Saturday night in Siem Reap…actually, any night in Siem Reap near the Old Market, is a big night. But this past Saturday night was something special. Over the past few years, an annual Giant Puppet Parade has been staged which has now become one of THE events of the Siem Reap calendar. Giant puppets — which I’m told are very easily made, although I don’t believe it — are created by children from various schools and NGO’s, which they then carry in a nighttime parade throughout the streets of Siem Reap. The puppets are lit up, there are floats of musicians and dancers, and the entire town comes out to watch. I’ve heard about this for years, and although this year Anjali House didn’t take part, many of the students came out to watch.

giant snake 
a dragon from behind


The reason why we didn’t build a puppet this year is that we had already taken the kids this week to the circus. The city of Battambang is home of a now internationally acclaimed circus which grows out of their Phare Ponleu Selpak art school.  This school takes poor kids, now from all over the country, and teaches them arts of all kinds, including painting, music, dance, and all things acrobatic. It has grown tremendously over the years, and now they are opening a permanent outpost in Siem Reap. Of course, it will be great for the tourists, but it will also be terrific for the poor local kids who get in for free.

This isn’t a liontamer/beingshotoutofacannon type circus. This is more like Cirque du Soleil, with juggling, acrobatics, dancing, music all telling a story. They even were jumping over a rope of fire. Nuts! I wasn’t allowed to take photos, so thanks to Trip Advisor for these:

We then used the experience as a “teachable moment” (of course). When the Workshop Magazine comes out, you’ll be able to read some poems based on their visit.