Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kampong Cham Phnom Pros (12/26/2012)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
By 8:30 we had disembarked from the RV Indochina and boarded another set of motorcoaches for a drive north of Kampong Cham to the twin mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srey. They were really just hills, with temples on top. The legend is that in ancient times it was the custom for women to ask men to get married. Women wanted to this to change, and challenged the men to a contest. Whoever could build the highest hill before the morning star rose the next morning, would have their way with who proposed marriage. The men readily agreed, and they set to work. The men were ahead in the contest when they took a break. The women hung a lantern in a tree. The men thought it was the morning star and decided they had won and went to sleep. Of course, the women continued building until the morning star actually rose, and had built the taller hill, Phnom Srey. Since then, men have had to propose to women.
We were dropped off near the top of the flatter hill, Phnom Pros. Some people wanted to  ride back down the hill on the bus, and walk up to the temple for exercise. I thought to join them, but didn't want to miss anything the group saw. As it was, when we rounded the corner to the front of the temple, the hill climbers arrived at the same time. They had come up about 50 steps! The 300+ steps of Phnom Srey would have been more of a challenge.
We still had ten more steps to climb to reach the temple:
Carved stone pediments!
Naga (seven-headed serpent) staircase balustrade:
Where the tail ends meet:
Tamiko with the statuary:
The garuda (eagle-man) holding up the corner:
The sanctuary, which ironically was used as a detention center by the Khmer Rouge:
Victims were buried in the fields between the twin mountains.
Inside the sanctuary:
A bodhi tree:
(2,000 riels are equivalent to 50 cents.)
Tamiko at the base of the stairs:
(These were the steps for "exercise!")
Kent and a devata (female deity):
The Garden of Buddha, with statues depicting his life.
At birth, Buddha could take seven steps, and under each step a lotus bloomed:
He was born a prince in a privileged family:
He gave up his material lifestyle to learn of the real world:
Buddha teaching:
The three realms of the universe:
Prayer ribbons:
Ring chimes on poles:
Buddha at his death:
The parallel feet are one clue that he has passed and is not simply reclined:
An elderly gentleman:
 Listening in on our lecture?
The library:

Back to the motorcoaches and now to Cheungkok Village. This village is supported by AMICA to become sustainable by diversifying sources of income.
We specifically visited the orphanage, where children of parents with HIV live.
Some are truly orphans and some have parents who cannot care for them. As before, half the children were at school, the other half to go in the afternoon.
Our Program Director Thien is popular with the children (he brought a soccer ball on this visit):
The kids wait during a presentation:
They (or most of them) sing a song for us:
Then the smaller kids each grabbed an adult to tour their facilities. First the art room:
Those with some talent draw or paint scenes which are sold as pictures or note cards. Our little guide brought us to his big sister, who showed the artwork of another brother.
Then we went to the sewing room, where there were braided bracelets as well as small silk bags and totes. Our guide pointed to a bracelet that his sister stated that he made. Hmm. I bought it anyway!
Every item had a ribbon with the name of the creator.
Our guide was the only one who chose two adults (Robbie and Tamiko):
Holding two hands made managing a lollipop difficult, not.
Kids pose for pictures:
Note bene: Cambodia no longer allows their orphans to be adopted. Angelina Jolie was perhaps the last person to adopt a child in this country. Cambodia has realized that they must raise their own children in their own country, and not lose perhaps their brightest to other countries.
Farewell, kids!
Our motor coach had a fancy gear shift cover:
On our way back to the boat, we stopped to see the Bamboo Bridge:
I believe at one time it was built every year, and was washed away when the river flooded during the wet season. But now it only needs repair after less severe floods. It does not cross the entire Mekong, instead it leads to a neighboring island.
The bridge handles small vehicle traffic:
Returning to the RV Indochina:
The path was kind of fishy smelling:
The boat started off down the Mekong, as we readied for lunch.
Lunches on the RV Indochina would be a choice of two entrees, along with a salad bar:
There was a soup of the day (today, Tom Yum Kai/Thai Hot Lemongrass Soup with Chicken), a variety of breads, salad fixings and dressings:
and four salads (today, Snow Mushroom Salad, Nicoise Salad with Tuna, Winged Bean Salad, and a mis-labeled salad that looked like a dragonfruit salad):
Madlen, the Hotel Manager (from Austria), pours drinks:
Our entree choices were Smoked Salmon on Croissant with Young Spinach Leaves and Poached Egg, or Penne Putanesca with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Parmesan.
Dessert was Strawberry Custard Creme and Assorted Market Fresh Fruits and Ice Cream.
There was always three kinds of ice cream: chocolate, strawberry, and rum raisin. Some passengers started pouring rum on their rum raisin ice cream!
Next, Cambodian Villages.

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