“If you want to know people, do so by making friends; if you want to know the world, do so by traveling, distinguish the evil and wise through conversation; if you want to awaken your consciousness, pursue education.” – Khmer Proverb
It was February of 2009 when I first visited Siem Reap by backpacking from Bangkok.
Click HERE to see a separate story and see more details of Siem Reap.
Then not so long after that, my high-school bffs (supah fwends as how we call each other) Ann and Techie asked me to join and visit Siem Reap again with them, I didn’t hesitate because it’s very rare to happen that our friend, Techie, will join us on a trip away from the vicinity of Manila :P
It will also be a bit an adventure because they plan to visit Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam too (in which I also visited few months before) and will just take a sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap. So I took the challenge, er, invitation hehe. Besides, I still want to see the Cu Chi Tunnel which I wasn’t able to do on my first visit.
(Click HERE to see our Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam trip)
I was still based in Singapore then so it was just convenient to go back, especially when my sister Chay and my nephew MJ (who was just 5 years old then!) wanted to join us as well. Although, we realised that it’s not a good idea to bring kids as young as like him yet in this kind of adventure, they still don’t appreciate temples and world history, and a child who is used to “Singapore’s-first-worldness” he didn’t enjoy the long bus trips, bumpy roads, tuktuk rides, and budget accommodations haha! I even remember him crying the moment we arrived Siem Reap and said he already miss Singapore.
We stayed in the same accommodation, Ivy’s Guesthouse, and we also visited Ankor Archaeological Park visiting the same areas I visited already and adding more areas I haven’t seen on my first visit like:
Of course, we also visited the Night Market and Pub Street, but this time we went to Mondial Restaurant with authentic Cambodian cuisine buffet plus a Cambodian dance show.
We also went to the following:
I don’t remember anymore how long we stayed in Siem Reap, but I guess it’s around 3 days again just like last time. I enjoyed it once again, especially because I am traveling this time with my high-school bffs, my sister and my 5-year old nephew. But during this trip was when it was more evident for me that God have been so gracious and generous for blessing me with the life I have now.
During my first visit, I also see how tough most of the Cambodians living their life, but it didn’t occur to me at that time how blessed I am to be there and witness all this, perhaps because I am from Manila and I also see all these scenes and become used to it. But on my second visit, seeing it together with my 5-year old nephew somehow opened my eyes more in a different perspective.
My nephew who is used to a “convenient” life in Singapore sees Cambodia differently from how I see it before. Even if he was not enjoying the trip, we were astounded when he asked us why are the kids in the street and selling things and why are they not in school? When my sister told him that it’s because some of them have no money to go to school, that is when he said thank you to my sister for putting him to school so someday he could be rich and help these children go to their schools. Wow.
It was like a slap on our faces when he said that. Amazing how a child thinks innocently and their pure heart desires only good to other people, isn’t?
It was something we all need to ponder on.
How grateful are we for the education we had? The life we have? The food we eat? The travels we take?Do we think of giving it back to those who can’t have what you had/have?
Maybe sometimes, we have to look at our life like a 5-year old to awaken our consciousness…
(If you want to help children in Cambodia, there are a LOT of ways you can find online. But let me refer you a non-profit organization that my friend (Aris Galliotos) is or was volunteering on: ConCERT Cambodia)