On day 2 in Phnom Penh, we had a tuk tuk take us outside the city and away from the tourist areas. We stopped at a few temples along the way, and I was impressed by the artistry of them. I’m generally impressed by any sort of painted ceiling, so I spent some time staring up at this one.
I haven’t studied a ton about world religions, but one common thread I see is the way that we try to understand the world through art. I’ve seen countless museums full of renaissance paintings of Jesus and angels and other biblical figures. We see statues depicting figures from various mythologies. A quote comes to mind: Ceci n’est pas une pipe.
Translated into English: “This is not a pipe.” Of course it’s a pipe! you may say. But it’s not a pipe. It’s a picture of a pipe.
I think about this a lot in the context of religious art. A picture of a deity is of course, not a deity, but it may help us to visualize and understand our belief system, right? At what point does art become idolatry? These questions are all constantly floating through my mind.
Anyway, some of the structures were not well maintained. Others were. I’m not sure how old any of these places were, because there was nobody guiding us around or telling us information, but it was kind of nice to just be there in the midst of it all.
Next, we moved onto textiles. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s a place where people make and sell things made of silk.
We started by trying our hand on the spinning wheel.
We moved onto watching these skilled women make intricately designed scarves on the loom.
We got the hang of a super simple pattern .
And we met some silkworms and learned a little about their life cycle.
We hung around long enough to browse the wares, and before we left, we were offered some fruit and water. We met a family and their friend who was visiting. The friend is actually from Richmond, Virginia, so it felt like a small world, since Thomas is from the Richmond area. The world got a little smaller still when we learned that they all lived in Shenzhen (where we now live) before moving elsewhere in Asia.
After we left, Thomas and I finished our day at a restaurant on the river. We ate family style and didn’t necessarily love the food, but it was worth it anyway.
The next morning, we left our Airbnb at 4 am and headed to Siem Reap!