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    Tropical Storm Tour: Cambodia Part 4

    Monday, July 6, 2015
    Siem Reap, Cambodia

    A raw back lane scene in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A raw back lane scene in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Workers repaint a temple at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Workers repaint a temple at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A golden Buddha image at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A golden Buddha image at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    At 11:00 am, I moved out of the Jasmine Guesthouse. Although the staff and rooms were nice, many of the guests were too loud and noisy around the pool all day, plus the wi-fi didn’t work much at all on the fourth and fifth floors and barely half the time down in the lobby. So, I strapped on the backpack and trudged over to a place called the Golden Takeo Villa that I found on Wiki Voyage, and that received all positive reviews on Trip Advisor. It took me about an hour to find the place the day before after riding around in circles, as it’s tucked away on a small dirt lane that branches off of another dirt side street. The owner of the Golden Takeo is nice, the place is clean and quiet, and it boasts a real “home” feel, which I love. Plus, I got an air con room for only $12 (compared to $18 at the Jasmine Guesthouse), and the wi-fi works all the time. What’s not to love?

    A bunch of chedis at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A bunch of chedis at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    The robes of Buddhist monks at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    The robes of Buddhist monks at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    An intricately carved temple at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    An intricately carved temple at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    I tried to rent another mountain bike today, but the guy wanted $7.00 for one day, so I walked away and rented another bicycle–the funky local kind–for only $2.00 right next to the Golden Takeo. But, when the guy found out I was staying next door, he offered it to me for only $1.00, which really surprised me. You’d think he’d try to make as much money as possible. Then I set out to visit a couple of temples. The first, Wat Bo, was located close by off of another dusty dirt street. Many of the buildings inside the compound were all scaffolded up so workers could re-paint the aged carvings.

    A line of Buddhist monk statues at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A line of Buddhist monk statues at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A gate under renovation at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A gate under renovation at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A seven-headed dragon at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A seven-headed dragon at Wat Bo in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Inside one, I hit a small gong softly several times, trying to make a recording of it on my iPod Touch, when an old woman with really short hair walked up and told me to stop. That was odd, because I’ve recorded myself briefly playing gongs and bells in temples before and no one ever seemed to care. I also saw three infant kittens that were so malnourished, they looked like living skeletons. I could see all of their ribs. Two of them were walking around, but one of them could barely stand up and looked like it would die at any given moment. It was very sad and reminded me how harsh life is for many living things.

    An evening Buddhist prayer service at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    An evening Buddhist prayer service at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Multiple spires at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Multiple spires at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A young man I talked to at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A young man I talked to at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Next, I biked over a few blocks to Wat Preah Prom Nath, where I snapped some more photos that were beautifully lit by the setting sun. When I was getting ready to leave, a young man started talking to me, saying he likes to practice his English with foreigners. We ended up chatting for a half-hour about our different lives in Cambodia and the United States. He is 21 and studies English in a class there at the Wat. I asked him about a painting inside the walls of one of the temples that showed someone looking at the bottom of a pair of feet that had lines painted all ovee them. I was surprised to see that, because on this side of the Earth, it is considered rude to show someone the bottom of your feet, as they are considered unclean. (At the opposite end, the head is considered the temple of the body.) The young man explained that the feet belonged to Buddha, who had just died, and that all of the murals that filled all four walls surrounding the temple told the story of Buddha’s whole life.

    A small Buddhist shrine in the setting sun at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A small Buddhist shrine in the setting sun at Wat Preah Prom Rath in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    One of many massage parlors in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    One of many massage parlors in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A disco in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A disco in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A bit later, another young man joined in the conversation. He was also studying English at the school, as well as Thai. We too had a nice, long talk about each others’ lives and Cambodia culture. I told him about a new documentary that unearths Cambodia’s rock music scene of the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s and how it was destroyed in the genocide conducted by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-’79. Filled with some of the best singing and fuzz guitar to be heard anywhere, as well as one of the most tragic stories of all time, it’s called Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten and you should definitely see it if you ever have the chance. When the theatrical run is over, it should be available on DVD and downloads.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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