Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Side Stories, etc in India

I stayed for a night in the same budget hotel in Coimbatore before leaving for home via Chennai and Kuala Lumpur. I accompanied Archna and Polomi in buying a lot of 'sari' for presents. They bought a lot. I was contemplating in buying one but i might end up storing it in the cabinet. The experience is good because i was able to see the practices in sari stores and the variety of colors and designs they have. The stores are full not only of buyers but mostly of male sellers. Better air conditioned stores have fixed prices and limited number of male sellers. I wondered where the ladies are! Are men better sellers of ladies' dresses here?

About the Indian food, are you wondering how i fared? I definitely cannot eat them that spicy! The participants in the conference take turns in showing me which are not hot. Fortunately, most of our resource persons are from the US which obliged the hotel to prepare less hot menus. It was cold outside so all tea breaks and dinners are held outside. We added a little to global warming with our bonfire everynight during dinner and cocktails.

At the Chennai airport i waited 10 hours for my next flight to KL. An angel from the Jet Airways manage to get me a passage to stay at the business lounge which is actually a restaurant. That way i did not wait outside the check-in counter at the international airport. I did not eat a lot, but the waiter kept on reminding me that the airlines will pay for all my food. I enjoyed my stay in the restaurant-lounge because i had the opportunity to watch the transients. Besides, my table mates changed 3X. The first one seemingly holds a very high position in his company and was not able to use his opened laptap due to a lot of calls. I often look at his face when he is concentrating on his calls, because he is very handsome, hahaha. Then finally i pictured the flowers on the table using his laptap as background. I had a book opened but i normally end up glancing at his face. And would you mind looking at the photo i took? Can you see the handsome man who owns the shoe!

Promised Travel Report from India

Hi everyone who happens to drop by, and those who constantly follow me here. From a long detour i am back!

My trip to India was really stressful! That was in terms of real physical experiences. Imagine waiting at the KL departure area from 8pm to 8am! The check-in counters open 2.5h before the flight and that is consistently followed in KL, as i observed. I envy people who can sleep while sitting on the chairs, with periodic buzz from the sound system as a prelude to an incoming flight or a boarding call. I tried several times but did not succeed. I just equated it to a full night vigil, when relatives die waiting for interment. However, in my case i did not experience it when my father died. I only experience full night vigil when still working in the lab with hourly or bi-hourly monitoring of ACC production into ethylene. (Hello postharvest alumni, do you still remember this?).

From KL i went to Chennai then to Coimbatore. I stayed in a budget hotel there before an official car fetch me the following day to Ooty. A 2.5h delay is the time difference between Malaysia and India, so i slept most of my stay in Coimbatore. I just noticed the mosquitoes and baby cockroaches in the room the next morning when i saw the sting on my arms . I will not be elaborating related things here anymore, or i might not stop!

A typical passenger vehicle is a modified tricycle or 'tuktuk', which they call rickshaw. They said it is used all over India. It is a carriage built around a motorcycle, the driver in front while 4-5 passengers sit at the back (see picture at left).

The 3.5h travel by car to Ooty was good. Plenty of tamarind trees lined both sides of the streets, and a lot of people in their traditional dress did not mind the painful heat of the sun. I've never seen anybody using umbrella nor a fan to alleviate the intense heat. The undulating roads climbing the mountain to Ooty is wonderful, reminding me of Kennon road to Baguio City. Then the tea farms immediately loom in the background. I did not know that tea plants need partial shades which are obviously prunned despite of their heights. I did not see anyone prunning, but i cannot visualize if they are using ladders or climb the tall tress by foot. Another unusual entertainers which really fascinated me are monkeys playing on the roads, not on the roadsides. The drivers have to blow the horns to drive them to safety.

Our conference schedule continues until about 7pm so we looked around at night or in the morning before 8am. Bhaskar and i were able to visit the Rose Garden at sunrise and took pictures of different rose varieties. It was Archna and Polomi who took me to the top of Ooty the morning before we depart to Coimbatore. This place is near the Tea Museum and a hotel. Archna and I agreed to build our dream resort house in that area. I hope Archna will be very rich someday to materialize that dream. Peace and tranquility with lots of birds and wild flowers are all there. The yellows and violets carpet the area, which adds charm to the place.

The intention of reliving or experiencing parts of the "pasts" was not in vain. I had some glimpses. Besides, my favorite flower is there in different colors, the pansies.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tantaraaaaan...Now the Orbs!

Tatagalogin ko para tayo lang ang nagkakaintindihan, masaya!

Alam nyo ba na mahaba-haba na rin ang "romance ko with orbs"! O ano Flor, may word romance na, what i really mean is romance with orbing. It all started when Sheila sent me a picture in Majayjay waterfalls with a lot of circles. She asked me what i think about those. She thought maybe those are not normal. Then she again sent me one from the Sagada cave which has more. I definitely have other feelings and ideas about those circles. In my mind i thought they could be nature spirits or elementals. Pumangit tuloy ang litrato dahil sa dami. In 2005 pa yata yun. Ipinakita ko yun kay Dennis at 'kinarir' namin yun. Sa tuwing nasa IP Awareness Training kami, pag yung kasama naming si Mer ang nagsasalita e palagi kami sa computer nya sa paghahanap ng ganitong circles. Alam na namin ang nature nito kaya maski sa LCD ng camera pa lang ay alam na namin kung yun ang hinahanap namin o hindi. Mula noon mahigit yatang isang taon ay kuha kami ng kuha sa mga sulok-sulok lalo sa mga malalaking buildings at simbahan para maghanap ng mga 'circles' na yun. Natuklasan ko na marami rin ang ganun sa mga lumang gusali sa Sweden, Copenhagen at Rome. Maski yung litrato namin ng mga kapatid at pamangkin ko sa Paskong Pasiklab sa Quezon City ay katakot-takot ang dami ng circles. Hindi ko pa yun napapansin dati kundi ng ni-review ko mga lumang litrato pati sa Europe.

Then Nots texted me that she saw from the Discovery channel that the circles in my pictures are called orbs. Gamelba also gave a newspaper clipping describing these circles called orbs. Now that i know what they are, i searched the web while Dennis and I never stopped taking pictures. Simultaneous with the orbing, i happened to get a Bohol Tropics picture of an arm with just energy pattern for a body. Later on while taking Dennis' picture in Leyte Park in Tacloban, i got a picture of a foot. Again the body was just energy pattern, only the foot is dense.

Eventually, my camera's flash did not function anymore, so i stopped orbing. That time i thought only the Point and Shoot digital cameras got the orbs. However, Dennis new Nikon SLR gets them too. Websites said every digital camera can get it, and pictures substantiate their claims. Many also said orbs communicate with us, so i tried them too. Others get colored ones so i asked them also to appear in my camera. I also wonder why most of my Dennis' pictures taken during his lectures have one big moving orb near him. I told him maybe that is your father watching you. One of Allen's pictures taken where Lolo always go when he was still alive, has one big orb in the exact place Lolo normally was. I read a lot of their ideas in the web, and i also have my own, but of course all of these are not yet conclusive.

I even sent a paper in 2006 to the First Orb Conference in Arizona. I just dont know if anybody read it. But i also sent it to someones website and she posted my paper together with all my pictures. Pictures will follow next time. I am sure you know what is the picture above, that is in the Vatican. Zoom it to see the single orb. Hmmm!

Bye muna.

Continuation of the Mushroom Story

It was a long 4-day weekend after my mushroom harvest. My niece graduated in Grade 6 so i must attend. It was actually a surprise attendance. We feasted with my mushroom harvest from my bathroom farm, haha!

Sunday night i returned and immediately observed the 'farm'. It was really disappointing because not even one mushroom sprouted during my absence. So, i removed at least 1cm of the dried media and watered them profusely. I kept waiting, observing, and watering for more than a week and still not a mushroom emerged. During weekends i even watered them more often. It seems they are already dead. Some grayish fungus are now starting to cover the surface! My broccoli and carrots are already waiting in the refrigerator, but no mushrooms still.

In despair i texted Doc Rene Reyes who affirmed my observation. He also said that Pleurotus sp grows at 22-28C until 30C at the maximum. Deeply frustrating bathroom farm! I am leaving tomorrow for Ooty, India without much success in mushroom growing. I wonder if i will try again!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Mushroom Farm

During our IP Awareness Training in Central Luzon State University (CLSU) we were given 10 bags each for mushroom growing. These are supposed to grow at least a kilo of mushroom per bag. I am already wondering whom i will give my extra harvests because i am sure i will not be able to eat my total harvest. This is my 2nd trial but the 1st time i only opened 2 bags at a time. I cannot consider my first attempt to be successful because i harvested only a few mushroom per harvest, not enough for a dinner.

Dennis most especially is curious in growing mushrooms because he hasn't tried it. He showed me the pictures of the first growths which are plenty and vigorous. At least he was successful the first try. I just don't know if he was able to sustain the succeeding growths. I waited for 2 weeks before growing because of the Cambodia-Thailand trip. When i returned I opened the two ends of each bag and put them in one corner of my bathroom, because it is too hot these days and the bags might dry up. Besides i will only be able to water them in the morning and afternoon. I also placed a big pan of water beside them to increase the humidity inside the bathroom. Then after 4 days they started to grow. The following pictures show the development of my 'mushroom farm'. Who says you cannot use the bathroom for farming!
Pleurotus sp. (i forgot the exact species and strain although Dr. Renato Reyes fully explained them to us. You might be disturbed by the mineral water bottles. Those are not trash but platforms for the mushroom bags so they will not be in direct contact with the bathroom floor. Don't worry also about the mushroom growing in the bathroom. Cleaning my bathroom is my favorite hobby, so i can assure you of its cleanliness. If you don't agree, never mind, i live alone and nobody will mind my mushroom farm.

It was so exciting come harvest time. I had 2 meals of mushroom with broccolli, carrots, and cauliflower. I just sauteed the mixture with garlic and onions, put ordinary soy plus Kikoman soy sauce. Try having only the ordinary soy and you will see what i mean by adding a little Kikoman. I was able to harvest a lot so i brought home the total harvest including the small ones. Three adults and 2 kids were able to have 3 mushroom meals, and i was still able to give some to my cousin. Great farm!
The end of my mushroom story will surprise you!

Friday, April 4, 2008

More Siem Reap Pictures

Cambodian Temples, which they call Khmer temples are magnificently awesome. These are considered the world's most astonishing architectural treasure. Its construction started between the 9th and 13th centuries, 889 to be specific, by a succession of twelve Khmer kings. Angkor sites covered over 320 sq km, and one of the temples, Angkor Wat, is considered the biggest temple in the world. The temples were abandoned in the 15th century and now being rebuilt continuously by many countries as UNESCO World Heritage. These temples are said to be discovered by the French, ravaged by time and the elements. But even with five centuries of neglect and abuse, the opulence and splendor are still there. It never cease to amaze because of its size and mathematical exactness, complex religious symbols, intricate aesthetic details, and the labor and energies poured to its construction.

I will be posting pictures chronologically within the scope of our Apsara Authority 3 day pass. We started with Angkor Wat but that is presented already a few days ago. So i will start with
Angkor Thom with the Bayon at its center. The Royal City of Angkor Thom is divided into equal
quarters, with grand entrance from the 4 cardinal directions. A long causeway directing the entrance is lined by statues of mythical beings carrying a snake (naga).
Bas relief on the gallery outer wall depicting daily life activities
On the sides of the roads near the forest monkeys are often found lounging or playing in groups.
Only the 3 pictures are in Angkor Thom, the rest are already from other temples.

One of the temples has very small rooms with linga structures at each center. Water drip from the tip of the roof to the tip of the linga and gathered in the surrounding structure; this is considered sacred used for healing. (Linga is a phallic symbol and only this one was left in my view. Others were already gone leaving the water gathering structure). The next picture is of a false door, there are also false windows complete with stone balustrades.
My most favorite temple is the Banteay Srei. It is small compared to the others and has a distinct pinkish orange color because of the pink sandstone it was made from.
I really would like to visit the Khmer temples again in the rainy season. A different emotion can possibly be invoked in me in those times.
Yes Wico, i will definitely be religiously looking for orbs next time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Next Escapade

Next week i will be on the go again, but this time it is official. I will be attending the Society for Technology Management (STEM) Intellectual Property Management and Technology Transfer Graduate course in Ooty, India. It is actually scheduled 13-16 April 2008 in Hotel Sullivan Court in Ooty. The first time i heard of the place it feels so far, maybe because i've never heard it. In fact i was not eager to go and let the time pass until deadline before i applied. The travel agent earlier on gave me an itinerary which will pass by Singapore-New Delhi-Chennai-Coimbatore and then finally bus to Ooty. That was one way so you can visualize my endless transfers and waits at different airports, double it and i will be home, hopefully still intact. I was really disappointed and afraid because friends told me that Indian planes often get late. I personally know also that my Indian friends are not very conscious of time, so i am really afraid i might miss my next flights. I hope the data and the fear are only imagined, and wish what happened to my friends will not happen to me.

Fortunately, a slight change in my itinerary arrived via Kuala Lumpur-Chennai-Coimbatore. I will be waiting from 8pm on the 11 April in KL before boarding at 8am the next day. I can handle that better than having another airline to another airport. My friend Edson (Brazil) and Marison gave me some advice in visiting India. Hence, i will be bringing towels, 'malong', some biscuits and maybe noodles and heater.

On the more positive side, the organizers were very generous in providing information. They also booked me in a budget hotel (?) in Coimbatore on the 12th and 16th April, because only the 13 - 15 April are included in our registration fees. I also learned that Ooty is +2,000m asl and is considered one of the most beautiful sites in India. Temperature is relatively cool and nature vistas are great. There is a botanical garden, a lake, wildlife park, etc. This thoughts allay my apprehensions. I might possibly be acquainted also with their butterflies. Now, i am a bit excited. I hope i can provide you some nice photos and memories when i get back.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Other Cambodian Travel Buddy

We are watching the cultural night in Siem Reap. They are looking up because of the man climbing the sugar palm to get the sap, while the other members of the cast are dancing to portray the life of 'tuba' gatherers and their lady love.

One of the four faces of the God as represented in one of the cardinal points. Each of these faces are facing a pond so there are 4 ponds and one island temple at the center of the ponds.
Nimol seems to be trying to lift the stone block which is already in a slanting position about to collapse. Take note of the intricate design above the door frame.

Marlowe suddenly wants to sleep after our lunch in one of the restaurants near the temple in Banteay Srei. These hammocks are really provided for the very tired tourists to take a nap.
At the Museum in the Cultural Center

The famous Khmer krama, one dollar each, comes very handy on the dusty roads to the temples.

The Bodhi Tree, is this the one?

Near the main entrance of the Cambodian Royal Palace grounds is a unique tree which attracts every tourist's attention. It looks as if vines with spikes of flowers entertwined around the trunk. The flowers are in every stages of maturity. The flower stalks arise from the main trunk. The stalks lengthen and grow bigger in diameter, intertwines until the trunk is fully embraced by these branches. That was my first time to see that kind of tree, and that kind of flowers. I heard from a tourist guide that it is called the "buddha tree", and i said ah---ok! He said it is under this kind of tree where the Buddha got his enlightenment. (This morning I browsed from one Thai article that Buddha was born under this kind of tree and also where he attained Nirvana). After several pictures and some rounds of the palace grounds, another tree is again near the exit door. This time the scientific name is tagged on its trunk, and a common name is placed as well, Shorea robusta Roxb. - the bodhi tree. I just realized it is not "buddha" tree but bodhi tree. (The scientific name is not properly written. As was taught us in school, the Generic name starts with a capital letter, while the species starts in small letter. The name after it is the discoverer or the one who put the classification to satisfy what we call binomial classification. e.g. Linn. for Linnaeus. This time it is Roxb., the complete name i dont know!).

After arriving home i looked for the bodhi tree and the Shorea robusta Roxb. It turned out that bodhi tree is Ficus religiosa or sacred fig. A lot of discussion about this especially in Wikipeda, seems that it really is under the bodhi tree where Buddha got his enlightenment. Shorea, whose full name is Shorea robusta Roxb ex. Gaertn.f. turned out to be a dipterocarp, whose common name is sal or saal tree. Now i have a problem! Which tree really witnessed the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha? If i have more time i will research on that, but can anyone just explain this to me, please.

The label (left picture) under the scientific name says 'picking flowers is sinful', while the round brown shape at the bottom right of the label is the bodhi fruit (zoom it for clarity). Readings later showed me that the seeds from sal tree are powdered and eaten or used in traditional medicines.
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