Our fourth weekend started off with a bang as our squadie went off for a night at the circus! The Siem Reap Circus is made up of young people from all across Cambodia who have attended the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak or “The Brightness of the Arts” school, a Cambodian association which aims to improve the lives of children and young adults from very difficult backgrounds through art schools and educational programs since 1994. The actual performance was incredible and perhaps politically motivated, with some obvious depictions of a puppet king, and a power struggle with a ruler who literally stabs his people in the back. It was also so uplifting to see the performers who had all come from such challenging backgrounds doing something they loved and making a success of it.
None of us were up for a night out in yolo bar that night due to the 4am wakeup the next morning to make our way to sunrise at Angkor Wat!!! Half asleep but still very excited we all piled into the minibus and drove in darkness to the complex of temples, starting with the most famous- Angkor Wat itself. It was a fairly long wait for sunrise to come but we were among some of the first there and were able to bagsie some very good seats for watching the sunrise ! An hour and a half later, consisting of slightly dodgy tasting coffee and some passive aggressive interactions with other tourists trying to take our places the sunrise finally came…
There is no doubt that it was beautiful and worth the 4am start, however I think we all were expecting some sort of dazzling show of orange and red sunlight bouncing off the temple, which didn’t quite come but nonetheless it was a really special thing to experience. I would need a lot more time and words to get across how amazing the temples were but I will try and do it briefly! Angkor Wat is MASSIVE (700 ft tall); it was incredible to see that it was still intact nearly 1000 years after construction. It is so detailed (taking 37 years to build) and you can really see both the Hindu (the temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu) and Buddhist influences within it.
We also visited two other temples within the Angkor zone, going by minibus from each one since the whole complex is approximately 500 acres in total. The other two were smaller but I actually almost preferred them. The Bayon temple is richly decorated, with dozens of faces carved into it and it’s really beautiful to look at. Ta Prohm temple was the last one we saw, it was used for the filming of tomb raider, made famous by the vast number of trees that grow within it! It is fairly run down because of the trees popping up all over but walking through it it felt like you were going back through time – these temples are something you really need to see for yourselves to understand the magnitude and awe of it all!
We arrived back home at about 1.30 pm although apparently it felt much later as we all fell asleep for a few hours and then finally made our way to yolo bar!
This week the construction of the loos has become far more detailed, with the actual loos themselves being installed, piping being prepared and water basins being built! We are so close to finishing now, I think it’ll only be a day or two for each group which is really exciting but definitely it’s quite sad that we will be leaving the families that we have all got to know so well. Personally I’m starting to feel the same about the school, with only a week of teaching left I still don’t feel our job will ever be done, maybe I should just stay forever….