Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cambodia Vignettes

Vignette 1 - Coke Seller on the Tonle Sap

We were chugging along in a motorized boat on Cambodia's huge Tonle Sap lake; I was facing the front of the boat, waiting for the lake to open out before us in its full glory. Suddenly a boy appeared just behind me - on our boat - with a bunch of cold drinks. I couldn't figure out where he had materialized from. Turned out he had jumped on from another boat that had come close to ours. I asked him if I could take a picture - he flashed me a big grin and a victory sign.

I twisted around to see his "mother ship" - couldn't spot a boat near us. Apparently the boat had come up close, the boy had hopped on, and his companion had swerved away from us. He asked me what I'd like to drink. I didn't really want anything, but how could I not buy from such an enterprising and charming seller? My two colleagues and I each bought something from the boy.

Once the transactions were complete, the boy moved to the edge of our boat. The other boat - manned by his father, he explained - magically appeared beside ours. The boy prepared to jump back on to his Dad's boat.

My Cambodian companions assured me all little kids on the Tonle Sap were expert swimmers in addition to being great saleskids.

So I relaxed and waved goodbye to the boy as he jumped into his own boat.

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