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|January 2, 2014 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Photos Of J.Yuenger, Travels

ThinnerWar Museum, Siem ReapThinner

It’s been a year already since I was in Cambodia. On that trip, I upped the number of countries I’ve been to to 40, which is a little better than a fifth of all the countries in the world.

Thinner

Novice Monks Singing

|April 12, 2013 | Asia, Found Sounds, Travels, You Are There

Luang Prabang, Laos : December, dusk. I was walking along Sisavangvong Road, watching the Night Market vendors setting up their stalls and anticipating a visit to food alley when a tiny, distant sound caught my ear.

Novice Monks Singing

Novice Monks Singing

I followed the sound to a temple, where I found a group of boys singing with their teachers.

Music Of White Crane

|February 15, 2013 | Asia, Found Sounds, Travels

I got my hands good and dirty going through boxes of records in a Malaysian junk shop a couple of weeks ago ( I mentioned that here ), and ended up buying a couple of Singapore-Chinese rock n’ roll 45s – and, ahem, the amount of rocking going on on these discs varies widely – two of them feature sappy Chinese pop songs, dressed up, times being what they were, with groovy cover art, sideburns, and fuzz-wah guitar. All stuff I appreciate, but none of which necessarily makes for kool jamz.

01. Tony & The Polar Bear Five : Bloom And Wilt / Gone Too Quickly / Loving Pair

01. Tony & The Polar Bear Five : Bloom And Wilt / Gone Too Quickly / Loving Pair

02. Tony & The Polar Bear Five : Quarrelling / Happy Girl / Many Girls / Friendly / I Love You

02. Tony & The Polar Bear Five : Quarrelling / Happy Girl / Many Girls / Friendly / I Love You

So, what can we surmise about this? There’s no year of manufacture listed, but knowing what I do about how American electric guitar music made its way to this part of the world via visiting U.S. servicemen and Japanese eleki, and because of the cover of 1968′s Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da ( entitled Bloom And Wilt, for some reason ) I’m going to say that the record dates from quite a while after Beatle boots, matching suits, and The Ventures would have been considered cool in the West.

This is a band who played music for dancing to, probably every night, probably 4 or 6 or 8 sets a night, and they do it here like they did it on stage, without a break in the action, and I decided to leave it that way. The organ gives this material a chaste,  roller-rink ( ballpark, even ) feel, but I nonetheless enjoy putting this on from time to time. Verdict : score!

Jim The Monk

|February 15, 2013 | Asia, Travels

Mandalay Hill, Mandalay, Myanmar. I talked with a teenage monk for a long time. He told me his family name, his monk name, and the name he was given to use in English class, which is Jim. I said, ” Well then, I will easily remember you always, since this was the name of my Father. “

He got all bug-eyed at that, like as if it was a big, cosmic coincidence. Of course, monks know a lot of things I don’t, so who’s to say?

Aw, Jeez

|January 28, 2013 | Asia, Travels

Penang, Malaysia. Over the past few months, all across SE Asia, I’ve been sticking to the promise I made to myself to not buy any records. Collecting things is not what I’m out here to do, I have no way of carrying them safely without a lot of hassle, and it’d defeat the whole pack lightly ethos I’ve been successfully living by. But today, I walked down a different street, and I saw, through the dusty window of a junk shop, stacks of 1960s Singapore-Chinese rock n’ roll 45s with brightly-colored picture sleeves, and my resolve went to hell. Besides, I haven’t bought one thing in Malaysia. I sent some postcards, ( well, I got some new socks, because Myanmar did some pretty terrible things to my footwear, but let’s not dwell on that ) but that’s about it.

Besides, they’re 45s. They’re little. If I can get them home in one piece, and if any of them are any good, I’ll transfer and post them for you,. I know I could connect-the-dots pretty quick on the internets and see what these tunes sound like, but where’s the fucking fun in that? Nowhere. I was excited to find an EP by Rita Chao, who I posted about during my Asia-immersive lead-up to this trip. She is go-go dancing on the cover, exactly as she should be.

Thaipusam

|January 26, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Penang, Malaysia.  Thaipusam ( Tamil: தைப்பூசம்  ) is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai ( January / February). It is not only observed in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as Malaysia. “

” The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel ( spear or javelin ) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. “

” On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi ( burdens ). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with “ vel “ skewers is also common. “

” The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through the tongue or cheeks reminds the devotee constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. “

” In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, often attracts over one million devotees. The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur and proceeds for 15 kilometers to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. Thaipusam is also celebrated at Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple along Jalan Waterfall in Penang. “

The Sidewalks Of Penang

|January 25, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

If you follow here, there are some things you’ve probably figured out about me : I am detail-oriented, and I like old stuff. These are British tiles ( the similar-looking ones you can still see in the French Quarter in New Orleans are Spanish, I think – correct me if I’m wrong ), some as old as the 1880s, in Chinatown, in Penang, Malaysia. I walked on all of them.

 

U Bein

|January 15, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Sorry, I haven’t had much time to spend here. I’ve been in places where there isn’t much internets, or riding in a bus all day, or going to see stuff like this. I walked from one end to the other and back. Every so often there’s a person selling owls, the idea being that you buy one and release it. It’s said that the owls are trained to come right back to the owl-sellers after a little bit of being set free. ( a new sight : owls huddled together in wire cages – also, I don’t imagine I’ve ever yet in my life said ” owl-seller ” )

“ Amarapura is a former capital of Myanmar, and now a township of Mandalay. Amarapura is bounded by the Ayeyarwady river in the west, Chanmyathazi township in the north, and the city of Innwa in the south. Amarapura was the capital of Myanmar for three discrete periods during the Konbaung dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries, before being finally supplanted by Mandalay 11KM north in 1857. “

“ The U Bein Bridge is a 1.2KM wooden footbridge ( the longest teak bridge in the world ) and was built in the mid-19th century by the mayor U Bein, salvaging the unwanted teak columns from the old palace during the move to Mandalay. The bridge still serves as the most important communication link for the people of his villages. “

I See A Guy

|January 10, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels, White Zombie

Yangon, Myanmar. I said ” OH SHIT! “ pretty loud. This is a big, noisy city, so nobody heard. I would have been too shy ten years ago, but not now, and , anyway, I look like a big scary Viking to these people. I roll up and start taking pictures of this guy, who is, of course, completely mystified. ( Look at the dude. I’m sorry, dude. )

 

I just got here last night, and I haven’t even learned to say ” thank you ” or ” can I have the bill, please? ” in Burmese, so, after I’d taken a couple of photos, I pointed at his shirt, and then I pointed at myself, and I said, ” that’s me, that’s my band ” in English. It was all I could do, and I knew he wouldn’t understand, and I knew there was no way to explain it. He looked around at all the other people cooking on the street and laughed and shrugged. It would be cool if he had one of the albums and looked at it tonight and said, ” Oh “.

 

 

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|January 9, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Yangon, Myanmar. ( if you’re thinking about old-timey times, that’s Rangoon, Burma. )

The city’s full of beautiful old colonial buildings, and this is the first Victorian Buddhist temple I’ve ever seen.

Recent Events Dictate : Postcard

|January 6, 2013 | Asia, Recent Events Dictate, Travels

Shaking off the sickness now. It made its way from my head to my lungs and on out in 2-3 days, but I’m still tired. 6:30AM lobby call ( guy comes from the bus station on a moped to get you, you get on the back and balance your suitcase and backpack on your lap and try not to fall off as he speeds around corners through puddles – an experience that wakes you up real fast ) yesterday for a 7AM bus back to Phnom Penh, about a 6-hour ride.

 

I can’t really convey how crazy PP is – you step off the bus and you’re swept up in a stream of people and motos and tuk-tuk drivers trying to get your attention. Your day consists of saying ” ah TAY aw KOHN ” ( ” no thank you ” ) over and over, literally hundreds of times, to guys who want to drive you around. Sometimes they keep the pitch up after you say no, but they’re never dicks about it.

 

Every single step you take in this city, you have to look around you carefully first, as a motorbike is likely to appear exactly where you’re about to walk. Yes, on the sidewalks as well.

 

I got a cheap hotel a couple of blocks away from the bus station and I knew I could walk it, but that it would be tough, because of the crazy, broken pavement, and the crowds, and the wacky numbering schemes of the streets ( and the fact that you generally can’t walk on the sidewalks, because they’re full of parked motos and people sitting and eating on little plastic stools ). Plus, there was a huge fire somewhere and screaming cops and soldiers were trying to control traffic, and people were running this way and that, attempting to get a look.

 

 

After I checked in, I walked around the block. I think I told you that I met and hung out with a guy from a band here, Cambodian Space Project? In the shopping mall across the street from my hotel, they have their own store, where they sell records, posters, t-shirts and vintage junk guitars and stuff. Can you imagine an American band having their own cool little shop? Well, Dead Moon do, or did, I guess, but I can’t think of anyone else.

 

I ate, and I knew that I needed to get moving on organizing the next part of my trip, but I was bone-tired and I went to bed at around 4PM, woke up at 10PM, and said to myself, “ Motherfucker, no. Sleep. Full hibernation-mode, and no feeling guilty about it either “ – and slept until about 9 this morning. So I have some strength back now. It’s Sunday, but everything seems to always be open, so I’m going to go to some travel agencies and see what’s up.

Slow Boat To Battambang

|January 4, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Phnom Sampeau

|January 4, 2013 | Asia, Travels

A place I went today, which was somehow even more deeply troubling than the other very bad places I’ve been on this trip. You can read about it if you want.

 

 

One very poignant thing which I noticed at the Cheoung Ek Killing Fields and here, as well, is that the clothing of some of the victims is still lying around. This is like as if you were visiting Auschwitz and there were striped uniforms underfoot in the dirt ( and perhaps there were, for a while ), or you found a moccasin at Wounded Knee, or — anyway, you get what I mean.

 

I picked up this pair of pants and studied them for a long time. They’re very heavily mended, and they’re little. The small, poor person who wore these was deemed dangerous enough to be killed by Khmer Rouge cadres and thrown through an opening in the roof of the cave.

 

Songoftheday

|January 3, 2013 | Asia, Found Sounds, Songoftheday, Travels

Battambang, Cambodia. I rode a rented bicycle around all day. Returned it to the bike people. Nice kids. I was hot and dirty, and I’d noticed a bar on the corner because of its beautiful tile floor ( don’t let ‘em tell you that Battambang retains some kind of charming sleepy French colonial 1930s vibe; it doesn’t – but if you’ve an eye for the little things, like plaster moldings and floor tiles, there are clues, here and there ) and the sign that said DRAFT BEER, so I went in and sat down.

 

The soundtrack in this place was straight 1960s Cambodian rock n’ roll, which was already pretty awesome, but when this song came on, I started to hoot and holler a little. The bartender was like, dude, what’s your malfunction? and I was like, this song is about my city! New Orleans is my home! -I think she got what I meant. ” This man is excited because the most famous song about his town is the story of a whorehouse “, she may have been thinking.

 

Fair enough. In the perfect world of J.Yuenger, the Louisiana state song would be I Walk On Gilded Splinters.

Sinn Sisamouth : House Of The Rising Sun

Sinn Sisamouth : House Of The Rising Sun

Things about this track : It’s a version of a song you’ve heard all your life, sung in Khmer, which is neat. Also, there’s some very righteous lead guitar here, fuzz-style. Additional to that, this is Sinn Sisamouth, who was one of the biggest stars ( a singer, performer, songwriter, and producer ) of Cambodian music, who was murdered by the Khmer Rouge in 1976. Nearly all of the great musicians of Cambodia were killed during that era, and it’s pretty much certain that everyone playing on this track was later murdered, or endured hardships beyond our imagining.

Last Stop

|January 2, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Sangkae River, Battambang, Cambodia. About to come ashore after a 9-hour boat trip.

 

We Pull Teeth

|December 28, 2012 | Asia, Travels

Siem Reap, Cambodia. As seen on my hot, dusty walk up Highway 6 to Phsar Leu Thom Thmei Market. So many hand-painted signs that I would hang on my wall. They are everywhere. You think to yourself, ” yeah, if I rolled up on this place with a wad of bills .. “, and then you feel like a jerk. #northamericanscum

 

GRAF

|December 26, 2012 | Asia, Travels

Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was at Ta Prohm temple today ( this! ), and I came across some Vietnamese Graffiti. This is from when Vietnam and Cambodia were firm allies against the U.S., a few years before things changed completely and the two countries were at war – still, the temple would have been almost completely swamped by jungle at this time, and radically ruined, and silent, except for the calls of birds and monkeys.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by old graffiti. There’s a Civil War fort in Florida, and it was real cool to see it, but my chief memory is how a Boy Scout troop carved their names there in 1944.

 

GPOYW

|December 26, 2012 | Asia, Photos Of J.Yuenger, Travels

Cambodia. In a Cham Muslim village on the red-dust road between Kampot and Kep.

Xmas Morning

|December 25, 2012 | Asia, Travels

Siem Reap, Cambodia. Christmas morning at Angkor Wat. I’d been dreaming about coming here for years, and it was a nice present to myself. I hope you’re having a good day as well.

 

 

” This is my photograph of Angkor Wat. There are many like it, but this one is mine. “

Perspective

|December 21, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

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