Beng Mealea is a beautiful temple, but its two or three hours outside of Siem Reap, where I was staying. Sounds like a long bumpy bad drive huh? A two hour car ride isn't the most fun. Imagine doing it in an open-air tuk tuk. Sound dreadful? Well, absolutely not. My favorite parts about my trips to Cambodia are the long rides through the countryside. The wind blowing in my hair, the sun tanning my ghostly white skin. Some days I didn't care so much about the temples or the destinations I just wanted to drive. I longed for those long tuk tuk rides. Any time I visit a country as poor as Cambodia, it's really such an introspective and sobering experience. You drive by homes that you could barely call huts, but you see the people inside smiling and laughing. No matter how little these people have, still they greet you like you're one of their own family. They invite you into their homes, their lives. Cambodians are such warm people. I know that Cambodia is wrought with its own problems and its not all pixie dust like it appears to me as a tourist*, but one can't deny the immense sense of contentment these people have.
An example of how awesome some Cambodians are is Mr. Sith, my tuk tuk driver (and friend!). Mr. Sith was talking with me one day, telling me about his children. I asked to see a picture, and responded by asking if I wanted to meet them. So he drove across the river to a market for locals where his kids were hanging out. I was so happy to meet his wife and kids. Later in the week, while in search of some bags for a friend, Mr Sith decided he wanted to buy a present for me and my parents. I mean really, who buys presents for someone's parents? I thought that was the sweetest thing. It nearly melted my heart that he wanted to give my parents a gift. I suspect that he didn't have a lot of my money, yet he so generously want to share what he had with me. I love people who love Jesus, but honestly even Christians who should be so loving and generous can't compare to my experiences in Cambodia.
So as we drove through the countryside, I thought about life and what I needed to change about myself. In what ways could I be more caring? more giving? more loving? And that was my theme of Cambodia.