Where do the super rich hide out in yachts the size of aircraft carriers and parked negligently among tuna boats and dhonis. A dhoni is not a dessert. In the Maldives, it is the main form of transportation as roads among a few hundred atolls are not practical. The atolls themselves are the homes of the resorts that dreams are made of.
In many cases, one resort has leased the entire island and other than the staff and the other guests, you are in a tiny paradise that is almost ethereal. It’s not cheap. The ultimate luxuries of wealth, time and space, are never cheap. The paparazzi simply can’t get to you. There are no neighbourhoods dogs. The scungy kids from next door are 10,000 kilometres away and they have to swim.
The resorts are serviced by a small airforce of 80 twin otters sitting on floats and flying close enough to the surface that if you turn the motors off, they just plop down in the lagoons. Every resort has its own dhoni to pick you up in the airport and whisk you in no time to the resort.
But the true paradise is under the ocean. With just a snorkel, you can poke around reefs and tumbled stones where the fish have not seen humans trawling them and have no idea how deeply offensive we are. These maybe the last wild creatures that neither attack nor run away, they just poke about the rainbow reefs getting on with life
The Maldives are quiet. They're not everyone’s choice for vacations. If you are a Yucatan, Barbados, Sharmel Sheikh kind of person, you will hate the Maldives. If the notion of a quiet paradise of brilliant and jewel like resorts isolated in time and space really makes sense, welcome home.
Most of us never experience the ultimate joy of ocean-to plate fresh sea food. Every time a crab is handled or thrown in a sack or frozen or dropped in a restaurant floor, some of the seafood flavour trickles away.
In Kep, you can stand on the shore, whistle and crab and shrimp and prawns and squid leap from the water with big smiles and land on your plate. Okay...okay...okay...it's not quite that...but almost.
The beach restaurants have the charcoal bright red and you're moments away from an epiphany.
Situated on a slightly uphill climb in the midst of a cork grove near Guadalupe, a tiny village west of Evora, the Cromlech was the surprise in our exploration of Evora and its environs. Built around 7000 years ago, this Cromlech was discovered only in 1964.
Mystery envelops you when visiting this Hill of the Stone Amphorae as it has often been referred to. Even older than Stonehenge, this Cromlech in Almendres is one of the largest grouping of structured menhirs in Europe. It contains around 92 menhirs (elliptical stones), some of them engraved.
What is a Menhir?
Wikipedia gives us the best definition:
A menhir (French, from Middle Breton: maen, "stone" and hir, "long"), standing stone, orthostat, lith or masseba/matseva is a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably, but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top.
More about Menhir, here's the Wikipedia link.
It is believed by some that the Cromlech served as an astronomical observatory in the ancient times. 92 points to the number of the days in a quarter year according to this post. Others believe it has religious purposes which invite some religious groups to hold rituals there. Still others believe that these menhirs represent tutelary entities or to others, ancient lineages of power.
So, if you are planning a visit to Portugal, go to Evora and from here, you can visit the Cromlech. There certainly is more to these stones. Let it reveal its mystery to you.
This 2016, the Khmer New Year Angel, the fourth daughter of Kabil Moha Prum, Mondeay Tevi. She is riding the donkey and will be arriving on the 13th of April at 8 p.m. at night. Her favourite food is fresh milk. Add this to your offering of food, fruits and flowers.
Each New Year Angel represents each day of the week. They are:
Khmer usually invite the monks to give their homes, families and businesses blessing for the New Year.
For more information on Khmer New Year, here's a very comprehensive post.
What's better than a party? Getting ready for it. Preparation, getting all your staff out, checking what survived the last family fling, buying some replacement, thinking of a new theme and building the sense of anticipation. Now, imagine doing that for a whole country.
Well, that's what's happening in Cambodia right now. Families in the cities are packing up ready to escape to their home provinces. In villages, all across the country, uncles and aunts and grandmas and grandpas are polishing the farm, washing down the livestock and telling chuckle tales of the last new year.
In Phnom Penh, a few will stay to see the great display in front of the Royal Palace and the host of events that will unveil the birth of another year.
Walking in the city, you see the lights being hanged in the parks, the Happy new Year signs getting new bulbs and a lick of paint. The atmosphere seems lighter and brighter because New Year is a great party and old lady Phnom Penh is putting on a new dress. This display is in the park in front of the Royal Palace.
The temples are also out with the symbols of new year as Khmer troop there on 13-15 of April, 2016, the dates for the celebration of "Chaul Chnam Thmey" or literally, "Enter Khmer New Year".
Khmer gather in the temples during this celebration. They sing songs, play games and, of course, make offering and pray for another prosperous year.
This picture on the left is the newly decorated Wat Lanka, one of the oldest temples in Phnom Penh. Buddhist flags are flying all around the temple and Khmer New Year symbols are out, cleaned and ready to receive the 2016 New Year Angel.
The Khmer are all waiting for the announcement of the exact time the Angel is coming so they can gather together as families to welcome and make their offering for a blessed year.
For the name and arrival of the Khmer New year Angel, here's the link.
To better understand Khmer New Year, open this.