Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's Not All Play in Penang

Contrary to the way this blog my appear, it's not all play for JennEric in Penang.  We are actually here for Eric's work.  Last week, National Instruments made a big announcement about it's presence in Penang and SE Asia.   We are very excited to be part of NI during this time of growth and expansion.  Check out what the plan is for NI Penang over the next 5 years!

National Instruments largest R&D facility outside US to be set up in Penang - Story | The Star Online

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Ancient Temples of Angkor

The four of us at Angkor Wat
The temples of Angkor Wat are the largest religious site in the world.  Eric, Alasdair, Aunt Jo and I visited Siem Reap, Cambodia to learn more about these ancient and sacred temples. We spent five days in Cambodia, exploring temples, eating delicious Khmer food, learning about history and religion, hanging out and indulging in $7 massages.

Aunt Jo, Al and I flew in two days before Eric who had to stay in Penang to work.  On our first day, we hung out in Siem Reap, had a nice and cheap massage and a fantastic vegetarian dinner! The next morning we had an early start in order to beat the hot Cambodian afternoons.  On day 1 we visited Banteay Srei, Phrea Khan, Neak Poh and the Temple of the Sacred Sword.  Our guide, Thy was amazing, sharing his extensive knowledge and passion with us.  There is no way that I can adequately tell all of the stories or share all of the history of these amazing sites. If you are interested in learning more check out the following links for Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.  Instead of going on and on about all of the temples, check out some of our favorite pictures.  Enjoy!

The Temple of the Sacred Sword

In the early 15th century, the King abandoned Angkor Wat for the safety of Phnom Phen.  The kingdom laid abandoned until it was rediscovered by the French in the late 19th century.  Many of the temples were looted by villagers and "tomb raiders" -- stealing sacred Buddhas, Hindu deities, wooden ceilings, gold and anything of value.  The temples, were then consumed by the surrounding forests, many crumbling by the weight of trees and time.
A temple entry way completely consumed by a tree

Ta Prom -- the temple that Angelina Jole made famous in Tomb Radier
The French and the Japanese have led efforts to restore the temples to their original stature, however, many of the historical plans and documents were destroyed during the rein of the Khmer Rouge, making restoration a very large puzzle.
Collapsed pillars at Ta Prom.  Restoration efforts are underway and the temple should be completed within 3 years

An Afternoon at Angkor Wat
Once Eric arrived, the four of us headed to the largest Temple, Angkor Wat.  Our guide Thy, suggested that we visit in the late afternoon, as crowds would be at a minimum and we could catch the sunset there.  Our experience surpassed my expectations, as we ended up being the very last tourists in the temple, thanks to our guide who is "friends" with the security there.  The shear size and craftsmanship is incredible and a true wonder of the world.
At the moat surrounding the great temple
Reclining Bhudda in the sacred upper level of the temple
Beautifully carved Asparas -- female spirits of the clouds and water in Hindu and Buddhist mythology
Descending the stairs from the top level known as Heaven
The intricit carvings that tell Hindu stories of Gods and creation surround the Temple
Sunset at Angkor Wat
Literally, the last ones at the Great Temple.  A magical experience!
A few more photos from our trip!
Child monks are very common in Cambodia.  Families will send their children to school as monks because they receive free housing, food and education.  We saw hundreds of little monks during our adventure.
Banteay Srei, is known as the pink temple.  This temple is older then Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, but has the most well preserved carvings in the temple system. 

Posing at Ta Prom

The Smiling Faces of the Bayon Temple

Terrace of the Elephants

We had a wonderful trip to Cambodia.  It's easy to see why Angkor Wat is ranked as a "must see" place in this world!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finish One Year Already

Has it been one year already? Really?  One year since we left Austin, our family and friends for this great adventure in Penang?  Where has the time gone?

Our time here has gone by so fast, like a blink of an eye.  One year is gone.  Wow!  At least one more year to go!  There is so much left for us to see and do here.  I feel like we have just settled from the move and Penang is feeling more and more like home.  We are on to year number two! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Paradise in the Perhentians

Over the 4th of July, Aunt Jo, Alasdair and I made the 5 1/2 hour drive across Malaysia to the East Coast Paradise of the Perhentian Islands.  We planned this trip last minute, meaning we found a hotel two days before we left, packed up the car and left Penang and Eric behind for a wonderful 4 day adventure.  I had heard from our Penang friends that Perhentians is amazing.  That the water is so clean and snorkeling and diving is fantastic.  Admittedly, I was skeptical of how great it could really be, as I have a love affair with Langkawi, but the Perhentians is truly paradise.  It isn't overran with tourists, pollution or highrise developments.  The Perhentians are simple and quiet.  A place where you can go to really get away from it all. 

We stayed at Coral View Resort on the big island and highly recommend staying there!  The snorkeling was so good right off the beach that you could stick your face in the water and see dozens of fish, sharks and different corals.  One morning we saw three reef sharks and a school or about a million neon tetras swimming in mandalas.  Awesome!!
The clear blue water!
I also decided that it was time to get over my bad diving experience in Phuket, so I signed up for two dives at the dive shop next to our resort.  The company was amazing and took great care of me!  These were the best two dives of my life.  We spent an hour on each dive surrounded by thousands of fish, beautiful coral and warm water.  I am so glad I strapped on a tank again.

All geared up and headed for the boat!
The Perhentians is also home to a lot of wildlife.  We had a pack of monkeys that called our resort home. Also, each night at dusk, we would lay on our patio and watch the large fruit bats wake from their sleep and start their evening feast.  It was pretty incredible.
Each night after the bat display, we wondered over to the restaurant at our resort to watch the sunset, eat a nice meal and recap the perfect day we had.
Sunset with my beautiful Aunt!
Before we left the island we had one last snorkel and swim. Next year we will stay for at least a week and bring Eric with us.
Goodbye Perhentians, see you next year!