Monday, April 16, 2007

Tel, my remote temple guide

This is Tel (and yours truly) after our chicken and rice lunch in a quiet shaded area next to a large baray in the remote Preah Vihear province countryside. It was just after noon on a hot January day and we'd had a well-earned rest after fighting our way through a bamboo thicket and tough undergrowth to uncover yet another very remote temple, namely Prasat Chean Sram. I'd met Tel when I entered his village, Prey Veng, a couple of hours earlier. He was playing volleyball and I needed a guide to visit the nearby temple. He asked if I could wait until they'd finished the game...which made me smile. While I waited I played volleyball with the young women, which was far less strenuous, and more my standard. Later, as we ate our lunch accompanied by bird-song, Tel told me about his ten years in the rank and file of the Khmer Rouge. He was just thirteen when he joined the guerrillas, he's 40 now, and he had no choice but to say yes, like all of his friends. Nowadays, he makes a little money from harvesting resin oil from gum trees, but its a pittance really. I enjoyed his company and 'his' tenth century temple was the best I'd seen for quite some time - it has some beautifully carved lintels on its gopuras and five brick towers and is in good condition - and if you find yourself in that neck of the woods - though he's only ever met one foreigner before - look him up.

No comments: