Wanderlusting Cambodia – Part II

So first thing in the morning, I make sure to bring everything. It was dry season so water is a must. Little that I knew I forgot to bring extra batteries for the camera.

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We were supposed to honor the sight. The dawn with the ancient building as the background but all I managed to get was this photo with my friend’s mobile phone. I was so angry at myself but it didn’t matter. I could only hope that maybe someone would sell me a pair of AA.

Just look at the amount of tourist willing to wake up at 4 in the morning!

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These balustrades were all around the temple, like a trusty guardian. It’s quite scary so I guess they did their job well.

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Inside the temple, it was like a different world. The sound and time ceased to exist. The walls were cold and calming in the scorching heat. This was the place of reverence, dancing, riot, grief and absolute grandeur.

I felt so small and insignificant yet at peace with whatever problem that I used to have.

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There is Bayon. This was one of the photo in the book. I’d recognize this anywhere.

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Then more ruins, rocks, tourists, vendors, pictures, etc.

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I walked and walked until I lost track of time. The ruins started to look the same. There were hundreds of them in the park.

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This girl saved me when she sold me some batteries 🙂

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Almost everywhere I go I’d be welcome with this sight. Suddenly I wish I was French.

Unfortunately I can’t even fake a French accent even if my life depended on it 😦

Wanderlusting Europe

In summer 2005, I got a scholarship to study Spanish Language and Culture but I end up touring Europe.

Best time of my life.

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Photo: Madrid – Granada bus ticket

I had always dreamed of traveling around the world and had stole pictures of Europe from the library but nothing could prepared me for the reality.

There was no word for it. I was overwhelmed by the smell, sights and sound. I can’t even find a better word than happy. I don’t know if ‘blessed’ fit the profile but I knew ‘fulfilled’ was some part of it.

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Photo: Bus ticket from Barcelona – Paris (You can get a Euroline pass to 51 countries from 185 Euros for 15 days. See Eurolines website for more.)

It was a scary experience too. I did not know anyone and that was my first trip overseas but I came too far to say ‘maybe next time.’

It was not a known fact that a single Malaysian Malay/English/Spanish/un-petit-peu-de-French speaking girl would travel alone in unknown territory. I was immediately dubbed ‘crazy’ by many peers.

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Photo: Apartment rent receipt from a luxurious unit across the Prague Florenc Bus Station.

I enjoyed Prague the most, of all the countries that I have been. There was a different vibe; mysterious and beckoning on the pebbled streets.

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I was robbed by a group of gypsies in Rome but I never felt that was a bad day. I met a good Samaritan, slipped in a deaf tour with him because he knew a friend who knew someone who could let us in for free and ate the most glorious food with ample Italian kisses.

I don’t know any day more perfect than that one.

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Photo: Ticket from London – Brussels

Funny thing about London was that it was a city of contradiction. Coming from a third world country and a country being colonized by the British Empire, everyone was fed different facts about England and my first impression did not meet any of it.

One thing that didn’t change is that the Englishmen are always the gentlemen.

I told a fellow English passenger in the bus that a Portuguese sat close-by harassed me. In seconds, it was chaos. The fight lasted for about 15 minutes and both broke their nose but later apologized.

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Photo: Frankfurt – Rome

I was not particularly into Frankfurt. The people scared me. I need some time to adjust to the normal volume pitch of the locals. I don’t find them very friendly when they’re yelling on top of their lungs but it’s the norm. Surprisingly, I later found out that they made the best of friends when you earn their trust.

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To be honest I only understood the second last line 🙂

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Photo: Marseilles – Barcelona

My surprise destination was Marseilles. I never planned to go there but it was kind of an accident that left me no choice.

I could never thank the accident enough. Marseilles is the epitome of vintage, free, wandering soul. The strong wind, the old port, the clear turquoise water, the lines of parked yachts, the fresh seafood, the freckles of the waving children, flapping skirts of old ladies, gleaming teeth of the old men. I will never forget the first time I got the glimpse of the famous port. I never recovered that piece of my heart left in Marseilles.

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Photo: Metro map of Barcelona

I have been to Barcelona more than 3 times but I have this feeling that Barcelona did not like me very much. There was always something that made my stay unbearable. Be it a rude remark from a local that I took seriously, unsympathetic friend that preferred to let me sleep at the airport for 2 days than offer any sort of refuge or being ignored when asked for help.

I don’t know why all these happen just when I arrived in Barcelona and sincerely hoped to God that every single time it would be different. It never did.

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Photo: Spanish grammar notes

I am lucky enough to be able to reach out for my dreams just because I was determined to learn a foreign tongue. Although I did learn French for 4 years in secondary school, the foundation made me decide to try Spanish and there lies my road to the world.

I am hoping for a new adventure, a new luck and a new place to tread this year. Maybe this time it would truly happen.

And you, yes, YOU. what are you waiting for? If not now, then when?

Happy wandering, wanderfolks!

French

When I was 6, I heard a man speaking French. Just one whole conversation that lasted about 5 minutes. It was on the television in a random movie. He’s not even the main character.

But I was in love.

It was a big deal. The language sounds intricate and flawless. I want to learn this language! So when I knew that Mahadhir Lokman speaks French I was so jealous of him. How can I beat this man speaking a foreign tongue so perfect?

I listen to him every time he appears on t.v. Oh, how I study each syllable. It can’t be that difficult, right?

So when opportunity arose when I was 13, I quickly chose French as my favorite subject. I didn’t even think when they told me you could choose between French, Arabic and Japanese.

It’s too obvious which one is my favorite.

My favorite nightmare.

Mademoiselle Teh is a communist dictator in disguise of a French teacher. She walked like a hungry rhinoceros and stampeded across the hall. Move away or you’ll be gorge. She never spoke English with us, the 16 terrified little girls wishing to be good in an exotic language and this started from the first class.

She will write everything she’s going to teach that day, ask us to memorize everything (no writing or she’ll scream bloody murder) and rub it off. End of the class she would write everything again and this time she let us copy.

The only girl who’s on top of the class is Baya and darn she’s lucky to have a relative in France. She’s the teacher’s pet.

On the first class she already got the teacher’s attention while most of us were breaking in cold sweat on our chairs. With every incorrect pronunciation we will be greeted with her famous quote.

“I’ll kill you for good!”

If looks could kill we’d be all dead on the floor each class.

But she made us spoke the language in less than 3 months. We were scared, blackmailed and screamed at but we remembered everything, we pronounced the words properly and we spoke French, which was the ultimate goal.

She was a great teacher!

The next teacher was nice and like most foreign language, we forgot.

But I never forget the thrill I get from listening, acknowledging and even listening to French. It was my First Love.

Like most First Loves, it’s never completely forgotten, nor completely remembered.