Have you ever been to a place you do not even know exists but took the risk and tried it out? I was prepared and ready to fly. “Kuwait, here I come!” Do you know that feeling of imagining a place that you have already researched, told friends and family, yet, one call changes it all?
Here is how it started. The plan was done and I was set to fly to Kuwait. A sudden call changed everything. I was invited to be somewhere else. To be honest, I have never heard of that name and at that time, the internet was way expensive! Without a clear view nor information of the place, I agreed.
The date was set and it was time to meet good friends, spend time, and exchange goodbyes. The hardest part of leaving is not the revamp but seeing your family, your friends, and the love of your life dejected, not knowing if you will ever see them again. What I left in my hometown was part of my life. We have to say a lot of goodbyes in our lives. Not just to people but places.
My first time traveling abroad and being out of my country was scary. We had to stop in Thailand and change planes. It was around 2:00 am and I could not find Station 1 where my next flight is. Every person I asked could not speak in English and it made me uneasy, scared, and anxious. I had to rely on signs, maps, and directories. Hooray! I found the station, changed currency and ate good food! I was almost halfway through!
September 8, 2007 was the day I arrived at the place I didn’t know existed. I saw my aunt at the airport. We went straight to her place, rested, ate, and had a nice chat. Feeling homesick struck me fast and every day I was longing to go back home.
As time went by, it was a struggle but every day was also a chance to see, learn and be open to new experiences. The place was rich in culture and tradition, and it was those things that caught my heart. The people are tough. Faced with many challenges, they have the innate ability to pick themselves up. At the same time, they are kind, caring, sweet, and fun-loving people just like in my hometown. There are more similarities I found out and I witnessed firsthand that they are family-centered too. Families also tend to be huge, with siblings, aunties, uncles, cousins, and other relatives coming together during big celebrations like the new year. Being part of these events and families changed my perspective and led me to accept, adapt and love the place. I had invitations to different celebrations with different families and the experience is always a unique one.
Another thing I love here is the food! The taste of the food is ‘lost in translation’ at least in my terms. The use of local ingredients makes it distinctive. Sometimes less is more. For me, that is exactly what I want to see on my plate.
When you fall in love with a place, it is not one specific thing; it is everything. But most importantly, I fell in love with the people. I fell in love with the wonders of Cambodia.
– By Jalyrald Salvacion