La Femme Forteresse

Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 25, 2008

Banteay Srei turned out to be anti-Angkor. It was everything that Angkor Wat was not.

First off, Banteay Srei was remote, even by Cambodian standards. It took more than 30 minutes by tuktuk from Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Making the trip cost an additional $20 to the tuktuk per-diem rental. Despite the distance and the added cost, the rewards of visiting Banteay Srei were manifold.

Banteay Srei: Lady Under The Lintel

Continue reading “La Femme Forteresse”

Angkor Aweigh!

Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 25, 2008

Angkor being Khmer for “capital city,” it was not surprising to know that it was the largest ancient city with an urban sprawl of 3,000 square kilometers, almost half the size of New York City! A thousand years ago, Angkor must have been the NYC of that era, what with its kingdom’s power and influence on Southeast Asia and its massive monuments and temple-mountains forming that uniquely jagged Khmer skyline.

A Passage to the Past: Angkor Archaeological Park

Continue reading “Angkor Aweigh!”

The Bayonic Man

Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 25, 2008

Sentry Solo: Angkor Thom

What could enlightenment look like?

Pop culture would have us believe that enlightenment looked like the gaunt, hammy seriousness of Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha. But for the ancient Khmer, it was the face of Jayavarman VII, still revered in Cambodia as the greatest Khmer king. Continue reading “The Bayonic Man”

I Got Myself a Universe in Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 25, 2008

I found myself alone in cloistered hallways. Only whispering zephyrs were within earshot. The moment conjured up the centuries past. In the silent, stone-dead here and now, I sat still on ancient landings, imagining what it must have been like 900 years ago. This gallery must have echoed the pitter-patter of scurrying monks. This courtyard must have seen bare-breasted women dancing as apsaras or performing rituals as devatas. This terrace must have borne the pomp and power of King Suryavarman II himself, the builder of Angkor Wat.

The Transcendental Tourist @ Angkor Wat

Continue reading “I Got Myself a Universe in Angkor Wat”

Siem Reap, Seemingly

Siem Reap, Cambodia

April 24 – 26, 2008

Siem Reap was the gateway to Angkor Wat. Tourists and archaeology aficionados would descend on the town before embarking on their Angkorian adventures. The daily influx of foreigners and their money had resuscitated this little backwater town into an oasis of modern (read: Western) trappings in the middle of the dust and poverty of Cambodia.

Apsara Dancers at the Temple Bar in Siem Reap

Continue reading “Siem Reap, Seemingly”

Mr. Saigon

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

April 22 – 24, 2008

Ho ho ho! Portrait of Ho Chi Minh at Saigon Central Post Office

The city had already been called Ho Chi Minh, but just like the locals, I still called it Saigon. The name was shorter and rolled off the mouth more easily. It helped that it was one syllable less and without that extra consonant no one knew how to pronounce. Surely, the musical Miss Saigon, with its stereotyped scantily-clad singing showgirls, further cemented its recall quality. But in another sense, Uncle Ho did embody this culturally eclectic city. I recently found out that Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese statesman this city was named after, had lived around the world. And many of the places he lived in had left their imprint on Ho Chi Minh, the city.

Continue reading “Mr. Saigon”

Saigon Street Scenes

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

April 22-24, 2008

Hell’s Angel, Siagon Style

Every tourist should get out of the insulated confines of their tourist buses and walk the streets. I found that it was on street level that a foreigner could feel the hustle and bustle, the soul and pulse of a city, its attendant dangers notwithstanding. Capturing street scenes with my Leika lens was akin to taking portrait photos; it preserveed the look of a city at a certain age. Continue reading “Saigon Street Scenes”

Into Indochina

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

April 22, 2008

It was my first trip overseas in five years. I had always loved to travel, but financial constraints kept me off the road. This time, I decided not to let my poverty get in the way of my dreams. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, but who said they couldn’t be travelers? I convinced some colleagues to pool our meager resources and planned for a DIY trip. I was like a (travel) virgin all over again, overwhelmed by that giddy combination of anticipation, anxiety, and awkwardness. The trip was truly a milestone, a turning of a page in my life.

A journey begins by looking out of the window. Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica from Saigon Central Post Office.

Continue reading “Into Indochina”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑