Day 81: Sun up to sun down


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Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap
January 25th 2019
Published: February 13th 2019
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For some ungodly reason people think sunrises are must sees. Typically, the only good sunrise for me is one where I am looking at the back of my eyelids. However, today we went to sunrise at Angkor Wat. If you walked around the surrounding moat surrounding, give yourself at least 3 to 4 hours. The temple was built in the 1100s and is known for its wall carvings and symmetrical perfection of 5 towers. The most popular photos are in front of the ponds at sunrise where the reflection of the temple shows in the water. At 5 AM, already hundreds of people had entered vieing for spots. We opted for a quieter view on a ledge of the outer temples. People still live inside the Angkor Wat and young children were about trying to sell magnets, coffee, and other trinkets. I wonder if they go to school once the sunrise is over or if this is what they do all day. Their different strategies to get sales and ability to hear no over and over intrigued me. Is their opinion of sunrises is one of beauty and excitement or of dread and just wanting to get past it? This evening we went to the Bambu Stage, a theatre trying to revitalize puppeteering. They showed how the puppets are made: they have to specially tan cow skin by stretching it and coating it in a special tree bark, then they cut the shape of the puppet and carve/pound out all the holes by hand. One mistake and the puppet is ruined. It also explained how a master of an art would pick one promising student to pass the title of master onto. This ensured one individual had all the skills and knowledge of the previous master. However, it made it easy to wipe out an art if that person died prior to passing along their skill set. This almost happened for many of the Cambodian arts when the Khmer Rouge took power. They targeted these individuals and killed them to only maintain what they viewed as good. Now projects like Bambu Stage are maintaining both their folktales (which they tell through puppet shows) and the art of making puppets and becoming a puppeteer by bringing in interested students to intern with them. The restaurant/stage were amazingly constructed, the show was entertaining and talking with the puppeteers after was a highlight of the night.

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