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The Magic of One 2017

Making a local connection

Ryan Regier


The heat and humidity was weighing at my trousers. It was time for a rest. We had just traveled on a long bus ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and needed a hostel for the week. But first, a drink.

A familiar smell was in the air that peaked my attention immediately. "Is that cannabis?" I asked. Why yes, it is.

When beginning our travels we were warned so many times to "Be careful," and "Stay away from drugs." Yet here we were in the capitol of Cambodia witnessing old, grey haired white men smoke on a joint with a young, beautiful local woman at their side.

Strange, I thought.

When in Rome…….

We order up a $1 beer and a $2 joint.

Within that first hour we began to see the order of operations for Phnom Penh. The city where anything goes. All is for sale.

Then, along came the local children selling bracelets. Some were smiling, others were quiet, and there were a few that could hold a conversation.

Of all the places to meet someone inspiring, along came little "One." She was wearing a bright purple hat with a beautiful, radiant smile, and clothes that made her look elegant. She was a gem compared to the other children as her attitude was pure excitement. She strolled right up to our table and wanted us to buy from her.

As we asked her questions it was difficult not to be entertained and enthralled by this little "One," as she called herself. We learned that she attended school in the mornings and then came to sell bracelets that her family made to earn money for her schooling. She was smart, spoke English well, and had such a charming personality.

She came back each day we visited this bar. To be honest we came to the location to find her.

We learned that her father had been hit by a car a few months again and another man was taking care of her family. He had mental issues and could barely drive his tuk-tuk anymore to make money. One and her siblings selling bracelets was their main source of income. Wow, what an incredible little child, living in this place of poverty, with a bright smile and endearing attitude.

Two days later we traveled by tuk-tuk with the family for an outing on the river. Gaining this experience and perspective of what lives on the Mekong were like will never be forgotten. As we begin to travel again we will make sure to visit Phnom Penh and find the "One."

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