It was 4:30 am when a wakeup call came through. The room was dark and I couldn’t figure out which button on the phone at the hotel meant snooze. It was a short sleep, seeing as the night before I hadn’t gotten home from the Temple Bar till about 1. By 5 am we all crammed in to a little bus, sleepy and drowsy, heading towards the Temples of Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise.
Seeing the temples for the first time in the pitch dark following the flash light of our guide was interesting. Here I was, at one of the Wonders of the World, and I couldn’t even see it through the darkness. It was an intriguing experience.
Amy, a fellow SASer and me sat on the ledge of one the neighbouring smaller constructs of Angkor Wat and watched the sunrise appear before us, outlining the temples. In one word: Incredible. If there is ever anything you should never miss out on, this is one of them. The sunrise was pink, orange, yellow, and continuously changing, making the reflection of Angkor Wat appear in the large pond before it. (Next time I get good internet pictures will be up!)
Leaving the temple around 7 am heading back for breakfast, children ran up to us of all ages, crowding us, trying to sell us anything they had, begging for money. I promised one of them that when I came back that afternoon, I would buy from her. Later that day, walking through the same path again after touring several areas of Angkor Wat, the same group of children ran up to us yelling their best prices: “2 bracelets for a dollar” or “5 postcards for a dollar”. Some girls came up to me and told me they loved my earrings, so I just took them right off my ears and handed them to one of the girls. Another girl came up to me, and handed me a letter she had written for me with postcards that she wanted to give to me as a present. I was confused at first, I thought it was a ploy just to buy from her, but she would not take them back. The letter read:
“Hello! Very nice to meet you. My name is Sary. Thank you to come to visit Angkor Wat. Nice to spak with you. I wish you good luck with your job and all your family. You are very nice and so friendly, I give you flower for souvenir. I hope to see you again, I hope you like my flower. Im very happy to meet you. I hope you don’t forget me. I like your smile. From Sary. Good bye!”
(** Typed here exactly as she wrote it. She also attached a drawing of a flower for good luck and her e-mail address)
I could not help but cry, I tried to give her back her post cards, telling her I would e-mail her, but I had nothing on me left to give to her. Yet, she continued to persist and just hugged me.
I was being rushed to get on our bus, but once I was on she came to my window and just stood there smiling at me, yelling through the window: “Elena, make sure you e-mail me!” My tears just continued down my cheeks. Then she gave my roommate, Kara, sitting next to the window her school picture to give to me, and told me again not to forget her. At this point, I was overwhelmed; I had to find something to give her. As the bus was pulling away, I got Kara to hand her some money and a note I wrote with my email saying “I will never forget you”.
Running alongside our bus, she took the scarf off her neck and handed it to Kara yelling, “Give this to Elena.”
This is a story of a girl named Sary. A girl who has nothing but gave me everything.