I was so busy in Siem Reap, and the internet was weird at our hotel every time I tried to post, so I’m backing up a couple days again. Our time in Siem Reap was for rejuvenation, team building, prayer, and debriefing. It was so fun to be together with everyone for a few days and experience more of the Cambodian culture as a group.
We spent a large part of one day at the ancient Angkor temples, which are said to have been built in the mid 1100s. Angkor was the largest pre-industrial city in the world at between 40 to 60 square miles. It’s a pretty incredible place. I felt so small, like a blip in history, when I was surrounded by the remaining structures, rubble, and giant trees growing up and through the walls.
Our entire group was able to see the outside of Angkor Wat, including the long hallways and courtyards. But there’s an inside area that only a few of us were allowed to see. Four of the WND ladies wore “inappropriate” clothing to the temple, including shorts, a tank top, a shirt with sleeves that weren’t long enough, and skirts that went slightly above the knee. Feeling rejected, we made our own fun outside the entrance, like sending Brooke on multiple attempts to get into the temple by wrapping her scarf around her body in creative ways. No such luck.
While sitting and waiting for the rest of our team to exit the inner temple area, I was reviewing some photos on my phone when a group of monks approached. I looked up and noticed that they all had digital cameras (one was in a red robe and had a red camera to match!), and then I glanced back down at my phone. It only took that amount of time for a Chinese woman to sit down next to me and pose as if we were best friends while her husband took a photo of us. I was confused for a second but then just went with it and smiled for a photo. As soon as she got up, a monk pulled out his digital camera and snapped photos of me! I’m such a celebrity! I caught the monk in action, and it’s one of my favorite photos from the trip so far.
At the second temple we visited, lots of children awaited our arrival at a lake (bathing pool) across the street. As soon as we walked over from our tuk-tuk, we were pretty much attacked by tiny Cambodians who wanted our money. I learned a lesson the hard way during this encounter when a young girl took me by the hand and engaged me in this conversation:
Girl: “Hello, what’s your name?”
Me: “Tara. What’s your name?”
Girl: (Something I couldn’t pronounce/remember) “Where you from?”
Me: “United States.”
Girl: “United States, capital Washington DC. You visit my shop.”
Me: “No, maybe when we come out.”
Girl: “Oh, please Tara, you promise you come to my shop?” (holding out her pinky for a pinky swear)
Me: “Ok, I will look.” (pinky swear)
She put a bracelet on my wrist, and I was on my way. About two minutes later, we had to cross the street from the lake to the temple, which completely ruined my plan of slipping by her since I thought she’d forget me for sure. She guilted me into visiting her shop with “Please Tara. You promise you come to my shop,” when I couldn’t. I bought a pair of elephant pants (not pictured) after bartering for a minute. Moral of the story is: don’t tell little kids who are trying to sell you things your name, and definitely don’t pinky swear with them. You’ll feel like a jerk if you don’t follow through.