Slickdrums Chronicles

AvatarSwim Against The Grain..

Applying Paradiddles & Triplets to Hands & Feet (Double bass)

This old drum lesson video by Simon Philips is really incredible. Now you know how many world class drummers play with super independence & agility!

And really, the best part is, it’s not really out of the world. It just takes practice and starting slow at first!

The Trip To Phnom Penh City

Slickdrum’s notes:

Wow.. I just got motivated to finish off our Cambodian adventure. I got a little behind after completing the time we had in Siem Reap. I was rushing a project and right after that, my wife took leave off work for a few days (I must also confess, I have been spending time trying out Flickr and Picasa too!).

But my motivation came in today when I checked my email (yes, left that a little behind too!). A comment by Andres Orta, Revenue Manager at Le Meridien Angkor got me encouraged to get my story moving (before them grey cells starts depleting and I start forgetting!).

So, starting off where we last ended.. after a long day at Sisophon.

The next day, 17th Nov (Tues), we had to start our journey to Phnom Penh. So after a sumptuous breakfast at Royal Angkor Cafe (and sad to leave such a beautiful hotel with excellent service!), we got ready to leave early for Irene’s last appointment in Siem Reap before catching our flight to Phnom Penh.

We were at the domestic terminal about 11am and  to our surprise, no one had “checked in” for work at the check-in counters yet!

The empty check-in lanes Hey, where’s everybody?

Eventually, one person arrived and a lane opened up.  After checking in, we had about 1.5 hrs to spend, so it was a really good thing we found a Blue Pumpkin cafe inside. So we had drinks & sandwiches for lunch.

It came for time to board the plane. And it was a first time for me to board a propeller-powered plane!

Our cool propeller plane! Like, how awesome is this?

All in all, it only took 45 mins to travel to Phnom Penh from Siam Reap. After getting our luggage from an open luggage area (not air-conditioned as we were used to), we went to meet our driver from Inter-Continental Hotel. Yes, my wife is very efficient and she had thought about the arrangements ahead of time.

The open luggage area The simple open luggage area

However, as we came into the arrival area scanning the displayed cards, we didn’t see anyone holding a card with her name on it. Frustration started to seep in since she had paid for the service and booked very early.

After a few failed attempts (and nerves getting shot) in trying to call the hotel, we finally managed to call Inter-Continental hotel (with the help of a local, we figured out how to call locally). Apparently, the concierge head completely forgot our arrangement! So we decided to grab a taxi while fuming inside!

But reflecting on how the concierge head had apologized profusely over the phone for the blunder, we had somewhat calmed down. When we arrived at the hotel, the concierge head came out to greet us personally and started apoligizing. Knowing he very well didn’t  intentionally make that mistake, we gave a big broad smile as he helped us the bags from the cab and told him it was okay. Only a very minor thing, which it really was.

Inter-Continental Hotel lobby The lobby of Inter-Continental Hotel.. quite a nice hotel.

The room at Inter-Continental cannot really be compared to Le Meridien Angkor. At Le Meridien, we were superbly impressed. At Inter-Continental, we were happy it was nice. I guess it could be that Inter-Continental catered towards the business people where Le Meridien Angkor catered to tourists.

Now, curiosly, one thing I discovered during our drive to the hotel was that there weren’t many tall buildings in Phnom Penh. True enough, as I viewed the city’s landscape from room window, it was quite a flat country. Perhaps, it is growing in development.

Rather flat landscape A flat landscape.. not many tall buildings

After Irene had gone out with her colleague from Belgium for an appointment, I decided to check out the city life at night. Unfortunately, at where I was, there weren’t much. My hopes of finding a cafe to hangout in came up zilch! That, plus the fact that I was starting to sweat a little, made me decide to head back to the hotel and laze until Irene and her colleague gets back so we can all head for dinner.

We decided to check out the chinese restaurant, Xiang Palace, at Inter-Continental Hotel. It was ok, not as great as back home, but plenty of food (mental note: never assume there’s not enough food!).

After a very, VERY filling meal, it was nice to plop into a cool bed with a nice cool room! Awesome!

Coming up: A Day in Phnom Penh City

A Long Drive & Day At Sisophon

After visiting the Temples on Sunday, it was work for Irene on Monday. She was heading out to Sisophon city and I decided to tag along to learn about the people now that I’ve checked out the Temples.

Sisophon (properly Serei Saophoan) is the capital city of Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia. The city separates Cambodia's National Highway 5 and National Highway 6. Serei Saophoan is difficult to pronounce, so often the area is written transliterated as "Sisophon", even on Cambodian signs.

- excerpted from Wikipedia

The drive was about an hour plus one way. And it was a long, straight highway with lots and lots (and lots!) of green because of the large number of paddy fields! According to Irene’s English translator, Cho, Cambodia has lots of land. Only problem is people are poor and cannot afford to buy land to grow crops. The roads have been tarred and made proper than it was last year.


.. more greens..

.. and more greens! Paddy greenery all along on either side of the highway to Sisophon

All the paddy fields greenery really reminded of my once-lush-green hometown.

Here in Cambodia, people don’t rush driving like either the road’s belong to them or like there’s no tomorrow, unlike back in our so-called “civilized” cities. Nope, they cruise along, they take their time. Naren, our driver, was probably pedaling it at 60 Kph, which is rather slow back at home! But we got to see lots of green, which was a plus!

Sisophon city, looks more like a very large town, is quite large and the area dispersed. When we arrived at Irene’s appointment, I took off trying to check out any cafe with wifi around (I read a traveller blogged from one) and wanted to take in the life here.

As soon as I started walking, barely a minute, I started to feel very hot! And  it didn’t help much that I was carry my knapsack notebook bag! Only the main road seems well kept and wide, while the smaller roads branching off the main, not very well maintained. I walked off in the main road, but couldn’t see any shops, so I turned back and took the road opposite where Irene’s appointment was.

Walked a fine distance but had no luck in finding any cafes. On top of that, it was quite a dusty small road, so I decided to turn back. Passed by a large primary school compound.

Primary school in Sisophon A very, VERY, simple primary school in Sisophon.. We are so pampered!

It was quite sad to see how backward these schools are, although it’s good to see children in them. But I bet they lack lots of current modern day facilities and materials!

I made my way back to the main road, only to be saved by Naren, who was probably driving about. Told him about looking for a cafe, and he offered to look one with me. He’s been in Sisophon once before and roughly knew a place for a cuppa.

The giant lady statue in town center The town center with the large statue in the middle of the roundabout

Passed by a large statue in a center which I guess was the city centre. We found a coffee shop. Not the one I was hoping for, but a relief nonetheless. We both had coffee and it was good to sit and cool down. And it was nice of Naren to buy me the coffee and drive me about.

After fetching Cho & Irene for her second appointment in Sisophon, Naren offered to drive me about again than to wait (on the hindsight, I should have waited..). We went to a place he wanted to introduce for lunch. It was like a park, with concrete figures of animals & huts for people to eat in and drink.  After walking around (I wasn’t keen, but just to oblige Naren since he gave a ride), we just sat at the restaurant in the park and had mineral water. Irene & Cho later joined us after their appointment (they were driven over). While food was so-so, the flies didn’t make it at all appetizing. We just wanted to get back soon. So after quick lunch, we made our way back home.

The solitary tree This solitary tree caught my eye on the way back!

Irene had another appointment in Siem Reap city itself and since we quite early in getting back, we decided to stop by the hotel to freshen up. I was too pooped to follow, so I opted to stay back and crashed (after a nice hot-bath, cooling down in an air-con room!).

Later that night, we decided to treat ourselves a little (after a hard day’s work and all!), so we decided to check out L’Angelo, an Italian restaurant at Le Meridien Angkor.

Food at L’Angelo was incredible! We were given the L’Angelo complementary drink, a red wine mixed with soda and lime and the traditional buns with dips.

Our complimentary wine and soda mix Our complimentary L’Angelo drink – red wine, soda and lime

Irene had huge tiger prawns as appetizers, I had the Vegetable Terrine (a bad mistake, sigh!). For main meals, Irene had the Risotto with Duck Breast and I had the Grouper meal which really blew me! And to top it off, for dessert,  Irene had creme brulee and me Pineapple Panacotta something. All this was for only $20 per person. Considering the food & the 5-star hotel, this was cheap.

See how huge them prawns are! Irene’s tiger prawns for appetizers!

Vegetable Terrine The Vegetable Terrine appetizer I had.. not my favorite dish!

The cozy L'Angelo The cozy L’Angelo Restaurant

After these incredible meals, we decided to walk about burn off the extra calories (yikes!) before heading back to the room.

Beautiful lanterns on the trees The beautiful lit lanterns on trees in front of the hotel entrance

That night we were ending our stay in Siem Reap. We were about to check out the next day for Phnom Penh next!

Next: The Trip To Phnom Penh City

Visiting The Infamous Siem Reap City

Well, right after we got weather beaten visiting the Temples, we marched right off for lunch in the city. And I was so looking forward to this (partly hungry, partly I wanted to try authentic Khmer food!).

We stopped by a local restaurant where we were ushered by Mony, pass the al-fresco seating area, into the air-con area (the dude read my mind!). We ordered the Fish Amok,a type of thick coconut & sauces dish served in a coconut shell, for myself, and the Chicken Satay (yeah, yeah, we know we can always get it in Malaysia, but hunger knows no boundaries!) for Irene.

I must tell you that I simply LOVE the Amok! And if you visit Cambodia, this must be one of your first and constant companion! The satay was huge, all meat without fat (than what we get in Malaysia!). We were too involved in our gastronomical affair that I forgot to pictures of these sumptuous meals!

And to make our lunch experience all the wholesome, we had the fine hospitality of Oliver (I guess he realized most tourists couldn’t pronounce his Khmer name, so he came up with an English one!).

Me & Oliver, our smiley waiter Me, Oliver and my sweat-drenched tee after my hearty meal..!

After lunch, Mony took us to the Artisans D’Angkor workshop area where they train underprivileged youngsters with artisan skills who would produce art works & souvenirs for sale at their outlets & grow to be professional artisans themselves. We were greeted by a guide who would take us through all the workshop areas for free. We first stopped at the Silkworm gallery where he explained how they harvest silk from silkworms & the many workshops over the district.

Silkworm gallery 

Then we checked out the silk-painting workshop where we saw how silk paintings were done and the works in progress.

Silk paintings in progress

Young Cambodian girl finishing up Silk painting workshop.. notice the large painting!

Next stop was at the wood engraving workshop.  The guide showed us what they used to give the engravings an authentic look.

The wood engraving workshop At the wood engraving workshop

We then went to the bronze moulding and engraving workshops. It’s incredible how they take a piece of bronze mould and shape it into elephants, pumpkins etc and then dipped into silver a few times.

Bronze moulding section

Bronze engraving section The Bronze moulding (above) & engraving workshop

Next, we stopped over at the wood carving section. Here the guide explained the type of woods they used determines the price for the artwork.

The Wood carving workshop At the wood carving workshop

Right after that and another wood carving section (for larger pieces), we were taken to visit the store where they sold their finished work. Artisans D’Angkor also have retail outlets.

Right after getting a small silver-plated oval box for Irene’s niece, we headed to the Old Market, or in Khmer, Phsar Chas. Mony took us to his uncle’s & sister’s shop. I think he might be have been happy for the turnabout events the lead us to the city instead of spending the whole day at the temples! We bought some souvenirs & even checked out the different parts of Phsar Chas, besides the souvenir shops, the wet market and the hawker stalls (tourists, don’t even venture there!).

DSCF0134 Entering one of the many entrances of the large Phsar Chas

DSCF0136 The wet market portion (rather dirty, so be prepared!) at Phsar Chas!

DSCF0137The sounvenir shops at Phsar Chas

Inside, thankfully, it wasn’t too hot, but still somewhat warm. So after checking out the Old Market, we insisted on buying Mony and Sokran, our driver, a drink at a cafe. So Mony took to The Blue Pumpkin Cafe, a rather nice, free wifi cafe.

After a hot day, a nice cool drink! Cooling out at The Blue Pumpkin Cafe

After an exhausting day, we were just too tired to eat out, so we just had to do with hotel food (which was good too)!

Coming up: Our long drive & day at Sisophon. (Trips to Cambodia always seem to be in long days!)

Getting Intimate With The Angkor Temples! Pt. 3

Right after Angkor Wat (and getting somewhat hot, sweaty & increasingly tired), we hopped into our car (after being approached by small girls selling postcards and guides & buying one set of postcards) and were driven to Angkor Thom.

Angkor Thom & Bayon Temple

Angkor Thom is a larger complex with smaller structures like the Bayon Temple, Elephant Terrace, smaller shrines & other ruins. We arrived at the main entrance where we could see statues lining up on either side of a bridge that led up to a Gate (I forgot which Gate this was due to mental fatigue!).

At the bridge entrance of Angkor Thom At Angkor Thom’s bridge entrance guarded by statues

We made our way to Bayon Temple, a much, much smaller temple dedicated to the King and Buddhism. Before entering, we needed to show our pass. After a go ahead, we walked along the path on the 1st Level and saw some amazing stone carvings.

Arriving at the Bayon Temple The ruins of the Bayon Temple

Walking along the 1st Level Walking along the ruins on the 1st Level

Stone carvings of battle Stone carvings of daily living Intricate stone carvings of battle with the Champhas (above) & of daily living (below)

We walked up to the 2nd Level and it was a pretty narrow chamber. After resting a while (to hear more stories of Bayon by Mony), we walked up the very steep stone staircase, one which I nearly slipped,  to the 3rd Level area.

Steep staircase to the 3rd LevelPath leading to wooden staircase to the 2nd Level


On the 3rd Level, Mony’s suggested we climbed up to the 4th Level structure to have our pictures taken at the window and doors. Walking around the 2nd Level, we saw the many faces of the king. Of course, Mony being the expert guide, explained where the best shots were like the faces through the window shot.

At entrance on 4th Level

The 2 faces of the King The two faces of the King – I think there are about 200 faces all around.

After making a round of the 3rd Level area, we climbed into the 4th Level structure. Incredible stone architecture.

4th Level roof The roof of the 4th Level structure

Catching a breather! Getting some rest and our breath!

We then descended down the steep staircase and all the way to the level ground. Exciting, interesting and EXTREMELY hot and tiring. By now, my feet is all but normal and my little pinky toe getting a blister pain.

Leaving Bayon Temple After a tiring time walking up & down, it’s goodbye to Bayon!

With my toe acting up & both of us feeling rather all tired out, we walked (with whatever strength we could muster) towards the Elephants Terrace but not before we made arrangements to spend the other half of the day at the town instead of other temples.

The Elephant Terrace is a place where the King would seat & watch entertainment.

Steps up towards the Elephant Terrace The steps leading up to the Elephant Terrace. You can see the Elephant trunks!

The King's terrace The terrace where the King would sit & watch the entertainment

These small shrines don’t just serve as temples but as part of the tightrope acts. There would strings across these shrines where tightropes would walk across!

Tightrope shrines Shrines and tightropes do go together!

Next up: Visiting the infamous Siem Reap City

Getting Intimate With The Angkor Temples! Pt.2

Angkor Wat (Cont)

The Day Pass

And right before I forget, as you enter the temple area, you would be required to get a Pass into the temple area. There’s a Day Pass, 3 Day Pass and 1 Week Pass. We got the Day Pass which cost us $20 per person.

You would need to keep this pass in good condition or the official may not allow you to enter the temple area. So don’t keep this in your pocket as when it gets hot (and believe me, it does!), you will sweat literally like a pig & soak these paper passes up quick!

So picking up from we left off. On the 2nd Level, just outside the 3rd Level structure, you will find libraries.

Ruins of the Library on 2nd Level The old ruins of the library on the 2nd Level

And this is one of two on the 1st Level. These are places, where back in the day, the public is able to learn the hindu teachings which were written in Sanskrit (and if I remember correctly, were replaced with Buddhist teaching later on).

The library on the 1st Level The library on the 1st Level

The people had learn by the different levels of the library, starting from the ones on the 1st Level (I think they were 2). Only after completing the studies at both libraries, they can proceed to the ones on the 2nd Level. And these teachings are written on palm leaves.

Palm leaves writingsExample of writings on Palm leaves

We saw the 4 element cleansing pool where people will cleanse themselves according to their elements.

One of the 4 elements pool One of the 4 elements cleansing pool

It was really captivating observing the detailed work on the architecture. Everywhere you turn, you see masterpiece art work on stone and if you looked carefully, it was mostly symmetrical! This really is incredible!

Engravings on a pillar Detailed engravings on a pillar!

We made our way out of the complex through the 1st Level entrance to the path where the King enters from.

Taking it all in.. Catching a breather outside the North area of the complex

Right outside the complex, there were pools, that according to Mony, where people used to wash themselves in. But not these days, of course (if you could see the color!). By this time, there were lots of people coming in along these areas (from the North Gate).

The reflection of Angkor Wat Capturing the reflection of Angkor Wat at the pool

The North GateUs walking towards the North Gate

The growing crowdThe crowd getting into the temple 

As we walked past the North Gate, Mony pointed out to us the large number of bridal parties who were there to take pictures. Apparently, that week was supposed to be a good week to get married.

Bridal party A bridal party passing by a snake balustrade (you can see part of the head)

.. and another bridal party..

..and another! The different colorful bridal parties at the temple

We walked along the pathway with the snake body balustrade (the same that we saw at the South Entrance) and the moat that goes all around Angkor Wat (where there once crocodiles but not anymore), taking one last good look at this beautiful masterpiece of architecture & making our way to Angkor Thom to visit the Bayon Temple.

The large incredible moat The large moat that goes all around Angkor Wat

View from the front The view of the temple, moat and snake balustrade & farewell to Angkor Wat!


Next up - Angkor Thom & The Bayon Temple in Getting Intimate With The Angkor Temples! Pt. 3