Sunday, January 1, 2017

Street Vendors in Cambodia

A popular way to make a living here in the city seems to be to strap a cart to the side of your motorcycle and drive through various neighborhoods looking for customers. Up to 10 different vendors come turn around in our particular dead-end street in a normal day.

Many vendors sell food: coconut batter waffles, steamed corn on the cob, rice cakes filled with greens and served in broth and chili sauce, fried bananas, steamed sweet or Irish potatoes, and many, many more things. Some non-food items I've seen are a guy with a loud speaker system selling pirated CD's and one who had set up his motorcycle to display parts for fans. As its hot and not many can afford AC, the fan guy probably does fairly well. Another frequent vendor drives through with a large cart full of brooms, dusters, plastic bowls, sieves and a variety of odds and ends needed around the house.

A prime example of the lack of business privacy here was when my husband purchased some fried bananas and they came in a paper to catch the grease that had previously been a companies inventory of something. It had individual's names, addresses, telephone numbers, how much they purchased... And it does make you wonder where they get the paper. Once we got a copy of someone's CV, photo and all.

Like all selling, you need a brand, a label, a schtick. In Cambodia this means each vendor has a special sound proceeding them so people know what they are selling. Sometimes it's just their voice calling out their wares in Khmer. Many times it's a recording of their voice on a speaker. Then there are all of the musical carts with different tunes and a guy who comes down the street before the lady selling soup who beats a wooden drum set. One particular vendor plays something I thought sounded just like a goat. I thought the neighbor's had added a goat to their chickens until I figured out where the sound was coming from.

Recently several monks wrapped in their orange robes and carrying their trademark umbrellas and market bags have been coming through the neighborhood, I assume for donations.  They are quite bold and walk right up to the door if it's open, which it usually is if the kids are playing outside.

Because the typical houses here generally have glass windows on the whole front bottom floor, (and no yard, so the kids are usually playing out front where the street ends,) there's never any sense of privacy at home. This is compounded by being foreign in a country of staring people. Perhaps a good part of that is that the kids will be used to people staring and not as self-conscious as someone who grew up with the luxury of privacy. 

In the mean time, I guess we get to see a lot of interesting vendors.

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