Well I woke up this morning and took my freshly laundered pants out of the closet, they had been through the ringer, scrooching down the stairs of the Mountain Temple; however when I went to put them on I discovered they were not mine. As a matter of fact I would have been hard pressed to even get my lower leg in these pants which looked like they would fit a very small child or a tiny, tiny woman. They may have been the pants of a very small Japanese tourist and I contemplated hoarding them, but I figured one less tourist wasn’t going to make a difference with the thousands of them roaming around Angkor Wat. So I returned them to the reception and asked if I could have my own pants back. They were returned that evening.
My first stop of the day was Banteay Srei a 10th century Hindu Temple complex 23 miles North of Angkor Wat. The temple consists of low walls surrounding peaked structures of deep red sandstone. Banteay Srei means “Citadel of Women,” and it is said that the reliefs on this temple are so delicate that they could only have been carved by the hand of a woman. The well-preserved relief carvings on the central buildings depict scenes from ancient Hindu tales.
Landmines are still a huge problem in the Northwest part of Cambodia near its border with Vietnam. I visited a landmine museam that is run my a former Khmer Rouge boy solider, he is now actively working to clear landmines from Cambodia and runs an orphanage at the landmine center. Their are estimates that there are 4-6 M landmines still buried in Cambodian soil, what does this mean, more people with disabilities. You should also know that the U.S. still manufactures landmines and has not signed the treaty to ban them. Shame on us. Cambodia has one amputee for every 290 people one of the highest ratios in the world. Approximately 40,000 people are amputees or have been maimed by mines and Cambodia does not have the resources for amputees to have good prosthetic limbs, in addition people with disabilities are not well treated yet because of the mine problem we keep creating them. If you want more information this BBC story gives a good overview http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3259891.stm. I saw at least three groups of landmine victims playing traditional Khmer instrutments at tourist attractions to make money so they wouldn’t have to beg. But in developed countries amputees are very well integrated into society, but because third world countries lack the technology their disabilities are just as severly inhibiting as the more severe disabilities.
My thrid stop was Banteay Kdei. Built in the late 12th to early 13th centuriesCE during the reign of Jayavaraman VII, it
is a Buddist temple in the Bayon style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.
After Banteay Kdei, we headed to Ta Prohm which was my favorite temple and swarming with Japanese tourists, like ants on a choice picnic item. To avoid the crowds I went in the sideway through the trees, but kept looking for large insects particularly spiders. It seems that the Cambodians eat everything except Scorpians. In talking with my driver Hung he said this is left over from the time of the Khmer Rouge when people were starving they learned to eat almost anything that moved and in the book I read “When Broken Glass Floats,” by Chranthity Kim who by the way lives in Eugene,
Although I didn’t see any giant creepy, crawlies, my off the beaten path route led me to a group of water buffalo.
Built in the Banyon style in the 12th and early 13th centuries by Jayavarman VII it was a Mahayana Buddist monastary and university. And just to demostrate my skill at getting photographs without Japanese tourists in them please see below. Don’t get me wrong the Japanese are lovely people, but when they tour, they have to have their photo taken in front of everything so when you want a photo of just the site there is usually a line of Japanese waiting to get their photo taken in front of it. Which makes for a very long wait. I guess this is part of me learning patience.
I spent the afternoon in the spa, then ventured out for Mexican food if you can believe that, checked out the night market and prepared to leave on Sunday.