. I like the Lat cartoons on the plane. (Pssst…Datuk Tony Fernandez, this is me promoting your airline. So please feel free to pass more free tixs my way, eh? I’ve scratched your back already, this is my cue for you to scratch mine, eh?)
o This is part of the deco in the Siem Riep International Airport, after you passed through the immigration. That must be the biggest golden disco light I have ever set my eyes on. I could almost hear Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ playing in the background. Yeah, that’s the bimbo side of me doing some blog contribution. Heh.
o To escape the scorching heat, we hung out at The Blue Pumpkin. I ordered my second cuppa in Siem Riep – creamy Mexican coffee which came with a piece of ginger biscuit. Price USD$1.75. (At this point in time, the concept of anything and everything here wearing the USD$ price tags has not hit my thick skull just yet. ) The coffee was super strong and nice. Just when we were getting cozy and my eyelids grew heavy, the electricity was cut off. Maybe that was their subtle way to kick us out…
And I needed to soften the shock I had during lunch an hour before – After saying the millionth no’s to a boy who harassed us to buy his pirated books for the past 10 minutes, he hissed his poisonous, “You leave my country!”. It was then I decided that I don’t like this hardscrabble country very much. And this feeling lingered on throughout the entire trip. Can you imagine being chased off a country by the 2nd hour upon arrival? And then we were asked to leave the country again the next day! How fun was that? Sheesh…
Basically the above showcased some of the brief window shopping one can do around the Old Market area. While my partner-in-crime was practicing her price-haggling skills, I decided to have fun with the figurines displayed. Heh.
For dinner, I need to mention that we had the Cambodian barbeque, which is similar to the Korean barbeque where they have the charcoal grill and the soup areas. We had 4 types of meats – chicken, fish, prawns and my favourite - yummy kangaroo! I've been dreaming of having kangaroo meat since I left Alice Springs in May last year.
DAY 2 - ANGKOR WAT & PHNOM BAKHENG
We decided to visit Angkor Wat at sunrise. We had bought a 3-day pass which costs USD$40. As I entered the main door into a dark hallway, with the magnificent sight of Angkor at the end, the whole experience reminded me of when I visited Taj Mahal. Both equally breathtaking.
Excerpt from Siem Riep Angkor Visitors Guide:
Angkor Wat is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. It is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. Angkor Wat is the centerpiece of any visit to the temples of Angkor. Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat and an exterior wall measuring 1300m X 1500m. The temple itself is 1km square and consists of three level surmounted by a central tower. The walls of the temple are covered inside and out with bas-reliefs and carvings. Near 2000 distinctively rendered apsara carvings adorn the walls throughout the temple and represent some of the finest examples of apsara carvings in the Angkorian era art.
While we were there, we met up with 3 gorgeous looking siblings and they were more than happy to pose for us. Their bright red colored t-shirts against the brown grey walls created such brilliant contrasts, resulted in really beautiful portraits.
We returned to the hotel in the afternoon to rest a bit and for me to charge my battery. My only battery died on me right after we reached Bayon. I had lost the back-up battery somewhere, which remains a mystery till today. In the evening, we went to Phnom Bakheng to see the sunset. Honestly the place was overcrowded and the sunset was not spectacular that day. But we met a group of Thai monks. They were super obliging and such great posers. It didn’t take long before they became the centre of attention as nearly everyone paparazzied away. They must have felt like celebrities walking down the red carpet of Angkor.
DAY 3 – ANGKOR THOM, BAYON & TA PROHM
We visited Angkor Thom and Bayon for 2 days, one in the late morning the day before and today, in the early morning, shortly after sunrise.
Excerpt from Siem Riep Angkor Visitors Guide:
Angkor Thom (Big Angkor) is a 3km square walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian empire. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces.
The giant faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to the classic Khmer art and architecture. There are 37 standing towers, most and not all sporting four carved faces oriented toward the cardinal points.
I really enjoyed Bayon; being in midst of the stillness of the morning glow, before the invasion of the herds of noisy tourists. Seated among the giant carved faces, I absorbed the tranquility to my inner being and felt really peaceful. And before anyone says anything, this peace has nothing to do with religion; I just welcomed the nice quiet feeling after having to brace myself in the concrete jungle’s rat race for too long.
After lunch, we headed to Ta Prohm. Though the temples looked almost the same after awhile, this one stood out because of its ‘tree-in-temple’ atmosphere. And it is also in this temple, we came face-to-face with the celebrity tree, which was made famous in the movie ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider’. Being in its midst made me feel like David, facing my Goliath.
It was also at Ta Prohm, that I met this boy whom, for once, I did not felt irritated from his lengthy harassment to buy some stuff. He looked really pitiful, I decided to give him 1000 Riel to leave me alone. I really liked the shot of him.
During sunset, we had dinner seated on the straw mat placed facing the moat of Angkor Wat. I had roasted chicken (USD$4.00 per chicken) which I shared with our tuk-tuk driver and one char grilled corn. Though the meal was simple, it was really nice. While eating, we had the pleasure of the company of three dogs, which finished up all the bones. Thereafter, we went again to Angkor Wat to see the sunset. There, we met the same group of Thai monks. They remembered us and asked us to take photographs with them.
As we left Angkor Wat late, we were fortunate to see the test run of the light & sound show (sans the sound). This was its fifth night of test. It was really awesome beyond words. My battery died on me again that night, so I did not take any shots. But if I get my hands on some, I will try to post it. Promise.
[Update 27 Feb - here's a shot courtesy of my travel partner, who wants to remain anonymous for now, of the light shot I told you about. Isn't it awesomely gorgeous?]
DAY 4 – BANTEAY SREY & BANTEAY SAMRE
On the third and last day, we visited Banteay Srey and Banteay Samre, which were located about 38km away from Siem Riep, and it took about 90 minutes by tuk-tuk. These two temples are worth the distance as the wall carvings were much more intricate and delicate.
Excerpt from Siem Riep Angkor Visitors Guide:
Banteay Srey loosely translates to ‘citadel of the women’ but this is a modern appellation that probably refers to the delicate beauty of the carvings. Built at a time when the Khmer Empire was gaining significant power and territory, the temple was contructed by a Brahmin counselor under a powerful king, Rajenravarman and later under Jayavarman V. Banteay Srey displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art. The walls are densely covered with some of the most beautiful, deep and intricate carvings of any Angkorian temple. The temple’s relatively small size, pink sandstone construction and ornate design give it a fairytale ambiance.
Banteay Samre – Large, comparatively flat temple displaying distinctively Angkor Wat-style architecture and artistry. Banteay Samre was constructed around the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of the towers and balustrades bear strong resemblance to the towers of Angkor Wat.
On the way back, we stopped again at Angkor Wat. This time, to go inside the temple and climb it. The climb was scary, but we did it anyway. And the view on top was rewarding enough. And if you think going up was scary, climbing down was even worse. The stairs were narrow and steep. I think they should consider including climbing Angkor Wat in the Amazing Race Asia 2. With that in mind, I prepped myself up in anticipation of that, in case I decide to enter. Smirk. I let the pictures show you how scary it is.
I end Part 1 with another set of portraits I took of a small adorable boy in Angkor Wat, who tried so hard to smile for me. And no, my maternal instinct has not kick in yet. I hope you had fun reading this. Part 2 coming soon. I hope.
February 26, 2007 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 10:39 am
Name : Anjali
Sum up what your blog is about.
Why are you doing your blog?
What’s the funniest entry on your blog?
What is your writing style?
What do people commonly say about your site?
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your blog?
Why should someone visit your site?
What did you learn from your first love?
Climate change is caused by man. Myth or reality?
If you could invite anyone to a dinner party who would it be and why?
What one website would you recommend and why?
Tell us a random funny story that comes to mind.
What advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?
Any interesting travel stories?
What’s the most incredible thing that ever happened to you.
Now it’s your turn! Ask me one question, anything you like.
February 25, 2007 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 10:28 am
Based on a fellow blogger’s cue, I headed to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa last Saturday night to witness the spectacular fireworks show. And of course to see the Eye on Malaysia in its full glory. The fireworks lasted about 15 minutes or so. I think the last fireworks I saw were when I was in Jodhpur, India. It was on the eve of Diwali and we were seated on the rooftop of Fifu Guesthouse, watching the fireworks from the fort and from the village area along the desert. But it was not as spectacular as this current one.But I had fun.
// anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 10:20 am
Yesterday, I saw a relatively large cockroach crawling on my freshly-mopped-with-Dettol floor. It came out of my housemate’s room. I was mightily impressed when Smokey crept towards it, almost immediately, like a jungle warrior and watched over the crevice on the chest which the pest had crawled into. I decided to move the chest to expose it and let Smokey pounce on it and do his hero thing, whatever it might be.
So moved the chest, I did. And exposed the 6-legged [I hope this is correct! This time!] creepy crawly, I did that too. But to my dismay, upon seeing the bugger, my assumed warrior went running and hid under the dining table. In a flash!
So in the end, I had to execute the damn roach with my bare hand. It was then I had to face the ugly truth - I’ve raised a wuss! Sigh.
February 13, 2007 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 9:59 am
Hey. I am off to Cambodia on Feb 14 for about a week. Lots of friends have warned me about the possible draught and hot weather, but the reason for the rising temperature is obvious - coz moi is there. Heh. Yes yes, shameless...I know. It's an incurable disease.
So, here's wishing you a horny VD (use some rubber!) and Happy Oink New Year!
Catch up soon.
February 08, 2007 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 1:03 pm
Mr. Teo has completed his new video for "Lost In America", which took 4 good production months. Am not sure if it was purely coincidental, but it seemed that the 1st song in both his CDs get a video. First it was "Arms of Marianne" and now it's "Lost In America". Hm. This man is not that complicated after all.
So enjoy the vid, which I am sure will be nominated in this year's AIM awards for Best Video again. And as equally uncomplicated, I think he will win. Again. For sure.
See if you can spot the faces featured in the vid. They are:
Jason Lo [Rambo] Nell Ng [Marilyn Monroe] Serena C [Rocket Girl] Sharifah Amani [Minnie Mouse] Gavin Yap [Mickey Mouse] Ismet [Ronald McDonald] Rashid Salleh [Superman] Justin Guber [TV Heads & Cowboys] Patrick Teoh [Uncle Sam & Businessman] Sharifah Aryana [TV Girl] Tony Pietra [Vegas Elvis] and Pete Teo [Singing Scrawny Slouching Guitar Man with Constipated Look. Heh.]
February 05, 2007 // anjali* pranced on tip-toes all over the keyboard at 10:17 pm