A Travellerspoint blog

Fascinating Xi'an, China

History of Silk Road

With Ellie and brother Osman, the three of us embarked on a free and easy trip to Xi'an, arranged by Izan of Dhia Holidays. I love going in small group with people who share the same interest with me. The best part is we are free from the hassle of group trip comprising of different personalities and interests. We left KLIA by China Southern Airline on time, not knowing that we were going to face such problems on our return tickets. The flight took about 4 hours. Connecting flight to Xi'an after immigration check and collecting and checking in our luggage to Xi'an at Guangzhou airport was quite a headache. Communication was quite difficult as most Chinese we approached did not speak English. Finally we boarded the plane to Xi'an for about 2 hours flight. May, the local guide, was waiting for us and took us straight to a Muslim restaurant for dinner. Many roads were closed because of the Mooncake Festival.

We checked in at Yihe Palace Hotel. The next day at 9.00 am, May and Lu, the driver, came with a van to take us for sight-seeing tour. I recommend that touring Xi'an for 3 or 4 full days was tiring with little time to digest the information. A week's visit will be more relaxing and more fun.
Tang West Market

Tang West Market

At Tang West Market

At Tang West Market

Sunday open market

Sunday open market

A white statue of a plump Tang lady at the open market at Tang West Market.

A white statue of a plump Tang lady at the open market at Tang West Market.

With Osman and May (the guide) at Tang West Market

With Osman and May (the guide) at Tang West Market

Our first introduction to Xi'an was a visit to Tang West Market, a huge complex with a lot of information about the Silk Road. There would be a Grand Opening of the First Stage of Silk Road Street on 27 Sept 2013. The open market on Sunday there exhibits many Chinese antiques. It was fun to see a statue of a plump Tang lady which was considered beautiful at that time. Here, I learned for the first time that Islam came to China not only by land on camels but also by ships. At that time there were a number of big canals/rivers around the city to enable ships to anchor. The Muslim Middle Eastern traders with beard were the Hu people meaning men with beard. They came and married the local people bringing Islam with them. Hence about 20 million Chinese are Muslims now. According to history, the plane of West Tang Market was rectangular in shape. There were 9 rectangular blocks, each block facing the street with all kinds of shops. It was situated about 1 Km south west from Xi'an city covering about 263 acres. Archaeological findings proved that this market area was heavily populated with buildings and transportation was on land and on water. The museum was closed as it was Sunday, so we just looked around at the open exhibit area.

For those who plan or wish to tour Xi'an, please wear comfortable walking shoes. There will be a lot of walking as all the attraction areas are huge and far. The walking really tested my poor flat feet. For senior people who have trouble walking long distance, please bring a portable chair so that you can rest at any point you feel tired. I didn't bring my portable chair cum walking stick but was able to rest my feet on the many benches there except when we were inside the Terra Cotta museum.

Crowded busy Muslim Street in Xi'an

Crowded busy Muslim Street in Xi'an

The many variety of dried Chinese dates sold at Muslim Street, Xi'an. 200913

The many variety of dried Chinese dates sold at Muslim Street, Xi'an. 200913

The Muslim Street is an interesting attraction, busy and packed with local people and tourists. We were warned to take care of our bags as pickpockets are taking advantage of the crowd. Cool and shaded, the street is lined with Halal restaurants and various stores.
Speaks fluent Malay and manages his noodle restaurant.

Speaks fluent Malay and manages his noodle restaurant.

We met a good-looking local Chinese Muslim who speaks Malay fluently and runs the noodle shop there. He has been to Malaysia several times since his sister married a Malay man and lives in Shah Alam.
Ellie and I are having our first delicious Chinese Muslim lunch at a restaurant in Muslim Street, Xi'an. 200913

Ellie and I are having our first delicious Chinese Muslim lunch at a restaurant in Muslim Street, Xi'an. 200913

The Muslim Restaurant in Muslim Street, Xi'an serving unbelievably tasty food.

The Muslim Restaurant in Muslim Street, Xi'an serving unbelievably tasty food.

Hand made noodle at a Muslim restaurant in Muslim Street, Xi'an

Hand made noodle at a Muslim restaurant in Muslim Street, Xi'an

The restaurant we were brought to was busy with customers and May helped us to order our food. We were astounded when our order came. The serving was so huge which made us wonder how the three of us could finish the dishes. Surprise, surprise, we cleaned the plates!! The food was so delicious with simple cooking, yet taste so good. From then on, our lunches and dinners at Muslim restaurants were memorable - simply delicious. The handmade noodle-making process was fascinating to watch. Beiyuanmen Muslim Street is a historical place where foreign diplomats and rich merchants lived. We managed doing quick shopping for souvenirs here before we proceeded to the Great Mosque.

The stunning red wooden arch at the entrance of the first coutyard of  Xi'an Great Mosque, almost identical with the one at Forest Stone Tablets Museum.

The stunning red wooden arch at the entrance of the first coutyard of Xi'an Great Mosque, almost identical with the one at Forest Stone Tablets Museum.

One of the arches to Great Mosque courtyard.

One of the arches to Great Mosque courtyard.

One of the courtyard of Xi'an Great Mosque

One of the courtyard of Xi'an Great Mosque

Inside the old Xi'an Great Mosque after Friday prayer.

Inside the old Xi'an Great Mosque after Friday prayer.

A part of the  building of Xi'an Great Mosque with traditional Chinese architecture.

A part of the building of Xi'an Great Mosque with traditional Chinese architecture.

This Great Mosque is special and spectacular where Muslim architecture blended beautifully with Chinese traditional architecture. The 12,000 square meters compound of the mosque complex is well-kept with typical Chinese garden. The many arches were engraved with Quranic verses and Chinese writing. The prayer Hall or the main building was old and rustic. Since it was Friday, the Hall was packed with Muslims from different races there for prayer. The three of us did our Jama' prayer just outside the main Hall after Friday prayer was over. This mosque was built in 742 during the Tang Dynasty as Islam was introduced by Arabs and Afghanistan merchants. Some settled in Xi'an and married the local ladies. There were 4 courtyards, each with distinctive arch. At the entrance of the first courtyard, there was a stunning red wooden arch about 9 meters high covered with glazed tiles as ancient as the arch. The mosque is a must-see landmark in Xi'an regardless of your religion.

Xi'an Museum is impressive, surrounded by gorgeous garden with lake, willow trees and winding paths. Nearby is the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, 43 meters high and 13 levels. Visitors are allowed to climb for a small fee but seniors above 65 were advised not to. The museum traced back the history of Chinese emperors with their distinctive history. Xi'an museum

Xi'an museum

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Beautiful Xi'an Museum garden.

Beautiful Xi'an Museum garden.

At Xi'an Museum gaarden with a statue of a Mother shouldering her children - a mother's sacrifice for her children.

At Xi'an Museum gaarden with a statue of a Mother shouldering her children - a mother's sacrifice for her children.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 09:10 Comments (0)

Picturesque Maldives

The Wonder of the World

Maldives with 1,190 islands, is world renown for its natural beauty and tranquility. The Indian Ocean and the atolls provide breathtaking view from above. I was fortunate to spend 4 days there which are too short, to soak in the stunning beauty of the island. It took 4 hours and 10 minutes flight from KLIA to Male International Airport, Maldives by Malaysia Airline. We arrived at night and I was struck by the shimmering crystal clear sea at the ferry terminal. We were transported to our hotel in Male by boat, an exciting venture.
Our tour started the next day with island hop to Himmafushi and Villingilis islands. Male is a small island city, congested with people and thousands of motorbikes. The city is bustling with colourful flag war, ready for the election on 7 September 2013. Since it was just after the celebration of Eid Al Mubarak for the Muslims, the fish market was not as active as any other normal days. 95% of Maldives popultion is Muslim and I like it as we could find halal food anywhere.

Awesome lagoon in the Indian ocean at Maldives

Awesome lagoon in the Indian ocean at Maldives

Fantastic calm coulour of a lagoon in the Indian Ocean.

Fantastic calm coulour of a lagoon in the Indian Ocean.

Loss of words to describe the beauty of Maldives

Loss of words to describe the beauty of Maldives

Resort in beautiful Maldives island

Resort in beautiful Maldives island

Spectaculay resort from the air 120813

Spectaculay resort from the air 120813

Male from the air

Male from the air

Sea planes for air sight seeing in Maldives

Sea planes for air sight seeing in Maldives

Sea planes ready to take tourists for a spin to see God's creation

Sea planes ready to take tourists for a spin to see God's creation

Stunning resort at one of the atolls i Maldives

Stunning resort at one of the atolls i Maldives

Stunning seafront of Male

Stunning seafront of Male

Waiting for the sea plane flight to see aerial view of stunning Maldives

Waiting for the sea plane flight to see aerial view of stunning Maldives

Masjid Annarah at Himmafushi island, Maldives

Masjid Annarah at Himmafushi island, Maldives

With Ramlah at Himmafushi Island, Maldives

With Ramlah at Himmafushi Island, Maldives

Villingilis island beach

Villingilis island beach

Himmafushi Island 110813 (26)

Himmafushi Island 110813 (26)

IMG_2012

IMG_2012

Island hop on boat passing Santara Resort Island 110813 (1)

Island hop on boat passing Santara Resort Island 110813 (1)

Island hop on boat passing Santara Resort Island 110813 (21)

Island hop on boat passing Santara Resort Island 110813 (21)

A lone coconut tree on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean

A lone coconut tree on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean

The island hop cost us US$30 for 2 islands and I loved these visits. We had fresh coconut water which of course similar to the ones we have in Malaysia to quench our thirst. Converting it to Malaysian Ringgit, one young coconut costs 3 times more here. The Annarah mosque is small but so clean and attractive. All the coconut trees at the beach leaned towards the ocean, maybe because of the winds. We were not able to see the big fish market here because it was late in the day already and everyone has packed up and the market was closed. You need to go there early in the morning to see the fishermen load the fish to the market and trading takes place.
Villingili island is so pretty, clean with gorgeous colourtful sea.Aminah, the Malysian trained Hospital Administrator in Villingilis Island, Maldives

Aminah, the Malysian trained Hospital Administrator in Villingilis Island, Maldives

Villingilis beach overlooking Male island

Villingilis beach overlooking Male island

I met Aminah, the manager of the Health Centre who was kind enough to let us use the washrooms. She did her master's degree in nursing management in University Hospital in Kuala Lumpur and is quite familiar with Malaysians and Malaysia. The day was really hot but the humidity is not as high as in Malaysia.
Very attractive unassuming President's Residence in Male, Maldives. 110813

Very attractive unassuming President's Residence in Male, Maldives. 110813

Maldives National Museum

Maldives National Museum

The walking tour of Male was interesting. At the beautufl carved coral stone wall of Hukuru Miskiiy Mosque in Male

At the beautufl carved coral stone wall of Hukuru Miskiiy Mosque in Male

Hukuru Miskiiy mosque with the long water scoops.

Hukuru Miskiiy mosque with the long water scoops.

The big tombstones at Hukuru Miskiiy mosque yard

The big tombstones at Hukuru Miskiiy mosque yard

The old mineret of Hukuru Miskiiy Mosque

The old mineret of Hukuru Miskiiy Mosque

I particularly like the Hakuru Miskiiy Mosque or Old Friday Mosque which is 350 years old built in 1656 by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar. The interior and exterior wall are intricately carved from coral stones. Door and window frames are made of teak, red sandalwood and redwood. It's a magnificent old architecture. The compound of the mosque is clean and you can see an old well with its long handle water scoops for ablution. The yard accommodates an old graveyard with big tombstones for the royal families. Suggestion was made to put this mosque as a World Heritage. I hope they do.
May Allah bless you Maldives and pray you stay gorgeous forever.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 19:25 Comments (9)

Pangkor Island

A hideaway holidays

Driving to Pangkor Island by the old coastal road is easy. I was amazed at the change. When driving there in 2004, the road was narrow with heavy traffic but now it's wide and good. Taking the NKV we exit before Sg. Buloh to take the Kuala Selangor route. Sign boards are plenty and clear, indicating Tg. Karang and Teluk Intan. We arrived at Lumut jetty well before the morning 11 o'clock hotel ferry leave the jetty. Jin parked the car at the multi-storey car park for 3 days. Lumut town has also expanded and buzzing with tourists activities. Since it was Sunday the normal public ferry was loaded with local holiday-makers. The Lumut Local Council should build more toilets instead of the 4 cubicles now. We checked in the Pangkor Island Beach Resort which formerly known as Pan Pacific Hotel at the jetty and our luggage was taken care of from then on.
From the jetty ' Selamat Datang ke Pulau Pangkor' 070713

From the jetty ' Selamat Datang ke Pulau Pangkor' 070713

Visit Pangkor

Visit Pangkor

At Pulau Pangkor jetty with Padmini and Indra. 070713

At Pulau Pangkor jetty with Padmini and Indra. 070713

Fishing vessels at Pangkor Islands. 070713

Fishing vessels at Pangkor Islands. 070713

Since the hotel jetty at Pangkor Island is under repair, we docked in at the public jetty and a van-taxi ferried us to the hotel.
Low tide at Pangkor Island Beach Resort - a secluded and private hotel.

Low tide at Pangkor Island Beach Resort - a secluded and private hotel.

Sunset at Pangkor Island Beach Resort. 080713

Sunset at Pangkor Island Beach Resort. 080713

The secluded high end chalets by the beach nestled at the green forest.

The secluded high end chalets by the beach nestled at the green forest.

Pangkor Island Beach Resort - spectacular beach. 080713

Pangkor Island Beach Resort - spectacular beach. 080713

Pangkor Island Beach Resort is situated away from the busy town , about 3 km. No restaurants, shops nearby and walking to town the town beach was pleasant but quite tiring. Priya was waiting for us. After we were settled in our room we walked around the hotel to familiarize ourselves. Since the 4 of us shared a large family room, there was hardly place for me to do my prayer. Unfortunately, the surau of the hotel was tucked away at the back area. So I have to ask permission to use the emergency treatment room for my prayer, which is just a few doors away from our room. The treatment room was in a shamble, more like a store room with smell of cat urine. I wonder, how can it be a treatment room for the sick if the condition is so appalling. Since my prayer doesn't take much time, I left immediately after I've finished.
Pangkor Island Beach Resort is situated at a cove with calm waters and tantalizing sunset. It's so private and clean. The sand is soft and the sea is shallow. No public is allowed in unless they are guests of the hotel.
Away from the main building, is a few high-end wooden bungalows. The back is a backdrop of green forests, making it look serene and peaceful.
From left Italian Irene, Indra, Padmini, Me and Jin at the pangkor Island beach. 070713

From left Italian Irene, Indra, Padmini, Me and Jin at the pangkor Island beach. 070713

In the evening, we decided to take the 3 km walk to see the nearest town. The walk itself was pleasant but on returning we had to take the van-taxi for the 6 of us costing RM95.00. I like to see the colourful Malay village with flowering garden but felt sad to see the neglected staff quarters. The management doesn't seem to care about the welfare of its lower rank staff. My friend had an unpleasant encounter with one very senior staff. Since the GM was not around, she happened to ask help from the second man, an Indian man, to turn on the TV to see the tennis tournament. With a sullen face, he turned it on with not a smile or a glance even though she thanked him. What an arrogant man! From feedback, I gather the senior management staff needs human relations training badly. They shouldn't be working in hotel industry if they do not know manners, common curtsy and humility. The three friends of mine left the lounge with disgust.
By the way, the food is really good. Congratulations to the chefs. The breakfast spread is varied and the restaurant is superb.
Feeding the hornbill by hand.

Feeding the hornbill by hand.

Hornbill for photographers.

Hornbill for photographers.

Pied hornbill percehed at the balcony of the restaurant.

Pied hornbill percehed at the balcony of the restaurant.

Pied hornbills at the poolside impatiently waiting for feeding time.

Pied hornbills at the poolside impatiently waiting for feeding time.

A hornbill with watermelon in his beak.

A hornbill with watermelon in his beak.

Pied hornbills waiting for feeding time at Pangkor Island Beach Resort.

Pied hornbills waiting for feeding time at Pangkor Island Beach Resort.

One interesting attraction in this hotel is the presence of many pied hornbills - black body with heavy light yellow beak. The hotel has feeding sessions in the morning and in the evening. Before the feeding time they will fly down in big numbers and guests could feed them with fruits. They make quite a loud sound as if they are happy.
Another attraction is the peacocks. There are about 6 of them when I counted. The males are magnificent and colourful. The females are rather plain. 1.chasing the female

1.chasing the female

2.The male peacock begins to dance to attract a female peacock nearby.

2.The male peacock begins to dance to attract a female peacock nearby.

3.Backside of male peacock

3.Backside of male peacock

4. The male peacock is a lot more beautiful than the female.

4. The male peacock is a lot more beautiful than the female.

5.Ready to mate. The male peacock flaunting his beauty to attract a female peacock (1)

5.Ready to mate. The male peacock flaunting his beauty to attract a female peacock (1)

5. Matured male losing its feathers.

5. Matured male losing its feathers.

6. A male peacock growing new attractive feathers after shedding ols ones.

6. A male peacock growing new attractive feathers after shedding ols ones.

8. A loving young couple peacock percehed at our balcony in the morning.

8. A loving young couple peacock percehed at our balcony in the morning.

One male peacock, David, will wait at Priya's balcony in the evening until she returns to her room. He has been doing this faithfully since she came to work. As an animal lover, I think, the peacocks, the hornbills and the rascal monkeys know that. and they reciprocate. I witnessed an interesting peacock ritual when they are in heat. A young male peacock was chasing after a female peacock which showed no interest in him. The male peacock clucking opening his beautiful feather and did a wooing dance to no avail. The female peacock just ignored him. Poor glamorous fascinating male peacock. Hope he succeeds one day.
Loving couple - Silver leaf monkeys with a baby. 090713

Loving couple - Silver leaf monkeys with a baby. 090713

A mother silver leaf monkey letting her baby play by the road.

A mother silver leaf monkey letting her baby play by the road.

Feeding the silver leaf is fun but food should be hidden.

Feeding the silver leaf is fun but food should be hidden.

Friendly silver leaf monkey. 090713

Friendly silver leaf monkey. 090713

A gang of silver leaf monkeys chilling on a branch of a tree by the road.

A gang of silver leaf monkeys chilling on a branch of a tree by the road.

The pack leader kissing Nathan as he requested. Nathan is with them there for 16 years. 090713

The pack leader kissing Nathan as he requested. Nathan is with them there for 16 years. 090713

Silver leaf monkey on the shoulder of an Australian tourist waiting for food. 090713

Silver leaf monkey on the shoulder of an Australian tourist waiting for food. 090713

A pack of silver leaf monkeys grouped together for a meeting.

A pack of silver leaf monkeys grouped together for a meeting.

Jin tentatively touched the silver leaf monkey to overcome her fear. 090713

Jin tentatively touched the silver leaf monkey to overcome her fear. 090713

On the way back to our respective homes, we stopped at Bukit Melawati to see the silver leaf monkeys. I have always love them. They are polite, non-aggressive and quiet. The babies are unbelievable, orange in colour and they change colour as they mature. We met Nathan who has been there for 16 years interacting with the silver leaf who seem to understand what he says in Tamil. He sells little bunch of kacang panjang for tourists to feed the monkeys. But in feeding them you must not show all the bundle, just take out one and give it one by one and hide the rest in your pocket. A family of Australian tourists seemed to have great time playing and feeding the silver leaf monkeys. Jin shrieked with fright when one silver leaf jumped on her back. I just love feeding them even though they climbed all over me.
Priya arranged for us to do sightseeing the island.
At the Dutch Fort, Pangkor Island.

At the Dutch Fort, Pangkor Island.

The Dutch Fort.

The Dutch Fort.

The historical Dutch Fort in Pangkor Island.

The historical Dutch Fort in Pangkor Island.

A bit of Perak history.

A bit of Perak history.

I was surprised to see history happened in Pulau Pangkor when the Dutch built a fort. Conflict with Siam and the Malays drove them away leaving the fort to the locals. There is also a boat building industry beside dried sea food industry which is well known in Malaysia. Looking at the way the sotong kering being packed, I don't think I'll buy. At the dried food factory in Pangkor Island. 080713

Looking at the way the sotong kering being packed, I don't think I'll buy. At the dried food factory in Pangkor Island. 080713

The trip around the island was good but I was not impressed with a dried fish processing factory. Obviously, hygine, cleanliness and tidiness are not their priority. I promised myself not to eat the dried sotong anymore.
Thank you Priya for being our gracious host. This is indeed a cheap holidays for us seniors by enjoying your staff discount. I hope you will be successful in your chosen career.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 00:17 Comments (0)

Angkor Wat and Lake Tonle Sap

Gloomy with restoration work

Angkor Wat is a huge temple complex built by King, Suryavarman 11 dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu. It's three-tiered pyramid-like structure and surrounded by moat. It is 1 km square and consist of 3 levels surmounted by a central tower. Many of the walls were carved with intricate Apsara dancers. Tourists who visit Siem Reap would not be complete if they don't come and watch the sunrise there. The sight is said to be magnificent if you're lucky to get the sunrise. We were not so lucky due to cloudy weather. Guide books advised tourists who come for the first time to see Angkor Wat in the afternoon where there will be full light. Then they might see the spectacular beauty of this ancient temple.
The first time I visited Angkor Wat was in 2006. Angkor Wat was not undergoing intensive restoration then and I got to see the actual old temple.
The main towers of Angkor Wat. The white patch is the roof of restoration work.

The main towers of Angkor Wat. The white patch is the roof of restoration work.

Maz and I on the bridge of Anglor Wat moat.

Maz and I on the bridge of Anglor Wat moat.

But my visit this time saw an active restoration work and has changed the face of Angkor Wat somewhat. As we entered the bridge of the mote, the 3 main towers of Angkor Wat looked like being supported by a white bridge. In actual fact, it was the roof of the restoration work process. We could not enter the main temple through the main entrance as it was closed, so we had to use the side entrance. There were quite a number of No Entry signs, unlike before we could explore almost all the corners of the temple as we wished.
The steep, narrow stone steps were covered by wooden gradual steps which are easier to climb.

The steep, narrow stone steps were covered by wooden gradual steps which are easier to climb.

My main disappointment was seeing the steep, narrow stone steps to the top level of the temple was closed and was replaced by wooden steps. I remembered in 2006, how my friends and i admired those brave tourists who climbed the steep almost upright steps on fours. We tried but after a few steps up, we gave up and slowly backed down. There was only one side railing to hold on to go down, but no railing to hang on on the way up. I told Mardi earlier that I didn't want to climb and gleefully wondered whether Maz would dare climb it. My fear flew out of the window when I saw the wooden steps, sturdy and not so steep with strong railing to hold on to. I bravely climbed and at the same time pointed to Maz the original narrow stone steps which are still visible. When visiting this upper level of the temple, ladies have to be modestly dressed with sleeved blouses and no hats. Many western tourists were turned away when they came in shorts and bared shoulder tops. A number of the passageways were closed to tourists due to restoration work. It rained when we were up there.
A lower level ngkor Wat with steep narrow steps

A lower level ngkor Wat with steep narrow steps

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

It was quite a long walk to see the temple area and I was thankful that I brought my chair cum walking stick with me. I was able to rest my flat feet when Mardi narrated the story of Hindu mythology carved on the wall.
Maz climbed up the library of Angkor Wat

Maz climbed up the library of Angkor Wat

With Mardi's suggestion, Maz climbed the short steep steps to the library. I opted to stay and wait. I am glad that Maz was able to come and visit Angkor Wat and the the surrounding attractions to satisfy her curiousity. We went back to the hotel exhausted.
Boat ride on the canal to Lake Tonle Sap

Boat ride on the canal to Lake Tonle Sap

Fishermen's village along the canal to Lake Tonle Sap

Fishermen's village along the canal to Lake Tonle Sap

Living in high stilt house in Kampong Phluk village.

Living in high stilt house in Kampong Phluk village.

The lake Tonle Sap restaurant where we had our picnic lunch

The lake Tonle Sap restaurant where we had our picnic lunch

Flat open rice fields, prone to floods, along the canal to Lake Tonle Sap

Flat open rice fields, prone to floods, along the canal to Lake Tonle Sap

Passing through a patch of green lung along the canal to Kampong Phluk

Passing through a patch of green lung along the canal to Kampong Phluk

The school at Kampong Phluk

The school at Kampong Phluk

Angkpr Wat ground from the top of the temple

Angkpr Wat ground from the top of the temple

The lower  level of Angkor Wat the steep, narrow stone steps are still a nightmare to climb.

The lower level of Angkor Wat the steep, narrow stone steps are still a nightmare to climb.

Beautifully carved Apsara dancer at Angkor Wat wall.

Beautifully carved Apsara dancer at Angkor Wat wall.

Angkor Wat, walking on the mote bridge

Angkor Wat, walking on the mote bridge

Another interesting visit we made was to Lake Tonle Sap which is reputed to be the biggest lake in Southeast Asia. This time the guide took us through the canal passing Kampong Phluk where fishermen live in crowded high stilt houses. Though the village is so packed with people, they manage to keep the canal clean. I hardly see plastic bottles or plastic bags floating on the canal. They know it's important to keep the water clean because that's their livelihood. This is a lesson many Malaysians should learn. Illegal immigrants, factories and irresponsible people pollute the rivers to the extend that nothing could survive in it. Klang River is one good example.
Our lunch neatly packed in pandan leave container.

Our lunch neatly packed in pandan leave container.

A vegetarian picnic lunch was prepared for us and we had ours in a restaurant on the lake. The Tonle Sap tour I went to in 2006 was in different route. We didn't take a boat through the canal. I recalled we saw a lot of floating houses and children swimming begging when they saw tourists coming. This time we were not bothered by heart-pulling poverty and pathetic living condition.
I am happy I had the opportunity to see the other side of Tonle Sap. On the whole, this was a very enjoyable trip and thank you to my lovely daughter, Maz, for taking me with her. May Allah bless you my love.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 01:39 Comments (0)

Angkor Thom and the Bayon

A creation of human imagination

17 June 2013, we had a new guide today, Mardi, a naturalist who narrated the story of every temple we visited. It was fun and informative. At 5.10 am we drove to Angkor Wat for sunrise but unfortunately the sun was too shy to come out.
Colourful sky at Angkor Wat but no sunrise 170613

Colourful sky at Angkor Wat but no sunrise 170613

Angkor Wat at 6.42 am 170613, no sunrise

Angkor Wat at 6.42 am 170613, no sunrise

Hundreds of tourists were disappointed for no sunrise at Angkor Wat. 170613

Hundreds of tourists were disappointed for no sunrise at Angkor Wat. 170613

At the mote entrance of Angkor Wat , tourists were still hoping to see the sunrise.

At the mote entrance of Angkor Wat , tourists were still hoping to see the sunrise.

The crowd was disappointed and so was I. I didn't see the sunrises either the first time I was there as luck wasn't on my side. Oh, maybe next time ....if there's a next time! But the sky was flaming with bright red and orange. By 6.30 am the colours slowly disappeared.
We went back to the hotel for breakfast and went out again at 8.00 am for Angkor Thom (Big Angkor) with Mardi. I didn't realize that it was going to be a long, tiring walking tour over a vast area in the hot sun where there were many more ancient temples. Lucky I decided to bring my walking stick-chair for resting my tired legs.
One of the gates to Angkor Thom

One of the gates to Angkor Thom

Bayon temple

Bayon temple

Maz and I at Bayon Temple

Maz and I at Bayon Temple

Nose to nose at Bayon Temple

Nose to nose at Bayon Temple

The Monastry  sheltering  old folks near the Bayon

The Monastry sheltering old folks near the Bayon

The Monastry sheltering old folk,s near the Bayon. Though old, they actively keep the place clean.

The Monastry sheltering old folk,s near the Bayon. Though old, they actively keep the place clean.

Going out of Bayon

Going out of Bayon

Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire. Jayavarman V11 constructed Angkor Thom as his new capital city, reputed to be the largest in 12 century and his state-temple, Bayon, was in the centre. There are 5 entrances to this area and the South Gate was where most tourists were brought to enter. Each gate was carved with 4 huge faces - some still good and some destroyed.
Bayon was amazing. Though there was active restoration work, tourists still could see most part of the temple. Be weary if you come here. You need to empty your bladder first, the toilet was quite far away. Mardi had to take me to the nearest toilet at the monastery there and that was quite a long walk. Bayon was spectacular. The 37 out of 49 towers were carved with collosal faces with different expressions. The carvings at the wall told the story of those days and the way of living of the Chams and Khmer, as interpreted by Mardi. Though I have visited Bayon before, this visit gave me a more interesting history of the old Cambodia.
Baphoun Temple

Baphoun Temple

Maz and the guide, Mardi, at the first level of Bahoun Temple. 170613

Maz and the guide, Mardi, at the first level of Bahoun Temple. 170613

The  green, cool shade at Bhapoun Temple with old temple stones on the ground to be restored

The green, cool shade at Bhapoun Temple with old temple stones on the ground to be restored

From Bayon a long walk followed by stopping at another ancient temple, Baphoun, a Hindu temple which was just opened last year. The restoration work was stopped during the Khmer war in 1970s but resumed in 1990s. I didn't climb up this temple which is multi-levels. Maz went up accompanied by Mardi. I waited down to enjoy the green, cool park.
Phimeanakas temple

Phimeanakas temple

From there we walked to yet another ancient Hindu temple. Phimeanakas, an impressive laterite and sandstone pyramid-like structure, the tallest scalable temple in Angkor Thom. It's located in the ancient Royal Palace ground and served as the King's temple. According to legend, the golden tower was inhibited by a serpent, which would transform into a woman. The King was required to make love with this serpent every night or otherwise a disaster would ruin the kingdom.
Terrace of the Elephant

Terrace of the Elephant

The statue of the Leper King.

The statue of the Leper King.

Terrace of the Leper King.

Terrace of the Leper King.

The hot sun made me feel so tired but we bravely followed Mardi, curious to see what to see next. The terrace of the Leper King provided more legends and stories and so is the Terrace of the Elephants. The statue of the Leper King showed his deformed hand but was defaced.
Hot and hungry, we took a break for a picnic lunch before continuing the tour of Angkor Wat in the afternoon.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 06:49 Comments (0)

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