Each community has a central story about it that is passed down by oral tradition.
We are currently in a city named Battambang. Battambang means lost stick. Mr. Battambang is not a black Buddha. He is just a man.
Each person knows the story. The versions have similarities, but they are all a little different as one hears it from their mother who learned it from their grandmother. This is the version that we were told.
A young country man watched over the cows. (He is called a cowboy, but for me that gives a different image.)
While out watching his cows, he found a black stick and he used it to stir the rice. The rice turned black. This stick had magic power. He used it to control the cows.
The man found favor with the king who made him a general, and he was very successful in war. However, he became power hungry.
He killed most of the king’s family and became the ruler. It was foretold that he would rule 7 years, 7 months, and 7 days, and then a man on a white horse would dethrone him.
One young son of the king was able to escape although his arms and legs had been burned. He was raised by monks.
The son wanted revenge on the man who killed his family. He started to get stronger. A holy man walking beside a white horse approached him and told him to wear these royal clothes, eat this rice, and drink this water. Then, he mounted the white horse. It began to fly.
The man threw his stick at the son, but it missed and was unable to be found. It was lost…and so was he.
The man is a good luck charm even though he was killed. People come to his statue to pray for a safe journey, give thanks for passing an exam or for healing. This doesn’t make sense to me. Why would he be a good luck charm if he was killed?
People offer food, flowers, burn incense, and set caged birds free.
Food is collected at the end of the day by the homeless and hungry.
People in Cambodia believe in magic spirits. One couple came here to pray for their child. They had a baby that looked like the statue.
This monument is very close to the high school and they come here for good luck on their exam.
People take a picture in front of the community’s iconic statue to prove that they had visited there.
In Cambodia, we saw a cat with a stub for a tail. Poor thing! He must have got into a fight. Then we saw another and another. Apparently cats with stubby or no tails are very common.
We left Battambang and rode in a crowded van on a very bumpy road to Phnom Penh. Watch this video to ride along with us:
Even though the air conditioner was on and we were inside, I still had to wear my dust mask. Our driver would cut it very close with the approaching car.
For a while he rode the bumper of a cow truck. The cow has an effective way to have him back off…but he didn’t use it. I am sure he was thinking about it.
We left at 8:30 and arrived about 4:00. An Indian tuk tuk took us to our hotel called The Penh House. This is the first time that we rode an Indian tuk tuk and boy was it cramped as our luggage was inside with us.
Even though we sat most of the day, we were exhausted. Our hotel was like a refreshing oasis with a rooftop infinity pool. Ahhhhh!