Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Road 62 outside Preah Vihear, 5:45 pm

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/04/08 at 07:21

The surrounding landscape is not of much interest, just the outskirts of a small town, a few house and the odd restaurant giving way to low forests and scrub lands. The sky however is worth paying attention to and we are moving far too fast to take  photograph. In front and to the right, the sky is ablaze with two horizontal bands of cloud  glowing in yellow and orange that hang just above the undulating profile of distant hills. To the left are thin veils of clouds colored a brilliant pink bordering on orange against the pale blue sky, like silk ribbons fluttering in the breeze.


Siem Reap night market, 9:20 pm 

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/04/08 at 07:19

A small stage: the backdrop, the curtains and all the other hangings are made from silver colored spangly cloth. At the center of the backdrop is a large  photograph showing three men in make up and women’s clothing with the text “Free Daily Ladyboy Show” printed in purple across the bottom. Along the front edge of the stage is a line of multi colored LED lights, and above it a large mirror ball. There are no proper seats for the audience, just two rows of pink massage chairs, the people having their massage getting treated to a free show no matter if they want it or not; everyone else can stand. Latin inspired dance pop is blaring at high volume from cracked speakers. On the stage are three people, in the center a Ladyboy in a kind of spangly feathery bathing suit and a plumed hat mining to the music. She (or is it he?) is flanked by two dancers in tight jeans and puffy black shirts, dancing a Latin type dance. The low budget production, the setting (a night market massage parlor), just everything about it is delightful and hilarious.

Kampong Khleang 2:30-ish pm

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/04/02 at 12:28

The main street, if it can even be called that, is a long, orange brown dirt road running the entire length of village and lies just a foot or two above the water level. In the wet season I am sure it becomes flooded, turning from street to canal. The sides are lined with simple wooden houses on stilts several meters high. Along the side of road and in the spaces between the stilts are all manner of things in a huge jumble, round bottom boats with cracked sides, motorbikes,  tuk tuks, piles of fish traps, nets hung out to dry, old engines, pieces of machinery, blue tarps with shrimps spread out on them to dry, and chickens searching for food in the piles of trash. All around, people are going about their daily lives, children playing, women chopping wood, a man pasting sheets of glass fiber on an upturned boat, shop owners lounging in their hammocks waiting for customers. A small slice of life from real, rural Cambodia.

Kampong Khleang 11:55 am

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/04/01 at 10:00

The reddish brown dirt road is on an embankment, the sides sloping steeply down to the river a few meters below. Both sides of the road are lined with houses sitting on tall stilts, their floor often a foot or two above the street, with wooden gangways up to the door. The houses are simple wooden things, often looking like they’ve been cobbled together randomly. Wooden, round bottom boats are drawn up on land or float lazily in the shallow waters at the banks. The space beneath the houses, in between the stilts, is cluttered with nets, fish traps and all manner of other things. The air is permeated with the smell of fish and gasoline, and the noises of people at work and children at play.

Nanliao beach, 3:29 pm

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, Poetic prose, Writing on 2018/04/01 at 09:56

A vast expanse of grayish brown sand, broken up by a couple of large puddles left over by the receding tide.  Shallow canals winding their way through the wet sand, leading out to a large lagoon of pale blue water, and in the distance the white crests where the waves break over the outer sand bank. The sun shining down from a cloudless sky, topping every unevenness in the sand and every ripple in the water with a dash of silver. The distant roar of the breaking waves fills the air, every other sound seems to have been blown away by the breeze. In an instant my mind is emptied, the troubles of daily life all washed away, and I start to notice the little things around me: the feeling of the ridges in the sand under my bare feet; the coolness of the water as I step through it; the perfect balance between the afternoon sun on my back and the wind on my face; the little whirlpools in the canals as the water flows over the uneven surface and the way my feet sink in the sand if I stand still for a moment. Is this meditation?

Angkor Wat 4:10 pm

In Feeling of the moment, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/03/29 at 14:53

This place is absolutely massive, in fact it’s the largest building in the world, so it should be able to swallow massive amounts of visitors. Yet here I am, in the longest queue I’ve seen in more than two months of traveling. From the stairs leading up to the main stupa, it goes around the corner all the way along the north wall, down to the opposite side of the stupa. I don’t like standing in line but I can’t come to the most famous temple ruin in south east Asia and skip the main shrine, so here I stand…

Angkor Wat, 3:55 pm 

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/03/29 at 14:51

The entire wall, probably a hundred meters long or more, is covered in bas relief figures. It is something like the Bayeux tapestry, a depiction of a battle with multitudes of armed soldiers on foot, and commanders in their chariots. I’ve seen carvings before but the scale of this is something else. Looking down the corridor and just knowing that the carved scene continues all the way to corner is fascinating.

Angkor Wat, 5:21 am

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/03/28 at 03:23

The sky is growing imperceptibly lighter, it’s just possible to make out the black silhouette of the temple against dark grey sky, and the perfect reflections in the still waters of the pool in front of it. Up above, myriad stars twinkle in the sky. The only thing to dampen the mood is the mass of people pressing in on me from behind and from the sides.

Ta Prom temple, 2:49 pm

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/03/28 at 03:21

To the left and in front of me is an L-shaped wall about three meters high. It is built by large, square blocks of dark grey stone, the top and bottom decorated with geometric carvings. To the right, it is connected to a stone tower with a sort of stepped dome, and a passage right through it, the door posts decorated with bas relief figures of Hindu gods. After nearly a thousand years of neglect, the stones are covered in moss and lichen, giving it a copper green hue. A gigantic tree, its roots as large as the trunk of any normal tree, straddles the wall right in front of me, the roots forming man sized arches, with tentacles and tendrils finding cracks between the blocks. I stand in awe at the sight.

Ta Prom temple, 2:35 pm

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2018/03/24 at 03:32

There’s a large tree straddling the top of the ancient building. The roots, as big as a man’s leg or bigger, come spilling down the walls like a mass of grey tentacles over the dark, moss covered stone. From the top of the roof, the trunk shoots up towards the blue sky, to the green crown high above. In front of the building is a small wooden platform, on it, two Chinese women posing for a photo and in front of the platform, a long line of tourists, all waiting for their chance to take a picture. The place is so cool, with the tree growing out of the ruins, but the many tourists destroy some of the magic.