we've been in cambodia for little more than a week and already the kids have captured my heart. they are a scruffy, beautiful, pesky, and dusty bunch and they know how to charm you. they've charmed us out of money, food, and a pen. we have read the guidebooks that warn you only to support businesses that help kids (which we have done) and not to give in to their begging but...really...could you say no to this face?

this little girl saw our bag of pineapple scraps and mango and made a beeline for jay. we'd already eaten most of the pineapple as we walked through the temples of angkor but she put out her hand and said, "food"?

this boy was selling books outside a temple and when we said no to the books he challenged me to a game of tic tac toe. as we were playing he said,"ïf i win you give me money". for some reason i never asked what i would get if i won but it was a moot point.

this blue dog and his friend just kinda moped around as we walked through a temple. they didn't ask us for anything but after i took is picture i gave him 1000 riels (25 cents).

just hanging around a temple with his sister, this boy posed for me and another tourist.

the boy on the front of the boat would leap onto the tourist boats and sell water and pop and then leap back onto his boat as the father trolled alongside.

we went on a boat tour of tonle sap near siem reap as suggested by our tuk tuk driver. there is a floating village on the lake and many tourists take tours around with a few stops at local businesses along the way. when i read about it online the price of a shared boat ride was $6 per person. when we arrived at the docks we were told the price was $20 per person and that we would have our own boat. jay and i had already spent $15 on the tuk tuk driver and spent the morning at angkor wat so another $40 was out of our budget. we turned away to leave and the tour guy followed us back to our tuk tuk. our driver explained that the tour would support the local people and gave them jobs. the tour guy dropped the price to $30 all the while making sure we knew that every other tourist paid the full fare and ribbing us about spending money in other countries but not cambodia. jay was still resistant but i said...we're only in cambodia once...so we went.

it was interesting to see the village but it became disturbing when it became apparent that children were put on display to entertain the tourists. this little girl is waving a snake at us and asking for food or money. when i took the photo i didn't think much of it but when we were on the floating souvenir store and looked down at another boat there was another snake and child combo. this time the mother was putting the snake's head into the child's mouth.

i'm sure not all the kids we see are coerced into putting on shows and begging from the tourists. there is evidence of loving parents and families in cambodia. but when you are bombarded with children begging from you at every opportunity it is difficult to see past that. i see the desperation in their eyes and my heart breaks.

chum riep leah,



Karla said...

The breaking of your heart is painful, but it reminds you that you are alive. If you didn't have such a warm and nurturing heart it wouldn't break. That's why I love you.

Anonymous said...

It's a part of who you are--to feel compassion. You will never regret having helped these kids for that moment. Love, mom

gayle said...

I want you to bring everyone of those darling children home. What beautiful pictures of beautiful children. Love and miss you

3D Jane said...

Oh my gosh! Those children are soooooooooooo cute! If I were you guys I would have had to stay in Cambodia and get a job before I could go anywhere else!