Friday, July 19, 2013

Ups and downs in Cambodia - Climbing to hill-top temples

It's only our fourth day in Cambodia, and we've already climbed 3 hills to reach the temples on their tops. The children have fun climbing the high stairways and we enjoy the beautiful views from the summit.

- Phnom Sambok , near Kratie

- Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros, near Kampong Cham, names that translate into "hill of the women" and "hill of the men".

There is a legend attached to the sites, which I told my children. I copied it from the following website: 

"In ancient times, there was a queen named Srei Ayuthiya. Since no man could propose to such a beautiful, noble woman, she decided to choose the man of her own preference for her husband. After that, it became the custom in the country that a woman proposed to a man.

Some women, especially those who were not so appealing, were very unhappy with this arrangement and wanted to change the custom. One day, the women thought up a trick to make the men come to propose to them again. All the women gathered for a meeting. At that time, the women employed their trick. They dared the men for a contest.If the men won this competition, all would remain the same and women would have to continue asking the hand of the men, while if the women won, the men would have to ask the hand of the women. Work on the mountain must continue until the morning star rose, and then they could stop.

The men believed it would be easy to win this contest, because they were much stronger and could carry more earth, so they accepted the contest. Both started working hard, digging the earth to build the mountain, and the men were clearly winning the competition.In the middle of the night, while the men took a rest, the women hung a lantern way up in a tall tree. The men, seeing the light of the lantern, thought that it was the morning star and went to sleep, convinced they had won. But the women continued constructing their mountain. When the daylight arrived, their mountain was higher that the one from the men. They woke up the men and showed them the morning star."