Terrace of the Leper King

‘Built in the Bayon style under Jayavarman VII,’ the Terrace of the Leper King is located northwest of Angkor Wat’s Royal Square. The name, they say, is derived from a 15th century statue discovered on the site.  I do not remember seeing such statue.  If it still exists then I missed it.  Next time I will do more than just snap pictures – pay enough attention to a guide to ask if something (I should have seen) was available for viewing.

Why Leper King?

The statue was called the “Leper King” because discoloration and moss growing on it was reminiscent of a person with leprosy, and also because it fit in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king Yasovarman I who had leprosy. The name that the Cambodians know him by, however, is Dharmaraja, as this is what was etched at the bottom of the original statue. (Wikipedia)

Rows of statues behind the terrace are arranged like a little maze. Quiet. Eerily peaceful. Free from the scorching sun. The stone sculptures exhale oxygen moisturizing human skin. I spent more time wandering here than in any other part of the largest religious monument in the world.

The first association I know of leper or leprosy is that of the Bible.  Miss Chiu, our second grade teacher would exclaim, ‘unclean! unclean!’ to explain to us eight year-olds that that was what lepers would shout to warn people of them.  Today as I read around I realize that leprosy seems scarier than cancer or AIDS. But these lepers probably did not have to shout unclean…

1 John Early – soldier / USA (nation’s most famous leper)
2 Otani Yoshitsugu – lieutenant / Japan (…unification of Japan)
3 Nguyen Trong Tri – poet / Vietnam (lovers and crazy poetry)
4 Baldwin IV of Jerusalem – king / Israel (when you’re a rich leper)
5 Damien of Molokai – priest / Belgium, Hawaii (voluntary leper)
6 Alice of Schaerbeek – laysister / Belgium (hagiography bull****)
7 Miriam – prophetess / Israel (why was she punished so harshly?)
8 Joab – army commander / Israel (cursed for avenging someone)
9 Moses – (adopted) Egyptian prince (momentary leprosy)
10 Simon – meal host in Bethany (hair and perfume commotion)
11 Uzziah – king / Judah (if the incense is not your job…)
12 Naaman – army commander / Syria (go wash in the river)
13 Gehazi – servant / Israel (when you misuse your authority)

ABC Wednesday  /  Thursday Thirteen

More sense, more sensibility

When I asked CJ a few hours ago on the phone what was he doing, he said, “I want to eat lollipop.”  The rest of his replies gave me ideas for our summer plans.

Helicopter tour
I was ready to take a helicopter tour over Cambodia’s Angkor Wat recently but glad I didn’t because I wasn’t exactly interested in flying without CJ so for this summer I plan to re-plan the whole thing instead.

Jollibee birthday party
After Disneyland for CJ’s birthday last year, and a submarine ride the birthday before that, I want something he has never experienced before and that is a Jollibee party.  I am probably more excited than he is.

School and extra-curricular lessons
CJ’s psychologist recommended a school so I’m going to check it out.  Art, music and swimming are up on the list too.

Candlelight dinner
I want to date CJ in either East Asia Royale Hotel or Paseo del Sol before I fly back to Bangkok.  A lot of other interesting places came up on my search so these two are tentative, but I hope I can find one that will suit us best.

Read books
It is a family tradition but I want to read to CJ this time with more sense and sensibility (Jane Austen addict here :)).  Strickland Gillilan’s poem will be my summer reading motivation:

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.

This post is linked with Mommy Moments

From the fields

Host Susanne at Living to Tell the Story describes Friday’s Fave Five as “time to take a look over our week, recall blessings great and small and pick our five favorites to share.”

The company of a friend. Being alone makes me extra grateful for exactly that. It is not nice to meet the new year or any other important celebration all by oneself. I am glad I had someone who happens to be in the same circumstances as I do – single, no immediate family nearby.  We splurged on fine dining, 5-star entertainment and a weekend getaway to a quiet beach resort over the new year.

“Take lots of liquid.”  It is one statement that would have meant nothing if I saw or heard it from where ever while struggling with a cold.  But it came from someone who has become special to me these past weeks.  I would not exchange this little show of caring for all the luxury moments I had at Grand Hyatt, Intercontinental and Hilton last weekend.

Angkor Wat. The world’s largest religious site is virtually right down my backyard. For 13 years it seemed like I took the close proximity for granted because although I always wanted to visit, I never had the company, and I am not adventurous enough to go alone. Finally last week, friends organized a trip there with former professors.  I had mixed feelings observing good, old teachers take the ‘back stage and this time, let former students dominate the talking‘ during the travel.

Forgetting an envelope with leftover cash from my Hong Kong trip.  The time was perfect to have remembered it contained wads of US dollar bills to pay for the Cambodia trip.

Learning. We proceeded to Phnom Penh after the awe and grandeur of Angkor to see the Killing Fields.  Khmer Rouge stunned me to the bones and gave me second thoughts on visiting Germany’s Dachau camp one of these days. But I am grateful to learn that there ought to be more compassion for the living and respect for the memory of those who wanted to live but did not have the chance.

Tourists waiting to meet sunrise at Angkor

Getting away

At Tea Talk we share how we are feeling and what we are thinking. Join us with host Ruth at Celebrate Friendship

I’m having oolong orange tea in a white ceramic cup.

I’m feeling excited, hurried, my heart gripped. Early this morning I made an abrupt decision to see UNESCO Heritage site Angkor Wat on Sunday. That means going to the immigration department to get a re-entry permit which I did today. I’m going out again for unfinished shopping after posting this. Now did I just imply being heartbroken? Truth be told I seldom admit a heartbreak. If things don’t get sorted I could end up mourning in the next few weeks. I hope this quick trip will help numb the impact of an impending blow.

On my mind are travel details. FCC Angkor Hotel, which I fancy because Angelina Jolie stayed there while filming Tomb Raider, is fully booked until January 15th. I won’t be surprised if I end up in some guesthouse without a cyber presence. But I really do not mind that. I just want to get out of Bangkok for a few days and try to forget that I am facing a heartbreak. Wish me luck.

There are more or less fifty hours til Cambodia.  In the midst of work and a company party tomorrow, I might be able to have enough research to get me through this getaway.  Here’s something short but loaded:

“A lady should be modest”
Hilary to Lara Croft, Tomb Raider