Tourism Pioneer in Cambodia

Pack Yourth

 

In May 2012 I was at Bangkok’s Hualamphong station, waiting for the 7.30 pm  departure of the overnight train to Chiang Mai. This station was where I arrived by train from Bangkok’s old airport in 1988, and then followed footsteps marked on the sidewalk outside the terminal, which took me to a clean, inexpensive backpackers hostel.

I was enjoying watching the orderly bustle of passengers arriving and departing. Thai families, a group of Buddhist monks, individual travelers and tourists sat in chairs in the main hall under a large portrait of Thailand’s king. At six o’clock, martial music suddenly sounded from loudspeakers; immediately all those walking halted, and all those sitting stood up, except for the Buddhist monks. Even the tourists recognized something was going on, and stopped talking. It was the Thai national anthem.

At 7.20 pm I found my platform and boarded Train No. 13. Sleeping berths were clearly marked, and I slid open the door to my assigned berth, a two-person compartment, to find a young Asian woman sitting on the lower berth, holding a cell phone. I said “Hi” and introduced myself; she replied in good English and said her name was Pack Yoarth and she was from Cambodia. This was my first meeting with a remarkable young woman, whose family I was to meet some weeks later when I visited Siem Reap, Cambodia.

We talked as the train picked up speed and dusk fell over Bangkok. She told me, in good English, that this was her first time outside of Cambodia. She had been in Bangkok to try to arrange a university placement for her sister, Dara, one of 9 sisters of which she was the oldest. She was now going to Chiang Mai to visit  an Australian girl she had met in Cambodia. She gave me her email address and cell phone number, and I said I would contact her when I got to Cambodia.

Family Classroom

Yourth family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three weeks later, I am in Siem Reap. I send Pack an email, and she tells me she will drop by the next day and take me to meet her family. She arrives on a motor bike and I hop on the back. Thirty minutes later we arrive at her home, which is adjacent to Angkor Wat, the largest temple complex in the world, built in the twelfth  century, where the whole family works selling souvenirs to the tourists. Seven of her sisters are at home, and they smile and nod at me.Her one brother drops by, also her father who is headman of the village. Her mother looks young for someone who has borne 11 children. We sit on the floor of the family home, and eat rice, and fish with our fingers. Some kittens come and check out anything left in the bowls. I feel comfortable and sleepy, and take a snooze, which seems to be the acceptable thing to do. Waking up later, I ask the whole family to assemble for a photograph in  the classroom adjacent to the house  where Pack  is teaching all her sisters English. It’s time to take me back into Siem Reap and I get back on to the motorbike with another sister and Pack, and we all three drive back in the rain to town.

Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century, the largest single religious monument in the world, One of the many temples.

 

Youth family with guest

Wall carving depicting dancing ladies

 

 

 

 

Jim Glendinning About Jim Glendinning

I am a Footloose Scot who has traveled to 136 countries. "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." Robert Louis Stevenson
Read about Jim Glendinning and his book Footloose Scot: Travels In A Time Of Change

Comments

  1. Dorothy Zelazny Angrist says:

    WELL JIM, YOU CAMBODIAN FRIEND IS A PRETTY LADY & HER FAMILY WAS VERY SWEET TO WELCOME YOU IN THEIR HOME……EVEN THEIR CAT!! (FRIENDS, READ “FOOTLOOSE SCOT” TO LEARN THE FULL STORY.)
    I LOVE READING ABOUT YOUR TRAVELS – SINCE IN LATTER YEARS I’VE BEEN TRAVELING IN MY ARMCHAIR…….THAT TOO IS A PLEASURE FOR ME….Dorothy

    • Jim Glendinning Jim Glendinning says:

      The errant “r” is forgotten thanks to your generous attitude. Remember, Marfa calls regularly and I hope to join the Alpine delegation on the next visit.
      Jim

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