Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Years: Where Else?

Just before the sun rose over Angkor Wat on the first day of 2007. 明けましておめでとう!今年もようりしくね!

It's only been a few days since I let the colorful cambodian capitol of Phnom Penh, its bustling streets overflowing with life, laughter, poverty, and hope, but the Khmer colored collage of city and countryside is still fresh in my mind. Painted in thick, textured strokes of dry, golden rice fields, shimmering swirls of warm sunlight, and the dark, midnight shaded sihouettes of tall, slender sugar palms against a radiant, ruby and clementine sky, I might as well have been sharing the view with Van Gogh.

I can still taste the restless, rust-colored clouds of dust that swallowed my mighty motodup and I, resurrected from dry, dirt roads by the occasional passover of a precariously packed pick up. Men, women, children, animals, furniture, some standing, some seated, some sitting on top of each other or other cargo, some hanging on for dear life, all smiling at me from beneath their colorful, checkered scarves as they passed. I can still hear the bubbling laughter of children jumping into ponds filled with blue skies and floating water lillies, with only drops of sparkling water covering their richly spiced, chai colored skin like fine, jeweled silks.

Billowing saffron robes draped with modest dignity over deeply bronzed skin dot the landscape of my memories, pausing beneath matching umbrellas to bless an almsgiver.

Shoeless children, with smudged faces and tattered clothing, carry bags too big for their small bodies, collecting whatever might fill the emptiness in their bellies or fetch a few hundred Riel. Heart-breakingly beautiful children, their knotted hair lightened by malnutrition, covered in scabs, bug bites, dirt, and little else, sleeping peacefully in the shallow shelter of a store front. Others stand as if under a spell, holding small bags to their mouth, filling their lungs with poison.

Cambodia.

Sometimes I just don't know what to say.

Perhaps I should start by finishing the last chapter in my travels there: Battambang.

1 comment:

Cherry said...

This has got to be one of my fave pics ever! Great composition and color.