Saturday, January 19, 2008
Angkor Wat is amazing, with miles and miles of beautiful temples and ruins. It is especially lovely at sunset, when the sun sinks below the horizon in a huge, red ball. As a whole, though, I have found Cambodia a bit of a depressing place. It's a bit unfair to the country as a whole, but my perceptions are partly colored by the experience I had in getting here. I think also a part of this is the way the tragic past of the killing fields and the Khmer Rouge permeates the atmosphere.
Unlike China, where the past is kept quiet and history is rewritten, in Cambodia the past is held up for all to see, with documentaries playing daily in guest houses, photographic displays in museums and TV shows, and adults and children everywhere selling documentary books written by survivors (children who don't go to school but can count to ten in 7 or 8 different languages!). It is a good thing that the people can accept and talk about the past, but it also invites a lot of deep thought and sadness on my part, being in what seems to be a wounded and angry country.
I wonder what it is about communism, with it's impossible but idealistic goals of equality, that causes a country (China, USSR, Cambodia, and others) to turn so cruel and so ugly. Why does it attract such paranoia and totalitarianism in it's leadership? I suppose a part of it stems from the fact that with it's impossible ideals, it is a losing battle from the start-something the leadership must sense in it's desperate bid to force equality on all. Maybe it is the complete destruction of family ties and basic human values in a society that rewards ignorance and cruelty and punishes knowledge, kindness, and hard work. Maybe it comes from turning the tables and putting the normally disadvantaged on the top of society, a place many might be willing to do almost anything to retain. Or maybe it is just the bad side of human nature(and I believe there is a good side as well!). After all, throughout history many cruelties have been committed in the name of many things-from religion, to communism, imperialism, and governments of all kinds, to riches and resources.
I didn't take this photo; I posed for it.
One of Angkor's guards
There are lots of great breasts at Angkor!
Many monks visit Angkor Wat, often with their families
Getting around Angkor Wat is accomplished by hired Tuk Tuk, a easy and fun way to travel.
Some of Cambodia's people
Young monks talk to us through the window
"Ladeeeee, you want to buy from meeeee?"
A girl by the well
Here is a closer shot of that sweet little girl by the well.
Many monks live in these homes near some of the ruins.
A view from one of Cambodia's few hills. It is so flat, you can see the curve of the earth.