One common selling technique of people in a floating village

By Kema Hodge

As I departed from the floating souvenir shop and restaurant nestled at the heart of the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia, I stepped into the 10-foot boat that awaited my four other classmates, our two tour guides, and the two boat navigators.

I was still in awe of the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia as well as the floating village that surrounded us. The village consisted of countless boat houses and shelters attached to bamboo in order to float on water. 

As the rest of the group settled in, another boat approached ours. The boat contained an older woman (likely the mother) and two young children. Each member of the family had fixed their face into a look of utter despair as they requested one dollar.

I began to try to take pictures of the young girl nearest me, but not because of the hopeless look that seemed to fill her eyes. Rather, it was because of the five foot thing that she casually wore around her neck. Slightly intrigued but not quite as afraid as I should have been, I snapped one picture of the young Vietnamese girl and the live boa constrictor that hung around her neck. Having been the fourth time I had encountered a Vietnamese child of an illegal immigrant approaching me with a similar technique, I was not nearly as impressed by the girl’s ability to bravely hold a python while asking for money.

I turned away to mention something to the other passengers and then quickly turned back to the family.

I suppose my movements were a little too quick for the family to rearrange their face, because for a fleeting two seconds they looked as if they had little care in the world. Once that short moment passed, however, the request for money accompanied by a look of anguish returned to the family. It was that moment that solidified the realization that not only do the families in the floating village live drastically different from those on land, but their entrepreneurial skills were just as unique.


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