May 30th 2008
Rise and shine, Angkor
Alone at dawn standing in the company of two hundred and sixteen faces of Jayavarman/Avalokiteshvara (depending on which legend you believe in) almost brought a tear to my eye. Good times were spent chilling on the window ledge watching the ebb and flow of package tourists making a fool of themselves with the gargantuan gnarly roots. Sunrise at Sras Srang must be the most underrated attraction. Angkor Wat, on the other hand, was underwhelming. Never mind, though, because the real stars of Angkor were the children.
As soon as I sat my ass down, I was hit on by a bevy of sweet young things. I was the centre of attention. Everyone wanted a piece of this prime meat. I was the royalty. And I’m lovin’ it.
“Where you come from?”
Okay, that was not the response I was expecting. How about this?
“Singapore; capital: Singapore; population: 4.5 million; President: S. R. Nathan; Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong; languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil; … …”
I need to have a word with the Singapore Tourism Board. Obviously, someone has not been doing his job.
“You buy from me, sir? (Holding up strings of origami). Five for one dollar. One, two, three, …”
Two hundred and sixteen smiling faces welcome you to Siem Reap
Cambodian kids love to count.
“… four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Ten… ten…”
So, she did not fare too well in the arithmetic department. Well, it is okay. We are all gifted differently.
“… eleven, twelve, thirteen, …,” I continued and those who knew the rest joined in the chorus, “… fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.”
Well done, class.
Adamant not to be labeled as the slowest learner in class, the-one-who-could-count-to-ten-only decided to showcase her linguistic talent. She did her routine once again, only this time in Mandarin. You go, girl.
She was flabbergasted when I replied in Mandarin. You should have seen her expression. It was priceless. I taught her how to count in Mandarin, but only one to ten. She was not good in math, remember?
Realising that her pleas had all fallen on deaf ears, she decided a change in strategy was in order and simply asked,
“You give me coins? Sweets?”
‘Giving up’ was not part of their vocabulary.
I liked it when they asked where I was from.
Everyone has their favourite tree and here’s mine
I would adopt various Asian nationalities just to hear their sales pitch or at least them greeting me in the different languages. Try it!
As with all things good, moderation is key. An overdose is obviously an overkill. The kids went from cute to annoying in a heartbeat.
“Where you come from, sir?”
“Why you don’t talk to me?”
Still no reply.
“I know. You live in Cambodia. But you come from your mother and father.”
Till this day, I cannot fathom the logic of her words.
Like a broken record, they never stopped.
“SIR, YOU WANT COLD DRINKS? POSTCARDS? TEN FOR ONE DOLLAR. TA PHROM, BAYON, ANGKOR WAT, BANTEAY SREI, TA PHROM,… … YOU WANT FLUTES, SIR? THREE FOR ONE DOLLAR. OKAY, FOUR FOR ONE DOLLAR. FIVE?! STORYBOOKS FOR YOU? I GIVE YOU GOOD PRICE. ONLY TWO DOLLARS. YOU COME BACK, YOU BUY FROM ME, OKAY? (AN HOUR LATER) BUT YOU PROMISE YOU BUY FROM ME!”
Soon after, I learnt to tune them out. Their cries became nothing but white noise, humming silently in the background.
The pink trio
Source: galacticnick – Travel Blog.