Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15: Floating Villages and the Jungle Temple

I've wanted to go to Ta Prohm ever since I saw pictures of it in a National Geographic article around the time Cambodia became a place somewhat safe enough for tourism.  Today I was able to place a mental check mark by it.

But first, we got up early to drive out and see the floating villages outside of Siem Reap.  These people live here year round.

In the rainy season, they move in towards the canal since the lake becomes too deep (over the now visible tree line) for them to dock.  They have a school, a Catholic church, a town hall, a hardware store, a gas station, basketball courts, the works!

After viewing these communities, we went to an artisan school where people are who normally don't graduate the 9th grade are taught skills to help them earn a living.  They even have an online site where goods can be purchase (let's hear it for fair trade shopping!).  Some of the students who excel at soapstone carvings are then employed with the Angkor conservation efforts.

Then, following lunch, the check mark!  Ta Prohm

This shot is me testing out LK's IR filter.  Still not completely sure how to best use it, but this worked alright.

While some conservation projects are going on, the society has tried to keep parts of it as it would have been when the French explorers found it.

This one looks like a snake, see the head?  "Nature art" our guide Roath (pronounced Rod) said.

Speaking of Roath.  We've been able to determine he was born somewhere between 1968-1974 (trying to factor in when he said he went to college and the fact that education was banned during the war thus possibly delaying his primary school education).  His father was killed by the Rouge and he spoke of the hard times of not knowing where the meals would come from in a way that was rather haunting to me.  To read the history of Cambodia, and see where they stand now- after this visit I find myself throughly rooting for their success.  Not in the adopt-everyone-of-them way that Angelina went about it, but in a way that I want to see this country, which use to be very prosperous so long ago, see their potential again.

Tomorrow- the long flight home.


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