The road to Angkor

Trip Start Dec 06, 2006
Trip End Jan 06, 2007

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, December 22, 2006

We are on the bus to Siem Reap.  Cambodian dream passing  through the bus window ... teak houses painted blue, unpainted, on stilts. Shuttered windows, tin roofs, tile roofs, thatch roofs. Rice growing green, green green. Banana trees, mango trees, coconut, sugar palms, bamboo. Farmers working long long row to hoe. Groups of people sitting by the road - dark clothes, dark skin. Gasoline sold in recycled bottles - liter for 1000-3000 Riels. Children, chickens, pigs, brahma cattle, water buffalo, haystacks, stacks of bricks.

Clotheslines, clothes, bouganvilla cascading over doors, over gates. Water lilies - wats - monks, orange robes swirling. Woman pushing a bicycle through the water across a shallow pond.

Morning glory, glory, glory glory. Women with bright sarongs, swirling - laughing women, black hair, krama (head-scarf, neck scarf) - walking, grace, beauty - children running. How can I be seeing this?

Dikes/padi/farmers bending, plowing, planting, fishing, fish-traps, walking down that dusty road. Big clay water jars, hammocks under the houses, chickens everywhere. Store with 20 different things for sale. Store with 50 different things for sale!

Field full of trash, plastic bottles, sacks, whatever. Kilns, house with many bags of rice beneath.Bags of charcoal, children running, playing, girls playing quiet, careful, standing, watching the bus go by. In the padi, cows and buffalo, many with birds on their back. Egrets in the rice, egrets flying. I understand about 10% of what I'm seeing.

Most of the schools in Cambodia are painted yellow and in the countryside are usuallu built in a U with the open end facing the road and a fence across that end. The roofs hang over the fronts, so there is a veranda around the inner courtyard/commons where children play, white shirts, navy shorts or dresses, black hair, brown skin, what joy.

I wish I was a sacrifice but somhow still lived on.
I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good.

On the road, motos, bikes, trucks, buses, cars cows, chickens, dogs, people, carts pulled by people, oxen, motos. Now off to the left out of nowhere a 40 foot high pile of boulders rises out of the flat land. Across the countryside, tall sugar palms stand in the classic picture of Cambodia. Cambodia!

Passing through a small town with streets full, markets busy and quickly back into the countryside. Thatched houses, rice drying on mats in the dirt yards. People by the road selling small stacks of fruit on small tables. Dusty road, dusty people.

On the TV - of course there is a TV, this is an Asian bus - one of the Chinese kung fu movies shows endless loops of the baddest dude in the dojo kicking some serious bad-guy butt - untill the final fight with an equally bad dude - and in the end, our guy wins!

Cows walking across the road and honking has no effect, so we stop and children standing by the road wave and I wave back.

Clumps of bamboo growing, bamboo fences, bambo plaited for house walls, split bamboo platforms under the houses, bamboo trellises for vines growing with long beans and bitter melons, gourds hanging down, stacks of wood, spirit houses, altars, incense burning smoke rising in the light, in the shade. Yonder stands your orphan with his gun.

We didn't go to Tuol Sleng, the torture facility in Phnom Penh, nor to Chhoen Ek, the Khmer Rouge execution site where the mass graves stand open. David and I went last time and Leslie is too tender-hearted. Ohhh, but you really have to go so you'll understand - blah blah blah - whatever, my wife has spent the last 40 years dealing with such things. I remember so many times sitting with Leslie in mean, crowded little apartments on Carroll Street, Annex, San Jacinto, etc. listening to people try to expain the bad times, sweat running down their faces, hands trembling ... to lay me down, to lay me down, to lay me down ... one - last - time. 
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