06.03.2013 98 °F
From Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, we left our ship to travel on a 3 day overland excursion to Siem Reap, Cambodia. To visit the ancient temples of Angkor. These Hindu and Buddhist places of worship, the greatest of which is Angkor Wat, were built some 800 years ago by the Khmer kings who then ruled over most of southeast Asia. The huge size of Angkor Wat (its moat alone is 3 1/2 miles long) and the number of people it took to build it (500,000 workers and 2000 architects) are a testimony to the wealth and power of its royal builder.
By contrast, the people of Cambodia today are very poor. Little children are put to work selling postcards to get money for their families. There are almost no public schools in the country, and parents put their sons on the care of Buddhist monks to get a basic education. Girls don’t go to school at all but work beside their mothers growing rice. We visited a silk farm where few lucky girls were learning how to make a living spinning and weaving silk.
Before leaving Siem Reap to rejoin our ship in Bangkok, Thailand, we bought some bamboo instruments for all of you. They are played by a combination of blowing into the mouthpiece and twanging on the other end with the hand. You'll soon figure it out when they arrive.