Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cambodia: Day 2

Today, my second day in Cambodia, left plenty to ponder. I started my day with a trip to the floating village - the large lake in the middle of the country grows and shrinks depending of the time of year - on a government boat. Apparently, certain boats are run by the government, with the earnings funding local schools, while others are for profit tour companies.

This got me thinking about how my money is entering the local economy, and whether there are better ways of doing this. As the 16 year old boat driver said "Cambodia can't help Cambodia, only tourists can help Cambodia". I'm staying at a starwood hotel, so short of the wages to local staff, that money is leaving. I've been trying to eat local, and I've been sticking to my tuk tuk driver, which I hope goes directly into their pockets. I've also been questioning buying the trinkets from the children at the sights; they claim they need the money to pay for school, but if they are out selling on a Tuesday afternoon, can school really be a consideration?

All in all, it makes me wish I knew how best to help the locals - poverty does not do the situation justice in a lot of cases, and being able to see a place like this does make me want to show appreciation for it.

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