Sunday, December 1, 2013

Looking for Swami

photo by asha
Girl at Ta Keo helping us look for Swami

This little girl represents the last small chance that we may yet find Swami. She was at Ta Keo the day we lost him and helped when we went back the next day to look for him. I mentioned a cash reward and she shot up the temple's steep, narrow stairs and scoured the third level before I even got to the second. No luck, but we'll check with her one more time before we leave. If he's there, she'll find him. She's a smart kid.

photo by asha
Looking down the stone
stairs from Ta Keo's top level.

Of course my "problem" is inane. This child, who should be in school or off playing with her friends, is forced by extreme poverty to be a tout. It's terrible. It should be illegal to put kids on the street like this but there they are and the second you arrive at a site, they swarm and cojole you to buy something.

photo by asha

You have to ignore them, because, if you don't, if you say "no thank you", if you even glance at someone, if you do anything that in any way acknowledges their existence, they suck in closer and stick longer. They are well trained.

photo by asha
Touts working the tourists at Angkor Wat

So you learn to totally ignore them but they are kids, for god's sake. Why is this happening? Same as always, graft, cronyism. Increasing millions of tourist dollars flow into Angkor Wat yet the temples are not properly protected and Cambodians remain the poorest people in Asia. It sucks all around.

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