Dyed chicks in Jakarta

Can you believe this?? I think my shock was a little disabling. We rounded the corner on a tuk tuk and came upon this scene only enough to capture a single shot before the traffic converged to block the view and we were whisked off. Inside the cage on the different levels are chicks dipped in various colored dye. I mean, as a child in Manila I think I found this sort of atrocity cute since I myself was party to the doom of several baby animals I made my mom purchase for me at the market. I guess it is a luxury to have this mentality of animal harassment (cruelty?)... … [Read more...]

Day Trip from Phnom Penh to Phnom Oudong

This trip was a 50minute motorbike ride to the outskirts of Phnom Penh on a very hot Sunday. This is a typical panoramic view of Cambodia in the North-South region Siem Reap - Sihanoukville: flat as a pancake dry and dotted with palm and coconut trees, etc. Elevations are revered spots and wats (pagodas) are usually constructed on top of them.These images of Buddha in various interpretations are not for idolising, such as Christians worship the images of the God. These images aim to inspire the appropriate mode of behaviour towards the personal achievement of enlightenment. It is an admired philosophy, especially during these modern fast-paced times, but its lack of appreciation for personal gains contributes to the detriment of Asian … [Read more...]

Market scene at Phnom Oudong

Notice the eggs to this seller's right? These are newly hatched Khmer delicacies (post-Khmer Rouge) sold only on the streets by a man pushing a barbecue cart, blasting a recording: "Eggs, they're good for you and yummy too". A small hole is cut into the shell and the egg is sucked out, mixed with lots of spices, stuffed back in, skewered and barbecued. I've seen it done, it actually works. I don't personally like the taste of these things, though I am a big fan of eggs.This couple has a barbecue stand, along with all the other barbecue stands selling all manner of meat. She is wrapping up my lunch purchase (chicken) in a lotus leaf. The ones roasting nearest is a stuffed frog-- ground pork or beef mixed with onions and serious spices.This … [Read more...]

Scene in Phnom Penh

My view from the treadmill at the gym. Running east towards the Mekong River (which is at the top of this photo) is Sihanouk Blvd. Independence Monument, commemorating the war dead and independence from colonial rule (France) in 1953, is at the intersection with Norodom Blvd. The parks on either side of the monument are hubs of activity.The street grid under French rule composed of wide main boulevards lined with trees. Fortunately the not-so-often wise leadership decided that this is an asset. The municipality has recently begun a spate of beautification projects around the city, making medians more inviting and family-friendly like this one. It's part of a wider effort at attracting tourism, as most visit the country for just three days-- … [Read more...]

Indonesia: Jogjakarta

Yogyakarta is the only province in Indonesia still formally governed by a precolonial Sultanate, the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. It's a center of classical Javanese fine arts and culture (batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows). This is a view of Mount Merapi outside our hotel window. It's been active for 10000 years and today is the most active as well as produces more pyroclastic flows than any volcano in the world. We started climbing the 345 steps to the Royal Tombs of Imogiri at the same time as this lady, and by the time we were done and ready to come back down she was just barely getting to the top with her load of 2 banana bunches and 6 bottles of water to sell. We bought all she had, exchanged sentences … [Read more...]

Indonesia: Borobudur

Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Central Java. It's got six square platforms topped by three circular levels, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues in various poses. Pilgrims begin their 3/4 mile journey by entering the eastern staircase. This base, or Kamadhatu, symbolizes where human beings are still bound by lust. They then walk clockwise around the galleries and up. Each level progresses towards enlightenment, with lower levels depicting bas reliefs of life on earth, with the range of sins of mankind. A guide is about 50000Rupiah (12300Rupiah/$1 at this time), and it's well worth it.Elaborate gateways to the next levels are guarded by the fearsome beast Kala. Each level up represents the … [Read more...]

Indonesia: Wayang Kulit

Wayang Kulit (wayang=show, kulit=skin, as in the leather the puppets are made of) is a type of shadow puppet theatre from the Indo-Malay archipelago. Its Javanese Hindu-Buddhist tradition has its origins in India. Hand-crafted leather puppets depict epic stories of the gods in shadow play. This artist was prepping the puppet show, at the Museum Sonobudoyo (Javanese archeology museum) on Jalan Trikora 6 at north alun-alun. The puppets are usually made of buffalo or goat hide and mounted on bamboo sticks. The best puppets are made of young female water buffalo parchment with curing time of almost ten years. A traditional Gamelan orchestra would accompany the story-telling. Their typical repertoire include an overture, travel and battle … [Read more...]

Indonesia: Making Batik

Batik is a resist dye technique with hundreds of years' history in Java. Since I wasn't with K when someone showed him how to batik, here's the general gist as I know it: A natural light-colored cloth is used to make batiks (synthetics or blends won't work). A rough sketch is made on the cloth as in the first photo. Then you paint wax on top of the areas you do not want to dye. This woman uses a tool sort of like a crude fountain(?) pen to take the dye to the areas she's drawn. When the paint has absorbed into the cloth it is allowed to dry, then a hot water bath is used to melt off the wax. Here's the finished product. It's a very thin cloth so it's beautiful framed with light shining from behind, such as daylight or if indoors then a … [Read more...]