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My Family Visited Cambodia!
Submitted By Anonymous
I spent the last 2 weeks in Thailand and Cambodia. (more photos on my Mom Space Blog on this website)
My family of 9, barely touched down in Siem Reap, Cambodia when we found ourselves squeezed into three carts called “tuk tuks” pulled by motor scooters, and on our way to a traditional Cambodian ritual involving us.
After a 15 minute ride through dirt roads we arrived at a bamboo house on stilts. We were greeted by a bald man with a bright orange sarong and a peaceful smile standing by a large barrel filled with water and flowers.
We were directed by our translator, to a hut and asked to take off all our clothing and wrap ourselves in the sarongs provided for us; girls first, boys second.
Now you can imagine after 22 hours of traveling, the last thing we wanted to do was strip down in the middle of a jungle and wrap ourselves in a sheet to face the unknown. But, we did it anyway after a few, “I’m not doing this” and “this is really weird, lets go to the hotel” remarks.
No sooner were we positioned on the steps below the monk in Orange when he began to chant and hurl buckets of water onto us one by one. I’m not certain if it was the shock of cold water slamming in my face or the disbelief that my husband actually arranged this but we were all being drenched…or blessed heavily during what seemed like the longest chant in the history of Buddhism. The outcome was uncontrollable laughter and the gratitude that I had a large family so I would only be pelted one out of every ninth time.
Some of us, however, felt more blessed than others because others of us left their underwear on for the dousing and could not replace them with dry ones for hours and hours to come as our journey that day continued.
It was great for my kids to experience a country where a few hours of battery charged electricity in an open air bamboo home is a luxury for most people. It is difficult for us to see how much we have until we see how much someone else doesn’t have.
In the week our family spent in Cambodia, we only saw 2 people out of hundreds of thousands who looked older than 45. In 1972 when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge came to power, he had two million (some say 3 million) educated, disabled, minority and other people brutally killed. Most of those I met my age confided the horrors of seeing their parents and grandparents killed and many of their sibling die from malnutrition and disease from being starved to death under his rule. If I lived there in the 70s that would have been my parents, my brothers and sisters and me. It’s hard to believe how safe we feel in America while others at the same time in a different country are living in fear for their lives.
Even so, today, after what they have been through, the Cambodian people are so warm, kind and appreciative, I found myself praying every night for a billion dollars to disperse to people of Cambodia.
Buddhist Monks gave my family all kinds of blessings during our stay. We were showered with Jasmine flowers by one Monk at one of the 200 temples in Siem Riep and literally soaked with water by another at a family’s home. We had to take off all our clothes and wrap ourselves in a sarong before we were drenched. It was quite an experience!
I also met a Khmer dancer, Sopia, who resembled the dancers carved into one of the pillars of Ankor Wat, a 12th century temple and one of the seven wonders of the world. If she were born in America and being so incredibly beautiful and gifted, she would surely have been a prima ballerina with the New York Ballet. But, being born in Cambodia, she suffered a similar fate as all others during the Khmer Rouge. Now she only cares about raising enough money to build a school to teach dance to poor children. So now, I have another mission to fulfill. Maybe I could get one of the big city ballet companies in the states to adopt her program. Connections we make with people around the world can be as strong and as important as the one we make with our families and friends.
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