since I didn’t manage to write to you about my experiences in Cambodia yet I am doing this now!
I spent one week in Siem Reap and visited the extremely impressive temples of Angkor and I could have easily spent another week there because I simply didn’t get tired of the temples, their varied architechtural builts and the spectacular carvings you find on many of their walls! I did 4 full days of Angkor and I also visited the overgrown and mystic Beng Mealea temple which is about 70 km outside of Siem Reap. At certain times the huge Korean and Japanese travel groups INVADING the temple sights (of course equipped with their super expensive camera equipment – clichee but so very true!) were a real pain but fortunately they all disappeared during the hotter lunch hours and sometimes I had to share some of the smaller and less famous temples with only few people. Those were the (only) times where you could really “beam” yourself back in time and kind of get and idea and the feeling for what it must have been here 800 od 1000 years earlier when hundreds of thousands of people lived in the temples respectively were building them!!! Angkor was by far the most impressive place I have ever been in terms of ancient buildings and temples and I believe that it is impossible to top! I even rented a bike one day with a Dutch girl and we ventured around the vast compounds of Angkor and did 25 km on the bike ..it was fantastic riding along the wide streets which connected the temples, hearing the cicadas (the mutant version of crickets!:)) which started making INCREDIBLY loud noises from 3 o’ clock on everywhere in the forests!! I even got to see one little cicada ” monster” sitting on one of the temple walls – they are only 2-3 cm small but they make such a lound noise that I had to cover my ears when I took a photo of it! it kind of sounded like the world was going under, with hundreds of them making this noise at the same time (first I thought that I heard an alarm going off until I realized that it is those animals!!!)
Another day I visited an orphanage because I wanted to find a project (apart from the one I found in Nepal) which I can support when I come back to VIenna – with the help of you all of course!:)
So as fate wanted I passed by one orphanage when we were going back to Siem Reap on our bikes and the moment we set our foot on the grounds of the orphanage we were surrounded by moer than 10 kids with biiiiiiiiiig smiles on their faces! Lucky as we were the owner of the place showed up only minutes after we arrived there and we agreed to come back the next day to learn more abou the orphanage, the kids and the way it is financed and run.
When we came back the next day the kids SWARMED around us and were so happy that we came back! 2 other couples from Germany and the U.S. also came to the orphanage and the owner who as so excited that there were so “many” (6!) foreigners coming to his place prepared a real celebration-meal (“festmahl” meine ich damit) for us…actually we all coocked it together in their little “kitchen” which consisted petty much only of a fireplace covered by a bamboo rooftop). We then all ate together: 13 kids, the owner, 2 young teacher girls and the other tourist …it was by far one of the most moving experienced we experienced! There was so much happiness and such big smiles on their faces! Those kids have just about enough food to survive and no other “comfort” goods (no toilet, no shower, no running water), nobody to cuddle and play with them and STILL they seem happy and content and most of all they take care of each other and share EVERYTHING without envy! they eat their breakfast out of the same bowl in the morning, they share the same glasses to drink their water, they flip through the pages of children’s books they got as a present TOGETHER and when one kid cries or a small kid falls asleep there is instantly another bigger child taking care of them.
In the western world we often want things to ourselves already starting when we are kids and we want more and more and are not happy if we don’t have the same goods, games and other stuff that other kids have. There the kids have almost nothing – but they have each other and those kids seemed by faar happier than may kids or teenagers you see in “our world”. It moved me very much – on the one hand I was happy to see that they are happy with each other and that there is no envy – but on the other hand it was tough to see how much the owner has to struggle to earn enough money to have enough rice to feed the kids every day and how much he is trying to give them the best possible education to enable them to take care of themselves when they are grown-ups.
I even went to a rural school with one of the young teachers one evening where he teaches the kids from the villages English (which is the ONLY way they will have a chance to get a proper job in this country which lives more and more off of tourism) and it was an AMAZING feeling standing next to him with about 40 pairs of beautiful black smiling eyes – asking you tons of questions and a lot of giggling and laughing! and although this place was only 10 km away from touristy Angkor all of them have NEVER EVER seen a foreigner in their whole life before!
It was a real pleasure and at the same time honour for me to talk to those kids and support the teacher with a few tipps on how to tech them English (the range from 5 to 20 years and ALL sit in the same clas so you can imagine how hard it is to teach them!:)
anyway, those days were just incredibly great because I got 2 extreme impressions: culture, architecture history at its best and at the same time close contact and a lot of warmth exchanging with local people and the children!
check out the photos I upload!!!!! I can’t wait to introduce you how I want to support this orpahage togehter with you and help the owner of this place make life at least a bit easier for him and the children!!!!!!!