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The Blue Coral October 31, 2011

Posted by Karan in General.
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I have not seen water clearer than this. The ocean bed went deep into the earth, and the bluish-green highlighted the character of the sea. Crystal, luminous, serendipitous, glorious- Use all you like, but can you describe the ocean? The inhibitions put aside, the mask was worn leading to the first peek- the uncovering of the purdah into the stunning ocean.

I could feel the hair in my hands stirring at the appearance of the vitality of life. The fins and the scales on the fluid creatures under the sea was a sight to behold. The yellow on the skin was the most natural colour I had ever seen, could I just extract it and etch it on the walls of my room? Further away, the blue fish was the most heart-warming creature.

The community of the gilled creatures behaved in an enthralling way. Bread allured them, but so did the leader of the lot. Did I see them following their chief, who warned them of the huge hairy big-square eyed creatures surveying them? Or did they sense the joy of an awaited event? I could not tell. I wanted to know. I had no way of doing so. I wanted more time with them, to observe, to learn, to live.

Never had I thought that tentacles could excite me more than anything else. The togetherness of the creatures stunned me, with the odd coral sitting isolated in deep contemplation. Beyond the physical, the commonality across living beings is striking. And the sight of the isolated blue coral- was orgasmic, or tantric; as you would like to put it.

My insomnia in the middle of the night is only to be explained by the first explorations of the majestic ocean. I cannot wait to romance her again.

Peace. Hardly do you find this word more apt.

PS: This is with reference to my snorkelling trip at Phuket (Phi Phi Island). My co-travellers were Abra, Anuj, Ashwin, Bharath, Giridhar, Hersh, Kavitha, Mahesh, Shalini, Toshe and Vipul.

Seam Reap: Enchanted October 24, 2011

Posted by Karan in General.
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History and its books have always fascinated me. The culture of people, the unfolding of events and the romance of it all has few other things which compare. During school days, I loved studying my history books and imagining about what would have transpired during that period. I often found myself walking along the streets of Harappa, listening to the arguments of Birbal, feeling the heat of it all in Paris, staring at the temples of Angkor… Who knew that one day, I’d actually get to visit the temples of Angkor?!

Amidst fears of floods and rains, we set off for Siem Reap in the exotic country of Cambodia. I was initially sceptical about the trip added to the fact that the timing of flights from Kuala Lumpur would leave us with less than 36 hours in the city. However, it all turned out perfect for us- the cab, hotel bookings all leading to one of the better trips I’ve had.

I was amazed to know that the city of Siem Reap has over 500 temples, and one could feel the pulse right on landing at the airport. As one of my friends put it, the airport seemed to be “a resort taken over by the government and converted into an airport”. Along the line, there were various grandeur resorts and hotels, but we (group of 10) opted to stay in a budget hotel which cost us just over 7 USD a head. Surprisingly enough, USD seemed to be a more common currency here than the local Riel.

After getting things in place, we headed to the first temple we wanted to see- the Angkor Wat, the symbol of both modern Cambodia and the ancient Angkor empire. This 900-year old temple is the largest religious monument in the world and the size of the same is overwhelming! We took three hours to see this temple, and one can easily an entire day for the same. The feeling I had while at this temple is indescribable- I had Goosebumps all over me on multiple occasions here. Even though the temple is now a Buddhist one, the details of the inscriptions were all milestones from Hindu mythology and the “Churning of the Ocean” was especially magnificent. In fact, the churning seems to be a central theme across various temples in Siem Reap. Walking along some of the aisles of the temple while drowning myself in the walls, I felt immensely in peace with myself. I have not seen such a stunning temple anywhere in India!

The last major King of the Angkor empire, Jayavarman 7 built the Buddhist Angkor Thom temple (The King was himself a converted Buddhist). This temple has the “Smiling Buddha”, the secret behind which we tried discovering in a stunning laser and dance show called “Smile of Angkor”. The walls of this temple depicted the war between the Angkors and the Chams (the latter still exist in parts of Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia). The last temple which we visited in the day was Ta Prohm– the place where the Tomb Raider movie was shot. This is a temple which is quite unexplored. The most amazing part of the temple was the growth of massive trees at random parts of the temple, something which was a result of the temple being deserted for centuries.

The next day (I am conveniently skipping the exploration of night life of Siem Reap- the highlight of the same was the local massage, where the masseur uses legs too!) was spent in another beautiful sight- the floating villages in the Great Lake of Tonle Sap. The lake is massive- apparently it can carry us right unto the capital city of Phnom Penh. The culture of the people and floating villages were lovely to watch, and a very unique phenomenon. It was amazing to see the way these villages still existed, and a thought about the life which people have to lead at the same.

All in all, it was a short but memorable trip. I leave with a promise to come back to Siem Reap- it’s a place which deserves much more time.

PS: I’ll write notes about my Singapore and Langkawi trips soon.