I’m so happy and grateful that I get to tick off one of my resolutions this year: take my Mom to Vietnam and Cambodia. Why Vietnam and Cambodia? I visited both countries for the first time in 2011 to celebrate my birthday. My first backpacking trip. Now that I compare myself to younger Gyscha who packed her bags and traveled solo to Vietnam and Cambodia with ZERO research, I could only say girl you brave! I wish you did more research, i wish you knew hostels are exist so you can travel cheaper, I wish you knew there’s this amazing Indonesian restaurant in Phnom Penh ( you guys should go to Warung Bali, Kasmin and Firdaos the owners are sooo kind, food also good ) but I’m glad I learned along the way. I fell in love with both countries, the dust, the borders, backpackers, 6 hours bus ride from Saigon to Phnom penh. It’s not a perfect world out there, you’ll see poverty, sometimes broken dreams but also hope, love, strength, smile, and the brightest sunsets. A truly humbling experience, a reminder to be always grateful no matter what and sometimes it doesn’t cost a lot to see beauty. Appreciate the little things. And so at the end of 2018 I had this dream to take the strongest, bravest woman I know to these special places. I want her to see few places that built her daughter so strong and unbreakable. Places that turned my dreams into reality. Places where I found myself again, found family oh even flings. Places where I thought I was on the edge with less than $5 on my bank account but the next day life surprised me in a way I never thought it’s possible. Places where I landed huge opportunities, few collaborations with hotels. Places that truly feels like home to me. I know I haven’t spent much time with her, and she’s been busy at work so the idea of mother-daughter trip just sounds like a good idea to me. Just like me, my mom is super energetic. She teaches and studies full time at universities, travels a lot between Jakarta and East Java. A week before we left for our trip she texted me to say she packed her stuff already and she’s super excited to travel with me. Then in Ho Chi Minh City airport I saw this old woman ran into me with a little backpack. Her excitement to see the world was priceless. That big bright eyes, curiosity. The same excitement I still have every time I visit new countries. The first thing I noticed when I saw her was Mom lost her teeth. And obviously as she gets older, she becomes really slow too but the adventurous side of her still the same. Who knew she’d enjoy Phnom Penh riverside chasing the birds like a little girl. Like mother, like daughter I guess.
We started our journey in Ho Chi Minh City for a night then we caught a bus to Phnom Penh the next day. Mom went through so many first times, first time crossing border, first time in Vietnam and Cambodia, first time having authentic Vietnamese cuisines and coffee, first time visiting Angkor Wat.
She used to be the one who take me on a road trip across Java and Bali when I was a kid, now I’m the one taking her across Vietnam and Cambodia. She used to be the one who introduce me to new food and experience new things because she wanted me to be open minded, now I’m taking her out to try meals she would hesitate at the beginning. She used to take pictures of me and tell me how to pose, now I’m the one who tells her how to pose. She used to be the one who walks and runs and hikes faster now she needs to catch up with me. She used to be the one who reminds me to dream big and believe in myself, now I’m the one who reminds her there’s a big world out there and they’re waiting for her. Time flies so fast, the past few years i’ve been way too busy chasing one thing to another that I forget someone is getting older too. Taking her early in the morning at 4 am to Angkor Wat, to see her eyes wide open and so bright, snapping pictures was such a joy. I hope i can continue doing this. Taking her more on trips, creating memories with her. The one who taught me to believe in my own dreams since day one, who raised another strong, fearless, bright woman.
Its also a friendly reminder. You only live once. Live unapologetically. Live out loud. Nothing lasts forever, so when you’re still young and fit, go explore and experience as much as you can. Work hard and invest more on experience. Because one day when you turn 63 and no longer fit, you’d look back and regret why you don’t do things you’ve always wanted to do. Moments like this I just want to hug life for being so incredibly kind, I don’t know how many dreams of mine have come true the past few weeks, months, even years and yet I know this is just the beginning. Tomorrow I’m off to the happiest country on earth, another adventure, another dreams come true.