Photo Hunt: Rock

Howdy!
In this week’s Photo Hunt I am reminiscing the time I traveled to Sri Lanka back in 2002. It was work-related but I had this good intention of mixing business and pleasure, so to speak. After the conference ended, I met up with my Sri Lankan friend for a week-long road trip!

One of the most memorable stops we had was a popular tourist attraction in Dambulla.
Rising about 200ms up the amazing green plains of central Sri Lanka is the gigantic, flat-topped rock called Sigiriya. Once a stronghold of Sri Lanka’s rogue King, its extraordinary beauty and historical and cultural significance have made it today a World Heritage Site. Very much like Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, it is the source of national pride of Sri Lankans.

Lonely Planet says it is not only one of the most impressive geological formations in the island-country of Sri Lanka, but also one of its greatest archaeological legacies. You can find more info here.

wordless wednesday sigiriya rock sri lanka

Unfortunately, as I have a bad case of vertigo, I did not dare climb up to the top 🙁 Instead, I took pleasure in exploring the royal gardens and lakes at the base of the rock as well as several ancient temple ruins. To this day, I regret not trying. And who wouldn’t be? The thousand-year old (perhaps older!) ceiling frescoes are out of this world and well preserved as if they were just done recently and the view from the top – breath-taking! If given another chance to make another trip – I’d surely re-visit Sigiriya and re-claim what I had missed!

photohunter7iq

Thank you, Google!

… for this lovely doodle.
And to those who remembered,  thank you.

The whole gang went Mexican tonight. Except for the missing piñata, el mariachi, and sombreros, it was almost like a real Mexican birthday feast. We had quesadillas, tacos, burritos, nachos, and fajitas. There were beers (they cannot be avoided) and, of course, frozen margaritas for the señorita!

Too bad Maymo’s battery, my lovely tablet that was sent to me by my in-laws for my birthday, ran out before the fiesta even began. There were no pictures to remember tonight, but my ever-so-wise husband said it all… that tonight’s celebration is remembered best in our hearts.

A day with Dylan

A blogger-friend from Manila recently came to the Penh for a visit. There’s excitement and, of course, this normal jittery feeling about meeting someone for the first time. Although we know each other though blogging – and clicked very well – for more than 3 years already, it was the  first time Dylan and I met face-to-face, so, really, I didn’t know what to expect. Luckily for me, my good friend PinayWife was also there but my coming late (stuck in traffic for over an hour)  didn’t help ease the jitters. It added more, to be honest that I considered wearing a brown  bag over my head.

So they – PinayWife and Jogels, also meeting for the first time – waited for me at the coffee shop while I was stuck in a traffic jam, slowly melting like ice cream under the baking sun, for what seemed like eternity. The moment I arrived at the meeting place and stepped inside,  almost in tears out of embarrassment (for being so mega-late), I saw two smiling faces and a pair of wide open arms waiting for a hug. Now at that moment snippet of a Whitney Tyson’s song played in my head… “… I wanna ruuuuuuun to you, woo-hooo….” Lol. That made me laugh; it also banished my nervousness, and put me at ease right away.

Dylan specifically requested that we take him to the UK motherships (lol) that he has heard us rave about. Well, even if it was hot and humid, and the UK mothership is a tuktuk ride across town, we did! We also had a grand time having ourselves photographed in the middle of secondhand restaurant equipment and supplies section of the Sakura thrift shop. To cap it all, we got ourselves some really nice stuff, like that enviable Christian Aujard black leather backpack that Dylan snagged for only a dollar or two.

Over lunch at our favourite Trasak Paem Restaurant at Street 63, it was difficult to stop laughing and sniggering about all the “poignant” topics we covered that day.

Dylan is so natural and uproariously funny! PinayWife and I enjoyed our time with him. I think he is destined for more poshness and wonderful things in the future, especially for the UFOs and the pelicans, lol. He promised to come back next time and, already, PinayWife and I know exactly what to do and where to go next time. Right, mamang and manay? 🙂

Birthday surprise

My husband and I were enjoying his birthday dinner, when, over a cup of tea, I was kinda forced to reveal to him (he was very persistent) my surprise gift.

I first gave out clues (dust, countryside, heat) and he looked at me quizzically with one eyebrow raised, thinking…

It’s not target shooting, is it? He asked.

Oh no, no, no, no… way better than that, I assured him.

When I finally let my secret treat out, he smiled broadly. Then I realised that I had made a good choice. Will tell you about it more in the coming posts but will leave you with this picture as a teaser.

Birthday kan Padaba (Mahal) Ko

After several weeks of being busy with the international women’s conference that I helped organise, I am finally free and back to my normal routine. I was relieved when the last of the participants left Phnom Penh on Nov 25, coinciding with my husband’s birthday. After sending them off, I didn’t waste time and immediately sprung into action and planned a simple dinner.

For our food, I decided to prepare my husband’s favourite. Nothing fancy, just his favourite samlor kari saramann, nom pang (local version of French baguette), and beer. In my mind, I was also debating whether I should bake or buy a birthday cake instead.

Cooking samlor kari saramann is a story in itself. It was easy to make as the recipe I used was taken from the cookbook that my husband bought for me months ago. However, selecting and preparing the ingredients for the curry paste is quite tedious. First in my to do-list was to get fresh ingredients from the market. Although I live in Tuol Sangkeo, Psah Boeungkengkang, for me, was the place to go. There, an array of fresh herbs and spices, such as lemongrass, coriander, ginger, garlic, shallots, chilli, and anise seed, greeted me. There were so many to choose from! I’m glad one ming (older woman) helped me out with my choices. Once the ingredients were selected and washed, these were pounded one after another to make a perfect curry paste. This task, I learned, required the strength of Wonder Woman to endure more than an hour of pounding in order to achieve the ideal consistency. I used a mortar and pestle made of stone, the one I ‘inherited’ from a Nepali friend who left Cambodia years ago. It’s really heavy, so you can imagine my ordeal. But, as I said, I love doing this so I went about the task merrily.

Originally, the recipe requires beef, but I substituted it with pork when I came home and found out there was no more beef in our fridge. Also, I added potatoes and string beans which are not in the original recipe just to add something filling in it.

After an hour or so of boiling and boiling… here’s the result of my labor of love…


After a hard day’s work, my husband came home and feasted on a steaming bowl of samlor kari saramann. Rich, savoury, spicy and creamy…

This dish is very popular especially at Cham (Khmer Muslim) and Buddhist weddings in Cambodia, served with either rice or nompang. Old folks, especially our landlady’s mum-in-law, told me that this dish tastes even better when served the next day.

Initially I was planning to bake a cake for dessert, but I thought that with the pounding and stirring of the kari dish, I wouldn’t have enough strength to do so. Against my better judgement, I bought a double-choco cake at Lucky’s. Bad move. It was dry and forgettable. I knew I should’ve made my own carrot cake topped with the special frosting that I successfully invented months ago. There’s always another time, my husband chirped. There goes my dear husband again… never demanding, always understanding. How lucky am I to have a husband who appreciates my efforts, especially in cooking! *lol*

Sure, the birthday dinner was nothing jaw-dropping or something, as some of you might be saying now. But hey, after being busy (especially me) and spending very little time with each other during those frantic weeks, the simple dinner was our ‘reunion of sorts’. It gave us back the missing closeness and connection making the night more memorable. It is certainly the kind of stuff we want to be included in our good times list.

Again, happy birthday, Mahal 🙂

Litratong Pinoy #36: (taga-) LINIS (Cleaner)

Humanga ako sa kalinisan ng kapaligiran, lalo na sa rural areas, sa Japan noong minsa’y nakabisita ako doon. Talagang seryoso nilang sinusunod ang pagiging clean and green. Sa syudad naman, napagawi ako sa Asakusa district ng Tokyo, kilala bilang entertainment district ng mga Hapon. Dito makikita ang maraming entertainment venues tulad ng mga parks, shopping arcades, pachinko parlors, traditional Japanese music and kabuki halls at meron ding Western opera, at iba’t-ibang klaseng strip shows/seedy clubs. Sa gabi ay nagkikislapan ang iba’t-ibang makukulay na ilaw at nakakabinging tugtog na nagmumula sa mga tugtog at barkers na nagsasapawan (halos mapigtas ang kanilang ugat sa leeg) upang manghikayat o mang-akit ng maraming customers.

Pagbalik namin sa umaga, ay ibang eksena ang bumulaga sa amin. Sarado ang halos lahat ng clubs at pachinko parlors, tahimik at may iilang turistang ang naglalakad at nagmamasid-masid.

taga-linis

Sa isang dako ay napansin ko ang mamang ito. Di ko akalain na ang siya pala ay taga-linis sa lugar na iyon. Parang Metro Aide sa atin. Ang kaibahan lang niya sa Metro Aide ay may pasan siya sa balikat ng dalawang drawer (gamit ang mahabang kahoy) kung saan nakalagay ang kanyang mga gamit-panglinis. Di rin halata ang kanyang dala-dalang walis at dustpan. Kung inyong mapapansin (please click to enlarge the pic) ay meron siyang parang prosthetic sa ulo para mag-mukhang nauupaw siya. Bahagi pa pala ito ng gimik sa Asakusa.

taga-linis close up

Photo Hunt #32: Ruin(ed)

These are just some of the ghost villas of Kep. Kep, in its heydays, was once a favourite holiday town of the French colonial masters and the Cambodian elites.

Kep villa ruins 1

Kep villa ruins 2

The villas fell into ruin during the 70s when the Khmer Rouge took over and systematically burned and destroyed all the villas and murdered its occupants. This is probably what the Khmer Rouge meant when they declared Year Zero. At present, some of the villas are occupied but most are abandoned and lying in ruins. Vegetation has set in covering the remnants but one can still see the grandiose details of the villas alongside bullet holes and burn marks. The villas are but mere reminders of the golden days of Kep, and, ironically, of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge regime that ravaged the entire country.

The first time I visited Kep was in 2002 and the sight of these decaying villas gave me shivers. To me, Kep, then, had a ghost-town feel to it. These days, however, Kep is undergoing a massive transformation. The once thick jungle is now slowly vanishing to give way to numerous constructions (hotels, bars, restaurants); villas being snapped up by local and foreign businessmen to refurbish into tourist accommodations, all in the name of “touristic revival”.

Oh, how I hate to see Kep transform into something like Sihanoukville.

P.S. Some scenes of the movie, City of Ghosts, which starred Matt Dillon, James Caan, and Gerard Depardieu, was shot in Kep.

Litratong Pinoy #15: Maalaala Mo Kaya?

70shair

Ang original na samahan ng mga Mister Suave (at ang kanilang kyut na kyut na mutya) Roxas City Chapter, dekada ’70!

At eto naman ang sagot ko sa mga tanong ni Teacher Julie:

1.. Ano ang paborito mong palabas sa TV? McGyver, The Highlander series, Analisa
2.. Sino ang paborito mong artista? Ano ang paborito mong pelikula? Julie Vega
3.. Ano ang paborito mong meryenda? Turon at coke
4.. Ano ang paborito mong babasahin? Funny Komiks at Pambata magazine
5.. Ano ang paborito mong lugar na pasyalan? Carol’s Square and Bazaar
6.. Sino ang iyong pers crush? Lyndon Valmoria
7.. Sino ang iyong best prend? Adonna Llames
8.. Sino ang iyong paboritong guro? Mrs. Diestro and Mrs. Magdalena Begaso
9.. Ano ang iyong paboritong laro? Game and Watch (octopus at Popeye) tsaka yung larong habulan na Monkey, monkey, Annabelle
10.. Meron ba kayong alagang hayop noon? Si Aringkingking (uso itong kanta nuon), Kagta, at si Lagsa, ang mga pangalan ng dalawang nahuli ay Ilonggo term for kagatin at habulin *lol*

Photo Hunt #19 – High

In 2004, my husband went on a cycling tour of western Europe starting from his native England, to France, Spain, Portugal and ending at the Rock of Gibraltar. He sent me this photo while he was on a pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago. This photo was taken in Cebreiro, Spain, in between Ponferrada and Sarria on the Camino de Santiago. It was a tough day for him – a full-day climb, 60 miles from Ponferrada to Sarria, with this hill in between. You can find more on his cycling tour here.