The Harder Side of Travel
Last May when I was in Cambodia there were a lot of things I struggled with. On the grounds of Angkor Wat young kids were instantly drawn to us – not to meet us as foreigners, but to sell us stuff. Hey, lady, you want to buy _____? Somewhat cute at first, it quickly became heartbreaking. Do I buy another piece of cheap touristy crap that I don’t need to “support” this kid? Or do I walk away and completely ignore this child? And if I do help, how am I actually helping? It wasn’t until we arrived in Phnom Penh a few days later that I saw that there were better options. All my guilt from not buying something from everyone I encountered was put at ease when we visited Friends, a wonderful organization working directly with kids from the streets and their communities, and teaching them valuable skills to help them succeed in life. We visited the restaurant and shop. It felt so good eating the delicious food (cookbook info here) the teenage “students” had prepared and served us, purchasing a “brick” with my name to support their programs (click here if you want to help), and buying quality, hand-made souvenirs in the shop that had a deeper meaning and a story behind them. We even returned two more times during our visit because we couldn’t get enough (and they had great smoothies too).