When reflecting on the day’s events, our team spokeswoman, Hannah Copeland, observed, “This has been the most exciting day of the trip,” then quietly added, with a look of pure pleasure in her eye, “This might have been the most exciting day of my life.” Whether or not this is actually true, our day was chalk full of action and adventure.
Now as you can imagine it will be difficult to encapsulate all of the days emotions and stories into one post, but i will attempt to record some of the more significant events and stories that contributed to our extraordinary day in Siem Reap.
Our day began with a visit to the temples of Anchor Watt (I’m pretty sure that’s not how you spell it, but then again it’s a Cambodian word so I can spell it however I want as long as I get the sounds right). Despite any discrepancies in spelling, the temples themselves were truly amazing to behold. Words are simply inadequate to describe the beauty and grander of the place. Even pictures do a poor job of carpturing the experience that we had while we were there. The sheer size and detail of the place was stagering. Not only did the temples stretch hundreds of feet into the air, but they were also covered with intricate carvings and designs. Usually, I am amazed by the engineering and innovation that is required to build such large structures without any modern tools, but with these temples it was the skill and detail of the carvings that were the most impressive. Almost every square inch of the main temple was covered with writings, artistic designs, or pictures of Khmer history and myths. Even the entry ways and outside walls were decorated in the same fashion. Not a single part of the temple was a bland or boring. Every part of every temple we visited was full of beauty and history.
After visiting the temples for most of the morning we enjoyed a leasurely lunch punctuated by a massive rain storm and a quick trip to the market. After lunch, parents will be excited to hear that the group boarded a rickety old boat and set sail towards dark clouds in search of a small fishing village in the middle of a huge lake. Fortunately, we did not get struck by lightening or stuck in the middle of the lake, but some of us still managed to endanger our lives by handling large snakes and taunting crocodiles. This is where our friend Jake enters the story.
The group landed on a large house boat that was geared towards tourists. They had all sorts of souvenirs and trinkets and even had fish that you could feed and crocodiles that you could look at bellow the house. Our friend Jake used his well developed logic skillz, and came to the conclusion that the fish must be for feeding to the crocodiles. After pitching his idea to our host and watching the ensuing negotiation with the Cambodians over price, Jake was handed some fishing line, a hook, and some bait and told to catch his own fish. After he did this, they provided a metal pole and a string that could be used to lower the fish into the crocodile pit. Jake took these instruments and went to work. A few seconds later there was a large crowd of tourists from all over the world filming Jake, taking pictures of the fish, and screaming at the spectacle. One lucky Korean whipped out his iPhone 4 and excitedly asked Jake, “What do you feel?” to which Jake responded with a thundering, “This is AWESOME!” And that’s about the only way to describe the situation, awesome.
Of course the rest of the day was pretty uneventful compared to our adventures in the fishing village, but it did end on a good note. Mexican food. We were able to complete our day as tourists by enjoying the best Mexican food in Asia. Now i dont claim to have tasted all of the mexican food in Asia, but I have experienced my fare share of Mexican food over the years, and I definitely give that place my Texan stamp of approval. it was an excellent ending to an excellent day.
This would also be a good time to note that during our first day in Siem Reap we visited a silk farm and ate a cultural dinner. Both of these things would take another post to cover in detail, but as a whole they definitely helped complete our trip to Cambodia.
Finally, I want to leave you with my take on the temples at Angkor Wat. It was so sad to see such such beautiful temples that took years of hard work and dedication be built for anyone other than the one true God. However, even in the midst of blatant idolatry God’s beauty and truth still able to shine through. Redemption is such a strong force that even pagan temples cannot help but reflect the beauty of God’s creation. Nothing is beyond God’s reach and we can find comfort in that fact. Common grace is what the bible professors call it, but you see that theological concept in a completely new way when you are observing the temples at Angkor Wat.
Thanks for reading, and God bless you.
Alexander Weir (and others)
P. S. GO MAVS!