Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Phnom Kulen Waterfall and Pub Street

26 November 2016. Cambodia.

We rode the car again to reach the jump-off point to Phnom Kulen Waterfall, but trekking it would be after lunch. Served in an open-air restaurant, this was the only lunch in the tour package that I thoroughly enjoyed - the dishes tasted "Pinoy". I know, I'm that hopeless when it comes to food as I'm probably the pickiest eater there is.

At least I was rejuvenated enough to do a trek to the falls with a kid in tow. And mind you, he wanted me to carry him all the way. I did carry him most of the way, but I had to let him tackle the boulders near the falls. He did it with ease, which is testament to the fact that it was that easy to trek towards the falls. The kid was a real trooper in climbing up the rocks and jumping over puddles that I seriously contemplated on tagging him along should I decide to climb a mountain again.

The waterfall is split in two - the first is about 4 or 5 meters high while the second is around 20 to 25 meters high. Both are ideal for a dip but we did not because we were not able to bring a change of clothes. Besides, the place was teeming with people so we enjoyed the sight from a distance.

After about an hour of just soaking in the beauty and strength of the falls, we headed back to the hotel for a rest to be able to handle Pub Street and the Night Market later in the day.

Pub Street embodies Siem Reap's night life. It comprises of bars, cocktail lounges, and international restaurants. It appeals to backpackers because they can partake of really good liquor at such low prices, especially during happy hours. I had a 4 year old kid in tow, so we did not try out any of  them bars. We did try their fried ice cream and hubby bravely had a bite of the scorpion.

It was the Night Market I was excited with because, well, bargain shopping. I bought scarfs and Cambodian goodies to bring home.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

River of a Thousand Lingas and Preah Ang Thom

26 November 2016. Cambodia.

What is a linga?

The linga is the primary symbol of the Hindu god Shiva and has four interrelated meanings and purposes: firstly, it symbolizes Shiva and his regenerative power as both the destroyer and reproducer of the universe; secondly, it represents the male reproductive organ and its seminal potentiality; thirdly, it provides the main object of cultic devotion in Shavite temples containing upraised cylindrical shafts at the center of their sanctuaries; lastly, used as a mark, sign, and symbol of Shaivism, allowing one to identify with, and recognize, followers of this group (newworldencyclopedia.org).

And a thousand of these have been carved into the rock in the river, hence, its name. The river is located at Phnom Kulen National Park, a considerable distance from Siem Reap. It probably took us around an hour to reach the river by car, and on winding road. The river, however, has been fenced off and I was told this is so the lingas and other sculpting would be protected from further decay. From where we stood, the lingas could still be seen but the river was not that clear for me to fully appreciate the carvings.

A wrong turn somewhere saw us walking, instead of riding, towards Preah Ang Thom. We were greeted by devotees and images of Buddha. A popular site for locals, Preah Ang Thom houses a large reclining Buddha, and small worship temples, one of which had Buddha's footprint on it.

The 17-meter reclining Buddha is located on top of a mountain so paying homage to it would require climbing several steps. You will be rewarded, however, with a panoramic view of Cambodia's jungles.

Kid and I had ourselves blessed by a monk when we descended from the reclining Buddha. I had no idea what he prayed for but it was a wonderful experience to be sprinkled water the whole time he was chanting. And we got ourselves "Buddha" cords (perfect souvenirs)!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Temple Running in Siem Reap

25 November 2016. Cambodia.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, I learned, is actually a monument dedicated to Vishnu. Its construction was under the leadership of King Suyavarman II. I was so amazed by its grandeur that I forgot the rest of the historical stuff our guide told me. There are five impressive towers that the monument has been known for, all shaped like a lotus bud. Our guide brought us to the back entrance, and even then, I was thoroughly impressed already.

There was one temple where children were not allowed, so it was only the hubby who made it to the top while I waited with the kid at a shaded portion of the monument. From his pictures, it was an impressive sight from the top. I would have wanted to go when it was my turn but the kid could only take so much heat from the day. It was our third temple and I felt he was tired.

Ta Prohm, another most photographed site in Siem Reap, was the one temple I was so excited about because "Tomb Raider". It was the one temple Zac allowed himself a walk (I carried him at the other two temples) because of the shade the trees provided. We felt like we were in a jungle, with giant trees surrounding us. I was blown away by the mix of nature and art.

Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple, dedicated to the mother of King Jayavarman VII. I learned somewhere that there was a belief that the temple was in such a ruin because it was dedicated to a human person and not a god.

Bayon is the smallest of the temples that we visited but it is equally impressive with its four-faced towers everywhere, and an impressive carved mural.

In my opinion, these three temples would be enough for a day. There will come a point during the day that you will feel "templed out".


Hotel Jen Staycation

August 19-20, 2016. Manila,Philippines.

At the hotel's reception

Zac and I were whisked to the 19th floor when I showed the reception my reservation for an overnight stay at the Club Room. Apparently, my Club Room reservation comes with an access to the Club Lounge located at the 19th floor, with a spectacular view of Manila Bay. Aside from the view, as if it were not enough, we had separate invitations for Afternoon Tea and Cocktails.  

Our room
Our stay at the hotel was more than comfortable. Zac loved jumping on the sinfully soft bed and snuggling under the equally sinfully soft sheets. There was a separate living area where I could peacefully read my book while Zac kept jumping from one bed to the other. The bathroom had a tub, so naturally, the kid made it into his swimming pool. Yes, the hotel had their own magnificent pool but I had qualms letting Zac take a night dip.

Our room
Star City, an amusement park, is just in front of the hotel but I wanted to enjoy the Club experience in ins entirety. And that was what I did. In entirety.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

The climb to Mt. Manalmon

19 March 2016. Bulacan.

We were supposed to join a group of mountaineers because on my first ever mountain climb after I gave birth in 2012, I wanted the company of mountaineers. The group did not reach the required number, however, but we went ahead with the climb. Relying on web information that Mount Manalmon was a minor climb with a difficulty of 2/9, I thought I could do it without the group. It was time I renewed my love affair with the mountains. It has been so long.

We took the 6 o'clock bus from Cubao bound for Cabanatuan. The driver's assistant knew we were going to climb Mount Manalmon from our get-up, so he alerted us when we reached San Miguel. The bus dropped us off a tricycle terminal that led to the drop-off point at Barangay Madlum.

Registration is at the other side of the river.

So one is supposed to inform the officials beforehand of one's intent to climb Mount Manalmon. We did not do this because I was thinking all the while that the group would handle it. We were allowed to do the climb, though. We signed a waiver and rented a guide.

We passed by a cave, known as Manalmon Cave. We emerged just a few minutes later from that cave to be greeted with a sight I was awed at because I love rock formations on river. Madlum River was exactly that. From the river, the trek up officially begins.

I can no longer recall how long we were able to reach the top of Mount Manalmon. All I remember was the so familiar feeling of being one with nature, and being grateful for God's work. The exhilarating feeling of being able to conquer a mountain, however minor, was back when I looked around the beautiful scenery. 

Until our next climb,