Going to the temple and gonna get married

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January 28th 2007
Published: January 28th 2007
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Caught up with some mates in KL last weekend which was really great (Eric & Theresa, Fenella & Ethan, Dick & Hawlinn & kiddies. But not Denys as he was in Mumbai).

Then it was off to Siem Reap Cambodia to catch up with Jason and Natalie (Sydney mates), and also attend the Cambodian wedding celebration of Natalie's brother Tony and his wife Solida.

I was in Siem Reap 5 years ago, so visited all the temples then. Boy has it changed. The place is tourist central with tons of hotels, massage parlours, restaurants, bars and the like. It even has bitumen roads now. The sad part is that it all seems very cut-throat with everyone out to get a piece (or several bucks at least) out of you. For all the apparent prosperity there are still plenty of beggars about, plus unscrupulous adults sending their kiddies to target unwary tourists.

The happy couple took their wedding shots at Angkor Wat, and because I was part of the wedding party, I got in for free instead of paying the US$20 foreigner fee. Just had to make sure not to speak English when the guards were around.

Bird ladyBird ladyBird lady

The bride and groom released 2 birds each after temple prayers
wedding celebration lasted for 2 days (normally it's 3 days) and included a lot of interesting Cambodian ceremonies and monk blessings. Felt sorry for the bride and groom having to endure countless costume changes - I lost count after the 8th one.

Lastly there was the wedding reception with around 1000 people. The Cambodians sure do it differently from Westerners. People are ushered to tables, and once they are full the waiters start serving the food. Once everyone has eaten, they just get up and leave. The restaurant was jam-packed by 6.30pm, and the majority had eaten and left by 8.30pm. Totally hilarious. There was only family and the die-hards remaining and hitting the dance-floor for a bit of Cambo line-dancing until close-up at 10.30pm.

But it wasn't all wedding stuff. Managed to get in some massages and body wraps, eat at the night foodstalls, and also snuck in for some poolside cocktails at the fancy-schmancy Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel.

Finally did a pilgrimage to Battambang (5 hrs from Siem Reap by road) which is where Nat's family originated from. Nat & her Mum hadn't been back since the family left in 1981 after the War. It
This is ridiculous!This is ridiculous!This is ridiculous!

Strolling for the video dude
was cool to witness their personal journeys and memories as they went past old homes, haunts, villages, markets and schools; and also went to pay respects to their Dad and ancestors. It was a touching and fitting end to a fabbo trip to Cambodia.

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 23


Strike a poseStrike a pose
Strike a pose

Solida fooling around between photos
Angkor WatAngkor Wat
Angkor Wat

The hordes descend
Front entranceFront entrance
Front entrance

Waiting for the bride and groom to change into costume #3 (I think)
Snip snipSnip snip
Snip snip

The bride's parents doing the (pseudo) hair cutting ceremony to symbolise a new beginning. All the married people present had a go.

Monks & family praying and chanting their blessings for the couple
All prayers greatly acceptedAll prayers greatly accepted
All prayers greatly accepted

Women praying along with the monks
Chanting is hungry workChanting is hungry work
Chanting is hungry work

Delicious lunch enjoyed by everyone after the monk ceremony consisting of sweet & sour pork, fried fish & tom yum soup.
Procession of giftsProcession of gifts
Procession of gifts

The procession consisting of the groom's family, friends and musicians with 140 gifts to be presented to the bride's parents
String tying ceremonyString tying ceremony
String tying ceremony

The whole family ties a red string on the couple's wrists, and then passes around candles 7 times with a waving gesture to ward off bad spirits. The strings can only be cut by a monk after 3 days.
It's all about the foodIt's all about the food
It's all about the food

Scrummy steamed boneless duck stuffed with vegetables
Asian version of the Aussie OutbackAsian version of the Aussie Outback
Asian version of the Aussie Outback

Endured a bone-shattering journey for half the distance (approx 80 kms) over this crappy, dusty, unfinished road to Battambang.
Sangker RiverSangker River
Sangker River

Where Nat and her siblings and friends swam in their Battambang childhood days
Paying respectsPaying respects
Paying respects

Nat's family paying respects to their grandparents. The graves are located in a Wat, with monks living around the actual memorial site.
Battambang marketBattambang market
Battambang market

Preserved fish and meats
No gas requiredNo gas required
No gas required

The cockles are cooked by sunlight on corrugated iron.
Honey beesHoney bees
Honey bees

Baked honeycomb with young bees. Tastes like corn on the cob, only stickier. Supposedly a local delicacy.
Farewell dinnerFarewell dinner
Farewell dinner

Last hurrahs with the gang - John, Theavy, Solida, Tony, Nat, Jason, Kate

29th January 2007

the last photo the marvellous restaurant at the end of the river.. heheh i love the menu numbers 4 and 5 we have been sitting 2 tables away fromn you greets from austria!!! :-) www.myspace.com/margoloh

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