Tug-of-War – Singapore Biennale 2013 #4

February 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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When Itchyfingers saw this from far, we thought it looked like some messy chunk of log or stone. As we approached nearer, we were quite amused by what we saw and the material used – textile inspired by soldier uniform…

We found the sculpture very familiar as we walked nearer…It looked
like something we had seen before….

And yes! Itchyfingers were right! The sculpture was indeed depicting
the “Churning of the Sea of Milk”, a scene from the Hindu myth…

No wonder we found it so familiar! Itchyfingers saw similar sculptures when we visited Angkor Wat some years back…

Remember this bas-relief taken from one of the walls of Angkor Wat?

This was posted on our earlier post here.

Another sculpture with the same theme at the South Gate of Angkor

If you are at the Departure Hall at the Bangkok Airport, you will not miss this one…

More pulling from the gods! 😀

Pulling back from the Asuras (demons)! The whole art piece is way too
long to be captured on camera…

Anyway, back to the sculpture at the basement of the National Museum…

They kinda look cute after you figure out what they are doing…haha…

Each figure look different…Really a lot of work to sew the pieces together….

You have to look at them closely to appreciate them….Actually look
like a big human stuff toy! Hahah… 😀

Vishnu, at the centre, mediating the tug-of-war…

One side was supposed to be the good guys and the other, the bad…But 
I can’t really tell which were the good and which were the bad leh… :p

The headgears were different for both sides….

Detail of fish at the bottom…

The Singapore Biennale 2013 is ongoing at various venues until 16 February 2014. Quick! Catch it before it’s too late!

Also see related posts:
> Fruits of Life – Singapore Biennale 2013 #3
Little Rooms of Horror – Singapore Biennale 2013 #2
Four Itchy Fingers – Singapore Biennale 2013 #1


Touch-Me-Not – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #10

December 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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According to our Tuk-tuk driver Kimsroy, we travelled about 28km before reaching this must-see temple, Banteay Srei. The reason why we were willing to pay extra to travel so far was because of the many pictures we had seen of the intricate carvings at this beautiful 10th century Hindu temple complex dedicated to the god Shiva. 

When we finally reached Banteay Srei, it started to rain…again! 😦  We were surprised by the size of the temple…in comparison to the rest we had seen…this was like a miniature….

So small….

Boo..! Wasn’t it supposed to be the dry season? No choice, just had to wait for the rain to stop. Since the temple was so tiny, there wasn’t any place to take shelter. So we joined the other tourists and walked around the temple in the rain carrying brollies. As we were now free from taking photos, we were able to take our time to slowly admire the many carvings…er, except maybe due to its small size and the many tourists around carrying brollies, it was kinda difficult moving around too…hahah…Good thing the rain came fast and stopped very soon too.

Walking through here to the East Gopura (Gate)

The eastern gopura 

Girls sitting near the entrance. They were the few kids not selling postcards
or handicrafts to tourists 

Built largely of red sandstone, Banteay Srei was the only temple not built by a king. Its modern name, Banteay Srei, means ‘Citadel of the Women’, presumbly refers to its miniature size and the delicacy of its decoration. The intricacy of the bas relief carvings found on almost every walls and pillars has earned it the name of the “Jewel of Khmer Art”.

Unfortunately, today it is no longer possible to get up close to the temple as ropes had been put up to keep tourists away from the carvings, and also to avoid overcrowding to the small temple. Signs were put up to remind people not to be itchy fingers and touch the delicate art. :p Good thing we had our long lens and binos with us, if not, it would be a waste not being able to appreciate these carvings at closer range. 

The pillar at the entrance…

Walls surrounding the temple, with additional rope around to keep visitors away

The temple platform supports three shrines

The central shrine

A false door created of stone for the passage of deities only, 
similiar to that at Ta Prohm

Almost every walls and pillars had some carvings

All were equally beautiful and intricate

So fine!

The closeup…

Good thing it was a small temple, otherwise, the artisans would need much more
time to fill all the walls with carvings.. 

It was interesting listening, er, or rather, eavesdropping, at other guides explaining the stories behind the various reliefs… :p

The fight for kingship between Valin and his brother Sugriva. The story came
from the Ramayana; the battle ended when Rama killed Valin with an arrow from behind

This depicts Ravana at the bottom, shaking Mt. Kailasa, the home of Shiva.
The great god at the top, with Parvati on his lap, stabilizes the mountain with his toe.
The story is an allegory of the natural force of earthquakes

Indra (the king of Gods), riding Airavata (three-headed elephant) and surrounded
by pleading worshippers, produced rain in order to extinguish a fire in the forest.
Krishna and Balarama (bottom right and left, standing on chariots), sent their arrows
skywards to prevent the rain from reaching the ground. The arrows flew so close together
that they formed a kind of roof, supported by a line of hamsas (geese), between Indra’s
waters (horizontal wavy lines) and the forest below

A five-headed naga (snake) ornamenting a lintel – a horizontal beam spanning
the gap between two posts

Another mythological being on the lintel…

Yet another one…

In our one week’s visit to Angkor Wat, we visited about 15 temples, with repeated visits to some. There were certainly many beautiful temples and carvings that we were so lucky to see, but Banteay Srei certainly has the finest and most intricate carvings of all. Forbidding visitors to enter the temples helped preserve the artwork and you would definitely not get any annoying tourists’ faces in your pictures. 😀 If you appreciate arts, architecture and culture, Itchyfingers highly recommend a visit to temples at Angkor Wat. A minimum of three days would allow you to visit most of the major temples leisurely. Try to visit during weekdays where there would be lesser visitors. 8)

Also see related posts:
> Floating Lives – Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #9
Missing the Leper King – Ankgor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #8
The Elephant Terrace – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #7
Face Towers of Bayon – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #6
Gateway to Angkor Thom – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #5
Tomb Raiding the Tree-strangled Temple – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #4
Steps, Steps and More Steps! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #3
> Walls of Art – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #2
Up, Up and Away! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #1

Floating Lives – Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #9

December 15, 2008 at 6:33 pm | Posted in itchy backside | 1 Comment
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After many days of temple-hopping under the fierce Cambodian sun, we kinda got ‘temple fatigue’ and wanted a change. Took the Tuk-tuk in the morning to this floating village called Chong Khneas for a glimpse of live there.

The way there was really far, as our regular Tuk-tuk driver rode his vehicle passed the road and then through some dusty country road. It must had been at least half an hour or more before he stopped at this suspicious-looking place to get us the boat ticket. We were told it cost US$10 for a one-and-a-half hour boat ride at the village….wow not as cheap as I expected…and we were the only ones stopping there to get tickets…but then we were given proper tickets with dated chopped, so we just had to take it as it was loraiya, should have taken a photo of the ticket sale place…:o

We continued to travel for a while longer before passing through some houses made of straw/wood, and then some busy-looking market place before reaching the jetty. Our driver told us to alight and not before long, some guys came over and asked if we wanted a boat ride. We passed them the tickets and were told to follow them to the boat. It was kinda chaotic and we were really surprised to know that we were having the entire boat to ourselves! By the way, there weren’t many tourists around too..wonder if it was because we were slightly earlier than those on tour package as Chong Khneas is the floating village that most visitors would be brought to see, with most tour companies operating from there too.

We had with us the boat operator, as well as a unofficial, English-speaking guide who would also help to manoeuver the boat when necessary.

The water at Tonle Sap was so dirty…maybe because it had been raining…?

There were approximately four to five thousand people living here, with facilities like hospital, school, basketball court, church etc. The boat motor was so loud that it was not easy trying to listen to every word our ‘guide’ said. No pictures cos I realised my camera batteries went flat…and somehow Tisu Boy was more interested in taking the houses and not the facilities… 😦

Boat people…

where they wash…



and play

Our guide rowing our boat to give way to the “Great Lake Fisheries Inspection Unit”

Door-to-door delivery…

We were told how to differentiate the Khmer from the Vietnamese…actually it was quite simple…and obvious…

The Khmers wore rounded hat…this was a fruit seller…

Selling all kinda fresh veggies…the Vietnamese wore the conical hat…

No need to go out shopping…cos everything was accessible right at your doorstep…

Somehow we had the feeling that our boat was not working very well…the engine didn’t sound too smooth, dying off frequently and needed to be restarted. At one point, we even lost control, sped and bumped into another boat! The impact made the poles supporting the roof break and fly off! Another Vietnamese veggy seller had to row her boat quickly away from us to avoid being hit too!

A rough sketch of what happened... 8)

The lake water, besides being brownish, was covered with water hyacinth at some point…

Boat loaded with logs trying to pass through the vegetation…

You would think she was standing on land farming if not for the oar she was holding…

We wondered why they didn’t cut the water hyacinth away instead of having to clear them only when they needed to pass…grasshoppers jumped out whenever boats passed through…dunnu why we din ask the guide…maybe the engine was so noisy that we din wanna strained our ears for the answer….but I read later that they used the stems of the water hyacinth for handicrafts. Now I wonder if they were cultivated or grown naturally?

Cutting the water hyacinth from the back of the boat…

Then our boat stopped at this floating restaurant cum souvenir shop. Hmmm…nothing much cos the items were the same as those around the Angkor Wat temples and the town. Our enthusiastic guide told us to go see the ‘attraction’ here…

The crocodile farm at the restaurant…

and to go upstairs for a panaramic view…

Very windy up here…but the lake was all covered by the water hyacinth leh…

We were left here for at least 10 minutes…think our boat was in quite bad shape that they needed time to fix it… 😦

Back on our boat, we thought the boat was working well again, and looked forward to seeing more interesting aspects of the floating lives. We saw other boats full of tourists coming from the opposite direction and thought we were heading there too but we were constantly halted by the defective motor, and seemed to be circling around, not going anywhere, stucked by the water hyacinth 😦 Then from amongst the pool of water hyacinth, we saw a boy paddling himself with his bare hands on a little wooden bucket. I was initially amused, but then realised that it was not so funny. He looked not more than 10 years old, tired from the paddling, and was constantly calling out to us for money. It was one of the most unforgettable scenes but we couldn’t bring ourselves to take his picture. Then he got nearer and nearer, and eventualy clung himself tightly to our boat, still begging. It was heart wrenching, but we din wanna start giving money, so we just waved ‘no’. 😦 Soon our boat was ‘resurrected’ so he rowed himself away to his next target.

Before we knew it, it was the end of our ride. Couldn’t help feeling a bit cheated cos half the time our boat was not moving. But we still tipped the boatman and our guide, afterall, it was not easy life for them.

We found our Tuk-tuk driver at the jetty, but told him that we would like to take a walk at the stretch of houses just before the market place. He must have thought we were crazy..It was close to noon time, but we thought we should take a closer look at the houses.

Houses made of wood and straw

Cutting hair

Notice the houses were all on stilt?

Living along the causeways and rivers, the villagers had to build their houses to adapt to the rising and falling water levels.

Houses needed to be on stilts up to 10 metres high, to allow for the rise in water levels

During the dry season, boats had no use but to be left in front of the houses

Wonder where do they keep Piggy once the water comes in?

Kids getting water

Like any impoverished towns in developing countries, there are bound to have people, especially kids, running after you for money or ‘bon-bon’ (French for ‘candy’). The trick is not to give in to one, cos if you do, you are asking for trouble….the rest of the kampong will come after you!

Tisu Girl kena harrassed by two persistent kids for money….”Gimme one dolar!”

The weather was super hot. We were getting hungry and needed to run away soon if not all the kids would come after us…


We wanted to visit the hilltop temple of Phnom Krom but only managed to go half way cos it was too hot and we were running out of energy…need food…! Had a good rest at the pavilion enjoying the breeze as well as the view of the stretch of road where we walked before heading back to Siem Reap town for LUNCH! 😀

We walked this whole stretch of hot and dusty road…

On the way up we saw these bunch of naked kids playing…One was spraying
water on the floor, while the others were doing all kinda swimming strokes on
the wet floor! Is that how they ‘learn’ swimming? Hahaha…very funny but since
they were all naked, very shy to go nearer to take picture…hahah

Also see related posts:
> Missing the Leper King – Ankgor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #8
The Elephant Terrace – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #7
Face Towers of Bayon – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #6
Gateway to Angkor Thom – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #5
> Tomb Raiding the Tree-strangled Temple – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #4
> Steps, Steps and More Steps! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #3
> Walls of Art – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #2
Up, Up and Away! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #1

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