Just like all good things, this too must come to an end. I would like to quote Patti St.George who said, "This trip has seemed so long, but, not in a bad way." As we sat for dinner at a beautifully set table and shared our reactions to this adventure, none of us could really believe how much we had seen, done and experienced.
In the morning, we were given the opportunity to travel to the countryside and visit with some locals. The team at JWOC brought us around, showing us some teaching gardens and homes that have taken the practice to their property. We have never met people who were more proud of their efforts.
After lunch, we helped out with the children's craft class. We taught yoga, made snowflakes and helped the children write letters back to the children in Tahoe.
And then, we rested
Our incredible, amazing, super, fabulous group has been working so hard and going non-stop. We all deserved some time off. We separated into small groups or couples and spent the day any way we wanted.
Some people headed to the silk farm where you can see the Khmer people making silk thread and scarves. Others, to the crocodile farm where, yes, crocs are turned into food, purses, shoes and more. Others headed to the market for some shopping.
In the evening, the group came together for a dinner theater. The Apsara Dancers performed traditional Khmer (Cambodian) dances.
Things to do at 4am
it was dark when we got into the van to head out to three locations within the Angkor (city). With headlamps lit, we were granted special permission into the temple Banteay Srei, early. We walked through the grounds and perched ourselves on the landing surrounding one of the temples for an early asana practice. Surrounding us was the sound of frogs, birds and the resounding chanting of the monks at a nearby monastary. As the sun slowly shed light upon the land, we turned off our lights and quietly watched the sun shine upon the temples.
Next, we hiked up to the River of the Lingas. The Linga or Lingam is representative of masculine energy. The complimenting symbol, Yoni, represents feminine energy. At the river, three gods are represented; Siva, Krishna and Brahman.
Our last stop was at a temple that truly shows the results of time. Beng Maelea or Lotus Pond, is a temple in disrepair. For most of us, this was the favorite. We all enjoyed seeing a temple in its most authentic state.
Our photos cannot do justice to the scale and magnitude of use temples, carvings and history held within the walls of Angkor. The city of Siem Reap holds much history and strife. The temples, fallen by nature and the Khmer Rouge as well as thieves have stood the test of time incredibly well. As we walked, miles, through fallen stones and restored facades, we still could not imagine the people who, 6000 years ago, built these buildings.
I'm on a boat!
Today, we traveled for 6 hours by "speed boat." Our ride took us from Phnom Penh City to Siem Reap. The experience was quite different from the airport arrival just a fee days ago. The boat traveled at around 40mph. There was seating inside or on the roof. Once outside of the boat there was nothing to keep you on except for your own balance and strength.
Siem Reap is an area of mixed lifestyles. The water front holds residencies of floating villages and slum huts. The stench of rotted garbage is so powerful you can barely breathe. As we traveled to our hotel we saw houses up on stilts and lavish palace-like homes built above the levy. The separation of the classes couldn't be more obvious.
At the market, they cater to tourists, seeking goods and food that are both authentic and surprising.
We all agreed that today was a very full day. We began with a public by-donation practice at Nataraj Yoga. The group was a mix of our yogi retreaters and some of the teachers and practitioners at Nataraj.
After a quick lunch, we hopped onto the tuk tuks and headed to the Children's Surgical Center. Our visit theory really put a positive spin on things. The hospital is a non-profit supported by generous donors. Opened in 1998, they offer free public surgery on a "no appointment needed" system. People will arrive throughout the day and sign in. Most often, they are seen the same day, or, the stay overnight on mats or benches outside of the hospital so they can be seen the next day.
A little history lesson
We wanted to give our group a true introduction to Khmer culture. Therefore, after arrival and some freshening up, we headed to the Killing Fields. It's hard to grasp that just 20 years ago this country won it's independence. The population had been devastated and their citied destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. The monument dedicated to teaching about this terrible time was well worth the visit.
Our Destination: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
This is the capitol and largest city in Cambodia. Many of our travelers have already arrived in Cambodia and have been taking the time to acclimatize and adjust to their new environment. Susan, our trip manager, has been updating Jenay, the director, on the general environment of the area. According to local sources and her observations, the city is safe for American travel. The most exciting sight is the flier for Lake Tahoe Yoga hanging up at Nataraj Yoga!
Jenay Aiksnoras, Experience Curator