CAMBODIA- MY PASSION AND MY STORY:
Life is not being still,” Sok Chandra said to me. “It is moving from one place to the next.”
“When you let things go, only then you can experience true ultimate peace,” Sok continued. He was dressed in khaki and was my guide on the river. Sok had formerly been a monk and did not want to just show me the sights; he truly wanted me to understand them along with their significance.
The Events of the Day
It was hard to climb the 400 marble steps, especially barefoot, which encased the Buddha’s relics. There were statues of the three-headed elephant Erawan that guarded the shrine, and from this highest point, I could see the Mekong, an unwinding bundle of twisted rivers.
Just then the macaques invaded the shrine, stealing the holy offerings! The Buddhist pilgrims just laughed as this was a common occurrence.
Spending the day with Sok had been great. He really wanted me to immerse myself in the day by tasting, touching, and smelling everything- to experience everything to the fullest.
I loved my cruise on the Mekong — it was unrushed, calm, and authentic allowing me to really experience, not just visit Cambodia. I believe a big piece of my heart was left there!
It was Magical
I’m an early riser and enjoyed the mornings on my balcony, sipping my sunrise coffee. I watched the river wake up. It was magical watching the fishermen cast their nets, the villages come to life.
After breakfast, the next day, we tendered to the closest shore for a hike into the jungle, where lofty bamboo and palms offered a canopy of shade. Coming out of the jungle Sok picked some lemongrass for me and I was fortunate to visit a school where children of all ages attended. The supplies were limited and the teachers came and went but the children were happy to be there.
Seeing rice patties, men fixing their nets for fishing, and women doing laundry was a kind of life so different than the one I lead. On one hand, it was very humbling and on another, it was truly inspiring.
“You always see more when you’re walking,” explained Sok, and I agreed. I had never been to Cambodia before, and I was happy to not have missed all of this. This was real life and I was loving every minute of it.
Travel should never be just about the “attractions”, and exploring a destination on foot gives you the freedom to stop and see. When we met a man building a fishing boat in his front yard, I stopped and asked him questions like a curious schoolgirl. Smoothing the wood beams with a plane, he explained how he waterproofed the hull with a tarlike pitch — using techniques that seem as old as this river. We saw silk being spun from silkworms, bricks and clay pots being made by hand, and palm sugar being tapped from the tallest trees.
In four days, my Fitbit was telling me I had walked 47 miles.
This was the kind of cruising I loved. The coming and going, ebbing and flowing with the river itself, was mesmerizing. Because as Sok told me, life is not staying still.
And now, my friends, you have a piece of my heart. “To Travel is to Live!”