While in Cambodia, I had the privilege of meeting a local man by the name of Sivon. He drove us to Angkor Wat and provided great recommendations of places to go during my time in Siem Reap. Sivon was just a few years older than me, but his upbringing and life experiences were much different than mine. He was very open in talking about his family and sharing experiences about the culture and history of Cambodia. One afternoon a song by Sinn Sisamouth came on the radio and Sivon told us the devastating story of Cambodia's most well known and popular singer being killed by the Khmer Rouge. Sisamouth's voice and style wasn't like any music I was familiar with and I quickly became a fan of his music.
To this day, Sinn Sisamouth is Cambodia's most beloved singer, and I know if I hadn't met Sivon I wouldn't have discovered his music. Interacting with the locals is certainly the best way to learn about a culture, so I make a point to put my guide book down, fold up my map and just start up a conversation with someone who knows the true heart of the city I'm in.