Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Angkor - The Crowd

The next few pictures are what you don't normally see in books and magazines - the crowd visiting Angkor. I find them quite interesting.

How to Plan Your Vacation?

It will not be an understatement to say that people today, irrespective of their age, have learnt the fine art of multi-tasking between their professional, personal, and social lives. However at the end of the day, these individuals are so tired that they are not left with any time for themselves or their loved ones.

This is the reason why a break is necessary. It is important to change the daily routine and go in for a vacation to some exotic location. Taking a vacation allows an individual to get away from their work pressure and enjoy themselves, sans any worries.

Keep these factors in mind People take vacation depending upon their schedules and amount of time, which they can spare. A vacation could last for up to several months to a few days depending upon the feasibility and preferences. Some people may choose to go for exotic, international locations while some may prefer indigenous destinations for taking a vacation, depending upon their budget.

Planning the budget in advance is an extremely important part of taking a vacation. People need to determine well in advance what kind of a vacation can they afford and the duration of the time.

Bond with your kids on vacations Another important aspect of planning a vacation is to make special preparations, well in advance in case the individual is traveling with little kids. Taking a vacation with your kids can prove to be a great way to bond with the little ones while providing the kids a chance to enjoy themselves and discover the new places while they are still young and build memories, which can be cherished for life.

There are some special arrangements, which need to be made in case your little children are traveling along. Parents need to make sure that the place is safe for children and the climatic conditions are suitable as well.

Travel light In case, individuals choose an overseas destination for their vacation, they need to pay special attention to their luggage as well. It is not an easy task to carry around a large number of heavy suitcases during the trip. Having to tug along large cases of luggage throughout is probably the last thing that any individual would like to do while on a vacation trip.

Thus, it is better to pack in the required luggage sensibly. People should include only necessary luggage, such as clothes, shoes, camera, money et al in their luggage rather than carrying along half of the home's belongings with them while on the vacation.

Choose the perfect vacation destination It is also extremely important to choose the right kind of vacation destination. In case, an individual feels dizzy at great heights or becomes seasick easily, it would not be a wise idea to choose a trekking trip or a beach vacation respectively. The trick is to choose a location which is different from the current geographical situation and which can provide great fun and a relaxed atmosphere for vacation.


Costa Rica, South Africa make list of top 10 'ethical destinations

In an effort to get travelers off the beaten path and support destinations in developing countries, a group called Ethical Traveler has published a list of the "10 best ethical destinations."

The organization said in a statement that many countries "are making noble attempts to preserve their natural assets, create a user-friendly infrastructure, and build an economy where their citizens share the benefits of tourist revenue. By bringing our commerce to such places we encourage their efforts, and inspire neighboring countries to support these values as well."

To create the list, Ethical Traveler looked at environmental protection, social welfare and human rights in the world's developing nations. The honorees on the Ethical Traveler's list, in alphabetical order, are Argentina, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Namibia, Nicaragua, and South Africa.

The organization used various resources to make the determinations, including data collected by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network; progress made by countries in reducing infant mortality rates as measured by UNICEF; and reports on civil liberties and human rights from sources like Amnesty International and Freedom House.

Monday, July 28, 2008


The main purpose of visiting Siem Reap is to see Angkor - the famous complex of temples built by the Khmer kings more then a thousand years ago. It is recommended to do some reading up before the visit, as the temple complex is huge, and it is easy to get lost. However, I decided to leave my experience as raw as possible, so kept the readings to the minimal.

Seeing the temples for the first time is really overwhelming. The scale and sheer size of the structures is awe-inspiring. Just try to imagine how these structures were built without machinery, the will power and determination it must have taken. The complexity of the planning and design is really intriguing. The beauty and artistry of the carvings leaves one speechless. 

There's plenty of material on the Web on Angkor, and countless books on the subject. I will just post some of my favourite pictures here.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is one of the grandest of the Khmer temples. There are lots of visitors any time of the day, so it is difficult to get a quiet moment to slowly enjoy the visit. To really appreciate it, you need to spend days. During my short visit, the storm clouds were gathering so it was a bit of a rush. Really need to go back one day.

As I was leaving Angkor Wat, I came across this monk who was on his way to the temple. Angkor Wat is still used as an actual place for worship.


Angkor - Sculptures and Carvings

The sculptures and carvings at Angkor are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The carved wall murals depict everyday life as well as epic events and wars during the kingdom's life time. To me these are the real treasures of Angkor, but sadly due to the sheer number of visitors they are slowly deteriorating.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Siem Reap - Pub Street 2

One of the most popular pubs on Pub Street is Angkor What ? It is packed every night. The walls are covered in graffiti, and guests are welcomed to leave messages on the walls, tables, chairs, everywhere !

Angkor What ? has a frat house vibe, and attract mostly the younger crowd - most likely frat boys and girls on their break from Uni - intent on having fun. In keeping with the communal spirit, you can order the beer served in a spitoon. Everyone drinks from the same spitoon with straws.

Siem Reap - Pub Street

Unsurprisingly, Siem Reap has a lively nightlife. Those millions of tourists need places to go at night, and there is no shortage of night spots and drinking holes here.

One great thing about Siem Reap is that most of the night spots are concentrated in one place - the Pub Street. Here you will find all kinds of pubs, cafes and restaurants serving Western fare like steaks and hamburgers to local Khmer food. Khmer hot pot seems to be very popular with the tourists. The twist is that besides the usual stuff, they serve exotic meat such as snake, crocodile, ostrich, etc.

The Red Piano is a very popular cafe pub - Angelina Joli used to hang out here when she was filming Tomb Raider.

We met 4 fellow Malaysians on the trip. 4 lovely girls from Kuala Lumpur. 2 of them are actually from Sarawak. It's a small World ! From left - Connie, YC, Nicole and Tiffany. I know they've been waiting for this post, so here goes !

The World Lounge is their favourite haunt on Pub Street. It's a nice and cosy cafe pub, great for lounging around, watching the World go by. The beer is really cheap - only US 75 cents per mug.

One of the many Khemer Restaurants in Pub Street.

Siem Reap - French Quarters

Cambodia used to be a French Colony, a part of the French Indochina Empire. Like Vietnam, you can still see this Colonial history in the architecture.

In Siem Reap, this is most obvious in the French Quarters, where the old shophouses with French Colonial design are very well preserved. This area has become more of a tourist trap, with lots of pubs, lodges, cafes, etc.

The Siem Reap Old Market is also located here. It is a huge complex selling everything from souvenirs, t-shirts, and the usual tourist paraphenalia - to everyday items like pots and pans, household essentials, etc. Even monks shop at this market, as you will see. There is also a wet market right in the middle of the complex. It is rather dirty and smelly, so only recommended for a quick visit.