September 1, 2013
On a tuktuk
Siem Reap, Cambodia
I had just exited Siem Reap international airport an hour after I landed. I spent a good deal of that hour at the missing baggage counter because my umbrella didn’t show itself on the conveyor belt assigned to Cebu Pacific Air. I was a little pissed off because it was rainy season in Southeast Asia. I needed that umbrella and I didn’t want to spend unnecessarily for something I already had.
The man at the counter wanted me to file for a complaint, but I didn’t want to go through the lengthy process. After sending a prayer to heaven, asking it not to rain the entire week I was in Siem Reap, I decided to just let the matter go with a sigh.
My pick up was holding my name printed in bold letters. I quickly went to him and apologized for making him wait. I explained to him what happened while he walked me to his tuktuk.
We were now speeding through the highway and I was lost in thought. It has been a long time since I have traveled alone and I was looking forward to it.
There have been many times I have wanted to visit Cambodia. But getting there was the main problem. It was either via Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh, and that proved a tad too expensive. So Cambodia has always been left to be discovered some other time. That changed in April of this year when Cebu Pacific Air started flying straight out from Manila.
And now, here I am.
Cambodia has been one of those countries that has been fabled. Distant and remote, shrouded with promises of adventure… thanks to the image of Lara Croft being burned into my brain when I used to play the video game when I was in High School. Cambodia became a fantasy when I saw Angelina Jolie run through the temple ruins of Angkor Thom on-screen.
I have seen Cambodia being featured on TV, a war-torn country that has left its people physically, emotionally, and mentally crippled BUT always FULL in spirit.
I look around as the buildings blur before my eyes, I am realizing that they are slowly waking up. I hope they wake up on the right side of the bed!
I see a motorcycle in front of us flanked by two bicycles. One on his left and one on his right. The guy on the motorcycle is speeding on a slow pace while his friends (on their respective bikes) are holding on to the drivers shoulders while their foot are anchored to the foot peg on either side of the motorcycle. My driver decided to over take them. As I look back, I see them laugh over a joke.
I took this as a good sign.