As I was closing on my Cambodian series, I came to the part that I love most about the country, how ordinary Cambodian spent their lazy afternoon in the park fronting the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Coming in from my jaunt at Angkor in Siem Reap which is a 6-hour bus ride, I went directly to see the other monuments and Wats in the lovely city of Phnom Penh and while waiting for my friend Lyna to pick me up, I went straight to the park in front of the Royal Palace. It was also at this time that I have tried to take on the motorbike (called moto) in Phnom Penh to go to two Wats. I was adamant at first to take the motorbike as it is too risky however, taking on the new-found courage, I took it. I was happy nothing untoward happened to me while in the motorbike.
Cambodian is a lovely country of lovely and gentle people, humble as they live their lives each day. I share in their rich history and one that goes for centuries of rich Khmer culture, heritage and tradition, very much uniquely Oriental and one that truly reflects the oriental aspect of our being Asians and of Southeast Asia. It is a Kingdom of loyal people, friends and family. The days I was in Cambodia, I felt grateful for my friends who spent most of their precious time with me. They are my brothers and sisters when we spent a month in China a year before. Uniquely, we share the same common heritage and friendship, one that I am proud to hold in my memory.
The sunny afternoon I spent at the Royal Palace’s park reminds me of the CNN footages many years back when they feature famous landmarks in countries they have their presence felt. I was standing the famous landmark of all of Phnom Penh, one of the complexes of the Royal Palace. Of late, CNN uses the Independence Monument in downtown Phnom Penh as their focal landmark in its advertising campaign.
Moreover, what I saw that afternoon were relaxed Cambodians, ordinary men, women, children, friends and families spending their time off and feeding the pigeons in the park. Children chase pigeons and friends feed them. I saw a great and lovely young family with a pretty baby girl who spent their time together, bonding as a family. I also saw friends, young ladies feeding the doves. I captured all and reflect on them. They lived a relaxed, happy life and one that many parts of the world do not enjoy.
In this journey towards the heart of Cambodia is a reflection and a journey of self-rediscovery. I remembered when I and the King Father, His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk exchanged letters, he invited me to come to Cambodia and that was between the years 1996-1998, I was still a university student. Now, I am proud to have come to the Kingdom of Cambodia and is captivated by its charm, beauty, rich culture, life and inspired by its humble people whom I considered brothers and sisters.
Cambodia is my home now, second to my own.