Cambodia Trip: Those Khmer Kids Selling Merchandise

Sir, sir.“, I hear a faint voice calling.
3 for 1 dollar, 3 for 1 dollar.” A sweet girl was selling her items in a small basket she was carrying. Trinkets and what-nots were inside.

She was about five years old but her frame seemed as if she were three.
I turned around, trying to shrug her away as I didn’t want to buy any of her goods despite the relatively cheap price.

After a long day of walking, I was heading for the loo to take a leak when this kid wouldn’t budge. She kept insisting that I should buy some bracelets as souvenirs; hoping I would give in any time soon. Only when I had to hurry my pace did she also attempt to walk faster; giving me a better deal for her merchandise “Ok, 4 for 1 dollar, 4 for 1 dollar.

Khmer kids selling merchandise

Unfortunately, I still didn’t want to buy anything. Even after I got back from the bathroom, she still kept pursuing her items. I fell into a game of patintero (gatekeeper and trespasser), looking for a way to avoid her.

After realizing that I was too stubborn, she followed other tourists passing by. Going back to her old spiel, she was able to sell a few items from those foreigners.

cambodian kid bike

cambodian kids
no shoes

This kid is amazing. I thought to myself. How she (and many others) was trained to communicate with tourists just to earn a buck or two. Makes you realize how hard life is in her country; not that mine is any less.

I should’ve bought something. Four pieces of bracelets for a dollar wouldn’t hurt and it’s better what she’s doing compared to begging. Also, it’s not the thought of buying for your own use. Instead, you want to help out in some way. Besides, she was only making an honest living.

under the heat of the sun

Those Khmer kids selling merchandise, they inspire you because life is not all that bad. Despite how persistent they were, it’s still a lot better compared to asking for money. Just like what Luis of said when he left a comment on my blog, “Better to be pushy sellers than pushy beggars.” (blog article here). When I go back, I’ll definitely buy a handful.

Here’s a couple of comprehensive guides about Siem Reap:

Check out my other adventures here:

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Please don't forget to confirm your subscription by checking your Inbox. is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
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22 thoughts on “Cambodia Trip: Those Khmer Kids Selling Merchandise”

  1. had the same experience but what was worst the little girl gave me a piece of paper with a flower drawing for remembrance… πŸ™ i wanted to cry but i still did not buy…so bad…

  2. I definitely agree with the last thing you said about selling. I used to give to beggars, pero ngayon madalang na, especially pag mukhang kaya naman magtrabaho. Nakakaawa rin pag bata, pero kailangan din nila matutunan na hindi nila makukuha gusto nila sa pagabot lang ng mga kamay nila.
    Very well written Ed. πŸ™‚

  3. Buying merchandise from kids or street vendors I guess is ok but I had long stopped giving alms to beggars and street children. It's actually not encourage to give especially on the street. There are right avenues to help and give donation to. 

  4. @pusang-kalye: yeah, kaya nga di ako bumili. hehe.

    @carla: ouch. maybe that's part of their sales talk? hehe. next time na lang carla. hehe

    @pinoy adventurista: haha. di rin. πŸ˜€

    @cedric: been a long time since I last gave alms to beggars too. usually i'd give food instead of money. thanks ced πŸ˜€

    @rizalenio: haven't met any of those in Boracay. mabalik nga.

    @lakwatsera de primera: yeah, who knows what they'll do with the money. I don't give alms anymore too.

  5. It happened to me too in Ta Prohm. This young girl kept on saying "One dollar, just one dollar." Repeat that 20x in a monotone and you can guess how irritating it sounded! Tried talking to her, playing, distracting her, but she just kept on repeating it. Hayz. On another note, I just realized I haven't written anything yet about my SR trip!

  6. (This is the third time I'm trying to write a comment, hope it works this time!) There was this kid outside of Ta Prohm who just kept on saying "One dollar, just one dollar." Repeat that 20x in a monotone and you'll know how irritating it could be! And I just realized I hadn't written anything yet about my SR trip. Bad!

  7. @aleah: yeah, it's really hard to shrug them off until you'll buy their stuff. so did you buy one? πŸ˜€ sulat ka na about your SR trip!

  8. hmmm…napilitan ako bumili nung nakisilong ako kase umulan. haha  pero really, kawawa ang mga bata dun, ilang beses ako napaluha dahil sa mga batang yan. pero naisip ko, ganun din naman sa Pinas. Yes, they we're trained to speak english to sell but they can't read, that's according to the kid na binilhan ko. πŸ™

    • @gael: been wondering what the ground looks like kung umulan. that’s a sad situation which is indeed the same sa Pinas. that’s why i didn’t buy any kasi sa sariling bansa nga di ako bumibili. pero still, hope that all of us will be better.

  9. These kids are something! They're really good at English because some of them actually goes to school and of course because of the millions of foreigners flocking their country, they probably learned to speak the language too.
    I've always been a budget backpacker but when  I came to Cambodia and saw how I, we, are literally much better off than some of them, my heart melted. We gave tips to kids in the restaurant who served as the interpreter for their parents when serving our food. We gave in to this kid who've been bugging us for almost an hour selling 6 bracelets for 1 dollar because he looked so cute while selling it to us: on the verge of crying. Says it's for his schooling, besides he watched over our bikes naman so pwede na. I dunno if it's a ploy but if it was, wow, we definitely fell for it haha.
    A dollar means so much in Cambodia and it wouldn't hurt at all to give back sometimes, something I learned in my short stay there. Ibang usapan na sa Bangkok hehe.

    • @pinoy boy: read your posts before we visited Siem Reap. Indeed it’s so hard to decline when their eyes are begging for money. But I prefer giving those kids selling merchandise some cash in exchange for their stuff para at least ‘business’ kumbaga.

      @maryelogs: indeed they’re good sellers to the point na magiging annoying. naaawa nga ako. sometimes it’s so hard to decline them especially when you know you can’t do anything else. one dollar isn’t bad for 6 bracelets considering that it’s already big enough for them. haha, tell me about Bangkok! daming scammers dun! πŸ˜€

  10. I disagree totally with buying from these kids. If you speak to any good NGO in siem reap they will tell you that these kids are being exploited.  the tourist police and other authorities prey on the poor families and basically hire their kids for usually only $1 per day , to use their kids to sell merchandise.  So they are not making an honest living.  In a western society would you hire your kids out to strangers for a day, week…….. for any amount let along a measily $1 per day.  These kids should be in school not being used a cute slaves, if you want to help them give them a book to read or some food to eat……. Just my opinion.

  11. @Alison: It's an ongoing problem. I also believe that these kids shouldstay in schools and not on the streets to sell merchandise to tourists. My point of comparison is how these kids differ from the kids from where I live. Coming from a third world country as well, most of the time I see kids begging. Would you rather have a kid asking you for money or selling you something in exchange for money? Both are discouraged but between the two, which would you prefer? School in Cambodia is free according  to another blogger's post ( and I agree that these kids should not be exploited. Great point about giving food or books instead of money. Thanks for sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚

  12. Hi soloflightEd,
    School is supposed to be free but a uniform is compulsory so are the books both of which are NOT free and also with some of the schools unless the children pay to the principal or teachers a small fee each day, they are sent home.  Point in case, a school that I visited on one of my trips to siem reap where I volunteer often. The school had NO books in the library and all of the children there where sponsored by an NGO who supplied their uniforms just so they could attend. And right next door the principals house was a two storey mansion with satelite dish on the roof and security gates and all the mod cons.  These kids no matter how you look at it are exploited by authorities, teachers or even their parents.  And I totally agree with you I dont know what is right and wrong and I found it very hard not to buy off them or give them money….. take care in your travels and very much enjoy your stories.

  13. Hi Alison, I feel sad about this situation. It's not right what's happening to them. Thank you sharing your story about Siem Reap and these kids. In our own little ways, it's good to be aware of the things that are happening around us so I really appreciate the food for thought! Thanks as well for visiting this blog! πŸ˜€

  14. Hey Ed,
    Don't feel bad about not buying from them – you definitely SHOULD NOT buy from kid vendors.

    Don't think I'm a coldhearted horrible person – Siem Reap is not littered with posters with reasons not to buy from Kid vendors – the money goes to a larger person (probably not their parents) who definitely won't put them in school.  Of course if the kids bring in income they'll keep it that way.

    You're feeding the system.  Give your money to adults, or donate to a charity such as 'think twice cambodia' who are putting great efforts into sending street vendors to school.

    Cambodia is all in all quite a magical place isn't it!

    Keep it up as always Ed, inspiring stuff!


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