Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ancient Ruins in Cambodia

One of the most tiring trips we have gone on so far is Phnom Tha Kmouv, where an ancient temple even older than the famous Angkor Wat lies. To get there, approximately 400 uneven, rustic steps (made for tiny feet) lie in our path to ascend to the ancient temple ruins. Through thousands of beads of sweat and tears, AJ and Ash took turns giving me piggy backs and we made it up (I seriously have the most dedicated friends ever). To make matters worse, it rained along the way, meaning slippery steps up tiny uneven steps. Talk about a dangerous mission. With carefulness and tons of faith, we made it to the top. It was amazing how these friends of mine were willing to sacrifice for me, just so I wouldn't miss out on anything other people got to see. I literally couldn't have done it without them. My arms were sore by the end, but that's nothing compared what they had just been through for me. That alone was a worthwhile adventure. 

At the top, lo and behold was the ancient temple with tons of ruins, remnants of life in the past. We found that there were still monks living in that area. I'm not sure exactly which building they lived in but I suppose it's a quaint place. We caught a glimpse of them marking on in a line along the side of the hill in their bright orange robes, meaning they're younger in rank. We found a pond filled with lily pads and water lilies. I've only seen them in picture and thought them to be extremely soft and beautiful. We found a mini shrine in that spot and then went on to the bigger shrine, like major big. We saw a huge, elongated, resting Buddha statue (You couldn't miss it). There were locals burning incense and going about their daily prayer rituals. It was amazing to see how people are still dedicated to Buddhism today, at all levels of devotion.  There were people who "read" our fortunes by the cards you chose, for a small fee of course. It was all open to interpretations like many things.
Mine was a story of a man who reaches his destination (But this was only the second try).  The first fortune was one of failure, so they interpreted it as me taking a few wrong turns before reaching my goal. 

After, we headed to a zoo located nearby the temple. Along the way, there were beggars of all ages waiting for vans like ours to drive by. People held their hands together in front of them to ask for money. I felt so much pity for them and gave out a few dollars, but I wasn't sure if that was the "right" thing to do. It's a debate I still have within in me of whether or not panhandling will help out those doing it. What do you think?

We saw some pretty cool animals.  We saw bears who love, love, love green coconuts.  So we purchased some to feed them, although there were signs prohibiting it.  The funny thing about this caution was that there were children following us to sell them.  Supply and demand? We also fed monkeys who were so comfortable with tourist that they would come grab rice out of our hands.

We heard these really loud monkeys screeching.  It really hurt our ears to listen to them! They were swinging from branch to branch all throughout their cages. I think someone in our group upset one of them because he was mooning and sticking his tongue out at us. Mischievous little bugger.
There were other cool animals too like lions, tigers, bears and elephants.  My favorite was the elephant, Lucky (seems like all of them are named Lucky, even the one in Phnom Penh).  He did the macarena and played kickball for us. It's obvious he's a very a talented young elephant. 

What a great day because everyone had a positive attitude. Awesome!

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