What happens when you fall off a scooter in Cambodia and are inexplicably forced to take stock of your life and surrounds?
I’m sitting on the Riverside of Phnom Penh, in a cafe listening to the beautiful sound of a blind man play the Tro Khmer, a three-string vertical style violin with a coconut body, observing the Tuk Tuk drivers sleeping in the shade and the thousands of motorbikes passing by, some motorbikes carrying families of five from A to B.
The sound is interrupted every few minutes as my senses divert to the children coming and going from my table. The girl selling handmade bracelets who finds me at a different cafe each meal, the legless man in his wheelchair with a basket of books on his lap, to the American man siting next to me sharing his meal with a young Khmer girl half his age.
As I sit here I decide to read my last blog post, I laugh to myself as I read;
Renting a moped for $5 a day in a country with a high statistic of traffic crashes was risky. I admit riding a moped when I was completely inexperienced was also risky, and I suppose a two hour ride up Bokor mountain was not the most ideal road for a practice run.
But it was definitely an adventure and instead of it lasting a couple of hours I’m still living it now, in Phnom Penh watching life go by.
I have had the most interesting week full of frustration, pain and questions, checking myself in and out of hospital twice each day.
Those who know me well will know that the very sight or mention of anything that’s suppose to remain inside our epidermis will cause immediate fainting. Yet it is now a familiar ritual to my new daily routine.
My Tuk Tuk driver has found himself a loyal customer and I no longer tell him what time to meet or where I am going. Instead of the usual “Thank you miss” when I arrive at hospital, I now receive a “See you tomorrow” with his cheeky grin.
The girl selling bracelets is no longer ‘the girl selling bracelets” . Her names Pon, an 11 year old girl who dreams of one day being a lawyer. She has two brothers and three sisters but she doesn’t know the age of them as she has never asked. She works after school, walking up and down the tourist filled restaurants on the Phnom Penh riverside, earning money to support her family.
My Tuk Tuk driver is no longer just a ‘Tuk Tuk Driver’ his names Sorya, a handsome 26 year old Khmer man with the catchiest smile I’ve ever seen. He would love to learn to speak better English but his hard earned Riel goes to support his mother and sisters, they live out of town so he only sees them every few months. English school is $350 a year which is too expensive, but if his savings of a couple of dollars each month add up then hopefully one he will achieve his dreams of studying.
Each day in between hospital visits I find myself happily lost, discovering something new and precious.
Yesterday I stumbled across Daughters of Cambodia, a faith-based non-government organisation reaching out to victims of sex trafficking and sex exploitation in Cambodia.
Daughters of Cambodia offer those trapped in it opportunities to walk free and start a new life. Daughters operate in the heart of an area of Phnom Penh brothels, and they offer a new life through employment in 8 fair trade businesses and a range of social and psychological services.
As I escape the heat outside and sip on coffee at the Sugar and Spice Garden Cafe I find the ambiance of the cafe very calm and soothing.
The girls are beautiful, and pipe up a conversation straight away. There’s no clue of their horrific past and with the life lessons the learn here they have a positive life awaiting them. The waitress staff take English and customer service lessons as their training.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Daughters of Cambodia please click here
When things don’t go to plan it’s easy to wallow in an unfortunate event, or we can look down the other path and see that if that one thing didn’t happen, a whole set of things never would have either.
It’s like dominoes, a single event kicked off an unstoppable series of changes that gained momentum and spun out of control. And that one small event may have changed my life forever.
Do you have a similar travel experience to tell? Share your thoughts below.
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