Friday, 12 June 2009
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Wat Maha Leap is one of the few remaining wooden pagodas in Cambodia, many others having perished under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Inspired by Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China the Khmer Rouge obliterated most holy buildings and any other structures that were more than just functional. Angkor Wat was one of the few exceptions, owing to it’s Khmer heritage and unique and special place in Cambodian history. Wat Maha Leap survived only because it was converted into a hospital during the period between 1975 and 1979 when the Khmer Rouge were in control. As Loung Ung wrote, most hospitals around the world are seen as places of recuperation and the focus is on getting the patients being restored to health. Under the Khmer Rouge though, people went to hospital to die. Other people we have talked to have confirmed this, the hospitals were rife with infections and the “medical staff” had no medical training. As such the bodies of 500 Khmers are buried in the gardens of the pagoda. The pagoda has been restored as the Khmer Rouge had left their own marks on the building, painting over the gilded columns and doors and generally leaving the place in a state of disrepair.