Everything so far has been exciting and different, I’m not always sure what to tell you about: so if anyone is particularly interested in something let me know.
Today I thought I would write a little about the Pagodas or Wats around town.
Firstly there are a lot! In town, around town, out in the middle of nowhere, on mountain tops, or set far off the road in the middle of nowhere; and they are all very different. Some are a jumble of different buildings and styles. As well as the main wat, they have tombs for the dead and living quarters for the very much alive; some are palatial, some are modest. I’m particularly fond of the detail on the roof lines and love the way they look.
They are important hubs for the many events that take place. For example during Khmer New Year, depending on the Pagoda, they were either a place to worship, and people came in droves, to sit in a ‘prayer group’ or pay their respects. In person or in cash (or both). Or a place to party, some pagoda grounds had fair ground rides, food and music (and of course the obligatory water fight).
All year round they are a place of sanctuary and I understand that some families drop off cats and dogs they are unable to care for; and sadly sometimes children too. But whomever or whatever is there, is well looked after and part of the pagoda family.
Every morning we wake to the sounds of one of the Pagodas, I can’t seem to fathom a pattern so I don’t know what it all means. Some days we awake to the plonky plonk sound of music (I like this one best), or the low rhythmic chanting (which reminds me a bit of a maori karakia, all said in a single breath), or other days a sermon or speech which reminds us of race horse commentary. All of these projected loud (very loud) and clear through a speaker system.
I walk through our local pagoda daily and there is always a hive of activity, cooking, cleaning, gardening, burning rubbish (which is horrible and happens everywhere, often containing plastic), or sitting around chatting and laughing. There is a lovely old guy who has obviously seen Lee and I on the tandem, he always smiles and laughs and makes a bicycling motion when he sees me.
Our Sunday bike rides are generally out to a pagoda, usually with several stops at smaller ones on the way, for a break. One of the benefits of living in a place, rather than visiting is seeing things out of town. Most of my traveling to date has seen me explore cities and towns and not much beyond. So exploring the surrounds has been an added bonus of living here in Battambang. Each pagoda site, varies in shape, size and number of buildings attached. Some have ancient ruins or memorials to the tragedies during the Khmer Rouge regime.
The one we visited last weekend was amazing. I felt beautiful and peaceful and clearly there had been a lot of money pumped in. The pagoda was held up by large beautiful hands, and contained several Buddha statues, including one with hair!
There are of course many other places to worship, such as mosques and churches, and Lee’s personal favourite the Bambu bar………….