Cambodia: Phnom Kulen March 2008
'Represents purity of the waters and the message of hope the symbol carries to the mind and body of all who will hear.'
Taking a symbol to Cambodia will probably pan out a little differently to some of the other journeys. There have been so many changes in this country, many violent over the centuries, that much of the ancient wisdom has been lost, diluted and changed. There are no longer "Keepers" of the very ancient wisdom so it is to the places where the ceremonies were once held that we will journey..into the Kulen Mountains to find the "Lotus" resting place. Our friend Liz has joined us for this one and we know that her presence will add a welcome dimension to this adventure. We step off the plane in Siem Reap the closest large town to the major temple area of Angkor Wat and are hit by the heat and humidity. For the first day it will seem fine to us all. We are met by a driver from the B&B "Peace of Angkor" that we have booked over the net, after weeks of research, knowing that this will be the perfect place for many reasons. Tucked away in a small lane just a few streets from the main thorougfare of the town, it will become our little airconditioned oasis at the end of each day. By day two my body (Phoebe) has decided it will blow up with the humidity and from now on I will look like Michelin lady.
Once again we are struck by the peace and happiness that is here, despite all the people of this country have gone through with wars, Dictatorships and still do with the landmines, they all seem to be getting on with their lives. Remembering and honouring all that has gone before and moving forward. On our first evening we visit Angkor Wat. It really is the most impressive of buildings, just like its photos and a foretaste of all the intricate carvings, stone work and temple complexes that we will visit over the next 10 days. There will be so many that the term "all templed out" comes to mind. The Bayon, Ptah Prom (where Tomb Raider was filmed), the huge resting Buddha carved out of the top of a hill that is actually one huge rock. We wouldn't have missed one moment.
Before we head to the Kulen Mountains we take a day out on the huge lake that runs from way above Siem Riep down to the Mekong delta. It is not flood season and it takes some imagination to realise that the roads we drive on will be feet under water and the houses that tower above us on stilts will be right at water level come the time of the rains just a few weeks away. It is fascinating to see how some of these people live on the water all their lives. The children are a constant source of joy as we watch them playing in the river "streets" or rowing up and down the lanes marked by floating houses on either side...some are so young and obviously very used to surving in and out of the water.
The day is very hot, the lake shallow at this time and there is a pea green algae that covers much of it as we head out into more open water. It is here that we come across the huge floating villages of the Vietnamese and their fish markets. Every child no matter how young slicing, chopping and cleaning fish of endless varieties. In the villages we had driven through prior to being out on the lake, there were rows and rows of fish being smoked on skewers..a staple of the locals diet.
A few days later and we are in the Kulen Mountains. It is here that we will find the place for the stone to rest. There has been no rain and the water is low so we are concerned that there will be no place for our symbol. Liz is not feeling well. There is no way she is letting us out of her sight as she has heard about Aunty Jo missing out on the ceremony in Africa.
We will put in some photos to show you that there was indeed water in the ceremonial area. How we felt when we saw it crowded with locals and tourists....did the ceremony go to plan?, why our land cruiser broke down as what seemed to be a huge storm bore down on us and how did we end up at a once in a year party of thanks to Ganesh out in the middle of the Cambodian Jungle surrounded by children who rarely if ever have seen a European before, will all...yes you guessed it....be revealed in book 2 of "Set By The Ancients. Paul and I would like to thank Liz for her hilarious company, Dave and the crew at "Peace of Angkor", our guides Dha and Sopia , the Cambodian people themselves for their welcome and open heartedness and spirit for once again taking us on an amazing and enlightening journey of the heart.