After school today, I was in the mood for a little alone time and asked the Globalteer tuk-tuk driver to take me out into the fields and small villages to catch sundown. The best time, besides early morning, to take photographs is between 5pm and 7pm, and it's a magnificent time of day in general as the light gets much softer, the air cooler and the humidity more relaxed. Kids leave school around that time, so there are flocks of children all over the streets and there is an overall feeling of excitement that the work day has ended.
With Balmorhea instrumental music in my ears, we set out onto a long dirt road surrounded by magnificent green fields of rice, palm trees, ponds and other greenery. The land is flat and the horizons are far, it makes for stunning visuals, but unfortunately those whose true beauty is impossible to catch on film. Besides children on bicycles and teenagers on motorbikes, there were cows, buffalo, families of chickens and dogs traveling the dirt road with us in search of food, water or maybe just a little play. In the rice fields, men and women were working the crops in the short distance, many times stopping to stare at us driving by.
We went through several poor villages which were mainly composed of small, straw homes, perched on top of wooden pillars, sometimes dangerously on only four, and many of the time were decomposing or slanting to one side. Dirty toddlers were running around naked. Older, shaved-headed women were sitting out on their porch contemplating life, men gathered around a game of football or cards in a café, children washing up or working, monks burning incense and praying at their shrines, others rocking back and forth in hammocks. There were many empty shacks where five or six hammocks were set up, possibly for some sort of co-habitation. Although I've been here a few weeks now and am almost completely used to the landscape and the people, there was something out of the ordinary about this one village - its energy was different, it felt much sadder.
As we entered into another field void of houses or people, the landscape and the music I was listening to became overwhelming and I actually started to tear up. What a beautiful country, with such amazing people, such gorgeous landscape, and yet such poor resources and little hope for a well deserved healthy lifestyle.
The tuk-tuk driver brought me to the base of a temple where there were filthy food stands selling barbecued snake or whole birds. These people were the least friendly I've come across so far. Most of them had these bitter, depressed, sometimes sick faces that really got to me. I couldn't take more than a few photos and urged the driver to take me somewhere else. The energy there was unnerving, I wanted out.
Overall, it was a wonderful ride, I was very happy to get to see another side of Siem Reap that I hadn't yet experienced and tomorrow the driver will be taking me to another area to visit. These little tuk-tuk rides alone around town have become my favorite activity.