How To Prevent From Being Harassed In Siem Reap

Posted by : foongpc | Friday, August 5, 2011 | Published in


One thing that struck me during my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia last year was the children and how they worked to get those US dollar bills off my wallet!

At most of the major temples that Jam, his friend and I visited, we were sort of 'ambushed' by children (young kids and teenagers) trying to sell us stuffs like postcards, books, drinks, scarves and souvenirs!

If there's one thing I could learn from them, it's their persistency. They just would not give up no matter how many times I said "No!"

There's one time a young girl approached me to sell something at the entrance to a temple. I could not even remember what it was cos I did not want to look at it! I told her "No, I am not interested" but she said she would wait for me there and maybe I would buy on my way out. So I said "OK, maybe."

That.....was my biggest mistake.

On my way out an hour or so later, she was there to greet me. I was like, what the .....?! I told her firmly "No, I don't want to buy". Guess what did she say to me?

These were her words and I remember them well. "I don't like you sir. You lie to me."

Frankly, I was stunned. Since when did I lie to her? I did not even promise to buy anything! She continued to follow me repeating those sentences and finally, I retorted "That's fine. I don't care!"

Luckily, she stopped following me after that. Phew!

After that incident, I learnt the only way to prevent these kids from harassing you is to ignore them in the first place. And I mean ignore completely. Ignore as in not looking at them at all, not even a glance. Don't even attempt to briefly scan through the things they are selling or you will not be able to escape their clutches!

And if they still ask you to buy despite you not looking at them at all, just give a firm "NO!" and quickly walk away, all the time looking ahead at the direction you are going.

Now I am not trying to paint a bad picture about the children in Siem Reap. I knew Cambodia is a poor country and the children may be forced to survive. Although, they should really be in school! Besides, I am not sure if the money they earn go into their pockets or to the adults who trained them!

In any case, it is still better to have the children sell something rather than just begging for money. But being too persistent when the customer had said "No" several times was a major turn off for me.

However, do not let this stop you from going to Cambodia and visit those amazing temples! It is still a beautiful country and a great holiday destination. My unpleasant experience with the girl who called me a liar was a rare event - I had mostly good experiences with the people of Cambodia.

More about the children of Cambodia and their selling technique in my next post - The Children Of Preah Khan!