The Wandering Continues...

Monday, May 19, 2008

National Mourning for Sichuan Earthquake Victims

China has called for 3 days of national mourning and suspended the Beijing Olympic torch relay to remember the victims of Sichuan earthquake, the country worst earthquake after 1976. National flag is flown at half pole and all entertainment activities (bars, karaoke, movie theaters, internet sites and tv broadcasts!!!) are closed for 3 days.

Especially for today, all activities (including all public transport, factories, car drivers, stock markets, etc) were stopped for 3 minutes silent at exactly 2.28 pm local time as a tribute to the victims. Car and ship horns, as well as air raid sirens will be sounded in remembrance of Sichuan earthquake victims.

Imagine..1.3 billion people have stopped their activities at the same time for 3 minutes!!

Video can be seen here:

Photo is taken from Shanghai Daily, video from China Daily.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

May Holiday Part 1 – Angkor, Cambodia

Now that we are living in Asia, we’ve promised ourselves to intensify our knowledge of Asia, especially Indochina. Being an Indonesian (and I haven't travelled much in Indonesia either!!), I am quite ashamed of myself as I have been to a lot of places in Europe and US and only to some cities in Asia.

Before I live in Shanghai, I have only visited some major cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Guilin), Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which everyone who have been to the last 2 cities can confirm that they are not really typical Asian city.

Therefore, we’ve made our first step to Asia by travelling to Hong Kong, Macau, Siem Reap, Hanoi and Ha Long bay last May holiday. It seems to be a lot of cities to be done in 10 days but we are not so much into shopping so we can skip the trip to the mall in HK.

My parents joined us this time as they were visiting me for the surgery. I will only post about Siem Reap this time and continue with others in the next posts.

First thing we’ve learnt is that travelling in Asia is more complicated with the inter-city connection. Not all places are wel connected by train service and cheap flights are not always available. However I found a very helpful and reliable internet site, Tourism Cambodia, which helps for tickets and hotel bookings and they give detail information about Cambodia. Their price is also cheaper compare to other sites too.

I believe almost all nationalities require visa to visit Cambodia. However they provided an e-visa service which makes it easier. If you prefer not to use their e-visa service, just make sure you have your passport photograph with you when you enter the country.

Also, you don’t have to bother exchanging your money to local currency in Cambodia. Most people trades in USD and they give change in USD as well. You can use it to pay for tuk tuk, bars, restaurants, hotels and water everywhere.

Siem Reap is the city you have to go if you want to visit Angkor. One hint to visit Angkor, it is a huge complex consisting of about 100 temples. It will take you between 3 days to a week to visit all the temples so depending on your crave for archeology, make sure you’ll plan your visit wisely as the price of the entrance ticket is cheaper if you buy for more days. The last time we only spend only a day in Angkor and paid for 25 USD each. The best way to explore the temples is by bicycles or by tuk tuk, a motorcycle powered cart. The area is very peace and serene but be prepared for the hot and humid weather also. Take your time to explore the temples and make sure you have your water and camera handy at all time!

In Angkor we only had the chance to visit the 3 main and must see temples. Those are Angkor Wat itself, Bayon temple and Ta Prohm. The last one is really popular as the temple has been almost outgrown by the trees. You’ll find everywhere trees growing on top of the temple building. Really amazing!

And after you’ve finished exploring the temples, don’t forget to stop at the night market in town or just spoiling yourself with the famous Cambodian massage!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sichuan Earthquake: Aftermath

China was hit badly by earthquake in Sichuan province last Monday. The center of earthquake in Wenchuan county was recorded at 7.8 richter scale and the death toll as per Wednesday 2 pm was above 14.000 people and rising.

Aftershock of the earthquake was also felt in Shanghai, Beijing and Bangkok (Thailand).

I was actually having a teleconference meeting in 30th floor when it happened and for a moment I thought that I was just struck with a terrible dizziness as I felt the room shook and swayed. But then I realized that the overhead projector hanging in the ceiling of the meeting room and the window curtain were swaying too. I scream for earthquake and told everyone to immediately rush out of the room and run towards the emergency stairs. It was a panic condition at that time and by the time we got to the street, we’ve found that a lot of people are exiting from the next door building.

Thankfully, I have to say this for my case, that the center of the earthquake is about 1500 km away from Shanghai. Unfortunately it is not the same situation for those people living in Wenchuan county. Everyday I received forwarded emails showing aftermath pictures. Today the company called for a meeting to request for donation from the employees. For every cent that the employees donate, the company will donate double. I think it is a very good gesture.

If you want to donate to the earthquake in Sichuan, please go to this link.

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