Monday, January 30, 2012

La Residence Hotel and Spa, Hue Viet Nam

The Markets of Siem Reap- Tourists Galore

Siem Reap was the capital of ancient Cambodia. It is now the capital of the Angkor region and a very popular tourist region. There are 167 hotels in the city. There are many market areas- Night Market, Old Market, New Market. Most sell similar goods, many scarves, jewelry, carvings, souvenirs for tourists. The scene is crowded and colorful. There are many people in the streets. There are people hawking their wares. A new phenomenon is a fish pedicure. Fish eat the dead skin off your feet.I had never seen that and then understood the signs I had seen which read NO PIRANHAS!! Not for me, thank you. I did buy scarves for myself and gifts though.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Great Lake of Cambodia- Happy Lunar New Year!!

The Tonlé Sap also known as the Great Lake of Cambodia is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia.The Tonlé Sap is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.The Tonlé Sap is unusual for two reasons: its flow changes direction twice a year, and the portion that forms the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. From November to May, Cambodia's dry season, the Tonlé Sap drains into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh. However, when the year's heavy rains begin in June, the Tonlé Sap backs up to form an enormous lake.There are many villages of boat houses on the lake. Many fisherman and their families live there. Some live in basic conditions: some have flat screen TV's bigger than mine! There are floating schools, churches, telephone towers, generators. The communities are generally basic and fresh drinking water is a luxury for a few of the villages. Now in the dry season the sediment in the water makes it very brown but we saw many children swimming, even though there were signs saying not to swim. Today was the Lunar New Year and many homes were decorated and had people celebrating with family parties. Happy Lunar New Year to you!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ta Prohm or Trees Grow in the Temple

Jayavarman VII embarked on a massive program of construction and public works in the 12th century. After the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century, the temple of Ta Prohm was abandoned and neglected for centuries. When the effort to conserve and restore the temples of Angkor began in the early 20th century, the École française d'Extrême-Orient decided that Ta Prohm would be left largely as it had been found, as a "concession to the general taste for the picturesque." According to pioneering Angkor scholar Maurice Glaize, Ta Prohm was singled out because it was "one of the most imposing [temples] and the one which had best merged with the jungle, but not yet to the point of becoming a part of it". Nevertheless, much work has been done to stabilize the ruins, to permit access, and to maintain "this condition of apparent neglect."

Cambodia- Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, a UNESCO Hertiage Site, is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. It is the world's largest religious building. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors, last year almost 3 million people visited the site.We woke up at 4 AM to see it at sunrise along with hundreds of others. The carvings were intricate and stunning, depicting Hindu stories of battles of the gods. The size and breadth of the artistry is impressive. It is an amazing place to see!!

Western Australia- Historic Albany

Our visit to historic Albany in Western Australia took us through the great Southern forests, through Walpole and Denmark. We stopped to walk among the giant tingle trees and you see us pictured above in the roots of one of them. We visited Tree Top Walk and walked 40 meters above the ground!! Founded in 1826. this beach-side town evolved along historical trade routes around Princess Royal Harbor or should I say Harbour? and King George Sound. There are several beautiful beaches with fabulous surf in the area. We tried them all!! Albany was a whaling town and the last whaling boat did not stop until the late 70's! The brig Amity is open for people to see as well as a several historical buildings including a schoolhouse. Western Australia is such a laid back and friendly place to be. We really enjoyed our stay. Everyone was so nice. Remember how it was to walk into a store and have someone come up and ask if they can help you? And mean it?? People are like that all the time. I got a cell phone since we rented a car and would be driving over 3000 kilometers. Jeff, the assistant manager at the Mercure Hotel Perth, helped me set it up. When my credit card info would not work, he took out his own credit card and charged the minutes to his own card!! Would this happen in the USA??

Friday, January 20, 2012

Singapore- Multicultural City/State

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We had a whirlwind tour of Singapore but fit so much into a short time thanks to our expert guide Patrick who was like family by the time we left!! Made up of 75% Chinese, 17% Malay and 7% Indian, Singapore teaches English as a first language in its schools and then your own cultural language as a second language. We visited Little India, Chinatown and the Malay section of Singapore as well as the biggest Orchid Garden in the world. We saw a wonderful art exhibit at the Singapore Art Museum as well as several malls where there are so many upscale stores we wondered how people can afford to shop there!! Norm went to a war museum while I shopped and went on the internet. We walked and walked around the town, seeing the architecture- many skyscrapers!- and shops, watching the people and how they live. It's a clean, easy to negotiate city. The subway is the way to travel!! Real estate is expensive. Owning a home is prohibitive. But for the traveler, it's a great, clean and safe place to come for a few days!! The trip is not complete without having a Singapore Sling at the original Raffles Hotel pictured above where the drink was originated!! Be prepared for sticker shock. The price is exorbitant!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Western Australia- The AWESOME Natural Bridge and Gap

I was most impressed, however, by the visit to Natural Bridge and Gap which had stones over a million years old that are also found in Antarctica, proving that Australia and Antarctica were once connected. In fact, Australia is moving further north 5 centimeters a year. These pictures cannot do justice to the grandeur and beauty of the scene. I know this place will inform my art when I come back. I have already started some preliminary sketches and mock-up collages. I look forward to sharing the new work with you when it is completed in the spring/summer of 2012.

Western Australia- Perth to Margaret River

We loved Perth, the sunny and delightful capital of Western Australia, and left to travel west to Margaret River, known for its beaches and wineries. Norm found great surf and we found three great caves. Pictured is Lake Cave where we walked 500 steps down to see great formations. At the Leeuwin Lighthouse we saw where the Indian and Southern Ocean meet. The landscapes are beautiful, the people are delightful and the lifestyle is easy. Australia is a great place to vacation! when we were here in 1998, our dollar was stronger and went further. Today things are very expensive. A bottle of Coke is 3.50!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Arriving in Australia

After traveling for over 36 hours, we finally arrived in Perth, Western Australia. We left our house at 7 AM on Monday morning and Arrived at Perth airport on Wednesday morning 7:30 AM. We actually flew on 3 planes for 27 hours. Perth is far away!! But I must say, the trip was not at hectic or grueling as I expected and I thank American Eagle and Cathay Pacific Airlines for that. Part of One World Air, they made the trip seamless. We checked our bags straight through from Philadelphia to Perth and they arrived with us. We also made all the flights which took off on time. The seats had leg room and the service was exceptionally friendly and considererate. We ordered kosher food on all flights and got it. I cannot tell you howe many times we haven't received it when we've ordered it. There were many movies to choose from for in-flight entertainemnt so I got to see several movies and read a book and a half!

Perth, Australia's sunniest capital, is a great town of over a million people in Western Australia. It boasts one of the largests inner city parks in the world and has 19 beaches in the metropolian area. When we got off the plane it was a lovely summer day and the expected temerature was 90!!

The Mercure Hotel is located in the heart of the city, walking distance to the Hay and Murray Street Malls, The Art Gallert of Perth, The Western Australia Museum,State Library, and several other major attractions. On the first day, we went to the Art Gallery and the musueum.I have somephotos but cannot upload them from this computer. I will do so at a later date becasue the work was outstanding and I want to share it with you!!

The next days we visited beaches which were glorious- clean water, great surf. Many kite surfers. I also have pictures to share later.

Australia is amazing!!