We went back for the sunset at Angkor Wat because that's supposed to be the best time of the day to see it. This also means it's the best time of the day to see just how many tourists there are at the temples. I finally saw the crowds, after avoiding them so perfectly the other days. We were expecting it to rain any minute, but it held off, though the "perfect light" everybody comes to photograph Ankgor in was somewhat diminished by the overcast. We did have a good time sitting around in the first stages of dusk, watching the tourists come and go, clicking frantically with their cameras. I did my best to join in, taking far more photos that I need, but eventally tired of it. We went off the main pathway a bit and sat out in a field to watch the crowds from a distance and wait to see if the sky cleared and we would be rewarded by a spectacular sunset. The clouds never parted, but we had plenty of other entertainment. A couple of small children wandered over and I tried playing with them a bit, counting in Khmer and letting them tug on
Sovanna and School
This is the photo Sovanna wanted me to show on the web. He is trying to raise money to complete the construction.
my hair and play with my toes. Luckily they tired of us and wandered off to play on the rocks and fallen bits of temple. Two monks came up next, and I had a lot of fun chatting with them. I asked them about their English and they explained that since they hadn't had the money for English lessons when they were younger, they had to take beginner lessons with little kids. These two monks were fairly young them selves, 19 they said. Their English lessons include American and British culture and history and I was surprised by how much they knew about George Washington and Margret Thatcher. One of them spoke to me about the school that was being constructed for monks just outside of his hometown. He explained that lack of funding had halted the construction and asked me if I could help. I got the feeling he has asked quite a few people for help, but I took a picture of his photo uon request and promised to ask around to see if I could find any support for him. He also gave me a note written in very neat handwriting that reads: "My name is Kiem
This photo of my at Bayon was taken earlier, but I wanted to add it now because I've become fascinated by garudas. I called them chickenmen before I learned the word garuda. They're a mythical human/bird creature and quite common in the carvings.
Sovanna Ret. I live in thmey pagoda also Called killing field. Email firstname.lastname@example.org" The capitals and lack of are his. If you or anybody you know would like to help sponsor a Buddhist school please feel free to email him. He was very eager to have me put his information on the web.
After the enlightening discussions on Thatcher, Khmer Rouge, monkhood, popular music and Buddhism in the United States, they monks had to go. Anisa and I were asked to leave not long after since it was getting dark and the guards were trying to clear the tourists out of the temples.
Leaving the temples for the last time that evening I still felt overwhelmed. The area is so huge and each temple is so awe-inspiring that it is difficult to take it all in, even when the tour is spread over several days. It is somewhere I would love to go back to. I don't think the effect would be at all diminished a second time, the place is just incredible. Besides awe, my memories are full of the wonder and endless unanswerable questions that the temples produce. The mystery and wildness of the complex are also very strong. It's not hard to pretend you're the first person in a few hundred years to emerge out of the jungle and come upon these immense buildings - especially early in the mornings when mist replaces the throngs of tourists and vendors. It is a magical place.
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