Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mr. Rich

He met us at the airport with a sign that read "Streicher" and a beaming smile. 

He led us out into the steamy night air, scattering jokes and easy laughter like the stars in the Siem Reap sky. 

Proudly, he directed us to his tuk-tuk - an open-air metal conveyance pulled by a motorcycle - and we obediently scrambled aboard. 

And for the next twenty-four hours, our new friend chauffeured us around the archaeological ruins of Ankor Wat, the streets of Siem Reap, and the Cambodian countryside with a never-ending stream of funny stories, interesting quips, and good-natured teasing. 

He took us to a great restaurant for a late-night dinner, told us all the best spots for photos in the ancient temples, and kept us well-supplied with icy cold water during the overwhelming heat of the day. 

He also pretended not to know us when we returned to his waiting vehicle, calling out, "Tuk-tuk for hire! You ladies need a ride?!"

And when my enthusiasm for one last temple was flagging in the midday heat, and I asked him exactly how long it would take me to trudge through the jungle to see the finer points of this particular set of ruins, he looked me straight in the eye and dead-panned, "Just three hours." His twinkling eyes immediately gave him away, but he paused a perfectly-timed beat before laughing deep and heartily at my astonished face and his own sassy wit. 

Suffice it to say, Mr. Rich was a pure treasure. And if you ever find yourself in need of a tuk-tuk driver in Siem Reap, Cambodia, you should definitely look him up. 

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