EYE IN THE SKY - Remote places whispering tales of a wanderlust. Travels in Madagascar, Brazil, Peru, the Seychelles, Bhutan, Maldives, Fiji, UAE, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Brunei, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, and then some.
This is a Philippine blogsite; a "journal" solely meant to document my travels. Cover photo taken in Ilafy, Madagascar.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Phnom Penh Part 5 - Regrets and Apologies
My motorcycle was running along this wide avenue in the heart of the city when I spotted the colonial façade of the Post Office. I tapped my driver Tei’s shoulder and told him I wanted to mail a post card. He parked beside a Volvo delivery truck. As I stepped in, I noticed a tiny half naked figure sitting on the floor, just beside the door.
It was a Khmer child, almost stuporous and oblivious to the goings on. He was hardly moving. There weren’t a lot of people inside. Just me and some 3 others. After mailing my card, I started to leave when I noticed the child moving ever so slow. I was at the last step of the stair outside when something prodded me to get right back in. So I went back and stood over the child. I said, “hello”. He raised his gaze on me. I saw the saddest pair of eyes silently pleading for something. Was he hungry? Or hurt? I don’t know. At the back of my mind, I was a little scared to approach him, as there were warnings about children being used by hoodlums to snag tourists; some syndicates maybe. But what kind of world is this where grown-ups are scared of helpless children?
I sat on my knees and handed him money. He wasn’t even begging, coz if he was, he wouldn’t stay where there are hardly any tourists - or even locals. I told him to buy food, moving my hands like I was eating. He took the money and held it with his right hand; his face never wavered from that pleading gaze that shall haunt me in days. It just broke my heart. But I was a stupid tourist with fanciful dreams and places to go… and I left.
As I sit back in front of my computer, looking at the photo of the child’s face, I am awash with regrets. I could have done a little more; maybe buy the food myself and watch him eat; maybe get him a shirt or a pair of slippers. But I did not. I chose to fraternize with other globetrotting brats who didn’t have a care in the world, except moving on to our next destination. And I regret that with all my heart. His image would intermittently cross my mind, and I couldn’t help but wish for a better world where children can smile instead.