Siem Reap

I was reading around the internet today and I found this article..

12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

I agree with all of these things. This article also reminded me of a similar personal crisis I went through last year before my 29th birthday. Out of the blue, I felt lost, unsure, and confused about the way I’m living my life.

What is my purpose?

What have I done that’s worthwhile?

Am I living my life to the fullest?

Am I just wasting my time?

All these questions that I have no answer for. I felt I lost that sense of simplicity and peace in the rat race of everyday existence. I was slowly consumed by society’s perception of what an adult should be.

My marriage was the only thing I’m sure of.. everything else was just … meaningless..

I confided these thing to Gio. He knew what I was going through but don’t know how to help me with my questions. What he did do was to try to make my day special. We traveled to Siem Reap for my birthday. We went there ready to be pampered & distracted from the confusion and questions I’ve been trying to figure out. Siem Reap gave me more than what I asked for.

—0O0—

It was such a long flight for us… We slept for a few hours in the Malaysia LCCT Airport Premium Lounge while waiting for our connecting flight to Siem Reap.

lounge

Our flight got really delayed and we had to wait for a couple more hours. I celebrated my birthday at the aiport and Gio gave me a card and a gift. I decided to read the card and open the gift when we reach Siem Reap.

birthday gift

After a long flight, we finally arrived at our destination.

We were picked up by a very nice and friendly hotel driver and given our first drinks in Cambodia.

Our hotel was really something. Sojourn Siem Reap. Everything they say on their site is true.

“Sojourn offers unique accommodation, the best Khmer hospitality and a team committed to ensuring you have the ultimate escape.”

We were greeted by friendly staff and we had the most comfortable room with complete amenities.

hotel dining area

hotel dining area

pool

Gio also booked their 2 Night Weekender Package, 60 minute aromatherapy massage, and a destination dinner. Yep, it was lavish. He was really trying hard and I truly appreciate that.

The morning of our first day was spent exploring the hotel and the town center. In search of  “happiness” that we heard was famous here in Siem Reap, we found ourselves in this the Happy Special Pizza Restaurant. Our server was missing a leg and a few fingers.  I remembered what I read about the war. I was in awe of him. He was working despite his disability and what horrors he might have experienced. I had to stop myself from staring too much.

While we waited for lunch, I read some cards I got and replayed the video greeting my best friend sent me.

Then we got our dose of happy pizza and happy shake.

Oh boy, did we get “happy”!  We were uncontrollably chuckling at the silliest things! After eating we went to their market and the whole place was “swooning”… so we opted to explore it for another day and eat ice cream for our very dry mouths.

We went into Blue Pumpkin and ordered mint ice cream. We waited for our driver to bring us back to the hotel so we could take a power nap and sleep the “swooning” away. Our driver was also chuckling after looking at us. By this time our heads were throbbing. We would never try that again. hehe

We woke up just in time for our small picnic by Angkor Wat. Our driver found a spot for us and set up our picnic.. We felt weird about it because he wouldn’t let us help him even if we offered. Then after preparing he told us to enjoy our food. We asked him to join us but he refused and walked a good distance away from us… We felt weird because after the whole day of chatting and driving us around, we felt like were somewhat friends and for us to be eating and him standing there waiting for us to finish.. it was just a weird for us… I guess this was part of their star service and we’re not used to being “served” so we let it go and decided to enjoy our food as he said.

The picnic was beautiful. A bottle of wine, five mini chicken sticks with dipping sauce, and a small pack of chips… then it quickly became pretentious.

While we were eating, children with dirty oversized clothes swarmed us and started begging me and Gio for food. It was so uncomfortable. It was not the first time I encountered children like these. We have them too in the Philippines. But I have never encountered them in a situation where I clearly was showing my spread for all of them to see, like a cruel taunting. Our driver shouted at them in what I guess would be “get lost” because a few kids ran away. I couldn’t take the whole thing.  Gio and I have food to spare so I gave 2 chicken sticks to the few kids standing infront of us… of course this was an invitation for more kids to swarm us. In which case our driver came near and really did shoo them away, and I guess if he can, would’ve told off Gio and I.

We lost our appetites. I felt ashamed.  Ashamed to be going on a picnic in a place were there was clearly hunger. I felt so inconsiderate and frivolous!

To get out of that situation, Gio and I just quickly ate our food. We didn’t even drink our wine. We quickly packed up that cursed picnic bag and gave it back to our driver. We also gave him the wine bottle. It made him happy and even for a bit, I felt better. Then we decided to walk off our uncomfortable feelings and explore the temple a while we wait for the sunset.

It was cloudy but the sunset was still beautiful. It gave me a certain peace. I was all choked up and overwhelmed. I was so grateful to be there to witness that and most of all to be in a position in our lives to give to others, even if it was just a chicken stick or a bottle of wine.

sunset at Angkor Wat

After the sunset, we went back to the hotel for a little rest before dinner and we also planned to have our massages to ease away the stress of the day. While waiting for dinner we chose our menu for our destination dining the next day and for our packed lunch for the temple tour.

dinner

Dinner was good. We walked around the pool a little to help our dinner settle down before the aromatherapy massage. When we got to the spa, we were welcomed by 2 very young masseuses. They were shy but friendly and tried their best to communicate in English. We chose our scented oil and proceeded to the massage room. We were very surprised! We had the impression that these girls were “fragile”. We were so wrong. They were really good. Gio even fell asleep and started snoring!  It was one of the best massage I had.

We also got a nice surprise when we got back to our room. They made up our bed and put petals of roses in heart shapes. Even our bathroom got flowered. It was so pretty.

flowered up room

romantic!

A perfect ending to a beautiful, weird, and enlightening day.

Day 2

The next day we fueled ourselves with bread, juice, and scrambled eggs for the long day ahead.

breakfast

We were toured around the temples by Dan. A professional tour guide. We got to learn about the construction and the meaning behind the temples. We were so amazed how people made them without machines and how these structures were able to withstand time.

Southern gate of Angkor Wat

angels and demons

one of the many beheaded buddhas in Angkor, different forms of Apsaras (dancing maidens), A Siva Linga or Lingam – a symbolism of fertility 😉

Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple with the calm and smiling buddhas

Famous pose at the bayon temple.. nose to nose with buddha

Angkor wat

Hall of a thousand buddhas

Standing at the center of Angkor Wat where a breeze blows in all directions…

We had a very good tour guide. We were really impressed by this Cambodian guy with an excellent English accent. He said that he and his colleagues specialize in different languages and that they were supported by the government. He said that he liked his job but it’s not something you can do everyday because tourism is seasonal.

By lunchtime we went to a nice picnic spot where our driver was waiting for us with our packed lunch. We wanted Dan to join us but he said he’s fine. He would just eat at a nearby canteen. We asked him if we could eat there too but he said that the prices there are local friendly only. So we conceded and went on ahead to our lunch spot just opposite the elephant courtyard.

elephant courtyard

elephant courtyard

picnic view

lunch

lunch!

This time we enjoyed our picnic very much. After eating we even got to explore the area.

exploring

exploring

After 30 minutes we met up again with Dan and continued with our tour.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm –  film location for Tomb Raider

echo room..

looks like.. hehe… nature reclaiming space…

ruins

Our tour ended with still enough time to go to another place. We gave Dan a little tip and merrily went our separate ways.

After the temple tours, we asked our driver to take us to the firing range we read about. Gio wanted to try it and on our way they talked about gun stuff (bah.. guys). The subject made our driver warm up a bit. He mentioned he used to carry one before and was really good at shooting. I wanted to prod him for more stories. I was really curious because he was also missing a finger, but I stopped myself in fear of offending him.

firing range…

After firing a couple of rounds, we went back to our hotel for our destination dining. Sopiyap, a beautiful and always smiling hotel staff ,  lead us to the dining venue and served us through the evening.

lighted path to dinner

dinner highlights

There was still time for a night swim after dinner.

night swimming

Day 3

Since this was our last day in Cambodia, we rode the tuktuk to the town center for lunch and to buy souvenirs and pasalubongs for our friends. We also popped in the Blue Pumpkin for some ice cream and macaron.

fun tuktuk ride!

last day rush

We went back to our hotel with enough time to pack our things and check out. We still have a bit more time before our flight so we lounged around the hotel for a while.

lounging

Sopiyap kept us company. I learned about her family, how she learned English, and how popular some of our teleseryes are in Cambodia. We even teased Gio that he looked like Angelo. ehehe. She even taught me how to make those lovely cold pressing cloths they give the guests to help with the heat. I also even got to ask her about the war. She said she was still a kid then and don’t really remember much except that it was a hard time for everyone. Before we left she even gave me a hug.. 🙂

Then it was off to the airport for us. We gave our driver a little tip, which I think he didn’t expect. He was so happy and thankful to us it made me a bit shy. I wish we could give him more.

—0O0—

That’s our short but very meaningful trip to Siem Reap. I really appreciate the hotel we stayed in.  Yes, they are a bit on the expensive end but they give back what they earn. They helped the community around them learn English and also taught them things that would improve their daily lives. I wish I could also do something like that someday.

What I like the most about our trip are the people we met. All of them working hard to give themselves and their loved ones a decent life. I am in so much awe, knowing how hard life have been for them… although scarred, they are happy and they are hopeful. They know how to appreciate even the smallest things. It was so enriching for my heart.

When we came back from this trip, I decided to sponsor a child from world vision. I know I want to make a difference in someone’s life. After this trip I was more aware and grateful of the life I’m blessed with and how with small gestures I can make other people happy.

I didn’t find the answers to my questions, but who really knows what they were put on earth for? I realize it’s something we decide for ourselves. And I’ve decided to live my life the best way I can and try to help others along the way.

I came to Siem Reap feeling lost and confused. I left feeling grateful, humbled, and inspired.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s