"The air is different here," that was my first description of Siem Reap, the home of the largest Hindu temple of the world, (and the place that I was dreaming about exploring by boat for the past months) and a place for the second largest airport in Cambodia and most "touristy".
As I wander around the town by foot and by the usual Tuk Tuk that they offer you in $1, I battled with my feeling of doubt. Am I in the right place?
The image of Cambodia that we traditionally grasp from the media that's available to us feels different and surreal. I'm sure Angkor Wat is amazingly beautiful but talking about the "Cambodia now" doesn't become a topic for most of us.
Cambodia is beyond temples.
TONLE SAP RIVER SETTLERS
I was surprised that there's a tour to see the poverty in Cambodia in floating villages. I was asking myself if Cambodia is doing this to gather more NGOs and minimally solve the problem of these settlers for now by inviting the tourists to donate something to them to support their basic needs
We didn't go to the traditional tour and decided to see how the family living in floating houses in Tonle Sap River near the street.
It was amazing how they move their houses from one place to another whenever they needed to especially if someone will park their boat or use it. Men of the families are usually in the water checking everything that they could do to support the family.
I find the Kitchen very efficient and neat.
And since I could never tell a story just by looking at them, I tried going around the river with some Filipino bloggers as we shout from time to time as the boat sways.
I have seen kids going to school in barefoot that shows how the current situation promises a wonderful future for Cambodia.
SAME BUT DIFFERENT
Like how we Filipinos adapt to the changing demands of our current society as the BPO Industry promises growth and slowly replaces our own language with English, I am seeing the similarity with Cambodia as it uses USD more than their Riel because of its growing demand in the tourism industry.
I feel sad at times that we, Filipinos, often speak English than our language but I feel the same whenever foreigners ask Cambodians why they don't use their money most of the time.
I HOPE TO BRING HOME
Traveling is always a learning experience. When you travel, there always a time when you will realize that the world is big that keeps your humility.
As I travel to see the world and show the how it is to be a Filipino to the world, I'd like to bring some pieces of my Siem Reap visit to the Philippines by wishing that we have the following:
CLEANER PUBLIC TOILET.
and MORE TRASH CANS.
I still need to see the temples and the picturesque sunrise in Angkor Wat tomorrow but yes, I'm loving it here in Siem Reap- good conversations, beautiful people, wonderful merge of cultures and laughter. I'm truly grateful to have this opportunity to spend time with my neighbors, BlogFest Asia 2012 made it happen.