The Ruins Of Angkor Wat – It Is Always Amazing

My parents were visiting, which means you have to show people around – wow them with the cultural wonders of South East Asia. Thus, we decided to go on a three-day trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. This was our third visit in six years. As a general observation, we have noticed in that short period, that the visitor numbers have increased drastically and that the ruins have fallen into much more serious states of disrepair. But we have also noticed, that the Cambodian government is putting a lot of effort into preserving the existing ruins. Unfortunately, we have also seen a lot of brainless tourists stomping all over the ruins without any regard, that their carelessness will accelerate the decay. This is a shame. It is even a bigger shame that usually, these same people are being careless because they are so occupied posing for narcissistic selfies – which I admit, I have zero understanding for. If I were in charge, I’d slap a “selfie-stick fee” on for each visitor, of $500/per day. But this is not a ranting entry, but one that wants to share a few impressions of Angkor.

Ta Phrom, one of the most stunning temples, due to the mighty tree-overgrowth. From this point, we turn 180 degrees and we see one of the main buildings under renovation.

Ta Phrom also has a few other highlights. The entire structure is heavily overgrown by trees and roots. The structures deteriorate, because of the unforeseen loads exerted by the trees’ varying weight (dry day vs rainy day) and the wind loads also introduced by the trees.

Then there are the little quiet moments, when as an observant visitor you have a moment of solitude.

Some of the sites have a few permanent residents.

Other sites are less frequented and invite for a short nap.But of course, Angkor is very popular and usually tourists roam everywhere. So it takes some effort to create the illusion of being all alone among the ruins – to create an illusion of serentity. Seen here are some impressions of the Bayon – a temple built to glorify himself built by King Jayavarman VII. When you’re the King, you’re the king.

The interaction between ancient man-made structures and nature is pretty awe-inspiring, sort of put a man in his place. We may rule temporarily, but nature has so much more stamina and will outlast and reclaim any buildings made by man.

Moving on. When you visit Angkor and its temples, you will likely be pushed to get up early one day – really early….earlier, to witness the sunrise. And you should, it is absolutely worth it. I took my dad to the main building the Angkor Wat. We walked down the long pathway for a little while and then just sat down to photograph.

And then eventually, it happened. The sun rose behind the Wat…..only to look like a rising full moon.

About thirty minutes later, I shot this image of the entire Angkor Wat structure and then went off to visit other sites.

Overall, I am very happy that we took the trip, that we were able to share this with my parents and show them these beautiful places. But, I worry about the future of this world heritage site.

But for now, just for now, I am happy and I will not dwell on what might happen to Angkor and its buildings, but will enjoy the fact that I have seen Angkor again.

Cheers, stay sharp and try to find joy in this very moment you are in right now.

Yours Markus \m/




Gear-Wheel Alley Again And Again

My parents are visiting, which means you need to have some activities planned, else with a 4 1/2 daily meal plan, you end up being fork-lifted out of your apartment.

While Barbara and my mom went to China town to go fabric hopping, I took my dad to my favorite place in Bangkok – Gear-Wheel Alley. A place where every time I am there, I think, that a four-week-visit here should be mandatory for any Thai engineering student.

There are a few new murals in Ger-Wheel Alley. here you have a meditating woman standing on a few garbage bags.

I love the above two pictures. The dwellers showed great sense of humor and vision, when they painted their murals to put the stuff sitting outside the house in a different context. But it is also what I have come to expect of residents of Gear-Wheel Alley, because they are all motivated, smart and industrious people.

I feel very inspired when I walk around that neighborhood and of course I hope that the people I show this gem to, enjoy a visit as much as I do.

Mundane scenes such as the locked cart or the breaking facade with the shrubs at the bottom present themselves as still-lives in my mind.

And the of course there is all the metal, the transmission engineering and the people who take someone else’s junk and give it a new purpose and a new lease of life. This is something, where the West can take a page or two from. I saw a guy, who took starter motors apart and uncoiled the copper wire for recycling – that is money in the bank, if you choose to do it.

This shop specializes in differentials and 4-speed transmissions.

While this shop had been cleaned and readied for the weekend as is clearly indicated by the hat resting atop and neatly aligned shafts on the floor.

Over all this busy activity and industry watches Lord Buddha from a tree.

My dad liked the visit very much. He was surprised by the type of work carried out here. It is dirty and physical work, but it also honest work. And with every piece the residents of Gear-Wheel Alley recycle – and there is a lot of recycling going on – they save natural resources and prevent thoughtless exploitation even if just a little.

Cheers and stay sharp and present.

Markus \m/

Roadside Thailandiana

A few years ago, my wife and Drive from Southern Colorado into New Mexico. We drove past old settlements and farms that collected and displayed all sorts of knick-knack in their front yards. And a few weeks ago, we took a road trip through Thailand’s South-East towards Rayong. What we found on one of the rural roads is Thailand’s equivalent of Roadside Americana. A man out in the cuts, yet directly on a moderately frequented highway, displays his extensive collection of knick-knack.

This is the man himself coming from one of his sheds.

The front yard – welcome to the jingle of signs.

Pretty cool. Now, here lies the rub. All these roadside signs, that look so beautifully vintage are brand spanking new China and Vietnam products that the nice gentlemen offers for sale.

That, I admit, deflated my enthusiasm quite a bit…..fake vintage. Bummer.

Stay sharp

Markus \m/

HuaHin Utility Pole Art

Art is irrepressible. It will find a way to pop up. Art is an expression of life and this just like life it finds a way to develop and emerge in the most unlikely places. We were in Huahin last week and noticed small graffitis lovingly painted onto concrete utility poles.

An abstract, disenchanted face with a buzzcut.

The haters will point out immediately:”NOT a concrete utility pole.” Tru’dat, but it’s still nice, isn’t it?

Whoohoo, we are getting psychedelic….all without mushrooms. You are welcome!

I love the “wormheads”. But my favorite little painting is this…in Thailand. Someone must have lost his marbles and just flipped out a bit.

Alright, this concludes our little trip down the side alleys of Huahin to marvel at these small statements of subversion.

Stay sharp dudettes and dudes.

Markus \m/

Another Parade

The president of a big country beyond a big ocean wants a military parade. Of course this is big news.

I have heard surprised people and angry people, but I have not heard anybody cheering for this idea of a grand military parade in the big country across the ocean.

I personally think it’s a waste of money. Then again, I can relate a little because there are parade I love to attend. These parades, of course are not called parades, they are called a Grand Concourse and you parade beautiful cars from days long gone. Cars that were designed by hand and made by hand, where no two cars are truly equal. When I feel like it, I find a good location and I hold such a Grand Concourse myself….with small cars. And that is my recommendation to the people across the ocean. Give your president his parade with toy tanks, toy planes, toy soldiers and fireworks rockets. It’ll be a lot cheaper and way easier to organize, than getting all your real stuff congregated in a single city for the one day purpose of marching it down a long straight road.

To give you a bit of a vision, a few pictures from my last Grand Concourse from last Tuesday.

The family shot, everybody is all lined up.

Another family shot in Black / White for the “artsy-fartsy” crowd.

Of course the air Force is going to provide aerial shots of parading participants.

And you close with you best in show at the end.

So there you have it, everybody is happy.

Stay sharp, color outside the lines on occasion and be happy about it.


Markus \m/

Il Piove….Forse No.

There is a really cool rap, by Jovanotti – yes an Italian Rapper. The song is called “Il Piove” and it’s ancient. But it’s got a good groove and it’s pretty catchy. Now, why in the world am I unearthing these early chapters from the “book of stories”? It is because of the rain. “Il Piove” is Italian and means “It Rains”. And on Monday it rained like Noah needed to build another boat. Tuesday, was all “Bangkok Weather Innocence” (hot and muggy) and since Thursday it has been looking as if the heavens will open the flood gates anytime soon…..and? Nothing, not a drop. In fact, we are sitting outdoors enjoying a hot afternoon beverage. Barbara’s Latte had a heart, that suffered a lot after the first sip. The analogy was obvious to me – Broken Heart.

Hm, you see? It is weird, how simple things can trigger heavy interpretations. But, no worries dear readership – all us well in the empire. And this, already ends today’s random ramblings.

Cheers, do good and stay loose.

Markus \m/

Sit-In Skateboard

I went skating in the park today….however, only ti find the half-pipe, that was repaired recently, broke again. Plywood made from soft wood is a poor choice for a half-pipe.

On my way home, I then ran into this novel skateboard – one to sit-in, instead of standing in.

Sit-in biard in the back, proper traditional longboard in the front.

Notice how they are almost the same height and wheelbase.

Stay sharp

Markus \m/