The wheels on the bus go round n’ round and so does the same Cambodian film showing on the tiny screen above the driver’s head but that doesn’t seem to deter the passengers (nor us) from watching and re-watching. Outside, the clouds are forming dark overbearing masses as a rainstorm prepares itself to shower the countryside just below. Grey streaks mark the sky where rain presently falls. I look out behind the pastel blue plastic curtain into the vastness where life seems totally undisturbed by the quarter size droplets of rain and the thunder that roars in the background. It is part of life. C’est tout!
While gazing out my little window watching the scenery jump from one image to another incapable of capturing the beauty of the countryside with my digital camera, I feel frustration. I yearn for time to stop, just to take in what lays before but the speed of the bus makes the images flash by quicker and quicker and my frustration grows greater and greater. That feeling of yearning is a familiar one, one that keeps me from being totally in the moment much like that old saying goes ”you snooze, you lose”. I notice how grasping mentally to one fleeting image I miss out on the next, it cuts my breath in half, my jaw contracts and my thoughts pick up momentum. I remind myself ”there is no need”. I surrender, letting the fast moving images pass before my eyes absorbing each one individually and then just simply letting them go. Much like one watches the mental screen of the mind during a ”sit”, unattached, totally present and fully absorbed.
The rain did its thing, and by the time we arrived in Siem Reap the sky had fully cleared leaving large puddles of muddy water where dozens of children splashed happily. Capitol dropped us and its 30 or so other passengers off by the Central Market only to be greeted by hoards of tuk tuk drivers all fighting for the the right to transport us to any given guest-house for 2 USD. A frenzy, like sharks savagely fighting for the same small piece of raw meat. We opted for the uncle of Philippe’s new best friend that he met on the bus which infuriated the other drivers to no means.
We were tired and filthy. Arriving at the River Garden was blissful. Off the road well travelled and away from modern noise we recharged our batteries. Every little thing was graced with gratitude and planted in the present moment. The simple fact of breathing the freshness of clean air (after PP), open space, being received by a familiar face, Deb, the co-owner of the guest house whom we had met last December, a tastefully decorated room large enough to house 2 Cambodian families of 10 and the welcoming sound of frogs croaking from a tiny pond placed just in front of our doorway. The best of all, a shower. It is humbling to know that the simplest things (for some they remain monumental) in life can bring such pleasure and happiness.
Siem Reap holds a special place in our hearts. Its is mystical and beyond words. It is more a feeling and therefore loses all essence through words.
Confidently, we strolled down the semi-paved road lined with wooden huts and lingering fires containing large metal pots brewing traditional Khmer soup ”samlor” in every fashion. The last hut at the top of the road just before the park was occupied by an old Khmer who spoke a bit of conversational French. We first met him back in December. He was sitting crossed legged in front of his humble home. His face was marked by years of experience, war, loss, poverty, sickness and memory but his eyes remained open and friendly . During our brief visit, he would disappear for long moments to care for his bed ridden wife. She had spent days that turned into months suffering from some unknown illness. With medication hard to come by she suffered in the presence of her husband. He took out of his pocket an empty vial of some kind of pain killer that a backpacker had graciously left him. We offered to make a trip to the local pharmacy in search of something similar. Unfortunately without a prescription we were only able to provide something equivalent to Tylenol. It didn’t matter to him. He was gracious for what we had to offer. Months had passed since that chaleureux visit on one hot humid day in Siem and life in Switzerland had regained its force but our thoughts were often with him, his wife, his little shack and his warm smile. Today, almost 7 months later, we were eager to see him but the door to his hut was closed and only a dim light shown through the lose wooden slats that separated his world from the world outside. We decided not to disturb him nor his family and vowed to return before leaving Siem.
Into the darkness we walked hand in hand with a determined pace along the Siem Reap River until the lights of the city paved the way to Psar Chas, the Old Market, where restaurants and tuk tuk lined the crowded streets. We shared a delicious dinner of banana flower salad, shrimp curry, a Singha beer or two and some of the best home-made ice cream in the world from Pumpkins, ginger sesame, lime citronella sorbet and good old chocolate mint for Noa. With nightmares a thing of the past I finally slept a peacefuly night.