Cambodia

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 a beyond spectacular experience. 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 probably destroyed the statues out of hatred. But apparently, 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 made. I bought some key chains from a couple of street children and another child rushed in when I was stuffing the key chains I’ve purchased into the bag. With careful thought, I explained, “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. 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.
(Don’t worry, they were really sweet to him.)

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 damage the hope in this child, not because
I didn’t buy from him, but because he made a comparison with his friends. If I could turn back time, I would manage it differently. The kids here encounter this on a daily basis, it’s the harsh truth. ” I’m truly sorry.”

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The people that crossed paths. Like-minded, genuine, original. The cultural exchange grew tangible over the nights and we found ourselves at the rooftop, admiring the moon and trading secrets. We had a whale of a time, laughing hysterically at many random points. 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 . . .”

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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. 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 in seconds to experience the burning down the throat to the chest. Only at the end of the trip, we researched that it was named after a long-ranged bomber in a Vietnam 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 and we improvised on the day itself. All glory to God for seeing us through the rehearsals! Months of preparation.
It was the most heartfelt cultural night I’ve ever 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 bonded us together. “I was really emotional that night. ”

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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. It’s super tiring man, 12 hours shoot but it was a pleasure. #soblessed

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I 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.
We spent 3 hours together, making and playing instruments. Their endless enthusiasm and spontaneity blew off the roof. Singers, dancers and rappers rushed to take turns and 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.
We also visited a village which recently started a Kindergarten and painted their school.

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My very thoughtful roommate! The moment I discovered that she was Taiwanese,
I literally screamed. It was her first time travelling and the way she described about her flight experience was so adorable. I’m so honored to be part of her first experience abroad. We have the same pants, we’re 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. My heart was filled to the brim.
I exited the viewing compound a few times for a better control of my 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 printed on the walls at every corner of the cell 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.
He must have forgiven the past and moved on, 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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