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CAMBODIA | Tuesday, 26 May 2015 | Views [101] | Scholarship Entry

Sleepless night. Disheveled hair. In any normal circumstance I would be curled up in my bed watching Kung Fu Panda, while wishing that a cup of masala tea would magically appear. And yet here one early morning my mind was racing madly but somehow I managed to look like a zombie. Running is the only option if want catch my early morning flight to Siem Reap Kingdom of Cambodia.
Despite my bleak outlook, the country decided to warmly welcome me. “Chelvi Krishnan” read the placard. That was enough to wake me up!
Here in this foreign land my lesson in optimism began.
The tuk-tuk driver with a big smile introduced himself as Pi. The tuk-tuk threaded slowly on rocky paths leading to our guesthouse, only stopping once to get some much needed fuel. Alas, again we were greeted by gas attendees who smiled from ear to ear to welcome us. It was no surprise that we were greeted with a smile from every passerby.
As a good tourist, visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise is a must. At 430am the place was already swamped with people! Unfortunately, it was a cloudy morning. After waiting almost 1 hour we caught a reflection of a splendid reflection in the pond. The sun slowly peeked out from behind Angkor Wat. The sight was enough to put a smile on everyone’s face. It was amazing!
Our good natured default tour guide was Pi, who tirelessly took us in his tuk-tuk to places far and wide. One of the highlights would be visiting a local run English day school for the less-privileged. While the volunteer teacher Chris walked us through the school and its operation, you can hear giggles and sideway glances with bright smiles. As Yoda would say “You will find only what you bring in.” These people despite all the hardship they go through daily brought so much smile and happiness that it was enough to go around for all to share.
The streets were lined with grand hotels, vendors, tuk tuks and travelers from around the world. Pi, Chris and some other locals however rode us pass all this and stopped at a back alley which burst with local restaurants. Woks were flying, and a pretty young lady was shouting the orders in Khmer. All we did was sit; smile and we let the locals do their job. It was the best meal of the trip.
The air was warm and filled with almost a romantic feeling with a touch of old exotic and colonialism. The people are calm like beautiful lotus flowers. Their smiles and their optimism is infectious.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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