“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect,” Oscar Wilde.
Impulsiveness and possessing a carefree spirit can either be a blessing or a curse dependent upon whom you ask or the contexts in which these traits are evidenced. From a wanderlust and nomadic perspective, it’s a beautiful and intricate marriage of the two extremes. I believe I fall somewhere between the two, particularly when it comes to travel, but we’ll save that conversation for another time. Now, let’s talk briefly about my time in Cambodia.
So, that you have a geographical frame of reference, I have included a map of the location of Cambodia (see above). Cambodia is a country located in Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand to the Northwest, Laos to the Northeast, and Vietnam to the East. Cambodia is formerly known as the Khmer Empire and its capital and most populous city is Phnom Penh. However, most people may know of Siem Reap because it hosts the location of one of UNESCO World Heritage’s most important archaeological sites, Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is a province in northern Cambodia.
I visited Cambodia on a whim. As I was concluding my plans for Thailand, I posted in my favorite travel group, Nomadness Travel Tribe, to gain some intel on places to go and things to do while in Thailand. While interacting with my fellow nomads, one of them reached out to me and told me that she would be in Southeast Asia and I was to meet her in Cambodia. Being the free-spirit and adventurer I am, I agreed and booked a flight only a few days before heading to Thailand. If you know anything about Cambodia, you know they have been devastated by war, economic, and social hardships. On my visit to Cambodia, I encountered people with dismembered limbs, yet you could see their fight and determination to live this life as best as they knew how in their eyes. Everyone appreciates and celebrates resilience. Other than observing some the effects that the war has had on the people and country of Cambodia, I just had an amazing time there. I was not sure what to expect. I hadn’t done any research on activities to engage in or places to visit prior to booking my flight, so I didn’t really have any specific expectations. Sometimes, I rather not have any expectations because the unexpected experiences are those in which you remember and cherish for a lifetime.
When my flight landed in Siem Reap from Bangkok, I was expecting be picked up by a Tuk-Tuk to get to my accommodations as they (h0tel) said they would, but that didn’t happen. So, I ended up getting transportation from the airport. I was to ride on a motor-bike to my accommodation, Siem Reap Holiday Gardens, but I ended up riding in a Tuk-Tuk for the same price. I can be frugal at times, so finding the cheaper option to get to my destination is a MUST for me. It took approximately 15 minutes to get there from the airport and on my way there, I saw some very nice hotels, (see below).
Once I made it to my hotel and got settled, I took a walk to Pub Street, a main tourist area in Siem Reap. On Pub Street, there are a host of restaurants, shops, bars, and things to get into such at eating creepy crawlers or getting a fish pedicure. Perpendicular to the Pub Street area is the Night market. There, you will find a variety of stalls selling textiles, clothes, bags, and other trinkets. There are also restaurants in this area as well.
While in Siem Reap, I decided to rent a bicycle ($1 per day) to ride around the city. I don’t know what possessed me to try and ride my bike to Angkor Wat, but 30 minutes into riding in blazing hip-hop & r&b sun, I turned my happy go lucky behind around :D. In my mind, I was ready to take on Siem Reap one pedal at a time, but the sun had other plans. After turning around and riding for about 50 meters, I stopped at this shop to get some water. I felt like I was about to die from a heat stroke, so I asked the lady if I could sit down for a while, in which she obliged. Five (5) minutes of rest turned into 30 minutes of the best experience of my life. I conversed (ran my mouth) with the family, they shared some of what they were snacking on with me, they tried to teach me some Cambodian phrases, and I just had an amazingly authentic time. Not all of the children went to school because it can be quite costly, which broke my heart, but the younger ones did. The younger children had a better command of English while the mother did not. This unexpected encounter added to my overall experience in Cambodia and I would definitely go back if only to see that family again. After hanging out with the family, I eventually left and began my ride back into the town. I ended up riding over to the Night market and taking a nap on a bench under a tree; IT WAS AWESOME. While sitting under the tree, a man selling soup was riding along on his bicycle. Being that I am in a different country, OF COURSE I wanted to try the food. So, I stopped him and ordered a rice soup with pork…It was delicious! I have never heard of rice and soup together, but it was definitely good.
I demolished my food and then went to meet up with my fellow Tribe tender, Anna, on Pub Street. This was my first time meeting her, but that’s how we roll in the Tribe. 😀
Anna and I hung out on Pub Street for a little, but we were both tired, so we headed back to our hotels. I cannot remember where she stayed, but she hated it. She can tell you the story. 😀 Now, the plan was to wake up at the crack of dawn to head to Angkor Wat, so that we could see the sunrise. Soooo, that didn’t happen. The Tuk-Tuk never showed up, we waited to get another one, and then my Tuk-Tuk got lost trying to get to Anna’s hotel. Suffice it to say, we missed the sunrise over Angkor Wat. If you ever visit, you should definitely try going early so you can see the sunrise, take awesome pictures, and then photo-shop me in them. 😀 Anyway, we finally made it to Angkor Wat and spent most of our day at the temples. Take a look at some of what we saw.
Anna and I visited the temples at Angkor Wat and then we went on a tour of a floating village. Because it has been so long since I’ve visited, I cannot remember all of the details. From my recollection, the people in this village receive aid from the government and they pay little to no money to live in the floating village. The money they earn comes from catching and selling fish in the markets and tours. We had the opportunity to visit a school in which children from the village attend as well as orphaned children. Prior to visiting the school, we went to buy a bag of rice which costs around $60 and would feed 50 students for one day. It is humbling to think about what I have been afforded and then see what other people around the world have to do to sustain themselves. We are blessed beyond measure and we must always strive to appreciate what we have as opposed to stressing over what we don’t. It’s hard because as human beings, we are innately wired to desire things and our lack of certain things prevents us from taking toll of what it is we do have and that in which we’ve accomplished in this life. It behooves us to make valiant efforts to just say, “Thank you God for sustaining me” ever so often, if not everyday.
Thank you to Cambodia for the unexpected, but valuable lessons. You will be in my heart forever.
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