Up All Night to Get Lucky: Guided through Siem Reap
I arrived in Siem Reap in the late morning after stepping off a flight from Phnom Penh.
Once again, a guide was waiting for me at the airport in Siem Reap. He sat there holding another sign with a strangely spelt version of my name. I threw him my bags and hopped into his motorcycle-drawn carriage.
This was the beginning of my friendship with Lucky the tuk tuk driver.
Lucky invited me to his house to have lunch with family. I obviously couldn’t refuse this.
His motorcycle sputtered to life and we were soon navigating the busy markets and the dusty roads of Siem Reap. We rattled. We rocked. We bumped along. It reminded me of roaring down a Saskatchewan pothole-ridden highway in an old farm truck with no shocks.
Bless Cambodian hospitality.
I met Lucky’s wife, his two children and his mother-in-law. Aside from Lucky, none of them spoke English. The five of them all lived under the same roof.
Lucky and I sat cross-legged on the floor while his wife served me rice, pork, fish soup and beer. They showed me their wedding photos and I told them about Canada. It was tough sitting cross-legged through the whole meal. I’m too tall for such a maneuver. Lucky jokingly scolded me.
His son was hypnotized by my iPhone. He was full of energy and around the age of five. I showed him how to snap photos. This was my first of two authentic Khmer meals at Lucky’s abode.
I spent a lot of time with Lucky over the course of my next three days in Siem Reap. He told me I was the only tourist he’s ever had over for lunch.
Lucky, too, had escaped the Khmer Rouge genocide. His survival of this troubling period is where he got the nickname ‘Lucky.’ His real name is Outh Rous.
Lucky was saving up money to build a new home for his family in a nicer part of Siem Reap. He worked hard as guide to make ends meet for his family. He took me everywhere. From Angkor Wat, to Buddhist temples, crocodile zoos, rice farms and local bars on Pub Street with authentic Aspura dancers — we had a blast.
I helped Lucky create an email account on his smartphone so we could keep in touch.
The rest of my trip felt like a blur, but Lucky stayed on my mind days after I left Siem Reap. I thought of his funny boy, too. I decided to visit a Western Union in Singapore. I had more than enough money to get me back to Canada. So I sent Lucky $75 to put towards his family’s dream house. This was more than the three days of guiding I paid him for.
He deserved it.
Besides, I would have needlessly pissed it away in a matter of days anyway. Better spent on his family than my foolish lifestyle.
I was the lucky one for getting such a rad guide. Much love my Cambodian brother!
If you’re visiting Siem Reap and want to get Lucky, here’s how you reach one of the friendliest guides in the market. His telephone is (855) 12 296 907 or 097 848 3361. Tell him the crazy Canadian referred you. You won’t be disappointed.
Connect with Dorian Geiger, editor of Sleepless in Singapore.