Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Couleurs d'automne

Fall Foliage in Parc Monceau Paris 17
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The Parc Monceau is 10 minutes away from where I live when I'm in Paris, I consider it my back yard! It is always pretty but at this time of the year it's even prettier.
Couleur d'automne au Parc Monceau Paris click the link, enlace, lien
Enjoy a little of of Fall Foliage from Paris

Paris brule t-il ? Paris burning? ¿Paris en llamas?

What a sunrise this morning over the capital of France!

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Paris brule t-il ? click the link, enlace, lien

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Along The Mekong day 4

Phnom Penh second visit (link, lien, enlace)

Back to Phnom Penh…
We enjoyed again the Royal Palace and its elegant pagodas and the National Museum. 

In the afternoon we visited one of the most poignant testimonies of the brutality of The
Khmer Rouges regime ( 1975-1979) led by Pol Pot, the dreadful S21 prison where over 17 000 people were tortured and killed. It has become the Genocide Museum.
Some historians estimate that they killed up to two million people, dying from executions, starvation, disease and overwork, the educated middle-classes were particularly decimated. Today, only two S21 prison survivors remains, they sell books narrating the horrendous conditions of their captivity. Very few Khmer Rouge leaders were brought into trial, however, former S21 prison chief, “Duch”, has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012.

We ended the afternoon with the Wat Phonm pagoda, on the hill that gave its name to the Cambodian capital. Walking back to the boat we saw the imposing French Colonial Post office (La Poste), and several beautiful colonial buildings that would require urgent renovation.

Phnom Penh second visit (link, lien, enlace)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Along The Mekong day 3

Excursion to Oknha Tey (link, lien, enlace)

Our last day on the Tonle Sap river, before arriving to Phnom Penh.  In the morning we visited the Oknha Tey Island, well known for its Silk Farm,  silk is still made the traditional way, by hand. Before the farm we visited a local School. We were welcome by teachers and children, they sang several songs, some in English. We arrived to the capital in the afternoon. During the evening, local Dance School students came on board, to perform Cambodian dances. Many represent heros from the Ramayana Hindu poem, demons, gods, goddesses, but also traditional country dances to celebrate harvest or fishing.
Excursion to Oknha Tey (link, lien, enlace)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Along The Mekong day 2

Tonle Sap River (link, lien, enlace)
In the morning of our second day, an excursion to Kampong Chnang, the most important fishing port at the Tonle Sap River. A small boat took us to a lively local market. Numerous local food delicacies, one of the most famous is unborn chicken, fully formed inside the egg. We bought some and gave them to local children that enjoyed them very much… In the afternoon, we went to Kampong Tralach a small beautiful village with two pagodas, driven by ox carts. Children were selling flowers for the pagodas. Later on we visited the Oudong, a royal residence in Cambodia for more than 250 years. A monumental necropolis of sovereigns with dozens of stupas is visible, and many buddhist monks and nouns live there today. We received a blessing in a colourful painted pagoda by a buddhist monk.
In the evening we watched the famous “ The Killing Fields” movie, by Roland Joffé, based on a real story during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), in preparation of the visit in Phnom Penh of the dreadful S-21jail.

Tonle Sap River (link, lien, enlace)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Along The Mekong day 1

To be able to reach our Mekong cruise boat, we had to cross the Tonle Sap Lake, the biggest lake in South Asia.  Siem Reap is in the North,and we had to get to the South end of the lake were the Tonle Sap River begins. It’s the biggest affluent of the Mekong. Due to the draught, our cruise boat could not navigate on the Lake. Thus, after a bus ride on dusty roads, we took a small shallow motor boat , quite a shaky ride! Finally we got to the cruise boat, really nice , with a big deck, to sit and enjoy the views and our first sunset on board.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Siem Reap 5

Siem Reap 5 (link, enlace, lien)

In our way to  the Kulen Mountains, we visited the remarkable Banteay Srei temple, called the “Citadel of Beauty” due to the exceptional delicacy and elegance of its decoration. Discovered by the French in 1914, it was built in the 10th century in pink sandstone. The relief carvings cover lintels, roofs, walls and pediments, showing intricate foliage, gods and goddesses, depicting scenes of the Ramayana, the mayor Hindu epic, tracing the adventures of Rama to recover his wife Sita. In the afternoon, we climbed on a narrow dirt road to Kulen Mountain. On the top, a very famous Pagoda, with a giant Buddha. It is a pilgrimage place,  many monks and families visiting, a local market with religious objets and offers for the sanctuary ( lotus flowers, fake money, phallic symbols, incense sticks). Nearby a natural recreation area with waterfalls, where families go to picnic and enjoy the day. A variety of food stands and a joyful atmosphere! A huge traffic jam to go back down the mountain, locals where very friendly and patient...
Siem Reap 5 (link, enlace, lien)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Siem Reap 4

Siem Reap 4 (link, enlace, lien)

We started the day climbing to the high hill where  Phom Bakheng was built  late 9th century.It was the state temple of the first city of Angkor, representing Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu gods. At the entrance a sculpture of Nandi bull, the vehicle of Shiva with the yellow Buddhist decorations. Afterward we reached, one of the  most popular temples in Angkor, Ta Prohm, built in the late 12th to 13th centuries. In became famous because some scenes of the block -buster Lara Croft movie where shot there. In this temple we can observe the destruction caused by both the large silk-cotton trees (Ceiba pentandra) with light grey corks and the smaller strangler figs. In both cases the roots work their way between masonry, when the tree die, the structure would fall. One the smaller temples, Prasat Kravan, from the 10th century, contains very fine interior brick bas-reliefs, unique in their style.In Banteay Kdei, late 12th century we could admire the entrance, guarded by dragons and the imposing Nagas balustrades, as well as the elegant dancing Apsaras.

Siem Reap 4 (link, enlace, lien

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Siem Reap 3

Siem Reap 3 (link, enlace, lien)
The third day we started our visit accessing the Angkor grounds through the impressive bridge with the sacred Naga balustrade (the multi-headed cobra, water and tutelary deity in Hinduism and Buddhism) still protecting the entrance. 

The impressive Preach Khan ensemble was more than a temple, it also was a Buddhist university, with over 1000 teachers. Built in the 12th  century in the Bayon Style, we can see well preserved friezes showing Apsaras (beautiful female deities) and sitting gods. In the wall, a massive Garuda, the winged mount of the Lord Vishnu. The following temples were also built in the 12th , in the same style. We started  to note the damages caused by a tropical tree, called the “strangling fig” (Ficus Aurea), that grows on the stones, their strong roots destroy the walls and columns. In the afternoon we did a short cruise in the Tonle Sap lake, a large natural reservoir that regulates the Mekong River water level.

Siem Reap 3 (link, enlace, lien)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Siem Reap 2

Siem Reap 2 (link, enlace, lien)

Some of the Roluos temples are relatively well preserved. We started our visit, unfortunately with very grey weather, at Preach Ko, a late 9th century temple, with 6 brick towers that was built in the old capital Hariharalaya. We visited afterwards Bakong , it was the first temple-mountain, this configuration was adopted in the Angkor era later on. The temple was dedicated to Shiva, one of the Hindu Trinity gods ( the god of destruction and rebirth). Near by, was a modern Buddhist temple, still active today. The Mebon temple still holds some imposing limestone elephant sculptures.

Siem Reap 2 (link, enlace, lien)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Siem Reap 1 - Roluos Temples

Siem Reap 1 (link, enlace, lien)

The modern town of Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, is the gateway to the ruins of Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th-15th centuries.
This vast complex encompasses hundreds of vestiges.
The Angkorian period began in AD 802, with Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declaring himself “god-king”.
The Roluos temples dating from the late ninth century, were the predecessor of the Angkor ensemble, and were part of the ancient Khmer capital Hariharalaya. They mark the beginning of classical period of Khmer civilisation. Most were totally built with bricks, some partially use sandstone
Near by, artificial ponds, called Barays, very commonly built during the Angkorian era, as water reservoirs for irrigation.
Siem Reap 1 (link, enlace, lien)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh (link, enlace, lien)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s busy capital, at the junction of two powerful rivers, the Mekong and Tonlé Sap, was a key city during the Khmer Empire and the French colony.
The National  Museum, built in early 20th Century, contains magnificent collections of Khmer art. It survived the devastation of the bloody Khmer rouge era (1975-79), and reopened to the public in April 1979, unfortunately many of the Museums’a employees had lost their lives… Photography is not allowed inside, but the impressive stone Garuda at the entrance is there welcoming the visitors!
Another key landmark is the vast Royal Palace, a complex of buildings, serving as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia. It was originally built in 1860 and has been reconstructed and modified many times. Open to the visitors are the Silver Pagoda compound and the central compound containing the Throne Hall.

Phnom Penh (link, enlace, lien)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ho chin Minh

Ho Chi Minh (link, enlace, lien)
Ho Chi Minh is still known today as Saigon, the city name when it was the capital of the French colony Cochinchina and the Independent Republic of South Vietnam (1955-75). The city name changed in 1976, after the revolutionary Vietnam War leader Ho Chi Minh, when the South Vietnam was reunited with North Vietnam. Today it’s a bustling city with more 9 million people. Thousands of motorcycles crowd the streets of this dynamic city. 

One of the main landmarks is the Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace built in 1966 on the site of a former French colonial building (Norodom Palace). It was the Presidential Palace during the years of the Independent Republic of South Vietnam. All the rooms have been kept  with the original decoration and furniture, as frozen in time in 1975, when South surrendered to the North and the Vietnam war was over.
In the old part of Ho Chi Minh, significant French Colonial buildings remain, such as the imposing Central Post Office, still in use and well maintained, with the facade in the original bright yellow and white colours.The building was constructed between 1886-1891, the beautiful iron structure inside is attributed to Gustave Eiffel.
About two hours drive from the city is the famous Mekong Delta, with its thousands of small islands and canals...

Ho Chi Minh (link, enlace, lien)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cú Chi

Cú Chi (link, enlace, lien)
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi district of Ho chin Minh (Saigon), Vietnam.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. Today a small part of the huge network is open for tourism, with explanatory (old) videos, a testimony of recent history!

Cú chi (link, enlace, lien)

Monday, October 5, 2015

HUE day 2

Hue, Perfume river (link, enlace, lien)

A morning cruise on the Perfume River. Visiting: Tumba de Kai Dinh, 

which was built from 1920 to 1931 taking 11 years to complete for the Nguyễn Emperor Khải Định.  The tomb is a blend of Western and Eastern architecture. It is located on a steep hill.

Afternoon visiting Mausoleum of Tu Duc.
Tu Duc began planning his tomb long before his death in 1883. The major portions of the tomb complex were completed from 1864-67, along with future temple buildings that served as a palatial retreat for Tu Duc and his many wives during his lifetime. Construction of the tomb demanded so much corvee labor and extra taxation that there was an abortive coup against Tu Duc in 1866. This was put down, and for the remainder of his life, Tu Duc continued to use the tomb's palace buildings as his place of residence.
Hue, Perfume river (link, enlace, lien)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Marble Mountains and HUE

Marble Mountains and Hue (link, enlace, lien)

Two different visits that day

Marble Mountains "Five elements mountains") is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngu Hanh Son ward, south of  Da.

Nang city in Vietnam. The five 'mountains' are named after the five elements; Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth). The area is famous for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts. A stairway of 156 steps leads to the summit of Thuy Son, the only marble mountain accessible to visitors.

HUE, the city is located in central Vietnam on the banks of the Perfume River. Huế originally rose to prominence as the capital of the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty that dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century.

Marble Mountains and Hue (link, enlace, lien)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hoi An and My Son

Hoi An and My Son (link, enlace, lien)

Two different visits

Hội An is a city in Vietnam, located the coast of the South China Sea in the South Central Coast region. Hội An is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hội An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century.

Mỹ Sơn is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa. The temples are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva. Mỹ Sơn has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Hoi An and My Son (link, enlace, lien)

Don't forget to click on the link to see the full slide show

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Halong Bay (link, enlace, lien)
The name Hạ Long is derived from the Sino-Vietnamese 下 龍, meaning "descending dragon" it is a UNESCO world Heritage site. The bay features thousands of limestone karst and isles in various sizes and shapes. Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets. According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders.
To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. No doubt that we enjoyed our short cruise across those islets and the one night spent on board. Unfortunately at night the bay converts into a huge parking space for the cruise boats.

Halong Bay (link, enlace, lien)