Angkor WHAT?

What a week it’s been! On the 25th, we had to say goodbye to our beloved host families. My host mom, Mae, began tearing up as we hugged goodbye. I will miss her so dearly! Our host brother even took off work that morning at the chicken coop to say goodbye to Dylan and I.

We spent 2 very quick days back in Chiang Mai, then headed to the beautiful country of Cambodia!

Here we have visited:

Phnom Penh, Kampong, and Siam Reap

Seeing:

  • Killing fields from the Khmer Rouge genocide (1960s to 1980s… startlingly recent)
  • Khmer Genocide Museum (a school-turned-prison for Cambodians punished for being intellectuals and many times sentenced to death.)
  • A after school organization with smiley Cambodian 6,7 and 8 year olds. We had a dance party, to songs like ‘Sexy and I Know It’ and ‘Now Watch Me Whip’. The kids knew more of the words than any of us Americans did. Globalization at its finest.
  • A Buddhist Temple, with 3 monks, aged 65, 67, 72 who survived through the Khmer Rouge Genocide
    • Through our tour guide, we found out that these men were forced to work in agricultural fields. When the Khmer Rouge authorities selected people to execute, they first searched for the intellectuals of the country. These intellectuals could be former doctors, teachers, lawyers… any white collar occupation. Luckily for these 3 soon-to-be-monks, the fact that farming was considered a ‘low level, peasant job’, no Khmer Rouge infantrymen thought they were worth assassinating. These men were incredibly interesting to speak to.
    • In Buddhism, when you arrive at a temple, you sit on your knees and bend down 3, 5, or 7 times. It’s always these odd numbers. Buddhists believe in respecting all animals as their own. Buddhists believe also that the main root of human suffering comes from the greed we have. The greed for material possessions, for the love of another person, to succeed in our jobs…. These monks train their minds to hopefully someday reach nirvana by following their good karma. Monks are not supposed to even look a woman in the eye, let alone touch a woman. It is an incredibly strict discipline.
    • Monk’s food and clothes are all made through donations or offerings.
  • We witnessed the Buddhist Full Moon festival, and saw many Khmer families lighting an orange lantern into the sky as a form of good luck.In the lanterns, food and money were put in. Perfect photo op moment! The only sad, sobering part was when we saw a group of boys using a net to gather the lamps and steal the money and food off of it for themselves.
    • 20130227lantern1362[1]
  • Angkor Wat, Angkor Tom, and the Angkor Jungle
    • Angkor Wat was the king’s palace, built over 900 years ago. It was magical seeing the beautiful carvings on each of the walls, depicting Hindu and Buddhist gods. One of the murals depicted a woman, being punished for having an abortion – and thus, in afterlife, being subjected to having needles injected in her body from head to toe. From the looks of it, abortion is uncommon here, and the divorce rate is at a strikingly low 3-5%.
      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
      Angkor Wat at Sundown

      Angkor Tom was equally breathtaking. Originally, 57 statues were made to depict statues of humans feeling happy, sad, creepy, embarrassed, or plotting something. Here’s a visual…CREEPY. This is a happy statue. Still gave me the creeps a bit.

    • No one was allowed to visit the Angkor Wat or the Angkor Tom without covering their shoulders and legs. It is incredibly disrespectful to be in a place of such historical times to dress promiscuously. Even going to Angkor Wat, an employee told me to take my cap off to show respect.
  • A Phare circus performed by poor Cambodian youth
    • a school’s organization takes in performing arts scholars and pays for their uniforms, books, and education free of charge. These students are immersed with opportunities to excel in music, dance, circus, and drama. These guys performed a play called ‘Chills’. It was about students who were haunted by ghosts (sounds lame but was honestly insanely good). Guys could put legs over their heads, could juggle 5 bowling balls at once, could balance all 7 of them on top of one another…. It was honestly so spectacular. At the end, we could give donations if we were really moved… Anything helps! I gave 2 dollars. Here’s a link to their Chills Show:

Wow! That was a long post. More to come for the month of November… New Delhi bound in just 48 hours! 🙂

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