Caring for Cambodia.
When you get the chance to visit a place outside your own experience, you take it.
My middle son and I spent close to 4 days in Siem Reap working with two other families (also our travel companions) for the Caring for Cambodia organization. I won’t try to summarize everything we experienced during this trip, because it was vastly limited in time, and in many ways my knowledge of the long history and culture of Cambodia lacks the ability to do it justice. I’m under no illusion that coming in person made more than a small difference, but I will say that I am so grateful we had the opportunity and will continue to support this organization. For an American who has had every advantage, it’s important to try to educate myself and my children that the world doesn’t revolve around us, and often (intentional or not) we are the problem. I will never forget the stories shared with us, nor forget the moments of human connection I had with some of the warmest and generous people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I don’t think I’ve genuinely smiled so much.
When we weren't working at the schools, we were visiting some of the most amazing ancient temples sites in the world.
Banteay Srei (meaning Citidel of Women). 10th Century Hindu temple. The reliefs on this temple are so delicate, it's belived they could only have been carved by the hand of a woman.
Built around 1190 AD, Bayon temple is known for its huge stone faces, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. While the exterior of this temple is stunning, I found the softly lighted interior (also less crowded) to be equally fascinating.
Dating from the mid 11th century, Bapaoun temple was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 15th century. Part of Baphuon was demolished and the stones were used to build a Buddha image on the West end of the temple (it's a very large reclining Buddha, and the shape is a little difficult to make out, as it was never completed). We were able to climb to the top of this one.
Construction on Ta Prohm began in 1186 AD. It stands among a living jungle, extensively ruined but truly unique. Yes, that is a live tree growing out of the roofline. (Interesting side note: Lara Croft was filmed here.)
Angkor Wat. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. The largest and the most famous of the temples, we saved this one for last and arrived early to watch the sun rise (unfortuatnely very cloudy).
I could not leave Siem Reap without visiting the silk farm run by Aritsans Angkor. It was a special treat to have a tour guide all to myself who encouraged me to "Please, take a thousand pictures!"
I left a little bit of my heart in Cambodia. ❤️🙏🏻