|Vote "Giant Enemy Crab" for leader!|
I've shown you the lows of Cambodia Yes, I am referring to politics, where the leader of Cambodia is chosen by pulling the shining blade, Ricecalibur from the stone... what? Oh, right. The leaders are semi-democratically elected, with potentially mammoth amounts of corruption, and everyone else runs around talking about the sky falling.
|Don't vote for this guy...|
The sword seems like a better option. ;)
Anyway, back to the high points of Cambodia. Amongst my travels, I was able to visit a mountain! I know what you are thinking - Cambodia is mostly flat jungle. What mountain? While we do have a lot of flatlands, we have a number of (smallish) mountains. This one in particular is called "Bokor"(which apparently means "The ox's hump").
|Stonehenge... place of mystery, and UF... what? oh, right. Still Cambodia. Still no sword in a rock.|
You'll notice our trip resembles something akin to the Scottish Highlands. It was heavily foggy, rainy, and best of all, cold! Beautiful, glorious coldness! Really, it was more of an experience than a destination. :)
|Navi in winter gear! :D|
|Not everyone likes the cold...|
What's there to see on Bokor? Well, it's an old French settlement - or at least an attempt at one. It's also got a former palace-like home for a former king, and an old church.
|Larger congregation than this place has seen since... oh, prolly the 1930's.|
Why was it their first? Well, Sak Saum is around to help people be free from what amounts to slavery. How many slaves get to sight-see? :)
|Giant statue at the top.|
The summit is capped by a large female Buddha-like statue named Lok Yeah Mao. She's considered to be the protector spirit of travelers. Realistically, this protection supposedly comes by sacrificing (spending money) and giving to the little roadside temples (spending money) like the one on the way to Sihanoukville I showed you a few posts ago. You all know my opinion on religions that take from the poor to give to the inanimate mortar and stone (or the people that 'tend' them), so I'll spare you the diatribe. Despite this dark cloud, it's quite interesting to visit and see the giant monument looming from the mists.
|'Enter here, all ye who long for rest... or a good photo op'|
The Catholic Church was in decidedly worse shape, but far more interesting. It's been too long since people have gathered in to enjoy fellowship, song, and to search for grace to expect it to feel like a church. Even so, there is still a pervading sense of quiet stillness.
|DJ Saiyan and Jazzy A try to liven things up a bit.|
Sadly, after a thorough search, I did not find any secret passages, doors, or mysterious catacombs stretching deep into the heart of the mountain. There was also a decided lack of snack vendors considering it's still Cambodia. :)
|So happy to explore!|
|...we didn't actually go out that way - too muddy.|
The broken down palace was interesting. Apparently someone tried to turn it into a casino at one point, but that didn't stick either. There were plenty of places to explore if you didn't mind getting your feet wet and stepping through slightly icky water.
|How could you not want to see what's down there?!?|
Needless to say, Aidan immediately wanted to be Indiana Jones and find every nook and cranny. My shoes were already soaked, so why not? We wandered all over the place :)
|Jess took this one, and the stairs too I think.|
After we finished being really cold (Can I have a take-away order of that, please?) and trekking through the mists, we headed to our next destination - kep.
|The guy on the left? He just noticed the huge wave about to break over the group.|
Kep beach (pronounced Kype - translation has something to do with saddles) is home to a crab market, and apparently some of the best durian in Cambodia. I wouldn't know. I don't eat the stuff, but I was told it was awesome! They also had a giant statue of a durian in town (I missed the photo op - sorry!).
When is the last time you went to an event that was that important? Wedding? Funeral? Squirrel hunting (new flannel jacket counts)?
|Smiles all around!|
Was it worth it? Judging by all the smiles, I'd say yes. :)
All in all, it was a great adventure. Everyone laughed, got wet, went to the beach, got wet again. We saw ruins, waterfalls, a weird bird, and a statue or two.
Still no sword.
Most importantly, we made memories. For Sak Saum, these are just a few ways of replacing the bad memories - memories of the time that was stolen by abuse, trafficking, or just plain loneliness - and healing the hurts.
For Aidan, surprisingly, it's similar. New happy memories to replace the ones full of bullying and being made fun of.
I'll take that kind of trip anytime!