Phayo, Franche-Compte, Elounda, Jum

Roller Coaster Ride Cambodia

What a roller coaster ride Cambodia is turning out to be! We soak up the wonders of sublime ancient workmanship
Angkor Wat_W_W_S

and are on the receiving end of countless lively Khmer smiles- and almost simultaneously, we baulk at the horrors of recent history and at tales of desperate poverty and iron-fisted corruption…..

The temple cities of Angkor outshone any expectations we might have had. Words just don’t do them justice (at least mine don’t). M’s camera does a better job
M@Preah Khan

With a little cyber help from Amsterdam, of all places, and our trusty drivers, we often managed to avoid the notorious Angkor tour group swarms,  and almost had tomb-raidery Angkor Prohm

and rosy Banteay Srei

all to ourselves, for a magical morning hour or two.
It was so worth getting up in the dark and giving the mainstream circuits a drive-by look only
Sunrise Angkor Wat

just to spend some quiet time absorbing the touching vibrance of the thousand year old devatas, hidden in the jungle for so many centuries

Some roller coaster lows: The need for posters like this one
Don't sell your kids

displayed at the New Hope community center, (where we stopped by for a  look at the free clinic, and to deliver  the birthday spree  stuff). The poster basically implores parents not to sell their children…. Another nausea-inducing low- a choice of crushing facts about corruption in Cambodia, served up by Kantha Bopha’s Beat Richner, during his weekly Saturday evening cello concert
Beat Richner

Dr. Richner’s evergrowing network of free children’s hospitals, with a budget of more than forty million dollars a year, his uncompromising, persuasive personality and his incredible determination to save Cambodia’s children, make him the reluctant- but utterly convincing, number one champion of Cambodia’s youth today. How could we fail to “give all”?!

In general, national and international projects to “fight poverty” in Cambodia are a touchy subject with us. Too often have we heard about efforts that do more for their initiators than for the people they are supposed to help. Happily, some projects are legit, and a wonderful, a smashing, success, creating hopeful islands of learning and opportunity for Cambodian youngsters. One of them is Phare. Phare is much more than an enthralling circus performance by some of the most engaging and enthusiastic artists we’ve ever seen

Phare has its roots in Phare Ponleu Selpak, a Cambodian NGO, whose mission statement is “to provide a nurturing and creative environment where young people can access quality arts training, education and social support.”  Visit either if ever you can- Phare is currently touring the US, and the troupe we saw will be travelling to Europe next year…
Phare again

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