On the flip side.

Last time I checked in I was dealing with making a decision – to stay or not to stay in Cambodia. It was only a few weeks before I was scheduled to leave, but I was feeling drained, not myself and trying to rationalize staying put when it just didn’t feel right. I could get into the details but they’re not that important. In the grand scheme of things I knew it was time to go home and resolved that I needed to figure out how to make it happen. I’d expected it would cost me an arm and a leg to fly home early but when I discovered Korean Air (the best airline ever by the way) wouldn’t charge me for choosing an earlier flight, I took it as a sign and booked an early ticket.

Despite the few lost weeks, the two+ months I spent in Cambodia have made a great impression on me. I met some of the most lovely people from all over the world. I can now say I have friends who reside in Cambodia, Malaysia, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the States and many more.

I’ve learned lessons that I plan to soon divulge but I first wanted to pay mention to the young girls who work as staff at Tattoo guesthouse, my home for the past two months.

These girls were maybe 16 at the oldest and they woke up at 6am every morning to cater to every one of us, sometimes demanding, mostly Westerners, who were staying at the guesthouse. These girls provided breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus laundry service to 50+ travelers on a daily basis.

The most remarkable thing was how happy they always were. No matter how hard they worked, they hardly ever showed signs of fatigue. Always singing, always laughing and remaining a positive start to my day. There was certainly a language barrier, but I was always comforted by the “hello sister!” greeting when I’d biked home on a long day.

I wish I could somehow relate these conditions to my younger self. That I could go back to when I was 16 and be more thankful for how good I had it rather than the trivial woes of adolescence. But maybe more than that I should apply that lesson to my current life. All though I’m “all grown up” I still find myself selfishly bruiting over things that just don’t matter – and in the grand scheme of things I am extremely blessed to have the life that I live.

I don’t even know if that all relates, but I do know that I came home from Cambodia with a profound sense of gratitude, something I will carry with me and share with others as one of the most meaningful lessons of traveling to a developing country.

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