Circle of life/Il tempio di Angkor (Angkor Wat)

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
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Trip End Apr 30, 2012


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, March 18, 2012





  17.03.2012 - 22.03.2012 (English version)

We are seating by a cool pond, in darkness, surrounded by crowd of eager tourist in expectation of a spectacle. Each person holds a camera. And than slowly with first lights of a dawn, a silhouette of her appears. Angkor Wat. We all know this iconic picture -the towers of the Temple awashed with red, sunrise light multiplied by the reflection in the water. We woke up at 4:30am that day to witness the moment.

It's quite funny. After literally a moment the sunrise is over and the crowds disperse in an instant. But if you think that Angkor Wat represents Angkor you are terribly mistaken.It's like to think that the Eiffel tower is Paris or the Colosseo is Rome. All Angkor, in reality, are monumental ruins of what remained from once huge and rich city. Angkor is not only one temple - there are hundreds of them, scattered in fields and overgrown by forests. No mater how many photos you'd see or how many texts about the site you'd read you won't get the feeling, the idea, the scale. Angkor IS magnificent, IS mind-blowing. We spend two full days here motorcycling from one temple to another, from one monument to another. Not a single one of them was a disappointment. Contrary, each one surprised, impressed, enchanted us.

 

 




Angkor is located close to Siem Reap. A town which I suppose, whole existence feeds on Angkor. I think lifes of a lot of people in Cambodia feeds on Angkor as millions of tourists from around the world come to visit the site each year. Angkor is not only a source of income but also a national pride. Silhouette of Angkor Wat is everywhere. On national flag, on banknotes, governmental buildings, even on a label of the most popular beer in Cambodia. Ruins of Angkor are the testimony of once splendid past of this now impoverished and small country. Khmer Empire used to rule whole South East Asia - once...





During our , now to be almost 8 months trip, we've seen rising and fallen empires. We could trace passing time. Thinking about it we arrive to one banal conclusion. There is only one thing in the history of humanity that is constant and it is: everything changes with time. There is always progress or regress. Things die and are born, disappear and new things appear. Nothing should be taken for granted.






After Angkor we travel to north western corner of the country to visit Beantey Chmar. Some more ruins I'm mean. On the way there we stop in a tiny village for a night. We are the only guests. Actually, previous guests slept here more than a month ago. We learn that a cousin of the owner of the guesthouse died in a motorcycle accident days before. Relatives together with friends and neighbors gathered in the family house for a farewell meal. The meal will last 5 days. When we ask why so long one of the relatives explains that it was a local fortuneteller who advised to wait for a better day with "checking out" of the deceased. These were the exact words.



On our last day in Cambodia, hitchhiking from Batambang to small border crossing with Thailand at Psar Pruhm we are offered a lift by a one Cambodian gentlemen. He tells us an extraordinary story of a boy. During Khmer Rouge time the boy aged 8 was separated from his parents and his brother. He was sent to a labor camp together with group of 100 children of his age somewhere deep in the country. Out of these 100 only around 30 survived four years of extremely hard life. The rest perished because of starvation and illnesses. When the regime collapses the boy comes back to his hometown and there reunites with his mother and his brother. He learns that his father was killed. His only fault was that he was a schoolmaster - an educated man. The life goes on. The boy grows up. He does well at school. He wins a scholarship at university in United States. Well he earns good education. He comes back to Cambodia where he finds a good job, he gets married and have two healthy children. The story  of the boy is a life story of the man who gives us the lift to the border. When I asked, what happened to Khmer Rouge who were organizing terror around his home town. He answered that prevailing majority of them didn't survive the first night after the collapse of the regime...
 

 17-22/03/2012  (Versione Italiana)

Seduti sulle sponde di un laghetto, al buio, circondati da gruppi di turisti armati delle migliori macchine fotografiche, in attesa del grande spettacolo. Presto, con le prime luci dell'alba la silouette appare. E' il Tempio di Angkor (Angkor Wat). Tutti noi abbiamo già visto l'iconica foto del tempio dalle cinque torri riflettersi sull'acqua sotto i colori rossi del cielo. Ci alziamo alle 4.30 del mattino per assistere a questo momento.

Subito dopo l'alba i gruppi di turisti si disperdono all'istante.
Pensare che Angkor Wat sia semplicemente Angkor Wat è un grave errore. E' come pensare che Roma sia il Colosseo. Angkor, in realtà, sono le monumentali rovine di una che è stata una volta un' enorme e grande città. Angkor non è solo un tempio, ce ne sono centinaia di questi, disseminati nelle campagne e nascosti dalle foreste. Non importa quante foto vediate, e quanto leggiate, finchè non l'avrete davanti agli occhi non potrete neanche farvi un'idea di cosa sia. Angkor è magnificamente surreale. E' un' esplosione della mente.
 





Spendiamo due giorni spostandoci da un tempio ad un altro, da un monumento ad un altro, senza mai restare delusi. Contrariamente ogni volta ci sorprendiamo per l'incanto.

 Angkor non è solo un' attrazione turistica ma anche orgoglio nazionale. La silouette di Angkor Wat è in ogni posto: nella bandiera, nelle banconote, pure nell'adesivo della birra più bevuta in Cambogia.
Queste rovine sono la testimonianza dello splendido passato di una che ora è solo una povera e piccola nazione. L'impero dei Khmer governava tutto il sud est asiatico, una volta.
 Durante il nostro viaggio, adesso quasi 8 mesi, abbiamo visto imperi caduti e imperi che stanno nascendo, come quello cinese, per esempio.

Dopo Angkor, ci dirigiamo verso il nord ovest della nazione per visitare il tempio di Beantey Chmar.
Il nostro ultimo giorno in Cambogia lo spendiamo facendo autostop da Battambang fino al confine con la Tailandia, Psar Pruhm esattamente. Eh sì, ritorniamo a far visita alla matrona del sud est asiatico. Nella capitale stavolta. Ci vengono dati diversi passaggi, uno si imprime nella nostra mente. Il più lungo e veloce. Un gentiluomo sui 50, con un ottimo inglese ci racconta una storia, quella di un bambino che all'età di 8 anni viene separato dai fratelli e dai genitori e spedito in un campo di lavoro insieme ad altri 100.  Solo 30 di loro sopravvivono dopo 4 anni di duro lavoro, il resto dei bambini muore di fame e malattie. Quando il regime die Khmer Rossi crolla il bambino ritorna a casa e si unisce a sua madre e suo fratello. Scopre che il padre è stato ucciso in quanto direttore della scuola e considerato un intellettuale. La vita va avanti e questo bambino cresce e studia. Vince una borsa di studio in una università degli Stati Uniti. Si laurea con ottimi risultati. Ritorna in Cambogia, trova un buon lavoro, si sposa e diventa padre. Questa è la storia di Som Pol, il gentiluomo che ci ha accompagnato al confine.




17.03.2012 - 22.03.2012 (wersja polska)

Siedzimy na brzegu malego stawu w ciemnosci, otoczeni przez tlum podekscytowanych turystow czekajac na rozpoczecie spektaklu. W koncu, w pierwszych promieniach slonca, pojawia sie Jej sylwetka. Angkor Wat. Wszyscy znamy ten slawny widok - wieze swiatyni na tle wschodzacego slonca odbijajace sie w wodach pobliskiego stawu. Wstalismy dzisiaj o 4:30 rano aby moc podziwiac ten widok.
Zabawnie bylo obserwowac jak doslownie po chwili gdy wschod przeszedl w dzien wszyscy zgromadzeni momentalnie sie rozproszyli. Ale jesli myslisz ze gdy zobaczyles Angkor Wat to widziales Angkor jestes w straszliwym bledzie. To tak jakby myslec ze wieza Eiffel'a to Paryz a Kolloseum to Rzym. W rzeczywistosci Angkor to ruiny pozostale po ogromnym i kiedys przebogatym miescie. To nie jedna swiatynia ale setki rozsypane po polach czy obrosniete gestym lasem. Nie wazne ile fotografii zobaczysz czy przeczytasz gore przewodnikow i tak nie bedziesz sobie w stanie wyobrazic tego miejsca. Tej atmosfery, tej skali. Angkor jest majestatyczny, jest powalajacy na kolana.
Spedzamy tutaj dwa dni, jezdzac na motorze od swiatyni do swiatyni, od monumentu do monumentu. Ani jedna budowla nie byla dla nas rozczarowaniem. Wrecz przeciwnie kazda zaskakujaca, czarujaca, zostawiajaca niesamowite wrazenie.
Angkor jest polozony w poblizu miasta Siem Reap, ktore swoje istnienie zawdziecza slawnym ruinom. Wydaje sie ze wielu ludzi w Kambodzy zyje z ruchu turystycznego wokol swiatyni. Miliony turystow z calaego swiata odwiedza corocznie to miejsce. Angkor to nie tylko zrodlo dochodu ale rowniez powod do ogolnonarodowej dumy. Sylwetke Angkor Wat jest w tym kraju wszechobecna. Jest na fladze panstwowej, na banknotach, na budynkach administracji, a nawet na etykiecie najpopularniejszego w Kambodzy piwa.
Ruiny sa przede wszystkim swiadectwem wspanialej przeszlosci tego zubozalego, malego kraju. Imperium Khmerow rzadzilo kiedys cala Azja Poludniowo- Wschodnia - kiedys...
W trakcie naszej, w tym momencie prawie 8 miesiecznej podrozy, widzielismy upadle jak i rodzace sie potegi. Odwiedzilismy miejsca gdzie uplyw czasu zostawil namacalny slad. Po tym wszystkim nasuwa sie banalna, paradoksalna mysl. Jedyna rzecz jaka jest stala w historii ludzkosci to ciagla zmiana. Zawsze mamy do czynienia z postepem lub upadkiem. Zjawiska rodza sie i umieraja, pojawiaja i znikaja. Nic nie trwa wiecznie...
Po zwiedzeniu kompleksu Angkor podrozujemy do polnocno zachodniego zakatka kraju aby zobaczyc Bantey Chmar tzn. troche wiecej ruin. Po drodze zatrzymujemy sie w malenkiej wiosce na nocleg. Zajazd w ktorym sie zatrzymujemy poprzednich goscil ponad miesiac wczesniej. Przed budynkiem trwa spora biesiada. Jak sie dowiadujemy kuzyn wlasciciela zginal w wypadku motocyklowym kilka dni wczesniej. Jeden z jego krewnych tlumaczy ze stypa potrwa jeszcze 5 dni. Na pytanie dlaczego tak dlugo, wytlumaczyl nam ze miejscowy wrozbita doradzil rodzinie aby poczekac na odpowiedni moment aby "wymeldowac" zmarlego z tego swiata. Takich wlasnie slow uzyl ("to check out" po angielsku).

W ostatni dzien naszego pobytu w Kambodzy podrozujemy autostopem z Batambang w strone malego przejscia granicznego z Tajlandia w miejscowosci Psar Pruhm. Jeden z kierowcow ktory nas podwozil opowiedzial nam historie pewnego chlopca. Chlopiec ten mial 8 lat w 1975 roku gdy Czerwoni Khmerzy objeli wladze w calym kraju. Zostal on odlaczony od swoich rodzicow i brata. Zostal przymusowo wyslany do obozu pracy dla dzieci gdzies w glebi kraju. Z okolo setki dzieci ktore przebywaly w tym obozie przetrwalo okolo 30. Reszta zmarla z powodu glodu i chorob. Po czterech latach gdy rezim upadl chlopiec zdolal powrocic do swojego rodzinnego miasta. Tam odnalazl matke i brata. Ojca juz nie bylo - zginal z reki Czerwonych Khmerow. Jego jedyna przewina bylo to ze byl dyrektorem szkoly - czlowiekiem wyksztalconym.
Zycie powoli wracalo do normalnosci, chlopiec dorastal i radzil sobie w szkole wyjatkowo dobrze. Jako mlodzieniec wywalczyl stypedium na jednym z uniwersytetow amerykanskich gdzie zdobyl wyksztalcenie wyzsze. Mimo ze lubil zycie w Ameryce postanowil wrocic do swojej ojczyzny. Tu znalazl dobra prace, ozenil sie i splodzil dwojke zdrowych dzieci. Historia tego chlopca to historia zycie tego mezczyzny ktory podwiozl nas do granicy. Gdy spytalem co stalo sie z Czerwonymi Khmerami ktorzy szerzyli terror w okolicy jego rodzinnego miasta. Odpowiedzial krotko, ze wiekszosc z nich nie przezylo pierwszej nocy po upadku rezimu....


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