Postcard Friendship Friday 083: Cambodia’s King-Father Sihanouk

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Today is the first day of the four-day funeral ceremony of the King-Father Norodom Sihanouk. It began with a funeral procession this morning that took the King-Father’s body from the Royal Palace, where it was lying in state for three months now, to the cremation site in front of the National Museum. Thousands of mourners attended the procession and the whole capital was noticeably in a sombre mood.

For this week’s Postcard Friendship Friday, I am sharing with you an iconic landmark in Phnom Penh. This is where I first attended a ceremony where the then-King Norodom Sihanouk attended.

This is the Vimean Eikareach, or the Independence Monument, an obra of Mr. Van Molyvann who is Cambodia's most influential modern architect. Built in 1958 to commemorate those who died during the wars and Cambodia's independence from France.
This is the Vimean Eikareach, or the Independence Monument, an obra of Mr. Van Molyvann who is Cambodia’s most influential modern architect. Built in 1958 to commemorate those who died during the wars and Cambodia’s independence from France.

The Vimean Eikarech monument is located right smack in the city centre, on the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk Boulevards. It’s a reddish-brown monument that’s in the form of a lotus-shaped stupa, a style or design that is seen in the temples of Angkor and other historical sites. There is a pedestal in the middle where a ceremonial flame is lit by a royal or high official during important occasions. From afar, it looks like an electric fireplace especially when lit at night. Also, take note of the tuktuk (left) and the moto-dop (right) in the foreground. They are two of the common modes of transportation here in the Kingdom.

Too bad I did not really saw then-King Norodom up close because I was very far from the monument :( Since there are no postcards showing the King-Father, let me share with you a stamp issued in his honour.

Rest in peace Your Majesty King-Father. You will  be missed.
Rest in peace Your Majesty King-Father. You will  be missed.

For those following the funeral ceremony of the King-Father, his body lies in state at the cremation site just a block away from the Royal Palace.  The body is scheduled to be cremated on Monday, February 4.

Postcard Friendship Friday 080: Neak Poan Temple

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Here’s a late entry for this week’s Postcard Friendship Friday. I was scanning my Cambodia postcards and found one temple that I have never seen yet despite visiting Siem Reap’s Angkor Archaeological Complex several times already. Presenting to you Neak Poan temple:

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Built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, this temple is dedicated to Buddha and Brahmanism.
Neak Poan mean [sic}]‘tire up by the dragon or entwined by the dragon’. In Khmer culture the dragon is represented to the water. So our ancestor build this temple and put two dragons to wrap for protect this temple is the perfect representation on earth and water of our cosmic world,” says Sambo Manara, Historical Professor of Royal University of Phnom Penh. This temple have been used as the holy place for treatment the health care to every people and especially for the soldier before go to the battle field.

The most impressive feature of Neak Poan is there’re four pools which have differences four statue around the big pool in the center that have the main tower of the temple. The curious figure has the body of a horse supported by a tangle of human legs. It relates to a legend that Avalokiteshvara once saved a group of shipwrecked followers from an island of ghouls by transforming himself into a flying horse. Water once flowed from the central pool into the four peripheral pools via condimental spouts, which can still be seen in the pavilions at each exist of the pool, Mr. Manara’s explained. – Source

According to another site:

The central pond (or pool, as the mentioned above),  which you see above, symbolizes the Anavatapata Lake located on top of the Himalayan mountain.  The lake contained spring water and is protected by the Naga and Nagi.  According to the legend, the Anavatapata Lake was the place where all the gods of Mt. Mehru and the heavens take a bath after they had finished their yearly duties. I can only imagine the gods and goddesses enjoying the water. I bet they don’t have a need for raypak pool heater parts in that lake for they can magically turn it into a warm spring water in one swish of their hands. For more details about Neak Poan’s ponds or pools, please click here.

Postcard Friendship Friday 078: The reclining Buddha in Bago, Myanmar

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My entry this week is from Myanmar, my first one from our ASEAN neighbour.
The largest Buddha statue in Myanmar is found in Shwethalyaung pagod in Bago, Myanmar. pagoda

According to Wikipedia:

The Shwethalyaung Buddha is a reclining Buddha in the west side of Bago (Pegu), Burma (Myanmar). The Buddha, which has a length of 55 m (180 ft) and a height of 16 m (52 ft), is the second largest Buddha in the world, after the 74 m reclining Buddha in Dawei (Tavoy). The Buddha is believed to have been built in 994, during the reign of Mon King Migadepa. It was lost in 1757 when Pegu was pillaged. During British colonial rule, in 1880, the Shwethalyaung Buddha was rediscovered under a cover of jungle growth. Restoration began in 1881, and Buddha’s mosaic pillows (on its left side) were added in 1930.
Although I live in Phnom Penh where Rangoon, the capital of Burma, is a short plane-ride away, I have never ever set foot there yet. Perhaps with the recent opening up of the country, my dream of visiting Myanmar will finally be realised in the coming months. 
It is difficult to find someone from Myanmar to arrange postcard swaps with. So I have to thank my good friend, Lee Hock Peng, for sending me this postcard. I’m so grateful for friends like him, albeit virtual, who never forget to include me in their “mailing list” every time they go on a trip.

Mabalos.
Godspeed, Lee.

Sunday Stamps 064: Art, Music, and Dance

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So sorry for the late posting. I’m nursing a hangover from last night’s drinking, errr, celebration of our wedding anniversary.  I wanted to post ahead but could not refuse a drink (that went on and on) after a nice dinner… you get the picture 😀

Please excuse if I sound rambling in this post. So… let’s start the stamp showcase, shall we?

For the art category, I chose this 30c stamp from a set of six issued in 2007 honouring Belizean artists. The stamp below features one of the prized artworks of Louis Belisle.

Market Scene (1989) portrays a regular market day in Belize.

From Myanmar, formerly Burma, here’s a traditional musical instrument. It’s a drum called shan pot drum, locally called ooh si.

Valued at K50 (US$1=872kyat), it was issued between 1998-2000 and was one of the five in the series.

The music of Burma (or Myanmar) has similarities with and is related to many other musical traditions in the region, including Chinese music, Indian music and Thai music. These instruments are played in a musical scale consisting of seven tones, each associated with an animal that is said to be the producer of the tone. Each tone can be played raised, lowered or natural (corresponding to sharp, flat or natural), resulting a possible twenty-one combinations. (Source)

Here’s how an ooh si drum looks and sounds like (click the link) – Shan pot drum of Myanmar.

And last but not the least, a beautiful stamp from Cambodia featuring the Apsara dance, a classical Khmer dance, the indigenous ballet-like performance art of Cambodia.

I have written about Apsaras before and you can find them (click the link) here. And here’s a video of the Cambodian Royal Ballet  peforming the Apsara dance.