Deep in the jungle of Cambodia, far off beaten tourist trails, lies a jewel from the Khmer period: the Banteay Chhmar temple. Half devoured by jungle plants and long forgotten by people, the 800-year-old temple has been forgotten by the world.
On their own initiative, the villagers of Banteay Chhmar are slowly restoring of the temple. They dream of it becoming a destination for travellers who want to get to know the real Cambodia rather than a mass tourism destination, like Angkor Wat.
The temple is a sacred place for Sreymom and Sopeng, and they also teach their two little daughters respect for the Buddha. The cultural highlight of the village year is Bon Om Tuk, the great water festival with a traditional boat race. For this, the old long boats are “awakened” first. They “slept” in the Buddhist monastery during the rainy season, people say. Before they can be used for the race, the ghosts have to be asked for permission with an old ritual. Banteay Chhmar is the only place in Cambodia where the boat race takes place on the moat of the temple.
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