Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Kingdom of Cambodia

It really is called the Kingdom of Cambodia and what a gorgeous place!  Rice paddies abound in this lush tropical paradise, and the soil is red and muddy where ever there is no pavement.  For our brief visit here, the day long traveling and the $20. Visa fee was worthwhile.

The girls and I traveled here to experience the ancient Angkor Wat complex of temples.  Built in the 11 th century, it is a huge complex of small and large temples spread across a vast area of land.  We opted for a one day pass and chose to see the major and most commonly known temples.  Angkor Wat literally means City of Temples.

The big temple is the most commonly recognized and is even the symbol on the country's flag.

US dollars are welcome here, though the local currency is the Riel, with a dollar being worth 3,800 Riel.

Children begging/selling things was difficult to witness here.  Immediately upon arriving at a temple in Angkor Wat, a swarm of small children would descend upon us and ask, "madame, you buy my post cards?"  They were 10 for a dollar and lovely.  When we told them "no thanks", they had a sad face on and said,"I need money to go to school".  It was confusing and tough to decide to buy or not to buy.  

We each ended up buying a small thing one time from a different child.  Then today we found a brochure in a store explaining that it's illegal to make children work, that the parents should earn and children learn and NGO's  can cover any school expenses though elementary education is free.  To me it's kind of like do you give money or food to a homeless person or ignore them?

This is my first encounter with begging children and I can't even imagine the mixed feelings people must have when confronted with them daily in other destinations.  I have apparently been a sheltered traveler, and as always just when I think I have learned or understand something.....nope.  Another insight I have recently gained is that all languages that are not written in the Latin alphabet look like gibberish to me...not just Mongolian, and certainly not just Georgian!

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