The Lotus at Sunrise

Thank you for all the feedback yesterday. I appreciate it very much; indeed the negative feedback was quite constructive and helpful. Thanks for taking the time, as usual, to share your thoughts.

Now that we are getting back in the normal groove of posting beautiful places and beautiful things, here is a nice one for your Sunday!

This is Angkor Wat in Cambodia at sunrise. I think I went there every single morning around 5 AM to see the clouds and light in different formations. I got to know some of the locals there. A small girl from a family would see me in the dark by the lake, and come over to say hello. She would then bring me a chair and some Vietnamese coffee (quite thick and sweet with condensed milk). I would pay her just a few dollars and she was thrilled… I paid extra to keep the coffee coming in dangerously quick intervals. The sunrise lasted for several hours, and I was in no hurry…

The Sunrise in Siem Reap (by Stuck in Customs)

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Evening Storm Approaches the Temple

This is an old temple near the main complex of Angkor Wat that sits high on a hill.  At the bottom, a man gave me an option of riding an elephant to the top.  I don’t know why I didn’t!  I think I might have been in a hurry to see the sunset and the elephant looked old and ponderous.

It was a bit sketchy up there with the storm, but there was nothing metal so I didn’t feel like there was much danger of lightning.  I was used to Texas thunderstorms with big lightning, but maybe they didn’t have those sorts in Cambodia – who knows?  Not me.  Anyway, it was too cool to stay up there and watch the storm as it rolled in…

Evening Storm Approaches the Temple

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The ruins of Angkor from across the moat

Angkor Wat was really more of a fortress than it was a temple.

There is a massive moat that encircles the complex.  I can only imagine how long it took peasants to dig a thousand years ago.  I also wonder how they all drank fresh water back then.  I know I couldn’t go more than 10 minutes walking around the area without needing a drink.  The massive heat, humidity, and standing water was a perfect recipe for cavalcade of bacteria to rise up and fight back.  I don’t suppose they all boiled their water.  Maybe everyone was just more hardy back then…  Luckily, when I was there, there were plenty of little children running around selling me bottled water.  Which, upon further reflection, I probably should not have drank.

The ruins of Angkor from across the moat

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Young Buddhists about to endure the rites

Away from the main temples of Angkor, this temple rests about two hours from Siem Reap through thick jungles and a sketchy road. As I made my way through the stone halls and entrance ways, I emerged onto this scene of a bunch of young Buddhists preparing for the next phase of their rites.

I think I ended up talking to almost a dozen different monks in and around Angkor. It was very interesting to hear their version of what happened with the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and that whole mess. They killed over 1 million Cambodians after the US pulled out of Vietnam, eliminating anyone with “involvement in free-market activities”. I was a little afraid to tell anyone there that I sometimes speak at Libertarian conferences, in case there were a few rogue Khmer Rouge agents roaming the jungles!

Some of the stories are a bit sketchy to be reprinted in this format, so if we ever meet for coffee some day, I’ll be glad to tell you… but there is some messed up stuff around there.

On a lighter note, I’m headed to Vegas next week for just a day and a half. I have a little speaking engagement, but I’ll be spending every spare waking moment living with my right brain and seeing what bits are appropriate to capture for you all! :)

Young Buddhists about to endure the rites (by Stuck in Customs)

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This is an Avout

I found her after taking a few wayward turns in some confusing corridors in the main temple of Angkor Wat. She was a Buddhist bolt, but lighting incense at the foot of a statue of Shiva, the Hindu god. It turns out that she, and others like her, are from an interesting sect that bridges two of the big religions. I always enjoy talking to people about this sort of thing. It doesn’t really bother me one way or another, but I just find all the thought processes to be interesting.

She’s one of the billions of people alive (and possibly re-alive) that draws into the splinters of the original Vedic Brahminism. She didn’t speak a lot of English, so there were a few pieces missing in our conversation, but I filled them in later after talking to many other monks and worshipers throughout the complex.

This is an Avout (by Stuck in Customs)

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