Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day Twelve (Wednesday, April 18th)

Have you ever heard someone say "Oh, it was so hot, it was like 100 degrees." How often do you think it was actually 100 degrees when they said that? Rarely, I wager. Today, however, it was that hot. It was 100 degrees. It felt like a bazillion degrees. I have really never felt heat as oppressive as I felt today. I glistened all day long and every ounce of fluid in my body was sweat out into my clothes, which will require multiple launderings upon my return.

Getting through another NC summer is going to be a breeze. And suddenly, I'm remembering those Minnesota winters and trying to decide which type of temperature extremes I prefer.

I wake up at 4:30am. I'll be meeting my guide at 8:00am. When I made the reservation, that seeemed earlier. Now, it seems like light years away. Tired, but awake, I turn on for more coverage of the VT shootings.

I meet Dara my guide for the day. Reader, meet Dara:

Dara has so much history and information to share about the temples but I find one of his stories most interesting. His own.

He's been a guide since the mid-nineties. As have many of his sisters. They speak many languages between the five of them. During the tour, we actually meet his Russian speaking sister.

His sister, Ponheary Ly, is the lead sibling in touring. In fact, there's The Ponheary Ly Foundation

The Foundation donates money for children to go to school. Sadly, many of the children are not in school. Rather, they beg from tourists who visit the temples. For one child to go to school for one year - it's $12.00. And that's too much for most families.

I've always known that I'm lucky to have grown up in a family with resources, and in a town with good schools. Traveling reminds me how lucky I am to have been born in this country. For all of America's problems, it does take decent care of the people.

Dara tells me about learning English from a textbook with a friend. He sought out teachers, and put all of his money into learning. When he was in the military he paid as much as he could afford to prevent having to be on the frontline. That decision likely saved his life. He has three kids. During the busy season, he gives tours every single day. It's hard work. Heck, after a few hours I'm a little tired of the running around. I wish I could have written down everything he told me at the time. I took in a lot of information that day.

Dara takes me to the temples. His knowledge of the history is incredible. His English is excellent. I'm not going to recount all the history here, as that's widely available other places. One book I do recommend to learn more is Angkor By Dawn Rooney. I paged through that in preparation for my trip and have referred to it several times since the trip to remind me of something I saw or heard.

Dara, unlike Teri, insists that I'm in the pictures. No worries, Teri. Every shot with me in it I also have without me in it. I'm likely to include the pictures with me in them just to annoy Teri. You cannot photoshoot out that blue blob on the pics that is Jamie. It's not that the people who take the vacation need to be in every last shot. But, at the very least, someone looking through the pictures should have some idea whose vacation it was, anyway.

So, here are a few pics, with occasional commentary:

The grandaddy of all temples, Angkor Wat (view from the Eastern entrance).

This blue tank top is international. See this post, third pic down.

Ok, a quick break from the Jamie-o-rama.

Unfortunately, some of the ruins have been taken home by visitors. Heads seem to be a popular souvenir.

Very steep stairs. Try climbing those in 100 degrees. I did! Dara stayed on the second level. This is not something you would, or shoudl, do every day.

Another picture to illustrate what I mean by steep. These people are practically on all fours.

View from the top. Ah, a perfect moment for reflection.

Monk in the distance

Monkey. I think about the Monkey Hook.

Here's an interesting factoid. They ONLY have four leaf clovers in Cambodia.

Bayon Temple. Temple of Smiling Faces. When I asked Dara what Cambodians think of Angelina Jolie he said "We compare her smile to the smiles of the faces on the Bayon Temple.

Eskimo kisses with the temple.

Ta Prohm. Also known as the Jungle Temple. Proof that Mother Natures goes wherever she wants.

Ta Phrom is where Angelina shot Tomb Raider.

See Angelina. See Jamie.

Ok, so she's cooler than me.

And just as we were finishing up, it started to rain.

For more pics of Jamie. And oh yeah, those temples.
Click on the photo below to see the full album.
Day Twelve (4.18.07)

No comments: