Alternate temple lesson

By Frances Micklow

As we jumped from crumbled ruin to crumbled ruin at the Beng Mealea Temple, I got a Khmer lesson from my guide and a member of the Apsera Society who helped us navigate through the piles of stone.

The Apsera Society helps preserve and protect the temples of Cambodia. They are considered the guardians of the temples. Our lady, dressed in an Apsera Society shirt and hat, quietly helped us as we made our way through the piles of rock.

Toward the end of our tour, we somehow got on the topic of numbers and counting. Excited to show off what Khmer I had learned, I began to count along.

Once we got to 10, the lesson began. Our Apsera Society friend kept counting, pausing after each number long enough for me to repeat. Yut, our guide, would periodically say the numbers in English if I looked lost.

By the time we were exiting out the South gate, we had counted all the way up to 50.

I smiled at my tutor. “Awkunh”

“Awkunh ch’ran,” she smiled back.

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