Ancient (1618- 1866)Cambodia had its capital at Oudong. Here was built a city of wood that has long since disappeared from the hill Phnom Oudong. At the base of the hill is a Buddhist monastery. Once a month people are invited for a day of meditation. We were lucky to witness the number of people who took that opportunity. As you enter the monastery, you are struck by the feeling of tranquility. It is a quiet place. We were invited to the main building for a blessing.
Monks, nuns and lay people eat twice a day. They carry a bowl and a scoop of rice and vegetables are added. Volunteers, both from the monastery and local villages , serve the monks. As it was a special time, each person was given a plastic bag containing additional food and water. The monk , nun or lay person can eat it themselves later or take it to someone who needs it in a local village. Once the have their food, they walk to another area to sit on a mat, chant thanks and eat. Some monks invited us to sit and share their bowl.
This is a statue of Princess Rom Say Sork,.she was betrothed to a Prince in the neighboring region. This Prince had fallen in love with a woman from a poor family. She had befriended a giant crocodile. When she found out that the Prince had sent riches and a boat to collect his betrothed, she fell into a rage and sent her crocodile to block the waterways. This caused great hardship to the local people. When the Princess heard this, she used the power of magic through her beautiful hair to kill the crocodile and save her people. The crocodile became the mountains. The owner of the crocodile was filled with remorse and renounced material things. It is also taken as a warning against adultery.
Water hyacinth and lotus are grown extensively in both Cambodia and Vietnam. It’s roots are homes for fish and molluscs like snails, the leaves used to used to wrap food and the seeds are eaten. Stems of the lotus are also used for a silk like fibre .
An ox ride is mandatory. I think to amuse the locals mostly. Ox are used here in Cambodia in the fields for preparing for planting and later for harvesting. In the dry, they rest as there is not much food or work other than taking tourists around. Children chase after the ox cart, handing you flowers. A pencil or some other tiny gift is gratefully accepted. We were in the upmarket ox cart as we had cushions as well as the rattan mat!