Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Scenes of Life - Siem Reap 2007

I finally fulfilled my dream of visiting Angkor Wat last year. It's been my dream for as long as I can remember, so to finally set foot on Angkor was a poignant moment, enough to stir my emotions from deep within.

We had planned a short 3-day trip and what a trip that turned out to be! We had so much fun not just exploring the beauty of Angkor, we also discovered the depth of our relationship as sisters. In part this trip also opened our eyes to how different life can be in another country.

We had headed straight to the Old Market area immediately after checking into the hotel. Somehow, amidst the modern cafes dotting the area around it, the Old Market has managed to retain its old world charm. Then again, life in Siem Reap is one of many contrasts. Foreigners can be seen in the cafes, lost in their worldly comforts whilst outside, poor children peer in. It's a scene that was replayed many times during our short visit.

To travel from our hotel to the Old Market we took the "tut-tut". The ubiquitious tut-tut is everywhere in Siem Reap. This seems to be the main mode of transport. It's a fun way to travel with the wind (and dust) blowing in our hair and face and the rider swerving in and out of traffic, sometimes going in the wrong direction. At times like this we hang on for dear life. Then say "Wow ... that was fun. Let's do it again!" when we reach our destination.

Many people we met made an quite an impression on me. The hotel staff, our guide & driver, the vendors at the market, the book cart vendor, the kids on the street, the landmine survivors -despite the hardship they faced, are still always ready with a smile. The Cambodians are survivors ... with that alone, they deserve all our respect.

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