Monday, 10 October 2011

Red Teddy

 So I say farewell to Phnom Penh, board the coach which I hope takes me to Battambang. I take my seat and smile as I'm surrounded by pink frilly curtains hanging around the bus. The red teddy bear hanging from front window that looks more demonic than angelic,  The 1980's ? charismatic worship song "Glory thy name" is playing on stereo followed by what appears to be a Cambodian version of Hindi movie, complete with karaoke lyrics. My smile doesn't seem to leave me for the journey between the family of 5 squeezed into 2 seats opposite to me and joining the men at the food stop to take a leak in the paddock! I'm grateful that the bus is air conditioned as I travel in style not like those on back of trucks we pass as traveling through beautifully green yet flood revenged countryside.
My heart does sink as I come across the disabled and less fortunate than me.
That night I wander around Battambang, there is a river festival for 3 days so there is a fair along the river to celebrate the end of the "Wet Season". What I love is the practical nature of the side show games. Pop the right balloon and you win not a "useless" cheap plastic toy or show bags but rather practical items like saucepans, portable gas cooker, shampoo.

Note: technically now 13th Oct. Been in Battambang few days. Next Siam Reap. Internet so slow and taken so long to do this update. In Vietnam, facebook only worked some times due to restrictions, Cambodia internet seems very slow.

Around Phnom Penh

Lovely Boulevard Along River

The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

The Street Book Sellers I took out for dinner

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Irony

I wander through a Buddhist pagoda temple complex, after seeing the Palace and Silver pagoda which by the way has no signs of amazing glass and tile mosaics like in Vietnam, everything is gold leaf painted or solid gold, different but just as beautiful.

The old man takes me too a "hidden" Buddha temple where he lights incense and sprays me which I assume is holy water, I sit and pray, then move on my way. There are monks in orange robes chanting just before they eat and a little further along some boys practicing with drums for I assume a later performance.

"Hello mister, what do you think" says the boy who'd been following me. I smile to myself wondering how much this will cost me!

I buy him lunch and so for couple of hours I help him with his English. He's 27 and loves practising English as not much opportunity due to low paid work and long hours.

I had to smile as he moved the conversation onto Jesus and his desire to know more. Especially I smiled at the question of are you Catholic or Protestant. I'm no better at answering that very difficult question in Cambodia than I am in Australia when friends ask. Now how do you answer someone with limited English, kind of both but neither :)

I shared how I love the stories of Jesus and how he would always have rich and poor at his dinner table and how if we can live like that how much peaceful the world would be. And also prayer is different, some times "thanks God", sometimes "please God" and sometimes like Buddha in meditation, we just are still.

Such a shame he couldnt tell me more about Buddhism, I hope along my journey I find someone to answer my own questions. Although one reflection of my trip thus far has been, not only are answers not important, neither are questions, sometimes things just are and we just need experience what's going on by the smells, tastes and sounds not by thinking.

Now I must have a Nanna nap, the very humid 29c day has taken it out of me, although I love finally seeing blue skies not gray like in Vietnam.