Cambodia, I: Ancient Ruins

When I close my eyes I can still see Cambodia: how the bustling streets of Phnom Penh rush past me on a tuktuk drive, or the views of white cows grazing in the green plains, each mist-shrouded horizon beckoning to follow a mystery, an ancient city perhaps, a group of obedient elephants, or a purple sunrise. I hear the chatter of crowded markets, the cacophony of traffic noise mingling with street vendors’ voices, the discussions replaying in my mind, conversations with people, at times disturbing, but mostly inspiring.

I chose not to prepare myself for this ARI-organized study trip, but to let myself be surprised. And surprising a journey this was indeed. It was my first time to a country in South East Asia, and the first time to what some people still call “the third world”. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity, to get a taste of the ‘real’ world, as I experience the Western affluance in which we “developed” people live more and more as mirage, a Scheinwelt (illusory world) of artificial fabric well-detached from the realities of the people from whom it sucks its wealth.

I come back with many new impressions, and I let them sink in with their inconsistencies and superficialities with which I perceived them, not yet able to grasp the deeper truths this country holds. I have nothing but gratitude for the hospitality of people and their smiles.

First gallery: Ancient Ruins of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat

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