26 March 2014

Fancy a splash?

The Big Chili continues to behave like an oven. As I type this, I am chatting on the phone with a friend who is speeding on an Arabian expressway. She reports it's pouring around Abu Dhabi. I tell her I'm going island-hopping. In my dream, that is. For now I am grateful for faves of the week::

Life-saving AC. Since walking around in rising temps this invention has become my best friend. And as for the board room thingy with an amusing laptop reflection that's bluer than the blue above it, that's where I was officially informed about 

Remuneration. I thought it went with the normal salary but it seems the university is happy to pay researchers extra.

Imagination. It does help when there is something to look forward to.

Tax sorted. A colleague fixed a little problem in it for me. Until next year Mr Tax. For now I'm celebrating with some
Cold Stone delight. A yummy antidote to the notorious Bangkok heat.

I may still fancy a splash. It's seriously hot in here. When things at work calm down, it's going to be a cool splash. Here's wishing us all a great week.

Visit: Blue Monday * Reflections * Friday's Fave Five * Skywatch * Share the Joy * Water World

25 March 2014

The Killing Fields

I love touring and sightseeing. I don't hesitate to visit an interesting place twice if there's a chance. But I am not visiting this place again even if you paid me to do it.

Cheong Ek Genocidal Center in a distance

After many whispers of wows at the splendor of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, my companions and I proceeded to Phnom Pehn. I was kicking to finally see the Killing Fields. "This is it," I mused as my 12-year old self: "those rows of 'cabbages' (skulls) in a documentary with John Lennon singing Imagine, now the Killing Fields for real." We then started exploring.

At first I thought this was an old pigsty. What we saw were...

And that was when we fell silent -

especially when we realized that much of the ground is still strewn with clothes of victims.

 more clothes

'Truck Stop:' "place where trucks transporting victims to be exterminated from Toul Sleng Prison, stopped."

Truly depressing. I wanted to get out as much as I was in a hurry to get in at the beginning of the tour. 

"'Killing Tree' (left) against which executioners beat children.  'Magic Tree' (right) where a loudspeaker was hung to muffle victims' screams."

Did they say children?!? I fought back tears while reading the signs. 

Some skulls showed signs of bashing. They have forensic shots of those in the Center (top photo). Our quiet chat branched out to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's cousins - butchers Idi Amin, Milosevic, Saddam, Hitler... ethnic cleansing :(

While trying to be brave in front of these skulls, I wondered about the kind of tour I got myself into. Did I just pay to be subjected to something so raw as hell on earth?

I like to think I learned something out of such an experience.

'shelves' of skulls at the stupa

18 March 2014

Why not

It's been hot hot hot in the Big Chili this week. Where I would have preferred cool breezy nights with a beaming moon, we were dealing with a raging sun. But joys and faves here we go:

Spontaneous outing with family. We had fun browsing bottle art and learning which country the wines come from.


A better-idea sky.  I stare at it and think why not invite a friend to go on a Halong Bay cruise with me instead? It will turn the disappointment over changes on my trip to Vietnam into something I will surely enjoy.

Spending time with winged friends in the park. Kicking off the routine high heels, wearing jeans and walking barefoot on the grass were just as great.

St. Patrick's Day.
I'm no Irish but why the Saint Patrick's mode? And I muse, why not? At least I once dated an Irish guy. I remember being fascinated when I witnessed glimpses of the famous Irish temper in him - stuff I only read about in books before I met him. That was something like a little fairy tale come true! Well, that and the fact that he was into gorgeous ammo and helicopters.

To celebrate I had green tea and a book by an Irish author, the lovely Maeve Binchy narrating life in Tara Road. From my porch to yours, (belated) happy Saint Patrick's Day!

with mango and ice cream, a touch of green in my Saint Patrick's Day dessert

Reflections * Friday's Fave Five * Picture Clusters * Skywatch * Share the Joy * Water World * Our World * Ruby Tuesday Too

10 March 2014

Dreaming up a surprise

A lovely week my friends! I give you sunrise from the world's largest religious monument - Angkor Wat

and a quiet spot from the chili patches

Some days this week were bittersweet. But I'm loving the joys and faves:

This goodbye is not forever. Someone dear to me is away for a couple of days. On call for an important politician, he does not know when is he returning to base. Communication to the outside is quite restricted. Then out of the blue he sent word saying he was making use of what internet access was allowed 'along palace perimeter...' and then he was gone. But I'm glad he tried to reach me.

Monuments Men. Those art pieces! They took my breath away.

The Valley is a friend's short story which he asked me to edit for an alumni newsletter. I was hesitant; warned him I might unwittingly ruin it. My mind went back to that article I wrote 19 years ago. It was too late when I realized how unnecessarily sentimental it sounded; it was already published in a national women's magazine. I don't exactly trust myself with creative writing nowadays but while having a go at the very thing I realized I was enjoying the process. Although what I would normally accomplish in 15 minutes dragged for an hour, it turned out a pleasure. What a break from technical stuff!

'Shriveled banana,' according to an online review of this Cassia Cafe dessert. Curious and looking for fun, I singled it out of the menu. Despite the cashew nuts as its saving grace I reckoned it was still a risk but I went ahead and ordered one to complete a lazy Sunday brunch. It has a bit of a price so I expected to be deliciously surprised and I was. Clearly, looks are not everything.

In the mood for generosity. A niece's FB shout out goes: "Queen is having a concert this summer... I really wanna go!" I couldn't resist asking, "Queen? If it's Queen, i.e. Brian May, Freddie Mercury (RIP)... don't miss it sweetie!" She replied, "yes Tita (Auntie)... but I'll have to go alone. My clique doesn't really like their music. Plus, a ticket costs almost 200$ because obviously it's THE queen... but I'll find ways."

This darling niece has taste for household name stadium rock; was probably influenced by her seminary-bred father ;) Poor kid. I see myself in her 25 years ago - young, passionate, penniless. Suddenly an idea came flapping its wings in my face. Isn't it my longtime dream to watch The Queen live? Now since I could not fly to Montreal anytime soon, what if I'd just wire her $200 so she could go to the concert? I quickly made a mental survey of the checkbook but had to temper my excitement as I realized I have Vietnam and South Korea lined up on my travel timetable in the coming months.

But I'm not forgetting the whole thing yet. And this is not a bad place to dream up a surprise, is it? Charm could set you in the mood for generosity.

04 March 2014

One fine morning

Someone says good memories are for bad times; not that I'm having one. It feels good to express gratitude.  I look over my week and notice that I put in effort to turn yesterday's emotional glitch around. The attempt was successful. I am happy. So on to this life-enhancing exercise of sharing joys and faves:
  • attending an art exhibit whose artist I have personally met from a fundraiser for Haiyan victims last year
  • a friend I haven't seen in 25 years who now lives in the UAE rang and we chatted for two hours
  • Pompeii and Robocop
  • someone tells me I am her inspiration. Whatever she meant I thought knowing that was inspiring as well
  • memories! I woke up one fine morning this week and reminisced:
this spot in a splash resort, so appealing to the country girl in me  (Del Rio, June 2012)

exploring a lake with young nephews and nieces (Sebu, 1 January 2014)

finding myself in a lovely tea room free to dream as much as I want (Cassia Cafe and Tea Room, 2010),

while sipping green tea with milk and honey. I promise it tastes divine!

and having steak and kidney pie with mashed potatoes and chutney for brunch. This makes me look forward to exploring more charming cafes. They are cozy worlds in the midst of buzzing Bangkok.

Weekend Reflections
Friday's Fave Five
Picture Clusters
Share the Joy
Water World 
Our World
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