On being thankful

I had a couple of other things I wanted to blog about (and the fact that I had skipped over Bangkok completely first), but this one is timely.

Today, while visiting the temples close to Siem Reap in a tuk tuk, I got to see some of the countryside of Cambodia. It was extremely refreshing to see the daily lives of the Cambodian people whizz by you. It’s not uncommon to see children who are at most 5 years old walking or biking on the side of the streets by themselves, or kids who would be walking for what seemed like hours coming home from school. All this under the baking, hot sun. I was thankful to be sitting under the shade of the tuk tuk with a nice breeze from the ride at that moment.

I also saw families who are doing their best to make ends meet. I heard that on average, families here make less than $80 a month. One month! Can you imagine that? Which is why it was so hard to reject so many locals and their children waiting at the entrances of these temples, trying to sell water, postcards, or souvenirs for $1. I mean, I don’t normally buy anything, but in a way I felt really bad for some of these children who would be trained to say “one dollar?” to foreigners. Heck, I feel like the money I spent on my camera can be used to sustain their family life for a good year.

In the two and half days since I have been in Cambodia, I have seen some of the poorest people I’ve ever met. On a bright note, the Cambodians are some of the friendliest locals I’ve encountered so far. Often I smile at them, and they will nod and smile right back, and a simple “sou-sa-day” (hello in Khmer) will break down so many barriers.

Seeing the people here live the way they do reminded of being thankful of the things that I do have in life. What perfect timing it is as Thanksgiving rolls around back home in Canada.

Sometimes, comparing is the only way you can really put things into perspective. We talk about “first world problems” all the time, and yes, I do feel like some of the things we complain about in life are so pointless compared to these these people, who have to fish, farm, and work everyday, or else they don’t even survive.

So, if you’re still reading up to this point, why the photo? I felt like this was the single-most meaningful photo I’ve taken to date. An 8 year old girl (with her brother – who’s not pictured) came into one of the temples less visited by tourists – so it was quiet – and had some leaves in her hands. After I took this photo, I asked her what she was picking. She said in very limited English, “leaves.” I said for eating? She nodded. My heart sank a bit at that moment and I wish I had some crackers or food on me to give to them.

So to wrap, I’m especially thankful for being able to make this trip happen, and being here right now. I’m thankful for being able to have a roof over my head, not having to worry about my next meal, or having clothes to wear.

And I’m definitely thankful for my family and friends back home. You can tell I’m starting to get just a bit homesick. But I’m sure that’s just temporary ;-) Happy Thanksgiving :-)


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