written by Chakriya PHOU
photographed by Chakriya PHOU
I was born in California. My parents immigrated to USA.
I could understand Khmer but I could not speak.
My mother usually told me about her homeland, Cambodia. She said Cambodia had a wonderful temple, it was called Angkor Wat. She said a lot about amazing things of Angkor Wat. She made me wanted to see her.
When I was 10 years old, my mother took me to see Angkor Wat. It was my first travel and I was so excited.
I was surprised when I saw her with my own eyes. She was more amazing than my mother's telling. I traveled around Angkor Wat and I took a lot of photos.
In the evening, we left Angkor. On the way out, I found one smiling Apsara statue on the gate. I asked my mother to take picture of me with the Apsara. While I was hugging Apsara and smiled to camera, there was a Khmer couple walking through the gate. A husband holding cell phone and took picture there and there. He was happy while his wife showed straight face. I heard the man said to his wife, 'Dear, come here. I will take photo of you with Angkor.' The wife stared at husband and said, 'I don't want.'
'Come on. It is Angkor.' said husband.
'It's nothing. Just stone only.' said wife. Then she walked away. The husband ran to follow his wife.
Her word made me anger and upset.
When I left for home, I asked my mother on the plane, 'Mummy, you told me that Angkor Wat is wonder of Cambodia, right?' My mother said, 'Yes.' I continued asking, 'But why Cambodian said she's just stone?'
'They said that because they did not know her value, but there are many people love Angkor and know about her value and significance.' said mother.
'So it means there are people love her?' said I.
'Yes, of course. Like you and mummy. We love Angkor. Also daddy, auntie, uncle, grandpa, grandma, All of us love Angkor.' exclaimed mother.
'Hm.. my friends and my teacher ever said they loved Angkor and wanted to visit her. Elsa, Tony, Emily also love Angkor, they told me. Yes, there are a lot of people love her.'
Mummy smiled when she heard my statement. I smiled too. I was happy that people loved Angkor like I did.
I turned to the window. I used my finger drawing the three peaks of Angkor on the glass of window.
Then there was a hostess coming and served us food. I ordered rice with chicken and orange juice.