A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog
This is our first Off We Go. Every now and then, one of us at The Guest Room is off traveling and we have a story, a source, a series of photographs or all of these we just want to share. This is Seam Reap from Mr. & Mrs. J!
This year’s trip to Siem Reap was much different than my last one, six years ago.
This was my first to Cambodia as a parent with a very curious three year old in tow.
From the moment we were greeted at the airport to the minute we departed, our trip was full of observations and questions. Our wide-eyed daughter was fascinated by so many things.
But who wouldn’t be, by cows walking on the road and motorcycles hauling bales of hay six times their size?
Our trip was as close to perfect as a short Asian getaway gets. We had a gorgeous villa with a beautiful pool. We saw unreal temples and got some great bargains. The people of Cambodia couldn’t have been nicer and the food was outstanding. It was such a smooth holiday.
However on the last night I was hit with a harsh shot of reality. While jumping in our car after dinner, it was quite late and my daughter snuggled up against me in the back seat. We stared out the window at the bright lights and road full of tuk-tuks and scooters. Then we stopped at a light and saw a young shirtless boy sitting in the dirt by himself smacking a broken stick againt the dusty ground.
The questions started flying!
“What’s he doing?”
“Where are his shoes?”
“Where’s his mommy?”
This young boy roughly the age of six, was all by himself doing what he probably does every night. It instantly made me compare his life to my daughter’s. I thought about the story time and bath time that we share and all the other opportunities that she has, that this boy will never know of.
On this trip, and the last, I saw people bathing in the dirtiest of rivers and living in some of the worst conditions I have ever seen. And while the local Cambodians seemed happy and warm, probably due to different priorities and expectations, it still made me upset.
It made me angry to know that Siem Reap pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars every year, yet remains one one the poorest places in Cambodia.
It made me angry to see people sleeping in hammocks covered in dirt, while yards away I slept in an expensive luxury hotel.
And it made me angry to see that boy playing in the dirt by himself when he should have been at home sleeping soundly in a bed.
On my last trip, seeing such poverty affected me in a much different way. Last time I met some of the sweetest kids, and gave them as much as I could afford and I left with a feeling of gratefulness for what I had.
But I don’t need to see poverty to feel thankful for what I have anymore.
The sad realization leaving this time is that I know six years down the road, Siem Reap will be in basically the same state that it is in now.
And that’s just not good enough!
This all being said, it was another great trip to Cambodia and I’m really glad we went. Hopefully one day I’ll have the opportunity to go back and bring some change with me.
Hope you enjoyed hearing my perspective. I’d love to hear yours!
Hit me up in the comments and please share if you liked this post!
& from Mrs. J……Well you know me… after we did our day exploring the temples, which was just incredible, I was ready to look for a good source and I’d love to share a few that I came across in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
We stayed just out of town which was perfect to avoid the hustle and bustle and really relax. I highly recommend the Sojourn Boutique Villas. Great all around. www.sojournsiemreap.com
For a beautiful silk scarf, unique jewellery, edgy clothing and even ceramics I loved Christines which just opened in December 2013. It’s very close to the old market and worth a visit. http://www.christines-store.com
We found lots of gifts at Louise Loubatieres Gallery. She offers a mix of fashion, accessories and homewards. http://www.louiseloubatieres.com
Mr. J and I love Indian. I’d heard really great reviews about Dakshin’s flavour of India, and it held up to such ratings! If you’re looking for Indian, look no further. You can book a reservation firstname.lastname@example.org It’s just across from the Siem Reap Hospital main entrance. (Walking distance from Pub street.)
Mie Cafe. Such a gem. In a beautiful quaint setting, the food was the best of our trip! http://www.miecafe-siemreap.com
For a coffee or something light, Sister Srey is perfect. It’s around the corner from the old market on the river.
If you haven’t been, it’s a wonderful place to visit. Here’s a few more pics of beauty…..