Weâ€™ve been in Cambodia for four days and have seen a few villages, towns and cities. All of them reveal a picture of a very poor country with a tragic past. Driving on dirt roads we often see children, farmers and animals that are all very thin, in the west weâ€™d send them to a doctor immediately. Our tuk-tuk driver in Siem Reap, Tei, was telling us about the hard life of the Cambodian farmers who struggle to make a living and provide for their families who are often very big. In addition to the impoverished, we also see many people who have been wounded by landmines and are missing limbs, eyes or have burns or different parts of their bodies. Cambodiaâ€™s past is staring at us not only when we visit the landmine museum.
With the big influx of tourists coming to see places such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, a lot of Cambodians relay on foreigners for their daily bread. Every single Wat, temple and museum is surrounded by numerous stands selling everything from silk scarves to pineapple in a bag. In addition to the stands, dozens of people just stand around waiting for the groups of tourist to arrive so they could try and sell them something. Their guerilla marketing technique is very â€œpro activeâ€. The whole scene reminds me of the â€œVerizonâ€ commercial on TV in the States where the guy always has his network physically there with him everywhere he goes. I have been feeling like I have a â€œnetworkâ€ of my own the past few days which consists of 3 women selling pineapple, 2 tuk-tuk drivers and 5 kids all selling the same postcards. It is sometimes very hard to refuse to buy something since the sellers are all very persistent and you can tell how badly they need the money. Some tourist have trouble dealing with the nonstop pressure to buy souvenirs/food. We witnessed a heartbreaking scene of an older American tourist yelling and stiff-arming a little girl, 1/3 his size to a point of humiliating her for trying to sell his wife some bracelets for a dollar.