When you travel, you meet a lot of divergent people. There are the nice, the cool, the assholes, the classic and many more. Trips can sometimes be special and you wish for some romance when you meet someone you like. What’s more exciting is when you meet that person after dreaming about him or her.
Two nights before the last day of my stay in Siem Reap, when I was on a one-month solo trip around Southeast Asia, I wrote on my diary that I wish I’d meet him—that guy with a man bun. I had no idea who he was, or where he was coming from. All I knew was that, I was attracted to him because he was my dream guy. I consider him sexy, hot and attractive. Don’t judge me. That’s how I see him. And I also thought he was the coolest guy on the planet.
The following day, I went out early to watch the famous sunrise in Angkor Wat. I was alone. Most of the tourists were travelling in groups—some were with their family, others were with their friends. That morning, throngs of tourists flocked to the same area, waiting for the sun to rise. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and gloomy, so I didn’t really have a chance to see the stunning sunrise, which they say is one of the most beautiful, but the weather became fine later on.
I went ahead with my own tour, wandering around the temples. Seeing the majestic Angkor Wat was on my bucket list.
To see the interior of one of the temples, climbing was necessary. I went to queue. I was already there anyway, so why not go and check out this UNESCO World Heritage Site?
I was feeling both exhausted and excited while in the queue leading to the top of the temple. I was training my eyes on my surroundings, taking in all the view to while away the time. When I looked behind me, I spotted this white guy in a white shirt, sporting a man bun (ah, a man bun) and holding a camera. My eyes suddenly glittered as though they had just found a treasure! Then my heart started beating like a drum, feeling electrified all of a sudden. My hands were clenched and my fingers crossed as excitement was engulfing me. I was looking to bump into him, but of course, I checked first if he was alone, particularly not with a girl.
Otherwise, I’d just back off (ha ha). I guess, my lucky stars aligned that day. He was in fact travelling solo (which I figured when we talked to each other).
As we reached the top, people began taking pictures of the temple’s architecture. The temple was majestic. You could never imagine how people built it with their own sweat and blood. It had like an out of this world magnificent form.
I secretly tailed him. As we were both making progress, our eyes accidentally met. As soon as it happened, we couldn’t help but smile at each other. My heart jumped in glee.
I started to make my way down the steep staircase, carefully avoiding to step on my long skirt lest I stumble.
“Hey, these stairs are so steep,” he said, finally breaking the silence. I looked behind and it was him!
”God, did you just answer my prayer last night?!” I mumbled to myself.
To my disbelief, all I managed to say was, “Hey, are you like a brother of Thor? ‘coz you actually look like him!” He returned a sweet dummy smile and replied, “I get the same compliment from people all the time, but thanks.”
We continued walking down the stairs together. He was gently assisting me. We had a chit chat along the way. When we reached the ground, it felt like we already knew each other very well. I was like a teenage girl in high school who was finally noticed by her ultimate crush. And because we came from different countries, (he’s from Czech Republic) we took advantage of learning about each other’s culture. Sadly though, the Philippines was not part of his trip.
We shared laughter and had a great conversation, then we exchanged contact details. I was crazy for the next 9 hours, waiting for the night to come. In my mind, I wished that I accepted his invitation to join him in his next tour. I declined for whatever reason. I got all prepared. I wore a black sleeveless shirt, a pair of short shorts and rubber shoes. It was raining. Ah, that night my heart was beating. Tick tock. He sent me a message saying he’d pick me up.
I scribbled some replies, but ended up with only three words: Great, see you!
I didn’t wear my best outfit. I’m the type of person who wears the simplest casual attire. I was still in my room when he arrived at the lobby of my hostel. I welcomed him with a smile, saying “Hey, you’re here. It’s good to see you again.” My heart was pounding in my chest. I hugged him.
Because of my overwhelming enthusiasm, I forgot to bring my purse!
I wanted him to picture me as a fun-to-date girl and not as a serious type, because I was never like that in the first place. He was a cool guy—sweet and gentle. He was still sporting his man bun for which I really adored him. We walked under the rain, heading to the famous pub street. We found a blaring but nice place to sit and drink. Things were slow and the night was unspoken.
We talked mostly about travelling. The best thing about having a conversation with a fellow traveller is you talk, well, about travel and stuff related to it. We didn’t dig into any romance. We talked about our misadventures and stories that hyped up our adrenaline which made the night more page turning.
I had never felt that way again after a long time in my life. There were butterflies while I was with him and I hoped he didn’t notice that. A sweet lovely couple sitting next to us said, “How long have you known each other? You guys look so sweet!” I looked at him and winked and answered the pretty woman, “Oh, we met like yesterday.”
“Just yesterday?!” Her eyes grew big and continued, “You guys look like you’ve been long time partners!” Yes. And we all laughed our asses off.
We were playfully dancing to the beat of the music like there was no tomorrow. He danced well which added to my fondness for him. We had an intimate and fun time together. Exuberance drowned me. There was a sudden electrifying excitement that emerged instantly and I couldn’t get enough of it.
He walked me back to my hostel at 2am. We sat and laughed and talked. The night was about to end. Unfortunately, in a few hours, we would separate ways. I was leaving Siem Reap at 6am, as my service will be taking me to the bus station where I’d be riding on a bus to Bangkok while he, on the other hand, would be heading to Phnom Penh where he would stay for a week before going to Bangkok to see his friends. We were going to the same destination but at a different time.
He wrapped his arms around me and gave me a strong massive hug. I closed my eyes for a moment, never wanting to let the moment pass, but I should let him go. It was getting late for the both of us.
We kept in touch until he arrived in Bangkok. I was still there, volunteering at a guesthouse. I wasn’t expecting to see him, but I was a bit hopeful to meet him again. Still, I couldn’t get him out of my mind.
The saddest part was, we never got the chance to see each other again after that wonderful night filled with fun. It felt like I had suddenly fallen in love with someone I just met.
No words could express how affectionate I was towards him. It was like I got moonstruck and plaintive all at once. My feelings snapped. I told myself not to imbibe emotions for a traveller like him. A traveller often goes from place to place. He constantly meets new people down the road.
Travellers don’t make a concrete plan; they just go wherever the flow is. That’s life. You can never change that. A lasting relationship with a fellow traveller is not guaranteed.
We were going to different places. We had different routes, different circles of friends. However, it made me wondered, would it be the same if we had met again? What could be different?
I didn’t cut me to the quick. Perhaps just some sort of a mixture of blues and a shot of disappointment. But there are no hard feelings. And since I have met a lot of nice travellers along my journey, there is only one thing that helped me keep my ground in this reality. I am not falling in love with a traveller. Unless, of course, he’s serious about me. You can’t choose who you fall in love with. Just make sure you share the same goal towards the future and you’re good to go. I believe in that.
And because of that, he gave me a beautiful and unforgettable memory in Angkor Wat.
It’s better to fall in love and keep falling in love with travelling itself. It will neither snap your feelings nor make you sad. Rather, it will fill your days with so much bliss.