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On Thursday, I was crouched trying to find perfect stillness to photograph a timid lizard, and a praying mantis leapt onto me. Ed remarked on how lucky that's supposed to be...

Yesterday, I snapped 70 of the pictures I uploaded today.
I "met" a wild gibbon- well, we were very close and I'm sure he was posing.



What finally brought me to tears was at Wat Nokor... a modern shrine within an ancient temple. The grounds are littered with tombs and nestled within, a large emaciated Buddha keeps a pile of over 1000 skulls, unceremoniously.



A policeman pressed a $4 bribe from us, but we do not argue.

A young girl comes running toward us, stopping short as she nearly collides with a fast-moving motorbike, and asks with exhiliaration in perfect English, "Would you like to see our dancing?" Seconds later, it is clear this is the extent of her English.
We sat in plastic chairs, a crowd of about thirty were animated and seemed thrilled to have us there, as we were the only audience. Someone gave Ed a brochure, and the music started. The girl who'd invited us over stood in the middle of the tarp dance floor. I was spellbound, entirely, for the next two hours, tears streaming down my face. It was transcendentally beautiful. (My photos of the dancing are no good.)

The Buddhism and Society Development Association is an NGO (non-government organization, non-profit) started by monks in 2005 to protect and promote what is left of traditional Khmer arts culture, which has been all but completely destroyed. The children who danced for us are HIV/AIDS orphans, human trafficking runaways, and street children who've been taken in and are being trained in indigenous arts. I am so incredibly moved. My heart heaves and my eyes swell every time I let myself fully consider what I saw, what they're doing, what it means.

I feel like I've found something I'd been searching for.
We gave them $5 and it meant so much to all of us.
I really want to pour here.



Half the population of Cambodia are under 18. Those whom the Khmer Rouge did not execute merely for possesing the keys to Khmer culture are few and aging.
This particular effort seems especially precious and urgent.

We're going again tomorrow (I hope).

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droomoord

September 2009

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