Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where Old and New Collide

It is not unusual to see chickens running about on a side street or a person pushing a wooden hand cart while just around the corner is a shop selling the latest tvs or motos. Saffron clad monks sit in internet cafes or zip thru the streets on the back of a moto. This is the place where old east and new west collide in spectacular fashion. It is almost impossible to capture this phenomenon in photographs for in the very moment you see it it is gone. The chickens duck into open air buildings, the motos zoom past or giant beer trucks obstruct your view of the old man selling mangos and bananas from his wooden cart. I've said it once but it is still true; sensory overload is my current state. It would take years to absorb every sight. However, the smells seem to arrive all at once! As breathtaking and amazing these last few weeks have been I have come to realize that the amount of environmental destruction is equally breath taking. Deforestation, litter, pollution, chemical run off into the rivers; you name it and it is here. In one snap shot you have mountains, streams, and piles of ripe rubbish. People have no descreation in dumping their trash. They pile it next to homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and they do not seem to mind the pungent smell as it bakes in the sun. They sit eating their meals and their kids run about the mess in barefeet. It is amazing and terrible all in the same moment. Despite this I am still in love with Cambodia and Laos. Countries where worlds collide and ancient culture clings to the people like red dust to the cheeks of the children playing along the roads. I know why people come to visit and never leave.

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