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Published: December 10th 2013
My thanks to Travelblog for adding Sla to the location database!
My morning began with a 5:00 AM tap on the door and a plaintive student asking if I had water. No, I did not, and no one did--running water, that is, not drinking water. The hotel was able to reset this, but I had already "showered" in the sink with just a dribble. I still don't have hot water, but I've stayed in several Cambodian hotels that run only up to lukewarm so I don't have an expectation of a hot shower.
Today is International Human Rights Day, which in Cambodia often means protests. I knew of three this time around, with two large ones centered near Wat Phnom. Therefore, we went south and out of the city at 7:30 this morning. It took two hours to get to the base of Phnom Chisor (also "Chiso"), a hill in a mostly non-hilly floodplain south of Phnom Penh in Takeo Province. We enjoyed the rural setting while wrapping kramas around our faces to keep the dust down. Ducks, chickens, cows, and dogs were abundantly present.
There's a pretty good climb to ascend to the temple area, allowing for
frequent pauses to admire the rice paddies below.
The ancient temple, of sandstone and laterite, was Hindu, which is evident from the carvings and the murals in the various surrounding pavilions. Having now read the Bhagavad Gita and selections from the Ramayana, I have a somewhat better idea of what's going on. In addition to the Hindu representations, there are Buddhist images and statuary, including a large gold reclining Buddha.
Good discussions with the students about syncretic religions, the widespread worship of sun bulls, and the Buddhist principle that life is suffering, and that if this doesn't seem accurate to them, it's due to their unusual privilege as educated white Americans who can afford to travel and aren't in the middle of a war zone.
I saw some birds I've seen before, the most enjoyable of which were Chinese pond heron, Brahminy kite, Indian roller, and blue-tailed bee eater. New sighting: Crested tree swift (Hemiprocne coronata).
The students are off getting late lunch to supplement their snacks at Phnom Chisor. I opted for a cold shower and a chance to catch up instead.
There are several more photos for this entry--click to see them.
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