Monday, May 28, 2012

One Rainy Saturday Night

We went to a friend's house to have a mini gathering.

Owners of the house not on the pic

There should be the magic box to add drama to the mini gathering - on the bowl is adobo, a staple food for pinoys living abroad - err, at least in Thailand.

Yes, my buddies have agreed to meet one rainy Saturday for lack of something to do. That is, after raiding the mall for three consecutive nights, we decided to stay indoors and do something different. And since we consider ourselves the intellectual 'youth' with high opinions on politics and other events currently affecting the humanity, we whiled away the time by watching this:

We first thought of watching the latest episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya, but the trial won by a huge majority (like 4 of 5), so we tuned in to this. In fairness, the drama here is far better and 'real'. I had fun watching my favorite angry bird of a senator, Miriam Defensor Santiago, cut the Chief Justice short for not answering her question directly and objectively. I felt Senator Jinggoy Estrada's boredom, and I worried that he might have been experiencing a rise on his blodd pressure for he kept on holding the back of his neck. I can also recall how Senator Allan Cayetano treated the CJ with deference. For that, the former got my respect. There were other senators who did the examination but we got out of focus as the trial progressed. You can't blame us. It was too long, too boring, and full of unnecessary drama.

Last Wednesday, May 23, at the end of the CJs opening statement - which lasted for almost 4 hours - he arrogantly blurted the infamous line "and now the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines wishes to be excused". Then he walked out of the plenary without a word surprising everybody including his chief counsel Justice Cuevas. Senate President Enrile ordered, and I am guessing while he's controlling so hard not to have heart attack out of dismay, to lock all the doors to prevent the CJ  from going out of the building. The head of the senate sgt. at arms halted the CJ and his wife and this was what transpired:

CJ: Are you arresting me?
Sgt. at Arms: Sir, you know very well that in any court of law, the judge (and he was cut short)
Mrs. Corona: Is this martial law?

And the honorable general kept quiet after hearing this.

Mr. and Mrs. Corona were very lucky that we're not the ones stopping them. If we were, the conversation would have gone like this:

CJ: Are you arresting me?
Sgt. at Arms: Sir, you know very well that in any court of law, the judge (and he was cut short)
Mrs. Corona: Is this martial law?
Sgt. at Arms: No, this is martial arts!

Then we would karatedo the couple directly on the head so the CJ didn't need to feign sickness to be rushed to the hospital for we'll make sure it's to the morgue the ambulance would take them!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Playing Tomb Raider III

Other temples and places in Angkor Archeological Park:

Apart from Angkor Wat, another famous temple complex in Siem Reap is the Angkor Thom. This contains the Bayon Temple famous for the face carvings on each of its towers.
Another landmark in Angkor Thom is the elephant terrace which is primarily a wall with elephant carvings. Here, I am riding a stone elephant.

Here is the entrance to Ta Phrom. This temple somewhat has a mystical beauty because of the trees intertwined with the ruins. This gives a feeling that the ruins also sprouted together with the tres.

How this tree grew this big, with its roots hugging the walls of the temple, only the unfathomable way of nature could explain.

This is the Bantaey Srei, which is a few kilometers from the main Angkor Wat Complex. This is famous for its pinkish color because of the red soil used to built it and the intricate wall carvings around.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I had a dream

There are many ways of breaking a heart. Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream - whatever that dream might be.


- Pearl S. Buck

Playing Tomb Raider II : Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the largest temple complex in the world and a symbol of Cambodia. It, in fact, appears on their flag. It was so vast that it took us roughly 2 hours just to take photos at every amazing site we found. Just imagine how long it would have taken us had we hired a tour guide and checked every single detail and history behind each. It was tiring and yet rewarding. It may have served its time, but it still looks as grand.

When you go around Siem Reap, you'll notice a good number of establishments -  hotels, restaurants, shops - named or has a name bearing the name "Angkor". Even one of the local brew is named Angkor. This just shows how such name - which in English means "city" - plays an important role in Khmer life.

You can't get away with stealing someone else's ticket. The guards regulary checks your ticket and your face to make sure you're a legit.

When you visit the Angkor Archeological Park where the ruins sit, you've got to pay a whopping 20 usd for a day. This includes not only a visit to Angkor Wat, but also to other temples, one of which is Ta Phrom where the movie Tomb Raider was shot. However, to visit all the ruins is not possible in one day. That's why the park has a "package" of 40 usd for a 3-day visit, and 60 usd for 7 days. You also need to hire a vehicle to go around since the ruins are far from one another. You can take a tuk-tuk for 15 usd a day, or a van for 50 usd. We took the van because the weather wasn't friendly at that time. If you're more adventurous, you may also hire a bike for 3 usd and bike your way around. But then, if you chose this, just remember you've been warned. :)

Don't be deceived. This is only the entrance. From here, you are still around 500 meters away from the real thing.

On the way up to the main tower of Angkor Wat.

Intricate carvings on the walls.

The view from the tower - simply magnificent!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Playing tomb raider I

Nope, I haven't watched the movie nor have I any plans of doing so in the future. I just got reminded was just told that some parts of the movie were shot in the Angkor Wat Complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia - where I just had the privilege of visiting, backpacking style.

Going to Cambodia from Thailand by land was not such a hard feat. Well, every westerner seems to be doing that and I don't see any reason why a brown monkey like myself shouldn't/couldn't. So packed with little money, and a handful of courage, I tagged my friend along to join me on this adventure.

As I said, it's so easy to do. You just have to hop on a train or a bus (whichever you prefer), close your eyes, then you'll wake up to a different world (err, land I mean). Well, at least that's what most of the travel sites I consulted on the Internet said - take the bus from Bangkok to Arunyapratet (5 hours), go pass Thai immigration, go pass Cambodian immigration, take the bus from Poipet to Siem Reap (3 hours). But what the sites didn't exactly mention were the delays, the bumpy ride, the womanizing tour guides, the 40kph speed limit which took the trip longer than it should have been.

We knew that we'd be burning our butts on the bus, so my friend and I decided to equip ourselves with these neck supporters. OK, they didn't have anything to do with our butts, but these little darlings helped us feel comfy while we sleep the time away. My friend had a red pillow while I had mine in my trademark color pink.

We left Khon Kaen (a city somewhere in the north-east and in which we work) at around 1:30 am. We actually went to the bus station at around 10 pm and all the seats were booked. We're just lucky to have squeezed in the last trip. Why we hadn't thought of reserving tickets earlier, I'm still figuring out up until this moment - Flighty flighty us.

We reached Bangkok after 6 hours (7:30) and raced our way (since we didn't have much time to lose) to the ticketing office of Air Aran Pattana which would take us to Aranyaprathet where the border market or Talat Rongklue is located. That means another 5 hours of travel.

We arrived at the border at around 12:30. We were starting to get a little tired and hungry. Good thing I packed several sandwiches because I knew we'd be spending much of our time on the road and food may not be readily available. Later my friend would complain that all she had on that day were sandwiches. Not being a heavy eater myself, I just smiled and stashed yet another sandwich on her hand to gulp down.

I have learned about touts on the Internet, so we managed not to get involved with any of them. We just walked our way to the immigration, which is, interestingly, quite a breeze save for the long queue  and people who do not have a concept of falling in line.

That's the Thai border over there. And this is me in my unglamorous travel outfit.

There's Cambodia waving her hand.

Once we passed through the Cambodian immigration, we were asked to wait for the free shuttle bus that would eventually take us to the International terminal. I didn't know what this meant at first, but as soon as we arrived at the station, I realized that the terminal is meant only for the foreign tourists. I would have wanted to take the local bus and feel how it's really like to live the Cambodian rural life. But like little children enticed with the piper's music, we just followed where the guides led us. The 9 usd ticket price for a 3-hour trip (or so we thought) to Siem Reap was fair enough.

The promised 3-hour trip was extended to almost 6 hours. They specified the travel time but not when the bus would leave. We ended up waiting for more than 2 hours for the driver to turn on the a/c and half an hour to ignite the bus and go.

Yes, we finally arrived in Siem Reap at past 8, contented though worn out. We beat the road, and our energy was refilled by the thought of this sight waiting for us to marvel at - Tomb Raider within our grasp.

Monday, May 14, 2012