Some Things Are Just Universal4
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Tomorrow we were going to the lake. I was so excited! The lake isn’t nearby, and so it would be quite a treat. It had been awful hot lately, and we could benefit from a cool, relaxing swim. My housemates and I stayed up all night packing lunches for our friends and us. Barbecue chicken and rice would be a perfect lakeside lunch.
The next morning we were up before the sun. Who had the towels? Did anyone call for the truck we were taking? Bathing suits…check. Change of clothes…check. Lunch…check and check! We loaded up and set off.
We were glad we got there early, because it wasn’t easy to reserve a pavilion for 50 of us! We set down our belongings and hit the water. What a beautiful site! Mothers chatted about their children and fathers discussed work. As the children laugh happily and the teenagers splash energetically, I sit back and take in the breeze and breathe deeply. I love days like this. I open my eyes and see a herd of malnourished cows wander by. And then I remember I’m in Cambodia.
After swimming, we lie out the mats on the floor of pavilion and begin to share lunch. We brought the white rice wrapped in banana leaves we picked from our backyard and the barbeque chicken. Other families passed around the vegetables & fruits they had prepared. A basket of skewed frogs passed by, and I kindly refused. We had so much food that no one could possibly be hungry.
As the morning turned to early afternoon, and the daily naptime approached. The huts were lined with hammocks, so I cozied up and fell asleep to the sound of Khmer singing, kids laughing, and water splashing. A day at a lake never felt so good.
We load the 25 of us back into the flatbed pickup truck that brought us, and set out for home. My white skin is slightly burned, but it didn’t matter. The driver decides to take a shortcut through the Angkor Wat temples, and I am wide-eyed at the structures before me. Suddenly, we stop as police officers surround the truck. I look around anxiously. Were there too many of us in the back? Were we speeding? The officer gestures emphatically and points back the way we came. The driver turns the truck around and I ask what just happened. We had been stopped because I was white and didn’t pay to be at the temples that day. All non-Cambodians must pay to visit, and I had not. Guess I stood out a little more than I thought. I had been in Siem Reap for two weeks and forgot to notice that white people were not so common.
We arrive home, unload supplies, and settle in for the night. The lake water still reeking from our hair, we decide to have a night of beauty. We had a station for hair washing, for hair styling, and for manicures and pedicures. I was living in a house full of women, so what did you expect? Some things are just universal.
Does the post resonate with you ? Does it inspire you? Have you had similar experiences? How do these kind of everyday experiences compare with visiting a major tourist sight? I'd love to hear your thoughts!