‘Cambodia Touches You’ *More photos added!
Former MediaCorp actress Jesseca Liu says the country affected her on an emotional level
[top photo: FULFILLING – Jesseca Liu was happy to put smiles on the faces of village kids while doing volunteer work in Siem Reap.]
CAMBODIA might not be the most gorgeous or sophisticated country Malaysian actress Jesseca Liu has been to.
But it definitely packed an emotional punch and left an indelible impression on her.
The 31-year-old former MediaCorp artiste, who recently inked a contract with artiste management firm HIM International, visited the former French colony in March.
Her 11-day family vacation, which encompassed cities Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, left her with ‘a heavy heart’, Liu told The New Paper over the phone.
The Langkawi-born lass will star in the new telemovie You’re The One I Love with Taiwanese child star Xiao Xiao Bin, slated to be shown over Channel U in December.
‘There are some places in the world that will leave you breathless with their lovely sights.
‘Cambodia really touches you and makes you reflect on your life.’
A trip to Angkor Wat, the country’s most significant Hindu temple and recognised widely as one of the seven wonders of the world, made her reflect on ‘how far mankind has fallen’.
‘It’s really hard to imagine how advanced and prosperous civilisation was back in the early 12th century, when Angkor Wat was constructed,’ said Liu.
‘Looking at our modern society now, it’s like we’ve reached the end of a magnificent era…we would probably never be able to come up with architecture so intricate and so full of grandeur anymore.’
She was moved by the grandeur of Angkor Wat, the country’s most significant Hindu temple.
Get a taste
To get a taste of the Cambodian lifestyle, Liu visited villages beside the Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap.
‘The Cambodian people live simply; motorbikes are the main mode of transportation for most of them during the dry season,’ she said.
‘During the monsoon period, however, the sea level rises and the villages turn into ‘floating communities’…I must say it’s quite a unique characteristic.’
But there were unforgettable moments that broke her heart and almost had her in tears.
‘There was one evening when my family members and I went for dinner at a restaurant, and we noticed a Cambodian boy sitting in a corner by himself,’ she said.
‘He would gobble down all the leftover dishes on the tables of other patrons.
‘The sight of him wolfing down food made me sad. It hit me right there and then that I’ve been leading too lavish a lifestyle.’
Liu spent the first four days of her Cambodian trip with her family.
After they returned home, she stayed on in Siem Reap to participate in volunteer work.
‘It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,’ she said.
‘Although I know that I can’t possibly make (the villagers’) lives better overnight, it’s already very fulfilling just to be able to see those kids smile.’
One of the things she did was try her hand at cooking for the Cambodians.
‘It was the first time I cooked for strangers,’ said Liu with a laugh.
‘Anyway, it wasn’t daunting at all, because I soon realised that unlike us city folks, they don’t care so much about the quality and taste of food.
‘They are content to simply be able to have three meals a day.’
MEAL DEAL: Jesseca Liu trying her hand at cooking for villagers in Siem Reap.
DO YOU KNOW?
Angkor, a region in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.
Stretching over some 400 sq km in total, including a forested area, the Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the powerful Khmer Empire, which flourished from the 9th to 15th century.
Besides the famous Temple of Angkor Wat, there is the Bayon Temple located at Angkor Thom with its countless sculptural decorations.