I was exploring the temples of Cambodia when I saw this familiar Japanese tourist.
I remember I overheard her telling her fellow traveler while in a different temple that she just recently quit her job and embarked on a three month journey to Southeast Asia to just find purpose… meaning in her life.
Her story was inspiring. It was also a testament of how traveling can be so powerful in enriching your life, that even eavesdropping from a simple conversation of your fellow travelers can truly give you insights and inspiration.
As I entered the inner part of the temple, I saw her being approached by a kid vendor offering her some postcards and ref magnets.
“One for one dollar only.” Said the little girl.
Then I wondered why the kid suddenly asked the Japanese lady about her nationality.She replied, “I am from Japan.”
Upon hearing that the little girl transformed her sales pitch in a snap!
I was stunned.
Come on, who could resist that kind of effort coming from a kid?
True enough, this little girl made a sale from the Japanese lady. 🙂
She was even kind enough to take picture of her customer as a sign of gratitude for buying from her. What I realized is mostly correct, that the girl made this tremendous effort to memorize some short sales pitch in different languages for her to use depending on the customer’s nationality.
How cool is that?
Coming from a third-world Asian country, I am used to encountering child vendors. But I’ve never seen something like this… only in Cambodia.
They have more fire. They’re feisty, assertive and most of the time, irresistible.
I remember being chased by another little girl offering me the same postcards from a different temple. If you’ve been to Angkor Wat, you know what I am talking about – there are tons of temples there right?
Well, I have already bought a lot of the same products from some vendors there, so I don’t need more of that.
So I told the girl, “sorry , I already have postcards and ref magnets.”
But her reply stunned me. She said, “You need more. You give your girlfriend or your mother.”
Well another girl who is excellent in sales. She was re-creating a need for me to buy more of the same products.
I knew I would have a hard time saying no so I walked faster.
But the girl ran so fast to catch me. But by the time I reached the temples, I told her I just need to explore the place. She said “okay.”
I just told myself, “Yes! I’ve managed to escape the girl.”
By the time, I was about to go back to our van.
Lo and behold!
I was really surprised to see the same girl. Probably waiting for me! 🙂 Maybe she was telling herself, “You can’t escape me, big man.” LOL!
I didn’t know what to do. I had no choice but to pass by the same way going back. I didn’t want to buy from her. Aside from the fact that I already have a ton of the same magnets, I also remembered an article I read before going to Cambodia, that tourist should not buy from kid vendors, because they shouldn’t be there selling – they should be in school.
And we shouldn’t tolerate that.
But then again, you could say no to this little girl?
I even learned something from her about being persistent, of not giving up on something you would want to achieve. Pretty amazing right?
In the end, I gave in. Before I got closer to our van she made an irresistible offer. She said she can give me two ref magnets for one dollar.
I bought 4 ref magnets from her.
When I was in the van, I was thinking If I did the right thing. These kids need to work and survive, but they should be in school. Their parents should be the one working for them to feed them, to take care of them.
At the end of the day, we never know their story.
And again, from someone like me who is also from a country with many child vendors, I’ve realized we could really never understand what these kids are going through. We could never understand how to be in dire poverty unless we experience it by our selves.
It’s so easy to be idealistic – telling ourselves not to buy from them and not tolerate this trend of child labor.
I also realized, I thought I knew it all when it comes to children selling stuffs –seeing it in my own country. But Cambodia has given me another perspective.
Kids here seem to be needing more, so they’ve become so skilled in selling and even speaking basic English.
I just told myself while in the van, that buying from that girl was the right thing to do at that moment.
Besides, that kid truly deserves a sale.