Our day started early as we visited Holy Mountain and Wat Notor Temple. The day we visited happened to be a national holiday and the temple and the surrounding complex was filled with people offering rice and other food to the Buddhist monks. By offering food they believe that they are feeding the souls of their departed relatives which in turn provides them with good karma. In addition to the temple there are many statues of Buddha in a variety of positions including the sleeping Buddha. The complex was very near one of the 388 killing fields found in Cambodia after the end of the Pol Pot regime. A Stupa was erected there memorializing the souls of those found in that killing field.
In the afternoon we visited a village in the province of Kampong Cham. We toured the village to get an idea of how rural Cambodians spend their daily lives and how they work together to make a living as a community. One family allowed us into their home to see how they lived. The home consisted of a living room and a smaller storage room. Traditionally the homes are built on stilts with the living quarters upstairs. The animals and kitchen are both located on the ground floor. They construct the homes this way due to the potential for flooding during the rainy season.
We visited a home where they wove silk cloth and made utensils out of bamboo. Another family made sugar from palm trees. One of the families raised pigs and almost all families owned at least one or two heads of cattle or water buffalo. The more cattle they have the more prosperous they are. Most villages do not have electricity as they simply cannot afford it. The goal is to have electricity in all homes by 2015. There was one television that was powered by a car battery which was recharged each month. Meals are cooked each day on a wood fire.
We returned to the ship and enjoyed lunch as we sailed to Angkor Ban. The village of Angkor Ban was a short walk from the ship. Here we were treated to a Buddha blessing ceremony in the Khmer Pagoda. After taking off our shoes we entered the pagoda to watch the ceremony. It is important to remember that shoulders and knees must be covered to enter an active temple of pagoda. In the town were many boys training to become monks. Boys start training to become monks at the age of nine or ten. It is considered a rite of passage and once they achieve monkhood they are considered to be men.
After the Buddha blessing we went to the river to watch a village boat race. The town was crowded with spectators lining the banks of the river to see the races. We were lucky as the boat races only happen on holidays. The boats hold about twenty people all rowing for the big win!