Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Part Three

As an American studying music in the 1970s, I heard bits and pieces about current affairs in Asia, but I really didn't understand that a genocide was taking place in Cambodia.  The Khmer Rouge and its leader Pol Pot came into power and wanted to bring the civilization back to "Year Zero."  That meant ridding the country of all of its businesses, brains, arts, religion, everything except poor farmers. They killed everyone who would talk back or resist.

Now, with the help of other nations and non-government agencies (NGOs), the country is coming back and rebuilding.  The restoration of the temples, taken on by groups from India, Japan, Germany and others is making a big difference.  Expats who have come and started restaurants and hotels, training locals to take over, are building the economy.  In Singapore there are several groups that have provided training and small business loans (Tabitha) and built many schools (Caring for Cambodia) - both of these groups have branches in the US - amazing people doing amazing work.

So much for my civics lesson.  Back to the tour....

One of our Must-Sees was Artisans of Angkor, a French-based art training center.  They select talented disadvantaged young people and train them in the arts: painting, wood carving, stone carving, silk farming and weaving, fashion, and more.  We had a delightful tour, awestruck by their work!

  Each artist crafts each piece from start to finish; from a block of stone or wood, to the finishing polish. Here is a small soapstone seated buddha:

 An wooden elephant before the details:

Stone buddhas and guardians

A bas relief reproduction. from stone

John wishing he could do it

A young woman making a buddha head

A stone carver working on a water lily installation for a hotel

Our last morning there was spent visiting the "floating" village of Kampong Phlok.  We took a tuk-tuk about 30 minutes away to the shore of Tonle Lake.  Since it is rainy season, the lake was probably twice its normal size.  There we boarded our "private" boat 

and set off for the village on stilts.  I think that during the dry season it may be accessible by land, but now the water all around it is about 3 meters deep. Here are 2 sights along the way:

And the village school (the boat is delivering lunch)

And the homes:

A floating pig sty

Some of the villagers:

These boys were using the pole to get fruit or something from the tree.  And why bother with clothes if you are going to get wet anyway?

This little girl was so cute... she smiled for the photo and then jumped straight up in the air and into the water!

 Around the bend we saw this - I looked it up and found out it is a Christian medical and dental mission ship - check out Ship of Life on the web for more info.

Our "captain" brought us to a dock where we disembarked and were offered the chance to tour the mangrove with a local guide.  We took a graceful ride with this young woman and her young son:

He was quite an oarsman.  Here are sights along the way:

We alighted at a cafe...decided not to have anything...the menu:  Spicy Crispy Frog with Lemongrass, Stir-fried Minced Snake... I couldn't read the rest, except the bottom of the board says "this is special recipe of high water season." 

By early afternoon we found our way back to Siem Reap, spent some time at the National Museum (which was incredible, by first rate curators) and then by tuk-tuk through the flooded streets to the airport.  Why use a limo when you can experience this??

Farewell, Cambodia!

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