As of this week, we are officially in the first week of being in Cambodia. In the past few days not only have my group and I explored and traveled Siem Reap, but have also learned so much history.
Cho, Rattana, and Jom have been our tour guides as they are all both locals and educators of this beautiful country.we have visited a lot of temples in the last few days which include, Ta Prohm, Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat, and Angkor Thom, which is technically not a temple but is treated like one. The amount of times my breath was taken away could not be counted using my hands and feet, as every single minute felt so incredibly magical. The history behind each temple has such a significance that it make the temples shine even more. For example, one of the temple was dedicated to his late other who had passed away, and the king, Jayavarman VII was not only generous , but also kind, and this temple was proof of how big his love was for his mother. And while I could go on and on about the stories and hardships these temples lived through, Jayavarman was truly noble king and was loved by all of his people.
While traveling around Siem Reap, Cho wanted to bring us to a special place. A place that was so personal to him as it was where he grew up. It was a beautiful temple with lots of vibrant colors, as well as beautiful greenery. While we were taking this beautiful sight of this temple, Cho wanted us to partake in a traditional ceremony of getting cleansed and blessed by a high monk. My cohort and I all agreed to partake in this , and it started off with a prayer from the monk, as well as a bracelet being placed on our wrists. this prayer was to ward off evil and for a safe rip, and followed getting purified by water. Now this part was something extremely new to me. The monk started chanting and throwing water on all of us for a good 5 minutes before finishing, and at first it felt like a prank but once the ceremony was done I felt liberated and somewhat lighter. It felt as if all of the bad energy in my body had left and all that was left behind was a bit of peace. Even though I had no idea what this day would look like, it ended on such a great note, and made it feel like a welcoming ceremony as we continued to make our way around Cambodia.
Cho, Rattana, and Jom were so kind to share their homes and stories to us, and I was so thankful for it, I decided to dedicate not only them, but Cambodia as well, a thank you reflection. And this is what I wrote.
This experience has been so surreal, and in fact felt like a place far away. In reality it’s a place with struggle and history, but it’s also a radiating country with hope and dreams just like ours. Although it felt far away for a long time, the similarity of wanting to achieve peace and joy are the same. Cambodia feels like home now, with getting to know some of the best places, and food, but best of all the people who are here.We came here knowing nothing, and in the few days that I’ve been here I have learned a lot and what it means to be proud not only of oneself, but also the history and people living through it.
I know that Cambodia has much more to offer, and I a ready to see what the future is like, as well as what more it has to show us.