The End!

I’m writing my final chapter on Cambodia as I’m lying on a tropical paradise beach in Thailand. (More on that beach in the next post)

Another chapter in my life is finished. It’s ready to be stored into my memory. Ready to be reread and relived again and again anytime I want. That’s the beauty of this story or any great adventure in our life. All good things come to an end but they can never be taken away from us.
Every single step is carved into my memory, from our first turmoil culture shock night to our last heart-warming friendship-filled night.

It’s a chapter in our life that included some other epic moments besides Cambodia.
We both turned 25, a quarter of a century! My dearest grandmother reached the golden 90 and I still can’t believe I had to miss her party. My brother reached the magical 30 and was so kind to throw his party in Kep, Cambodia on my birthday. It did get very confusing, who were we really celebrating!? Somehow it was everybody’s birthday. In truth we were more celebrating love than age, the love for each other and for life.

We came from all corners of Asia (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Belgium) to this one magical spot in Cambodia: the Knai Bang Chatt in Kep, a dream hotel located on the sea with stunning sunsets. Here we discovered the good life. And to stipulate our luck, we were even allowed to admire a real life Knai Bang Chatt. (A Knai Bang Chatt is Khmer for ‘a rainbow’ circling the sun, it’s the outer atmosphere of the sun, normally you only see it during an eclipse)
After tiny local heaven we returned to the excruciating hot and noisy cloud that is Phnom Penh to finish of our last two weeks in the capital. My parents stayed a couple of days; I got to show them a sneak preview of my Cambodian life. I loved to share this treasure with the ones who I adore the most in this whole wide world. Merci mama et papa!
It was great from beginning to end. The best part being: watching everybody’s face scrunch when tarantulas were brought to the table. Guess who ate them and guess who just had a hairy leg!
Our last week was filled with culinary highlights, tears and laughter. On second thought, it wasn’t any different from the other 3 months! It ended in a crescendo party time. First rooftop dinner and tequila night à la maison! We will miss our housemates and they will miss us!
Then a traditional Khmer wedding. It was so touching how truthfully enthusiastic these people are. Thanks to my lovely Katrien we were the guests of honour at this unique party. We were taught traditional Khmer dancing and we taught them some moves ourselves!
This wedding represented for me everything of the past three months. We meet amazing people with hearts of gold. They open up their house and inner circle to us as if we were one of their own. We share food and lots of laughs as if we were old friends. We live with them a life without worries. Everyday again I learned from these people what a smile and a warm heart can do to your co-people. The energy these people have living in a country that’s in the top 3 of corruptness in the world and with such a young history of blood shedding cruelty, is what touches me the most.

And last but definitely not least there is my travel companion, my Katrien.
Getting stuck with somebody for 3 months, 24/7… Well it’s the biggest risk of all I think in this adventure. You share blood tears and sweat. And if you are like me and you win the lottery ticket then all of that is a breeze. Like two pieces of a puzzle we clicked together in this Cambodian world!
From the passion for food, the bicycle rides, the unprofessional singing, the tears over failed surgery or frustrating medical practice, to the vivid imaginations, the shared first cd, the shared values of love and family and the tears of laughter… From beginning to end…Katrien, my lottery ticket, thank you!!

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