Happy New Year! April 14th is celebrated as New Year’s day in Cambodia to mark the end of harvesting season. I met these children in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, when I visited a place known as the “Killing Fields”.
These little rascals saw my camera and asked me if I could take their picture. Of course, I said yes and took a picture and they asked to see it. I showed it to them and they started asking me for a dollar for taking their picture! I felt deceived.
It is easier to separate me from my money by being “cute” rather than deceptive. I gave them 100 Cambodian Riels to shut them up. On the other hand, I bought 2 small water bottles for 4000 Riels (US$1) each from a cute and smart little girl – it should’ve only cost 1000 Riels each.
When you’re traveling, there is no worse feeling than being cheated.
On another occasion, I was having dinner outside a restaurant in Siem Reap (Cambodia) when a book seller girl came by and asked me if I wanted to purchase Lonely Planet’s “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring” book. The price was $15. I looked at it and it was a pretty good photocopied version. I wanted to buy it so I asked her to give it to me for $8. She said $12. I said $8 again.
Then she said to play a game of Tic-Tac-Toe to decide on a price. If I win, I get the book for $8 (maybe!), and if she wins then it’s $12. It was a deal. The game ended in a tie. She said, “best out of 3”. I said, “fine”. I was pretty confident about my Tic-Tac-Toe skills. Unbelievably, I lost the 2nd game! I was shocked. Back in University, I had written a computer program that let me play Tic-Tac-Toe against the computer. It was a long time ago but I thought I remembered all the strategies to win or at least tie a game. Boy was I wrong.
The 3rd game was a tie and I kept my end of the deal and paid her $12 for the book. That is how I ended up owing Lonely Planet’s “Southeast Asia on a Shoestring”. I used that book a lot when I went to Vietnam and on a subsequent trip to Southeast Asia.
It was well worth the price, although I still wouldn’t pay for the original especially when I can get a cheaper “fake” in Asia.
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