Beautiful Cambodia

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Latimer: This post has been such a long time coming. For various reasons I never got round to finishing off my South East Asian adventure posts! 

Yummy Fish Amok, a Cambodian dish

Yummy Fish Amok, a Cambodian dish, it’s inside a coconut!

Well, last time I left off, I was leaving Vietnam for Cambodia. I was really looking forward to this. One of the main reasons I’d gone on this trip was to make it to Cambodia. I’d heard such good things about it from my brother, who is still as taken with it now as it was when he’d first been there. It grabbed hold of him somehow. And, now I know why.

For those of you that don’t know, Cambodia was once the jewel of South East Asian; prosperous and full of very well educated people. It was once the ancient empire of Kampuchea; it ruled South East Asia.

That glorious past was blotted out in the 1970’s when Pol Pot’s terrifying Khmer Rogue communist organisation came to power. I wouldn’t get into the horrific details; these people, if you can call them that, declared that the country had entered Year Zero, and that meant going back to the Stone Ages in some respects. The educated people were viewed as traitors (the  were sent off to the countryside to work as labourers on the farm, the country entered a famine; neighbours were encouraged to ‘spy’ on each other and inform on each other (even though no one did anything, it was all about fear and mistrust).

Pol Pot’s regime committed genocide; they tortured thousands of people, wiped out whole families (men, women and children), sending them off to the Killing Fields.

People leave bracelets at burial markers in the Killing Fields

People leave bracelets at burial markers in the Killing Fields

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When we visited one of the most horrific and infamous prisons, Tuol Sleng (S-21), our guide told us that in Pol Pot’s reign of terror (which he lived through), there were only two words; Friend, or Enemy… Friend meant ‘life’, Enemy meant ‘death’. The Khmer Rouge preached that they had the ‘eyes of a pineapple and ears everywhere’ – they preached that everyone should spy on each other (or face death), and so no one was safe.

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Tuol Sleng prison

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Our guide, his father (a Professor) had been taken by the Khmer Rouge during the regime. They never found out what happened to him.

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This is the dark side of Cambodia. To this day the Cambodian courts are trying the last living high ranking members of the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot died in the early 1990’s having never acknowledged how he’d tried to destroy his people and his country).

It’s very, very sad, but the Cambodian people are truly incredible. They are strong; stronger than I think I could ever be. I was very touched by what had happened to them, but I think they should be beyond proud of their resilience. 

It was a hard day when we went to Tuol Sleng and then the infamous Killing Field, Choeung Ek. A very hard day. But Cambodia is more than that, so when we went to the amazing Angkor, we got a glimpse back in time at the ancient Kampuchea Empire.

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Walking towards something wonderful

Angkor Wat is the most famous temple in the Angkor complex; it’s a Hindu temple originally. And it was interesting to learn that the languages and scripts of Khmer, Laotian and Thai derive from Hindu and India, not China as I always expected. Many of the temples in Angkor are Hindu; or at least originally, they later became Buddhist.

We got to Angkor Wat for the sunrise – which as it turns out it very popular – haha, of course it is. Anyway, it was packed full of people and I didn’t get a very good picture… but I was there and it was amazing. This is me trying to remember it’s not about the picture but the experience.

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

This is the sort of photo people try to get, where the temple is reflected on the lake in front... yeah we all tried!

This is the sort of photo people try to get, where the temple is reflected on the lake in front… yeah we all tried!

Inside Angkor Wat

Inside Angkor Wat

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A guy getting a Hindu bracelet in Angkor Wat temple… I still have mine!

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Blessing bracelets inside Angkor Wat

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After Angkor Wat, we went to Angkor Thom, the ‘great city’. This was an emperors capital city during the Kampuchea empire. There is a temple inside that has his face built into the walls.

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My travelling buddha makes it to Angkor Thom – onward Buddha, onward…

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We then went to the ‘Tomb Raider’ temple, where the first movie was shot. The temple is actually called Ta Prohm. It’s spectacular. You might know it as the temple with all the roots on it.

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Cambodia really is an amazing country.

We had the opportunity to visit some schools, built and run by international donations and the people of the New Hope Cambodia organisation (which is fantastic). We had dinner at the school, cooked by local teenagers being trained to enter the hospitality industry, giving them a trade. We also sat in on an English class (the kids were amazing) – there’s one classroom called the Irish Classroom (I wasn’t in it) – it’s because there’s an Irish woman that donated a lot of money to the school. That’s great.

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The thing to remember is after Pol Pot’s regime the country lost it’s teachers and educated people. The schools in Cambodia are far behind the rest of the world and lots of children don’t even go to school. So it was great to see that there are grassroots initiatives for Cambodians to help get their country back on track. 

It goes to show you that you can’t keep good people down; people are more resilient that you’d think.

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After a few days in Cambodia I was back in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, where I’d started my amazing journey. I had some time to collect myself before flying back home.

As always, I’m thinking of the next adventure to come! 

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Shush! It’s a Secret!

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Latimer: I have just learned about the amazing Secret Cinema in London, but guys, it’s a secret so don’t tell anyone 🙂

I would love, love, love to go to one of these. I will make it my mission to experience at least one major Secret Cinema! So, what’s the premise exactly? Well, it’s a fully immersive cinema experience. The Secret Cinema releases what the movie will be, you buy your ticket, then they assign you an identity in line with whatever the film is. You dress up and you turn up to where the Secret Cinema event will be.

The area is a replica of various parts of the film in question, so to use an example, the most recent event was Back to the Future.

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You get dressed up like someone in the Fifties, from the town in question, then you go to the fully immersive town. It was a complete replica of the town square – you could go to the diner, or the school dance. You could talk to the people there, the idea is to ‘be’ in the movie. So, the more you talk to people there, the more ‘story’ you get. They might tell you to do things, or go places. You could even sit down in the diner and have a burger! As in the movie, Biff comes in and fights with Marty and they race outside and jump into a car and drive around the town square! It’s all fully interactive.

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And then, after about 3 hours exploring the area, you go and watch the movie, but there’s still some tricks and stuff. Like an actual DeLorean appears and so on!

It sounds like so much fun. Here are some trailers of what previous movie experiences have been – I would love to have been at the Blade Runner one!

Natural Wonders

Latimer: It’s been very hectic these last few weeks here at M. Latimer-Ridley! We’ve been busy with Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets 2… and editing the follow-up, Keeping Secrets 3!

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Added to all that – I’ve just moved country! Yup, for now I’m M. Latimer-Ridley’s London correspondent, at least for the foreseeable future!

I’ve been trying to get out and see things, subliminally advertised to me via the London Underground! There was recently an exhibition in the Natural History Museum, so last Saturday I took myself off to see some Mammoths and Neanderthals!

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I made the mistake of thinking London would maybe not be packed with tourists (this will never happen I’m sure)! There was a big queue to get into the museum, a queue to get to the exhibitions and a queue to see the dinosaur skeletons, which happen to be super popular (I’m not surprised, dinosaurs are great!).

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The Natural History museum is amazing. No one does buildings quite like the English – always so grand!

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The Mammoth exhibition was very cool; the museum had on loan Lyuba, the baby mammoth that was found in Russia – the most intact specimen of a woolly mammoth, she even has hair!

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I also learned here that ‘woolly mammoth’ is just a type of ‘mammoth’ and the biggest was actually the Columbian Mammoth. They had a life-sized model of it and it was amazing. I could have stood starring at it for hours. Nearby there was also a statue of a Short-Nosed Bear; which basically dwarfed a grizzly.

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The Proboscidea family tree!

The Proboscidea family tree!

This all led me onto the ‘evolution of man’ exhibition. I love me some evolution!

The great man himself!

The great man himself!

Recently, in the last few years the Neanderthal genome was sequenced, and it turned up some interesting details. Among other things, the results showed that non-African populations had some Neanderthal markers in their genomes, indicating that there had been some crossovers, and interbreeding between Neanderthal’s and modern humans in Europe.

It appears that when our common ancestor moved out of Africa they migrated north and eventually became Neanderthals, who were adapted to survive in the frozen climate. While, the African common ancestor evolved to become modern humans. Some of these modern humans then migrated north and became lighter skinned Europeans, and encountered their cousin the Neanderthal.

It was assumed that Neanderthal couldn’t talk, but actually the genome work showed that they have a similar gene to us called the FOXP2 gene that is involved in speech and language.

In the exhibition they also said that the Neanderthal markers that are present (to varying degrees, about 2%) in Europeans, largely affected the immune system. So it poses some interesting questions about responses to diseases.

There were also more ‘types’ of humans than just Neanderthal’s wandering around at the time, and they may have also contributed to the modern genome. This all raises the question of what we actually mean now when we say ‘modern human’.

Anyway, these were some great exhibits and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they show during the year!

And of course, I’ll be doing a series of museum hops around the city while I’m here 🙂

Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets 1, Chapter 12

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Ah! Another Wednesday release! Hope you are all still following along!

To celebrate the release of Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets, 2 – check out all the details here – we’re continuing our Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets, 1, Wednesday chapter release!

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Check back next Wednesday for the next chapter release (17th September)!!

Synopsis:

“Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…”

Catch up from the beginning here:

Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4,

Legend Unleashed Chapter 5,

Legend Unleashed Chapter 6 

Legend Unleashed Chapter 7

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 8 

Legend Unleashed Chapter 9 

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 10

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 11

The newest chapter is: Legend Unleashed, Chapter 12

Please share if you can!

Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets 1, Chapter 11

LU_NEW_deviant

Ah! Another Wednesday release! Hope you are all still following along!

To celebrate the release of Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets, 2 – check out all the details here – we’re continuing our Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets, 1, Wednesday chapter release!

Unbroken_Ties_DEVIANTART

Check back next Wednesday for the next chapter release (10th September)!!

Synopsis:

“Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…”

Catch up from the beginning here:

Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4,

Legend Unleashed Chapter 5,

Legend Unleashed Chapter 6 

Legend Unleashed Chapter 7

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 8 

Legend Unleashed Chapter 9 

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 10

The newest chapter is: Legend Unleashed, Chapter 11

Please share if you can!

Magical Music

spotify

We both love listening to music – check out our song board if you don’t believe us! – so we’ve decided to set up a spotify account, to share our favourite tunes, or discover more! Spotify is a really cool music app; it lets you listen to music for free and you can make your own playlists.

You can set up an account for free too!

We’re going to start making some playlists. Check us out if you like! We already have one playlist up there, so let us know what you make of it (or stay tuned for more) ->

Search using this: 

Top 5 Things You Would Recommend to People

Latimer musing over her Top 5's (kawaii artwork inspired by Miss Wah)

Latimer musing over her Top 5’s (kawaii artwork inspired by Miss Wah)

Latimer: Another one of the Top 5 posts! This time, things you’d recommend to people!

This is a modified version of a series that comes from the archive of the ‘Top 5 Wednesday’ Tag. This Tag was started by Lainey on Goodreads; here’s the link if you want to check it out: Lainey!

This is a complete list of everyone partaking in the Tag if you want to check them out.

1. Adventure Time (cartoon)

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Our OC fangirls Pebble and Piccadilly are also discovering the wonders of Adventure Time!!

Our OC fangirls Pebble and Piccadilly are also discovering the wonders of Adventure Time!!

I never really understood what Adventure Time was, or why it was so popular. Now I get it. The Bravest Warriors on Cartoon Hangover was my gateway drug to Adventure Time. They were both created by Pendleton Ward (excellent name) and the guy has the most amazing, random sense of humour.

The great thing about Adventure Time is you don’t really have to understand what’s going on, you just jump in. It’s just a cartoon about a boy (Finn) and his best bud (Jake), and all the adventures they go on, filled with strange hilarious characters.

If you want to laugh, watch it!

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2. BubzBeauty (YouTube)

I like watching the beauty videos on YouTube. They give you some cool ideas for facials and make-up etc. I like Bubz videos; she’s a very cheerful person, very down to earth with some cool ideas. I particularly liked her video on simple nail art and orange facials – come on that’s excellent!

My attempt!

My attempt!

3. Smodcast (podcast/comedy)

Latimer love's Smodcast

Latimer love’s Smodcast

I got into listening to Smodcast (Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s podcast) via Tell Em Steve Dave, another excellent podcast run by Kevin’s childhood friends, Bryan and Walt, and recent friend Brian (also known as Q). Smodcast is such a good podcast (so is Tell Em Steve Dave) – these guys always put a smile on my face! Love them.

4. Loot Crate (loot!)

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I’ve always loved the sound of Loot Crate – monthly gift boxes filled with geek and gamer goodies – but I couldn’t get them in Ireland, so I admired them from afar for a year or so. Luckily, recently they started shipping to Ireland! So, this month I’m finally getting a Loot Crate (yeah!) – I think I’m going to love it, the past crates seem pretty amazing. 

5. Kindle (reading)

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I’m totally addicted to my Kindle now; so very addicted. It’s a fantastic way to carry all your books with you on holidays. And, in the current world of ‘I need everything now, now, now!’ – the instant delivery of a book whenever you want, well, it’s amazing.

I would have loved a Kindle when I was young – I remember how painful it was to wait for books to come into the shop – or having to search for the book, or getting it ordered in specially.

Ah, the waiting game, it’s a dying game now.

What are your top 5 recommendations at the moment?

Thinking about Who

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Latimer: I used to be a pretty big Doctor Who fan back in the David Tennant days. I really loved the show. I loved Rose and the 10th Doctor’s relationship.

I watched religiously up until Rose left; I was heartbroken, I cried (seriously cried).

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For me, for a time, Doctor Who was the best show ever. After Rose left, I hung on for a while, with Martha and Donna; then when Rose returned for a while, I was right in the thick of it again.

When David Tennant left, I bowed out of Doctor Who.

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I didn’t want you to go either!

I didn’t really understand what it meant before, but everyone has ‘their’ Doctor. When the new guy comes, you kind of get repealed, thinking ‘that’s not him, it’s not him!’, and you get annoyed when the show goes on and forgets ‘your’ doctor, and you have to leave to heal and get over the loss of a friend.

You find yourself watching the show from the side-lines and you start to get further and further away, until you’re just not watching anymore.

Then you pop back for the anniversary special. You pop back because of old friends, because of your Doctor.

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I have nothing against Matt Smith, or Amy Pond, or Clara; they just weren’t mine.

I found myself popping back out of curiosity, for the new Doctor’s appearance this weekend. And, I really felt for the 11th Doctor’s generation of Whovians.

The whole first episode was about coming to terms with the new Doctor, who is older and Scottish. I didn’t understand why they picked such an older actor, but I assumed they had their reasons. I didn’t feel strongly about the decision, just curious to why they’d shifted so much.

The first episode seemed to be all about making Clara feel bad for not liking the new Doctor because he was older. And it felt a bit like Clara was representing the audience in a sense. But last time, I couldn’t jump on board with Matt Smith, because he wasn’t my Doctor (regardless of his youth and attractiveness).

But well, Capaldi seems like he’ll be an interesting Doctor, he’s more brooding and intense than the other Doctors seemed to be. It looks like the character is potentially getting darker, which is interesting.

I do still feel sorry for the 11th Doctors followers, because it really does hurt to lose your Doctor. I’m still not back on board, and I’m not sure I ever will be. I still miss the 10th Doctor and Rose 😦

Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets 1, Chapter 9

LU_NEW_deviant

Ah! Another Wednesday release! Hope you are all still following along!

Again, in anticipation of the release of Unbroken Ties (Keeping Secrets, 2) (at the end of August), we’re releasing some new chapters of Legend Unleashed (Keeping Secrets, 1) every Wednesday (next release 27th Aug!)!!

Synopsis:

“Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…”

Catch up from the beginning here: Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4, Legend Unleashed Chapter 5, Legend Unleashed Chapter 6 and Legend Unleashed Chapter 7 and Legend Unleashed, Chapter 8

With the newest chapter here: Legend Unleashed Chapter 9

Please share if you can!

And look forward to the end of August 2014 release of Unbroken Ties!

Unbroken_Ties_DEVIANTART

Holi One Colour Festival


IMG_20140816_145754_1Ridley: Latimer and I went to the Holi festival that was held yesterday in Kilmainham in Dublin!IMG_20140816_145745_1 We had a fantastic time chucking around our coloured powder, more often than not you’d have heard one of us shout, “Close your eyes!” before there’d be a face full of powder and you’d become a large puff ball of pink or blue.

We loved mixing the colours in the one bag, it was just so pretty! Like those old bottles filled with coloured sand in different layers, I remember I used to have one as a child!IMG_20140816_145314
IMG_20140816_145924IMG_20140816_144750 Of course, we also shared our powder with others, both by throwing it up in the air during the count down from the musicians on stage, and then one guy who had been watching us mess fight with the powder for ages, eventually plucked up the courage to ask if he could ‘have some too’, so as I happily said ‘of course’, Latimer was already lining up a handful of orange powder toss to onto his head, he even bent down so she could do it properly!IMG_20140816_145515

He wandered away well chuffed with himself. We later saw him arm in arm with a new girlfriend, though it was possibly one of those ‘just for the day relationships’ 🙂  but we both nodded in satisfaction that the oranging of his head had done wonders for our powdered friend! 😀 After all, the whole point of the festival was to promote ideas of togetherness and to have fun and bring colour to your every day life! IMG_20140816_152624

The festival itself, while not religious in any sense, was originally inspired by the Indian Holi festival, which is a Hindu festival of colours. It is a celebration of love, of triumph of good over bad. People hug and wish everyone a ‘Happy Holi’.pb-130322-india-holi-nj-03.photoblog900Everyone runs around tossing coloured powder and water at each other and into the air. Really it’s a free for all. I love the idea that there’s a specific festival in India that is as colourful as this and celebrates togetherness of friends and family. It makes me want to visit there one day and take part! As it was Latimer and I had a fantastic time at our own smaller version!

“If wishes come in rainbow colours then, I would send the brightest one to say Happy Holi!”

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