Phnom Penh is known as the pearl of Asia. Stepping off the plane there were people everywhere, yelling at me to get in their Tuk Tuk, not a lot of direction, a lot of unpaved roads and truly a 3rd world country. Cambodia is raw, wild and untamed.
I was determined to find the pearl. As a person who generally looks on the bright side, I knew I would find it. I found it in the people of Cambodia.
The Khmer people are generous, humble and proud. They are willing to share their stories of pain and suffering in hopes for it not to happen again. They will invite you to their house for dinner, to stay the night or even to their wedding.
We have had locals who have driven us around in Cyclo’s (Rickshaws), and believe me we were 3 times their size. They were happy to do it.
When I was getting my pedicure I asked the nail technician if she knew anyone that does braids. She didn’t know English but just gestured to her motorbike, asked me to hop on and took me to her friends house to braid my hair.
We have had locals take us to their favorite spot to see the sunset or to their favorite temple and make sure they showed us the best time.
Our tour guide in Siem Reap realized I was terrified of climbing down steep stairs so he grabbed my hand and helped me down.
The Tuk Tuk drivers will drop you off and so patiently wait for you for hours until your done.
Adorable little children are not afraid to say hi, smile and join in on your soccer game.
In Siem Reap over Khmer New Year they spray you with squirt guns and wipe baby powder on your face. When they do this, they look you straight in the eyes and say Happy New Year. The kindness, sweetness and overall pride for their country is something so rare and beautiful.
95% of this country is Buddhist, maybe that could be why I feel so connected to them.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh