Sunday, August 26, 2007

Negotiation - Cambodian style ...

As with so many of the major sights we've visited there is no lack of opportunity to buy things from stalls outside the temples in the Angkor Wat area.

It can all get incredibly wearing - it would be all too easy to react with intense irritation when being given the hard-sell over a coconut you don't want for what seems like the hundredth time that day. You just have to keep reminding yourself that people are simply trying to make a few dollars a week to enable them to feed their families - it's the kind of hand to mouth existence that I can only begin to imagine. Just a smile as you decline normally gets a one in return and the good humour of the Cambodian people immediately becomes apparent.

As we left one of the temples late in the afternoon a young girl of around 7 or 8 started walking allongside us, and the usual routine started. "You want drink? Coconut? Postcard? Book?". After replying "No thank-you" to every item on the seemingly endless list a brand new tactic presented itself. Gradually bringing into view a meat cleaver she was carrying by her side, she just smiled sweetly and said "are you suuure?". We were in stitches (of laughter).

I don't think I'll be importing that particular negotiation technique into the UK when I return next year - in any event, I couldn't carry it off nearly as well as she did ...

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