Cambodia, I’ve heard a lot!

Dear Cambodia, I’ve heard so much about you the past decade . . .

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AngKor Wat (“City of Temples”) The walls told stories, like book series. From every angle, the details were noteworthy. What a waste that the clouds didn’t give way. We missed both the sun rise and sun set but sitting on top of a hill, babbling away under a light drizzle was beyond spectacular. It was funny how the first thing that caught my attention was the missing Buddha heads. I guess it happened during a war in the 12th century. The enemies destroyed the statues out of hatred – base on history records and  thieves sneak into temples, knock them off and sell them. They worth a lot of money. Apart from this weird observation/habit of mine (noticing insignificant things) ,
I was intrigued by the history of this mysterious palace. #LaraCroft #TombRaider

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To be honest, my memories of AngKor Wat wasn’t just purely an enthralling excursion. A child was emotionally hurt due to an incautious mistake. I bought some key chains from some street children and another child rushed in as I was stuffing the key chains into a newly purchased bag. With careful thought, I explained in simple phrases, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I need anymore key chains.” He followed us for nearly a kilometer and I barely spoke a word to him because I was deciding if I should get it. I didn’t know how to reject him in a way he could understand. After a short-while, he was escorted by the security guards and they planted him somewhere further away. I vividly remember the looks in those eyes, the desperate hope that I would purchase something. He lowered the price thrice while walking beside me and I knew he was deeply affected by my ambiguous rejection. I’ve done a mini damage in this child, not because I didn’t buy from him, but because he made a comparison with his friends. If I could, I would turn back time and manage it differently. The kids here encounter this on a daily basis, it’s the harsh truth and it is something painful to watch.

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The people that crossed paths were like-minded, genuine and original. Our cultural exchange during the last night grew tangible in the atmosphere. We went to the rooftop to admire the full moon and traded secrets. We had a whale of a time, laughing hysterically at many random conversations. Human chemistry at its finest – “It’s always the people who completes the trip, right?”, whispered the moon. The stars nodded, “Till we meet again . . .” We totally should.”, replied the moon. The stars and moon collided.

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“Yay, I held a friendly spider.”

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“All I hear was laughter by the streets and the sound of crunchy tarantula on a stick.”
It tasted like soft-shell crab, legitimately good, not kidding at all! But scorpion maybe not again. Don’t forget to try
coconut ice-cream at the night market. Yum! Yum! Yum!

Virgin experience with B-52 cocktail.  Kahlúa + Irish cream + Triple sec. I love Baileys! but this was exceptionally cool. The top layer was first ignited and you have to finish it off within seconds to experience the burning from the throat to the chest. Only at the end of the trip, we researched that it was named after a long-ranged bomb – Viet war.

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A couple of us were actually here to serve as Music Advocates under World Vision. Basically, spreading God’s love through our given instruments. One of the most fulfilling experience yet, will share a little more once this journey officially ends.                           We’ll  be holding a fundraising concert in 2017 in Singapore, keep a look out! 🙂

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Our fellow pianist didn’t make it for the trip, so we improvised on the day itself. All glory to God for seeing us through the rehearsals after many months of preparations.
It was the most heartfelt cultural night I’ve experienced. We sang ‘Home’ and a couple of songs to a room filled with 7 other nationalities. It didn’t feel foreign at all because the lyrics, especially the words bonded us together. It was really emotional.

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I was extremely glad to be blessed with an opportunity to watch Belinda Lee host during the trip and work with her on a media project. A 12 hours shoot but it was definitely a pleasure to be on board. #soblessed

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Witnessed the most complicated process of folding a paper heart. This precious little one was meticulous at every step. Very attentively, I watched him fold over 2 minutes. The other kids playing instruments and drew. It was an endless train of enthusiasm and spontaneity blowing off the roof. Singers, dancers and rappers rushed to the stage to present their talents. The word that flashed through my mind was, ‘Freedom’. They are not afraid of judgement. We left the room in puddles of tears after a session of thanksgiving and we also visited a village which started a Kindergarten recent and painted their school with Belinda Lee.

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My very thoughtful roommate! The moment I discovered that she was Taiwanese, we clique within seconds in Chinese. It was her first time travelling and the way she described about her flight experience was adorable. I’m so honored to be part of her first experience abroad. We have the same pants – twinies! Can’t wait to see her in Taiwan!

7 days was just right to bit farewell to Cambodia but there was an unexpected twist to my emotions towards the end of the trip. After visiting S-21 and killing fields, my compassion for this country enlarged and my heart was filled to it’s brim.
I exited the viewing compound a few times for a better control of  breath and tears.
It was strenuous to swallow – the black and white images of innocent lives that were brutally tortured by the soldiers. I could visualize the words imprinted on the walls and the description of how prisoners were treated as slaves
. Some evidence were still visible, such as blood stains on palm trees and teeth buried in soil. 

The cute grandpa on the right is Bou Meng, a survivor from the traumatizing S-21.
He sells his books in the same horrific place that put his life on the edge – how bold!
He must have forgiven the past and moved on, which is what I truly admire about him.
Nearly cried when he gently pecked my cheek and whispered, “Thank you so much for buying my book.”  
I felt his sorrows, especially the painful separation with his wife and children and so, was compelled to finish his book on the plane home and I did haha.

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“It’s almost impossible to stop war but it’s a choice to start loving more.”
I would travel a thousand miles just to reunite with this enchanting place again.
A home away from home, I love you Cambodia! 

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