We reached Siem Reap from Phnom Penh on our second evening in Cambodia. Siem Reap, as you will read everywhere, is the gateway to the temples of Angkor. Till then, we were yet to get a glimpse of any temple belonging to the times of Angkor Wat. So, the next morning, we started from Siem Reap to Phnom Kulen mountain with all eagerness and thus, began our exploration of the Khmer Architectural marvels.
There is an entry fee of $20 (USD) for going to Kulen Mountain / Phnom Kulen (Phnom means Mountain in Khmer) and this is different from the Angkor temple ticket/pass. Phnom Kulen is accessible by a single road which is used for ascent till 12 noon and descent after that.
Situated at a distance of 48 km from Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen has a beautiful waterfalls, 1000 lingas river, Preah Ang Thom featuring a huge, reclining Buddha and some ancient Khmer temples which are inaccessible by car. So, we didn’t visit those temples.
Pre-2000, waves and beaches would have meant only the sea. Post 2000, the year of release of my favourite movie, Alaipayuthey, sea and beaches do bring to mind everything about the movie and the oodles of beautiful memories associated with the movie too. But, hey, this post is not about the movie. It is, as the title says, all about my love for waves.
View from Sentosa island beach
I have always loved travelling by train during day time since I can happily vEDikkai pAtthufy. From Madras to Mayavaram as the landscape changes from concrete jungle and dirty, smelly rivers like Cooum and Adyar to hillocks, hills, lakes including the huge Chengalpet lake and almost-dry rivers like Paalar to lush green fields and canals with the fields and water bodies inhabitated by cranes, storks and the like and cows and goats happily grazing in the open pastures, it has always been a nice, beautiful journey. The familiarity of the scenes and landscapes feel comforting to me.
Every time I take a train having overhead stretch in Singapore, it is this Madras to Mayavaram route that I remember. The views from MRT in Singapore predominantly comprise only of HDB apartments, private Condominiums and malls barring a few companies/offices. Cut back to the train journey in our vast country – isn’t it filled with nature’s beauty?
I also remember the train journeys in Europe – in the Belgium, Paris, Luxembourg regions. The countryside or so I think it was, were all very, very beautiful with nice independent houses having backyards with horses, gardens and slides and swings for the kids of the house. The cool weather further added to the beauty.
I rarely step out of my house in the scorching afternoon heat of Singapore to take my children out to the outdoor play areas. But today morning had me having enough of fridge door banging by my son, ice cube playing by both the kids, refusal from both to play with each other and, as always, repeated requests for watching TV. I had had enough of mopping spilt water, mango juice, etc. That’s when we came to their favourite play area.
It didn’t matter that the play area was hot. No cleaner comes to clean the play area during weekends. So there are dried fallen leaves and twigs scattered all through and that was enough to instantly grab the attention of my kids. Both run all around the play area collecting twigs and leaves, crushing the crispy, dried leaves with their small hands and feeling the difference in texture between dried and fresh leaves.
After a while, the daughter gets comfortably settled at the end of the tunnel slide, while the son runs around picking up leaves and bringing it to her. They both are lost on a world of their own, playing together without fighting.
I walk for a while, then sit back on the wooden bench and gaze at the clear blue sky up above, a huge cotton-candy-like cloud on one side, the tall towering palm-like trees on the other side, the pinkish-red vrikshi flowers blooming on the trees nearby and the mynahs alternating between sitting and flying all around the play area. The music from a keyboard played by somebody in the nearby apartment fills the air.
It has been a couple of hours already! Their interest is slowly waning. There is a slight breeze blowing on and off. Light gray clouds slowly start coming together to cover the blue sky. Maybe the daily drizzle will start in a while or maybe not. But we are happy that we have had our daily share of the happy outdoor time. For now, the mind is happy that it can idle around for a while and refuses to think about all the never-ending ever-growing to-do lists.
It was yet another morning and it was raining yet again. Waking up, I gazed out of the window to see the falling raindrops glowing under the streetlights soaking its amber colour. The amber shower against the backdrop of the green leaves of the tree just when the sun had risen looked so beautiful! Oh these natural colourful and beautiful frames waiting to be discovered in the most ordinary places!
Did I tell you that the reflection of the light on the wet floor looked so beautiful too?
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, there I was, sitting on a bench, watching my kids running around in the play area. As a slight breeze started blowing, bringing with it not just a welcome respite from the sweltering heat, but also a ‘rain’ of drying leaves from the raintree near us, my kids and I rejoiced together. The drying leaves in varied shades of yellow to green to brown continued to fall down in colourful bursts for a minute or two. As I lost myself in these dull colours of nature, my kids ran around laughing and catching as many falling tiny leaves as they could.
It is always with a touch of nostalgia that I look at a raintree / thoongumoonji maram. When I was a small kid, my father used to bring back thoongumoonji poo during his morning walks for me to play with. I remember how, back then, I used to watch the leaves of this tree closing down to fall asleep at the onset of evening.
In our apartment in Madras, we had a huge raintree growing more than three floors high. Every time I went to the terrace, I used to watch the beautiful combination made by the pink flowers and green leaves of this tree. Before we put mosquito nets, our balcony used to always have lots of dried leaves of this tree fallen inside. Huge branches of this tree fell during last year’s cyclone and the entire tree had to then be cut off.
Today, I have huge rain trees outside my window and did I tell you that there are always a few dried leaves to be swept away in my living room?
Surin Park has now become one of the parks in Singapore I regularly visit. This small yet beautiful park has walking paths covered by the shade of several trees including a tamarind tree which is among the list of heritage trees of Singapore. Nestled among posh independent houses and across the road from only one series of HDB (Housing Development Board) apartment blocks, this is in a very calm and peaceful locale.
Taking in the lush greenery lining the paths and pointing out the various butterflies and tiny insects to my kids, I just love walking through this park. With shelters having benches, a kids play area and an exercise area, this park, away from the noisy roads, makes for a perfect place for relaxing with family. It makes for a nice change to have the buzzing of insects for company, instead of the noise made by vehicles, isn’t it?
Music, Nature & Walking – The top three things which always inspire me. It was one of those lovely mornings with overcast sky and the water in Rochor Canal, Singapore relatively clean. And there I was going for a brisk walk along the canal pushing the stroller of my little one.
Rochor Canal, September 2016