Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tragedy of the commons

So in economics class you learn about a principle called 'tragedy of the commons'. This is a situation like a local pond with a bunch of fish, but everyone relies on it for sustenance. Without regulation, all of the local people have incentive to try to catch as many fish possible before their neighbors do, and pretty soon there are no more fish left. This is what we feel like in Phnom Penh. Everywhere we go, people are asking us for money. Now besides the fact that the program has given us a strict mandate to not give money to people on the streets, it would be impossible for us to do so anyway. We would be out of cash by the end of the first day if we gave money to every person that asked for it. Besides, it wouldn't really be helping them progress anyway; they will just be in the same situation again tomorrow. I know that some of those who ask for money need it more than others. Many of the children are forced by their parents to go out everyday and look for foreigners to ask for money. In these situations it has been easier to turn them down. However there have been a couple times when I have felt terrible. One lady came up to me yesterday with a tiny baby that had a deformed hand. Another time was a man with no leg, (probably blown off by a landmine.) At times like these I realize that what people really need to make them happy is not money or food, but the Gospel.

So there are always little kids coming up to you asking for money or trying to sell some flowers. The other day while we were riding a tuc tuc, there were two girls begging Spencer for money to eat and he wouldn't do it. He told them to go and ask all the other people who were waiting for the light as well, but they would only ask him. Finally one little girl swore at him and walked away, and the other one kept asking and hit him on the arm when we left. The little girl who swore at us, then yelled something else while we were leaving and gave us a pouty face. I had no idea what was going on and that the girl hit him, but I could tell the other girl was mad and swore at him.

Another story you will all appreciate is about shoes. Spencer came here with only one pair to walk around in, expecting to buy a pair of sandals and dress shoes over here for a cheap price. Over the past three days we have been walking around the different markets and malls they have and we have been asking all the vendors if they have any size 47 (in European measurements which is what they use) because Spencer has HUGE feet compared to the Cambodians. Needless to say nobody has any that will fit Spencer. They all just laugh at him and say no. The biggest shoe they usually carry is a tennis shoe, but we wanted sandals and nice church-like slip on shoes, because this is what they all wear over here. Of course on Friday we went to the mall and found one store that carried a size 47 shoe- Michael Jordans for $25! Although thats not what we were looking for, how do you turn down a price like that. (Sure you might say they are 'fake' because Nike wasn't selling them, but honestly whats the difference between a shoe made by a Vietnamese person in a Nike factory, and one made by a Cambodian at home?) In the end thought, we were still in need of sandals and dress shoes. We finally went to the Russian market and found some 'Birkenstocks' that are size 45. They fit okay although I could really get a size bigger, but I was happy to finally get some sandals to wear around instead of my big, clunky tennis shoes.

All that were left were a pair of dress shoes. The senior couples told us about a shop that has all these different types of shoes you and look at, and then pick one, they measure your foot on a piece of paper, and make that shoe for you in any color and fabric you want. They have many different styles and material you can pick out. The Snyders (a couple Spencer taught in the MTC) took us there yesterday so Spencer could get some shoes that actually fit him. It only cost $30!! I was thinking that it would cost way more, but it is so cheap to get things over here. I might go back and get some cute high heels for me to bring back with me. Mine would only cost $20 or even less. The funny thing is we have been walking around all these markets with so many shoes and purses and clothing for me to look at, but I haven't really seen anything interesting, well I haven't really been looking. Which is totally weird, but I figured that we have 3 more months and we aren't very good at bargaining so I want to get better at that and I don't want to spend all our money in the first few days that we are here.

Anyways, I finally got my sarong and it looks so awesome. Spencer told me all the Cambodians at the tailor shop were talking about how pretty I am and how good I look in the skirt. I haven't taken a picture yet of me in it, but it will be up on the next post!

We have been sick over here for the past few days, we think it is the ice, but not quite sure what it is. We have heard that you usually get sick the first week you come anyways, but I am feeling much better, its just Spencer who is still sick now. He needs to be more careful of what he eats, he has already eaten a duck egg, I mean they type that the duck is forming in the egg, but hasn't quite hatched yet. He said he could feel the feathers and it was crunchy with the bones and everything. I didn't get one because it was still our first full day in Cambodia and I am not ready for that sort of thing yet.

Something to remember if you ever go to a third world country is never drink something with ice in it, if you can ask for no ice, but if you are at a natives home, you don't want to offend them. Just drink small sips (just learned that tip from my daddy)!! Beware: if you do drink the ice, this will lead you to making many trips to the bathroom, trust me you don't want that.

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