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Sunday, November 07, 2010


Life in Phnom Penh

I'm back in Phnom Penh, back to the dentist. My appointment is 10.00 am but thanks to running on Malaysian time I'm there at 9.00 am. He often has no one at this time, I might get in anyway. Besides I brought my book with me, didn't I?

Well, he already had a patient and when I checked my bag I didn't have my book after all so I headed around the corner to where there is usually a young woman selling English-language newspapers outside Lucky Supermarket. The vendor is there and also a middle-aged woman with two small kids, begging.

'How much is Cambodia Daily,' I ask.

'1,500 reil.'

'But on the cover it says "1,200",' I point out.

'Yes, 300 for me.' She can't be more upfront than that, can she? I know that when she sells the Phnom Penh Post she charges the cover price. I guess whoever she gets the Dailies from doesn't allow her a margin. And 300 reil is less than 10 cents. I give her the money.

All the time this transaction is taking place there is a two-year-old kid at my ankles with his hand out asking for money. Without paying him much attention I interrupt my purchasing a couple of times to say 'no'. When I have my paper in my hand, he's still there with his hand out. I look him in the eyes, 'Ot tay.'

He obviously understands Khmer because now he backs off. The mother/aunt/grandmother smiles at me with betel-stained teeth.

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