Have you seen the “Bucket List”? It’s a movie about two persons with severe cancer that head off on a road trip to fulfill their to-do’s wish list before they die. Well, my story is not as sad and inspiring, but I do have a list of to-do’s before I die which include eating Pho Bho on the streets of Saigon, seeing Angkor Wat temples with my own eyes and understanding the story of Khmer Rouge. And yes, I finally did all three of them, thanks to Maverick.
One of the reasons I love working in Maverick is the perk. One of them is the Personal Development Fund (PDF), which is a fund, worth one-month salary, we can use to develop our personal interest and to do something that we have never done before. So, this time I decided to use my PDF to fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Ho Chi Minh City
What amazed me about Ho Chi Minh City were the colors and the taste of the city. Used to be called Saigon, the city offered me its delicious, delightful and tasteful food. Call me “lebay” but I fell in love with Vietnamese food in Saigon. I tasted the best Pho Bho (Vietnamese rice noodle served with beef) on the streets of Ho Chi Minh and it was a dream come true. Another dish I tasted was Banh-Xeo (Vietnamese Crepes with seafood), Cha-Gio (Vietnamese Fried Spring roll), Cơm gà (Vietnamese chicken rice) and Goi Xoai Xanh (Vietnamese green mango salad). You would never go hungry in this city.
Food is a signature staple of Ho Chi Minh City, but we have to remember that this city has seen many wars; the most recent was of The Vietnam War against the US. The War Remnants museum shows how the war had completely damaged the country and its people. For me, the museum had transported me to those devastating years that I could feel the pain and the suffering of the people during the war.
Ho Chi Minh City is where you can find all the colors of life and the darkness of the past. However, the crowded streets with its motorcycles and its colorful food would make you forget that the city has a dark past.
Angkor Wat in Siem Reap
One word that could describe The Angkor Wat temple complex is magical. The two-day trip took me through the Suryavarman II era in the 12th century. For me, it was truly an amazing experience. I visited all the temples in the Angkor Wat complex where I found the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It took two full days to experience it all. My friends and I got ourselves a Tuk-Tuk and a friendly driver. He drove us to the complex and showed us everything while patiently waited for us to experience and embrace the temple’s grandness. The feeling was indescribable, yet the photos could help me tell you some of the thousands sensations I experienced.
On our way back to Jakarta, we decided to stay two nights in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Some friends told me that there was nothing we could see or visit in the city. Well, I have to say that they were entirely wrong. Cambodia has a dark past. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia and imposed social engineering policies, which lead to genocide. This was a nightmare for the Cambodians. The regime had eliminated people who were different from them including teachers, priests, scientists, foreigners, moslems, hindus, buddhis, etc. Killing fields were scattered around the country. There were more than 3,000 people killed during the regime while the population of Cambodia was only 8,000 people back then. This event is still immensely fresh in Cambodia’s memory. And that is why it was so interesting for me to visit one of the biggest killing fields in the country, called Choeng Ek. It was an intense experience to be there. I personally think that it takes a lot of courage, grace and patient to acknowledge the darkest past of our own country. And the Cambodians do that. I am truly honored to have learned their country’s darkest time while visiting Phnom Penh.