Wednesday, 28 May 2008

ARTISANS ANGKOR and PRE RUP TEMPLE

A trip to Artisans Angkor reminded me of my trip to Jim Thompson, Bangkok in February this year. Beautiful silks everywhere, but during this trip, I got to see the entire process of silk weaving as follows. Silk weaving was introduced to Cambodia in the 13th century using the larvae of the mulberry silkworm in capitivity. Here's the complete process of silk weaving :

Mulberry leaves

Close up of silkworms working hard :)

Mulberry silkworms cocoons in trays

Boiling of the cocoons, one of the guides happily pop the used up cocoons (without the silk) into his mouth, seems it's a delicacy in Cambodia and I guess it's a good source of protein :)

There were no machines, the entire process was hand made using traditional tools

..more spinning

Beautiful silk, reminded me of our local songket materials

Inside Artisans Angkor showroom, exquisite silks and many other handmade items


My favourite, a collection of silver and what you see on table on hung up are raw silk, rougher than fine silk and used widely for decor and clothing too.

Collections of Buddhas.

Apart from silk, Artisans Angkor makes many other wonderful handicrafts, here's a hand painted silk screen, all pictures taken from their workshop.

Lacquerware

Beautiful and detailed stone carving which Cambodia is famous for as you can see in all their temples.

Intricate wood carvings

Artisans Angkor's shop at the Siem Reap airport.




You see, I can go on and on blogging about Cambodia and I've not even completed the temples post. Truly, Cambodia is a gem on it's own. When I stepped into any of the temples, I felt I was transported to an era hundreds of years or even 1000 years ago as per above header, the Pre Rup temple was built in year 961, or being in one of those Indiana Jones movie (only thing missing was a whip!!).
Here's my friend TS going up to Pre Rup temple (left). I hated those stairs! When I was descending, my guide kept saying "mind your steps, don't look down". However, I DID look down and felt my head spinning with images of me falling down those stairs, and being sent home with a broken leg or neck flashed in front of me. You see, I could'nt chicken out by NOT climbing and I couldn't take those photos if I was up there, and Pre Rup temple was not even the steepest of them!

PRE RUP TEMPLE, TEMPLE MOUNTAIN
BUILT IN 961
REIGN: KING RAJENDRAVARMAN
DEDICATED TO HINDU GOD, LORD SHIVA



















Me and TS right at the top of Pre Rup temple!!

Outside Pre Rup



The kids are having their 2 weeks school holidays and I told them we will be making lanterns, inspired by Gina's wonderful art at Gingerbread. That's the beauty of blogging, one get to learn new things everywhere :)....but really, this is exactly where I want to be during the holidays...sipping tea on THIS swing (it accomodates 4 persons) at the hippest hotel in Siem Reap, Hôtel de la Paix



Finally, if you are reading this part it would mean that you have not fallen asleep because of the long post (hahaha...)

Cheers and jumpa lagi (see you again)....

Sunday, 25 May 2008

AYUTTHAYA

The above header is the PRE RUP TEMPLE, CAMBODIA, with imposing brick towers dominating the plains, lintels in the towers built with harmony of colour between laterite, brick and sandstone.

Today, we take a break from Cambodia and go to Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Did you know that Ayutthaya existed from 1351 to 1747 as the capital of SIAM (Thailand) which was founded by the King Ramathibodi 1. Ayutthaya is about 75 km from north of Bangkok and is now famous for their ruins and monasteries.

We didn't go to Thailand to see Ayutthaya but went to Sri Ayutthaya Restaurant here for dinner on Sunday night, to celebrate a few of my family members birthday. Ayutthaya is one of my all time favourite Thai restaurant, it serves authentic Thai food and everyone from the cook to the waiters/waitresses are all Thai. Every decor is very Thai and reminded of Bangkok all the times.

The pineapple boat.


I often read someone in blogosphere blinging their bird house, but have you ever seen a bird house (below left) this beautiful? A miniature Thai house sits on top of a koi pond at the entrance. All typical Thai design with sharp and pointed roof.














Close up of the mini Thai house and in Thailand often, this serves as their spirit house as well and you see them everywhere in Thailand.


Very beautiful and intricate carvings from teak wood, another well known products of Thailand.


The dessert tray, spoilt for choices and my diet went down the drain!


As usual in all Thai houses and restaurants, figures of Buddhas are everywhere. They reminded my of my good blog-friend, Dany of A Garden in France: Marina's house decoration party and her latest post of Buddhas figures found in her house.


A peek into the Thai traditional costume, the cashier was gracious, smilling and with her trademark Thai greetings. Emi (she turns 11 this month) with the staff outside the restaurant.






















There are a few exiting giveaway, so do pop over and leave a comment to win something. Go to Blooming contest to win Clara's wonderful giveaway which ends 31st May 2008. She has the most charming handmade knots which I have never seen before. Wonderful artist Tracy of Hey Harriet is giving away her beautiful painting and contest ends 28th May 2008, you might just get lucky because I sure hope I get one of those fabulous giveaways. Tracy also started her Shadow Shot Sunday on shadow pictures, so I upload this picture of balustrade within Angkor Wat, Cambodia to follow her theme.

Update Lisa of Lisas RetroStyle has another giveaway, so do enter and win her prize...the more the merrier :)



We all love silks and silks in Asia, particularly Thailand and Cambodia are really beautiful, so how about a tour in the next post to see how they are produced and sold at Artisans Angkor. I found it really interesting because I never saw one until recently.
Picture of Artisans Angkor.



I shall say kop pun ka (thank you in Thai) for visiting and it has been great to know so many new friends everywhere :)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

CAMBODIANS AND VIRTUAL PARTY

The Cambodians are very friendly and wonderful people. Even though the country has gone through years of hardship, they are helpful and never hesitate in sharing anything among themselves. To understand the hardship of Cambodians, we need to understand how it all started by Pol Pot (1925-1998), then leader of the Khmer Rouge. He was the Prime Minister from 1976 - 1979 and declared "year zero" in 1976 which saw the mass killing, torturing and systematic extermination of approximately 1.7 millions of Cambodians (about 26% of the entire polution at that time). Some may have seen the movie, The Killing Field (1984) which starred Haing S. Ngor, Julian Sands and John Malkovich. It garnered 3 Academy Awards featuring the real-life story of Dith Pran (starred the now deceased Haing).

I love photographing Cambodians, they obliged me everytime without fail. They could be busy with anything and never hesitated to smile for me. These pictures says it all :)

My guide, Soluy (left) always attentive, caring and very professional.We were able to cramp everything into 3 days thanks to her. A dancer at Cultural Village, wearing an ethnic Cambodia dress.





















This is an actual wedding, photo taken just outside Angkor Wat, loved the colours, dont you?

A staged wedding at the Cultural Village.

A fruit seller outside Angkor Wat.

This lady stopped her work and posed for me at the Old market, if I was in Malaysia, I'd probably be chased away!

Dancers preparing for a show at the Cultural Village.


I have promised Marina from Argentina on her virtual home decor party, so I'll post some of the things I like. We live in terrace house like most Malaysians and ours is a corner lot with some land. My husband and I didn't check the direction thoroughly and landed with a house that faces west, so it can be really hot. However, I am happy because I get to hang one crystal ball on all our windows (plenty) and our 3 doors because.....

...the crytals will reflect hundreds of sunshine on all my walls, this is the wall from my kitchen with a collage of all the scrapbooking I did for the family last year. Can you see specks of rainbow on the wall?

Our dining table facing the garden (you can see how hot it can be, not even possible to take a picture looking out with the glare), with a table runner and collection of silver from Cambodia and the bowls are from Thailand.

I need to have lots of plants round the house and my favourite window looking out to the garden :)

I missed the Mother's Day post as I was away and will use this picture if I did it, an elephant and her baby made of limestone from Cambodia.

..ahhh finally, the extended family, our rabbits and the most difficult to photograph as they were too busy chomping the leaves most of the time and wouldn't stay still !! The small ones in the basket are floppy eared lops, the big ones are crossed breed lionhead with angora. I always wondered how the 2 big ones survive in our hot weather and whether it felt like sauna when they are out in the garden because of their bushy fur around the neck!


I am glad too that the postcards I sent from Cambodia has reached some of my blog-friends (much more efficient than our Malaysian postal for sure) and also feel blessed that I have many wonderful friends everywhere.

So, have a bunnderful weekend everybunny (that's how the rabbit bloggers communicate hahaha!!)

Monday, 19 May 2008

I LOVE BAYON - CAMBODIA

Everyone loves Bayon temple. To appreciate Bayon, one needs to know the history behind it and King Jayavarman VII.

Did you know that there was a country called Kingdom of Champa from 7th to 15th century (now called Vietnam). The Chams (people of Champa) ruled Cambodia for a short period. After 4 years of fighting, King Jayavarman VII succeeded in driving the Chams out, beginning his reign in 1181 as the last great king of Angkor. A fervent Buddhist, unlike his predecessors who worshipped Hindu gods, Jayavarman VII crammed into his 30 years rule with the largest building programmed, in total buidling more than 400+ temples of the existing 1000+ now in Cambodia. He built Angkor Thom, his palace and and where Bayon, Ta Prohm and few other others temples are now based.

ANGKOR THOM
DATE: Late 12th century
STYLE : BAYON
REIGN: KING JAYAVARMAN VII and successors
Angkor Thom is the larges of all Khmer cities and remained so until the 17th century with a total area of 9 hectares.

Me, at the entrance of ANGKOR THOM!


MOST PROMINENT TEMPLE: BAYON
DATE: Late 12th to late 13th centuries
STYLE: BAYON
REIGN: KING JAYAVARMAN VII TO JAYAVARMAN VIII
This is the most enigmatic and powerful religious construction in the world. Temples extremely complex. Famous for it's four faced Buddhas everywhere, extensive and narrative bas-reliefs everywhere of Khmer's daily life and stories. State temple for King Jayavarman VII as his symbolic centre of universe.

Tell me if you would love to go to Bayon.


Entrance to Bayon (left). The picture (below right) was taken at the foot of entrance to the main temple. As usual, steep steps and the on the right a reconstructed stairs which made climbing easier.




Another favourite shot of mine, taken from inside another smaller temple. In all the temples, you'll find many walls or mini walkways that were very dark.


Love this picture :)

Dancers giving me 3 different poses for USD1.00.

Three faces of Buddha. One Buddha statue inside a small temple (can you see it in the dark), and outside another 2 faces of Buddha. Having a great guide like Soluy makes everything very easy, I am impressed with her because she taught me how to use my camera - considering she does not own one. Another favourite picture of mine (below right), with statue of Buddha in the front and Buddhas at the back.



Magnificent Bayon!


One of the highlight of my trip was to go to the Cultural Show. It starts from 10.00am, with many different shows and dances, and last show which titled, The Great King Jayavarman VII finished at 9.00pm. Of all the show, the last was the most spectacular. The entire backdrop was covered and revealed at last in the form of Bayon temple. This picture was the grand finale after the unveiling, taken approximately 250 feet from the stage.

Cambodians taking pictures with the performers acting King Jayavarman and his queen.



To all my wonderful blogger friend, many thanks for visiting. Today is Wesak Day in Malaysia so it's a public holiday for us, just like it's public holiday for Chinese New Year, Deepavali for the Indians, Christmas etc., and we've got lots of it in celebration of our multi cultural, racial and religious community.

Cheers to all :)