Over a year ago I wrote a post called “How to Fall in Love with Scotland.” High on pictures of castles, fairy pools, and Kate Middleton, I was in love with Scotland before I even arrived. For any one who has ever been to Scotland, it is easy to understand the appeal of this beautiful country.
Now with only sixty something days until I embark on a ghastly long flight to Cambodia, I find myself not jumping up and down like I did a year before, but rather shaking in my boots. Cambodia intimidates me. The prospects of intense heat, a language barrier, and a vastly different economic level are unsettling me more than I thought they would. I previously confessed that I often have some second thoughts about my grand plan, and upon realizing that, I decided it was time to force myself into a different frame of thinking. Cambodia provides me with a chance to experience a new culture, new people, new sights, and new foods. It deserves a chance to be loved. And so I embarked on my own personal google searching filled journey to make myself fall in love with Cambodia.
Before choosing to volunteer in Cambodia, it only existed in my mind as another small country in Asia and the site of the Khmer Rouge. I associated it with a book I read in middle school, and knew that it was not appropriate to touch someone on the head.
After opening my heart and allowing myself to love a country other than Scotland, Cambodia has put a spark in my heart.
A self proclaimed multi-racial butterfly, my life has been a melting pot of cultures and the embodiment of multiculturalism. Cambodia, with it’s combination of French, Hindu, and Buddhist influences, lends a culture that is richly unique. Throughout it’s history, the Kingdom of Wonder transitioned between rulers of various ethnicities, adopting a plethora of customs, and pushing each one into all aspects of it’s identity. From architecture to food, Cambodia represents a hub of many cultural experiences.
Speaking of architecture, while I may have once drooled over the castles of Europe, I now find myself obsessively looking at pictures of Angkor Wat at sunset, gasping at island beaches, and smiling at the prospect of exploring the floating villages. Cambodia hosts a wide variety of touristy and off the beaten path sites to see. While there are no UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are places filled with just as much history and awe.
If looking at those beautiful images does not pull at your heart strings, or at least make you crave adventure, then you dear reader, have a cold soul.
But the motivation to visit this small Asian country does not stop there. While I am not able to attest to it yet, I have read time and time again that the Khmer people are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people. Much like I fell in love with the Scots, I have no doubt my heart will be captured once again.
“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” – Babs Hoffman
And so as the days before my departure continue to run out, I will fill my mind with the wondrous adventure that awaits me. With this new chapter, my life begins a period of tremendous transformation. I am ready to go with no expectations and an open heart, and welcome everything that comes my way.