Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The 1000 Linga adventure

Nestled on top of Kulen mountains is another treasure in Cambodia. We drove for about an hour and a half from Siem Reap through windy roads to reach the top. With such sights, greenery and bird calls, time just flew by!

windy road to Kulen mountains
Windy road to Kulen mountains
Over not-so-safe bridges to Kulen mountains
Over not-so-safe bridges
Our van was indeed driven over this bridge to and fro. I had some special respect for the driver after this one.

To reach the 1000 Lingas in Kulen mountains
To reach the 1000 Lingas in Kulen mountains
 But the water was in full spate and we were unable to see the Lingas in their glory.

But the drive was so worth it to see the river meandering through the forest in Kulen mountain
But the drive was so worth it to see the river meandering through the lush forest in Kulen mountain
After focusing on the river for a bit, i was able to see the dark bumps under water which are the Lingas
After focusing on the river for a bit, i was able to see the squarish dark bumps under water. These are the Lingas.


http://bemyguest.com.sg/tours-activities-things-to-do/Cambodia/Siem%20Reap/5572/The-Valley-of-a-1000-Lingas-Visiting-Kbal-Spean-in-Siem-Reap-Cambodia


 This place is named the 1000 Lingas, where Linga denotes Shiva, one of the three major Indian Gods but then, the guide told us that there were more than 1000 lingas under the water. There is also a lying down pose of Vishnu, another Indian God. It was constructed to imitate Ganga, the holy river of India. Having more than 1000 lingas is supposed to cleanse the water and rid of all the sins of the people and to irrigate the fields with the blessings from the Almighty. The guide said that no one knows who actually commanded the work to be done or when it was made or by whom.

People are not allowed to wet their feet, walk over or take a bath on the 1000 Lingas- That would be disrespecting the Gods. But there is two fold waterfall downstream that the people can enjoy the blessed water. It was quite surprising to see that despite that fact that there was just a small rope and a small sign saying that people were not supposed to swim there, there was absolutely no one trespassing. The water was crystal clear and tasted good. (You are allowed to drink the water - that is like prasadam/ theertham)

The holy water from the 1000 Lingas blesses the people who take a bath in the waterfall
The holy water from the 1000 Lingas blesses the people who take a bath in the waterfall
Kulen waterfall
The larger, and relatively unsafe but amazing waterfall where we had a wonderful bath
The rickety bridge experience at Kulen mountains
The rickety bridge experience at Kulen mountains
N for Not -so-safe bridge 
Roasted Frogs, street food in Cambodia
Roasted Frogs, street food in Cambodia
There is lotus all around in Cambodia. I am moving here.
There is lotus all around in Cambodia. I am moving here after I retire.
Cute little girl hard at work.
Cute little girl hard at work.
We also had a chance to see the Buddhist temple on top of the Mountains. It was nicely perched on top of a hill.

Naga - the mighty snake depicted almost everywhere in the place of handails in Cambodia
Naga - the mighty snake depicted almost everywhere in the place of handails in Cambodia. Makes me wonder how much they revered or feared snakes.
Huge Buddha on top of the mountains
Huge Buddha on top of the mountains

Buddha on top of mountains
The temple nicely perched on top of the hill.  
View from the top of the hill
What a view from the top of the hill
Resting place when we reached the bottom
Resting place when we reached the bottom

 The 1000 Lingas was not on top of my must-visit places when compared to Bayon and Ankor Wat in Cambodia. But i happened to see a Discovery program and it was so impressive that i had see this place as well. Cambodia is one of the much-visited places by Koreans. Infact, during the Chuseok holidays(Korean Thanksgiving) that we had visited Cambodia, we constantly heard Korean everywhere. There were even Korean-friendly hotels, Korean food and even North Korean specialty restaurants. Looks like I have a tight bond with Korea :D






Sunday, October 12, 2014

Itaewon Festival

Every day is a festival in Seoul. There are festivals for a particular flower when it blooms, festivals for the seasons, for foreigners, and many many more! Festivals are also celebrated to introduce the people to a particular area / museum / monument that has been recently open to public. Pretty good tactics!

Itaewon is the Foreigner area in Seoul. It is conveniently in the middle of Seoul. Close to City Hall, the palaces and the Financial districts yet only a bridge away from Gangnam and other trendy areas. A stroll into the main street in Itaewon will introduce you to the many tongues of the world. It is a place where there is a bit more English usage and one of the places where you are sure to get groceries from around the world. In the mood to try exotic food today? Tough enough to bar-hop through the night? Itaewon is the place to be. This weekend is the Itaewon Global center festival. It was just the place to be for a party!!!

The main street was blocked for traffic and it had the big stage with pyrotechnics and some cool music! Good way to introduce upcoming stars :)

Dancing to the beat with the crowd in Itaewon
Dancing to the beat with the crowd in Itaewon.

It was totally crowded!
Itaewon is the Spot to be this weekend!
 Spot- for Saturday Photohunt.
Aww! Free  hugs, Plastic wrap??? Lessons for what??? No wonder he ducked his face behind!

Where there is crowd, there is food in Itaewon
Where there is crowd, there is food

When you are full and content, what better to do than to shop?
When you are full and content, what better to do than to shop?

squid on the rocks
Still, where else can you can check out the squid on the rocks?

roses in itaewon
Impress your date with the LED roses

hanging out in Itaewon
Now, isn't that nice? Just hanging out with friends, chilling out with chums, just enjoying the music.



The fashion show in Itaewon
Another stage to keep the crowd's attention. Fashion from all around the world.
Yet another stage for newbies 
K POP in Itaewon
K POP rules!!
Where there is a crowd, there is food, and where there is food, there is garbage.
Where there is a crowd, there is food, and where there is food, there is garbage.
Itaewon is quite dirty and stinks during the weekends. But then becomes and spick and span on Monday mornings. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Celebrating a language-Hangul day

Hanguel day is a National holiday here in Korea to celebrate the creation of the script of the Korean language. It was created by King Sejong who is depicted on the 10,000won note. Though the Korean people have always had their own unique language, they had been using Chinese scripts which was ill adapted to their spoken language and also too complicated and cumbersome for the common man to read. King Sejong then created the unique Korean scripts which is so easy to learn for anybody in the world even now. (I learnt to read Korean in about 2 days.) The tongue movement while pronouncing each letter is said to be the basis on which the King created the shape and structure of the letter. I watched this drama called the Deep Rooted Tree which is also about how the king creates and implement the language. It was a good one.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbourj/images/money/sejong01.jpeg

I found learning to read Korean was actually very easy. Figuring out what it means is the tough part :)
I found it very interesting to learn Korean. Reading, remembering the vocabulary and later on constructing a sentence from the bits and pieces that I learnt was actually a rewarding experience. (Even more so when you need to use it on a daily basis when you are living in Seoul :) The global centers located strategically through out Seoul runs free classes to help you learn Korean. The Koreans are quite encouraging and sweet to you when they see to trying to converse with limited vocabulary. I get sobees (konglish for service= free stuff) for my effort :D Sometimes, though, people think I am an expert in Korean and talk to me in rapid bouts of Korean and I am left stumbling for words. Best part in Korea though is when the person who irons the clothes for us tries to improve his English by talking to me in English and I am determined to make some improvements in my Korean by replying to him in Korean. It is good fun! The most complicated sentence I understood so far is that a taxi driver told me to go and cheer India in the Asian Games so that they move up from the 10th spot. People love and respect Indians here. Anyway, learning Korean is not only interesting for me but also useful in many ways. So, I am glad King Sejong created Hangul. I am happy to be in Korea and happy to learn Korean. Thrilled to celebrate Hangul. Secretly ecstatic that my kids and husband are home on this Hangul day, which, in case i forgot to mention, is a national holiday!

Happy Hangul day
Happy Hanguel Day!


Seoul in Hangul
Doodled Seoul in Hangul

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My name in doodles



My name in Doodles



Close up of name in doodles

My name in Doodles




The Asian Games experience

Asian games 2014 was held in Incheon in South Korea! After missing the opening ceremony and all the games in the first week, I got a chance to go to the stadium on the final days: We went to see the track and field events. Oh! what an experience it was!

Not many Koreans in Seoul seemed interested or even seem to know that there was this mega event going on in Incheon. But I was delighted to go when my family was ready! The weather is just perfect now in Korea. It took us around 40 minutes to reach Incheon Geomam station from Seoul by subway. Then we took the free shuttle which was conveniently parked on the entrance of the subway station to the main stadium. The night view of the stadium was awesome and the enthusiasm of the crowd was contagious. We were able to see the track and field, shot put, javelin, long jump, high jump and triple jump for both men and women.

The main stadium of the asian games
The main stadium of the asian games, 2014 Incheon
Main stadium during Athletics, 2014
Athletics going on in the main stadium


Track and field events in Incheon
There was not much crowd as you can see, just die hard fans and family of the athletes. Mostly the home team supporters. We were able to sit right in the front row and have a marvelous view. We watched the women's 4X400m relay win the gold medal in live :D It was an super experience to jump and cheer and shout at the top my voice! My son was downright appalled at my raucous behavior. But our screams were infections and he caught the yelling bug too! We became instant celebrity among the kind Koreans who acknowledged the Indian team's massive victory in the relay.

The victorious Indian women won gold


Moon Art at the Asian Games main Stadium
Moon Art at the Asian Games main Stadium

The Asian games stadium was more than just track and field and tennis courts and swimming pools. It is a huge park open to the public and many other always-available facilities like biking tracks, jogging tracks, fountains for the kids to play during summer and many more.
yet another art piece at the Incheon main stadium
We were deliberating on this piece of art. Dh said that it looks like a snake hactching or a duck dipping its head into the water. Whatever it could be, we had a great time discussing it :)


The cricket Stadium
The cricket Stadium
Our next game in the Asian Games was to watch the cricket match. No, India was not playing. But with IPLgeek as your son, one has to make some amends and so we went to watch the match between Afghanistan and SriLanka! This was no match for the red and gold ambience of the Chinnamswamy stadium during a RCB match. The clamour of the crowd was not electric. Yet, it was nice to see a cricket match on a foreign soil.

But it was nothing to complain about though. There were few shots, lots of wickets and the fun started when the supporters of Srilanka and Afghanistan had a fist off! And we had the best view with us happily situated between the Srilankans on the right and the Afghans on the left. The ever-vigilant Korean police was instantly there on the scene and were multiplying with the minute! I felt like I had Z-security allocated to me and my family :)
The cricket stadium
The cricket stadium


Z-level security


The fountains surrounding the stadium

And yes, there was a food festival going on with food from all around the world. 

Oh yum!

With all the events played and done with, the stadium was bare but there was a lot of other things to do.

The stadium at twilight. 
Our world Tuesday Incheon Asian Games
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