Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kids in Cambodia

Kids are one of my favorite subjects to photograph in Cambodia.  They have great smiles and if you show them the LCD display of their picture, they are enthralled. 

Here are some of my favorite kid pics from my last trip. 

This little guy was helping to build one of my pumps. 

We played with this boy almost all afternoon while the pump was being built for his family. 

Showing him his picture.  He was a lot of fun and (almost) made me forget how hot it was that day. 

And this was his sister. 

At every temple, there are kids trying to sell you their goods.  Most of them have cheap bracelets but there are lots of guidebooks and postcards too.  A lot of tourists get VERY frustrated with them because they can be very persistent but I love interacting with them.  They're just kids and even though they are trying to make a buck, they also want to have fun. 

Many of the kids will ask you where you are from.  After you say a country, they will name off the capital, the population and  the President (or Prime Minister).  When I was in Cambodia the last time, the kids were already predictig that Obama was going to be the next President.  After I got tired of being told all the statistics of the United States and Canada, I started telling them that I was from Greenland.  

This really stumped them.   

Let me introduce Toi.  He was one of my favorite kids from my last trip.  I met him after he tried to sell me books at one of the temples (Banteay Srei to be exact). 

He provided me with a great photo and I put it on my iPhone. 

On my most recent trip to Cambodia, I went back to Banteay Srei.  It is an incredibly beautiful temple and has the most intricate carvings of any of the Cambodian temples. 

After I finished the tour, who tried to sell me postcards? 


A year and a half later, I ran into him again.  I said, "Hey, you're name is Toi, isn't it?"  He had a very surprised look on his face which became even more surprised after I showed him his photo on my iPhone.  I guess it isn't every day that a tourist walks up to him and remembers him from a year and a half ago.  

Of course, I had to have a picture with him.  I bought his postcards and he ripped me off!  The going rate for postcards in Cambodia is 10 for a dollar.  He charged me $2.  Oh well.  I'm glad he's learning to be a savvy businessman. 

I really hope to see him the next time I go.  He'll probably be still hawking his wares at the temple. 

I hope he doesn't have a difficult life. 

Another strange coincidence happened that day at this temple.  A year and a half ago, I was walking towards the bathroom facilities which were on at the end of a dusty road.  While I was making the trek, a girl appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  She was hideously disfigured.  I'm not sure what had happened to her but most likely it was the result of a landmine which were (and still are) common in Cambodia.  I was so disturbed by her appearance that even though she held her hand out to beg, I hurried off to my destination.

I never forgot that experience.  I felt really bad that I had avoided her.  In her situation, there probably isn't any other way for her to make money.  Cambodia has NO social welfare system.

On my most recent visit, Eddie and I were walking towards the same bathrooms and ONCE AGAIN, the disfigured girl appeared out of nowhere.  I have NO IDEA how she just appeared.  It was quite eerie.  Of course, I recognized her right away.  Those large vacant eyes and the twisted limbs are entirely unforgettable in a country where there are lots of disfigured people.  Eddie plucked $5 out of his wallet and gave it to her.  Without saying anything (I'm really not sure if she can even talk), she folded up the bill and tucked it away.  There was no emotion there.  Just a silent stoicism.  And then she walked away.

If you ever go to Banteay Srei, you will probably run into Toi and the disfigured girl.  Make sure you say hello to Toi for me and please donate to the girl.  And then tell me all about it.


Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I were in Siem Reap juz last week and we met the disfigured girl u mentioned - Toi. She didnt jump out from nowhere this time but sat on the floor next to the path. We were very disturbed when we first saw her. After walking through the ruins, we purposely walked the same way toward her n my boyfriend dug out 30000 riels n gave it to her.

Brian n Jolene

movievet said...

She seemed very sweet and we actually got her to smile (or cry, we weren't sure which) after we gave her some money. I hope to see her on my next visit!