King's Grandfather's Stupa
The white dot to the right of the stairs is Anisa.
Anisa and I went for the morning to Phnom Odong, which is just west of Phnom Penh. We went because one of her tourist books recommended it, though we weren't exactly sure what we would find there. As soon as our taxi arrived we were swarmed with children. Six of them attached themselves to us, despite our insistance at 'no guides'. Two of them spoke fairly good English: Nem and Jai. They followed me for the entire day and the other four hovered around Anisa, so close that she almost tripped over them. As the day wore on they became more useful and polite, at first they were rather annoying.
Phnom Odong is basically a hill in the middle of incredibly flat land. There are several stupas each in varying stages of reconstruction. The Khmer Rouge destroyed everything. There is even the remnants of a small mosque, though it seems abandoned. The Buddhist temples are being worked on, though the one I entered was a makeshift tent in the middle of four crumbling walls. At the center of the altars and small Buddha statues was an enormous nose. A Cambodian tourist explained to me that the nose is
Hills and Flatlands
The rainy season hasn't really started, but soon the fields will be a lush green.
all that's left of the Buddha statue that used to be in the center of the temple. I was tempted to take a photo of it, but it felt wrong.
After walking up and down all the stupas and temples on the hill we went back down towards the tourist trap area. We were the only white tourists. Several children asked if we had come in a taxi and when we answered yes they pointed us toward our driver. The kids were all watching out for us. We sat on some platforms in the shade for lunch. We were very lucky that the day was breezy. I couldn't have stood the heat and hiking in the sun without some wind. Of course, our entourage all had palm fans and fanned us constantly.
Lunch was a big treat for me. Anisa introduced me to street food and I found a new favorite toy: lunch in a bamboo pole. I would never have picked it out as food when the vendor walked by, but for 700Riel I got enough sticky rice and beans (soy?) to fill me up. Anisa ordered a whole roasted chicken, which came with a large pot
This isn't the whole group, Nem and Jai were too busy "helping" me to get in the photo.
of rice. It was far too much for her to eat, but our entourage happily finished it up for her and even cleaned up the dishes for us.
Odong was a fun place, partly for the historical and religious significance, but also for the people watching and beauctiful view of the countryside. It was nice to get out of the city and see some small villages for a change. The taxi ride to and from Odong was fun too, it's easier to look at things in a car than from the back of a scooter, which is what I rode to the Choeung Ek.
Anisa and I got back to her apartment early in the afternoon and were lazy the rest of the day. I saw my first "monsoon" rain, which wasn't very hard and only lasted an hour or so. I expect that the real rainy season will start as soon as Anisa's out of school and we want to travel on dirt roads. Then again, she may not bring rain the way I do.
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