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Scattering the ashes part 3

One of the reasons for going to Cambodia was to scatter some of Christopher’s ashes at or near Angkor Wat – somewhere that had very firmly been on our list of places to visit. All through the holiday I kept thinking about how much Christopher would have loved it – he would have so enjoyed exploring and taking photos of the temples.

I was a bit apprehensive about taking the ashes with me. I was flying via Bangkok, and both Thailand and Cambodia are very strict about hard drugs, so I felt uncomfortable taking a small jar of white powder with me! I took the cremation certificate with the ashes, so that I could try to explain them away if I got challenged, but in fact there wasn’t a problem at all.

An aside – at the Christmas Eve Gala Dinner I got talking to a couple from London who invited me to join them when they saw I was on my own. Over dinner, we got to discussing the state of the public toilets in the archaeological park, and how surprisingly clean they were. I said that I had been expecting much worse, and had taken the precaution of bringing a SheWee with me, in case the loos were totally disgusting. The man had never heard of one, and asked me what a SheWee was. I explained that it was an anatomically shaped funnel, designed to fix one of Nature’s major design flaws, and allow women to pee standing up without undressing. He looked fascinated, as well he might, and asked whether or not it worked. I had to confess that I hadn’t tried it – the loos on the trip had all been entirely adequate and I hadn’t needed it. So it was still unused in its case in my handbag, next to my husband’s ashes. They both looked at me in absolute horror at that, then burst out laughing!

I asked my guide for some advice on how to scatter the ashes in a culturally appropriate way. After all, I was a guest in a strange country and didn’t want to do anything that would greatly offend the locals. Somewhat to my surprise, he really entered into the spirit of the occasion, and gave me some very firm advice, nay instructions, on how to dispose of the ashes in accordance with local beliefs. They were to be scattered on the Monday (Boxing Day), as it was much more propitious to do so at the beginning of a week than the end. Furthermore, they needed to be scattered at the east side of a body of water, because east again was much more lucky than west. Finally, if at all possible they should be cast into water under a tree. I didn’t grasp why that was important, but having asked for his advice it would have been rude to question it.

Scattering the ashes at Angkor Wat

So on Monday we drove up to Angkor Wat, avoided the crowds of tourists entering the site from the south, and went to the much quieter east side of the moat surrounding the temple. There we found a suitable tree, and I cast Christopher’s ashes (or rather, just a few teaspoons of them) into the moat. I took the picture above just afterwards, and you can see what a lovely and tranquil spot it was.