Saturday, May 20, 2006

Back in Bangkok

I'm now safely back in Bangkok, which seems very plush and western to me now. I'm going to do the touristy floating market tomorrow. Cambodia was a tremendously beautiful place and was such an intense experience for me. The horror, poverty, and pain that many of those people experienced was unbelieveable. But, the Cambodians were some of the nicest, most hospitable, and most sincere people I have ever encountered. There were people who resented foreigners or who looked at you as an ATM, but this was the exception and not the norm. I'm still puzzling over what I saw the last few days and am sure that it is going to take me a long time to make sense of it all.

Siem Reap Killing Field


Siem Reap Killing Field
Originally uploaded by buckyreed.
This is a modest monument at a Buddhist temple outside of Siem Reap. Siem Reap province now has a population of about 1 million people. Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge killed one million people in this province alone by means of torture, execution, forced labor, and starvation. That was more than half of the population of this area at the time. Much of it occurred at this temple where it became a prison and an execution ground. The people who survived torture were taken to a well and beaten to death or shot. This place is now again a temple, a memorial, a school, and an orphanage. I really couldn't bring myself to take too many pictures here because I was completely overwhelmed. Some of the teachers at the school that I talked to were orphaned during the genocide. They were all about my age and had survived horrific childhoods. Many of the kids here were orphaned by landmines, the civil war, and the conflicts with Thailand and Vietnam. I still can't get over the fact that one million people died in and around this place in less than four years.

Danger!! Mines!!


Danger!! Mines!!
Originally uploaded by buckyreed.
I saw this sign for real a couple of times. This one was in the landmine museum in Siem Reap.

Four Way Linga


Four Way Linga
Originally uploaded by buckyreed.
Originally there was a linga where this post now stands. There are four channels with spouts at the end to distribute the linga water more efficiently. Water and agriculture was a very important part of these people's lives. The king was revered as a god and he controlled the water. There are enormous man-made moats around most of the temples that were used for defense, for agriculture, and as a symbol of the divine power of the king.

Linga


Linga
Originally uploaded by buckyreed.
Ah, the linga. You just gotta love the Hindus for their fascination with the phallus. There were pedestals/receptacles in almost every temple. A linga was inserted into the opening and then water was poured over it. The water was then fertile, powerful, magical, reverse-osmosised, or whatever. It could then be used in rituals. People still poured water over these and sprinkled themselves with it. About 80 km outside of Siam Reap there is a river called the river of a thousand linga. 1000 linga were carved into the stone river bed to fertilize the water as it flows downstream. Now that is agriculture!

Consumed by Trees


Consumed by Trees
Originally uploaded by buckyreed.
This temple was being completely consumed by the jungle. These trees are massive and were everywhere in the complex.