This year marks another milestone for our team; We set out on an overseas outing.
The baby squad has always cheered on the idea of outings, especially because our last one was back in 2016. This year was special, because our long awaited dreams are finally coming true–an overseas outing. Our minds were soon filled with wanderlust and ideas of scenic views, food crawls, and memorable moments. So we searched deep within our pros and cons list (and our budget plans) and we finally agreed on a place. Somewhere exotic, somewhere historical with a little modern charm. Somewhere like Siem Reap.
Small and vastly adorned with an array of temples, Siem Reap is a tourist gem of Cambodia with the closest proximity to the world famous Angkor temples. From the enormous Angkor Wat, to smaller but equally significant temples. Definitely a one-in-a million destination. It’s paradise to die hard fans of Indiana Jones and the game Temple Run. As for us, we were ready to embrace our inner Lara Croft. So braced ourselves for the 4.5 hours flight, and said hello to Siem Reap.
When we arrived, we were welcomed with a blanket of sunlight. The city is quaintly charming with it’s army of tuk tuks and bicycles, yet fewer cars. We were equally impressed by Ny, our adorable hotel guide who greeted us at the airport. She showed us around the city and taught us basic Khmer words. A part of us wished we could keep her in our pockets to take home. The minute we reached our extremely hospitable hotel, we were ready for more adventures.
We challenged ourselves to find out who can walk the most steps while we’re there. Everyone seemed to think it was a great idea, until we encountered the sun. Oh the sun. With squinted eyes, we walked all the way, through and around the lengthy temples while groaning about the weather. Within minutes of walking, the sun left us longing for icy coconut water and Jepher’s electric fan. The heat was intense.
Nonetheless, the temples were beautiful. Angkor was massive, and left us baffled on it’s size. Koh Ker, tucked remotely within the jungles, is a seven-story temple with a breathtaking view for those who makes it to the top. We also got to see Beng Mealea, an unrestored mossy ruins, full of rustic beauty. Ta Prohm was unanimously one of our more memorable ones. Home to the Tomb Raider Movie, it’s hugged by the jungle and kissed by the sun.
During our visit to Ta Prohm, it rained.
We were stuck at the outskirts of the temple with the bus so close, yet so far. The rain was heavy and we had no umbrellas. It wasn’t long until Ivan made a run for it and got himself drenched just to fetch umbrellas back and forth for all of us. We made it back barely dry, but overwhelmed by how kind our big daddy was to make sure we made it back safe.
Kindness is of no shortage during our trip. Most people would say it’s because good service is required for the city to survive. But Siem Reap took their hospitality, selflessness and kindness to a whole new level. Our outing taught us more than just to speak words in Khmer, but it taught us how to speak kindness as well.
Herna’s birthday wasn’t until a week after outing, but the hotel guides noticed the nearing date and wanted to surprise her with a cake. So one night, we gathered in her room to hang out and talk, until the hotel guide came in with a cake and we all sang ‘happy early birthday’ to her. She was so surprised, but gladly surprised! It wasn’t the how good or how big the cake was, it was the thought that counts.
Cenny saved our grumbly tummies with all the snacks that she brought. She gladly shared them with everyone, knowing full well that we’d devour them all. Jepher generously let us borrow her electric fan and possibly saved us from having a heat stroke. It wasn’t the amount of snacks or the power of the fan that counted, but it was their selflessness that did.
And who can forget our big papa Ivan who braced the rain to get us all umbrellas and into the dry bus. He could’ve easily asked us to man up and go through it anyways, but he chose to get himself wet so that we didn’t have to. Once again, it was the thought that counts.
Siem Reap may be showered with heat, but through showering each other with kindness, we can all beat the heat together. No matter the sun or the rain, big or small. Acts of kindness always comes through.
This outing itself has been very kind to us. It’s like taking our chirpy office away from the deadlines and computer screens. It lets us find ways to see each other in different vibes. We bonded over bus seats, lunch tables, and camera lenses. We laughed over funny memories, and shed tears on heartfelt ones. We got to know each other better, and learned that we are actually better together.
We came home with souvenirs of many kinds. We came home with trigger words like ‘Jepher’s slow-mo fall’ that instantly lets us recall funny memories. We’ll look at our weight scale and regret being ramen connoisseurs for breakfast instead of cereal killers. We came home with photographs that converted our five-day stay to forever. We came home with a piece of Siem Reap with us, sudden cravings of the sidewalk kebabs and yummy pancakes. And when we left, we all left a piece of our hearts in Siem Reap.