Now that I somewhat knew the history of the Wat Preah Prom Rath temple and Reclining Buddha which lies within, I felt encouraged to enjoy the grounds of the temple and photograph surrounding decoration. Replica of the ship on which Preah Ang Chang-han Hoy was sailing when it was cut in half by a shark is outside along with statue of the monk carrying a bowl for food. Cannons from the times of warlord Dap Chhoun are out there too. Garden is nicely trimmed and maintained and lots of other, smaller items are randomly scattered around the Wat Preah Prom Rath temple.
One especially impressive part were the architectural monuments of (to me) unknown purpose. I had no idea what they were, but these were structures of various sizes which grow up high into a spike in a pyramid like fashion. They all bear Oriental, rather than Egyptian influence and are found throughout the temple grounds. One big one is right next to the temple, several smaller ones of various sizes and splendour are around it.
It was when I went to photograph this large piece when someone yelled at me: “What are you doing there?” – this scared the living poop out of me. Not literally, but I thought it would have been a question of time before I offend somebody by me presence at holy Buddhist ground. This momet as it seemed had just arrived.
I have half smiling, half sorry answered that I just wanted to take a picture and backed off of the monument. The boy who yelled at me give off wide beaming smile suggesting that he was just kidding
which made me feel a little easier, but still a bit tense as I truly didn’t know what is right and what is wrong at temple grounds.
I shut my camera down, put it in a bag and went to talk to him to hopefully explain that I didn’t mean no harm, I just didn’t know what the right thing to do was. It was unnecessary. He asked me where I was from and the conversation went from there. Turned out that photographing temple compounds is perfectly fine and as I have later learned, Khmer people are excessively tolerant of tourists, even if they offend their holy grounds. The debate with this young boy went on. Either way, I was soaked in sweat already and needed a break from the heat and this gave me good excuse. Putting the camera down and going to take a seat at one of many benches was a relief. Little did I know at the time that talking to this young man will lead me to the most exciting experience ever. I went to teach monks English at upcoming class right there at the Wat Preah Prom Rath temple.