Amazing

We have visitors in the house these days. My cousin and his wife are here. And as good hosts we want them to have a good time here in SE Asia. So we went on a four-day trip to Cambodia. We flew into Siem Reap and spend two exhausting, but amazingly beautiful days in Angkor Wat. I had seen images of Angkor in magazines and guide books, but in real life it’s just that much better. Ancient buildings and structures always bring be back to the ground – they humble me. I am an engineer and sometimes I get a little caught up in the work I do and who cool it is. But I am in the digital storage design business and the OEMs give at most a 5 year warranty. PLaces like Angkor Wat, the cliff dwelling of Mesa Verde (CO, USA) or Machu Picchu have stood there for centuries. And I have award time imagining, that if someone finds 800 years from now a disk drive that they stand there in as much awe as I stood in Angkor Wat. These days engineering is about designing t fail after warranty. The fewer days the product fails after the warranty has run out, the better job the design team has done. It may sound bitter or jaded, but it’s true.

But that is besides the point today….no think about it and tell me with a comment.

Anyway, Angkor Wat. I will be posting a few entries on the Cambodia trip, because there is not just the beauty of Angkor, but also the unfathomable cruelty and disregard for human life of Toul Sleng and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh – the contribution of the Khmer Rouge to the history books of mankind.

But now, Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat is a city – a conglomerate of buildings, temples, residential areas, that was built about 800 years ago. The buildings were commissioned by King Suryavarman II. But one of the most impressive temples is called the Bayon, was build a by as King Jayavarman VII – guidebooks call him enigmatic. Contemporary street wisdom would suggest :”He was the man and he knew it”. SImply because he could – the man was King after all – he figured he would beautify one temple with his own bust all over. The layout of this temple is such, that at pretty much any point a visitor can see the king’s face twelve times from various angles – genius, the ultimate shameless self-promotion. One could argue, he was the original Big Brother – 700 years before George Orwell penned 1984. Admittedly, King Jayavarman availed over a jawline predestined for stone work, especially busts and he is always carved in stone looking very benevolent, never looking like a mad despot, which, given his position he could have easily been – I don’t know, judge for yourself.

The  building complex with the faces is called the Bayon and it is simply awe-inspiring. Next are a few images of Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm must have been fantastic, before it was “managed” by man. Of course, that would have also meant, that these relicts of ancient culture would have ben swallowed and destroyed by nature much faster, than when they are managed by man.

Visiting these building in the jungle is always a great reminder, that should you ever have to place a bet on a competition between man and nature, bet safe, bet on nature. The trees and their roots just reclaim everything, were it not for the intervention of human “management”.

The next image is of a gate to a temple of which i unfortunately have forgotten the name. Nonetheless, I think it is a very nice entry gate.

Finally, your moment of Zen as nature reflects in itself and the mind coms to a rest by just looking at the image.

More soon. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed this little stroll through Angkor’s buildings. Until the next post, stay sharp and if you dare, think about if you leave a legacy that people will want to write blogs about in 800 years from today.

 

Yours Markus \m/

Boom Done!

3:59am Sunday morning the alarm clock woke me up with with Slash’s “By The Sword”.  I got up, got dressed and met with my friend Stuart to get to the Half marathon starting line. It was hot at 4:30am, it was humid at 4:30am and it was dark – pitch dark at 4:30am. Finally and in best Thailand manner, the starting gun that started the race at 5:00am went off at 4:55am. By km 3, I was really hoping for a water station, which materialized in the dark ahead of me. I drank and I put ice cubes in my hat, to cool me down somehow. Then came km 14, that was at the actual kilometer 12. At the actual kilometer 18,  we had kilometer marker 20. At that point your mind is starting to play tricks, “May be the race is short?” But I kept on running like to was indeed another 3km – good for me as it turned out.

Ultimately, I finished 21.35km in 2:01 (slower than planned), but I finished and most importantly, I did not spontaneously liquify. Instantenous or as it’s also know spontaneous liquification was actually my biggest fear, due to the temperature and the humidity. I mean can you imagine Barbara carrying her liquified husband around in a plastic bag. “And how is Markus?”, “He is liquid and in this nice Ziplock bag, thanks for asking.” No thank you.

Now, Boom Done, I can do what ever I want, because I have not sinned up for anything else this year so far. And I plan to enjoy this little freedom for a while.

Hm, I also looked around in some of my images from our Fall vacation to India and found this image of Nubra Valley. I caught myself actually, looking and working through the images and when I immerse myself in the images, I feel as though I am back on vacation – it’s great.

Also in Nubra Valley, we saw Camels that dat back to the days when Marco Polo’s Silk Road was still heavily travelled. I ride a Camel and it’s fun. But, getting on and getting off the Camel is a challenge for a tall person. I almost endoed over during both processes.

Alright, now it’s late and I will got to sleep. Tomorrow my alarm clock will wake me at 5:30 with Van Halen’s “She’s the woman” from their new album. This also means we are getting closer to my verdict of the new release.

Until then stay sharp.

Markus \m/

Updates

Barbara is watching “You’ve got mail” (ChickFlick) and the little girl in the movie just sang the procrastinator’s hymn: “Tomorrow”. While I sit here trying to get a proper thought in my head which I can write to you about.

Anyway, January just zoomed by and we are already one third through February. It is amazing how quickly time passes here. At work it is never boring, ever. I am being challenged on many different levels and with a lot of breadth. This is sometimes a blessing and it is the best job in the world, but there are days or worse weeks when it is the biggest curse.

I cannot go into specifics, but there is simply a gigantic gap between Thai and Western culture and there is a similarly gigantic gap between the west and the east in general. What we in the west perceive as being straight forward and as tackling issues head on, causes at least Thais an Japanese agony, pure discomfort. How many times have you said that something or other sucks today? Well something always does and it does in Asia, too, but you cannot simply state it – at least not outside your closest confidants. On the other hand, once you have built a relation with Thais, they are great, warm-hearted and welcoming. But if you are just a Farang (Thai name for Westerners) you are a means to an end, which is polite for being an ATM or just Schmuck ready to get screwed. Here, I have learnt to be far less trusting than I was before.

But you know what – at the end of the day, I still love what I am doing and I am looking forward to every new day. Because the good far outweighs the bad. I think it is the amplitudes of the good and the bad are simply higher for a Westerner living in the East. I also often under what Asians must think when they first come to the West and then live there. Having grin up in Germany, we pride ourselves in addressing issues directly and being open….well at least when I grew up. I think it must be terribly difficult for Asians getting used to this directness and our rudeness from their point of view.

Anyway, enough of the cultural musings and into imagery. We have found a place in Bangkok that is great in the early evening for an inexpensive cocktail (cocktail for me) and a great view over the city – The Long Table:

The last few weeks the weather has been “unseasonal” to be polite, weird to be frank. It is too hot for early February and way too humid. On Sunday at the unchristian time of 4:30am I will be at the starting line of the BKK Marathon – of which I run the half distance – only to start the race at 5:00. It will be dark (pitch black), hot (+30C), humid (80%) and packed with people. The good news is that by 7:30, I will be back in bed, freshly showered and dreaming I had it all imagined – the getting up early and running part. But as I was saying, the weather is not right at present. The good news here, too is that it makes for great sunset entertainment.

And lastly, I have this picture of a phone booth in my neighborhood. I think it describes Thailand perfectly. As a Westerner you have a certain association with a phone boot. In Thailand, you get the main function a phone booth is supposed to provide, but it is crooked, there is trash all around, the pavement is cracked, you will have leaves and branches in your mouth while talking  and then there’s food within spitting distance.

The above images concludes our little update session. I hope, I did not offend any Asian readers or Thais in particular. I was merely trying to point put differences to my Western readers. Differences that I and you are overcoming every day – so it’s manageable.

Until the next…stay sharp…stay calm and simply do it. Almost every struggle is also a learning opportunity.

Markus \m/

P.S.: Of course i bought the Deluxe Edition of Van Halen’s new album “A Different Kind Of Truth”. I will pass judgment on it at a later post. Right now I am still infatuated.