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CAMBODIA - Which wat is that?



After twenty four hours in Phnom Pehn and Siam Reap it is very difficult to know what wat is what. A wat is a temple. A Buddhist one. Not just in Cambodia. Wat's are Buddhist temples in Thailand and Nepal and Laos as well. In Siam Reap - where I am now - they are everywhere.

Siam Reap is a north Cambodian city close to the World Heritage listed Angkor Wat complex. Angkor Wat is 1000 year old city of temples built by the Khmer people. There are dozens and dozens of crumbling and preserved temples enshrouded and in some cases engulfed by the jungle. It is a sight to behold. It really is.

My driver and guide for my stay in Cambodia is Johhny. He is the younger brother of Rambo who I had initially booked. I found him on the Internet. Rambo had another gig so he called in his little brother Johhny. I didn't mind. I like Johhny a lot.

Johnny met me at Phnom Pehn airport. He had a sign. With my name on it. His air conditioned car whipped me to my hotel in the city. I stayed at the Raffles. It is obviously not the same Raffles as the one in Singapore but there is some connection. The Raffles hotel in Phnom Pehn is a very beautifully maintained building from the mid nineteenth century. It is grand and opulent. It is classy colonial.

Sir Stamford Raffles is best known as being the Founder of Singapore. Where I live. English historians often refer to him as the "Father of Singapore". I doubt very much that the Chinese and Malay ethnic Singaporeans would refer to him as such. Prior to serving as Governor of Singapore for the British occupiers of the Island, Raffles worked for the British East India Company. They were the mega global wholesale traders of their time.

When Raffles was Governor of Singapore he cracked down on the illicit opium trading activities that were going on. Raffles shut the trade and the opium dens down. The British made a fortune off the opium industry though out the nineteenth century. They were a monopoly cartel. They were wholesale smack dealers. Raffles cleaned it up though in Singapore.

The first temple I went to today was called Beng Mealea. It was a 2 hour drive from Siam Reap. With Rambo. I already know Rambo's brother Johhny quite well from our long drive yesterday to Siam Reap from Phnom Pehn. I know he is one of six brothers and there are also two sisters. Rambo is the eldest brother and there is another one named Tony who lives in Germany with his German wife. Johnny has a law degree and an eighteen month old baby with his girlfriend. His girlfriend is his high school sweetheart. Johhny is waiting for a position to open in the Cambodian government as a human rights lawyer but in the meantime he is working for his brother Rambo. He is my guide and driver. He is a very nice bloke.

The word Beng Mealea is Khmer for "Lotus pond." The temple is a bit of a mystery. It was built in the 12th Century under the reign of King Suravaman the Second but no-one seems to know exactly who by. It was originally a Hindi temple but became Buddhist sometime in the last 700 years. The temple grounds are very big and the jungle has now reclaimed much of it. Huge tree roots have cut through the walls and rubble. There were echoes and jungle birds shrieking while I was there. It was very very hot and steamy but it was eery and ancient and a wonderful place to be.

Here is a picture of a very small part of it


The Beng Mealea temple has only been accessible over the past couple of years. During the 1970's the Khmer Rouge littered the area with land mines. There is a large sign just outside the access track that declares that the area has been cleared of all explosive devices. The Cambodian Mine Action Centre was established in 2000 to enact a program of landline clearance. They have declared that they estimate there was in excess of five million anti personnel land mines laid by the Khmer Rouge. Much of it is still unfound and unexploded and casualties still occur on a daily basis. Particularly amongst farmers. And children. It is horrific. Here is the sign saying how many mines were cleared in the Beng Mealea temple area. I had a walk around where they found some and I felt quite safe


I have seen many stupa and pagoda today. My use of these terms is plural and not singular. When a word ends in the letter 'a' you may use them this way. One stupa two stupa three pagoda four. Pavlova is another example of such a word. This is a delicious but very-difficult-to-make-properly Australian dessert. I can make a very good one but I cheat. I use something called a pavlova magic egg. I just add water and sugar then cook it very slowly. In a very low oven. Here is a picture of one:


I also ate Amok today. For my lunch. I asked Rambo what the national dish of Cambodia was and he told me it was amok. The English use the same term to describe a state of madness associated with uncontrollable rage. As in 'to run amok'. The Cambodian national dish Amok was delicious. It is a slow-cooked fish curry served inside a green coconut. I could taste coriander and papaya and lemongrass in a rich fish sauce. With big hunks of white fish. I ate it all.

Here is a picture of the amok I ate.


I have also seen many statues and stone and wooden carvings today. I have seen many phallus which the ancient Khmer people seemed to be fond of making and displaying. They are both stone and wood. Phallus are enormous penis-shaped sculptures created to portray fertility and power. These are common wat decorations in both the Hindi and Buddhist faiths. Both practices teach that the world was created in a type of birthing. Following a galactic consummation. It is a very loving big bang theory. I think it is nice.

The phallus that I saw reminded me of my brother Richard. I was reminded of Richard not just because he has a big dick but primarily because I wrote about it recently and my mum got upset. Actually I didn't write about it. I just mentioned it. I think my Mum got upset because I wrote about it and not by the fact that he has it. Even when I reassured her that my brother Richard liked the fact that I wrote about it she still seemed a bit upset.

Anyway, That's why I was reminded of my brother Richard. When I saw the phallus. Don't worry i am not going to put a picture of my brother's phallus on here. I haven't got one. Sorry Mum. He really does like me writing about it though. Ask him yourself.

Interestingly phallus is also one of those words that are both singular and plural. Like stupa and pagoda and pavlova. Even though it doesn't end with the letter 'a'.

I travel a lot and I write a lot as well.

If you want to read me I am on peterheppo.blogspot.sg

Safe Travels wherever you go

Posted by ABitOfMe 03:48 Archived in Cambodia Tagged temples singapore cambodia reap siam phnom phen peterheppo.blogspot.sg Comments (0)

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