10 October 2006

"Don't Forget My Something."

I must say, the forcefulness of children selling their wares in the Angkor Wat Temple compound really caught me off guard. Before I had one leg out of the motor-taxi, a handful of children rushed toward me and began showing me their tour books, postcards, cold bottled water, scarves and so forth.

They were surprisingly good and English and knew many world capitals.

"What is your name? Where do you come from? I know the capital of your country."

After this brief time of introduction, we were shown their wares and if we said no, thank you, they pressed us with many reasons to buy from them.

"I sell you cheap! You need cold water! See my postcards!"

After many attempts to say no, they moved to encouraging us to come back to them after visiting the temple.

"Don't forget my book!"

"Don't forget my postcard!"

"Don't forget my water!"

"Don't forget my something!"

My something?

Upon our return, these street-wise kids remembered our names, and if we still said no, they said, "You promised to buy my book/postcard/water/scarf!"

It could be frustrating except that I knew that Cambodia has seen great hardship, and these children are only being obedient to their parents. As much as we could, Christine and I tried to engage them in normal conversation. They were pretty bright kids, and often even if we didn't buy anything ultimately, they would wave good-bye cheerfully. Sweet kids.

I won't forget them, although I might forget their "something!"


Laurie said...

This isn't about your post--Just about you! I'm so glad you're doing this. Hang in there. You're in our "thoughts". :)

Karenkeiko said...

I remember having the same experience at Angkor Wat about 10 years ago when I was there with Jeannette. What was amazing, though, was that they understood Japanese as well! When they were bombarding us with their wares, Jeannette and I were speaking Japanese amongst ourselves. They immediately switched languages and sales tactics. We were amazed by the children and their resiliency. The children of Angkor Wat are some of my most vivid memories of my trip to Cambodia. And the duck eggs... have you tried those yet? Thanks for taking me down memory lane, and have a great time in Cambodia. It's full of wonderful people!