Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 8 Reflection

We began our second day in Siem Reap with an early morning departure for Ta Phrom, one of the many temples that make up the extensive city of Angkor. Beating the crowd, our amiable and informative guide, Borin, gave us a private tour of the late 12th century ruins. Characteristic of the country of Cambodia, Ta Phrom revealed the power of mother nature. The massive winding roots of the soft wood trees kept the ancient structures intact while threatening to destroy other parts of the temple. While strolling through the complex, Borin explained the long and turbulent history of the Khmer people. Virtually all the sculptures and carvings of the Buddha were destroyed when a Hindu king came to power. A closer look at the artwork proved this claim.

Once we arrived at the Bayon, the tourists arrived in flocks. I felt as if I was being watched by the four smiling faces of the towers of Bayon. As well preserved as the temples were, it was still impossible to imagine the city of Angkor in action in the hundreds of years ago.  After touring the temple several adventurous members of our group mountain biked on the 10 foot tall wall of Angkor Thom and back through Siem Reap to our hotel.  Amazing to see the ruins and the city from this view!
In the afternoon, we were exposed to a totally new landscape--one of towering stilts and water. We visited Kompong Phluk, a floating village occupied by ethnic Vietnamese and Cham people. The livelihood of the villagers depended on rice paddies in the dry season and fishing during the monsoons. A murky brown canal brought us through the community and into the vast Tonle Sap Lake. We walked through the village and arrived at a primary school where Khmer and art were being taught in two different classrooms. We were invited in to the art class where Hannah taught the children how to fold a origami crane.
The day ended with another delicious meal. The group met up with Raksmey, a former intern at BHS, and her friend Dani. Both teach at a private school called Jay Pritzer Academy.

Until next time,


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