Sorry it’s been over a week since my last post, and while I would love to say I’ve just been too busy to post, the truth is that a good internet connection is a difficult commodity to come by here in the Kingdom of Wonder. To make it up to you, my loyal readers (if you’re not loyal, and therefore unfaithful, this is not for you, but you may enjoy all the same) I’ll add more pictures and explanations of my adventures over the past week.
Wat. As part of my research I have been interviewing monks about the beliefs of Buddhists and how that might affect perceptions of persons with disabilities. It has been the most difficult portion of my research. For starters, my Khmer is not good enough to discuss the intricacies of religion and disabilities. Furthermore, most monks lack similar skills in English. This limits my pool of potential interviewees, and even with a Khmer student to help translate, this is conceptually a difficult topic to discuss. Nevertheless, it has been interesting and rewarding to meet with the monks I have met so far, and exploring the Wats has enriched my time here.
Waterfall. We started our home run stretch by taking a day off from our studies and visiting Phnom Kulen – considered a sacred place by most Cambodians, people from all over will come to the mountain to enjoy its beauty and play in the waterfalls. The falls are beautiful and the water was cool, a perfect mix for a lazy Friday afternoon.
We hiked around a bit seeing random Buddha statues and a former hiding place of Khmer Rouge officials. It struck me that thesemen would hide in a sacred place though the KRwere trying to rid the country of such beliefs. Maybe these men still had lingering feelings forthis sacred place (or maybe not).
Rain Storm Adventure. My friend Rachael and I decided we wanted to leave the Siem Reap we knew and see what else the city had to offer. So we rented some bikes and followed the wind. We ended up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rice paddies and the occasional cow. It was beautiful.
After about an hour we started to feel the beginnings of a rain storm, but what followed was a monsoon! The wind kicked up and the rain drops doubled in size instantly. The rain flew at us downways and sideways. It felt like I was being pelted by hail. It was incredible to feel the force of nature, unprotected and unadulterated. Then, as if the heavens turned off a fountain the rain stopped, but in sheets. I could literally watch the rain stop a foot at a time in front of me. We rode home, sopping wet, and loving life.
Election Day. Cambodians all over the country voted yesterday and while things got a little crazy in Phnom Penh, things were quiet in Siem Reap. Maybe too quiet. My friends an I went out for dinner and many places were closed. There were fewer tourists and locals to rub shoulders with the city seemed so dead. Rain may have had something to do with the lack of tourists – it rained almost all day. But certainly, yesterday’s election results were impressive. The CPP experienced its greatest loss since Cambodia became a democracy. What does this mean? Only time will tell, but maybe it means Cambodia is not as backwards as we thought. Maybe, Cambodia is taking a step towards some real improvements. Or maybe its just the same, same, but different.