Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Butterflies to Street Children ~ Siem Reap, Cambodia

Hey guys!

Just got back from my break in Cambodia just to find out that my IE was behaving in a less-than-satisfactory manner so I do apologize for the lack of pictures and/or updates that I havep romised you from last week! Anyway now that the matter is behind us, the trip to Cambodia was fairly ordinary as trips go I think. I visited more than my fair share of temples while I was there and I must say the architecture of the ancient civilizations never fail to amaze me!

At the famous Angkor Wat
I even managed to keep up - to the amusement of many passerbys - with my sketching! All you need really is a pointy object and some sand
A little stroke here...a line there....

And voila!!! ELEPHANT!!!!
But of course we shall not forget the main event of my visit and that is to observe some of the wonderful wildlife that thrive in the lush and humid tropical forests of Cambodia! Of butterflies, I was not short of and they delighted by fluttering around the temple ruins in temperatures that were enough to make this lepidopterist swoon and sweat profusely!

Malay Lacewing butterfly (Cethosia Biblis)
Gray Pansy Butterfly (Junonia Atlites)
Unidentified Lycaenid Butterfly
Unidentified butterfly
Another insect I noticed a lot amongst the temple ruins were dragonflies! Strange really that they would take to hanging around sweltering rock and flowering weeds when most dragonflies require some sort of body of water to breed but perhaps, they were feeding on the smaller butterflies there though I can't be sure since I never saw it happening throughout.
Small green dragonflies, like this one were especially abundant despite the lack of any water source nearby
And curiously enough... so were their larval casings! Could it be that they crawl so far from their watery homes to eclose?
Of crickets and grasshoppers I too saw my fair few although, they were often more easily heard, their mating calls resounding in the humid tropical air, than seen.

One of my favourite insect-shots from the trip. A grasshopper carefully camoflauged with his surroundings.
And this cricket, attracted to the lights from a petrol station department store
But of course, Cambodia was a lot more than the little inhabitants that buzz, crawled, hopped or fluttered...

Like this bagworm, for example...
...and a large cluster of what i suspect might be...Snail Eggs (if anybody knows otherwise, please correct my error)
No, more than just its wildlife, Cambodia was also a melting pot of colours, sights, sounds and smells! Indeed I would say that I have learnt more about Hindu and Buddhist myth from my short stay there from my long hours of pouring over books and wikipedia articles on many Hindu lore. One of the more memorable trips though was my soujourn into the "Old Market" which, I had been told, was a lot less "touristy" than the Night Market. Well, in that regard, it lived up to its word.
Animal entrails and cured meat adding to the colour, and certainly the odour of the Old Market.
But perhaps, the thing about Cambodia that most endeared me so was the state of poverty and underdevelopment most of its people lived in and while the latter is not always a bad thing, the sight of hundreds upon hundreds of street children working their little fingers ot the bone to eke out a living was enough to make my heart tear.

Coming from a country where 60% of the population consists of youths below the age of 18, it is perhaps not difficult to see why so many of these children are forced to find a living for themselves! But if only monetary lack were the bulk of their problems. Many diseases,  such as Malaria and Denggue fever are apparently rampant in the region and many families, being unable to support themselves as it is are unable to treat the children resulting in even more deaths.

Fortunately enough, as of late a hospital had been set up in Siem Reap by a kind Frenchman, offering free treatment for all children in the region. Indeed, every Saturday, concerts are held in the name of the children at the hospital to provide tourists and other people an opportunity to get to know the situation of these childre and offer what help they can. This, for me was the most moving part of my visit there. It seemed to provide final proof for me that although the world is a big place, and one man can only do so much...sometimes that can be enough to make a very big difference.  

Up next, my journey through the more exotic delicacies of Cambodia! Snake and Scorpion Wine? Deep Fried tarantulas? Its all going down, literally!


Glo-w~* said...

Wow, you are quite the globe trotter/artist aren't you? Isn't it interesting to find such treasure no matter where if you just look a little closer. Thank you for dropping by and I do admire your passion for such beautiful creatures.

Cyren said...

Hahahaha thanks! I do enjoy travelling (where possible) and I do enjoy art and I must agree, one of the things about blogging is that you usually do so with a purpose and those end up developing an eye for the unique and interesting aspects of everyday existence.

Jong said...

Yes. That's a snail egg. An apple snail egg i guess....

Great post and nice elephant you drew.