empresspatti (empresspatti) wrote,

Siem Reap

Booking a trip to Cambodia through the American Embassy in Bangkok had an unexpected side effect. My guide, driver and hotel all thought I was Somebody. The whole time I was in Siem Reap, I got treated like a Rock Star.

My Guide picked my up at the airport. His name was Chhung Pisith. My driver’s name had 23 vowels and looked like alphabet soup. I watched them wince and then laugh outright as I practiced saying their names.

“Ok,” I said. “Pat is easy. Mocking is unfair. How about I call y’all Trusted Driver and Honored Guide?” There was relief all around. We had achieved détente.

Looking back, I realized that I took millions of pictures of Angkor Wat, but not too many of Siem Reap. I thought I was used to seeing poverty since Bangkok, but Siem Reap sometimes broke my heart. If you are reading this, know that you are rich beyond the wildest imagination of most of the people I saw in Cambodia.

Here is my reserved and formal Honored Guide when he picked me up at the airport.

The traffic was unbelievable. I didn’t see one stop sign, light or marked lane. Trusted Driver was a pro. We dodged entire families on motorcycles.

The markets were such chaos that it was very exciting just to try to across the street.

I quickly learned to have lots of one-dollar bills (everyone wanted US dollars). I couldn’t bear to turn away children selling stuff. These beautiful kids were working so hard.

There were monkeys everywhere in the Angkor Wat complex. Honored Guide was comfortable feeding them. I was happy to watch and not get too close.

I had no idea this was a termite mound till I poked it. Honored Guide thought I was an idiot. Running away from pissed bugs, I had to agree.

These guides were sleeping in the mid day heat.

How cute were these mini-monks and their friend?
Tags: siem reap
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