Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ancient Romantics

Imagine laying to rest surrounded by colorfully paintings Gods and angels and beautiful hieroglyphics verses and underneath a blue starry sky.

Such were the amazingly well preserved tomb paintings in El Kurru. El Kurru is located near the town of Karima, about 4 hours drive north of Khartoum. It was one of the royal burial ground for ancient Nubian royal family, dated back to 850 BC. In the area there are around 30 pyramids, perhaps more. However they deteriorated and reduced to piles of rock by the elements and looters through the centuries. So it was truly miraculous and precious, descending into the tombs to discover the surviving fresco paintings in the burial chambers. There are only 2 tombs available for visit nowadays, the Tomb of Tanwetamani, pharaoh of the XXV Nubian Dynasty, and the Tomb of Qalhata, mother of Tanwetamani. The walls were decorated with colorful images of pantheon of the Egyptian Gods, with so much careful details, as well as the hieroglyphic text. The ceiling of the chamber was literally covered with stars in bright red and yellow, against the beautiful blue sky.

That was what amazed me the most, the colors of the blue starry sky remains through the years, remarkably vivid, vibrant and captivating, especially the bright hue of blue. And laying beneath the stars, even in death, such a romantic notion.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I found bagels here in Khartoum! You can't possibly imagine how over-the-moon thrill I was. I almost broke out doing my stupid dance right there and then at the grocery store. Almost.

For breakfast, I had the top half toasted and spread generously with cream cheese.

For lunch, I had the bottom half lightly toasted, spread with mustard, lined with beef pepperoni, topped with mozzarella melt and sprinkled with pepper.

Quick, simple, filling, tasty, almost zero clean up.

I'm a lazy genius. Hahahaha...

Friday, April 22, 2011


My friend E was interested in volunteering and she was asking me about the orphanage in Phnom Penh I worked in a couple of years ago. As I was sharing my experience with her, the happy days with the kids flooded back into my mind, overwhelmingly. Once again I was back to that bright and windy evening along the Tonle river, when our colorful kites flew high in the sky and our gleeful laughters resonated loud in the air. I remember my head was playing the song Cerf-volant from the movie Les Choristes over and over again. That was a beautiful song, that was a beautiful evening.

Volant au vent
Ne t'arrête pas
Vers la mers
Haut dans les airs
Un enfant te voit
Voyage insolent
Troubles enivrant
Amours innocentes
Suivent ta voie
Suivent ta voie
En volant

Volant au vent
Ne t'arrête pas
Vers la mers
Haut dans les airs
Un enfant te voit
Et dans la tourmente
Tes ailes triomphantes
N'oublie pas de revenir
Vers moi

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boxed Up Flavors

When you are living on your own in a foreign land with limited dining out options and challenging to source ingredients and you are servantless and you want your meals quick or basically just being a demanding prick about your food, you try to cook yr meals in batches, big ones. Last weekend, I made a pan of savory sweetness caramelized onions with mushroom in the afternoon and then another pan of kick ass spicy anchovies sambal.

Now that I have them all boxed up in the fridge, I can get them out and use them as sandwich filling, like my no name sandwich, or pizza topping, or simply eat them with white rice, or add some meat or chicken or vegetable for a quick stir fry and then eat them with rice.

Again, I'm a genius!!

The possibilities, endless.

Well until I run out of them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Overheard #16

"Time heals everything." - Unknown

But how long?

And what do I do during this time?

I pray for you strength. I wish for you love.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My No Name Sandwich

My Arabic class ended at half past eleven this morning. I was hungry and wanted something quick, as I was heading out with friends for some shopping. So I made this sandwich in like dashing 10 minutes.
Two pieces of wholewheat bread toasted in the toaster oven while an egg fried in a pan, seasoned with pepper and Italian mixed herbs. When the toasts ready, a slice was smeared with my anchovies sambal (I made them last weeked), piled up the egg and topped with my caramelized onions and mushrooms (I also made them last weekend).

Lunch's ready, simple with great flavors, the spicy zing from the sambal, sweetness from the onions and savory from the egg packed between two slices of toast.

I'm a genius!

It'd be nice to grate some cheese over the top and then put it back in the toaster oven for a couple minutes to melt the cheese and then serve it up as an open sandwich. Well, I was too hungry and too lazy.

What should I name this little culinary creation of mine?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

That's Where I Wanna Be

2 more weeks before I head home for my 20 days off rotation. I think I'm going a little coo coo. In the last few days, everywhere I go, when I catch a sniff of food, especially fried fare, I only smell KFC! Oh how I miss 'em fried chicken with its crispy skin, loaded with sinfully delicious grease and fat. Oh good thing there's an KFC outlet at the airport. I'm so getting my KFC fix right there after I landed.

KFC has always been my numero uno fast food of choice. It's such a picker-upper for me too. I remember slugging through South America back in 2001, stretching my penny each and every step of the way, eating the local rice and beans and depriving myself of indulgence like fast food. I was on the road for close to 6 months already when I got to Santiago, Chile. Particularly at that point, I was not at a very happy place, having a hard time sorting out my returning flight for about one and a half month. Dark clouds over my head. As I was wandering in downtown Santiago, I saw that strikingly cheerful red signboard with that inviting smiley face. Almost like a knee-jerk reflex, I went straight in and chowed down a 2-piece special. Suddenly the gloominess cleared off in a jiffy and it was sunshine everywhere. I was unbelievably happy and gleefully elated!

And today, I got my homebound flight ticket! KFC here I come.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Khmer Smiles

Angkor Wat never ceased to amaze, from the grandeur and splendor of the temple complex, to the intricacy and the attention to the little details, such as the upward curl on the lips on even the smallest of the statutes.

Oh yeah I know, the title is lame. I could have been more creative.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Sitting atop Jebel Barkal, looking at the deteriorating pyramids scattered in the sand below and the setting sun dropping gently below the desert horizon, I realized that all the wealth and power, in the end, reduce to a pile of rocks.

So, what are you doing with your life now? What are you leaving behind when you are gone?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Err 99

Went away last weekend, traveling to desert towns of old Dongola and Karima in northern Sudan for several archeological sites , exploring temple ruins and pyramids and royal tombs like Indiana Jones. Unfortunately my DSLR went crazy on me with 'Err 99', which I guess equivalent to a blue screen on a PC.

Oh God damn it!

I shot the entire weekend with my Nokia 6300.



It was an interesting trip nonetheless.