Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Angkor, Cambodia, an education and inspiration.

Having spent but a brief spell in the land of Kampuchea, I suggested to Bob that we end the blog here. Somehow the experience of Cambodia had rendered me speechless (not a bad thing, I hear you say), suspended in an unsettling state of awe, aloofness, and enchantment.

Its citizens, smile openly and warmly through the memories of their turbulent history and the day we arrived, the first of several war criminals went on trial for their part in the Khmer genocides.The Killing Fields are frighteningly recent events and the numerous landmine victims are an ever-present jolt back to that horrendous period in contemporary history. But the Cambodian smile is an infectious one, and the indomitable spirit that emerges from that is simultaneously uplifting and heart-breaking .One can only pray that the contagion of tourism is held at bay by the present economic low and that this beautiful country is granted a reprieve and can continue to thrive on its modest colonial character, infused with innocence and generosity of spirit.

The dominant factor in all of this excursion was the overwhelming presence of the Angkor temples, and I have to confess, as with all the wonders of the world I have been privileged to witness, mans devotion, tenacity, belief and toil …….the creation of something so beyond our ken in scale and testimony, somehow spurns humble feelings…..heightened by the evident connection Cambodians have to their Gods and these monuments.

As we approached the entrance to Angkor Thom early on Sunday morning, waves of emotion washed over us……..a mixture of raw wonderment and immense privelege that we were permitted to stand in the presence of such a structure. These blocks of volcanic rock and sandstone had been hauled sixty kilometers . Men had carved pilot holes and inserted wooden dowels in order that elephants could pull their freight on bamboo rafts to the temple site. Once in place, one thousand workers had lived on the perimeters and carved the surfaces for fifty years or more …

As artists, we had the utmost respect for the cratmanship involved, but more importantly, the wondrous alchemy that nature had worked on the structures…… vibrant lichens and fungus over the red volcanic rock…..scorches,scars and oxidation had both destroyed and enhanced the decorative surfaces . Please put this on your “must visit” list. There are three hundred temples in a 150 kilometre radius and Angkor Wat alone spans one square kilometer.

Back to Bangkok

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Sorry to burst your “luxury goods” bubble but I feel compelled to inform you that the Tiffany trade mark is not solely applicable to beautiful lamps and silverware.

Off the main tourist drag in Soi 1 (district) in Pattya city, a modern theater houses the “Tiffany’s” show, (under the same roof as Thailand’s largest indoor shooting range …go figure). TIFFANY'S SHOW is the first ever truly transvestite cabaret show (running for nearly thirty years) in South East Asia and has become a recommended tourist destination of the successful growth of Thailand's most popular resort city.

Having never visited Las Vegas and carrying a vague recall of Baz Luhrmans Moulin Rouge I was slightly nervous of what I was about to witness…I had visions of aggressive drag performers sitting on my lap and attracting rapturous applause at my expense….so generally, myself and my colleagues held mixed feelings about the evening before us.

Any fears of what the 7-30 show held in store were immediately dispelled however, when a procession of the performers from the previous show paraded through the foyer and arranged themselves in a variety of photo-op vignettes in the parking lot. The costumes were unapologetically OTT, but it was impossible to take your eyes off these transgender performers (kathoey)….. they were absolutely beautiful!

Minutes later when the curtain rose, we were treated to an extravaganza containing endless meters of synthetic fiber, jewels, Thai-disney dance numbers in variety of themes…..Bollywood, Cossacks, Dream girls, ….Tina Turner even made an appearance. The only shortcoming of note was the “male chorus” , a collection of skinny and ungainly Thai boys who looked like they’d been taken off the streets that afternoon and given one hours rehearsal. …….truly awful… and the costume designer clearly just didn’t do men. An alternative theory was that at Tiffanys it was all about the ladies….. they are the stars of the show…… and we would have to wholeheartedly agree!!!

Educational note!

The term “kathoey” or katoey generally refers to a male-to-female transgender person or an effeminate gay male in Thailand. The word kathoey is thought to be of Khmer origin. It is most often rendered as ladyboy in English conversation with Thais and this latter expression has become popular across South East Asia

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Some Random Shots

A Little R&R

A little Work

For Bob, just a cold beer...

The guyz

Hell's angel - Thai style

The Artist Works

Top of the Pops Culinary Favorites!

KFC - Thai Style

What's for Lunch?

Som Tam …..Spicy Pappaya Salad.
This is certainly my lunchtime favorite as it is both citrus and spicy, the grated green papaya and freshly roasted peanuts are deliccccious!
Pak Boon Fiidaeng……Morning Glory with Garlic and Oyster Sauce
Morning Glory (the stalk ..not the flower)strikes me as a hybrid of watercress and spinach but both flavors in the same vegetable….yummy
Dom Tom Yam Mapraao…….Spicy Coconut Soup with Seafood
Again…..this is the most tasty blend of Thai basil, garlic chilli and lemon grass in a creamy coconut stock and with shrimp of squid straight from the boat. Leaves your lips a-tingling.
We are still trying to work out the link between the Thai nation and why a large percentage of its tourist market is geared toward Scandinavia….any ideas??