And now, picking up from where we left off in our travels… Cambodia. Siem Reap, to be precise.
When people have asked about our most memorable moments from our recent SE Asia journeys, this would definitely be one of them.
A highlight from our time in Cambodia that will be forever etched in our memory unfolded one evening as we were riding bicycles through a back alleyway in Siem Reap. It was an experience which is hard to put into words, as it was one of those qualitative experiences which surpasses our words’ ability to capture it.
It was dusk, and the light was hazy pastel peach. We had rented some bicycles earlier in the day from The White Bicycles, and were headed across the city to a restaurant we had picked out for dinner.
We rounded a bend and all of a sudden found ourselves surrounded by a flood of children who, evidently, had just been let out of school for the day. Children on bikes and children on foot, all of them smiling and full of life.
As we continued to ride down the street, next to and amongst this bustling community of friends and families, living their regular life, we saw it as a bizarre and wonderful existence.
Busyness and bustle, of the usual, with the two of us Canadian adventurers being the most foreign thing in the picture.
The most priceless moments were ones where smiles were shared. It was such a surreal experience to be journeying down the road next to all these beautiful Cambodian children.
The experience could have been perceived as chaotic, but it really wasn’t. Even though there were people going every which way, there was a genuine sense that people embraced the fact that they are not alone on the road, and were more or less looking out for each other. A sense of rush was absent, and people were just riding, or driving, as if a single biotic organism. Moving and reacting to one another, each sharing the responsibility of the chaos.
Though we had moments of fear because of not being trained in this environment, the experience of riding bicycles through the back alleyways of Siem Reap painted for us a truly beautiful picture of community.