Tag Archive | "Buddhist"

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Leonard Cohen’s last gig?

Posted on 06 August 2010 by Joel Quenby

Hats off for the gesture: Leonard Cohen in 2008

Hats off for the gesture: Leonard Cohen in 2008

Southeast Asia-based doom-mongers are rejoicing at the once-in-a-lifetime news that Leonard Cohen will be playing Phnom Penh on November 27

By Joel Quenby

Unlikely it may seem, but this legendary singer–songwriter and Canadian national treasure will grace the Cambodian capital’s 1960’s Olympic Stadium for an indoor concert, rumored to be his final performance.

If the show is indeed Cohen’s curtain call, the 60,000-capacity sports arena—designed by Cambodia’s greatest living architect, Van Molyvann, and once considered the region’s finest—will provide a stately setting for his last gig.

“Leonard is deeply honored by this invitation, and we hope that in our small way, we can both assist in cultural restoration and personal healing,” said Cohen’s manager Robert Kory.

“The world is aware that Phnom Penh, once a cultural Mecca, and its people, suffered a brutal genocide 35 years ago …We are hopeful that the concert may become a first step in celebration of the city’s rebirth as a vibrant cultural center and serve to aid those who have suffered.”

An artistic force since the late 1950’s—and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008—75-year-old Cohen is a veritable nickname magnet (random examples: “Grand Master of Melancholia,” not forgetting the “Poet Laureate Of Commitophobes” and, for sheer weirdness, my personal favorite, “Master of the Egg Salad Sandwich”).

In 1994, Cohen retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles for five years of seclusion, during which he was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk, taking the Dharma name Jikan, meaning “silence.”

In 2005, he alleged that his longtime former manager helped himself to more than US$5 million from Cohen’s retirement fund, leaving only $150,000. The artist is unlikely to ever see the money again, despite winning a $9-million court ruling over the affair.

His discography has been revived in recent years via popular covers of his song “Hallelujah,” notably by doomed late troubadour Jeff Buckley.
See the Mekong Sessions for further details.

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The Hills are Alive

Posted on 29 January 2010 by MarkLean

KLT 01

The former tin mining town of Ipoh is situated 200 km north of Kuala Lumpur. So theoretically, this isn’t a blog entry about KL. But the former’s limestone hills, which skirt around the city for 20km in both north and south directions, have been immortalised in author Tash Aw’s Booker Prize-nominated “The Harmony Silk Factory” and are, undeniably, worth mentioning.

In his book, Aw describes these very hills as a hide-out location. Indeed, according to Ipoh legend, the ancient caves were often used as a sanctuary by locals against the occupying Japanese army during the Second World War.

These days, much of the limestone has been used to generate cement (which along with tin) has been the city’s main commercial enterprise. In recent years, much of the limestone has been levelled, creating gaping holes in the hill range that surround the Kinta valley, where Ipoh is situated.

Besides mineral resources, the fourth largest city in Malaysia is home to over a million people including former Bond girl and international kung fu sensation, Michelle Yeoh,  and has been renowned for both its cuisine (Cantonese-style flat noodles, bean sprouts and succulent chicken) and temple caves (both Buddhist and Hindu).

KLT 02

Incidentally, a 10-minute drive from Yeoh’s residence (when she is in town) is Kek Lok Tong or the Cave of Eternal Happiness, situated at the fringe of a housing estate.

Here, towering statues of golden bodhisattvas sit in repose alongside thousand-year old stalagmites and stalactites. There isn’t too much development, unlike in perhaps Hong Kong or Singapore, where the commercial viability of the location would have resulted in a cable car-equipped theme park or two.

The cave temple, which one reaches by ascending a flight of stairs, is, thankfully, a destination without the usual tourist paraphernalia. There is no gift shop or fast food restaurant nearby. There aren’t busloads of tourists, either.

What Kek Lok Tong has instead is an amazing view of the surrounding limestone hills, which is best appreciated during the morning accompanied by a fresh breeze and the sight of senior citizens practising their daily round of tai chi. One shares the sense of tranquillity with Maitreya, the laughing Buddha of the future, whose giant rotund golden figure looks out to his lotus pond domain below.

KLT 03

The Cave of Eternal Happiness is situated close to the North-South highway, which links Ipoh (take the Simpang Pulai exit and be prepared with a good map) with the north of Malaysia. It makes for a perfect detour for an hour or two. By doing so, at least you’ll get there before the tourists arrive.

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Amy Ma

Food & Drink + Hong Kong

Amy is a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and Wall Street Journal amongst other publications. [...]

Pua Mench

Hong Kong

Pua is a writing and traveling enthusiast based in Hong Kong, with a weakness for all things related to the culinary arts and healing modalities, and a passion for sustainable living. [...]

Kim Inglis

Wellness Spa

Kim has been an editor and journalist for over 20 years, more than half of which has been spent in Asia. [...]

Nellie Huang

Travel Adventures + Singapore

Nellie has been published in Food & Travel magazine and Lifestyle, and is a contributing author of V!VA's Guatemala Guidebook. She writes to travel, and travels to write. [...]

Sarah Jane Evans

Travel Adventures + Borneo

She has published travel articles in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia in publications including: Vacations and Travel magazine... [...]

Carrie Kellenberger

Photo Blog + Taiwan

She has traveled throughout Asia, finding work as a writer, editor, educator, voice over artist, photographer, and nightclub singer. [...]

Mark Lean

Kuala Lumpur

From writing about music, Mark expanded his focus to design, fashion, food and travel. In recent years, he has explored the highs and lows of Asia. [...]

Joel Quenby

Entertainment + Asia News

Joel is a British writer and journalist who's lived, worked and traveled in Southeast Asia since 2002. He's filed yarns for numerous publications...[...]

Alex Gunn

Chiang Mai

After several diverse careers as a circus performer, school teacher, psychotherapist, stunt pilot and university lecturer he can now be found poking about far flung markets, museums, restaurants and odd places in and around Chiang Mai.. [...]