Siem Reap, Cambdoia.The second of the first three countries I’ve ever been to in this quest of finding my self, healing, and growing. After Singapore, Cambodia was a relief from the modernity SG had. Cambodia was simple and laid-back. I felt it was a sincere place, an uncomplicated, modest one. Then of course its history tells us otherwise. When we discussed the Khmer Rouge in high school it didn’t mean much to me. It wasn’t until I had gone to Cambodia that I realized the magnitude of the mass genocide committed by this communist government. I also realized how history can show us relativity of time–that a genocide done in the 1970s might be decades ago but its effects on the nation 30 years later show us that when we talk of cultures and genrations, 30 years is nothing, that building and rebuilding a nation take centuries. It was this humbilng an experience Cambodia was for me. These looking back in history made me appreciate Cambodia more. In this first photo, we rode a tuk-tuk at 4:45 am to rush and witness the world famous sunrise view in Angkor Wat. It was worth it. Being the largest religious monument in the world, it was majestic and grand. I felt small walking in and around it. I can only imagine the history this place contains. On our last day in Cambodia, I biked about 20 kilometers to visit some temples I wasn’t able to enter the day before. For a US dollar I rented a bike, borrowed hat, and packed some water, to experience part of Cambodia alone. It was a peaceful albeit tiring ride. I even met a Khmer school teacher who brought his students biking to visit the temples.
My friends and I also found this nice, quaint restaurant New Leaf Book Cafe where you choose a book from their shelves to read as you wait or eat their scrumptious food; which I believe is reasonably priced (2- 8 USD) since part of their profit is invested in educational programs in the Siem Reap province, which, according to my friend who lived there, schools badly need. I had a lot of good memories in Siem Reap, and one of those is this picture of the Khmer children I played a game with by the entrance of the temple Ta Prohm (where a scene from the first Tomb Raider movie was shot). The game was somewhat similar to the Philippines’ Piko. They were nice, warm kids. I wish I knew how to talk in Khmer. One thing was clear, I lost that game. My Cambodia trip was really meaningful. It was humbling for me because it gave me new lenses from which to perceive the battles our country has. It reminded me that each country has its own ghosts to deal with. These things made me want to learn more, get acquainted with more cultures, appreciate history more (and regret listening half-heartedly to my good social studies teacher in HS, Ms. Lazaro), and love traveling even more. In fact, two weeks after this trip, I booked a ticket for my next travel–Indonesia.