A Tale To Tell & Remember

I'm very much inspired by the words of Thomas L. Friedman in his book "The World Is Flat" which renders about the influence of bloggers in this new age. I want to keep the highest integrity and honesty in posting my words to the world. This blog act as a testimony to my alacrity of sharing information with the borderless world. Hope we can share a high regards of veracity and chivalry with this blog because that's why it is here. So help me God!

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Singapore

Singapore City Hall Building

I love Singapore! What more can I say, discovering Singapore is like discovering fire to me considering of how much I love colonial history. Not to sound a little bit off, but it fits perfectly into my preferential reading on the subject of the old Malaya history. From the long walks of the old city street and experiential tour amid the evening breeze near the Fullerton Hotel, everything just perfectly make sense. 

The only closest experience between me and Singapore before I took the journey to walk down the city street were only through P. Ramlee's films, books by the classic English novelists and maybe a promise made between me and someone that went unfulfilled. Going to the 30 years of age, it was considered quite late for me to visit this city, but all is good and I got nothing to complain. I wasn't that privileged kid to easily travels around via air tickets to places, but like I said when God commands everything is all good. I can't complain over God's work.

Me doing the Raffles pose at Raffles Place
Singapore is one of the cleanest and safest city that I've ever traveled to among cities in the world. Gone all the glory of the former British Colony but the city remains un-compromised in every way.  I think it is the best city in the Southeast Asian region after Kuala Lumpur (and I have traveled quite a lot). The ever efficient public transport and the best structured urban planning will makes you to just love the place and make your life easy to go around. No wonder Singaporean are proud of their city. 

What I do love most was taking strolls along the Boat Quay area and the Fort Canning park [they said Singapore botanical garden is also beautiful, it shall be my next destination to visit]. The feelings are very calm and meaningful for someone that loves nature and self reflection alone moment like me. You can also understand well the historical connection between the current city state and during the colonial heyday in the early 20th Century. Although much of the Raffles Place area were rebuilt from ground up, but there are still that old charming milieu for you to feel. Plus that beautiful evening around the old administration building just mesmerized you for a wonderful time out with friends over a drinks at the old parliament house.


Fort Canning
Fort Canning
Fort Canning

Singapore has that wonderfully charming feeling almost as similar to the old Malaya and it's been very well preserved. The cultural melting pot of the inter religious and multi racial society that build the city. The evening airs around the main street still captures the wonderful experience of an old port city especially at the Boat Quay and Raffles Place. Although most of the main area that was once full with traders on a Chinese Junk and small boats have all now been reclaimed as the new commercial area, but I feel that vibes whenever I spend my time walking around the old city street. I did visit the city during the Singapore Grand Prix, and it was an awesome experience merited a return visit during the event despite the rocketing lodging prices around the main city.


Me at Kampung Gelam
Raffles Place
Singapore has that vibes and creative juice just waiting to be tapped by peoples that visited the city. No wonder all the great novelist from the British colonial time wrote a very good books. P. Ramlee during his time produced the best of arts be it songs or films during the Jalan Ampas Studio era. I believe the vibes and milieu of the Singapore city state itself contributes much to the creatives ideas for a man to produce a high work of arts. I did visited the Jalan Ampas Studio and it was a super experience seeing the old buildings where P. Ramlee make greats films. I can't help it, I'm a big fans!
Me and Wak Hogan at Studio Jalan Ampas

The city has the best of art-greco colonial architecture buildings in all the Southeast Asian Cities that I've ever went to. I believe one of the best building in this region is the Singapore City Hall and it's High Court building. It's unique architecture is unequaled to any of the 20th Century building that I've ever visited. Whenever I stands near the cricket field looking towards the City Hall and High Court building, the feeling is so mesmerizing and overwhelming. It was such a beautiful building indeed. Maybe I'm too of a historian freak to re-liven the old days, by walking at the old street brings back everything that I've read about Singapore and Malaya old history as if you can see whats happening throughout the century passing through it.

Fullerton Hotel
New World old gate

I made that long walk at the infamous Serangoon road area. The place was quite clean nowadays considering of how challenged it was in the early 1950s with all the vices activities and secret societies. That ambiance of the The New World Amusement Park where cabaret was at its heyday.. I can still feel the vibes of the good old days walking in Serangoon road area. Although not much was left except the gate, but I can re-liven the good old days by standing there. Like I said, it's all makes sense. 


That's the bridge from Madu Tiga

Studio Jalan Ampas
I've been meaning to visit the Malay Film Production old office of where P. Ramlee made all of his hits movies. The feeling was overwhelming. I met the caretaker of the place by the name Wak Hogan, he is such a friendly and a very nice man. He shared old stories about the place and let us to see around the compound. I even visited the Madu Tiga bridge. The good news is that Singapore government will turn the area as a heritage site. Good riddance indeed, as the place needs its deserve recognition. It's where the Malays films industry first started. I love the place so much, as it was very calming for me. I pray that Allah will shower the soul of P. Ramlee and all those that ever worked there with grace and love in the afterlife. 

Jalan Ampas

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

My grandfather

Me beside my grandfather during the last days of his life

I'll tell you stories about my late grandfather. His name was Ibrahim bin Sulaiman and he came from Besut, Terengganu. He wanders all of his youth life with great adventure all over the peninsular Malaysia before landed a job in the army and retired by the ranks of Lieutenant. He served his time well during his army years and I myself grew up listening to stories of how he fought courageous battles during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960). Among of his many unique stories of encounters with the Communist Terrorist were a recollection which at one time he was held by the rifle barrel of the infamous Shamsiah Fakeh after his platoon was ambushed. Another one was the tragic memories of how his British CO died in his arms after stepping on land mines during jungle patrol.

I guess my interest in history and high respect to those that fought for independence and nation building derives from him. After his retirement, he was offered a job in the police force, but he respectfully decline the offer though he's not interested to become a policemen. I still remember when I was a kid, he always tried to teach me something about the jungle survivor tips which he applied during his years in the army - ones need to be calm and embrace the jungle. It does proves helpful for me up to this day whenever I travels/ treks through the forest.

I can tell fond stories about my grandfather. To put into perspectives of his life achievement and unique experiences into one blog posting will do him no justice. He wasn't only a jungle warrior but also a nationalist especially when it comes to the Malay agenda struggles. He has been an active member of the UMNO party ever since he associated himself with it in the 1980s. I believe through him, I understood the importance of serving the people and somehow was influenced on the need to continue ensuring the Malay agenda that should be safeguarded/ uphold. He do loves to talk about politics and areas where should the government contributes to alleviate the poverty problem among the Malays. When I got a job in Putrajaya, I took the opportunity to bring him to tour around Putrajaya and the PMO Office. He was very proud of how far we have become since independence, considering he have seen it all. On his death bed, in his garbled words still he spoke on the need to help peoples around his village. That's how dedicated he was toward helping his village folks and on the pursuant of the Malay agenda.

My grandfather was a pioneer and one of the original settlers when they first opened the Gua Musang township. He lives a poor and simple life though he was a government pensioner. To be honest he wasn't my real grandfather by the bloodline, but by marriage to my grandmother. But he never treated his childrens or us any different among others. I personally believe he loves me the most among all of his real grandchildren. I can still recall vividly that he was and always been proud of my achievement in education ever since my primary and secondary school years as he hangs every photos of me receiving certificates and schools presents on the walls of his house as an example to every cousins of mine to emulate. He was always interested of what I want to do next in my life.

My grandfather was a keen gardener and a swell farmer. When I was a kid, he usually took me to his fruits orchid located at the fringes of the jungle to plant new trees. I never quite like it because it is an exhausting job and mud smeared activity, but after a long while it got embedded in me. Now I am a keen gardener myself whenever I have the chance. When I reached 18 years old, he once showed me the demarcation line of the orchids which belongs to my late father so that we the grandchildren wont fight each other to scramble the inheritance once he's gone. It never crossed my mind really as I have no interest in it. But knowing my grandfather and his style he was always prepared with a plan before anything comes by even his own death. It's the trait of doesn't want to burden anyone about his own life which I respected the most. He fought for the Muslim cemetery to be introduced and allocated by the state government for his village folks and left a will for him to be kept there once he died. That's what his children did.

My grandfather left us three days before the start of Ramadhan 2015. What he left behind were only memories of his good deeds. One of it was how during his life he tries to teach us the importance of keeping a family together no matter how bad it goes. In a large family, it does went bad once in a while and in his case was with his youngest troubled son that succumbed to drugs addiction. It was an ugly experience seeing someone within your family fall prey to such problem. I saw it a few times he had to do what a father have to do to save the son from drifting apart and to keep the family together.. sometimes at the expense of his others children's opportunities and comfortable life. He is the sole reason why the family aren't breaking apart when we face those test. But what is family if is not without test. My grandfather loves and enjoy the company of young kids. I believe I got that from him of how I also should enjoy the kids company, talk to them and treat them with compassion, tender loving care.

My relationship with my grandfather was not always sunshine and rainbows. I had a few disagreement myself with him. Its not bad but its just life perceptions vs current reality - the old and young understanding on how ones should carry our life in the modern age. During this disagreement I didn't talk or visit him for quite a while, not because I didn't love him but only because I didn't know how to carry myself better since I was too young to face a life disagreement situation especially with him. I'm sure everyone also went through this period of life. But he loves me too much to leave me the way I was and my regret was that my youth didn't help me much and nobody taught me how to maneuver myself into troubled waters of life perception (as I have no guidance from my elders, my father died in 1998). It got me into an uncomfortable period of entering adulthood with his avid protection and this always happened with paternal love all around us. 

As I grow old, the education gap and our thinking went further apart. I only keep everything to myself when it comes to our disagreement on life perspectives and we didn't talk much like we usually do. I had to ask through my cousins of how he was doing back at home but I keep sending some money for him on a monthly basis through my cousin Faiz. A simple phone call should do, but I was to young and arrogant to call him myself. Works kept me busy with my own life in Kuala Lumpur and with time passed by my grandfather grows old without my company. He began to lose the vitality of his good health and his condition further deteriorates. A week before Ramadhan, I was advised by my mother to pay him a long overdue visit at the hospital in Gua Musang as he was admitted by his childrens due to his waning health. He was struggling with breathing for the past six months. A week before Ramadhan I have a feeling that I need to spend time with him before any eventualities. It was the best decision of my life to drop everything I had with my work amid my ever busy schedule and rush back home to see him.

At the hospital, he didn't recognized me first, but after knowing that I was sitting beside his bed, he spoke to me with candor. It was so full of advice and the best of everything that he wished me for as what was like through all these years. He was very proud of me and of what I have achieved. He didn't gave that advice to his other grandchildren, but only for me. How special I was for him and how long that he wants to say those words to me. I took it one at a time with a nod and yes. At that moment of time I realized that it might be the last time I might be spending my life with him.

Three days later he left us in his sleep at 4am. It was good riddance after seeing him struggling with his breath on the hospital bed. I notice that I have good cousins as they tended my grandfather with respect, love and tender care for all the behavior of an old, disabled and sick man on a hospital bed. They are the greatest of cousins and earned my highest respect. I couldn't react the way that I should as his favorite grandchildren and my higher education prove useless when it comes to show love and care for old love ones on a sick hospital bed. I learned that a simple gesture of touching and tender rubbing is worth a gold to an old man on a sick bed. I learned that values of life by watching my cousins tended my grandfather to all his needs including cleaning excrement on his sick bed.

Family cannot be defined through a bloodline but on how much they cared and loves for you. My grandfather loves me too much and my youth couldn't handle his love at a time. I was young without a guidance, but his confidence in me remains the same. The life perspectives turned different but his best wishes for me were only for my very best. How I wish now I could spend more time with him. How I wish at a time someone would have guide me to carry myself better to spend more time with him even how different we've become. 

Indeed having a good work and being associated yourself with high echelons is glamorous at a time but nothing more meaningful than making your grandfather proud. At the end of it, everything you have is nothing compared to how much peoples like my grandfather loves me. You just can't substantiate it with any other things in life. My grandfather believe that I could do more with my life and I shall. Spending time on the last days of his life was the best decision I've made or else I would've regret it for the rest of my arrogant and self centered life. 

My grandfather had bequeath me with great values of life which are more valuable than anything and I shall carry it for the rest of my time. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The floating school over the Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap

The bus ride that we took from Siem Reap took us a lifetime. At first my initial plan was to take a boat ride over the Tonle Sap lake all the way from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. As ambitious and adventurous as it may sound, but after reading mostly bad reviews over the internet on such services rendered by the local boat services plus with our own not so good experienced at the floating village at the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap, I don't think any ferry services would be able to provide a proper, safe and comfortable long transportation from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. 

Teddy with one of the student at the floating school

The bus ride that we took was a transportation misery itself. I somehow forgot that Cambodia are yet to reach a stage of where public amenities such as proper road was a custom to its engineering community. It was challenging indeed and such a bumpy ride for us as foreigners that are so accustomed to a better road travelling.

The journey took us eight hours altogether but it gives me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the countryside in rural Cambodia. Through my observation, there's not much of a difference between Cambodian rural area with our village or kampung environment in Malaysia. The house architecture was almost similar, built on a high stilts maybe to prevent flooding and threats from wild animals. No wonder it was also called Kampong here. Every small town that we went through, there's a placard or political banners of the aspiring new opposition party and the assuring political manifesto from the government. Politics and democracy is very much alive here in Cambodia, which is a very good thing.

I can't help but notice that the scar of civil wars still marred the rural folks of Cambodia. Everywhere we stopped for a break, there will be man without legs walking on crutches. Mines does it's fine job for attrition and still continues to kill or incapacitated the innocent peoples of Cambodia. It's true of what they say and portrays in the television about the mines problem that was planted during the civil war in Cambodia. It still is a big problem here in Cambodia.

We're having fun on a Tuk Tuk
It'll be pretty hard for a travelers that are particular and fussy for a kosher or halal food here in the rural part of Cambodia. Everywhere we went they served pork and delicacies that we are not real accustomed with. It's was so much different with the Vietnamese food. We took a safe way to energized ourselves by eating just sweet bread and local fruits which are easy to find around.

But the surprising part is that, when we enter the outskirt of of Phnom Penh City, you can see a large part of the Islamic community here. Mosque are everywhere and kosher or halal food is very easy for you to find. I sensed the Muslim community in Phnom Penh is thriving. 

I have to admit it here that I don't fancy much of the Khmer or Cambodian food. It's not my type of delicacy. I thought that Vietnamese food was as similar to Cambodian based on geographical location and I do thought maybe Cambodian food might be better or as deliciously good as our previous experience in Hanoi, but I was wrong. Khmer food doesn't have any much to offer and their cooking a less spices than what we had in Malaysia. The only thing that captures my taste bud was amok fish and that's it.

We reached Phnom Penh around 5 o'clock in the evening. It was a very big and congested city. The type of city where I love to explore by walking. The heat was better than Siem Reap though. The similarity of this city and Kuala Lumpur is that it was built between the two rivers, an artery to the Gulf of Siam and fisheries or farms products from the Tonle Sap lake up north. When you built a city near water element, your city will never go wrong. It was a beautiful city indeed.

With friendly locals in front of the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh
Upon arriving at our last stop, we were greeted by Saphea Chan, a tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh. He was a friend of our taxi driver that we acquainted in Siem Reap. He's a great guy and a very honest man too. He can't really spoke English fluently, but he tried hard and most of the English that he picked up and speak with us was from the tourists that he taxied all of his life. And most of them were Americans, you can really tell by the slang/ dialects that he uttered and spoke. We straight away went to our hotel somewhere in the vicinity for a rest where Saphea recommended highly. The hotel was affordable, located at the safe district and clean.

Independence square in Phnom Penh

That night Saphea was our tourist guide. I told him that I want to experience a Cambodian life in Phnom Penh. He first brought us to the night market in the middle of the city. The food over here is better than Siem Reap and the peoples are real friendly. I notice that it is a custom over here when you bought food at the night market, you will find a spot to enjoy the food where they put a mat somewhere at a courtyard of the night market. You will then sit crossed legs with your friends on the mat and finish your food. It was really a very friendly environment. That's how they enjoy food at the night market in Phnom Penh.

Teddy at Choeung Ek Killing Fields
Saphea later brought us to see the city at night. We walked along the esplanade beside the river where the old city was built by the French. The view was majestic and it has this kind of fusion of a French architecture blended with a Buddhist culture. Our last walking destination was the Royal Palace. It was a beautiful night with fine weather. The custom here was for people to sit crossed leg and have good food in front of the Royal Palace on a mat while interact and socialize. We befriended locals and have a good chat with them about Phnom Penh. Saphea later brought us to the nearby Khamer restaurant where I enjoyed my Amok fish. The restaurant located near the esplanade overlooking the river. It was such a nice view. We had a good local food there and it was better than the Cambodian delicacies that they served in Siem Reap. After dinner we retire early to our hotel that night. I believe it was the long bus ride that took a toll on all of us and we were really tired.

Choeung Ek Killing Fields

Choeung Ek Killing Fields

The tree where the Pol Pot regime throws the babies over
The next morning we plan an early visit to see the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. Saphea brought us with his tuk tuk and it's quite a distance from the city proper. I can't help but notice international tourist are everywhere on the roads. Most of the tourist that visited Cambodia are high end peoples mostly from Europe or America. You can really tell by the way that they look and how they carry themselves. But they do remain simple in this friendly heat. Mostly are looking for an experiential learning of the orients. The charms of the orients and Cambodia have plenty to offer. I do believe tourist grew fond of Cambodia over it's oriental attractions. It is so complex over here and you have to be here yourself to be able to appreciate it.

Teddy at Choeung Ek Killing Fields memorial
We reach the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek quite early, I think it was 10 o'clock in the morning. There's was a group of tourist from Germany that arrived earlier and we're the second group to be there. Later throngs of tourist starts to arrive at Choeung Ek. It was indeed a very popular destination.

Pictures speaks for itself

One of the mass graves

The environment was very somber and sad but at the same time was very peaceful. It was quiet too. They gave us an audio recorder which brief us and explain the history of the area. It does helps in explaining vividly of how the killing fields operated by the Pol Pot regime in the 70s. I think it was the most saddest place that I've ever visited of all my life. There is this feeling deep down inside you of how sorry you are over what happened there. And it could happen to anyone of us. I really do feel sorry for those who perished there. It sober to the soul listening to the audio and seeing yourself of how inhuman we can be to our common brothers. And the most perplexed facts is that of all the serenity of the Buddhist teachings that Cambodians were taught to embrace, such ruthless and brutal killings took place here during the Khmer Rouge era.

Teddy at Tuol Seng Genocide Museum

After our brief period at Choeung Ek, we left for the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum located at the heart of Phnom Penh. It was another sobering area of where Khmer Rouge tortured their own citizens without any sense at all. I can't share much of my experience or what I truly felt because I don't think people would understand. I feel sorry when looking at the photos of the victims that was tortured here. They doesn't know any better and never expected such things to happen to them. You have to be here to be able understand it. It's a sheer madness.

We're in front of the National Museum of Cambodia

We later adjourned to the National Museum of Cambodia. It was such a great place for art lovers. Too many artifacts and great Hinduism sculptures and handiwork of the ancient Khmer were in display and are in real fine detail. I love all the artifacts inside the museum. I wish I could spend more time to treasure it. There were so many things to see and every little details that needs to be pondered upon. The art were mostly from the Hinduism era of Cambodia. They do make a very good sculpture and statues back then. Mostly as an  offering to the Hinduism Gods or as a symbol of their religion.


We at the Central Market, Phnom Penh

After a quick visit to the National Museum of Cambodia, Saphea brought us for lunch at the Malaysian restaurant located near the Central Market in Phnom Penh. It is owned by a Malaysian and we met and have a quick chat with the owner himself. The food was Malaysian specialty indeed. It was quite sometimes for us that has been deprived of the Malaysian taste for almost a week. After lunch we went to the Central Market located nearby to see what it has to offer.
Teddy at the Central Market in Phnom Penh


It was a very big market indeed and you can find almost anything inside it. Certainly the kind of a place for those that loves to get a good quality bargain for a good price. After a quick shopping we straight away went to the airport for an evening fly back home.

It was such a good visit in Phnom Penh. I wish I could spend more time to explore the city. It has a lot to offer in terms of history and local culture. I'll definitely be back one day. Saphea and me maintain our good friendship and he asked me from time to time to visit him back again through the social network. Cambodia is a place for you to visit if you want to understand the complexities of the Asian eccentricity, vast complex culture and paradoxes of its political environment which you might never comprehend ever.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Teddy and Izzat at the gate of Angkor Thom


The carving of Apsara at Bayon Temple
I spend two days in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the early month of June 2014 for a holiday. My trip was designed so that I can have the opportunity to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and all of the ancient temples around Siem Reap/ Angkor Thom. I must say that the visit was one of my bucket lists since secondary school, moreover it was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and I’m very glad to have covered this one. To be in Siem Reap is an eye opener for me. I never been to this part of the world before and I didn't plan much for the visit merely just a free independent travelers exploring Cambodia. What amazes me was that in Siem Reap and the ancient Angkor district aka Angkor Thom in particular, you can see so many of the ancient temples built dedicated to the Hindu Gods. I thought there was just Angkor Wat here but I’m wrong, and these temples located scattered all over Siem Reap but still resemble the same image and architecture as if it was built by the same group of people, at the same period of time with modern precision and high dedication for their beliefs in Hindu Gods. The stark evidence is that I can simplify the ancient Khmer people do have class and pretty much civilized.

The gate of Angkor Thom
The carving of the temple walls just amazes you especially when you realize of how delicate the details of the stone carving depicting the daily life of the ancient Khmer thousands of years ago. Over here, you can clearly see and understand the Khmer cultures and their ancient life by seeing those wall carvings and stone statues. I can simplify that the ancient city of Angkor was a metropolis during its heyday by just visiting the surrounding temples within the ancient district. The architecture was modern and full of arts for ones to appreciates. The metaphor or best part of understanding about the ancient Khmer culture is that peoples those days celebrates a women's beauty by translated it into an incessant stones carving of the Khmer women's body art or the appreciations of women's beauty . This was done through Apsaras statues and stone carvings with complete details of their daily life even their pattern of the clothes that they used to wear those days. In Siem Reap, the ancient Khmer even built a dedicated temple for women's which I visited in Banteay Srei.

The statue of Jayavarman VII at the ancient bridge of Angkor Thom

Teddy touching the carving walls of the Bayon Temple

Teddy at Bayon Temple - at the back is the carving face of Jayavarman VII
The trip to Siem Reap was conducted with my close cousins. We went to Vietnam before and did discuss about the possibility of visiting Angkor Wat while we were there. The weather in Siem Reap was very hot and you can get sun burn if you are exposed too long under the sunlight here while you discover and exploring the ruins. Warm clothes are very accommodating if you're travelling in this part of the world. However we are also advised by our friend that if we planned for a close visit inside the temples, then a decent attire would be appropriate. Sun shades is a must! The cost of travelling in Cambodia especially in Siem Reap is still quite cheap and affordable. But I would advise if you`re planning for a tour around the Angkor districts then using the Tuk Tuk or auto rickshaw is suffice, because it is way more cheaper than for you to hire a taxi. Nevertheless if you`re looking for a luxury type of transportation, a 4x4 or a cab still is quite cheap for you to rent.

The carving walls of the ancient Angkor Thom complex

Teddy at the gate of Angkor Wat

Teddy in Angkor Wat
On our first day in Siem Reap we went straight away to visit the Bayon temple complex located within the Angkor Thom area. Our first encounter was the narrow gate and short ancient bridge entering the Angkor Thom. The gate was very nice and ancient looking with so many of Hindu God Hanuman statues greetings you along with the head stones of the King Jayavarman VII smiling stone face carvings. The statues and stone wall was carved in detailed finesse which to my view can't be duplicated in such an art by the modern people these days. The Bayon temple complexes were very huge with walled area. I notice there are also a vast pool area with fine detail of pool concept completes with stairs and modern designed for the it's banks. Every pool that we visited around the Angkor Thom temple complexes also just show of how important is the water element to the ancient Khmer peoples those days. At one area there was also an ancient bridge leading to the main palace structure that is still intact and you can still used the bridge today but the pool had already been dried up. There was a big pool that I visited as big as 10 Olympics swimming pools. I have a high respect for the Khmer architect and engineers those days. They tend to do perfect building complexes with fine art details of presentation even for the temple wall completes with decoration. And the structure last up to this day!


The magical carving walls of Angkor Wat
The main objective for my visit to Siem Reap was Angkor Wat. I must tell you that the Angkor Wat temple complexes were very huge. They built the complexes on a man made island and I can imagine during its heyday it must be very telling, state of the art and excellent building. To be at the Angkor Wat main gate looking inward was fantastic. Once again the detail of the carving and stones statues was mesmerizing. Not to mention the bridges connecting to the Angkor Wat Island was decorated with the Khmer ancient culture and Hinduism influence from the Ramayana and Mahabharata scripts. You can't help it but to touch the exquisite carvings. However it was very unfortunate to see that most of the Angkor Wat treasures especially the sidewalk carving and walls plus the ceiling all had been stolen by the tomb raider. Cambodia was marred by hundred years of war and instability which creates an opportunity for theft of the ancient arts and during the period of Angkor Wat abandonment, I must say locals probably would not hesitate to take home the stones carving and statues decorations and keep it for themselves. That is what we are missing in Angkor Wat these days. What I love most was the beautiful carving of the Apsaras around the complex. You can even tell how they dances during the ancient Khmer period. It was really beautiful.

Teddy at the main bridge of Angkor Wat complex
What amazes me the most was the detail of the wall carving at Angkor Wat which depicts the story from the ancient Hindu script Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was carved in such finesse and you can't help but be amazed by such detailed long depiction. The carving tells the stories of war fought by the ancient Khmer and the stories of how the earth was formed according to the Mahabharata scripts. You can clearly see how the ancient Khmer lives their daily life's those days through the wall carvings, what happens to the prisoner of war and the fantastic appreciation of women’s beauty. Unfortunately, most of the carving was also stolen by the tomb raiders including the ceiling carving. Such a tremendous lost to Cambodia and modern generation.

The sanskrit writing of the Banteay Srei entrance gate

Banteay Srei Temple

The ruins of Banteay Srei Temple

I think one of the most beautiful temple which I visited in Siem Reap was the Banteay Srei or the temple dedicated for women. The stone carving was more complex with much more detailed decoration which tells of how much ancient Khmer appreciates a women. The ancient Sanskrit words carved at the temple gates just awe you when you touches it. Its written in such a fine presentation as if it was carved out yesterday and you can clearly read the text (if you`re good in reading ancient Sanskrit). The colors of the Banteay Srei building was red brick different from many temples that I visited in Angkor Thom. This got to be the most beautiful temples that I've ever visited in Siem Reap. For all the temple structure, things that dumbfounded me was the way they built the temple rooms/ tower chambers. Like the one that I took below, you can see that the doors were built by a stone and shut closed as if they don't want anyone to enter the chamber. It was sealed as if it contains a treasures or some sort. Such a class the ancient peoples structures! I do notice at some temples that I went tomb raider managed to break the chamber room. I don't have any idea what do they found inside it, but I bet it is precious.


The ruins of Banteay Srei Temple
The Ta Prohm Temple made famous by the Lara Croft film

The main entrance to the Ta Prohm Temple

The ruins of Ta Prohm 
I also visited the Ta Prohm temple made famous by the Tomb Raider/ Lara Croft movie. Once again the temple complex was very huge located very far from Angkor Thom area, but this time in a forested area. The carving of the temple walls was the same, Hindu God elements and the beautiful Apsaras. But I was told that some of the building structures were made for libraries and domestic household use. The temple complex was so huge we even couldn't find ourselves to the main gate that came in before and took a round detour to the main gate. 
Inside of the Ta Prohm Temple complex

The decoration walls of the Angkor Thom complex


The carving of Apsara in Angkor Wat

Bayon Temple

The all seeing faces of Jayavarman VII at Bayon Temple
Later in the evening we went to the Tonle Sap lake and we spend our whole evening there. It was a boat tour and I don't really recommend people to visit the area unless you really want to see how Cambodians lives their life on a lake. The lake Tonle Sap is the main lifeline for majority of the Cambodians for their fish source. But I guess, nowadays the protein sources for the Cambodians have depleted fast and the lake itself was marred by pollution. Just like during Angkor heyday periods where the vast emerging populations just couldn't cope up with the their domestic demand which resulted the dwindling down of the Angkor era. Cambodians also don't go for sea fishing which makes the matter more worse. We saw the floating village and how Cambodians used the lake as their home based. They even have schools and clinics floating on the lake. But not much to see here except a dwindling society that seek refuge on land. On our third day in Siem Reap, we took a bus to Phnom Penh through the country side. I will share my experiences visiting Phnom Penh on my next posting.

Faces of Tun Teddy

Faces of Tun Teddy