Crazy Juxtapositions

Joel Betts

As we were driving to Siem Reap, There were Rice fields–literally as far as the eye could see, broken up only by the occasional forest, pond, village.  All flat until there would be a mountain sticking up out of flat land.  Crazy Juxtaposition in the uniform landscape!

Then as we went into the city of Siem Reap there were elaborate Hotels, only yards away from small shacks.  This seems unjust.  People like us come for a day or a week, while people who spend their whole lives here live with a family in an insecure flood prone dwelling smaller than hotel room.  Juxtaposition in livelihoods and society.  This place is full of these.

The touristy area is a buzz, and pub street blares American music and smells like Pizza.  Only few streets over and earlier that afternoon, Men were fishing in a sewage ridden river for fish to eat or sell.

On the road on the way to the Church, police cars escort important people in fancy cars to a rich hotel, while all the mopeds, bikes, and walkers stop moving and watch the parade of wealth and importance go by.

At 4:30, an international Church sings praises in English, while a Khmer Speaking, mostly Buddhist society runs as normal beyond the Church walls. Both places are very alive, yet there is a juxtaposition here that is hard to explain, something very different.

All of this causes for a range of emotions and passionate feeling that are hard to describe or understand.  Such a beautiful place, such beautiful people, and an interesting mix of beauty and injustice, biodiversity and pollution, surplus and poverty.

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