The visit to Siem Reap started as an auspicious day. Currently, this is a special time in Cambodia as the Pagodas (Buddhists Temples) are celebrating Pchum Ben (Ancestors Day). This is a period during the year where for many days the people of Cambodia pay their respects to their deceased relatives for the past 7 generations. There are many ways this time is honored but most notably it is when the Pagodas are very active with the people bringing the monks food as a sign of good merit that benefits the dead. The Pagodas are not only buzzing with the offerings but active day and night with chanting, bells, drums, and the lingering smell of incense. This scene was our backdrop as we visited one of the most magnificent structures on Earth, Angkor Wat.
I was in awe of the temple that was at first dedicated to the Hindu gods but then switched to Buddhism, unfortunately this meant at the hands of defacing some of the statues. Angkor Wat must rival with the pyramids with the precision and detail, especially since it was constructed during the 12th century. The relief carvings of the gods and goddesses were so ornate and to my surprise in good condition.
It was a day full of temples as we ventured to the Temple of Bayon. I like to call it the temple of the happy gods as it is full of carvings of gods smiling. Then in the midst of a Cambodian afternoon thunderstorm, I found myself in a temple that was supposedly closed although there was a poor job of saying so, but somehow this changed while I was inside as I got trapped and unable to get out. Luckily I found my way out and without being yelled at by a Cambodian security guard. Some folks were not so lucky and got an ear full. One thing you don’t want in this country is a someone threatening to call the Cambodian police. Lastly the day ended with visiting Ta Phrom, the temple with huge trees growing over and around the walls, another display of true magnificence.
As I said, my last day on Cambodia was an auspicious one full of the magnificent beauty of a physical structure that reflects the beauty and strength of the Cambodian people. While in Siem Reap, I already found myself at an interesting dichotomy. I missed Phnom Penh with the confusion, chaos, and challenge of living yet for some reason my body felt lighter with the open space and touch of westernization of Siem Reap. I was finding that whichever way you look at it, Cambodian made a lasting impression on my heart and I found a true appreciation for this country and one that will be tough to top throughout this trip.
As I was leaving NZ, a friend said to me that maybe transitions are supposed to feel uneventful and as though you are progressing to the next thing without any pomp or fuss. She said, “it is the flow of life.” That is how I yet again board the plane for Thailand. My heart is full of love and joy from being of true service and from witnessing authentic beauty…..and with this I join the flow of life and continue my journey.