A few months back, Ma, my mother-in-law asked us if we wanted to go to a pagoda to get a monk’s blessings for the coming new year. Though, I am not Buddhist, I would usually come as a sign of respect and also so I could observe and learn closely their customs and traditions. After all, my husband is a Buddhist and its a big factor for both of us to understand each other’s religion.
Anyway, the trip promised to be scenic as the pagoda is located somewhere in Kampong Chhanang. The day started really early and at 6 am we were already on a tuk-tuk speeding towards Sisowath Quay near the riverside and going towards National Road No. 5. This was my first time to take a really long ride in a tuk-tuk. Ma and Hi-ace says its the best way to go, we get to enjoy the breeze and take in as much scenery as we want to. The price of the round trip ride on the tuk-tuk was unbelievably just $8!! I really am seriously in awe of Ma’s bargaining abilities.
So, it was me, Hi-ace, Chinks, our nieces Sokna and Cheng and Ma in the tuk-tuk.. The ride was really so enjoyable and I almost fell asleep being lulled by the wind and the not so bumpy ride. We had been traveling for about an hour when we turned left (lol! don’t ask me where..) towards a small market then onwards. The road became smaller and unpaved and both sides mostly lower with lots of water and some houses on stilts. We stopped for a bit to buy some lotus seeds (Ma and the nieces loves snacking on these..) and also some lotus flowers to offer in the pagoda.
The views were absolutely fantastic and so rural.. Then we reached a place with lots of cows being herded we turned right, then suddenly there was a bang! We had a flat tire and it was in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the cows, ponds, lotus flowers and rice fields. The nice tuk-tuk driver told us to wait by the roadside and he’ll go look for a vulcanizing shop. So then, we proceeded to occupy ourselves by taking photos of ourselves and the stunning rural landscape.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, the tuk-tuk came back well and fine, then we were off again. We passed by a small cemetery for the Chinese and I just had to take photos of those. Cambodians usually cremate the remains of their dead relatives and they keep the ashes in stuppas in pagodas. As far as I know, its only the Chinese-Cambodians who have cemeteries and bury their dead in tombs. And these cemeteries are less seen near the cities so I was definitely fascinated.
After the cemetery, we came into a huge compound and that’s where the pagoda was. Our group went on to light incense the a monk approached us to tie some colorful yarn bracelet on us for good luck and some sort of blessing. Then we all waited for the head monk, gave our offerings then he proceeded to pray over us, then he was holding this short staff made of elephant tusk and carved with various images. He put some ointment on the tusk then rubbed some on our hands, on the cheeks of the kids, then he uttered some more prayers. Afterwards, an assistant brought a vase full of water, the monk blessed it, then sprinkled it over us.
Afterwards, Hi-ace, the kids and Ma had to change clothes because they also joined the ceremony where they had to be showered with holy water. Ok, I didn’t join this part for some reason so I just watched the going ons.
After that showering/blessing ritual, we all piled ourselves back on the tuk-tuk as Ma was anxious to return to Phnom Penh around lunch time. It was a marvelous experience for me. I was able to see some religious customs and also enjoy some Cambodian countryside scenery..