Asia, Cambodia, South East Asia
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Life lessons from Cambodia

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Travel is a great teacher. And I feel that every experience has opened my eyes to some important life lessons, which no classroom education or job could ever teach me. And while one may not necessarily need to travel to realize these life truths, at least for me, the true acceptance of these has happened only through my time on the road.

Cambodia is a country that had a profound impact on me for many reasons – its history, people, beauty affected me in good and bad ways both, and below I share some of the lessons I learnt during my time there.

Never Generalize

I had read a lot about crime in Cambodia and the lack of safety before I visited it, and while I will admit to having certain not so great experiences, I cannot deny that I had many more wonderful ones. Like the Tuk Tuk driver who stopped his dinner midway to drop us to our hotel late into the night. Or the owner of a hotel on Otres beach, who went all out to get us a place to crash for the night since our booking got mixed up and he had no available room for us.

Life is all about experiences, both positive and negative, and it is this that makes life so wonderfully interesting. So absorb your experiences, never generalize and don’t be in a haste to make a judgement call.

Life is all about Relativity

I am such a restless person by nature, and I always want more from life. Not that I think that’s a bad trait, but sometimes this type of restlessness could lead to an unhealthy dissatisfaction and I try my best not to tip over this thin line.

I felt humbled to be in Cambodia, and realized just how fortunate I really am. Having a loving family, a house, a job and just so many other things that I take for granted, many in Cambodia have none of these. It just made me recognize how important it is to value what you have – what you may consider average, probably is the life someone else dreams of.

I can be Happy in Less

This one was a surprise for me, since I have always liked my material comforts (can’t believe I am admitting this) . But when I went to Koh Rong, a fairly primitive island with partial electricity , no TV, barely there phone and wifi networks, but just enough blue water, sun and sand and starry night skies to get me by, I realized for the first time in my life, that there is a possibility that I can be happy in less. And I was happy, very happy indeed and at peace. Didn’t take out any dressy clothes, gadgets, make up out of the suitcase, didn’t care either.

Adjust and Evolve

When we made the trip back from Koh Rong to Sihanoukville, we landed at the Otres beach where we had booked a beautiful resort through Agoda. On reaching, we were told that the resort’s system didn’t reflect our booking because some updates were happening at the back end and there possibly was a lack of sync between the two systems. The resort was completely sold out but the kind owner offered to call all his friends on the beach and check if anyone had a room available .We did find one, and it was so bad that I was almost in tears and threw a fit, but we were hot and tired and didn’t really have another choice. The mister and I decided to spend all our time at the beach and go back to our room only to sleep. Things took a turn for the better by the evening, as the resort that we had originally booked informed us that they had an empty room and we got a beautiful cottage to sleep for the night. Now, everything in life may not have such a happy ending. But I wonder if I gained anything by continuously sulking and wasting precious hours on a holiday when things didn’t go my way.

There is as much as one can plan, and despite this, sometimes things go wrong and we have no control over it. So make the most of wherever you are, and learn to live in the moment. After all, lost time will never come back.

Forgive and Move On

I did have some not so great experiences in Cambodia, such as Tuk Tuk drivers scaring us if it was late night and demanding more money, being followed on the streets of Phnom Penh by random men, or getting bothered non stop at Ochheuteal beach to buy a massage, balloons, bracelets etc from women and children. This type of stuff usually pushes me over the edge even in my country, but in Cambodia I learnt to politely ignore or decline and say thank you. If you travel through the country, you will realize the effects of a very traumatic past, and the fact that poverty is rampant. Many people are dependent on tourism to run their houses, so a little patience with them will do none of us any harm. And if you are faced with more dire circumstances which can’t be solved by ignoring, then just try to forget and forgive. After all, wouldn’t all of us be happier if we could just forgive and move on?

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