With a huge sigh of relief and one final glance back, we bid farewell to Cambodia. Chase refers to our time here as a “bad relationship.” A few ups, lots of downs, yet something holds you there. In this incidence it was my passport, or lack there of. Not all relationships fare the way we hope they will, this was the scenario we faced in Cambodia. We wanted to love it and had incredibly high hopes for doing so. Unfortunately, like many relationships, this one just didn’t work out.
For us, the corruption was felt almost immediately. It seemed to be deep-seated into the communities we visited. One can only be taken advantage of so many times before becoming a bit gun-shy. I seek out the best in everyone yet during our time in this country I became a little skeptical. We felt as though our guard had to be kept up and that we had to be on full alert at all times. Many may say this is how one should travel regardless, but I disagree. I don’t particularly enjoy the feeling of being leery of every soul I meet. However, in Cambodia it did become increasingly difficult to trust others and we were continually worried about what possible challenges we would be faced with next. This feeling was very unsettling yet it was one we just couldn’t seem to shake. On multiple occasions my dad said, “Why in the world do you continue to stay in a place that you don’t enjoy, where you feel unsafe? I thought you two were smart but that just don’t make any sense at all!” The only answer I could ever provide is that we were just trying to give it a fair chance; you know, a lot like staying in a relationship that you know you should be in….just in case.
There were definite high points during our time in Cambodia and when we started getting really down about our situation, we would instantly remember the good times. (Chase’s “bad relationship” comparison is really starting to shine through, isn’t it?) Biking around Angkor Wat was a highlight and one of my favorite days on this adventure. Touring the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, although an emotionally heavy day, was educational and eye opening. Enjoying friendly banter with the locals as they urged me to “buy somsesing (something) laaaadddyyyy” was always entertaining. The enormous smiles on children’s faces and the excitement it brought them when a westerner said hello. There are the things I will choose to remember.
I don’t believe in ending any relationship badly and I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. While this particular relationship may not have worked out as we had planned, we still learned a great deal. If nothing else, I can now be a resource to any of you who happen to lose their passport while abroad! I refuse to let our time in Cambodia be marred by our unfortunate experiences, yet it will be remembered as a place where we gained a wealth of knowledge…and a decent tan, to boot! I don’t think this relationship is going to work out but Cambodia, can we still be friends?