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A picture from 1997, taken on the shore of the Western Baray. Noung gave me this picture of herself on our first meeting.This photo was taken 5 minutes after our first meeting at Angkor Wat in March 1998Noung in front of her stall at Angkor Wat in March 1998.

Noung, close to the edge of the waterfall at Phnom Kulen in early 1999.December 1999 - Noung selling her souvenirs on top of Phnom BakhengNoung enjoying the waterfalls on Phnom Kulen in early 2000.

December 1999 - Noung and her elder sister, Sokchata at Banteay SreiDecember 2000 - Noung and her sister Sokchata, her mum and friends, Phalla and RiengDecember 2000 - Noung at the Western Baray.

Noung and the author at Angkor Wat in December 2003.January 2003 - Noung (right) and her mother at their home.Noung and two friends from Phnom Penh, at Angkor Wat in Dec 2003.

Noung and her beaming smile, at home, January 2003.

One of the most rewarding things about returning to Cambodia is meeting up again with old friends. One such individual is Noung, who I first met as a bright and bubbly twelve year old souvenir seller, in the corridors of Angkor Wat in March 1998. Her lively personality won me over that day and we've remained good friends ever since. As one of many vendors who eke out a living for themselves and their families amongst the main temples in the Angkor Park, Noung and her family have a couple of stalls on the northern approach to the central sanctuary at Angkor Wat, where they sell the usual array of t-shirts, silk sarongs and kramas and other trinkets, as well as refreshing ice-cold drinks. The whole family get involved in the business with Noung, her brothers and cousins helping out her parents at different times of the day. For her part, Noung has become a consumate saleswoman and is able to close a deal in at least four languages.

The family live in a wooden house on stilts in a small village near Srah Srang lake, they've all become good friends of mine and have made me very welcome at their home on many occasions. Getting to know them has given me a window into the daily challenges they face in making a living from the souvenir business. For example, there is constant talk of moving all of the souvenir stalls out of Angkor Wat and I'm never quite sure they'll still be there when I return on my next trip. One face who has disappeared is Noung's elder sister, Sokchata, who married her Japanese husband in December 2000 and emigrated to live in Japan. In March 2005, I got word that Noung herself had got married - it remains to be seen whether she will still be at Angkor Wat on my next visit to the temple.

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