Thursday, November 22, 2007

Siem Reap Our Current Home

The Visa extension office in PP came through as requested and our papers were ready to pick up at 8 and a half yesterday morning (Kmer Keyboard, and I can't find a colon!).

After that we tuktuked back to the hotel and soon had our Bus tickets to Siem Reap plus a hotel booked. Getting a room is not that easy right now as the Water Festival is on this weekend and it is a big event in all of Cambodia but especially the cities. It involves Dragon Boat type races on the Mekong in PP and Tonle Sap River here. The boys and girls are out practicing right now.

Before we left for our bus ride to here at 12 1/2 hours we went for brunch at a restaurant that supports a nearby orphanage with the proceeds. We tried to support them by buying their shirt as well and are going to try to do more from home (I don't mean by that we will order takeout!).

While there we saw a tiny, painfully skinny girl on the sidewalk, trying to find morsels of food in discarded wrappers in the dirt. She was one of the ubiquitous book sellers of travel guides and other books that we do not need and we usually ignore them entirely. Her situation was obviously not great, so we asked the staff person in the restaurant if he would ask her if she was hungry and wanted some food. He had come from the orphanage himself so easily understood where we were going with our request.

She was extremely shy and barely raised her eyes to us, but when she did they were huge, occupying half her face, which despite her thinness was pretty. Her arms were like pencils.

She asked for fried rice and chicken and asked to take it away, but we asked him to ask her to stay to at least eat some in the restaurant. Our fear was that she would be compelled to give food to older and perhaps bullying bigger kids, as we have seen these kids working in groups. They have to bring home the proceeds of their selling but I expect her success was not good as she seemed so quiet.

With a little coaxing I got her name (Thi?) and her age of 6. She had 2 sisters and one brother, she being the youngest. She worked about 12 hours per day and had not eaten that day nor the night or maybe even the day before.

With great care and polite manners she devoured the food and a bottle of water we also bought, and when done disappeared with very little fanfare, though she did quietly thank us and then scooted away. However the real thanks came a few minutes later when we passed her a short distance away down a cross street. She threw us the most brilliant movie star smile I have seen in a while and waved as we crossed. It certainly made it worthwhile for us!

We are in Siem Reap til tomorrow am when we go back to PP, about 6 hours by bus. Then the next day it's on a plane for home.

I'll fill in details of here later, as this computer (like most we have had here) is a tank. So called "high speed" at Internet shops around here is about the technical equivalent of 2 cans and string, though I think it just means they use a larger can, or is it a fatter string?

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