In love with Cambodian Children
Trip Start Jul 20, 2006
37Trip End May 10, 2007
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I am in love with Cambodia. I am in love with the almond shaped, dark brown, wide eyed children who mug you for bananas and toothbrushes. I am actually head over heels for the children, all of them. When they beg you to buy powdered milk for their baby brother strapped to their back. When you sit down and buy 6 street children dinner for $2 at midnight. When a naked little boy places his hands together and bows to you from a wooden boat. I am in love with Cambodia's children.
There is now no question in my mind that the best souvenir I could take home from here is a child in need. One day, I will do so, but for now, I am enjoying spending my savings and travel money on milk, sweets, oranges, and rice for them.
Two days of touring Angkor Wat was taxing. Looking at old stone structures can be, well, boring if you don't really know what it is you are looking at. Among the highlights include:
Ancient trees growing out of old stone structures, hidden in the teaming Cambodian Jungle.
Monks asking to take pictures with you; you asking to take pictures of the monks and all the while visiting the largest religious structure in the world. Shouldn't we be taking pictures of the temple?
Memoirs of Hindu and Buddhism, traces of the stories of Ramayana, Sanskrit carved into buildings, apsaras dancing in stone, and a tour of all the finest toilets in town.
And, my favorite of all: the little boy who instead of asking me to buy a postcard, wrote me a love note on one telling me to be happy and to have good luck, complete with a flower as a souvenir from Angkor Wat. I bought him ice cream to say thanks.
3 of the girls left this morning and Monica and I were left to venture on our own. With the return of my favorite guide (yeah!!!) we departed our hotel this a.m. to have a hand crafted tour of Cambodia visiting places that even our guide had yet to be.
Stopping along the way to buy bread, milk, bananas, sweets, etc. for the children, we crawled through town into a shanty village of bamboo huts on a greenish/brownish river, with naked children chasing after our rickshaw screaming yum yum (Khmer for food). We boarded a boat and brought our guide with us for translation purposes to a floating village. Yes, a full on village floating in the middle of a lake, complete with a hospital, school, and police outpost though not the picture that you are most likely conjuring up in your mind of these official buildings.
Today was a day to tour the real Cambodia, not the one for the tourists, but more of the life and times of those who live here. After a couple of hours on the boat, we came back through town and asked our guide if we could walk so that we could hang with the children a bit. He smiled, we climbed down the rick shaw and were attacked by hoards of children and were mugged of all our bananas. Noise (our guide) jumped in and took control over the sweets and distributed them in a lovingly manner before we set off to play with the children at the local orphanage.
I met the man of my dreams today. He was about 2 feet tall with brown skin and round black eyes with a scratch on his forehead and about 2 years old with pee on the bottom of his shirt. I held him the entire time we were at the orphanage and the Director asked if I wanted to take him home in my suitcase, and though I was tempted, adoption is illegal from this orphanage.
The children here amaze me. I am so in love with the children of Cambodia, so much so that I am contemplating coming back here after Vietnam to stay and play with them more. Today has been the most remarkable day of our travels thus far. For we got to experience the spirit and the lives of those from Cambodia.