Monday, June 05, 2017

MORE ANGKOR

Some more of Angkor -
the mesmerising phenomenon 
of yore.











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Sunday, June 04, 2017

PREAH KHAN

Preah Khan

Preah Khan means ‘Royal Sword’. The temple is massive and majestic but now it is in a state of permanent decay. The usual happening of big trees damaging the structures (like vividly seen at Ta Prohm) and deterioration of sand stone by environmental factors like bacterial degradation as well as chemical decomposition of the stones are the two major causes of the present plight of not only the Preah Khan temple but also the whole lot of Khmer structures of yore.

The temple was built by a Hindu Khmer King to commemorate his victory over the Cham invaders in the year 1191. 

The Garuda holding the Naga - this is the motif repeated many times on the outer wall 


An arch with the key course of stones destabilised

A corridor

A Buddhist Stupa in the middle of the temple with  direct sunlight on it


A representation of male and female genitalia. All the temples have the Linga and the Yoni display



The purpose of this double storey structure with round pillars is unexplained. Below is another view of the same structure.



The tree has completely engulfed a part of the structure

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Majestic Grandeur of Angkor Wat

The Majestic Grandeur of Angkor Wat - Some usual and some unusual shots.














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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ta Keo Cambodia

Ta Keo

The Magnificence and uniqueness of the Khmer temples of the Angkor fame, is commendable. The powerful Khmer kingdom was instrumental in establishing a civilization in Indo-China / S E Asia central to the Vedic culture of ancient times.


This temple – Ta Keo, literally means ‘mountain temple’. And the mountain it represents the mythical mount Meru.  According to the Vedic cosmology the mount Meru is a sacred mountain situated at the centre of the universe. Ta Keo is without a roof just like a pyramid but not ending up in a vertex. Going up to the top tier via narrow and steep steps is like scaling a mountain peak itself. There are enough warning signs for the visitors to be careful while negotiating the steps. And some tourists find coming down the steps more troublesome as there is a real chance of tumbling down if one is not careful to keep balance by slightly leaning backwards.



Going up is arduous ....
... and coming down is equally torturous.

It was an enjoyable exercise anyway and I caught some mountain climbers on my camera.

I went up and came down too



After scaling the peak you deserve a shot.










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Friday, May 19, 2017

Cambodia Temples

Pre Rup, Banteay Samre, East Mebon, Neak Pean


Pre Rup temple

Banteay Samre temple

Banteay Samre

Ruins of East Mebon temples

Neak Pean


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shooting Angkor at Sunrise

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

The Angkor group of temples - the unmatched travel destination, is visited by more than two million tourists every year. Obviously, the Angkor group is the most photographed location. One feature of photographing the temples is shooting the Angkor Wat at sunrise. The silhouette of five spires and their golden hour reflection in the front pool makes it a surreal experience for a photography enthusiast. Shooting Angkor Wat at sunrise has become a part of the itinerary of almost every tourist.

You have to get up early in order to get a good spot to fix your tripod on. Those in the first row along the pond have the best chance of an uninterrupted photo session with the rising Sun. However, with the ever increasing tourist traffic there is no guarantee that someone will not disturb your tripod or poke a selfie stick right in front of your nose when you are about to catch the moment.



The morning I visited, there were approximately one thousand people waiting for the sunrise. There are no lights in the Angkor temples. Tourists have to walk around 500 metres in darkness to reach the pond edge. It is advisable to carry a small torch if your cellphone doesn’t have one.  

The Chinese are the worst tourists lacking etiquette and decency. They will just push others around and jostle to go in front. They don’t speak English and always yell at each other. They are noisy everywhere, be it a hotel lobby, a restaurant, or a tourist spot. And they don’t seem to care about discomfort or displeasure of others because they simply don’t look towards you after an offence. 

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Bac Ha Sunday Market



Bac Ha rural district of Vietnam is located in the northern highlands. Bordering China, the highlands are inhabited by ethnic tribes. One of the ethnic minorities is the Flower H’mong. They are Mongs – of mongoloid race, thought to have migrated from China. H’mong live in southern China, northern Vietnam, and Laos among others.


The H’mong have two distinct identities. The Red Hmong living in and around Bac Ha, and the Black Hmong around SaPa (in Ta van village where I stayed a few days). The Hmong dress in their own stitched clothes. Both Black and Red tribes have their distinct dress style. The Reds are more flashy and vibrant.

The Sunday Market   
Every Sunday there is a market organized for the rural people who sell almost all the commodities. From vegetables to meat, from soup bowls to farm tools and storage bins, from dog pups to buffaloes. From tobacco to sugarcane to traditional medicinal products, all find a place. Tobacco pipes are another attraction as is dresses, décor and finery.  The market is a fair like event with more women visible around both a sellers and buyers of things.

How to Go
A car (taxi) from SaPa (115 km) takes about 2.5 hrs to reach. I paid VND 2,000,000 (about 85 USD) for two-way journey, through picturesque landscape in mountains. We plied two different routes to and from Bac Ha. After crossing Lao Cai we took AH14 and returned via QL 70 (AH and QL being the highway classifications). I spent about 4 hrs in and around the market, photographing and relishing some local delicacies before visiting the Royal Palace of the erstwhile ruler of Bac Ha. It is a beautiful and quite mansion at the eastern end of the lake.




SOME PICTURES

Agriculture tools and storage bins on sale












Buffaloes on sale

Whiling away till a buyer comes
Pup Sellers
Vietnamese dogs are quite feroceous.





The lady selling traditional medicine ingredients




These youngsters smoking the traditional pipe


That's how they light the pipe. Tobacco is placed
on the small nozzle and a lighter does the job.

Wife Stealing
The Hmong have a peculiar custom called ‘wife stealing’. A H’mong man when in love with a woman will abduct her and hold her captive for three days. If she agrees to marry him he will approach her parents seeking her hand in marriage. Incidentally, this custom is also prevalent in many Indian momadic tribes. Seems it is customary in highlands to elope and / or abduct.  

With such beauties around who wouldn't dare an abduction?


Black H'mong



These Black H'mongs are in Ta Van village where I had a home stay.

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