After rumbling forward for a couple more feet our bus came to a complete stop.  The bus driver’s attempt to jumpstart the bus clearly was not going to get us 150 more miles across the Cambodian plains.  Our 8 hour bus ride across most of Cambodia was obviously going to take longer.

I was a bit fried.  The following day was my birthday and my plans to be in Angkor Wat for my special day looked to be going down the drain.  Here we were sitting in 100 degree heat in the middle of nowhere in Cambodia waiting for a different bus to come to pick us up.  Who knew how long this would take?

Playing cards with the villagers

Thankfully my brother was there.  With his usual positive attitude he said, “It’s all good, we can have some fun here!” and immediately got out a deck of cards.  

Within 10 minutes a swarm of locals were surrounding us.  Our broke down bus had attracted the attention of seemingly everyone in the sweltering Cambodian village.

A birthday dinner to remember

Before we knew it we were being taught Cambodian card games that the locals were experts in.  With one local that knew about 20 words in English we were able to have enough communication and gestures to be able to figure out the rules of the new card games.

The village kids howled with laughter to see four foreigners getting destroyed in card games that they had all played since they were little.

The spectacular ruins of Angkor Wat

I glanced back at the other foreigners who were glaring at the bus with a look of disgust.  It made me realize once again how much of life is the attitude you bring, and how you can find good in nearly every situation.

After our card games had run their course the locals took my brother, my two best friends and me into one of their stilt houses where we got to meet family member after family member.  Our being willing to invite them to play cards with us had totally broken the ice and made our 4 hour extra stop an enjoyable and learning experience.

Taking in the early morning at Angkor

The next day we woke up super early to see every corner of the world famous ruins of Angkor Wat.  We spent 10 hours climbing up giant rock staircases and around vine covered secret passageways.  Spending my birthday with my three best friends in this spectacular spot was all I could ever hope for.

Exploring the ruins…

At dinner my three buddies even said they would pay for my dinner.  The four of us ordered just about everything on the menu and our total came out to 19 dollars for the four of us.    

4 of us stuffed in a tuk-tuk ride

For good measure half way through our meal the electricity went out.  The entire town was pitch black.  Our super friendly Cambodian waiter brought over some candles and started telling us jokes.  

Yes it had been a birthday to remember….from our bus breaking down to exploring some of the world’s greatest ruins to a candlelit dinner with more Cambodian food than you could ever imagine… it had been a good 24 hours with three of my best friends and the kindness of the local Cambodian people.