Headline February 15, 2017/ ''' CAMBODIA COME CYNICS-SS '''


TRAVELLING MIGHT BROADEN one's horizons, but after a while, it almost feels like you've seen it all.

*Angkor Wat is no exception unless you choose to see it differently*. And the narration continues.....

We are offered tips on where to go what to do from Jetstar Asia Captain Julien Regnault

He lists Angkor Wat {checked}. Tonle Sap Lake {checked}, cycling through the Siem reap countryside [not in this weather]-

Running the annual Angkor Wat International Half Marathon (seriously,no) and eating out (oh, we we're already there). 

We take a tuk-tuk to Pub Street, for dinner. Apparently, there's more life in the evening with roads lined with pop-up stalls hawking drinks and street food.

As the name implies, this is a party central. You see stalls with signs screaming USD1 drinks, as gaudy music from tourist traps assault your senses.

For some authentic, no-fuss Cambodian fare, we are recommended Khmer Kitchen Restaurant. 

The place started out as a 'hole in a wall''. Now it has expanded to two outlets and army of servers to take care of a revolving door of patrons.

We tuck into favorites likes  Khymer Curry and Beef Amok.  If you are looking for something spicy, forget it; whatever description we put on it, it's an unpretentious , fills-the-stomach kinda meal that's doesn't break the bank.

So, you're a country that's reeling from the genocidal rule of a teacher-turned-dictator, you're a nation that got caught up in the war between Vietnam and US, you're a Kingdom whose land was divied up among Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

This is not uncommon; other places suffer the aftermath of conflicts. They capitalize on their scarred past. It can be the act on the midway; come one, come all! Visit our war museums;partake in our lovely beaches;see our relics and so on.

Heng, our guide, was attending the law school overseas, but he was forced to return. Now he leads tour groups to Angkor Wat. 

He's a fount of knowledge about his nation's real history, the history whispered among its citizens, and not from the government-approved textbooks.

There's an edge in his voice when Heng talks about the present state of his country. Perhaps that's why he prefers the history of Angkor Wat, back when King Saryavarman II took no gruff from anybody.

That first day, early morning when the sun isn't up, but the sky is a dreamy blue. Heng leads us to a scenic spot, perfect for capturing the first rays of the sun.

We make our way past past the south gallery, the west wing of the seemingly endless bas-relief. Every so often Heng stops to elaborate certain points of the narrative. 

''This shows King Suryavarnan II and his army.

'' We see indifferent faces set in stone, spears drawn. To the left, Suryavarman is chilling beneath canopies of umbrellas and fans. Further down, the troops are led by commanders on horseback.

Suryavarman is seen again at the centre of the relief. He has a weapon raised, all in for the charge. I stifle a yawn.

When you're bombarded with history's cyclical nature, there's a risk of your wonder disappearing. 

If you've seen it once, you've seen it all. How do you avoid that trap of repetition?  Especially for Heng, who has catered tours for many foreigners, how does he maintain this sense of surprise?

We finally arrive at the location, where the libraries are, and position ourselves among the waiting throng, some parked in prime positions, cameras at the ready.

Lenses are adjusted. Camera phones are whipped out. Across the basin, you can see the five towers of Angkor Wat reflected in the waters; its simulacrum takes on a muddy sheen.

Then it's time. You can hear the collective shuttering as light is captured. There are many in the crowd, still unsure of what is happening. They are milling about, chatting, missing out on this golden moment.

Heng, he is full of joy. His smile is so wide and huge that we're afraid that it might split his face in two.

He urges the other sleepy tourists to start shooting now. 

LOOK AT IT, Heng cries. His voice is tremulous, frantic. He gestures towards the dull orange rising orb, breaking over the horizon.

*Look at my beautiful egg! he says as though he's looking at it for first time in his life*.  .  

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Cambodia, and the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and  Twitter-!E-WOW!   -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' The Moment '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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