AROUND SIEM REAP PROVINCE
I took a couple of days to observe traditional lifestyles in the villages lying outside Siem Reap. While much of that tradition was damaged or destroyed during the wars in Cambodia over the last thirty years, and especially during the Pol Pot era, a great deal is being revived. It reminds me of the scene around a volcano: great devastation at first, followed by the renewal and regrowth of the eco(social?)system. Many flowers are poking through the surface (though, as my friend pointed out, there are snakes in the grass, too!).
Foreign-Based NGO's Play a Major Role in Shaping the New Cambodian CultureScape: At Krousar Thmey, Orphans Learn the Ancient Art of Puppetry
Residents at Krousar Thmey's "Protection Center" Participate With Local Village Children in the Puppetry Workshop
Villages Lucky Enough to Be Able to Pump Water From the Ground Don't Have to Walk as Far to Get Their Daily Ration of the "Liquid Gold"
New Year's Celebrations in the Villages Include LOTS of Gambling
Another Betting Game
Spirit Houses Sometimes Are Modelled After Mount Meru, the Mythical Indian Mountain That Is the "Center of the Earth" and Was the Inspiration for the Central Stupa of Angkor Wat
Many Cambodians Originally Came From Vietnam; Some Live in This Fishing Village on Tonle Sap Near Siem Reap
Fish Farms in the Village...
...Hold More Fish Than You Would Believe -- Testament to the Richness of Tonle Sap
Buddhist Offerings at a Small Makeshift Temple on the Shore of the Lake, Set Up for the New Year's Celebration
Traditional Music Accompanies the Ceremonies
The "Candle Bowls" Turn Into Receptacles for Offerings of Rice Made By Worshippers: The Rice Feeds Local Monks and the Poor
Buddhist Monks Sit on a Platform at the Front of the "Temporary Temple", Leading the Worshippers in Prayer
Dirt Mounds Are Arrayed in the Same Configuration As Angkor Wat's Stupas, With Four Smaller Mounds Set Up in a Square Around a Larger Central Mound
Worshippers Push Offerings of Incense, Candles and Money Into the Mounds
Other Offerings Are Made on Stands Like This
Back in the Countryside, Workers Gather Straw From Their Fields