Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spam comment I just had to share

Blogger is pretty good at catching spam comments. I get an email every time someone comments, but many of the spam ones don't make it to the actual comments you readers see. Sometimes, it's clear how Blogger knew it was spam because of a link or some other telltale spam yuckiness.

Today, however, I got one that has no links or anything and is very complimentary but ultimately wacky:

"keep up the fantastic work , I read few blog posts on this web site and I conceive that your web blog is very interesting and has lots of fantastic information.
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Sword lily, I cannot figure out how Blogger knew that was spam.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Last Touring Day in Cambodia

We had to tour our last day in Cambodia without Paige, who holed up in the hotel room completely sick. We never determined the identity of the mystery illness, but it sure laid her out.
Our first destination was a floating village on Ton Le Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. People live in the floating village because they're poor Vietnamese people in Cambodia; they can live in whatever structures they can create on the lake without paying for land. They actually live in houses and get around by boat, as opposed to all of the structures truly "floating".
Houses and boats were all painted in vivid colors.
Ton Le Sap shipyard, I suppose. Throughout Ton Le Sap, those pikes held up structures and served as anchors for big floating markets.

The pictu
res help, but this video sums up the scene at the lake and on our way back at a "hammock bar" best. A few photos below the video, so don't skip those.

Hammock bar, 11:15 am.
Corona, eat your heart out.
Dusk at the last temple on the last day.
The van ride back south toward Phom Penh and eventually "home" to Saigon. Colin enjoying his new birthday iPod (he turned 7 in Cambod
ia); Charlie reading Harry Potter and the Itchy Red Sore (or whatever), Teddy probably playing on Colin's Nintendo DS. I don't have any photos or video of the bus ride from PP to Saigon because we're all doing our best to forget it. The bus was horrendous compared to the bus we rode up - broken arm rests, seats too close together - but the worst thing with the "entertainment". Back to back violent, outdated American movies dubbed in one voice into Vietnamese. The first feature was Rambo: First Blood, dubbed in a female Vietnamese voice. Quality declined from there. The good news: we passed safely through the border crossing and arrived very late at night back in Saigon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chart: Celebrity Marriages

King, Taylor, Davis - Wikipedia
Woman at the Well - Jesus

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Angkor Temples Day 2

Probably only two more photo posts from this trip and then I can get back to posting about more everyday, at-home stuff. (Hint at upcoming content: some more Happy Househusband's Helpful Household Hints, and Paige and I are both reading the stimulating Parenting with Love & Logic right now). Below are photos from our second day of temple-storming at Angkor.
The cousins really enjoyed their time together and started day 2 happy and fresh as daisies.

Teddy here demonstrates the scale of the temples and the fun to be had climbing around on them. If you only click on one picture in this post to see it full-size, click on this one. You can also see a big tree in the background to the right of Ted asserting itself in the midst of the temples. Coming upon these trees in certain places in the temples, one could understand how they got lost in the jungle for a couple of centuries.
Not the best picture in the world, but it demonstrates how the boys gamboled over the rocks.
Being Pittsburghers, we were intrigued to see a dinosaur carved in one of the temples.
In this spot where two tree trunks dominate a temple wall, there was a little deck where people stood for photos. As I've mentioned, the vast majority of Angkor's tourists are Korean, and we saw group after group go to this spot and take an iconic Korean-style tourist photo. We, of course, followed suit.
Lauren and Mike both sell, the Korean tourist act with more conviction than Paige and I did.
For all of my civil engineer readers, I thought seeing this storm sewer still identifiable in one of the temples demonstrated the sophistication of the Khmer culture at Angkor. Angkor thrived for six centuries primarily because the Khmer people figured out how to manage water in that uneven climate. Moats and huge man-made lakes capture the rainy season water and kept it around during the hot, dry months.
The family across the moat from Angkor Wat. Its three towers appear on the Cambodian flag. Angkor Wat is the most famous of the temples at Angkor. It also is and feels much more massive than the other temples. The walk in the afternoon sun over the moat bridge and then through the interior courtyards to get to the main part of the temple nearly did in our party. Paige got sick that afternoon/evening and missed the rest of our touring. Ironically, inside Angkor, it's pretty cool and shady.
We wished Tina, our otherwise awesome tour guide, had just urged us to get to the cool respite of the core temple at Angkor instead of frying slowly in the sun on the way in. Tina was terrific, though, especially with the boys. Above, she tells Teddy about a section of a long story frieze on the temple wall.
High up in Angkor Wat (some parts have steps too steep to let the masses traverse), we came upon these traditional dancers, happy to pose for a photo for about 4200 Riel (a dollar).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Phnom Penh

I kind of skipped over our day in Phnom Penh on our way up to the temples at Angkor. Here's a quick photo tour of what was a very quick tour of PP.
Phonm Penh, unlike taxitastic Saigon, features tuk tuks as a way to get around. The PP version tended to be a moped with a carriage affair behind it. Looks like Ted prefers a taxi.
Our tour guide, Gibby, took us to the Royal Palace. Cambodia still has a king. Single ladies, he's single! His pad is pretty groovy.
Main gate of the temple. I've posted these small to save space, but some of them look really dope when you click on them to make them bigger.
The main building and grounds in the temple complex, which includes a building with a silver floor. Yes, the entire floor is covered in silver tiles that clink when you walk on them. Walking paths for the public are covered with a thin carpet, but you can see the tarnished tiles around the edges.
The moon pavilion where the king addresses the people during the water festival and other holidays. Purportedly, a deadly curse terminates the life of any non-king types who dare to enter. Five workmen died mysteriously just a few years ago while completing repairs.
Beautiful details in a Thai architecture style adorned the buildings.
There's some dead Cambodian kingage in the white obelisk on the left. The sprinklers provided some nice relief for flora (and fauna) in the searing afternoon heat.
A pavilion covering a statue of Napoleon on a white horse. Yes, that Napoleon. No, I don't really know why.
A model of Angkor Wat, which Gibby introduced by saying "Do you want to wait until you go north tomorrow, or do you want me to show you Angkor Wat today? Do you want me to show it to you today? Do you?" Then, we rounded the corner and saw this. Very funny, Gibby.
A Khmer restaurant that Gibby recommended. Lovely atmosphere and decent food.
Khmer omelet. Mmm, mmm good.
Uncle Mike breakfasting at our hotel, the Kabiki. The Kabiki offered us a haven of serenity in bustling Phnom Penh. Lovely, large guest rooms, inviting public spaces, good breakfast.
Detail of Uncle Mike making a point.
Also at the Kabiki, foosball.
The amazing pool at the Kabiki with lounge chairs, cabana thingies and a baby pool back in the corner. So nice!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Haiku: Saladtosis

Who wants raw onions
on salad? People with no
lovers or taste buds?

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Day at Angkor

Family photo with the three-headed elephant at the Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom. Charlie is carrying Baa, the stuffed lamb about whom he journaled throughout our trip as a school assignment.
Paige and Lauren with a lady sculpture at Angkor Thom.
Paige up on the top level of a temple with a long gallery roof running down to a tower.
Our tour guide proved to be an expert at the nose-to-nose photo. The trick here is that the statue was a few dozen yards in the background behind Paige.
Charlie went nose to nose, too.
Reconstructing a part of a temple. The Cambodian government partners with several other countries on projects like this one to excavate and reconstruct parts of the temples.
Although there are massive statues and towers everywhere, it's the little details that memorably catch the eye. Here, literally, we loved this elephant's eye.
Our tour guide "Tina" - perhaps not her real Cambodian name - shows the Jacksons a wall-length mural telling a story from mythology.
We bought post cards from this little guy in the temple. There were kids everywhere selling handicrafts and souvenirs. They worked hard and tended to have a little shtick, including rattling off the stats of the place you're from. "Oh, Washington, DC, US Capital, US population 300 million." If you politely declined and kept walking, they would call after you "If you buy, you buy from me."
The temples do all kind of run together. I think this is the last one we saw on the first day. Despite being a cultural, historic landmark, the temples are surprising accessible places to take little boys. All of the climbing and discovery keeps them engaged.
Lauren and Mike planned ahead with balloons for Paige's birthday. We don't usually get a chance to swim on Paige's birthday - February 2 - but we did in 90 degree Cambodia.
Mike and Lauren celebrated their own way with a lady drink and an Angkor beer. If you like anything but light, flavorless lagers, Cambodia and Vietnam are not the place for you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Video Blog: Getting from Saigon to Angkor

I acquired a Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera before the trip, and I've sown together some bits of video from our long trip from Saigon up to the temples at Angkor into about a 5-minute video.

Charlie gave a successful presentation to his classmates this week about our trip with about 40 photos in a slide show. He gave out lucky money - 100 to 1000 dong (half a cent to 5 cents) - to each classmate. Lucky money is a Vietnamese new year (Tet) tradition, complete with garish red envelopes.