Field Trip 25.06.2017
More than 2500 years ago Buddha said: “Attachment is the root of all suffering.” Although the Cambodians I got to know do understandably not respect all the Buddhist rules you still feel the influence of this religion in the daily life of the people. There is a fundamental satisfaction even though their material possession is quite limited. This is why it felt natural to me to choose Buddhism as the topic for our first field trip. Since my own class and the one of Phil were equally sold on this from the get go, it was easy to find two fitting destinations: The Piemokul and the Jet Ta Pun Pagoda. To dive easily into the topic, a few students did some presentations about Buddhism in general, Buddhist rituals in their family and the Buddhist temple before we got going.
With a cosy “Cambodian delay” we started our trip by bicycle and motorbike to our first destination, the Piemokul Pagoda. It is located in the neighbouring village Rokakong that we almost visit every day for a little shopping on the market. With bright eyes the students informed us about the code of conduct at this place while we listened carefully. Boat-festivals on the Mekong, dragons, elephants and horses, the life of Siddharta, the monks and the ritual of praying. All in all a very interesting experience, since the locality and rules significantly differ from Christianity, the religion that has influenced me the most so far.
After this we continued our trip at the Jeat Ta Pun Pagoda, also known as the “Fish Pagoda”, because there is a big pond with a lot of enormous fish inside right in the middle of the temple. But they are not meant to be eaten. The monks carefully look after these holy fish because they represent peace and freedom. For the students this is a very important location. They often come to visit the place in hours of sadness in order to seek new strength. For me this immediately became evident as feeding the fish isn’t just a lot of fun but also calms you down.
Since the students really enjoyed explaining their religion to us, we spontaneously visited a third place: The Jerng Chhnok Mountain in the adjacent commune. In reality, this is not really a huge mountain but rather a small hill. But due to the flat landscape it kind of sticks out of its surroundings and presents the visitor with a wide and beautiful view. Small villages with temples, green rice fields and even Phnom Penh was visible in the background. The students also visit this place regularly. Not only to relish the view and take some selfies but also to pray in the little temple on the top of the hill.
Happy, satisfied and enriched we finished the trip with a typical Khmer lunch. Noodles, pork, egg and hot sauce. The comfortable ending of a fantastic day. Our next field trip will come soon. Hopefully.