“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
Britt is a photographer/music producer & proud member of #teamtraynham