Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CAMBODIA | Ta Phrom a.k.a. The Tomb Raider's

A visit to the Angkor Thom area is not complete without stepping your feet to Ta Phrom.

As you can see from the above photo, tourists are flocking their way to Ta Phrom, it is quite difficult to capture a tourist free photo.

What is so unique about Ta Phrom if you may asked, besides the delicate carving on the walls?

Obviously, carvings can be seen everywhere, done in meticulous fashion.

But what actually stands out in Ta Phrom, are the huge tree roots that seems to hug the structure.

The tourists are captured in this photo to show the size of the tree roots!

And this is the infamous doorway where Angelina Jolie passed through in the film Tomb Raiders, as the ultra sleek Lara Croft.

Monday, January 26, 2009

WORLD | Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese communities all over are celebrating Chinese New Year.

In Brunei, as usual, the main attraction early in the morning is at the Chinese Temple at the capital.

Red is considered to be a part of the tradition, and Gold as the icing of the cake.

Playing around with the Chinese character, writing it upside down, rearranging their orientation, characters, and such are an art that are mastered by few.

Even the grilles are painted red, not surprising, some part of the world the town are painted red.

To those celebrating the Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Friday, January 23, 2009

ANGKOR | Warning! Climbing at your Risk!

The structures within Angkor are mostly tall with ultra steep sides.

Just by looking at the above photo, you can see the very steep gradient of the staircase (if you can call that a staircase!)

Obviously, warning are everywhere, Climbing at your own risk! But how come that guy on the warning sign seems so relax climbing the stairs?

So the question is, will you dare to climb it or just put your feet on the ground and just watch the people climbing their way up.

I must admit, it was a tough decision, after spending your dosh and time, traveling thousand of miles to come here, and to make this decision is quite tough, climbing is risky, but not climbing it might make you lost you sleep, regretting it.

There is a story of why the steps were built as such.

After so much thought, and after watching the other tourist doing their acrobatic stunt climbing, securing all of my belonging tightly to my body, especially holding tight to my priceless camera equipments, I finally decided to give it a go, balancing myself on the steps, and taking photo, thank God I made it to the top.

Hence what is on top you may ask, well, just some wild plants and ruins of course! No, kidding, actually, you can see the breathtaking view of the surrounding.

But what I wanted to share with you, is how the stairs or the ultra steep steps look like from above, well folks, this is how it looks like!

How scary is that?

And when I was on top, I said to myself, why did I "punished" myself climbing to the top, now, how do I go down?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

JAPAN | Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tocho, or Tokyo city Hall is the other name for this 248 meters high Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku.

Costing about USD 1 Billion, it was declared as the 2nd tallest structure after Tokyo Tower, when it was completed in 1991, and has observatory decks on the 45th floor of both towers.

One can choose either the South Tower or the North Tower, and one needs to join the queue to go up the observatory deck.

Once on top, one can see the exhilarating view of Tokyo.

Although it was a sunny cool day, but it was also foggy.

According to the View Guide, on a clear day, Mt. Fuji can be seen from here, as you can see from the photo marked number 10.

Zooming closer to the ground, I saw this interesting colours.

Looking at a different side, one can see the lush park within the city area.

The building on the very right is the other observation deck, designed as such by the architect Kenzo Tange
, which was designed to look like a computer chip.

Watching people watching other people.

Another interesting thing I saw was how the flyover meanders in between the tall buildings, brilliant piece of engineering in this earthquake prone country.

Monday, January 12, 2009

TOKYO | Halal Food Guide

Unlike Seoul, Halal food cannot be found near the Tokyo Mosque, (I have asked the Imam/ Mosque's Official regarding this), hence they gave me option to go to a Halal restaurant in Shibuya & Shinjuku.

So I would like to share some places of Halal eateries within Tokyo, but in no particular orders.

Hilal is one of the recommended Halal eateries by the mosque's official, located just a walking distance from the Shibuya station. But due to time constraint, I have no opportunity to eat there, but I just walk around it, to know the whereabout.

The next one recommended by them is the Kebab Ye, a small, but cozy fast food like Halal eatery located in Shinjuku.

Just a glimpse of the interior of Kebab Ye, good Turkish food, good service, price wise is quite affordable, and I can give my personal recommendation.

Then another corner of Shinjuku, one can find Taz Mahal.

What I noticed about Taz Mahal or Taj Mahal is, theye are "everywhere", I think I saw one in Seoul and there is also one in Siem Reap, (might post Halal guide in Siem Reap in future post), but I doubt that they are franchise eateries.

If you are in Roppongi, step inside the Aladdin, do not expect any magic flying carpet ride, you need to climb the stairs, and do not ask for the magic lamp, the only lamp they have is the electrical wall lamp! Thou the ambience is quite nice.

So, how about Ginza you might ask, well, there are also quite a number of Halal eateries within Ginza Five area, such as the Rasa Malaysia and the Gandhara. I have tried both of them, and they are quite alright. Unfortunately I did not manage to get any photo of the eateries.

By the way, these are just a few, there are probably more that I have not been to, feel free to share with the others, anyway, enjoy your trip!

Friday, January 09, 2009

CAMBODIA | Sowree & Friends Go to School

Hi all, Sour Sdei, Happy New Year 2009!

Traditionally, education were offered by the wats (Buddhist temples). Then in 1975 when Khmer Rouge regime came into power, education systems were abolished, destroying learning materials and schools. But in 1979, the new Cambodian Government came into place, and soon after that modern education came into order.

And this is my short humble story.

My name is Sowree*, I am a year 3 student in Cambodia. My parents said that, if I study hard, when I grow up, I can become a succesful entrepeneur, and helps to improve the live of our family and also to better improve the living quality of our country.

I know most of my friends around the world started their new school term last week, and now I would like to share our daily school day in where we live.

We have a very small wooden school in our village, it only have a single clasroom, and we have to take turn to use the area for our study.

Not all children are able to study, my friend Sokha, is still not eligible to study, but he always come to school, watching and observing what the student are learning.

These are two of my friends, Samay and Channe. Samay feels sad because this is the first time he attended the class and the first time being away from his family.

This is what we are learning today, and on the board is our alphabets. That is our teacher, Ms. Rom Chang. We love our teacher because, our teacher have taught us how to read and write.

Mr. Montha is also one of our teachers. He is a very humble guy, and when we are sad, he always entertained us with his magician skills and his joke, although his jokes and magics were sometimes lame, but we just laugh with him as not to hurt his feeling. (Don't tell him that, that is our secret.)

This is when my friends were shown one of our workbooks, and they were praised of having a good high marks. I am proud of them.

Breaktime is one of our favourites. We can eat our food. The food are usually prepared at home by our parents, so we eat it and share it with our friends.

Oh, I have not actually mentioned the whereabout of my school.

This is our school. It is actually a floating school. I was informed that some of my friends in Brunei also have lots of schools built on the water, and some are connected via jetties.

Unfortunately, we do not have jetties connecting from one school to another, as each individual establishment are built on its own boat or barrage. So how do we get to school?

This is how we get to school, by human powered paddle boat. That is my friend, Prak, rowing the boat to school, carrying along his small sister, Veatta. It will get more interesting if it is a rainy day. Although at times we wanted to just swim to school but the teacher do not allow us, because it will wet our school uniforms.

Now, I will also share with you, how my other friends living on land travel to their school.

For those lucky few, they are sent to the school by their father on motorbike.

Otherwise, we just cycle to school. A good form of exercise to keep ourselves healthy, who knows we might represent the country for the Olympics!

And for those who cannot afford to get a bicycle, we just walk to school, mostly in groups, comes rain, comes shine, despite not having those fancy footwears, we just walk ahead, because we wanted to gain knowledge and change our living condition.

And even with having no footwear at all does not stop us from coming to school! For the sake of knowledge we will walk all the way to the peak of success.

So my friends, I hope we all should not waste our resources, be thankful of what the government have been providing for us. Some are lucky to be chauffered around in an airconditioned vehicle, yet some have been denying the privileges of schooling on their own accord, like escaping from school, being lazy and such.

Please my friends, do not quit school, they are many more unfortunate children who are longing to have a proper school environment, as opposed to writing from the "ink" of the dark forest roots, and writing on the dried papyrus leave.

*NOTE: All the names are fictional.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

SIEM REAP | The Town in B&W

It was a bright sunny day in Cambodia. A nice weather to explore the town of Siem Reap.

Bicycles for rent were available almost at every corner, but thinking of inconvenience (parking, bike safety and such) so I decided to ditch the idea and just explore the town on foot.

At every corner one can find something to buy for souvenir, be it postcards, used books, all those small fancy items, could be bought at a bargain.

There are also loads of peddlers, people selling stuff on wheels. Eventhough the local currency is Riel, but US dollars are widely used, hence you do not need to change from the US currency to their local's.

One can also venture into their market to experience their market ambience.

And after those bustling and haggling, one can just walk along the river park, to get away from the busy town traffics.

The sun's setting down, it's time to slow the pace down, back to rest for awhile, to be continued for the upcoming posts.