Photo Hunt 080: Ooooooh, kite!

I’m excited about this week’s theme because this year we’ve been flying kites the whole summer!

It started out as a class project in my husband’s class and became a regular weekend activity with the kids. My husband made a total of three big kites and several small ones, all handmade from locally sourced materials. You can find the whole story (click the link) here.

Two fled kites and one delta kite. Love the vibrant colours! They are approximately 3ms wide and 1.5m long.

First test flight at a reclamation area south of Monivong just before the Chhba Ampov bridge.

First test-flight. SUCCESS!
Early morning at Kien Svay.

And my favourite photo of them all was when we flew our kite under the sundog glory!

There goes the mini-delta, looking like a worm beneath the arc.

It made me go “Oooooooooh!”

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Photo Hunt 078: Hands

Storm Gaemi has landed in Phnom Penh today and it’s been raining non-stop. We are bracing for more rains over the weekend. I hope the it doesn’t rain too much, otherwise, some parts of the city will be under water again.

So, when the weather’s cool and rainy, all I want to do is lay in my bed with a thrilling and very engrossing book (left, it is included in Oprah’s Book Club’s picks in September 2000) on my hands while listening to the sound of the raindrops; that I almost forgot to post my Photo Hunt entry this week.So without further ado, let’s go to the photo now – here is my entry:

Children as young as the ones in the picture learn the basic Khmer hand gestures. Please note that this photo was taken by my brother, JEDAiMAGES. Published with permission.

Khmer classical dances are characterised by slow, graceful movements. To achieve this perfection, it requires rigid techniques that demand flexibility and control of movements.

According to this site:

In classical dance the movements require a command of techniques, which demand flexibility, accuracy, and control of movements. With fingers curved backwards, an arching spine, bent knees, and toes flexed upwards, the fully grounded dancer moves with precise balance and divine grace.

To those who dream of becoming classical dancers, they train at a very early age.
They perform exercises that the joints in their hands become very flexible. Watch how they curve their fingers when watching Cambodian classical dances. Dancers make these gestures for hours and hours. It’s part of what makes classical dance so special and unique and difficult to perform. (Source)

I found a video showing the four basic hand gestures of Khmer classical dance. These hand movements are used combined with dozens of postures and movements in a dance. Here’s the video, hope you’ll find it informative:

YouTube Preview Image

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Photo Hunt 077: Escape

Today, at the Barcamp Phnom Penh, I spent the whole day wearing my geek hat. It’s a big gathering of Internet and technology geeks from near and far at the University of Puthisastra. I think it is also a collective excuse to wear our geek pride in our sleeves and escape to geek heaven.

Alrighty, geeks. Follow the sign.

Group pictures from here on…

Live blogging and tweeting is the order of the day.
A lot of participants like this. Btw, coffee there is free-flowing as well.

Some more pictures from the Barcamp Phnom Penh Facebook Page:

Nexus-7-Front-ViewAnd while BarCamp Phnom Penh is sort of a convention of geeks, hackers and techno-preneurs, I am not surprised to see that a lot of the participants are owners of the latest models of gadgetry – smartphones, tablets (like this one on the right), laptops, as well as digital cameras, both the point-and-shoot and the kick*ss DSLRs used by professionals. Looking at my trusty, old point-and-shoot digicam and AcerOne laptop, I feel so inferior in the sea of tablets, DSLRs, and smartphones. Lol. I want one similar to this.

Eventhough I have this great interest in technology and in how people use and get benefit from it (I was even involved in a rural ICT Project in the country), it is only the first time today that I attended the BarCamp Phnom Penh. I did receive invitations since its first event but somehow I didn’t get to participate. I was happy to meet a few bloggers and people in my Facebook and Twitter lists IRL. Today, I shook hands with a few of them whose names I only attach mental images of, like Bun Tharum and Santel Phin of Khmerbird.com.

For more interpretations of the theme “escape”, please head over to the Photo Hunt‘s main page.  Please click the link or the logo below. Thank you.

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Photo Hunt 075: Stuck and Sports

Today our themes for PhotoHunt are “stuck” and “sports”. Luckily, I managed to find photos that fit these themes. These were taken some three years ago when I surprised my husband on his birthday with a half-day ATV-riding adventure in the countryside.

Here is the birthday boy smiling triumphantly after crossing the old rickety bridge behind him.

Oops, a little trouble here. Crossing the small canal proved to be tricky – the wheels got stuck in the sticky mud and my husband needed help to get him out.

So here’s what we saw. The charming village… the friendly faces… the paddy fields… and the palm trees that dominate the landscape.

Notice the holes on the tree trunk? Our guide said those are bullet holes from KR era.
The Pajero of the countryside.
Verdant paddy ricefields as far as the eyes can see.

ATV-riding is one of the outdoor sports I was so keen at trying for the longest time– and when I finally did, I was not disappointed. I loved it! I haven’t driven a motorcycle in my life but the ATV bikes were easy to drive 🙂 Some parts of the terrain were wet and muddy from the previous night’s rain so I ended up dirty – but that’s just part of the F-U-N!

This is just an hour into the adventure and I was already caked in mud. How fun!

It was an exciting adventure. There is no better way to enjoy and discover the charm of rural Cambodia, the other side of the country that not many tourists, or even expat residents, get to see. Highly recommended!

For more photos involving “stuck” and “sports”, please click the logos below 🙂

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Photo 074: QUIET. Please.

Before I proceed with my post, I want to tell you that the following photos and the history they stand for are horrifying and that you might find them disturbing.

Choeung Ek commune is about 15kms outside of Phnom Penh and has a deceiving quiet rural charm.  This town holds a secret of a dark, violent past – it is where one of the infamous killing fields are located.These are photos of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. This was the terminal point of most of the prisoners of the infamous S21 Detention Centre, also known as Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide Crimes. Prisoners who were held captive at S21 were taken to Choeung Ek Killing Fields where they were bludgeoned to death and their bodies dumped in more than a hundred  shallow, mass grave sites there. Out of the estimated 1.7million killed during the Khmer Rouge rule, about 17,000 were believed to be killed and buried here in Choeung Ek.

Entering the site, a towering Buddhist stupa greets the visitors. I instantly noticed that the surroundings is cloaked with an eerie silence.

Encased in the stupa are skulls of the thousands of men, women, and children who were executed here and this structure serves as a memorial to them. Every year a special ceremony is held at Choeung Ek. Monks were brought in to pray for each and every soul that were so savagely murdered.

As we followed the path, there was a reminder for us to remain quiet as a show of respect. Only the sounds of the occasional crickets and the rustling of leaves and footsteps can be heard.

Walking  on the grounds where you know the mass graves are  is sad and eerie and there were a lot of signs that could not be ignored.

Women and children were stripped off their clothes before they were killed and thrown into these shallow sunken graves.

Babies and small children were smashed against tree trunks – my heart sank at the horrifying thought.

One of the Killing Trees in Choeung Ek. The sign says: Killing tree against which executioners beat children.

And over a little further some more  chilling reminders…

Loud communist propaganda music were played in the killing fields at night to drown the deathly screams and cries of the victims. It was very quiet when I visited but I couldn’t help but imagine the screams and cries and what went through in the victims’ minds in their last moments.

I’ve been living here in Cambodia for more than a decade now and this is the first time I went to Choeung Ek. Visiting Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng is not for the faint-hearted. I agree it is important to understand history but, I swear, I will never set foot on that place again. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching experiences I’ve ever had.

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Photo Hunt 073: Chocolate

My husband and I are chocolate fiends and we are both determined to satisfy each and every chocolate craving. One time we dined out at a fancy restaurant for a fancy meal but we went  home extremely dissatisfied with the chocolate dessert. So on our way home,  we were talking about how much we miss our mothers’ home-cooked meals and desserts. My husband mentioned about the chocolate treat his mum used to make them and he could not stop thinking about it the next day. It was basically a chocolate fridge cake of sorts. It was his favourite, his mouth watered at the very mention of it (me, too), so he wanted to make some pronto 🙂

I remembered a refrigerator cake recipe so I took out the recipe book, Muffins & Bakes, that my mum-in-law gave me for Christmas and, what do you know, the recipe was there! So here it is, our very own chocolate fridge cake!

photo hunt chocolate
Chocolates are like little pieces of heaven on earth.

Our version of fridge cake didn’t look as nice as the pictures in the recipe book, but believe me – it’s oh-so-Y-U-M-M-Y and oh-so-sinful!  It’s the perfect chocolate dessert – rich, chocolate-y, and fruity.

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Photo Hunt 072: CAN

We have two dogs at home and they are fun and wonderful companions. We love them to bits! Max and Joe keep each other company when my husband and I are at work. They get along most of the time – they play, they guard the house against C-A-T-S and other unfamiliar faces, and most of all, they get into mischiefs together!

So here’s a photo I took of them two years ago. I remember being really mad at them when, coming home from work, I saw my favourite Chuck Taylor shoes being chewed apart by my canine companions. I instantly meted out a two-hour “detention” for them outside the house.

CAN we come in nao, pleeeeeeeze, Mum?
CAN we come in nao, pleeeeeeeze, Mum?

But only after about five minutes into detention, I heard a frantic scratching at the door. I checked what was going on and these two “remorseful faces” were staring back at me.

Do these faces look remorseful?
Do these faces look remorseful?

I easily fell into the trap, lol. But something did tell me that these dogs thought my shoes were well worth all the trouble!

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Photo Hunt 070: Ooooooo!

I’m not sure if my entry fits the theme this week but I’m posting anyway. These are some of the “Ooooooo” photos my husband and I took of the double sundogs from our kite-flying last week. Sundogs and photos of sundogs are exciting!

Isn’t that an “Oooooo!” moment  right there for me?

Totally! My first sundog sighting and a rare double at that. Ooooo!
Totally! My first sundog sighting and a rare double at that. Ooooo!

I love how my husband captured the double halo rings and still managed to put me in the frame. That and a silhouetted me gave it a supernatural dimension, did they not?

And here’s one I took of my husband and brother while preparing to fly the kite.

A rare moment captured here.
A rare moment captured here.

Incredible sight! What does that remind you of?

Holy cow!  A big eye in the sky!
Holy cow!  A big eye in the sky!

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Photo Hunt 069: Flats in Kampot

These are French-styled Khmer flats that are for sale or rent down on the southeast coast of Kampot. These flats are unbelievably {expensive} as they are right in the middle of the town facing Kampong Bay river.

The Kampot riverside is lined with pretty French colonial flats that have, more often than not, shophouses on the ground floor.
The Kampot riverside is lined with pretty French colonial flats that have, more often than not, shophouses on the ground floor.

My brother took this photo during a visit to Kampot last year and he gave me permission to post it here after my fruitless search for an entry that fits this week’s theme.

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Photo Hunt 068: Sunbathing diva

Time for another comeback at Photo Hunt! Here’s my entry this week.

My dog is a sun-worshipper!

My Dogspot, a blog about my pet dogs, Max and Joe.
This photo originally appeared on My Dogspot, a blog about my pet dogs, Max and Joe.

When not sulking or moping in one corner of the house, you can find Max out there in our veranda, quietly enjoying the sun and the breeze. She is turning six this year. Every morning, I pick up heaps of her fluff from the floor. Brushing time with her also yields lots of fluffs that I can already make a small pillow out of them. I kid you not. If she’s not fluffy then I don’t know what is 😛

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