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The Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Children of Angkor, Cambodia

Joe Owens of A Couple Vagabonds shares photos of children he and his girlfriend met when traveling to Angkor, Cambodia.

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The Angkor region of Cambodia, near Siem Reap, is home to the incredible Angkor Wat temple. The area is best known for Angkor Wat, but there are literally hundreds of other temples and magnificent sites to see in the area. One thing that all of these sites have in common is the dozens of children working and playing in their shadows.

Cambodia Children

Most of these kids are working trying to help feed their families by selling jewelry, books about the temples, postcards and other souvenirs. Some of them were just playing in these ancient temples because it was in their backyard. All of these incredibly cute kids had an interesting story to tell, sometimes about their large families, how their employer is really some man, how they need to pay off the cops if they are caught selling in certain areas, or how sometimes they had no families at all. These kids are also very smart, they can speak many different languages so they can communicate with many of the tourists. They also know many facts about countries, like their capitals, populations, presidents, and even state capitals in the U.S.

These are some of my favorite pictures of these children in Angkor, Cambodia

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Peace - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Trying to beat the competition to the new customers

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Sitting down on the job - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Waiting for a new target - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Taking a break to play a game - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Selling postcards - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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No board or pieces required - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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More postcards - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Relaxing - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Friends - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Looking cute - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Sisters - Children of Angkor, Cambodia

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Taking a break to play tic-tac-toe against the foreigner - “You lose! Now you buy something!”

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its amazing how they smile with the little they have

Samuel says:

Joe, the kids in Cambodia make the country special in my opinion. Nice job with this photo essay.

Joe says:

Thanks! I agree, the kids definitely made the country special. They were so much fun to talk to and learn from.

Name says:

I loved the kids that would approach your table at night selling books – they were so smiley and friendly and loved practicing their english with you. On the flip side, we had the odd child bringing round what looked like a new-born baby, begging for money – with her parents lurking around in thesahdows. that was pretty hard to stomach, and it is hard to know what is best in that situation… give them some money a they need it and encourage further begging or ignore it and let destinay take it’s course?

I hate making this comment, because I have WAY too many friends that will take it out of context for some good humor at my expense but… I love taking photos of kids. They are simply so joyful for the mere glimpse of themselves on the screen afterwords.

Joe says:

HAHA! I often feel the same way. I usually take a lot of pictures of kids on my trips but it’s only because they are so interesting and it makes for good photos. I am always worried someone might ask why I’m always taking photos of so many kids!

Stephen says:

Nice photos. The kids around Ankgor are fun. Even if you don’t buy something they”ll still try and talk to you or play a game of tic-tac-toe in the dirt.

Reena says:

The kids at Angkor Wat are some of the best and most persistent salespeople I’ve ever met :)

Don Faust says:

We loved touring the temples around Siem Reap. I still can’t imagine how they built so many – there are over 300 around this area, and over 3000 in Cambodia.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of poverty, and most kids either go to a half day school or not at all, because they are working, selling books and such around the temples. For those that can speak other languages, they will probably be able to break out of poverty by becoming tour guides. We donated to and visited a grade school while we were there. When we arrived at the school, we supplied an additional $40… to feed 300 kids for lunch. The kids were so happy, and it was really a small thing on our part.

Jessie says:

LOVE these photos. the humanity in their eyes is humbling

Will says:

Just as a few other commentators have mentioned – Cambodia, too, is up there as one of my favourite countries. There’s just something inexplicable about it that you can’t really sense until you’ve been there and milled around a fair bit.

Having seen a lot of these kids myself I was surprised at how astute, friendly and cheerful they were. Of course, that’s all part of their survival package and dependency on the tourist dollar, but compared to similar kids in Vietnam they certainly had much more of a “spark” and a certain vivacity to them.

They know all the major world presidents too and can list them off at a drop of a hat! Not many British kids of the same age could even tell you who the current PM is. Not that I really blame them now!

Mica says:

These are great photos. I don’t even want to have children but I love them nonetheless. I am so excited to visit Cambodia in the next few months.

Deb says:

Beautiful photos. The children we met when we visited Angkor Wat will always stay with me. They were so articulate, smart, witty and beautiful. It is so sad how circumstance can dictate your lot in life. A young girl in Angkor knows all the capital cities of the world, speaks English and probably a little French or Japanese and yet spends her days selling post cards and hiding from cops instead of being able to go to school. A kid born into the privilege of the west may not even know where Cambodia is on a map and probably doesn’t care to learn a second language but they are already given a head start to live a comfortable life just by being born where they were born. Many of these kids at Angkor sadly don’t stand a chance. But, the world is changing and travel is opening people’s eyes and minds and maybe some of them will have opportunities in the future.

James Cook says:

Great photos! i have yet to go to Cambodia but I really want to go to Angkor.
James

Chris says:

The kids in Cambodia were so warm! I’m dying to go back and do volunteer work outside PP.

Joe says:

That sounds like a great idea! Cambodia is one of my favorite countries, I would love to spend some time there doing volunteer work.

Aww, how cute :]
Amazing photos!

Joe says:

Thanks!

They were some of the cutest kids I’ve come across in my travels.

Children are amazing – no matter the situation, they will always play and enjoy themselves.
Good job on the pics!
Cheers,
John D. Wilson

Andi says:

They are so beyond precious!

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