The following day after our visit to Angkor Wat, Mr. Mee drove us on our tuk-tuk and hour and a half from Siam Reap. I don’t think I realized how poor Cambodia was until we headed out of the city into the country. We drove by people harvesting rice fields, yaks pulling wooden carts of hay, and kids riding their bikes on dirt roads waving at us as we drove by. Home were built on stilts (stilt homes) are primarily built as protection against flooding, but also they keep out vermin. From the tops of these homes you can see young children playing. Even with all of the poverty, the Cambodian people are the most friendly people that I have met. I can’t tell you how many smiles and waves that we received while traveling through the back country.
The wats themselves are hidden away in the rain forest and not that well known. They have been cleared out, but nature is taking back her backyard. Thick banyan trees have started growing through the temples and beautifully melds nature with man. These temples are the same age as Angkor Wat, about the 11th century. To this day there are warning of landmines near the temple site that has yet to be found. It is with great precaution that you stay on site and do not wander off.
After our tour of Beng Mealea, we crossed the street to our tuk-tuk as Mr. Mee was patiently waiting, where a school was located. This school also served as an orphanage between children of six years of age to twelve years of age. Right away we bonded with them. Sky jumped roped with the children, then we went to talk with the teachers. One was a German girl volunteering to teach English. The other man seemed to be our age and a previous orphan himself. He now owns a farms and works at the school. Sadly, we found out shortly after we came home that the school was closed down because of corrupt government influence.