Sunday, April 29, 2007

When roots attack...

Ta Prohm, Angkor.

Samode, Rajasthan.

It’s always interesting to see nature break through man made structures. It’s what made Ta Prohm interesting. The archaeologists decided to keep the trees intact when they started their work. (But from what I gathered on the trip they are now posing a threat to the temple complex.)

The inner sanctum of Ta Prohm was quite empty. There was hardly anyone in that area of the temple. Roots, bricks, rubble. And a monk who was sitting next to a Buddha statue, lighting incense. He graciously tied a saffron dhaaga on my wrist. There was also a snake that slithered away into the rubble when I climbed on top of a pile of bricks to take some photos. The Japanese tour groups arrived and made their way in soon after. Needless to say I didn’t hang around the area for much longer. I made my way out and went about exploring other parts of the temple.

Trees and roots are everywhere. Sometimes it seemed as if they were squeezing the life out of the temple. I was glad they were there. If only for selfish reasons. They provided a tiny bit of respite from the terribly harsh sun. And made for a most bizarre and wondrous temple visit.

P.S.: Remembered the second picture from a trip to Rajasthan a few years back. The tree in the village in Samode was sitting proudly on a pile of rubble from part of a collapsed wall. No one had had the heart to cut it down. Now it was simply too big.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


One over riding thought from my trip: Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City as it’s now officially called) is the best city I’ve visited in South East Asia. By far.

So, I got back late last night. The trip was good. The temples of Angkor were great. Though the heat (forty degrees!) was sapping. Phnom Penh was terribly depressing and slightly grotesque. (More on those later).

Saigon was the highlight though. It might have been just relief at getting away from Phnom Penh and our shady guesthouse that seemed to double as a brothel. But saying that is probably injustice to Saigon. The city never disappointed in the five days I spent there.

There’s not much to see per se. It’s just the vibe that Saigon exudes. It’s bustling and very busy and the noise and smells are over powering. But Saigon is welcoming, the chaos pleasant and the city just sucks you in. You can just stand in a corner at a road side forever and never get bored because there’s just so much happening.

The traffic is mad of course. Motorcycles are so numerous that they seem like a never ending stream of ants inhabiting the city roads. (Saigon has the largest number of motorbikes for any city in the world.) Every road crossing seems like a new challenge – traffic rules are singularly ignored.

The first afternoon I was walking around alone and was at wits end trying to figure out how to make it across the street before a policeman came up and held up traffic to help me cross. After a while though, you get used to crossing the street in full traffic with motorbikes zigzagging around you. Motos are also a great way to get around the city. Though every time I got onto one I was quite sure I wouldn’t get down alive.

It’s a wonderful city to people watch. The city seems to live on the streets. There are roadside coffee and food stalls. Fruit vendors everywhere. At night the Ben Thanh market spills out on the roads. The people are wonderful, never pushy. The shopping is great and cheap, cheap, cheap. If I had my own house I would go back to Saigon just to buy stuff to put in it. The food was amazing. Brilliant pho, juicy fresh fruits, strong coffee. And despite the chaos and noise and mad rush, you can always find a quiet spot. Even in the rush of Cholon, the city’s China Town, the pagodas are like an oasis of calm.

I am still recovering from the trip. I haven’t even processed everything yet. I do know, however, that I would very much like to go back to Saigon.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


hope to have a nice trip. and take good pictures. shall se you in a while.

wish me bon voyage :)


Sunday, April 08, 2007


Cheese, cheese, cheese - Borough Market (Southwark, London).

Zeytinler (olives) and condiments of all sorts - Borough Market

The Venetians come pretty close to meeting the Indian penchant for sickly sweet sweets. They have great desserts.

This is what happens when I am trying not to study, even though I should be. I end up looking at random pictures I have taken! And now I need a snack.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Switzerland is dull. But it does have its moments.