We rounded a corner in our tuk tuk, the road here better kept than most of the others we’d been on. It was paved, not, dirt, to accommodate for the heavier flow of traffic – cars and tour buses and tuk tuks and scooters. The air smelled of diesel, the sky overcast, the air humid, sticky, and still. There was no breeze. There was never a breeze.
The road curved, following the edge of a massive lake the color of olives. And there, across the water, it came into view.
I travel a lot. I have seen many, many things. I’ve done my best to not become immune to all of it. I try to marvel at things, even though, I’m embarrassed to admit, they don’t always feel that marvelous anymore.
But seeing Angkor Wat, stretched out on the other side of the water, like it has for centuries, reminded me of the feeling I had when I first started traveling. When everything felt new and amazing.
For the first time in a very long time, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
My jaw hung slack as we zipped and bumped along the road (because paved does not necessarily mean smooth), and neared the temple. And as we grew closer and closer, a thought entered my head:
I am having the trip of my life.
I try to keep my expectations at bay when I travel. I do not demand that every journey be miraculous or life changing. Some of them are forgettable, and that’s okay. I simply require that we all get to and from our destination safely. And if there’s opportunity for cake at some point along the trip, that would make me very, very happy.
But seeing Angkor Wat, I was hit with the realization that this was one of the more singular experiences of my life. And almost immediately after came a wave of sadness that Rand wasn’t there to experience it with me.
Later, I would tell him this.
“I am having the trip of my life,” I wrote, “and you are not here to share it with me.”
“That is what you are supposed to do,” he replied.
I wasn’t so sure about that. But I figured it was all the more reason to take him back here. So I could see it again, for the very first time.