Siem Reap, Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder. Written by Lian Buan for

There is something about Siem Reap, Cambodia.

When dusk falls, a warm, salty air hits your face; wind that probably comes from the stream that stretches in the middle of the road. The yellow light from lamp posts bounces off the water so as you ride a tuktuk, the flicker skips from the corner of your eyes as if following you. It gives you a safe sense of separation, like you’re allowed to feel happy being away but not too much that you’re detached from home.

Weed is legal there, too. They put some on your pizza if you ask for it. And so nonchalantly, if I may add, “Do you want it happy? For 2 dollars only.” Where else can you hear that? Happiness for two dollars! A tuktuk ride is even more expensive.

I have been to only two SouthEast Asian Cities before Siem Reap. The glaring difference is that in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, you see girls and boys in Pop Korean clothes, riding the subway, walking the alley like they’re expecting the Humans of New York guy to snap a photo of them.

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

It’s much more toned town and native in Siem Reap. The Cambodian men look the same, whether they’re tuktuk drivers or teachers, they wear basic pants and long sleeve polo shirts in subdued colors.

Schoolgirls that look like me when I was 10 go by with their bicycles. It looks better when they travel in flock, like a formation of ravens in the sky, there is a show of might — ‘Siem Reap is ours, give way.’

Visiting the temples is like stepping into a fairy tale. If the intrinsic details on the walls could talk, it would be a long conversation. Like living vicariously through Gods, Goddesses, Kings and Queens and whatever tragedy that befell them thousands of years ago.

The top of the Angkor Wat is majestic. The horizon fades into the foreground of mountains, and truly, you will feel that you are in the Kingdom of Wonder. You have all that beauty in front of you, that you can touch, and sink into but you will never fully know or understand what it all means. And I guess that’s what’s fantastic about it.

Like all things, there is no thrill to knowing everything.

On my last night, our kind host welcomed us to this cabin in the middle of wherever and I vividly remember being woken up at maybe 6 in the morning with this bizarre, folk song that cut right through the stone walls and into my ears; I couldn’t understand what it was saying but I remembered it felt surreal.

Like coming full circle to a truthful Cambodian experience, an amazing sense of wonder up until the last moment. It was perfect except for one thing: you simply can’t just wonder forever.

Early game design for Temple Run
Early game design for Temple Run

[Entry 3, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Lian Nami Buan.
Lian Nami Buan  is the Editor-in-Chief of She also leads the #SubStory and #TanawMindanao segments of the website. She was a news producer for GMA News for six before she moved to England to take up her Masters in Digital Journalism. She wants to shift focus to human rights, particularly indigenous people, women and migration. Whenever she has money, she travels to collect feelings for writing material. Journalism 2010, UST. Read more of her articles here.


13 Comments Add yours

    1. Lian says:

      It is amazing! Half a day just isn’t enough to take it all in. Thanks for reading, btw. You look like you have had amazing travels your self 🙂


  1. crazyoctopus says:

    Cover photo palang, nakaka enganyo na.
    Always wanted to go to Angkor Wat. This article reminded me of that 🙂


    1. Lian Buan says:

      Hi Emil!!! Thank you for reading Subselfie 🙂

      Iba talaga ang feeling sa Siem Reap. There’s something about it. Parang standstill because everything is so near each other, parang time stops, and it doesn’t matter if you’re just stationary, it will never be enough para i-absorb lahat. Arte. Hahaha. I wanna go back if only may pera :))

      Liked by 1 person

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