Photo essays are posted with each photo at my 365 blog here!
Photo essays are posted with each photo at my 365 blog here!
With this image and post I come to a close with the month fo May and the journey into the Kingdom of Cambodia, a journey filled with smiles, seriousness, inspiration, happiness and a very sad recent history. I hope I was able to pass along just how wonderful that part of the world is, how much great work is going on there for the benefit of the children and how incredibly impressive the Khmer monuments and temples of days gone are.
Till next, a new journey begins…
I do have a passion about diving into the records of the past. The wealth of impressions in historical artifacts is too great to ignore, it is awe-inspiring, magnificent and a perfect playground for mystery dreaming.
Why did the ancients record important events so meticulously on reliefs, on temple walls, on pyramids, on tombs, on cave walls, on rocks, on cathedrals and on anything that seemed durable and fit to last a very long time. Did they have a significant message to pass on to future generations? Was the information so important that they found it necessary to assign skilled artists to work on the recording of it for years and years?
And if this is the case, isn’t it frightening that whatever we have to say today, we are recording digitally and virtually? Wouldn’t it be disastrous if all modern digital media were to fail setting us back years with nothing to physical to hang on to? I mean if all the digital manuals were to be lost, how would we explain the design of an airplane, a computer or a microwave to a future generation?
Just some thoughts on a quiet Sunday morning in Shanghai…
Nature always finds a way to erode away human traces on its surfaces around the planet. In the temples of Angkor Wat, like in this old one in Ta Prohm, nature’s ways are not very subtle. The magnificent banyan trees just march over the great temples with their large trunks and extend their roots to wrap them around the great rocks and squeeze them till they simply fall apart under the intense pressure. And no matter how many times humans try to cut the trees and free the ruins, the trees just keep coming back. Such are the mysterious ways of the jungle temples of Cambodia. In these places you don’t have to squint or extend your arms to try and feel any energies or vibrations of mystery, because it all stares you straight in the face and if you stand there long enough, it just might warp you in its powerful grip.
The Bayon, an exquisite temple of great significance. Constructed in the 12th century to face exactly east and roads lead to it directly from the gates at each of the city’s cardinal points, this Buddhist shrine still vibrates with accumulated potency. I visited it a little before sunrise and found myself alone safe for the monks that never stop praying on the grounds of the beautiful temple. Carved with great detail and attention, adorned with many stone faces, built on many intricate levels, this place is haunting and shrouded with mystery.
No matter how prepared you are when visiting Cambodia and despite all the photos you may have seen, meeting the stone buddha heads and faces in the jungles of Siem Reap can be an astounding experience. There is a great serenity in those faces, a wonderful calm even with the sense of eeriness, and they raise hundreds of questions in the mind of any visitor.
Even when the temples are in a state of ruin and natural erosion and deterioration, Siem Reap is visited by thousands of monks who continue to pay homage in this historical place. Something religious is very alive and well in Cambodia and it is quite difficult to miss.
Upon meeting the Khmer temples of Cambodia for the first time and walking between their columns and galleries, I felt as though time had become elastic, no longer confined to my usual linear perception of it…
Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple in the world, now a Buddhist temple, still in use religiously, haunting with its beauty, strange with its sense of mystery, is a sight to behold. The sense of majesty of this temple points to a religious dedication and an elaborate vision that is so unique. It was always a dream of mine to visit Cambodia and stand where I finally stood to take this photograph, and the experience was even more impressive than I could imagine all those years.
A friend told me recently that when they see photos of children from countries like Cambodia, they cannot help but see the difference between their eyes and the eyes of western raised children.
This is so true. And what is it about eyes? They are the first thing we meet normally in a person, the first thing we seek to connect to when we want to know someone. They seem to be a doorway or gateway of some kind.
Love needs the eyes to pass its messages. Most of us remember getting chills when we looked into the eyes of someone we loved for the first time and held their gaze. We often say we felt something pass between our eyes and our loved one’s eyes.
The eyes hold power and can transfer that power to another person quite easily. They can do what the voice cannot. Their message is deeper and much more subtle.
You can tell so much about a person from the way their eyes “act”. If you watch the show “lie to me”, you may be fascinated by the stories eyes can reveal. Eyes that shy away from yours, eyes that stare you down with determination, shifty eyes, blinking eyes, eyes that don’t blink, piercing eyes, shallow eyes…
And yes, there is a huge difference between the look and power in the eyes of the children I met in Cambodia or in Congo and the eyes of our western children. The stories this girl’s eyes told me went soul deep and were desperate to be told. Eyes that saw too much and want to tell it because it is just too much to bear.
This is a little girl that has to sell to survive, has to learn a few words of English to be able to communicate with the strange “rich” tourists, hoping to charm them into buying so she and her parents can have rice for the week. Her play time is cut short. Her innocence is hijacked. Of course her eyes are not the same. How could they be?