South Meets East
Posted on December 29, 2011
I arrived in Siem Reap safely after 4 hours of delays in the Bangkok airport (which can best be described as the Rodeo drive of Southeast Asia), a quick cambodian visa application and $20 US.
I was met by a lovely gentleman on a tuk-tuk who took my bag and drove me directly to meet Nat at our hotel. The hotel (which is really just a small house) is beautiful. A gem in the middle of a busy village dirt road marked by pot holes the size of small foothills and filled with street merchants and eager tour guides. In all this chaos there is a little den of solace called the Villa Medamrei. I walked in and was greeted with kind eyes and a sweet smile (this has been the case everywhere I’ve been so far). After a simple head nod and removal of my shoes, I was led to a beautiful simple room with a lemon tea and banana chips waiting for me and of course a smiling, happy Nat.
After about 2 hours of catching up, we decided to eat. We found this little cafe on the river that had a table on the ground and nice soothing Cambodian Kenny J renditions of St. Elmo’s fire in the background. It was delicious. Finally, everywhere I go the “normal food” is the food I crave most. We split Ankor chicken (like a curry), spring rolls and Tom yum kun soup with a pitcher of Angkor beer for $11. We walked home through thenight markets and they were playing cajun music spoken in Cambodian. I felt like i was in a scene from Steel Magnolias – which is ironic since a) Nat is from Louisiana and b) the last 11 years I have been telling her to “drink the juice Shelby” (quote from “Steel Magnolias”). This place is strange and wonderful.
Today (Nat’s birthday) we are booked on a guided tour though the Angkor Wat temples on a batman tuk-tuk. That’s right, I said it. Can’t wait!
The people here are amazing. Everyone we have met has been so genuinely kind. Nat said that has been her experience everywhere she has been the last 3 weeks. It really puts into perspective the power of the human spirit. Less than 20years ago, more than 1.7 million Cambodians were brutally slaugtered by their own people and still are they moping around with sour faces and jeers? The strength that these people have is truly an inspiration.
Thanks for the perspective Cambodia.