The province of Siem Reap has been built up since the filming of Tomb Raider which introduced the world to the beauty of the nation and its ancient temples. The nation’s pride, Angkor Wat, was the main reason we visited Cambodia, yet we left with an extreme appreciation of the people and their culture. The temples were intricate and each told its own story, which left us speechless. Every detail was breathtaking; and even though we spent ample time looking at pictures beforehand, nothing could've prepared us for its beauty. We could have spent months exploring yet still not see in entirety the largest religious monument in the world.
We spent our days with our incredible driver, Sem. He was a kind-hearted soul who spent the hot days driving us around through the dirt roads and tiny villages showing us what true Cambodia was all about. The night markets are one of their biggest attractions, fully equipped with bug barbeques and trinkets made by the locals.
One of our most fond memories was inviting Sem to share a pizza dinner with us. When we realized he had never set foot in a restaurant himself, we quickly understood how important our night out with him really was. He took pictures for his family, of the pizza and inside the restaurant, because he was proud that he was able to dine with us.
We shared stories and spent hours talking about his life and family.
He explained to us that after genocide, most of the nation is compromised of twenty-five years olds and younger. He appreciated his life and how far the nation has come. When he dropped us off at our hotel, he thanked us profusely with a a permanent smile across his face. It was a memory we would never forget. We don’t think Sem truly realized what he had done for us.
Although we were only able to spend a week in Cambodia, it was one place that will be dear to our hearts. Sem, a lifelong friend of ours, will always be what the nation means to us.
Home to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap majorly exceeded our expectations! What a beautiful place and beautiful people.