A failed attempt at assimilation

By Brianna Randall

Dressed in an oversized button-up, ankle-length skirt, and wide-brim hat, I visited Angkor Wat expecting to blend in among the many other visitors, but I soon realized that this was not the case.

Within five minutes of descending from my tuk-tuk, groups of Cambodians and Koreans excitedly circled around me, making me the center of attention. Soon, I was barely able to hear or even focus on what my tour guide was saying  because of the double-takes and stares of either fear, admiration, or curiosity and the low mumbles in various languages that were, of course, foreign to me.

Despite all that I missed, I did hear my interpreter explain that people from all over Asia make visiting Angkor Wat at least once a lifetime goal. So, how did I, this lanky southern woman, manage to be more interesting than this one important moment in their lives?

It baffled me and, by the end of the tour, I felt self-conscious and confused. This feeling reamined until my tour guide happened to hear and interpret the words of one onlooker. “Who is that woman?!,” she translated. “Saart! That means ‘beautiful’!”

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