The numerous Faces of Bayon Temple

cambodia-panorama02cBAYON TEMPLE in Angkor Thom is one of the Khmer religious centers. It is famous for its multiple huge stone faces representing the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

At first it seems like a fun place. However, you might become slightly intimidated by the numerous smirking ‘Mona Lisas of the East’ observing every step of yours ;)

Despite that, it is absolutely one of the most picturesque places in Angkor Thom- the other former town next to Angkor Wat.
DSC_4769cDSC_4599cDSC_4693bDSC_0301cDSC_0307cAffected by the stone faces I decided to spy a bit as well ;)  (above)

In front of this temple (which name I have forgotten), a small stand with durian flavored ice-cream was very popular among the monks. (below)DSC_4584cDSC_4590c

 

The amazing Angkor Wat

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Despite all the incredible temples we have seen, the ‘oscar’ definitely goes to Angkor. As the prime attraction of the whole Cambodia, it overwhelms with it’s grandness, picturesqueness and variety of details. Build originally as a Hindu temple in the early 12th century, Angkor is the largest religious monument in the world. Currently it is a hindu sanctuary, eagerly visited by big groups of monks. Honestly, vivid orange robes is a cherry on top of a visual deligh of the Angkor Wat’s panorama.
If you still don’t have it on the ‘must see before I die’ list- put it there!

DSC_4792cDSC_0390c:)cambodia-panorama06dDSC_4883cDSC_4891ccambodia-panorama08cDSC_0498cDSC_4598cTime to go further!

Cambodia: Ta Prohm

DSC_4467cCambodia always appeared to me as a mysterious land, unspoiled by the modern civilization. On the spot it turned out to be more than true.

Angkor is a region in Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, the largest empire of Southeast Asia that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. This ancient and revered Cambodian province is home to astonishing and enduring architectural evidence of the Khmer Empire’s Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist beliefs. There are over 100 stone temples scattered throughout the Angkor area, out of which we managed to visit 9 during our 3-days bike tour. Most of the sanctuaries are completely deserted in the jungle, thus exploring them makes you feel like Indiana Jones or Miss Lara Croft. Tomb Rider by the way, wether you find it ridiculous or not, made me fall in love with Cambodia for the first time. And even though I did not dress like Lara (some female tourist actually do that!!) or did not manage to find ‘the only jasmine tree’, roaming the ruins made me hungry for adventures :)

P.S. Big thank you to Daniela and Michael for making this happen and for great time we had in Cambodia!

P.P.S. Thanks also to National Geographic for including a guide book for Cambodia in the package of books I won last year.

CHAPTER 1: TA PROHM

DSC_4359cDSC_4361ctr_angelina_jolie_cambodiaDSC_4553cThe trees’ roots are not only picturesque but proved to hold the temples’ stones together. The few attempts to remove them resulted in collapsing the structures.DSC_4505cThe most remarkable spot from Tomb Rider is occupied by lines of tourists. We did not want to be worse ;)DSC_4506bcDSC_4488cDSC_4402b&wcDSC_4432b&wcDSC_4443cDSC_4428cDSC_4516cDSC_4408cDSC_4395cDSC_4394cDSC_4386cDSC_4384cDSC_4406cDSC_4423cDSC_4372cThe president of the European Council- Herman Van Rompuy turned out to be a historic architecture fan ;)DSC_4371cDSC_4377cDSC_4416cDSC_4564cOur reliable companions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to New Territories

New Territories- the Northern region of Hong Kong is not a typical touristic destination. A few routes appointed for those few, who are either architects and urban planners or have seen everything on Hong Kong Island and Kawloon Peninsula, reveal a world of low cost houses interwoven with not always well maintained temples and cultural centers. This gives, however, a strong feeling of honesty and authenticity. Like a Christmas present, every corner reveals a surprise. Charming, XIX century old streets tell their stories and asks for visitors’ attention.

In XIX century HK was a magnet to thousands of Chinese and Westerns who came to the city driven by a perspective of wealth. The colony was soon overcrowded and under high risks of plagues. In order to accommodate it’s growing population an area, 12 times bigger than original Hong Kong Colonial. The extension of Kawloon was called New Territories.

   Unlike HK, New Territories present a peaceful, suburban life style.

How about a group photo? ;)

Fairytale- like house for sale. Anyone interested?

Multi storey housing create quite a strong contrast to the idillic small houses.

 

Kowloon.

Sometimes one have to slow down the ‘touristy’ tempo and get a relaxing evening with a glam touch. Ours started in Kowloon- a district which was excluded from an accommodation options list, where, oh irony!, we ended up every evening. Waiting for the sunset, decorated with colourful construction cranes, we were already looking forward to the laser show at the waterfront. Oh what a disappointment it was. A cloudy weather might have been a reason for the fact that it ended before we realized it has started ;) I MUST admit, though- the bay lit by millions of lights makes an overwhelming impression. It’s almost kitchy and looks like the wall- big poster one can buy in a book store… Still, not having enough of the flashy landscape the party moved to the top floor with- again-fantastic view.

   

 

 

SOHO

SOHO in HK is a fascinating district. I don’t remember when I experienced so many opposites: stalls with cheap souvenirs neighboring superexpensive antique shops, funeral parlours next to liveliness of the streets, the most delicious scents of Asian quisine disturbed by a sour smell of rotten trash. The mixture of such extremes didn’t spoil the great impression SOHO made on us. We actually came back 3 times in a raw the following days and were always surprised with the intensity of human interactions- who would expect that one innocent picture of a cat I took is going to make the owner roll a newspaper and use it as a weapon against me?? Well, I wouldn’t. I hope poor cat is not going to loose it’s soul after becoming a hero of this post… ;)

Felix couldn’t help a temptation and had to check most of the tea and spices shops… Did I mention that every second time a visit ended up with shopping ;P

The CAT. Ciekawe na co paczy….

Visiting Tian Tan Buddha

It takes a few hours climbing or half an hour by a cable car (‘Cristal Floor’ cabin or ‘lovers lounge’ optional ;) to get to the second biggest Buddha statue in the world. More specifically: tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha measures 34m and can be seen from a distant Macau in a good weather! As this is the religious center for the Buddhist in Hong Kong, spirituality of the place affects you easily…. only to be ruined by a Disney-like village with a big number of high class souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes. However, it doesn’t take long to go back into the mysterious world of candle scent, dimmed lit temples and fog-veiled mountains.

   I know it’s nothing new, but it still makes me laugh when pictures are being taken with an IPad :D

     And in the Buddha belly- a VIP cemetery.

I really was serious most of the time, believe me.

Hong Kong

3.5 hours flight from Singapore and we were leaving an airport in Hong Kong, China. This short visit left me overwhelmed with the vast pallet of unfamiliar colors, tastes and sounds. While still sorting through notes and thousands of photos I am posting a few of them to share the atmosphere of this exotic world.

Salmon bagel and latte with Asian accent for breakfast (^.^)/

View from the Victoria Peak- not bad at all :)
Fried duck for dinner.

Mango heaven- mango pudding, ice- cream and cake! Mrrrr.

Who is going to tell me that HK is NOT a city of LIGH?

 

China Town.

Here are a few images from China Town in Singapore, full of colours and lights, a place with good food and pleasant cafes.
It’s a district where time has a different value and the everyday rush dissolves in every public space.

  

Saturday Lunch.

I think I like Saturdays. Vanila ice- cream with mango, papaya and lychee was not a bad combination for lunch (thanks F). Anyone wants to join?
Have a great weekend :)

 

Something green.

Saturday morning caused a real dilemma- shall we spend all day at the pool eating sushi and drinking… tea with umbrellas or go to a rain forest in the middle of a boiling hot day? Hiking in a MacRitchie Reservoir Park seemed to be a better option for extreme needs ;) Despite all doubts and prejudices I had it ended up to be a brilliant afternoon with prehistoric animals (which always run away from the picture) and a walk above tree tops.

Trying to dry my face a bit before posing for the picture below:)

A Tree Top Walk. One way route. Please DO NOT TURN ARROUND.

Gosh, it’s high.

By the end of the trip I spotted a few particular creatures in the bushes….

 

Wicked.

The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
I’ve been dreaming about this moment for many years and couldn’t believe my eyes when I got a ticket from F! I could finally watch the Wicked musical, an adaptation of a book by Gregory Maguire (which is much more serious than the show).
Everyone knows the story of Dorothy from Kansas, who landed by chance in magic Oz. At the end of a ridiculous yellow path, the Wizard of Oz was supposed to help her to get back home. The Musical covers events long before Dorothy’s journey and tells a story of two completely different school girls who grew fond of each other and became friends before they transformed into a Wicked Witch of the West and a Good Witch of the North. The show brings explanations to such phenomenons as the Wicked Witch’s obsession with ruby shoes or why the Good Witch was traveling by a bubble.
Despite the brilliant humor and entertaining dialogues, ‘Wicked’ tries to handle also important questions: are people born bad or good from the start? Is it possible to justify and understand the wickedness of the human nature?
I try my best not to write much more as I really believe it’s worth watching. And starting today ‘I think I’ll try Defying Gravity’ :)

  

Sneak a peek of a stage design.

Grand Theater at Marina Bay Sands.

images from: http://wickedthemusical.com.sg/

Cocotte.

Still in Little India, after a long day of walking in circles, came the time to cool down (or rather run away from the heat) and drink small Bierchen :) On our way to an unknown destination I decided to check what hides behind an intriguing tiled façade. How surprised I was to find not a museum, not even an antique shop but a bar + a French restaurant called Cocotte. 

It took me a while to realize what was actually happening- I can see myself standing there for a few good minutes, confused, surprised, ready to say: “I’m sorry, I mixed up the entrances”. Because what was I supposed to think about barber/dentist (????) chairs around coffee tables, shopping trolleys parked next to the armchairs and gigantic coca-cola caps on top of bar stools? That it’s BRILLIANT (after 3 min). Hah! To add more, opened ceiling, tons of wires and metal furniture accompanied by vintage, cosy elements = INDUSTRIAL/HOMY INTERIOR made me forget about my beer and run around with my camera taking pictures.
Apparently the place is known for a very good French cuisine, which we’ll have to check out sometime soon.
A bartender must have realized our fascination as he decided to add even more to this positive experience by bringing a ball for … a free FOOSBALL! No wonder we didn’t manage to cool down in the end ;)

  

I couldn’t help myself from photographing this bathroom. Just like everything in eclectic Cocotte, a washroom in Arabic style was put together with a minimalistic black glass cabin.


Address:
No. 2 Dickson Road
Singapore 209494