My Pictorial Journey through … South East Asia
South East Asia or SEA consists of the south-eastern portion of Asian countries. They include Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Brunei and Timor-Leste (Timor East).
Whilst I have not been to all the countries in South East Asia, let me share my pictorial experiences on some of the more popular destinations …
Meander along the Mekong River, South Vietnam, in a pole-propelled boat; too narrow for a motorised boat to navigate on … then lunch along the Mekong River on the freshest fish and vegetables, just caught in front of you & cooked to perfection within minutes; right before your eyes. A feast to behold and enjoy!
There was a whole fish, removed from the pond, presented to us, then scaled, guttered, shallow fried, served immediately with cut chillies in tamarind-lemon fish sauce and a hint of sugar. Stirred fried fresh picked mix vegetables from the garden, and fresh caught local prawns stir-fried in fresh lemongrass and mint.
Lunch along the Mekong River
I had my doubts about a Cambodian cooking class … I would prefer eating than cooking – but I had the best of both worlds!
I cooked the food and then got to enjoy it as well – wow! It was incredibly fun-filled and enjoyable.
A must try when you travel to Siem Reap, Cambodia!
Cooking class in Siem Reap, Cambodia
We made Cambodian-style prawn spring rolls, with lemon-chilli dipping sauce topped with crushed peanuts; local–styled stir-fried coconut fish curry and banana fritters serve with passionfruit-coconut cream sauce.
3-course Cambodian delights for our efforts
And we got to enjoy it as well!
Waking up to catch sun rise over the ruins of Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia is an experience not to be missed.
Take an ‘open-on-three sides’ motorbike transport (similar to Thai ‘tuk-tuk’), at 5.00 am in the morning; travel one hour in crisp morning air, catching fresh breezes at 18⁰ C (64°F), brings the temple ruins into perspective –
… Just awe inspiring to watch the sun creep over the ruins and warm up that part of the jungle!
The Angkor Watt Complex, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The dense jungle completely overwhelmed the temple complex; roots and trunks burst through cracks in the walls, over years; nature claiming back the land from mankind …
Temple ruins in Siem Reap, Cambodia
This bridge was immortalised by Pierre Boulle in his book and the film based on it, ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’.
Over 60,000 POWs and 200,000 locals and South East Asians were used in building this railway over the ‘Kwae Yai’ river; working under appalling conditions and mal-nutrition, nearly half of them perished.
The Thailand-Burma railway was completed in 1943, spanning 415-kilometre (258 miles) length; constructed by Japan during World War II.
After the end of World War II, 111 Japanese military officials were tried for war crimes; brutalization of POWs during construction; with 32 sentenced to death. No compensation or reparations were provided to Southeast Asian victims.
Today, the Thai section of the railway runs a connection between remote villages in Northern Thailand.
A train ride on the ‘Death Railway’ through Thai countryside
I have always found places of worship to be very tranquil and serene. The Matmancuburi Temple in Chiang Mai, North Thailand is no different; the rich golden décor, offerings from local worshippers, floral and fresh fragrances of flowers and tropical fruits add to the ambiance.
Chiang Mai Buddhist University
And the temple compound also houses the Mahamakut Buddhist University for monks and students from all over Thailand. There is also a regular program where locals (and tourists) can discuss Buddhist ideologies with under graduates in the garden grounds.
How about shopping along the river? Check out .the Floating Market of Bangkok, Thailand.
Never a dull moment – you have to be on your toes with bargaining and make sure you check the goods before walking away. It is a bit difficult to chase after the vendor once they have rowed the boat away!
Fresh food shopping at the Floating Market, Bangkok
Jurong Bird Park, Singapore is one of the most renowned bird sanctuaries with some of the largest free-flying aviaries in the world … with a collection of more than 5,000 birds across 400 species.
It is a full day of bird wonders and entertainment for the family.
Fancy two (2) breakfasts (yes, you heard it right) in Batu Tinggi (translated as ‘Tall Hill’), Malaysia. It is a sleepy little township; 45 minutes out of Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia.
First breakfast was to sample the freshly made ‘kaya’ or coconut jam made from fresh coconut milk on thick toasts accompanied by the local Malaysian coffee.
The second breakfast is the ‘dosai’ (thinly rolled crisp flatbread), roti, dhal curry, fish-head curry and vegetable curries – to savour the local South Indian specialities. I did not think we could finish the banquet … but we did!
There is something special about looking over the horizon into terraced fields of padi or rice fields of Bali, Indonesia. Leaning against the slopes of hillsides, swollen with moisture, these fields will feed part of the population of Indonesia, though not nearly enough …