I’ve been in Siem Reap for almost three years and many of my Cambodian friends are the most hospitable and friendly people I have ever met in my life. The thought of leaving Cambodia makes me so sad because it’s hard to find Western people with the same level of hospitality.
I left Siem Reap yesterday to see one of my best friends Christina in Barcelona. She is the reason I came to Cambodia for the first time in 2009 to do a 500 km fundraising bike ride for the PEPY NGO.
I was lucky to be reminded that there are friendly and generous travelers around. I’ve been settled in Siem Reap so being there for awhile sometimes makes me doubt the level of friendliness among travelers.
When I got one my first plane, there was a traveler who didn’t speak much English. But he immediately helped me put my carry on bag in the overhead and helped call the stewardess when I needed something.
On my route I had to transfer through Ghangzhou China and Paris to get to Barcelona. China Southern Airlines is nice because if you have a long layover they do a free transfer to a big hotel for you to stay in, even if it’s not overnight. My layover was eight hours and a shuttle bus took us for just three hours then back to the airport.
I wasn’t really in the mood to be social with the other travelers because I was grieving leaving Siem Reap. While we were walking to the hotel reception, one girl asked me if we were going to the right place. I said yes and asked her where she was from. When she said Barcelona, we immediately started chatting and explained to her that I was meeting a friend there.
After the hotel we stuck with each other and kept each other company during our long layover. She was so nice to offer to pay for our airport snack and drink and she said it was my early welcome before coming to Barcelona.
I told her I will treat her a coffee once we have time in Barcelona. The time went by a lot faster while we were chatting and we planned to meet up with our friends.
It’s a good thing we were together because in the Air France gate, we didn’t hear any announcement that the gates we were supposed to board on was different than our boarding pass and we almost missed our flight. We almost boarded a long line going to Bordeaux instead of Barcelona. We were five minutes away from missing our plane.
The views from the plane of the big puffy clouds, water, mountains and friends, were spectacular during this flight. How a plane works and being able to travel anywhere is magical and a huge privilege that I hope some of my dearest friends can experience.
When we finally arrived in sunny Barcelona, I didn’t have change from my 50 Euro bill to pay for the Aerobus. She was so nice to tell me she had enough change to cover both of us. Of course I said I would pay her back but she didn’t seem too concerned about it.
This is my first time in Spain and at first glance, I’m fascinated with the style of the buildings, restaurants and vibe of the city. I’ve been so used to Asian architecture the last few years so it’s nice to see a very different style and a blend of people from all over the world.
She told me where to get off the bus and was very genuine in telling me to message her as soon as I get a number so we can meet up.
It was great that she was there so I’m not just sulking and thinking about how much I miss people in Cambodia.