Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An afternoon at the Baywalk..

location: Roxas Boulevard

Since today was the day i had to accompany Iggy to his appointment at the US Embassy... i decided to wander around the area and ended up in Baywalk...

I haven't seen this place since 2006... it has completely changed since then... gone were the little bars and restaurants that lined up the breakwater... now..... Roxas Blvd. looks like what i used to remember the place when i was still young. I was very fortunate to have Oskie who patiently waited with me while Iggy went for his visa application.

Had merienda at Aristocrat while waiting for Iggy ...I ordered Arroz caldo with goto . Unfortunately i was soooo hungry that i finished it as soon as it was served... but luckily... Oskie ordered inihaw na liempo with java rice... and I was able to take a picture of that... looked so yummy... especially with the secret sauce of the Reyes family...

I was in time for the sunset..... and took hundreds of shots... and ended with these 4 shots....

The next time i go to the Roxas Blvd... i will remember to try riding the calesa....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cu Chi Tunnel, Ho Chi Minh

There are also many interesting excursions to do while visiting the South of Vietnam. And the most interesting one i joined was the Cu Chi Tunnel experience. It requires at least a whole day to do this tour.

"Cu Chi, the land of many gardens, peaceful all year round under shady trees ... Then mercilessly American bombers have ruthlessly decided to kill this gentle piece of countryside ... Like a crazy bunch of devils they fired into women and children ... The Americans wanted to turn Chu Chi into a dead land, but Cu Chi will never die."

Knitting past and present jarringly together, the gunfire in the film mingles with that of the nearby firing range, where visitors can pay $1 a bullet to shoot an AK-47 rifle.The rattle and pop of automatic weapons greet a visitor. Young women in the black pajamas of the Vietcong flit through the woods. A man in green fatigues picks his way down a narrow trail, leading a small platoon of foreign tourists.

This is the site of the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Vietnam War. Today it is one of the country's prime tourist attractions, part of a new industry of war tourism. Sometimes, these spots seem to be memorials to wartime propaganda as much to the war itself.

Following the man in green fatigues, the tourists arrive at an open-sided hut, where the women in black show them to their seats. There, on a big-screen television set, the Vietnam War plays on: B-52's drop strings of bombs, villagers run for cover, communist guerrillas fight back.

The Cu Chi tunnels, a 75-mile-long underground maze where thousands of fighters and villagers could hide, are at the top of the list of tourist spots for Ho Chi Minh City, 45 miles to the southeast. Another is the city's Museum of War Remnants, with its displays of captured weapons and its catalog of horrors, which only recently amended its name, with changing times, from the Museum of American War Crimes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Cambodian Amok Fish Recipe

Cambodian food is a charming combination of strong and vibrant flavors. Cambodians like to make sure that there is a little of the salty, the sour, the sweet and the bitter in every meal.

Khmer cuisine is gaining interest in many countries, with some people forecasting that it will become the New Thai, i.e. the next cuisine from the Southeast Asia region to enchant the world. It is, in fact, quite similar to Thai food but without the spiciness.


400 g firm white fish (ling, monkfish, even salmon works but is less traditional) Cut into bite size chunks

1/2 cup coconut cream
2 cups coconut milk
1 egg (beaten)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves (sliced thinly)
2-3 long red chilli peppers (seeded & thinly sliced)
300 g kale or collard greens or cabbage leaves (combined with 1 tablespoon lemongrass)

The Amok Paste:
2 dried red chilies (soaked and drained)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoon fresh galangal (chopped) (use fresh ginger as an alternative)
1 tbsp lemon grass stalk
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shrimp paste

To make the paste, blend all the paste ingredients smoothly in a food processor or with a hand blender. Combine the paste with 1 cup of coconut milk. When dissolved, stir in the remaining coconut milk, egg, fish sauce and fish.
Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC. Take off any stems from the kale and cut into large pieces and make a thin layer in the bottom of 4 ramekins. Spoon in the fish mixture and cover with another leaf. Cover each ramekin tightly in foil and place on a roasting tin. Pour in 1 inch of boiling water to the tin and carefully place in the oven. Steam for 20-25 minutes until the fish is cooked and quite solid.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I finally got to visit Siem Reap with my friends, Ernie and Lulu Kamatoy , Roland and Maribel Sunga from Los Angeles, CA. We were lucky to arrive on the eve of the King's Birthday. They were on a 2 day holiday. I found out that cambodian food is coconut milk based, not spicy although most of their stuff were similar to the Thai food. You must try their Khmer Amok Fish which is very famous and their KARI.

They recommended another cambodian dish called TREY BOM POONG but it was already finished when we ordered it. We had our first taste of cambodian cooking in a restaurant cum bar called DEAD FISH.

Our first stop was to see ANGKOR WAT, the world's largest religious monument. It took us the almost 5 hours just to walk thru the whole place.

For lunch we dined in a restaurant near Angkor Wat called SOMOS SRAS SRANG. They served local khmer food.

In the afternoon we went back to the hotel to change clothes and walked to the river to watch the river boat race. While waiting for the boat race to start we went around the area and sampled all the food they were selling.

That evening we were able to go and see a cultural show. I noticed that some of their dances were very similar to our folk dance here. Like the " maglalatik dance " and they had their own version of the " tinikling " . But their movements were much slower and they put more emphasis on their hands and head movement.

The Asparas of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Standing still and upholding all the temple portals she is there smiling and awaiting the procession of the royal family to pay homage to Siva. Frozen forever with her eternal smile the Apsaras and Devatas emit grace, warmth and serenity. Her smile is so inviting it is as if she knows the secret of eternal happiness.

Surrounding the entire temple the Apsara guardians are beckoning the viewer to enter this beautiful temple and enjoy the secrets of divine bliss.Haunting and beautiful she stands everywhere spreading her charm and beauty.

The Apsaras of the Bayon and Angkor Wat are the eternal representations of divine grace, still here, if only you can get close enough to see her and greet her with your own smile of acceptance.

Banteay Srei Temple, Angkor Wat

Banteay Srei ....is a beautiful 10th century Khmer temple complex dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor, it lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, North of Angkor Wat. Banteay Srei is built mainly of deep red sandstone, a material that lends itself to the elaborate wall carvings which are still well-preserved today. Banteay Srei means " Citadel of Women " and it is believed that the reliefs on this temple are so delicate that they could only have been carved by the hand of a woman. The relief carvings on the central buildings depict scenes from ancient Hindu myth.

In fact, the buildings are miniature in scale compare to the standards of Angkorian construction. The remarkable craving skills and the red sandstone medium have made the temple very popular with tourists, and is widely praised as the "jewel of Khmer art.”

Tonle Sap Lake and Fishing Village, Ang Kor Wat

For those which like a deep discovery of a country, one should not fail to take a tour of Ton Le Sap Fishing Village in Ang Kor Wat, Cambodia.The Tonle Sap is one of the most fish abundant lakes in the world and the silt deposits left behind by the annual floods have created fertile ground for agriculture. It’s no surprise that one of Asia’s greatest ancient civilizations developed near this lake and today much of Cambodia’s livelihood still depends on its output.

The village is friendly, smiles from everybody and waves and shouts of ‘bye bye’ from the children follow our boat as we make our way down the town’s "main street". There is heavy traffic here as long canoes serving as public buses, small family pirogues, and even the occasional large metal bowl serving as transportation for some the younger villagers all make their way around the village.

Ta Prom Temple, Cambodia

Ta Prom is definitively what you are looking for if you are into discovering old ruins in the jungle. When the French started clearing away the vegetation on the Angkor ruins some romantics protested that the archeologist were destroying what they called "the natural state" of the temples. The Conservation Society decided that Ta Prohm would remain in its overgrown state. Some work was carried out to prevent further collapses and to make the site safe for visitors. Some parts have signs that forbid entry which doesn't seem to hinder the majoity of the tourists.

The temple is one of the largest, with an outer wall measuring 600 by 1000 metres, largely collapsed. The sanctuary is a square with sides of 120m. Some parts are inaccessible because the roofs caved in. It is a good idea to bring a flashlight if you want to scout the inner hallways. Be careful where you step, especially in the morning when all the stones are wet with the dew.

Nevertheless, Ta Prom is a sight not to be missed.

Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat

We stand before it stunned. It is like nothing else in the land. The Bayon is located in the center of the city of Angkor Thom 1500 meters (4921 feet) from the south gate. Enter tower of the Bayon is from the east.

Prasat Bayon was built in late 12th century to early 13th century, by the King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to BuddhistThe Bayon was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat. The basic structure and earliest part of the temple is not known. Since it was located at the centre of a royal city it seems possible that the Bayon would have originally been a temple-mountain conforming to the symbolism of a microcosm of Mount Meru. The middle part of the temple was extended during the second phase of building. The Bayon of today belong to the third and last phase of the art style.


Over 2000 large faces carved on the 54 tower give this temple its majestic character.


The faces with slightly curving lips, eyes placed in shadow by the lowered lids utter not a word and yet force you to guess much, wrote P Jennerat de Beerski in the 1920s. It is generally accepted that four faces on each of the tower are images of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and that they signify the omnipresence of the king. The characteristics of this faces - a broad forehead, downcast eyes, wild nostrils, thick lips that curl upwards slightly at the ends-combine to reflect the famous 'smile of Angkor'.