Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Pagoda on top of the Killing Caves

In our first week in Battambang we were taken to the killing fields -- the site of thousands of murders by the Khmer Rouge. Many people were shoved from the top of the mountain to die on the rocks below. Sadistic guards would swing infants into the rock walls. Strong men were either hung or electrocuted.

On top of the mountain is a very old Wat (pagoda is the western word for it). How old? So old that it has throwbacks to its Hindu origens. See the blue statue with all the arms? That's not a Buddhist but a Hindu god in a Buddhist temple. As elsewhere in Asia, beliefs are very mixed together and adopted. Buddhists in cambodia are also strongly influenced by Chinese ancestor worship and tribal animism.

We all look at a gun leftover from the last ditch attempt by the Khmer Rouge to keep the conquering armies from crossing over from Thailand.