The Mindful Journey…Angkor Wat

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Filmed by Erick Joseph & Janice Tenille on Canon 5D Mark II and 60D with Canon 17-40mm L lens.
Music – “The Dreaming Mind Part 1” by Quantic

It’s hard to describe how beautiful and inspiring Angkor Wat and the temple complex surrounding it really is. It’s also hard to put into words how incredibly packed with tourists this sacred destination gets during high season. Somehow, we managed to capture several vignettes in this video of the sites’ most popular temples – Bayon, Wat Phrom, and Angkor Wat – with no trace of tourists!

It was a blast to hop on the motorbike at the crack of dawn and head to the temples, when only locals were found setting up for the day. Dawn was the best time to explore, placing our hands and feet in direct contact with the ancient ruins which date back to the 11th century Khmer Empire that ruled a mass of Southeast Asia in what is now Thailand, Laos, part of Vietnam, and Cambodia. Angkor was also a beautiful place to practice sun-gazing, an ancient spiritual technique that connects the energy of the sun to the human spirit. In the video, Janice is gazing at the sunrise over one of the massive reservoirs built by the Khmer Empire.

We visited Angkor Wat towards the end of our journey to Cambodia. We ventured into every nook and cranny of the country, from Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri in the east, to Phnom Penh and Kratie in the South, to Battambang and Pailin in the west. It was our prerogative to go off the tourist path, and discover the real Cambodia. “Kampuchea” had us in a trance during the entire journey – the effects of a brutal history and corrupt regime currently in power have had their way with the land, and its people. Indeed, it is one of the most powerfully moving countries either of us has visited among 40+ countries around the world.

The first thing we noticed is the deforestation. Clear-cutting and slash-and-burn techniques have been used to wipe the land clean of its once beautiful forests, of which only 3% remains. The land is now dusty and dirty, and worn by overuse and monoculture that produces large sums of rubber trees and cassava. Currently, the government is selling what little resources it has left (the Mekong river is slated to be dammed) to China.

Despite all of this, we were incredibly inspired by Cambodia and its people. We met many young people who want freedom and want to create, become doctors, and professionals, just like anyone in the west.

We have titled this video “The Mindful Journey” because the inspiration to travel to a place like Cambodia is to have a positive effect in a place that has been hurt in so many ways. We’re not naive – many of the country’s troubles are way beyond any outsiders reach. But in fact, many incredible things are happening that are setting Cambodia on a path to heal. We wrote about several inspiring projects we visited, including the Elephant Valley Project and the Phare Ponleu Selpak Arts School and Circus. We encourage you to visit our blog, read the stories, and follow links to the projects’ fundraisers and donation funds, which help to conserve, educate, and empower the people of Cambodia. (theindependants.org)

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