14 July 2018

Seeing A Thousand Faces Of Buddha

Bike shops need a lot of space.  At least, that's what the prevailing wisdom says.  Many shops in cities like New York have gone out of business or moved because they couldn't afford or find the amount of space they needed.

So, folks in the bike business pride themselves on their creative use of space.  Most of them, though, have nothing on this shop I passed yesterday:

The place is located in a stall along one the main streets--National Highway Number 6--in the town where I woke up yesterday morning.  In a way, Route 6 is a bit like US 1 on the East Coast of the US:  It passes through a number of cities and towns, and takes on different street names.  Some of those streets are, or were, the main commercial strips of their communities.

And so it is here.  That shop is in a stall nestled among others selling everything from fried chicken to cell phones.  One of them is even a mini-bank, complete with a currency exchange.

All right.  So now you know I'm not in the USA.  The funny thing is, when I arrived, I exchanged some greenbacks for the local money but I didn't need to.

No, I am not in a Mexican border town.  In fact, I'm not anywhere in the Americas

or, as you've probably gathered by now, in Europe.  I haven't done any bike riding yet, but I have been transported by someone else on two wheels.  And I was riding on two.

I was brought to the museum by a tuk-tuk driver.  A tuk-tuk is an inimitable form of transportation that provides natural air conditioning but absolutely no cushioning from bumpy roads, which are the majority of byways in this place. Think of a pedicab towed by a motorcycle.

The Museum provides, among other things, detailed information about the history and formation of this area's most famous landmark--one that's been called the "eighth wonder of the world."  It also has exhibits of the people's history, culture and religions, all in halls arranged around a lily pool.

Now if that all doesn't scream "Southeast Asia," I don't know what does.  I am indeed in the heart of it:  Siem Reap, Cambodia.  In the coming days, I will be visiting the landmark--Angkor Wat--as part of a bicycle tour.  I'm sure it won't be my only visit there.  But I'm glad i took the advice of a young woman at the guest house and went to the museum--the Angkor National Museum--first.

This room contains "1000 Faces of Buddha"

I "went native", sort of:  I had noodle soup and a small fruit salad (actually, a few slices of banana and jackfruit) for breakfast.  The  guest house offered that, as well as the "continental breakfast" served by seemingly every other hotel in the world.  The soup actually tasted fresh and succulent with chunks of chicken, broccoli and other vegetables.  I could make a habit of starting my days with it!

Hmm...Might I develop other new habits in this place?

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