Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

Shania Twain and Dire Straits Perform at Ta Prohm

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

“So you think you’re a temple?… That don’t impress me much” “Do, do, do do, do, do, do” The beat and words to Shania’s catchy song play out in my head as I stare, open mouthed at the sheer size of the trees (and their root systems) that envelope parts of the Ta Prohm temple.

It is like Mother Nature is singing this song to the long passed builders of the city of Angkor Thom, letting them know that she is the one and only ruler of this land.
“You may have created this monument, this gift, this sanctuary but it is only I that you need to worship, for it is I that has the last word” Did I hear that come from the shadows over there? Is there someone hiding in that inner sanctum? Mmmmm. Maybe it’s the wind rustling through the tops of the enormous trees.
Standing, watching, listening, feeling. Trying to gain a sense of Ta Prohm is not something that can be had in one visit. This is a place you need to return to again, and again. If it took decades to build it will take more than a couple of hours to appreciate.
“That’s OK, I’m not going anywhere”. Who said that? Maybe it was that tiny statue of Buddha set in the wall. And he’s right – he’s not going anywhere. And nor are the trees. Centuries have past since Ta Prohm was built and many more will pass before it is consumed. We have time to come back.
Exiting the ruins and looking back at them I think I hear the dulcet tones of Mark Knopfler emanating from the passageways. That famous Dire Straits song Dire Straits is being performed:
“There are so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones”

Ah…. I get it. Whilst Mother Nature rules she is actually teaching us that when we understand this symbiotic relationship we get our place and purpose.

Hmmmmm. Who would have thought I would have heard Buddha, Mother Nature, Shania Twain and Dire Straits perform “live” together in Cambodia

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Staring. Wondering.

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

My safe haven’s here

Held by Daddy’s arms

I’m keeping an eye on you

Mum’s listening to psalms



I’d like to know a little more

About why you’re looking at me

But don’t you come too close

I’ll peer at you – I can see



Safety – it’s right here

Here in this skin

I know him and her

Their my real blood kin



Staring. Wondering.

Not sure about you

You over there

Why do you keep looking

Why do you stare



Connected by sight

That’s enough, show some respect

I’m shy don’t you know

What do you expect



Ah, that’s better

Your walking away

Have fun in Phnom Penh

Enjoy your stay



I love little kids

They inquisitive little things

But don’t get too close

Some are unsure what it brings

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A Kindergarten On The Streets

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

A child threads cotton balls onto a wool covered pipe cleaner in a kindergarten near a quaint sleepy village in the United Kingdom – they call it play, developmental learning.  On an expansive open-air park in the middle of Phnom Penh, Cambodia a 2 year old threads fish balls onto a wooden skewer – here they call it a living.  Work.

The focus of the deep black eyes of a handsome little boy changes from his bag of fish balls to us.  Unmoved by our presence, and after a short visual interaction, he continues his work – one more skewer, six more fish balls.

10 metres away his mother keeps a watchful eye on her employee son and with a nod gives us approval to photograph him.

Despite him not being old enough to talk he looks at us now with a question.  “Why me?”  “What’s so interesting about this scene?” he seems to be asking.  “It’s what I do.  It’s who I am” And indeed it is.  Looking around we start to see more and more productive toddlers contributing to “street capitalism”. None of them desperate.  All of them smiling.

A way of life here may seem like child labor in the United Kingdom but tell that to this little guy and his mum.  He hasn’t got his hand out for a “donation” and his smile tells you that he’s not exactly unhappy with his lot in life

Open Air Learning

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“Hey! Great To See You Again”

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Parry, parry, thrust.  Parry, parry, thrust.  Riposte.  Riposte.  Fencing?  Here in Cambodia?  Well, quite possibly and it was a French enclave was it not?  It was but we are not fencing, we are crossing the road.  It just feels like fencing but without the swords.  Phew…. we survived that now, let’s look for some photo opportunities.

“Hey great to see you again!!”  I look at The Princess and she at me.   “Do we know this guy?”  “Have you been here before and not told me?”  No… it is just one of the many friendly ways of being greeted by a local here in Phnom Penh.

The beaming smile of the young entreprenre in front of us is infections.  “Where you go?” “You want Tuk Tuk?”  I point to my feet one at a time and say to him: “No thanks, I have Tuk Tuk.  This one is Tuk and this one is Tuk”.  He laughs and laughs. His grasp of English is very good!

Our new best friend, despite being told that we don’t require his services, continues to walk with us and offer us a variety of other services…. maps, tour guide, DVD’s, food, drink, you name it.

After repeated “no thank you’s” I finally get it.  We’re now fencing!  Parry, parry, riposte.

And I thought it was only crossing the road where our agility was required.

Tuk Tuk

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Borneo Bound

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Our excited yet reluctant bodies rose at 0400 to ready ourselves for the 0545 pick up by one of the internal taxi vans in Discovery Bay. We had packed most of our things over the weekend so we only needed to shower and have a light breakfast – mainly to wake ourselves up at this unusual hour.
The Van arrived close to the time we had booked and the trip down to the plaza didn’t take too long at this hour of the morning. Fortunately the Uncle Russ coffee shop was open so I was able to get my first “brew” for the day. There is something about a fresh, hot coffee first thing in the morning – particularly when one is normally still in bed at the hour I was ordering this one.
The airport bus from Discovery Bay leaves every half hour and the trip down to Chep Lap Kok airport takes around 20 minutes. Despite today being a public holiday the bus was quite full and this meant a slower trip out of DB (Discovery Bay) because we needed to pick up at each internal stop.
We arrived at airport at 0630 and made our way to the Dragonair check-in area. The airport was very busy so we had to negotiate our way through the crowds before we arrived at the Dragonair counter.
Dragonair (Cathay’s sister airline) flies directly to Kota Kinabalu every day and our staff travel benefits allow us to fly business class with KA (the code for Dragonair). The KA check-in staff were very helpful and had us on our way to the gate in no time. The flight was “wide open” (plenty of seats) so getting a seat in business was not a problem.
There was no one to say goodbye to us at the airport so we made our way through screening and immigration and found some water and the nearest Travelex money exchange – it’s always handy to have a few ringgits in hand when arriving in Malaysia.
We passed some time by browsing the few shops that were open then made our way down to the departure gate area. The gate (524) was located in the “bowels” of the airport and this meant that the aircraft was parked on a stand (not at a gate). We followed the rest of the “sheep” onto the bus and crammed in like happy little sardines. The Princess enjoyed being down on the tarmac area and liked being able to look up at the variety of aircraft makes and models from below – always unique for passengers that are used to loading via a ramp.
The bus had quite bad brakes and despite the driver taking it nice a slowly the standing passengers became aquainted a few times when the brakes almost locked on and we all went “A over T” a couple of times.
When we arrived at the aircraft we met the crew -friends of mine that I had trained when I was a part of Dragonair. We took our seats in business and settled into “holiday” mode shortly thereafter. We departed on time from Hong Kong and before long we were “tucking in” to a sumptuous breakfast as we winged our way south toward Borneo.
Despite the trip being only 2.5 hours I managed to get a sleep in after breakfast – waking shortly before top of descent.

Arriving In KK

Brian, the captain of the A321, made a smooth approach and landing into Kota Kinabalu and taxied the short distance to the modern terminal. Unfortunately there was a mix up with our parking position so we ended up waiting for close to 15 minutes while the ground staff arranged a new gate for us. The delay allowed us to finish reading some interesting articles in the Dragonair magazine – always a reason for these sorts of things. Besides, it allowed us to slip into “malay” time!
Customs clearance and baggage delivery was quite efficient and we exited into the arrival area and were greeted by the driver we had arranged for the trip to the Sutera Harbour Resort.
Sutera Harbour is located close to the airport and the city so it took less than 10 minutes to get to the hotel.
Check in was very efficient however we didn’t realise that we were staying at the VIP section of the Magellan Resort complex so it meant a short walk around to the reception area for the Magellan Club.
The first room we were checked into was not suitable because the blinds did not close properly but it wasn’t a problem getting the room changed. The second room, over looking the pool complex, was perfect in every sense and we settled in quickly.
The Princess had a short sleep in the huge King size bed while I unpacked and prepared for an afternoon by the pool. When The Princess woke up she donned her bikini, lathered herself in sunblock and found her book.
Despite our best efforts to find a poolside lounge chair we discovered that they were all taken so we made the most of some shade under a group of palm trees. We spent the afernoon around the pool – reading, relaxing, swimming and talking to some of the staff and other guests. A perfect start to the 6 day break in Borneo.
We had a late lunch by the pool then headed back to the room for an LLD (little lie down) before freshening up for happy hour. When we checked in we were told that the Magellan Club was inclusive of free happy hour drinks and delightful plates of local food – a nice touch indeed.
We took up residence outside on the balcony of the club and watched the beautiful sunset and the changing colours of the sky – perfect. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of white wine and spent time talking with Colin (one of the staff) – a lovely man that shared his knowledge of the local area and some of the sights that we might like to see.

Sundowners With A Sun Down

The only downside to sitting outside were the Mozzies – they were ferocious and The Princess was obviously a tasty meal for them because they devoured her. Her legs ended up looking like a war zone after the first night of sitting outside. Mental note – use the insect spray we carted all the way from Hong Kong!
After happy hour and our long chat with Colin we took a walk around the Magellan resort area before stopping off at the lobby lounge for an iced tea. The evening’s entertainment (a trio of local performers) provided some wonderful background music as we lay on the day bed together and settled into Malay time. The ambience was superb. What a wonderful way of finishing off the day.
Both of us were quite tired after our 0400 start this morning so we returned to the room, readied for bed then sank into the luxurious King size bed. It was an unusually early night for us (2200) however we felt as though we had been on holidays for about a week.
If this is what the first day of our holidays is like we are going to have an awesome break in Borneo!

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