Serenity of the Stone Faces

The Bayon Temple located at Angkor Thom, approximately 1.5 kilometers away from Angkor Wat is one of the two wondrous bonus sites I did not expect me and my sister would visit when we toured Siem Reap, Cambodia.

After visiting Angkor Wat, our hired driver cum tour guide drove and brought us to this equally spectacular ancient capital city of Khmer Empire.  The excitement started when our driver suddenly stopped and asked us to get out of the car and told us to walk our way at the south entrance gate of Angkor Thom.  He told us the he would drive ahead and meet us at the other side of the ancient yet massive gate.

Upon approaching the south gate of the walled-city, we were greeted by fascinating giant statues lined up along the both sides of the causeway wearing assorted facial expressions. My sister Joy immediately noticed that the statues at the left side of the land bridge looked more pleasant while at the right side were scary.  Upon my research the left side were considered gods (or devas) while the right side statues were demons (or asuras).

asuras...

asuras…

excited at angkor thom south gate

excited at angkor thom south gate

Before entering the massive stone gate in which the peak has four massive faces gazing into four cardinal directions, we could not resist taking our respective photos.  We saw our driver, got in the car and continued our journey inside to see and feel for ourselves the iconic Bayon Temple.

the bayon... a bizarre bonus treat

the bayon… a bizarre bonus treat

wow!

wow!

enigmatic smile...

serene enigmatic smile…

Joy channeling the inner Lara Croft in her... hahaha!

my sister Joy… channeling the inner Lara Croft in her… hahaha!

feeling!!!

feeling!!!

There are diverse versions on why Bayon was built.  Some say that it is because of the overblown ego of the King who ordered that it be built and the massive stone faces with enigmatic smile be based on his own facial features.  Others believe that the King dedicated Bayon to the universal god of compassion Avalokitesvara, thus, a testament of his deep spirituality.  I would like to believe it’s the latter.

Moreover, the sheer scale and intricacy of the bas-reliefs found on the walls of this temple is also something to marvel at.

i actually wanted to bring this home to nengkoy and hang it inside her house!

i actually wanted to bring this home to nengkoy
and hang it inside her house!

intricate...

intricate…

Whatever the real purpose in the building of this bizarre temple, the fact remains that gazing unto those stone faces some strange serenity, calmness and quietude is emitted beneath my being.

Pag ako yumaman, magpapagawa din ako ng ganyan. Por shur…

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Khmer Cuisine at Café Indochine

When my family tours out of the country, it has been a habit that at least one of the meals to munch must be at a local high-end restaurant.  My family has always been a believer that one of the best ways to see the uniqueness of a country and its citizens are through its food.

In tow with this habit and belief, me and my sister tried Khmer (Cambodian) cuisine as our first adventure lunch in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  We simply found ourselves stepping up the sturdy wooden ladder of Café Indochine which is just across the street where our lovely hotel was located.

a very interesting water fountain... me and my sister joy were laughing when we noticed it!

a very interesting water fountain… me and my sister Joy were laughing when we noticed it!  she actually wants to kiss it! hahaha!!!

use of natural light makes this restaurant  have a very relaxing ambience

use of natural light makes this restaurant very laid back and relaxing

lovely interiors

lovely interiors

The inviting restaurant building actually looks like an old wooden Khmer ancestral house with beautiful Asian settings.  The overall ambience is laidback, relaxing and quite elegant.

Me and my sister ordered the table d’hôte menu at $15 per person.  These multi-course meals included the following…

A beautiful salad…

pomelo salad with crab meat

pomelo salad with crab meat

A soup made in Cambodian heaven…

hot soup with mekong lobster

hot soup with mekong lobster

The hearty main course… Surprisingly, me and Joy actually preferred the Amok Fish than the stir fried chicken considering that both of us are chicken lovers.  The Amok Fish made with aromatic kreoung sauce was light yet very tasty!

amok fish (right) and stir fried chicken with kampot black pepper (left)

amok fish (right) and stir fried chicken with kampot black pepper (left)

The exciting tropical dessert… I have munched on alcoholic cakes and chocolates as desserts in the past.  But this was my first time to try and taste an alcoholic ice cream.  It was such a delightful and unique experience.  Who ever thought of this deserves a medal.

mango ice cream with apple liquor

mango ice cream with apple liquor

Two more things that pleasantly surprised me was that the portions were excellently sized and the courses were served at an impressive timing.  Overall, everything served to us was beautiful and brilliant.    I and my sister concluded that Khmer cuisine is not intended to be spicy but instead crafted to be fragrant, zesty and flavorful.

May kanin yan, di ko na sinama sa piktyur.  Kakaiba di ba???

Super Superlative Angkor Wat

Hail to the gods, kings and deities!!! Stunningly beautiful Angkor Wat is such a magnificent temple.  It is the primary reason why I and my sister went to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

angkor wat

angkor wat

I know that there have been a lot of tired expressions uttered and written about this beautiful place.  But now that I have personally been there, I now understand why people only have handsome things to say about this temple complex.  It definitely needs to be added to every adventurer’s bucket list. It was quite thrilling to see the temple for the first time.  Good thing we purchased our tickets late in the afternoon for the following day’s entrance because we were allowed access and get a glimpse of Angkor Wat and assess what’s ahead the following day.

inside the temple

yummy inside the temple

Angkor Wat definitely was not a letdown.  The immensity of this temple is simply outstanding.  It is so magnificent you would actually believe that it was built out from divine inspiration. It was fantastic!  Here’s a few of my photos and see how enchanting this part of our world is…

stunning!!!

stunning!!!

lucky tourists...

lucky tourists…

exceptional!!!

exceptional!!!

had fun touring with my sister...

had fun touring with my sister…

this is my latest fb cover photo... aylavet...

this is my latest fb cover photo… aylavet…

Ang ganda ‘no…

KFC in Siem Reap

Dear Colonel Sanders,

kfc

kfc

KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken is my favorite chicken meal.  Instead of McDonalds (which is the most preferred universal food of majority of earthlings), KFC has always been my choice of fast food.  It is the food chain I would run to every time I need an immediate digestive fix.  Whenever I am out of the Philippines and wish to have a break from eating the local cuisine of the country I am touring/visiting, I would always search for a possible nearby KFC branch.

Aside from the numerous branches of KFC in the Philippines, I have dined at a KFC branch in Kuala Lumpur; in Hong Kong; Casablanca in Morocco; in Bangkok; in Singapore; and the one in Gold Coast, Australia.

Generally, the flavor and taste of the KFC fried chicken in all these branches in various nations I have been to are quite the same.  I can boldly say that indeed the eleven secret herbs and spices (which I particularly have no clue on what these are) are present in all those fried fowls.  All has been sooo dangerously good.

kfc siem reap branch

kfc siem reap branch

However, I would like to make it known to you that the taste of KFC  in Siem Reap, Cambodia is strange and totally different.  It lacks the tang and flavor of the savory fried chicken that you have been serving in other branches around the world.  They don’t even serve the flavorsome gravy!  I have to settle myself with the dreary tomato catsup.

The Siem Reap version lacks the indescribable satisfaction.  I just hope you would look into this and discontinue depriving the adoring Siem Reap populace on what supposed to be the true, authentic and scrumptious flavor of a KFC.

Your Equally Delicious Aficionado,

Neil

P.S. If you want me to check out the taste of your 11-spices-and-herbs-coated-chicken in London and Houston, I am but all willing to do that…Stay yummy like I do…

Kulang sa timpla.  Iba lasa.

Calling Out the Names of The Santos & The Santas

I just arrived early this morning from Siem Reap, Cambodia.  The flight going back to sunshine Manila was generally smooth with a couple of freaking turbulence.

This is totally different from the nerve rattling turbulent plane ride going to Siem Reap.  It was so shaky!!!  It was the mightiest gust of winds and deepest air pockets combined that I have ever experienced in all the flights that I had.  Our flight then was still at the end of the monsoon rains that flooded and shattered the whole Metro Manila for five long days.

It was so shaky me and my sister were already holding hands while the airplane hits the combination of massive cumulonimbus clouds.  What is so bad about it is that the madness did not last only for a couple of minutes, the turbulence and shaking happened for more than an hour.  Children inside the plain were all crying while adults are trying their best not to scream.

actress vilma santos as darna

actress vilma santos as darna

Instead of uttering expletives, I prayed hard and called out all the saints that I know to ask for their holy intercessions.   All the “Santos” and the “Santas” that I could recall, I called.  I even called for Santa Quiteria whom I don’t know.  What is so funny is  when I could no longer recall other names of Santos and Santas I called out the name of Santa Claus and Vilma Santos to help us with our journey!  The thought actually made me laughed and relaxed a little.

Nerbyoso! Muntik na ko mapa-ihi sa nerbyos at katatawa!

The Word of the Day is UMAY

Living in a scorching and humid tropical country, I love it when it rains.  Rain is like a sweet dessert after a damn hot meal.  But being subjected to constant raining for the past five days is too much.  It’s no longer sweet and pleasurable.  It’s already like the horrible sickening feeling you get after a nasty food binge.

Thus, my word of the day is “UMAY” pronounced as “ooh-mai” meaning cloy or cloying.  After raining for almost a week this has been my general feeling.  No thanks to typoon Maring and the monsoon wind for being so stupefying.

It’s already nakakaumay, umay-peg and umayness.  But for the sosyal, classy and ostentatiously wealthy the feeling is nakaka-cloy, cloying-peg and cloyingness.

stuck and stumped inside my unit due endless raining for the past 5 days

stuck and stumped inside my unit
due endless raining for the past 5 days

I definitely miss looking at the moon and at the stars.  And I hope the dark clouds would give us a break and the great sunshine would finally show up tomorrow.

Sana bukas umulan… Umulan ng pera…

A Day Trip To My Tho in Mekong Delta

Aside from the lip-smacking yet mellow food of Ho Chi Minh, another highlight that I consider in my recent trip to Vietnam was the exploration me and my colleagues did at My Tho, Tien Giang Province located in the Mekong Delta.

The site is not the typical destination a tourist would expect.  The body of water is not pristine.  It definitely is not for snorkeling. White sand beach is non-existent.  The grounds and terrain are not well manicured.  And there is no amber-sun-setting-photo-opportunity to grab. It is not your typical tropical paradise.

Mekong, Vietnam

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For me Melkong Delta being a tourist destination is a totally different animal.  Their comprehensive river channels boasts of its boats which ranges from elegant sampans to unpainted and crude lumbering cargo boats.  The surprisingly odorless dark waters of the canals seem to have lots of  intriguing tales to tell.  The captivating bodies of water makes this place interestingly remarkable.

The activities on land, on river banks and along the river channels are busy yet I felt relaxed, languid and unhurried.  I particularly like the dense palms and mangroves ruling the comprehensive swamps and channels.

We tasted honey from bee hives, were served with various tropical fruits, listened to Vietnamese folksongs, went on tiny sampans to be rowed through swamps and canals, ate coconut sweets and had lunch in which the main dish is the massive fish appropriately called “elephant ear”.

strong woman of vietnam

strong woman of vietnam

coconut candy maker... an exotic delight...

coconut candy maker… an exotic delight…

blue sampans perfectly compliments the color of brown water

blue sampans perfectly compliments the green palms and brown water

My overall trip to My Tho in Mekong Delta was fun, easy and leisurely yet indeed remarkable…

Relaks lang ang peg…