April 17, 2014
Here are my main reasons why I love this country and it will be so difficult to leave in only 4 days!
The Global Child. Of course TGC is first on my list. The students, the staff, the teachers, and everyone involved are such amazing people. The students have a passion and dedication to their studies whether it be Khmer, English, Physics, Math, Art, Music. They learn it all and they give it everything they have. The teachers and staff provide the students with all of their knowledge in individual subjects or of life in general. It is one big family. The students come from difficult backgrounds yet they are strong and are encouraged to accomplish their educational goals for a better life. They are truly inspirational. “We are family. We are TGC. Nothing is impossible.”
The Land and the Beauty. While rapidly developing, Cambodia has so much natural beauty. The abundance of trees and fields that supply their fruit and rice are a must-see. The country sides are so peaceful and beautiful, and the beaches are one-of-a-kind. I just returned to Siem Reap from travelling to Kampot and Kep. Kampot had such a magnificent river and an amazing view of Bokor Mountain. Kep was recently renovated with a beautiful white sand beach and was filled with Cambodians in their swimming outfits. Yup, “swimming outfits.” Here, most locals would not be seen in a bathing suit or a bikini. They swim in their clothes for modesty.
The Passion. The people here have such a passion for their country and education. Everyone wants to make Cambodia a better place for workers, educators, students, and tourists. No matter if they get to travel or learn more about other places, their ultimate goal is to return to Cambodia to make a difference in their own land.
The History. Learning about the Temples and the Cambodia history has been incredible. Each temple has a different purpose and you can see it in its ruins. One of my favorites was Beng Melea. You can walk around and climb on the stones and trees that flow throughout the Temple. With such a traumatic history of the Khmer Rouge-everyone has a story here. A story of hurt, hatred, hardships, or poverty. A story of what their lives used to be and how they are trying to make a change. A story of how someone used to be poor but worked hard to get an education and a good job. It is remarkable.
The Smiles. Despite the poverty and the hardships, the Cambodian people always have a smile on their faces. Regardless of where you are, little kids will constantly wave to you and say “helloooooooo!” Our landlord’s family has the most adorable children who never, ever neglect to yell “hello” or buh-bye” when we walk in or out. It is the best welcome anyone could ask for!
The Adventure. There is so much to do in Siem Reap! From cycling to Road 60, a Khmer carnival with a ferris wheel, bumper cars, games, and a street market, with the locals, to attending various activities organized by expats. There is never a dull moment. Some of my favorites include Nerd Nite in which someone volunteers to present on any topic they choose, with 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. It is a great way to learn new things and an excellent way to get to know some people in the community! There is also Spoken Arts in which people get together and read poems or writing that interests them. Also, let’s not forget the lady boys. Lady boy shows are in the night markets and around Pub Street. Who knows? You may even get pulled on stage to dance with them!
The Coconuts. Fresh coconut juice everywhere!!!! I will miss this so much.
The Bike Rides. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you would know that before I came to Cambodia, I hadn’t ridden a bike in years! Riding around here is so nice and I definitely want to keep it up at home. Although it won’t be the same without the dirt roads! I did so much cycling here- to Barai Lake, to the Butterfly Gardens, Museums, and more. I’m hooked and will definitely have to invest in a bicycle when I go back.
The Cultural Diversity. Siem Reap is filled with NGOs and growing businesses. So many people travel here to work, teach, volunteer, and help Cambodia grow. I have made friends from all over the world and it has been delightful to learn, not only about Cambodia, but about other cultures and customs as well.
The Markets. Throughout Cambodia you will find markets that include, pretty much everything. You can find your food, your clothes, get your hair washed, have a beer, or just walk around and practice your bargaining skills. In Siem Reap there is an Old Market and three Night Markets. Although sometimes they are smelly because of the food, it is so much fun to walk around, explore, and see what kind of trinkets you can find.
I will miss you Cambodia!