2 March 2015

Happy March!

 
New Month ,
 
New opportunities,
 
New beginnings,
 
New experiences.

For some strange reason, I have always loved March. Maybe its because it signifies a brand new beginning.. a change in season from winter to spring. Even though, we don't have winter in Singapore (its summer all year long), we will welcome spring soon. The myriad of flowers blooming over the course of next few weeks will be a sight to behold. I cant wait!
 
Apart from spring, I am also excited about some new collaborations that are in the pipeline. I will be doing a blogger collaboration with two amazingly talented fellow bloggers (one in India and one in Singapore) and I am already looking forward to it!
 
To top it all, there is also a family photo shoot lined up with a photographer whose work I really admire. Love the way she plays with natural light in her photographers. Cant wait to share all these experiences here :)
 
So much to look forward to this month! I am stoked :)
 
Wishing you all a very happy March!
 
 


 

27 February 2015

A trip to Siem Reap and Angkor , Cambodia


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A country that has faced many hardships during the Khmer Rouge, is slowly but steadily making its way back in to the tourist trails. Today, Cambodia is a peaceful nation with a growing economy that puts immense emphasis on tourism. Its main tourist attraction, Angkor Wat, is revered by visitors and locals alike. Located in Siem Reap, the mysterious ruins of the Angkor intrigued us and thus began our sojourn to Cambodia in February, 2011.  
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A quaint little town in the heart to Cambodia, Siem Reap is the gateway to the ancient ruins of Angkor. While many travelers prefer to stay here and make day trips to see the temples. During our stay, we wandered around to explore the local markets and Buddhist temples in the vicinity.

The markets here have everything from custom jewelry, silk scarves, local handicrafts to more exotic items like snake wine! We were informed by the hotel that precious gem stones (which Cambodia is famous for) should not to be bought from these markets as they can be fake and recommended few established gem stone factories nearby.
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Local handicrafts and jewelry can be found in the local markets at Siem Reap
While exploring around, we came across a Buddhist temple . As we ventured inside, even the air felt positive. The statue of Buddha in the center was draped in a embroidered golden shawl and was surrounded by colorful floral displays.
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As we lit a candle , we heard some chants.  Not wanting to disturb anyone, I quietly went towards the sound of the chants and saw monks praying in a room inside. It was a simple yet an immensely powerful scene.
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We then ventured around the temple and came across some vivid wall murals. These paintings depicted the life of Buddha . Born in India as Siddhārtha Gautama, Buddha taught mostly in the eastern part of India and gained immense following for his teachings. Today, Buddhism is a revered religion and these paintings showcase the life of this great teacher.
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This temple is also home to the statue of the reclining Buddha. It represents Buddha in his last illness as he is about to enter Nirvana . He is portrayed as lying down with his head resting on a cushion and a peaceful almost serene look on his face. The locals consider this statue to be of immense importance and believe  it brings good luck to those who see it. 

A trip to Siem Reap is incomplete without seeing the statue of the reclining Buddha.
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Angkor Wat

The next day, we started our journey early in the morning to see the ruins of Angkor. We hired a car from the hotel as its quite some distance away. On our way we saw many tourists on motorized tuk tuks, enjoying the summer breeze . However, the road is very dusty and if you suffer from dust allergy, its advisable to take the safer option of a car.

As we approached our destination, we were astounded by the beauty of the ruins. It felt as though we were stepping back into time to witness a lost civilization . Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, the temples were understandably crowded. "Turn back", said hubby as I walked towards the entrance.
 
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We didn't have a guide with us so I had read up quite a bit about the ruins before coming here. Built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II as a tribute to the Hindu God Vishnu, the temple had resiliently stood the test of time. This has since become a Buddhist place of worship which continues to this day. The various influences of both religions can be seen in various parts of the temple.
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With a generous use of sandstone, Angkor is a classical example of Khmer architecture. The inner walls of the temple have carvings representing the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. In fact, the Archeological survey of India carried out restoration work here between 1986 and 1992 after which Angkor was given the status of a world heritage site. Being from India, these places astound me as it makes me realize that our civilization was spread over so many countries thus creating a footprint around the world.
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Angkor Thom

After visiting Angkor Wat we headed over to see Angkor Thom. While, Angkor Wat translates as the city of temples , Angkor Thom means the great city. This was the last city of the Khmer empire and was built in the late twelfth century by King Jayavarman II. Constructed in Bayon style with ample use of Laterite , the faces on the Angkor Thom are shrouded in mystery. While, most scholars believe that the faces belong to the king , others say that they are of bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, guardians of the empire's cardinal points.
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Ta Prohm

Instantly famous after being featured in Angelina Jolie's movie, 'The Tomb Raider', Ta Prohm became an overnight dream destination for many. The iconic ruin under the roots of an ancient tree has become one of the most photographed places in Cambodia . While visiting Ta prohm after the other temples, we were surprised by the overwhelming crowd. To take a picture in front of the tree took us a good half an hour as people rushed towards this place.

Well, when we finally got the chance , I ended up looking really grumpy in the picture. Haha, its indeed a funny memory now :)
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We enjoyed our trip to Cambodia. The beautiful temples of Angkor are a testament to the glorious civilization that once walked the face of earth. As a world heritage site, these ruins are now protected and are reminiscent of the past. Cambodia should be on every tourist's map for it offers an experience that is truly unique and fascinating.  

26 February 2015

Ottoman Kebab & Grill

Last week, I was craving for some authentic Turkish fare. Succulent and juicy Kebabs, sinful Kunefe and creamy hummus were on my mind. That’s when hubby suggested we head to Ottoman Kebab and grill, a Turkish food haven located in Bedok Mall.  
Exuding a café like ambience, Ottoman kebab and grill offers Turkish specialties such as homemade Pide, hommus,Doner, Mutton iskendar and Cheese Borek among others. The Chef Extraordinaire behind this restaurant is Ali Kose, a Turkish native who previously worked as a sous chef under Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in his Michelin star restaurant Maze in London.
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Ottoman Kebab and Grill . Source
With its brightly lit space and colorful interiors, this intimate diner takes you on a visual sojourn to Turkey. While the visuals are indeed pretty, its the food that takes the cake . A meal here offers a delectable experience for the palate.
 
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Ottoman Kebab and Grill . Source
 
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Ottoman Kebab and Grill . Source
Being extremely hungry, we quickly ordered our appetizers and main course. Between the four of us, we ordered Cheese borek, Hummus , Tabouleh , Doner Chicken Pilav, Shish Adana Mutton, Mutton Iskender , Doner chicken Pita, Doner Chicken wrap and Turkish Tea. Yes, yes I know, it a lot of food! We were in a pretty gluttonous mode and by the end of the meal had wiped the plates clean.

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I wasn't carrying my camera which is such a shame. I managed to get some pictures from my iPhone before we blazed past the entire food. It was a warzone! #confessions of a foodie .

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The food was delicious and as authentic as Turkish food can be. Our palate enjoyed the burst of flavors on this extremely satisfying sojourn to Turkey. I am so happy to have found this little diner right in the heart of east coast. Will surely visit again !

Ottoman Kebab and Grill

311 New Upper Changi Road,
Bedok Mall #01-75,
Singapore 467369
Telephone: 6702 4031
Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily