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Mark Odegard » 2008 » March

Cambodia – Angkor Wat

March 17, 2008 on 8:59 am | In Photos | No Comments

brothers

We took a little break from Bangkok, and flew up to Cambodia, a short 45 minute flight. We had to see Angkor Wat. This was the capital of the Khmer Empire for over 500 years, 800-1300AD. A million people lived here then, One of the great and remarkable civilizations of Asia. What makes this place so unusual is it contains the world’s largest concentration of religious monuments, over 60 square miles of religious temples and ruins, large deep moats, still with water, long narrow causeway’s in to these temple compounds. At the height of the Khmer civilization, they controlled all the way to the South China Sea, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and the Malay Peninsula. The temples were home to Hindu Gods Shiva and Vishnu, then later Buddhist kings added more elaborate architecture, some temples have both Buddhist and Hindu carvings. We both were moved by the jungle settings, the sacred feelings, the mysterious harmony, it’s surreal.

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Today Cambodia is trying to inch forward after the Pol Pot years. Those times eliminated the educated, the wise, and the motivated, then it eliminated the few who were still loyal to the Khmer regime, paranoia ruled supreme. It will be a long while before this country heals. There is a Peace and Reconciliation Museum being planned with some of the people I am working with at UNESCO. I hope to be involved in a small way.

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We loved the gentle open hearted people there, they have an elegance in the way they walk. The town of Siem Rep seems like a small village, compared to gritty Bangkok. We rented bikes and explored the town, small open air restaurants from the entire globe were represented. We ate Cambodia, and had the best meals of the whole trip so far. It was about 95 in the shade, we got to the ruins at 7am, the sun was already hot. Village ladies selling cut pineapples and cut up mangoes on the side of the road satisfied our thirst.

Mark

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Elephants in Bangkok

March 11, 2008 on 9:33 am | In Bangkok, Photos | No Comments

Brothers

My vote is in, I vote for a true Zazen 3+ day retreat at the SE tip of Minnesota at the Zen Retreat Center. It would be a inner challenge for us all, and a unique spiritual place for the Woollies to explore.

Tonight Eliz and I went to the Foreign Correspondence Club for a lecture on Elephants. There is a problem in the city of Bangkok with mahouts and their elephants. This city is not a place to raise an elephant; many traffic accidents, begging for food, the wrong kind of work and food. There is an organization that raises money, and buys the elephants off the streets, sometimes has to rent them, and moves them to the Golden Triangle in Northern Thailand, where Burma and Cambodia all meet. There they have a large area for these domesticated elephants to work. Once a year there is an Elephant polo match, sanctioned by the King of Thailand, sponsored by IBM, it’s all a bit strange. This isn’t conservation, they are not saving wild elephants, but domesticated city elephants, and they love to play polo, they understand the game, and chase the ball and help set up the shot. Humans seem so unusual sometimes.

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Long ago, Chinese ship came to Thailand, with tons of pottery in the hold has balllast. Often they arrived broken, this is a large temple complex made entirely of broken plates. It’s beautiful.
 
Mario

Challenges

March 8, 2008 on 9:25 am | In Bangkok | No Comments

Men,

Bangkok continues to challenge us on many levels. We spent 7 hours yesterday in lines trying to get our visa extended, hot, 100’s of people in small sweaty rooms, no air con, and I think we got a 7 day extension only, we want a 60 day. So we need to leave the country next week and come back in to get 30 more days. There is a system here of doing things, we just don’t know what it is.
Last Thursday, I gave another presentation to this exhibit committee, mostly Thai women in their 30s, representing UNESCO and the Museum, and one other westerner like me. I have a large video screen behind me with my designs. I showed a panel about masturbation facts, normal for teens all over the world, both sexes.I am up for this challenge, my designs look good.  This is an exhibit on safe sex, and sex education for teens. What proceeded was an hour long talk in two languages about how this translates into the Thai language, and just what is appropriate in Thailand. They know there is a mandate from both institutions to design this exhibit on sex education for teens.
One person wasn’t sure this was common all over the world. One person wanted to show these designs to the Minister of Education to sign off before we go farther. Maybe we can’t talk about sex in this sexual education exhibit. There may be a language gap here. I am realizing why there is no sex education in the schools now. The meeting ended, I hadn’t got to my other panels yet, on gender or sexual abuse, or dating, condoms, HIV, or the beauty of love and touching. There is a Thai system of doing things, I am still finding my way. I left the meeting very confused, and mellowed out with a jack daniels on our balcony over looking this hazy city.

Mario

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