Some Family History


The picture with today’s post is of a rubbing from Angkor Wat.  Angkor Wat was a temple complex, actually a whole city that was sort of  lost in the jungle and is thought to be the capitol of the twelfth century Khmer civilization, now in modern day Cambodia.  When we were stationed on Guam in the fifties, my mother, traveled to Cambodia.  While there she visited Angkor Wat.  While there she paid a Cambodian to make this rubbing of one of the relief walls.  The rubbing was made with charcoal on tissue paper.  It features ancient Khmer warriors.  The value of this rubbing was subsequently enhanced by the Khmer Rouge.  Their murderous war involved major damage to Angkor Wat.  This tissue paper rubbing might be all that remains of this portion of the temple.

Contemporary with my mother’s trip, the family did a tour of south Asia.  We visited Manila, Saigon, Bangkok and Delhi.  There might have been more stops, but I don’t remember them.  Manila was just an overnight stop and I don’t think that we ever left the base.  Saigon was just a refueling stop and I don’t think we ever left the plane.  At least I can say I’ve been to Vietnam.  I didn’t serve, I was too young.

Bangkok was our real first tourist stop.  I remember two things from Bangkok.  First, Chris and I playing hide and go seek behind the pillars of an ancient Buddhist temple.  The second thing that I remember are the klongs (canals) of Bangkok.  Through the prism of a child’s mind, I remember them as a Disney Jungle Boat ride.  The layout and proportions of the tour boat must have been similar.  The scenery was not.  Instead of animatronic wild animals, we saw abject poverty.  I saw people drinking from the same klong that other people were eliminating into.  My parents, forever after, with special potency, played the starving children in Asia card.  I still wouldn’t eat my vegetables, but I had eye locked with a child that gladly would. 

We flew on to India, which made a great impression on us all.  For example, my mother who had not gone to a movie theater in at least ten years, went to see Slumdog Millionare, this year.  I still remember dining and falling asleep at the  dinner table in the Raj’s Grand Hotel.  I remember cobras, mongooses, vultures and the like.  I remember the Taj Mahal.  But that is all for another story, for another time.

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