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Temple Hopping Madness

For our second day at the Angkor Temples, we had a late start, 7:30 a.m. We had decided to do whatever our tuk-tuk driver told us, he seemed to know what he was doing. We whizzed by the hoards of tourists (of which we had been part the day before) and stopped at a huge temple where were parked only a few other tuk-tuks. The morning passed by quickly as we wandered through the temples.
Most of the time we were only accompanied by the Cambodian children with their dirty faces and clothes and their calls of "buy something from me, only one daw-law". Most of the time we were able to resist their pleas, but it was clear that the temples in which they were "posted" got much less traffic than others and their sales much have been correspondingly low. One boy explained to us that their families paid for spots in the temples, that is, they paid off the police officers who patrol the area to allow them to sell there. The busier the temple, the higher the fee to be there. His aunt had been selling for 15 years, and he had joined her many years ago himself (he only looked about 10 years old). Not surprisingly his English was impeccable. The children know a fact about each country who might bring visitors to the temples. Here is the conversation we had with most of the children we met:

child: "Hi where you from?"
us: "Canada"
child: "Canada, you speak two languages. Capital, Ottawa. Population 32 million."
us: "Wow, you're pretty clever!"

In the afternoon we visited the "jewel of Angkor", Banteay Srei Temple, a small but beautifully carved temple that is dedicated to women. It was worth the 16km tuk-tuk drive down dusty bumpy roads. On our way back we stopped at a small village where we were greeted by a crowd of incredibly friendly villagers. The centre of attention was a little baby, dressed in a cute little tank top. The entire time we visited, I was fairly certain that the baby was a girl, but his grandmother must of noticed this by some subtle behavior I displayed. She proceeded to pull his pants down to make sure that we knew he was in fact a little boy. This got a huge laugh from all his siblings and cousins who teased him (unknown to him) about his little tank top. We bought palm sugar candy from the villagers (made from sap from palm trees, just like maple syrup!) and said goodbye.
Margaux and I were ready to call it a day, but Yann insisted on being dropped off at Angkor Wat to catch the sunset. I will give his account of the sunset at Angkor Wat (since Margaux and I were at the guest house by then). Just like sunrise, the crowds gather in huge numbers at Angkor Wat for the sunset. Among them several amateur, or maybe even professional photographers, looking for that unique shot?! The most popular place to stand is on the edge of the two pools that sit in front of the Wat. This way you can get the Wat and its reflection in the pool. The sunset causes a slight dilemma however, because some tourists choose to actually watch the sunset, which does not fall over Angkor Wat. What better place to watch the sunset but sitting on the edge of the pool, across from the photographers, right in the middle of their perfect shot?
Although slightly annoying, one cannot actually expect to get a shot of Angkor Wat without a tourist in it? However one photographer was determined to do so. After a little bit of yelling coming from both sides of the pool, he marched over to the other side and attempted to drop kick a woman in the face who was sitting with her two elderly parents. She managed to duck out of the way of his kick but her father got up to defend her and the photographer proceeded to brawl with him (did I mention he was elderly). After a few seconds the assailant walked away, with everyone in complete shock, including the Cambodian police who watched the entire incident unfold. I'm sure he succeeded in completely ruining the poor family's Angkor experience, and you might notice Yann didn't get any shots of the sunset.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

coucou aux voyageurs,

Nous revoila, je vous ai manque depuis 2 jours, nous n'etions pas pris dans les bancs de neige mais nous avons ete en ski a Quebec. Je viens tout juste de lire vos aventures ainsi que regarde vos photos.
Franchement, Emilie et Margo avec vos gaufres, vous etes vraiement superbes, toi aussi Yann. A vrai dire, toutes vos photos sont ecoeuramment belles, les photos d'enfants sont magnifiques. Depuis le debut de votre aventure, vous prenez beaucoup de photos d'enfants et ils ont toujours l'air tres heureux.
C'est beau a voir.

Ne lachez pas meme si quelques fois vous n'avez pas d'air conditionne dans votre chambre cela est mieux que gele ici ou de pelleter les 30 cm de neige que nous avons recu.

On vous embrasse et on vous aime beaucoup beaucoup beaucoup
xxxx

La plus belle matante et le plus bo mononcle

Raymond et Denise
xxxxxxx

Princesse Eve said...

what do we have to do for a telephone call.

Princesse Eve said...

So I havet wrote much, It is very busy here in La Malabie. We have a new roomy, a friend from jasper. I sold mango to a family here he was in love with him ( they are crazy) he is a chinese man, from china, and his wife is from here. They own a chineese buffet restaurant....I hope he wont be the speciality in a couple months when they realize he never shuts up. My dog is the new love of my life. He is quiet. I cant wait for you to see him. He is gainning about 10 pounds a month to a maximum of 120 pounds. Two job offers have opened up in ottawa, one at the chateau laurier and the other at the hilton, i have applied for both, hopefully i get them.

anyways hope you have a great time in cambodia, if you want the hotel, ill pay for it, it would be your x-mas present....

eve
I love you

Margox said...

One thing I thought was funny is after we passed the palm candy stands (which I think is like Cambodian sucre à la creme), at the next temple we visited, the kids were quick to ask us for candy rather than for the usual money. They all crowded around as we opened and distributed a pack. I guess we weren't the first, eh?

Jean Richer said...

It's heartbreaking to think that these young children are put to work so young, memorizing data about various tourists' countries in order to impress and presumably get good tips.To object is probably to reduce their standard of living even further with no hope of advancement

Papa

Y&E said...

The bright enthousiastic children are absolutely heartbreaking. To think of their potential and their cleverness... Its difficult to know what to do with them, our official position was never to buy from children. If selling isn't profitable then eventually it might stop? It is, however, much easier said than done. The best solution is to donate to local organisations that work to protect the poorest children and families.

2par4 said...

What the??? Y&E are posting comments!? You can't send yourselves a postcard. Or can you?

Hey, thanks for the elephants! Very thoughtful.