Archive for April, 2013

On Religion and Science

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Miscellaneous on April 27, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Homo sapiens is about 160,000 years old. That’s not very much, compared to many other species on earth and above all compared to the age of life generally or even the age of the earth, the solar system or the universe as we see it now.

One of the peculiarities of homo sapiens is that he became able to reflect himself and his place in nature. Where are we coming from? Where are we going to? There is still no answer to these basic questions of our existence, our creation as a new being at the point of procreation and what about our death. We just know that we are born and can predict that we, by absolute certainty, will die sooner or later. Potentially it’s possible at any moment.

That’s not the only puzzling questions. Where is all the nature coming from – the animals, the plants, the non-organic environment?

Continue reading the article ‘On Religion and Science‘…

Stung Treng / Cambodia

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Places on April 27, 2013 by Thim Kwai

One of the small province capitals in Cambodia is Stung Treng, southeast Cambodia. It’s barely noticed by tourism, most tourists who come along here have just a glance on Stung Treng through the bus window on the way between the 4000 Islands and Kratie or Ratanakiri.

What is to say about Stung Treng town? At the first glance it’s a bleak place, where nothing is to do and to see. On the second glance, after a two or three hours walk all around Stung Treng the first glance is confirmed. There is no vehicle needed for exploring the small town.

Sounds boring, uhh?! The you better don’t click for the whole article on Stung Treng

On Censorship of Movies in Thailand

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Movies on April 27, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Also one should keep in mind that there exists a strict censorship in Thailand. Movies are controlled by the authorities. Many are criticized for containing ‘illegal’ content, coming in any way in conflict with ‘lese majeste’ or other Thai laws. Sometimes whole films are confiscated. So, there are many topics, Thai film makers can not deal with. Particularly when it comes to politics and to the religion. To make a political ‘correct’ movie in Thailand is an art itself. Because of that one can not expect really good movies ‘Made in Thailand’.

Just recently the new Thai Movie ‘Fahtum pandinsoong’ (border) by director Nontawat Numbenchapol on the 2010 anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok and the border conflict with Cambodia was forbidden to be played in Thailand.

The movie was shown in February at the annual Berlin film festival ‘Berlinale’ 2013.

The official reason to ban the movie was that it would threaten the national security. The Bangkok May 2010 events are a politically sensitive topic in Thailand. 91 people died, some 1,000 were injured.

The documentary is following a Thai soldier, who was serving in Bangkok in May 2010 when the so called ‘red shirts’ demonstrated over months against the government and were beaten down then by the military. In 2011 he was deployed to the Thai/Cambodian border at Preah Vihear where bloody combats happened between the Thai and the Cambodian army. The border fights in April 2011 caused 18 deaths and thousands of villagers displaced.

The border conflict is at the moment processed at the UN international Court of Justice in Deen Haag, Netherlands.

That’s just the latest example of the notorious censorship in Thailand. A great deal of promising Thai Movies who offer deeper views on social topics are censored. It’s not always so that the whole movie get’s forbidden. Often are parts of a movie banned and have to be cut out. The cutting frequently get’s so far that the whole movie doesn’t make sense then anymore.

Here you can read the whole article on ‘Thai Movies‘ including some revies…

Fishes at the Mekong Falls / Laos

Posted in Animals, Landscapes, Latest of Asienreisender on April 25, 2013 by Thim Kwai

At the beginning of dry season at the end of October / early November other fish species are migrating riverupwards from Cambodia. They come to the 4000 Islands to spawn. Local fishermen catch a critical part of them for their own needs or to sell them to the markets of other places, including the biggest city around, what is Pakse.

Over the duration of the dry season other fish species arrive here, either to spawn or to make their way further riverupwards to spawn there. The locals catch many of them in simple but big bamboo traps. The fish who migrate along are middle-sized or big fish species.

Also the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin lives south of the 4000 Islands.

Have a closer look for ‘Fishes at the Mekong Falls‘…

The Mekong Falls / Khone Falls at 4000 Islands / Laos

Posted in Landscapes, Latest of Asienreisender on April 25, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Some 120km south of Pakse in Laos the Mekong River has it’s broadest part on his 4,800km journey from the high Tibetian Plateau down to the South China Sea. Here the stream becomes 14km wide and splits up in many sidearms. A great number of islands appear here in the big river. The big islands as Don Khong, Don Pet, Don Khone and many others are permanent. But in dry season, when the water level lowers, many more islands, actually merely bigger sandbanks, come up. I don’t know how many islands there are in dry season, if it is really 4,000 or just a few hundreds I can not tell. But there is a great number of them and the river looks completely different than it does at other parts. It’s divided in many small arms, surrounding all the islands and sandbanks. Plants grow at the islands banks, providing habitats for many fish species and other animals. Some of the islands are inhabited by peasants and fishermen families. Most of the islands are uninhabited. The whole Mekong River section of the 4000 Islands is approximately 50km long.

Read the whole, richly illustrated chapter on ‘The Mekong Falls‘…

A Case of Highway Robbery

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender, Miscellaneous on April 25, 2013 by Thim Kwai

The Laotian – Cambodian Border at Veun Kham / Dong Calor

The Laotian-Cambodian border of Veun Kham / Dong Calor is one of the worst in Southeast Asia. Although I was warned from several sources that the Cambodian officers would charge a private ‘fee’ of two dollars I was surprised that already the Laotian officers did that. When I appeared they first completely ignored me. After a while one of the two officers in the wooden booth commanded me: “Pay two dollars!”. When inquiring for what, he told: “For stamp”. They wouldn’t stamp one out without extra money. Pure blackmailing. Arrogant robbers in uniforms, they are. Funny thing to ask for a receipt – they just don’t answer.

One has to pass next a ridiculous medical quick test, getting checked the temperature on the open road. Behind that are the Cambodian officers in two simple, wooden booths. They send one from the first booth to the second. There I had to pay another five dollars US extra on top of the regular 25 dollars for an ‘ordinary e’ visa. Then one get’s sent back to the first booth to be stamped. It comes with three forms to fill in. Without paying extra there is no visa. There are reported cases where people refused to pay and were sent back to Laos.

I came in a talk with a Swiss couple who came with a car and was involved in much more trouble. They were refused to take the car into Cambodia, despite all the information they got before. In the time I stayed next to the Cambodian booth I met more people who had problems with the officials. Besides everybody has to pay there extra money.

Photographing is explicitely forbidden at this border. The gentlemen don’t want evidence about what’s going on there.

I saw a small boy and a small girl playing around some fifty meters from the Cambodian border check. Short before I left, one of the Cambodian officers took some stones and threw them after the boy. What locals do sometimes with dogs. Bye bye Laos. Welcome to Cambodia. They are even worse here than in Burma at Tachileik or Kawthaung.

The border is inmiddle of a forest. There is no village on either side of the border. On the Cambodian side there is a huge new custom building under construction.

You find the original article ‘A Case of Highway Robbery’ here…

The People of Laos

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, People on April 24, 2013 by Thim Kwai

There is no easy approach to the People of Laos, for the huge ethnical diversity. Since the 6,200,000 inhabitants (2010), of whom some 60% are ethnically different from the Laotians (the largest ethnic), are falling apart into 70 – 120 different languages, of whom some are not yet scientifically explored; well, there is much to say on this topic. But that would lead astray here.

Laos is a country where many ‘hill tribes‘ live, the nomadic people who live in the mountains appart from the civilizations of the plains. Generally spoken, the linguistic families can be clustered into four main groups. It’s the Tai (Thai) family, the Mon-Khmer family, Tibeto-Burmese and Hmong-Yao languages. Just to make it simple.

Read the whole, richly illustrated article on the People of Laos

Songkran by Asienreisender

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Miscellaneous on April 24, 2013 by Thim Kwai

The ‘water festival’, called ‘songkran’ marks the Buddhist new year and is celebrated since several centuries. It’s every year in April, according to a Buddhist lunar calendar. This year, 2013, it came from April 13th to the 15th. Songkran is celebrated in Thailand as in Laos, partially also in Burma/Myanmar, south China and Cambodia. In it’s old tradition there is a custom to sprinkle people’s hands with a small amount of water. That happened in a very gentle way, meaned symbolically. Since April is the hottest month in Indochina it’s kind of a relief to be cooled down with a bit of water.

But things are no more as they were. Songkran run wild…

Read the whole article on songkran

4000 Islands / Si Phan Don / Laos

Posted in Landscapes, Latest of Asienreisender on April 23, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Some 120km south of Pakse in Laos the Mekong River has it’s broadest part on his 4,800km journey from the high Tibetian Plateau down to the South China Sea. Here the stream becomes 14km wide and splits up in many sidearms. A great number of islands appear here in the big river. The section is called the ‘4000 Islands’ and stretches out over a length of 50km. It’s one of the natural wonders of Southeast Asia.

Read the whole richly illustrated article on the 4000 Islands / Si Phan Don

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Posted in Animals, Latest of Asienreisender on April 14, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Originally the Irrawaddy Dolphin lived all along the coastlines of Southeast Asia. Although he is called after the Irrawaddy River, it’s not only a river dolphin. The most sub-populations prefer bays and mouthes of rivers and swim occacionally riverupwards. Others live permanently in rivers, as the population in the Mekong River does. In the Mekong the dolphins come that far riverupwards that they appear in the sout of Laos at Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands).

Read the whole article on the Irrawaddy Dolphin