Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Many hats I wear...

Photo by Patrisha McLean. I am a writer. I am also a wife and mother... and grandmother. Hey wait, if I type long enough here the tones may go off and I will be off to another fire call. I am a paid, call FF for the town of Camden Maine. I am on call 24/7 unless I decide to turn off my pager which is not very often. It usually only happens if some of us decide within the department to go out and relax for the night or I am having a special occasion at home. It is very hard to not respond though. It can be in the middle of the day while I am writing or in the middle of the night. No,I don't sleep at the station. I am home, snug in my bed . The tones go off and up I come off my bed. After getting back from Cambodia the 13th, things were quiet and I got back on my feet. This week it's been a lot busier for sure which is fine by me. It's like being a race horse at the starting gate, just waiting to be let go, waiting for the sound of the gun to leap forward. We wait sometimes and wait and then go about our business and when we least expect it the call comes. I have been getting my office organized to some degree since my return. But it's still too wicked cold out there to use. So I will use my bed, I spread all my papers and research books out and continue to work up here. I have a manuscript back from the editor and I need to get working on that. Plus I am organizing my 2nd book of the series of The Kings of Angkor. On a side note. This last Wednesday while waiting for my nine year old son to get out of school, I saw one of the teachers there at the school. I had given her for her birthday one of my books. She wanted to know when the next one was coming out because she loved the first one. She had also given the book to her friend to read. I love hearing this. Word of mouth, building a foundation of future readers who will buy books by me. That was a good shot in the arm! So until the tones go off I will write. Enjoy your day!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Researching and traveling back in time

This post will be a bit about what I learned or remembered on my recent trip to Cambodia. It will also be about how I was affected by my trip to Angkor Wat. It was true I basically got no research done really while there BUT I tried to absorb anything and everything I came in contact with. I tried to capture everything on film. I have hundreds of photos that my daughter Megan and I shot in tandem. Photos that now for the most part I have uploaded to my facebook account I will now start pouring over to find certain photos that depict life of the time of Angkor but also of my Royal Family that I have written about and will be in the future. Well now with my cup of tea, two cats and a Chihuahua as my company I can sit and write. As I write Echo, the Boxer paces just outside of my room, my temporary office. I have myself plugged into Imagine Dragons and "It's Time". Sometimes I have to plug myself in. With boys gaming and Daniel now watching "Wizard's of Waverly Place" I need to have music. This is also one of my rowing songs. Well back to my hunt for my queens, Queen Jayarajadevi and Indradevi , the two sister queens and their beloved husband King Jayavarman VII. It wasn't until about his 60th year that he became King. I'm not sure how old they were, they are always presented as very youthful. He was king for about 38 years. When I wrote about them I had Nurung who would later become Jayavarman at about 40. Also I had him husband of one wife because it's hard for me to think about any man dividing his love between two women much less all the women they had in their lives.I have one of the queens , his aunt. It's easier for me to think that way. When I traveled to Cambodia there are things that I learned or remembered really fast. Traffic is still wicked crazy and it still amazes me that there aren't more accidents. I was telling my safety officer at the Fire Department how certain things would have given him a fit to see. I had to hope each time I rode in a tuk-tuk that the speeding cars that were coming towards us as we crossed traffic would stop or swerve. I would not get back on the back of a motor cycle though... well I almost did, told my daughter Megan that I needed to get to the bank on my last morning and would have resorted to it but was able to get a ride... When it's hot you should drink,drink,drink BUT if you are up in Siem Reap and at the temples and drinking to keep cool well it's not like there are porta potties all over. Well there may have been BUT if you know me I am not going to use a public bathroom unless it's an emergency... The few we found , one had a western style toilet. Second day it was more of a traditional one. It was clean and I managed. Meg was a good sport. She eats Khmer food every day at home, it's a lot cheaper then eating western food. I know, I spent a bit just buying milk, jam, bread and cookies to keep the kids and I in snacks while I stayed with them BUT for meals we ate Khmer which made me very happy. So when we got up to Siem Reap, how did we eat? Meg told her friend "I've been eating Khmer at each meal..." Thank you Meg! You are a sweetie and a good sport.Some of the places we ate at were roadside places for tourist so even though they had simple food, they charged tourist prices... So Meg and I made sure we drank our own water or tea we had brought with us. If I did by a fruit smoothie chances are it was made with bad ice so I took charcoal to hopefully prevent any kind of problems later. I didn't have any problems. Where ever you go you are going to find obnoxious people or tourist. You see it here in our town of Camden Maine along with the good ones. The first night we were in Siem Reap ,Chinese tourist,a large group of young ones, not the best example of their countrymen were at this restaurant. They had a few drinks already under their belt by the time we were seated, that was obvious. The wait staff were young and very timid. The large group when we got there were already full of themselves and as the night wore on they became worse to the point I was about to get up and ducktape their mouths or something. A French couple next to Megan and I kept looking over, eyebrows raised at the way this group would yell with an attitude to the poor waitresses. It finally got to the point that when one yelled "Waiter, you come here, NOW!" I turned as I stood and said. "Stop it now, they are busy!" Meg and I found that certain groups of tourist at the temples were loud, really obnoxious and very rude. At one point when we arrived early in the morning at Preah Khan. It was quiet and then a small busload of them arrived and all you could hear was them. Meg said "RUN!!!" We managed to keep a few steps ahead of them at that temple and fortunately the tour guide we hired kept us way ahead of them. Once at Angkor, The Bayon, Preah Khan Meg and I took photo after photo. I have yet to digest everything. It's too immense. I will be going through all those photos later day after day with a fine tooth comb... kinda like when going through with my boarding pass to board the last flight from Taiwan to the US and I got pulled aside for a random baggage check... I guess certain swear words are the same the world over. When I said under my breath "You can't be fu***** serious..." after the agent was picking everything and I mean everything apart... Turning everything on and going into everything, every nook and freaking cranny. The agent in Taiwan knew just what I was saying. Just like when outside Angkor Wat on the last afternoon when myself and some Italian or Spanish tourist were taking photos of one of their own and I was making a video. Well all of a sudden I said "ant" in Khmer, shut off my ipad and start dropping the "F Bomb" with fluency as the little buggers bit my foot. That brought quite the smile to one of the gentlemen in their group. I had a two fold reason for going to Cambodia and now having been there I have a better idea how much it will cost so I can save for my next trip. Living there in the past and being a tourist are two different things. This trip was like an introduction. Yes, I had lived there but when I went to Angkor Wat and the other temples there was far too much to see and absorb. Like Kent Davis said to me, 'you will not be doing any research, it's going to be take photos, see and try to absorb BUT you will get a lot more done when you get home'. That is so true. Now I know that when I go back, there will be certain things to see and study and to photograph. I tried to capture certain things. Some I did, some didn't come out so good because of the lack of light. Somethings without knowing or not certain of what I was seeing I took shots of, maybe not the best BUT now seeing them I remember how I felt when I stood in front of them. I was in awe of standing in front of the King I wrote about in my simple and humble way. I fell in love with him and his queens. He is to this day still spoken of with reverence for who he was and what he did for his country and people. It's amazing that a country that has gone through what it has the people still remember him. That is a very good testament indeed. Thankfully my friend Monica Hall dug up an article all on her own for me and sent it to me so when I woke up on the morning of when I was going to Preah Khan it was there waiting for me. Here is the address to the photographer who wrote the article and a book on this subject. I had read the article back when it came out thanks to Kent Davis. So Now I am going to introduce you to some of the photos that are of the Queens Jayarajadevi and her younger sister Indradevi. Also bas reliefs of the royal triad, King Jayavarman VII and his two queens.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My trip

Well since I have been back now a few days and finally I think I am over the jetlag... pretty much back to my regular schedule or sorts. Early to bed, early to rise... This morning though I was up at 3AM... not because I was still on Cambodia time but because my 16 year old son was up and gaming... "I can't sleep" says he. Me: "Well you woke me up so now I am disconnecting you..." You see he is my night owl and also is homeschooling again so his normal time for getting up is 10AM now that he is being homeschooled... We are adjusting that by an hour starting next week. Rome wasn't built in a day and getting me and my son back to a working schedule is taking a few days. Since returning I have been fighting to stay awake so to get back on Maine time what better way then stay on my feet and tear the house apart. So I have been doing a mid-winter clean. I have been moving all my books, whether they be for pleasure reading or research books down to the front room in the old barn. When I bought this house back in 2007 there were two rooms attached to the main house. The back room was finished, but no basement. Just like a camp, all open underneath. The front room was dirt floor and you could see gaps in the wall. It was a typical, shed/barn. Well my cousin Will and I turned it into another room with the help of a carpenter friend of his. It's still open under but we have a lot more insulation there and in the walls. It's still a 3 season rooms though. I am hoping to get a pellet stove for next winter season so then I can have it for four seasons. So the majority of my books are out there, now all I need is to build a desk/counter to fit me. and lots of shelves for books. I want the wall in front of me with some kind of cork material or something that I can pin things up that I have that help me with the story line as I write. Also with moving all my books helps me to organize all my books for writing the second book in The Kings of Angkor series. There is a ton of info that I have been finding with moving this mountain of books. It dawned on me that I am missing a book so today, hunt for that book. What brought it to mind was the photos that I was uploading to my facebook page. Just arriving at Angkor Wat you realize very quickly at the amazing size, the overwhelming size, scope of this truly beautiful temple. It is to this day the largest religious structure in the world. It's not because of Angkor Wat proper as I call it but because of all the temples in the temple complex and park. When shown from space from NASA cameras and you put NYC/ Manhattan in the middle, it even dwarfs that city. That might seem hard to imagine but it's true. National Geographic did a piece on it. I will have to find it again. Well anyway within minutes of arriving at Angkor Wat on the first afternoon I could have spent hours in just the protective wall that surrounds the temple. I apologized to my daughter Meg for taking so long BUT I was in awe of what I was seeing. Then get me to the main temple that Suryavarman II built and oh my word. I started to find Apsaras all over the place. Here is a link to the book of mine that is missing. This young French woman was able to draw and record these wonderful Apsaras in the various forms. Since being there you can see some are simular but you also find that many were like stoping for just a moment from their duties to pose. You see the playfulness in their faces and the way they pose with one another. Like others I firmly believe these women were real and were part of vibrant life that existed at Angkor Wat. So if you say as you look at my photos that are on my regular facebook page under Mary Carver, oh, no not another one of those Apsaras... you would have to been in my shoes(sandals) and to arrive there and to be able to finally see these girls that I have read, studied and dreamed about for the last few years. I was on a quest to record as many as I could find. There were specific things I was looking for and wanted to see while there. Angkor Wat, the Bayon which was built by Jayavarman VII and Preah Khan which is part of Angkor Thom. The Bayon is part of Angkor Thom also and Preah Khan was another temple that was part of that complex. It was built by Jayavarman VII as a temple dedicated to his father, a former King. I visited his stupa where his ashes were at one point. BUT the most important place at Preah Khan for me was to visit Jayavarman's queens, little shrines built in honor of the women who were sisters and married to Jayavarman VII. Who helped him rule the vast empire of ancient Cambodia.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Guest blog with Wenona Hulsey

As a writer sometimes I find myself stopping and taking stock of my life. When I look back to those confusing and sometimes dark days of my teen years I'm proud of who I've became. I remember being a 14 year old girl who spent her day high up an Oak tree in my front yard with a book. I would stretch out on a swaying limb for hours reading and day dreaming about writing my own magical adventures. I imagined what it would be like to someday have someone be inspired to write after reading my words. To have the world say, "Wow! That came out of that shy little southern girl from a town with one red light?" But that seemed like it would only ever be a fantasy for me as my path in life pulled me farther and farther from my love of reading and writing. Life moved so fast for me. In a blink of an eye I was wearing the shimmering "Class of '96" tassel of a high school grad at almost the same time I donned the role of wife and mother. Then fast-forward fifteen years to a woman who was the divorced mother of two with a dead-end job and no more dreams for herself. I was stuck, living in a rut, and I felt like outside of being a mom to my beautiful children, I wasn't grabbing onto the point of life. I worked, I came home, I cleaned and spent time with my kids then I would do the same exact thing the next day. Life seemed perpetual and static for me. There was an empty hole in my life that had appeared years ago and I didn't know how to fill it. But, like all great dreams, that childhood fantasy of mine slowly crept back into my head and rolled around and around. Eventually I said, "Why the heck can't I write a book? Am I any less worthy than the next person with a dream?" And now, as I write this post, I have my fourth book open in a separate document just waiting for me to write the next chapter. Every day I march to work, I come home, I clean and spend time with my wonderful family, and then…I write. I write because it makes me happy—because creating my own magical worlds makes my soul happy and I write because I deserve to make my dreams a reality. If I could leave you all with one word of advice I would say "Don't let life pass you by. You deserve to have your heart's desire. Dreams are meant to be goals for your life so go out there and live your dream." I'd love to hear from you! Are you living your dream? What's holding you back? Leave your thoughts in a comment below or connect with me out in the social world. If you want more info on where to find my works all the buy links and the reading order to my Blood Burden Series can be found in one place on my website by using this link: BIO Author Wenona Hulsey spends her time scaling roof tops, kicking bad guy tail and rescuing small kittens from tree tops. But during the time when she isn’t asleep, she’s a mother of two beautiful children and works a full time day job. She lives vicariously through great stories and writes epic fantasy/paranormal romance books in her spare time. She is also an avid social networker, who loves to meet new people. You can friend her on Twitter!/WenonaHulsey, like her on Facebook or follow along on her Blog Wenona Hulsey Author, Contemporary Romance & Epic Fantasy!/wenonahulsey!/wenonahulsey I want to thank Wenona for sharing about herself. Please check out her work and share.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tuk-Tuk ride

My daughter got home we had a birthday party for her helper Day. Then we took the kids swimming in the pool down stairs. It was good, help work off some of that sugar that they consumed from the cake. Then I went with them when they left to go to school. Day goes to college and the kids go to Elementary and K1&K2. So I tell Day. "Have the Tuk-Tuk drop you all off first then I can go to the waterfront..." We cross the Japanese bridge and I double check with her by asking her again "first we go to drop you and the kids off?" "Yup." We go around the circle and head towards the waterfront... I tell Day, "No, we go drop you off fist cause I want to keep the Tuk-tuk driver for a while and that way he knows where to bring me and I don't have to dicker or argue over location and price... (All done in Khmer) So she tells the driver... we have to then go under the bridge and reverse our direction. We drop off first her and Rheaj and then we head to the little ones school. Drop them off. So then I am alone with my Tuk-tuk driver. I ask him to now to take me to the waterfront and does he know the FCC? "yes" Good :-) This is all done talking in Khmer. We took our time and I finally got there after a relaxing ride. He said he would wait and I went to the cafe to relax and take in the scenery. Not so much the physical scenery BUT people watch. I enjoy that as much as anything He brought me back after double checking to see if I wanted to go anywhere else, like the markets. So now I need to pack. I will have to see what should go where and bubble wrap the fragile items. I had visions of going back with my small suitcase inside the big one... won't be happening.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Last full day in Cambodia

Well I arrived here on the 28th of Dec. Started the New Year of 2013, went to Siem Reap and visited the temples of Angkor Wat. It was truly an amazing trip. Meg had been there two times before and she still hadn't see things that we saw when we went. For the temples that I wanted to see we got a lot done. I had wanted to get up to Preah Vihear BUT that will have to wait till next time. There was another one I wanted to see BUT the most important ones I saw and explored. I saw my queens, walked where they and Jayavarman VII walked. I talked with locals. It's amazing how even my simple Khmer, because I never spoke like my kids. I could and can understand most but was never rapid fire like the older kids. Well I started up a conversation with the old Nun who was at Preah Khan. She is in photos of some of my Cambodian friends. I took some photos of her too while I sat down and talked with her for a few minutes. She was burning incense at the stupa of Jayavarman's father a former King. Then I taked with two older men. One had been Megan's guide on her last visit. They had been impressed that I had come so far to see their country and try to find the little shrines of those queens who ruled with Jayavarman VII. The air is cool as I sit here. In the afternoon this side gets the sun and it's really hot. So I am enjoying the time of coolness. It's not exactly quiet though. Horns blow, I can see in the distance a small pickup truck overloaded with people. Work is being done on a building just down the small alley. Someone down the street is working with a sledge hammer and an air compressor for something is putt-putting. An Ambulance's siren is wailing as it travels down the road. New Year's eve as Megan, Mel and I came back from going out for drinks and dinner an ambulance passed us, siren wailing in the night with it's lights flashing. We had full view of the dramma unfolding as the attendant was performing CPR. I wonder if that person made it? Well I will close. I hope the few post I have put up here you have enjoyed. As I have said with the internet being what it was it should be easier to get photos uploaded once I am home...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another post about my trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

This following post was started yesterday while we waited for our bus to get going. Well Meg and I sit in our seats, we each have two so we have a bit more room to stretch out. It’s funny Megan had the mini van for the bus company pick us up, they said 6:30 they arrived after 7AM. We only went around the corner and picked up the bus… had we known we could have walked. So now we load others on the bus. The guy from this bus stop just questioned why I had two seats, “Because we bought two each.” If they want to pay me fine BUT I am holding onto this little corner of the world for the next 7 hours. It’s not bad, A/C and fake leather seats. This bus is a bit newer then our one on the trip up. (A little side note about the bus ride) When we arrived about two hours out of Phnom Penh at at a restaurant most everyone including Meg climbed out. I told Meg I would watch our bags till she got back then I would go out. She left and then the young helper of the bus driver comes back in and asked some of the young German girls and me if we wanted to go out. We said “No, we were fine…” Well he leaves and closes the door… A few minutes later one of the girls got up and went to the door. Tried to open and says “the door won’t open…” I am like “You can’t be serious…” I get up and go up to her and the door. I try it a few different ways then I start looking at the dash. She looks at me and says “Can you figure it out?” I am looking for a button, people are gathering around outside watching us. We can’t find the button that would open the door. So we start looking for either the driver or the young guy. I am getting ready to blow the horn, the girls are gathered around me and the driver walks up with a smile and then a smirk on his face. He motions for us to open the side window. We do and he says “the key, right there…” He points to the keys. So we hand him the keys and he opens up the bus. We then all pile out. He is going to lock the door again But I put my hand up, (Thinking there are people still in there, young guys, you aren’t locking us out and our stuff in there.) So I say to the driver after the young girl asked me if I would watch the door. I told her not to worry. So I look at the driver and say in Khmer “Don’t close and lock that door…” Well he does a double take and laughs and says “just for you I will keep the door open” (in English). I then I say in Khmer that he was very naughty. That brings more laughter out of him. When Meg got back I went walking around and found a vendor who sold roasted spiders, very, very large ones. The vendor asked me if I wanted some. Me “I don’t think so…” Meg and I collapsed yesterday after the final round of temples. While I downloaded photos she rested and catnapped. When she got up I then said “I’m just going to rest for minute.” Down at 5PM and fell fast asleep. She said she was going to show me something from facebook but saw I was out like a light. Yesterday we had decided we would start at Preah Khan. I knew the most important thing to do on my last day was find the Sister Queens and then get to the Bakan. As I said my friend Monica Hall had found an article that I have had since it came out. It was somewhere in my computer and also printed at home. I woke up to her message and saved it to my ipad mini. So when we got to Preah Khan after we initially started looking at the wall a young man named Son came up and explained a couple of things. I was thinking, he may attach himself to us BUT it turned out good, I showed him the photos in the article and he asked if we could use a guide? “ Yes… and can you get us to the sister queens.” He smiled and nodded yes. When we arrived there at Preah Khan we had about two minutes of quiet then a bus load of either Chinese or Koreans off loaded and boy were they loud, obnoxious and rude… Meg said “Run…” we moved a bit faster to get through the wall and then our guide kept us ahead of the pack which was good. When we arrived at the queen’s area the doors got lower and lower. There were women, Khmer already sitting down at the shrine burning incense sticks. Their shoes off. I took off my shoes and gave some riel for an offering and sat in wonder at Indradevi, pronounced Undra-Davie. It was dark, too dark for my ipad mini to capture BUT I think Meg was able to get a shot of her though. I then moved onto Jarajadevi, the older sister. Her little area is ready to fall down on her. I had to stoop even more to get into her little area. I was able to sit all by myself basking in her presence. The incense smoke swirling around her and I. I was very moved, almost to tears as here were the queens, the Queens who co-reined with their husband, probably the greatest of all Cambodian history, Jayavarman VII. When at a time Europe was dark, these Queens helped their husband the King to rein and rule with fairness and love for their country and people. Theirs was a time of ‘the people’ the amount of hospitals, schools, roadways, universities and libraries that were built is astounding. Preah Khan was built by Jayavarman VII for his father, to bury his ashes. But also he created a small place to honor his wives. It’s funny all you have to do is mention them, the locals know about the queens BUT the experts brushed them away for years, thinking them and labeling them as Apsaras. They were also at Banteay Kdei Temple. Now that I have been here I am going to go home and know just what kind of tour I want to give myself the next time. This trip was just an introduction, a 101 in the Royal Triad. I will have a better understanding of what to look for the next time. My writer friend Kent Davis was so right, you really don’t get research done while here. You have sensory overload. You try to take it all in while you are here. Tuck it away in your brain so when you get home and back in familiar surroundings you can then write. I have stood where my King and Queens have stood. I have looked out on scenes they saw each and every day. I have felt a peaceful presence while being in their temples. Even in the dark corridors that I explored, that smelled of bat dung I never felt fear. I would see things like Apsaras and go wandering off. An inner voice would say turn here or there. I would find Meg patiently waiting for me as I found my way back or she would follow. At Ta Prohm we really got ourselves all twisted around but it was good. We were always away from the pack. We could hear voices just on the other side of the wall but they never invaded. Only one or two others would find our little hidden courtyards. We all would look at one another like we had found a hidden garden and were happy to keep it to ourselves for the time being. Quiet and careful to not let any others know we were just on the other side of the wall. So now I am back in Phnom Penh. Tomorrow I think I will leave the same time as Meg, grab a tuk-tuk and go to the waterfront, to FCC, the Foreign Correspondence Club have tea and write as the city comes alive then go walk around.

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Day at Angkor

Well I can honestly say I was not prepared for the size, scope, magnitude, awesomeness, majesty... the adjectives could go on and on and this is writing with the hints of a migraine... I need a real cup of tea and plan on getting it as soon as it gets light. Meg booked us a room(we were suppose to be traveling with my son Pat and his friend but they didn't come) so we are here at Molly Malone's, a real Irish Pub and Guest house. I suspect the owner is Irish, came here and fell in love with maybe a young thing and the country. The couple times we have come and gone out of the pub(you have to to get out through the pub) I have seen a couple men obviously Irish by the voice and about the right age. The age when they come to Asia and find a young Khmer Wife. Now though if the man is over 50 he can't marry a Cambodian woman. Anyway we arrived here after a 7 hour bus ride. It was nice, Meg had two seats(because our traveling partners didn't come) and I had two seats so we had room to stretch :-) The bus had A/C and for the most part except for the 1/2 stretch of dirt road that juggled your brain the road was pretty good. Both Meg and I took a ton of photos once we got up here. She used my Nikon and I used my mini ipad. We are staying in the old part of Siem Reap, there are allies that wind around and some streets are closed down at night to just foot traffic... well except tell some of the Cambodian police that. They ride there motos down the allies so even though you are suppose to be able to just walk and look you find yourself being pulled by your daughter out of the way. We arrived at 2PM, the bus pulled into the terminal. Now if you judged Siem Reap by the area of town that the bus pulled into you would be wrong. It was dusty, dirty and not all that pleasant. There was a bus ahead of us then we pulled in. Little did I know that as soon as the bus pulls in they close a gate and lock right behind you. To prevent the extra moto drivers and tuk-tuk's drivers from stealing bags that are off loaded from the bus, as our tuk-tuk driver told us. He had permission since he was picking us up. I scanned the crowd of drivers who are there from guest houses and hotels. Saw one holding a sign MEJAN, Molly Malone's... That was for us. It was a young Tuk-tuk driver and when I got to the door I waved to him... big smile from him. Megan and I were giggling over the spelling. They were surprised to see her as an American because they had been talking with her on the phone and she speaks Khmer. We get that everywhere. We settled in, just long enough to get all our stuff unpacked. I rolled up enough clothes in my backpack. So take clothes out and keep just the essentials for the trip to the temple. I had all my cameras, scarf, meds, brand new first-aid kit, buggy bite balm(used at one point, something bit me and my neck was burning. Quick grab the balm..., water, OSHI Green tea. I have my EPI Pen for just incase. We are going to need a lot more water today as yesterday we got there at the temple at 3PM and stayed till 6PM. If we had waited till 4:30 we could have gotten in for free. Megan told me that in 2012 the amount of tourist to Cambodia was 3 million or so. Up by 24%. You see when you get to Angkor every body from under the sun is there. The tour guides, Cambodians speak every possible language. A lot of people from other Asian countries were there. Certain countries the people are nicer then others(from Asia) I won't say which ones or which ones are ruder... It's hard in some places to get a photo without people just walking across and ruining that "Kodak Moment". BUT I was surprised if you wanted to get a close up of like of the walls or the Apsaras you could pretty much walk up, touch(in most cases) and take to your heart content. You can also see where the walls have been touched, they are so shiny, just like metal in some cases when the light hits them. I found and Megan confirmed it(this is her 3rd trip to Angkor) that about every inch is carved with something. It's all means something, all tells a story, it's truly amazing and I will never be the same again. We made our way slow. Once I got into the main part of Angkor temple built by my first king (but not the first King of Angkor) Suryavarman II he was the younger cousin to Jayavarman VII and became King first. It's funny the modern characters in my book I had them cousins, had Heng as the younger who would be the reincarnation of Suryavarman but also when he went back in time ,Suryavarman then when I found out(I know I do some things bass ackwards) that Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII were indeed cousins and Suryavarman II was the younger well it gave me chills, it was one of those moments for sure. Well back to Angkor proper... I couldn't believe all the walls and the nooks and crannies covered with ... well everything. I would only go about a foot and be like "WOW!!!, sorry Meg, need more photos of this spot." So it took us a while. She was fine as this is her third trip. But like she said she had been there two times already and she sees new things. We finally found our way to the Bakan. Now if you read my book you will know this place is very important. It's a the most Holy of places at Angkor. I completely forgot in my haste to get to Angkor Wat, the dress code and had shorts on which would have been fine BUT forgot a shirt with even cap sleeves so we got into line. A certain bunch of ladies from a certain Asian country pushed to the front and in front of us. I made the (I thought Khmer sound for WTH!) BUT it must be a universal sound or Asian sound) Sounds kinda like MU-WHAP!!! Well there heads whipped around and they stopped and then they said "Oh there is a line??" One of their friends got up though... They went to the back of the line. Meg and I got to the base of the stairs and the guard said I couldn't go up due to the lack of sleeves... no problem, we are going to go back today in the afternoon. There were other people who were turned away ahead of us too for having children under 12. For safety sake. Meg said last time she was here a couple left their kids at the bottom and they went up... This couple with their little blondies didn't. Believe me there is more then enough places to see without even going up to the Bakan, BUT going up there will be quite the spiritual journey and also to see if I can find "my Apsara" and see if she truly is the portal or wormhole... so if you don't hear from me tomorrow, well... So Meg and I wandered and sometimes I would see something and go off by myself. I usually told Meg. BUT then I would be like 'Where is she?' She would see me looking around and smile. You see on the wall that depicts the scenes from the Sea of Churning Milk, the bas-reliefs ,the age old story of good and evil. Stories are told throughout Angkor. Angkor Wat was dedicated as a Hindu Temple but with each King it might change from Buddhist or Hindu depending on their leanings. Jayavarman VII was Buddhist where as his younger cousin was Hindu and followed certain Hindu teachings. Both like all The Kings of Angkor were God Kings. All Kings in Cambodia have the term Preah in their name, which is a term for god. Once we started our walk back we found our selves in this spot that really stunk... the ceilings are vaulted, arched, free standing. It's amazing they still stand. We are standing there and Megan said something about it stinks... I didn't hear the whole thing. We are looking around and then look up and you then hear the sound of Bats... they were flying around way up and I took a photo and Meg said "Hope they don't poop on you while you are taking a photo." They didn't and we left the area. As we came back out to the main entrance after some more side trips to more Apsaras since the sun was going down, some of the official residents came out. No, not just bats live at Angkor Wat, yes there are monks who live at Angkor also... there is a working wat there on the grounds. The resident that greets you as you leave the main building is... monkeys... They are like grey squirrels in a park. All of a sudden the walls come alive with them. Yes ,they are tame or at least they are very used to you and for the most part won't jump on you BUT don't approach them, they bite... One stupid frenchman,(I know he was french... he spoke) put his hat over one... the monkey was all teeth and I am like "you stupid jerk..." under my breath. I was just sitting on the stones in front of the monkey when he pulled that. Then it was when I realized the monkey had lost a finger recently and it's didn't look pretty. BUT it didn't seem to be bothering him. BUT people were allowing their kids(more Frenchmen) to get right up to the monkey. The poor creature didn't seem to mind BUT Megan and I were saying "they will bit..." fell on deaf ears... There was a woman when we got down on the causeway that was being followed by a monkey. Maybe she fed then stopped cause all the monkeys I caw didn't do that. the monkey was following her and screeching!! Meg saw monks sitting by one of the small pools and took some shots. Across the causeway was where I got the shot of the towers in the reflective pool. More monkeys there too, some babies. Also a horse was drinking from there. Meg and I found our tuk-tuk, Meg had called him. It's funny cause everyone was leaving at the same time BUT it wasn't a problem. Also I noticed that the temple proper cleared out earlier so about only half the tourist were there by the time we left. They had gone to the spot to capture the sunset... Fine by me, more room to move. So we rode back, the breeze was glorious! As we rode, some tourist rode on the side of the road with bikes. It was pretty cool cause we all flowed together. You see I am going to have to come back... it's just too much to see or experience in one visit. To see everything, to visit every temple you need much more time. So now I know, now I can plan accordingly. We got back to "Molly's" and showered. Never did a shower feel so good, then off to find a place to eat. We went through the the allies and found a Khmer BBQ with upstairs seating. It was airconditioned ! We ordered some mango shakes and waited. Another couple came and sat over a bit on the couch. Behind us was a large Chinese party of young tourist. They were drinking and would get more obnoxious as the night wore on... The dinner was great, I got a good helping of different Khmer dishes. For all the food we bought at a nice place, we only spent a little over $12 each. We could have eaten cheaper but the A/C felt nice. tTe poor waitress were nervous, maybe new but the Chinese group were not helping... All we heard was "Waiter come here..." Over and over and finally after we asked for our bill and were waiting, one of the Chinese girls says as the waitress is clearing our place and you could tell the poor thing was trying to ignore and do her job with us BUT her and this other girl had been running straight to get this and that for those jerks...Well finally the girl is yelling "waiter, come here, waiter come here... WAITER come here NOW!!" Well I had about enough and Meg, the other couple and I had been exchanging glances. I jump up and said really loud "She is busy, leave her alone..." I sit down and think 'did I just say that?' Yup, I did. The waitress said in Khmer "It's ok." Then in broken English. I said "No it's not." I told her she had done a good job. So Meg and I wandered some more looking in the shops. I got some funky cool (as in temp.) pants with elephants. When we got back Meg was out like a light as soon as soon as she hit the pillow. Me about thirty mins. I uploaded the one photo. So now my migraine is gone, I'm hyper because of the med and it's 3:40AM... I need some more sleep... Also being where we are, it seems the town doesn't sleep, music is playing from somewhere but it's ok it adds to all the atmosphere. Hope you enjoyed our first day at Angkor.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Today in Cambodia

This will be a short post as I am getting tired... I need a nap. Woke up between 3:30 and 4AM this morning. This morning as I puttered around the kitchen making breakfast and tea before 7AM I brought some wash out to the balcony off the kitchen where the washer is located. As I was opening the glass door a little baby Gecko or Jing-jah was looking at me from the glass. I carefully opened the door. They are so cute. Well as I stood there starting up the wash funeral music started up down the road. The first time I heard it, the awful mournfull wail of the funeral music was back in 1996, soon after we had arrived and were staying with family of a Cambodian/Chinese friend of ours who was from Houston Texas. A funeral came by the house and on the first truck that carried the coffin of the person who passed away was the man's wife and she was beyond herself. She kept throwing herself on top of the coffin, crying, clawing at herself. Women from her family trying in vain to stop her, trying to protect her from herself. So whenever I hear funeral music that sound conjures up those images... Tomorrow Siem Reap and Angkor Wat!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

first part of my Cambodian Diary

Day 2, Cambodia Well it’s 3:01 Am and I have been awake for a hour anyway. I found my shortbread and then poured a glass of milk, found my book “Here be Dragons” by Sharon Kay Penman. I figured reading would help me nod off… not so. So I figure now in the quiet moments I will write a diary of my days. We landed in Phnom Penh at little before noon on the 28th. I waited for the boys to disembark and then we went downstairs to immigration to give our passports over. Pat and Kyle still had a few places to fill out on their forms, I did theirs and then we heard MaryKate call us. She, Megan, Cheat(Chee-at0 and a couple of officials were there to take care of us so we didn’t have to go through a line. With all the hula-ba-loo over Pat’s entrance visa due in fact to him having only a one way ticket I called Brendan and MaryKate. MaryKate being engaged to the Prime Minister’s nephew has it’s perks. Cheat is genuinely very nice and I can see why she loves him. BUT we had people there at the airport to escort us through the confusion which was very nice. His little son Fi-Fi is sweet also. BUT I also have my grandchildren here, right across the hall, Rheaj, who doesn’t remember me, Kevin who is quiet and shy and then Victoria who I love. I love all of them BUT Victoria or Ya-Ya has captured my heart. She has become my little shadow and I know I won’t have enough time with her. I was so tired yesterday but managed to stay up till about 7PM. When we got back from our outing I went over and checked on the children, they were with Brendan’s Bodyguard, Dee-nah. Victoria got a pile of books and I read to her till I couldn’t see straight. That made between 47-50 hours of not sleeping. I was up with only fitful dozing here and there during the trip over here. We arrived back at Brendan and Mels apartment and I settled in, sort of. Got the presents out for the kids, all the things I bought for MaryKate and Cheat’s baby which will be born in February and then food was bought. Later in the afternoon MaryKate driving her and Cheat’s Rover ,we went out to get chocolate shakes and MaryKate reminded me how driving in Cambodia is for the insane… I made the mistake of once screaming out, “watch it” and MaryKate said “Don’t do that you gave me a heart attack…” So I sat very quiet while we whizzed in and out of traffic that has no rules. Motos dash in and out, they really don’t have any fear. We were coming up a street in Phnom Penh after getting more noodles. At two places MaryKate with the aplomb of a queen pulls up and someone comes running out and takes her order… No this isn’t drive through or a sock hop of the 50s BUT life of Cambodia and the elite… if you look at her license plate just by the numbers you should know it’s of someone of importance and of the Prime Minister’s family. Well anyway we were going up this side street a moto is coming straight for us. The girl was not even looking at us or where she should be…, MaryKate beeps her horn, the girls looks at us for the first time, her path to our vehicle closing in fast. She makes a “OH!!!” with her mouth and then in the next instant swerves BUT shuts her eyes tight!!! We avoid hitting her and she zooms past us, eyes closed… Amazingly I remember the streets where things are and we had an argument about the best way to get here or there. First MK said “Well you aren’t going anyway…” I was going and would stay up till I dropped so We went driving around during rush hour and saw the sights fast… Some how today I plan on getting Megan and going out. Since Brendan’s Rover isn’t here yet we will have to get a taxi to the city, we are on the other side of the Japanese bridge BUT on the Mekon. I don’t want to waste a day while I am here. To be continued… Day 2, Cambodia Well after typing the above post and reading for a bit more I was able to go back to sleep and I slept till 7:30 this morning. I went over to Meg’s and the kids were already up. I spent time playing with Victoria and talking over our trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. Unless we have a car, if Brendan’s car makes it from Thailand then we won’t be going to Preah Vihear and I think he really doesn’t want us using his vehicle anyway so looks like Preah Vihear is going to be a no go… also I may stay an extra day, not sure if Pat and Kyle are going to BUT I want to. Cause by the time we get up there, half the day or more then half will be gone by and they charge for a whole day regardless if you stay the whole day… Megan can only be up there for a couple days then she has to come back to teach. So I have to make a list of where I want to go and be prepared and make every minute count. Today we went to the Russian Market. I found a Javaraman VII bust like what is on my cover. Also I found a really nice carved Elephant with a rider and scarves for presents. Megan brought me to a woman who make fresh squeezed fruit juices. I got a mango /passion fruit smoothie. It was so good though I know it was made with bad ice. I took two charcoal just in case. I also found my Oshi Green tea so I am sipping on that right now. As we were driving home on a Tuk-Tuk a street was blocked off because of a fire. Saw the trucks, no smoke showing. Got a lot of curious stares and smiles while riding the Tuk-tuk. The driver waited for us which was nice. He probably figured he was coming back this way he might as well wait for us. Megan paid him 50,000 riel. I gave him a tip of a dollar cause he told us we could pay whatever. So not sure what else we are doing today But we are going to get up early in the morning and go to the waterfront and the palace Sunday, tomorrow. Day 3 Well it’s Sunday morning, the sun isn’t up yet, but I woke at 4AM which is fine because I think I went to bed between 7-8. I haven’t a watch but use my ipad as a clock so when I started falling asleep, planning my trip to Siem Reap just curled up and went to bed. I am so glad I brought this soft blanket from the states. I have my Air conditioner cranked because it gets pretty hot and stuffy if I didn’t.. The condo/apartments are nice, clean and new. Bren’s side looks out onto the Mekong and yesterday Meg and I took the kids down to the pool which is right on the river. The breeze was really nice but we still had to move our chairs to the shade. The kids had fun swimming then just wanted to run around. Kevin said he found a ghost house… which was the poolside bar. This was all before we went to the Russian Market. Rheaj had to go to school which he does 6 days a week but just in the afternoons. He goes from1:30 till 5;30 and then the young girl who is a relative of Mean’s comes back with Him then since she goes to college she picks him up on her way home. Monday through Friday she brings all the kids back with her and cooks them super. Megan doesn’t get home till almost 8pm since she tutors after work, Later in the afternoon my Mong who was my foster son came for a visit. He works in a clothes factory 6 days a week until 3pm so came right after. He is still the same Mong, very quiet and thoughtful. He stayed till just before I went to bed. So today Meg will be over early. I just heard a rooster crowing which is funny being 17 stories up BUT since I am on the back of the building facing the river someone below must have a home below and their rooster is starting the day. It’s funny how the Russian Market in many aspects hasn’t changed. Some of the same sellers are there, same spot so I use them to get my bearings. The lady we used to buy DVDs is still in the same spot. Once I got to that alley (of sorts I could find myself around. The section that sells the brand new name brand clothes is in the same spot. Yesterday I was being super cheap or tout because I don’t want to spend all my money but want to make sure I have enough. Its funny cause can Megan drive a hard bargain. I would ask them what the price was and then Megan would say “No, that’s way too high and she would state a price and keep at it till they came down. On small things I won’t bargain like that unless I know it’s too high. Like before we got there I asked Megan what she thought the price per scarves were. She said $2-$3 The woman said $2 so I picked out 6. Now if she had said $4 or $5 we would have walked off cause that would have been way too high. I may try and bring back some blue and white. Most of the sellers there for porcelain charge the same price. I used to have a ton of it and once I thought the woman was charging too much, in reality I think she was charging $1-$1.50 a dinner plate so walked away and checked with others, had my translator at the time with me. Went back to the original seller when I found all the places were charging he same. I told the woman if she gave me a good price I would buy a lot and keep coming back. I am sure that old woman is no longer there BUT probably her daughter as that old Grandmother was super old. I would go back to her time and time again and she always gave me such a toothless grin. Also once I was at a silk seller, found a fuchsia colored robe made of silk. I was about to put my hand on it and this rude French tourist pushes me and grabs that one that I was looking at and a bright red one. The lady who I would go back to again and again smiled at me. I made a low remark about rude French woman and the seller said “It’s ok, I will take care of you. We said this all softly and in Khmer. Big points for me ,so I stood there and watched as this French woman tried to haggle. She finally gave back the my fuchsia colored one with a toss and took the red one for $6 ☺ After the lady walked away I figured even at $6 that was a steal BUT the Chinese lady who was selling them gave me mine for $3!!!! So I always went back to her after that. I also when going to places at the markets use Khmer terms of respect and that earns you big points too. LATER Day 3 Well Meg and I went out today, we went to the water front and the streets around the palace like Street Number 178 and the other street is Street 240 then off to the palace. I took a couple videos, one was when we were standing in front of the palace. We walked all around the streets that border the Palace. They are building a HUGE crematorium for the former king. He will be cremated sometime mid to late January. After his passing the outpouring of grief was so great by not only the people of the country but Cambodian’s all over the world, they would flood the grounds in front of the palace. They had to stop it. One of my Cambodian friends had posted a video of a few nights after the death of the former king and the ground was covered with monks praying and chanting.. yesterday the air was festive, families coming feeding the pigeons who know they have a good thing. Women selling white lotus blossoms for offerings . Day 4, 7;45 Am Well meg is off to work, I have neatened my room after throwing my clothes everywhere in search of camera batteries… I woke this morning just before 6AM to the most glorious sunrise. I hope I can catch the sunrise at Angkor I am going to start saving for a trip next year and I will just land in Siem Reap stay there for a week then come down here then fly home. So now that I am getting an idea of how much things cost. Also being out here on the other side of the river it takes just a little bit more to get going since Brendan’s Rover isn’t here yet. I am hoping to get to either the National Museum or the palace or maybe both, we will see then today is New Years Eve I have been enjoying seeing my grandchildren every day. Saw my ex Son-in-law Mean and saw my foster son Mong. So it’s been a bitter sweet trip too. It’s funny we get no snow leading up to Christmas except little dustings, the day I leave they close Portland down due to weather… we got out just in time. When I spoke to Bob last night it was still snowing. So I will pick this up later. Going to get dressed and see where I can find a bowl of soup for breakfast. Later in the day Well just back from having a Khmer breakfast. Went to the river side to a restaurant called Titanic. It has a wonderful view of the riverside of the Mekong and the boat dock for the river cruises has the docking station right next door. I had a beef noodle soup and fried beef with rice since I know it’s the only time I will eat till supper. Later I will go out and after going to the national Museum and Wat Phnom then on my way back I want to stop at Bayon Market and then buy some mangos. MaryKate bought Mankut yesterday, probably a kilo and I had one, Bren ate the rest… I saw a whole truckload of those today. In English it’s Mangosteen. Deena is back so I will have him go with me. Iw as going to just come back and then leave BUT as we were driving over the Japanese bridge a truck had broken down and was tying up traffic on going n to Phnom Penh. It was three lanes trying to jockey into one and a few policemen trying to keep the order. I don’t envy them. I bought a few more gifts. I wanted to get tee shirts for the boys so found the ones I wanted for not a bad price. I figure get the things I want to now and then figure what I have to divide between my cases for the weight restrictions. I found another elephant and then a water buffalo. I still have to find some small ones BUT I will wait till I come back from Angkor Wat. One of the tees has a string of elephants on it, that’s going to be for Joe. Well it’s 4;36PM ,so in Camden it’s Monday Morning 4:36AM. I just got back from the National Museum and Wat Phnom.I had been to the museum years ago BUT it didn’t really mean anything to me BUT today going in there and seeing pieces of history some Pre Angkor some during the time of jayavarman VII well it was really moving. I could have been waundering around forever so I finally took out my guide to Pnom penh and found a photo (of sorts ) of Jayavaraman and asked a lady… at first she said “no, not here…” I made the Khmer noise for “I don’t think so…” and then I said the English version of his name and she said “Oh yes… Jayavarman VII and Deenah who is my body guard while I am here repeated it. She made motions of where he was located and I just about ran ! There he was at the end of the room, the full body except for the arms that were hacked off and a bit of the back of his head. I just stood there with a goofy grin and an awe look. I had some rude French lady staring at me. I say French because they are the only ones rude enough to stare… I plan on going back and just staring. Then onto Wat Phnom. This is the highest point in the city and itw as where the Lady Penh gave the parcel of land to start the city. There is a statue of her nearby. I took photos and we climbed the staircase to the top. Going up the short flight to the actual Wat we took off our shoes and walked in. The ceiling is painted, I’ll have to go again and absorb what’s on there, probably something with Buddah. Then I went and sat on the back on a mat and Deena went to get incense or jah(sp?) sticks to offer up prayers. He grabbed a certain amount, double checked when he counted, lit offered a prayer then came and gave me four then handed me an extra one. Four is not a good number (lake meaning number and bu-ann meaning four) we then went up to the alter and prayed. Coming down there was a poor monkey chained. The woman said itw as kung… meaning mad and would bite or (come). I am thinking to myself, yea and you would be angry and bite too if you were chained… poor thing. It used to be and it still is if you sit still long enough by the Post office that monkeys are in the trees. We used to park at the post office and if you sat there you would then see the tree come alive with monkeys. Then Deenah told my driver that I wanted to go to Bayon (Bye-yone) . It’s funny the Chinese family that owns it, they are still very present there. I walked in and Deenah grabbed a basket, he wouldn’t let me carry. I got milk and yogurt and shortbread and then the hunt for (not red October) but Tamarind candy. I am trying to remember the Khmer word for Tamarind . I am telling Dennah Scah-crop meaning candy, cjhew (trying to give you the way to sound it out not a correct english spelling)which means sour… so we are walking up and down the candy isle. Apparently the Khmer men don’t know about the fact the men shouldn’t ask like when American men get lost and need directions and they don’t ask BUT just keep going… Well he was asking everyone that I needed this candy and can you find it for her. My son Ian really wants it. Well finally we find the right two people, two others didn’t know and these other two talking enough with them finally the young woman says Um-bul which is the Khmer word for tamarind. I hit my forehead with the palm of my hand and said “yes, that’s it!" and she then goes looking. We found it tucked away. She then repeats the Khmer word and asked me the English word. Once we both said it we were both happy. So that was my adventure for the afternoon. I am going to now upload my photos and see how they came out. New Year’s Eve night Well we just got home, Meg, Mel and I went out. We ended up going to the same place we did the night before, The Chow which is part of The Quay Guest House. We really lucked out because there was no place that had any room, even at the bars. They were all filled up or had reservations and couldn’t fit any more… So we went to The Chow and had a great time.