Thursday, 31 December 2015

Cambodia Day 16 (Part 1) - Angkor Wat

This was a second day visiting the various temples and locations in and around Angkor Wat. From memory, there are 60 or so temples spread around the vast area and on this day we visited about seven of them. The temples are at one very similar and yet also distinctive.

Some photos from the first half of the day.

Tree growing through and over the temple

Moving on to another temple.

Moving on to yet another.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Tonight, 40.56%, 8/8

Cambodia Day 15 - Phnom - Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)

We flew from Phnom Penh this morning to the northern city of Siem Reap outside of which lie the magnificent Temples at Angkor Wat. This was the final leg of our visit to Vietnam and Cambodia.

I'm pleased to report that our local guide in Siem Reap was informed, active and attuned to achieving an enjoyable touring experience. We knew immediately on meeting him at the airport that we would completing our holiday on a high note.

Arriving in the early afternoon we first stopped for a pleasant lunch and then were taken directly to Angkor Wat.

Here is a section of photos from this first afternoon at the historic site.

The walkway approach to Angkor Wat
Crowds on the walkway
Pockets of serenity
Tourism and prayer intermingle
Resting between steps
Superb artwork
Steps to the Tower
Between the Towers
View from a Tower
View from a Tower
Courtyard at Tower base
Courtyard at Tower base
Starting the Tower descent
A tiny section of the longest continuous bas-relief in the world
Sunset at the famous ruins
Transport and crowds disperse at sunset

Tuesday, 29 December 2015


The only other time I saw 'Cats' was in New York in 1986 armed with a discount ticket from the Times Square outlet and for that discount I had a restricted view of the stage. About a third of the stage was out of my sight lines and it seemed to me most of the action was happening in or emanated from that third.

My recollection of that production was of lots of choreography, lots of repetitive musical themes and lots of dark scenes.

I have always thought that cats look cute in Disney cartoons but otherwise I have never been enamoured of them.

Overall I never felt an interest to revisit the show.

'Cats' is currently on revival in Australia. Finding myself in Melbourne on a snap decision for a totally unplanned Christmas visit I discovered 'Cats' to be playing within a block of my accommodation and so I went along.

This Australian production has an impressive ensemble cast. These Aussies sure can sing and dance and move and act beautifully. The show is still all choreography, all repetitive musical themes and mainly staged in darkness. It is a show that relies on its staging, movement, costumes and images. In that respect this production is excellent.

As a musical play, however, 'Cats' does little for me. Excellent as this staging is, a viewing once every thirty years will be sufficient for me. The enthusiastic reception by others in the audience indicates not everyone agrees with me.

★★★1/2 (for the quality of the production and performance)

Monday, 28 December 2015

East West art in the South

I have to reveal that I made a snap late decision to visit Melbourne over the Christmas period. I didn't inform my Melbourne friends of the visit as I didn't want them to feel obliged to break into their Christmas plans to entertain me. Maybe none of them would have anyway!

I thought it had been about eight years since I last visited the southern city and was surprised when I checked to find it was only four years ago.

Anyway the most interesting thing I did on this visit was to see the Andy Warhol  - Ai Wei Wei Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Some years ago I saw the Warhol exhibition staged by Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art so I expected I would focus mostly on Ai Wei Wei's work. However I found that the Warhol segments contained many different displays from what I recall seeing in Brisbane.

The NGV exhibition cleverly blends the work of these two artists not only in their shared interest in China but also for their similar attention to human behaviour in their photography and art depictions. I enjoyed the exhibition immensely.

Some photos;

Andy Warhol self portrait

Ai Wei Wei self portrait

Mel Gibson and Mark Lee (Warhol)

Poster sketch (Warhol)

Chinese city sketch (Ai)

Beijing streets (Ai)

Friends (Warhol)

Ai Wei Wei's commissioned work, a construction of bicycles,  dominates the NGV foyer. This is the work viewed from the Mezzanine level.

Whilst in Melbourne I saw 'Cats'. I have never thought much of this as a musical show but I was impressed by the effort and standard of the Australian cast in this production.

Audience taking its seats ahead of 'Cats'

Audience departing 'Cats' through the foyer of the ornate Regent Theatre

Finally Melbourne's beloved Yarra River on a very hot Christmas Eve.

Cambodia Day 14 Phnom Penh (late morning and afternoon) - National Museum, Killing Fields, Orphanage and Mekong River

Our Tour Guide's mishandled race around the sights of Phnom Penh continued. Our next stop was at the National Museum.

From the museum it was off to the Killing Fields; about a half an hour drive to the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Killing Fields memorial

At this point it was around midday and we had raced through the Royal Palace, the National Museum and the Killing Fields during the morning.

We were now driven to the Sunrise Orphanage; about an hour's drive outside of Phnom Penh. Sunrise was founded by the Australian Geraldine Cox and has been widely reported on back home. We assumed that our manic morning of touring was essential to meet the appointed time for the Orphanage visit in the afternoon.

However it was clear on arrival at the Orphanage that we were not expected. Not at that time anyway. Apart from a gatekeeper who opened the gates for us there was not another soul on the grounds.

It turns out we had arrive nearly two hours earlier than the Orphanage expected. Staff and the children were enjoying their midday nap, avoiding the main heat of the day.

We did not wish to disturb the children and so we departed the Orphanage without seeing the presentation and store they usually provide for visitors.

Returning to the city earlier than planned gave us an opportunity to visit the Central Market.

A tiny section of the huge market

Finally, to fill in the gap now opened late in the day, a short sunset cruise along the Mekong Rover.

The Royal Palace seen from the Mekong

Contrast of luxury hotel and river community on the Mekong

Mekong River cruise vessels

Phnom Penh sunset