An early morning rise took us on a bus ride to Siem Reap. We are accompanied by Niron and Wataana, fellow members of Phnom Penh Church of Christ, who served as our de facto tour guides on the trip.
Moving out of the bustle that is Phnom Penh allows me to take a breath and appreciate the full beauty of the Cambodian countryside. The palm trees sway gently in the flatland with glistening lakes and rivers dispersed between. This embodies the peacefulness of an earlier Cambodia, juxtaposed to the beautiful chaos of the capital city. We then stop for a quick snack of fried spiders, crickets, and other interesting culinary delights.
A few more hours on the bus lets us reflect back on the experience we have had so far. In a short amount of time we have traveled half way around the globe and become quickly immersed in a very different culture. But despite the differences, similarities are noticeable. We have more in common with the Cambodian people then we think and, for that matter, people all around the world. We truly are all one people, citizens of the world.
At our destination, a quick rest is followed by a trip to the Angkor temple area. I am very excited, seeing these amazing ancient structures first-hand. In my opinion, the Khmer civilization built temples that surpass, in just pure amazement, any other religious or monumental structures on the planet.
We are led on a light trek to Phnom Bakheng, a temple built in the late 9th to early 10th century. As we take in the beauty of the sunset falling behind the tree line in the forest beyond, one cannot help but find serenity. We are in a delightful amalgamation of different cultures and religions as Hinduism and Buddhism meet with tourists, pilgrims, and people of every walk of life, faith, and meaning. One cannot help but see a higher force prevailing that led to the thought and creation of this beauty and togetherness.
We close the night with an amazing dinner at what seems to be a living, breathing Apple commercial. This ultra-trendy dining spot is a stark contrast to the ancient splendor earlier in the day. I cannot help but marvel at how Cambodia with its deep rooted, and sometimes dark history, is finding its place in our modern world.
A full day, with many provoking thoughts, has me at rest. I hope my continuing adventure will be as blissful as today.
May peace and love be with you all.
– Daniel Stirling (PharmD. Candidate 2013)