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Mr. Oun, our tuk-tuk driver and new friend enters the gates of the main Angkor Wat complex

Making A Friend In Cambodia

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”  — Anais Nin

Meeting Mr. Oun

We befriended our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Oun, in Siem Reap. We had hired him for a week to take us to ALL the ruins in and around Angkor Wat. (We had no idea the sheer scale and size of the ruins). On the second day, we invited him to join us for lunch. We started out with simple chatter but quickly evolved into a discussion of the bloody and tragic years under the Khmer Rouge’s reign. He told several personal and gut-wrenching stories of death and survival.

Mr. Oun gives an impromptu tour of a rustic village in Cambodia
Mr. Oun gives an impromptu tour of a rustic village in Cambodia

Later, after dropping us back at our hotel, he joined us for a few beers and some barbecue. By then, I had begun to refer to him as my brother. He seemed especially touched after he found out we were the same age and insisted that I call him his friend instead of brother.

He said, ”We can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends.”

Mr. Oun leads us on another adventure
Mr. Oun leads us on another adventure

On one of our outings, we passed a rustic traditional village. It had wooden stilt houses with no electricity or running water. Seeing our interest, Mr. Oun stopped and led us on a sort of meet-and-greet in the village. It was a magical and educational experience that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Children at a rustic Village in Cambodia.
Children at a rustic Village in Cambodia.

On our last night in Siem Reap, Mr. Oun invited us to his house. His wife cooked an amazing meal. His family and a few neighbors joined us. We ended up drinking damn near til dawn, trading laughs and tears, and promises to stay in touch.

The next day, before we flew to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam he insisted on taking us to lunch. We had a delicious meal consisting of, amount other things, an eel soup. Mr. Oun later drove us to the airport. We all hugged and walked away glad to know we had made another good friend in the world. We remain in touch with Mr. Oun to this day — and plan to visit him again in the near future.

Long shadows and longer goodbyes
Long shadows and longer goodbyes

If you are ever in Siem Reap, whether visiting Angkor Wat — or just visiting the countryside, we HIGHLY recommend hiring Mr. Oun as your guide!

Author: Britt

Britt is a photographer/music producer & proud member of #teamtraynham

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