Cambodians Are Extremely Rude Towards Tourists

The very first thing you notice upon your initial encounter with native Cambodians is that they are extremely pushy and aggressive. The very second thing you notice is that Cambodians are extremely rude and take great joy at making tourists feel uncomfortable. They take great joy at other people’s misfortune and/or suffering regardless of whether they are foreigners or fellow Cambodians, but the joy of laughing at foreigners and making them feel uncomfortable with purposefully loud remarks aimed at their person is a double score.

You know the “10 points” joke we make in western countries? It refers to the GTA style computer games and you use it while driving. If you’re on an open road with no other vehicles ahead of you and an elderly person comes grinding slowly across the road, you make an inappropriate remark that you have “10 points” right ahead of you. It implies that if you floored the gas pedal and pancaked the elderly, you’d earn yourself sweet-arsed 10 points. As it goes, if it’s an elderly person with a walker that crosses the street, then you’re looking at scoring mighty “15”.

Something of that sort happens as a daily routine among Cambodians. Locals of this country are the laziest people in the world who refuse to go to work and instead spend their entire days bored out of their minds, sitting on their motorcycles, killing time by entertaining themselves any way they can. But by just sitting outside with nothing to do, their only source of entertainment are people who come into view.

Photo: Groups of Lazy, Bored Out Of Their Minds Canbodians Can Be Found on Every Corner
Photo: Groups of Lazy, Bored Out Of Their Minds Canbodians Can Be Found on Every Corner

If something you’d normally consider a “not a big deal” happens to you – for example if you were pulling smokes out of your pocket and the box fell on the ground so you’d have to bend over to pick it up – you’d hear those locals laugh out loud like they’re watching Tom and Jerry. It was nothing worthy of mentioning that happened to you and in all other countries you would just pick it up and go without anyone ever winking an eye, but that’s not the case of Cambodia. Cambodians are extremely malicious and any chance to laugh at another that offers itself is taken a complete and thorough advantage of.

Now, if something more noteworthy happens to you – you slip and fall, for example – then the bored-out-of-their-minds Cambodians will explode with laughter. In any civilized country people would either try to help you or if you can help yourself, they would pretend that they didn’t see your misfortune so as not to make you feel uncomfortable, but that’s not the case of Cambodia. Locals here take great joy at making everyone and everything feel uncomfortable and will not miss out on any opportunity to show how rude and spiteful they are.

But it doesn’t end there. Cambodians will also laugh at you when they should be the ones to be laughed at. For example if you come to a store and there is nobody to serve you. Or imagine you are riding a bicycle, you get to a gate you need to get through in order to get somewhere but you can’t get across because lazy Cambodians who are killing time have their motorcycles parked there. They will loudly laugh at you for their own stupidity, for not realizing that they are blocking a passage by unqualified parking.

And as mentioned with the “10 points” example above, just as you get 15 points for running over an elderly with a walker, they feel extra entertained when they see a foreigner in a tight situation.

But scoring up foreigners doesn’t end with the lazy types who sit around whole day. This principle also applies to road crossing itself and since Cambodia is known for having the worst drivers in the world with sidewalks blocked up with motorcycles forcing you to walk on busy streets, you will have thousands of bikes and cars to dodge each time you decide to take a walk. And if you take into account the traffic rules of Cambodia, as a pedestrian, you are on a complete end of the traffic food chain with absolutely nobody paying any respect to you. It will be your responsibility to watch out for the traffic which will come at you from all sides, including the sidewalks. Yet as a foreigner, if you fail to keep a keen eye on traffic to safely dodge the vehicles, it will be like scoring mighty 15 for running over an elderly with a walker. In Cambodia, hitting a foreigner is like hitting a jackpot on a VLT.

Yet this is all still something you can avoid. What you can’t avoid in Cambodia is being continuously and uninterruptedly harassed by the Tuk Tuk drivers, touts and other scam artists. They are all extremely aggressive and don’t take “No” for an answer. I’ve been all over South-East Asia but no other country has scam artists who are this much in your face and this ruthless. You will have to deal with hundreds of them every day, oftentimes approaching you with deliberate intentions to make you feel pressured. If there is a group of a dozen Tuk Tuk drivers one right next to another, even though they will all hear you say “No, thank you!” to the first one, they will still each get in your face as though this will ever make you reconsider not riding with any of them.

But this is only the beginning. After politely responding that you were OK and didn’t need anything today, you will have them say something to each other in their native tongue loud enough to ensure that you can hear it and will have themselves one hell of a laugh to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible. If this discomfort results in you tipping over a curb or anything of sorts, this will be again like scoring the mighty 15.

If you make a local friend of opposite sex with whom you will go somewhere, hostile Cambodians will continue making extremely rude remarks both at you and at her (or him, if you’re a girl with a local male). Then you will know clearly how rude they really are because your companion will be targeted as well and they will tell you what remarks were used.

Of course, rudeness of Cambodians doesn’t end there. You will be stared down on every step of your stay in Cambodia. The more dangerous an individual, the more they will stare you down, laugh at you in front of your face and otherwise look for (provoke) trouble. Cambodians do not care about being friendly. They are only falsely friendly when there is a chance to easily make money off of you. Discrimination in Cambodia is prevalent and the locals will do anything to make you feel out of place. As sad as it is, it’s time that someone called a spade a spade.

96 thoughts on “Cambodians Are Extremely Rude Towards Tourists”

  1. A great read and true on most accounts.I worked in Cambodia for a few years and was subjected to the racism you mention but the laziness of the people is what caused me and the company I was working for to leave,along with the corruption and greediness of the idiots in the government.You will get expat morons who love their shitty lives in Cambodia tell you otherwise, but good article.

  2. Yes, very verbally abusive. I ended up buying an organized tour to Angkor with an air-conditioned bus for $13 per day at the end but even with a guide, verbal abuse never stopped. Siem Reap town was even worse. Cambodia is a country which you want to visit for a short time only and get out of there as soon as you had your fix of temples.

  3. Jonesy, that’s why they are in Cambodia, isn’t it? Disgruntled individuals unable to fit in a civilized society escaped to Cambodia “to belong”. They went to a country that matches their personalities – failed, corrupt and dirty. I see an insult from an expat to Cambodia as flattery. Choosing an unstable society to live and conduct business in says everything about the character of said person. Civilized lifestyle with the rule of law confuses them. Let them enjoy their stay.

    1. So true Arthur. Most expats in Cambodia are truly the bottom of the barrel of human society. I have never encountered so many addicts, criminals and/or just plain psychological misfits in one place. It doesn’t matter whether they are English teachers, bar/restaurant owners, NGO workers, etc. In addition, because they are ALSO living under the tyranny that is Cambodia they must play the game. You would think that in a foreign country you could trust other expats for support in a foreign land. Instead, in Cambodia, “The Kingdom of Wonder What The F*ck Happened” the expats are constantly infighting and sabotaging each other because everyone knows that at any moment one of their fellow expats will flip out in response to the behavior of those JUNGLE SAVAGES called “Cambodians”. And when an expat DOES flip out the other expats are on that person like flies on garbage in an effort to silence them and get them out of the picture.

      Cambodia deserves its screwed up expats and screwed up expats deserve Cambodia.

  4. Yes, I agree that cambodians are one of the worse people(that is if they qualify as people) in the world. I realised that after my fourth visit there. Their attittude, their behaviour, their immorality and their greed is certainly one of the worse in asia. They are as bad as most of the asians(islamics and nonislamic) that I encountered. They appear to be nice, but in reality they are one of the most greedy, hostile and most selfish people in asia . It is really not worth visitng at all and no point helping those inhumane manipulative lazy cambodians who were only obsessed about the dollar currency that don’t belong to them. Their filthy immorality is even most disgusting. Indeed their horrible blatant predominant black asian immorality made me feel very uncomfortable. All the guesthouses that I stayed in made me feel very uncomfortbale with their shabby service and shabby attitude towards poor tourist like myself.

    1. Do you know clearly about Cambodian? You are a tourist? I think before you go to one country you have find out about that country. Have you ever lived in a really poor society?
      Can you imagine that you are really poor, you don’t have enough money to study, you can not earn a living like other, you have no knowledge? How can you live? Can you find any good job? Can earn a living for yourself?
      You said they were greedy but it’s just some people not all the Cambodian. You said like is wrong. You can not judge all the people like that.
      I think you should think more about this.
      Have you ever think in your society have a greedy people or not? If not you can say like that but I think everywhere around the world, there are many rude and greedy people not only Cambodian. You said you are a poor tourist but if compare you to Cambodian, you are the rich one, because you have money to go abroad, but not many Cambodian can afford to go to foreign country.

      In the article above said ” the laziest people in the world” have the writer go all around the world to research about this. It’s just his though. You know why Cambodian do as a tuk tuk driver or motorcycle driver? Because they have no chance to study because their family is really poor. Sometime they can not find a job because they don’t have ability to do it. Do you think they don’t want to work like other? Yes, they really want but no chance.
      So that when you say something you have to think about the situation in that place and try find out more about it. Don’t just criticize if you don’t know about it, because your though it can make bad reputation about other.

      1. Just because your family is poor and you don’t have money to study doesn’t mean you have the right to mentally/psychologically assault people who are vulnerable. Even if they did have the money to study your educational system is absolute GARBAGE. And everyone is getting really sick and tired of the “pOO Cambodia pEE-pOO” guilt trip. That argument really gets old when you look at those shamless “elite” aggressive animals plowing around Phnom Penh in stolen Lexuses/Hummers/etc. which they have stolen from the international welfare system (which is of course paid for by those same foreigners who you abuse). You people are (in general) just a pack of JUNGLE SAVAGES with little ability/desire to improve yourselves, take responsibility for your actions, or have respect for anyone (including yourselves). That;s why everyone HATES you. The Thais hate you. The Vietnamese hate you. The Chinese, Koreans, etc. just make pretend to like you as they rape the remaining natural resources (that your corrupt monkey-elite are more than happy to illegally sell them) out of your country, expatriate the money and then leave you savages to descend back into civil war — OOPS! I mean “fend for yourselves”. I have lived in Cambodia for over five years. I know what you people are. You think that the foreigners are so stupid. Some (of course) are, but the smart ones know EXACTLY what you people are. I am leaving this filthy country because if I don’t I am going to start hurting people. If anyone ever asks me whether they should live in (or even VISIT) Cambodia I will warn them to absolutely NOT do so. I addition, I pray for the day when the international donors and tourists cut the financial cord with Cambodia, the “Kingdom of Wonder What The F*ck Happened”, and let the Cambodians reap the karma they have amply created for themselves.

        1. i have been in this well discuised hell hole even longer than worldly man and had the dubious honor of fathering 2 children whom were spirited away after i refused to pay a further5k on top requested 3k to marry the narcasstic whole, if i hadn`t had both my drz400 AND my xr 250 stolen as well as over $12,000 this year i wou8ld just get the fuk on a plane and leave these maliscious ignorant arrogant sheep to themselves as they clearly dont want us here, just our money.

  5. Hhhmmm…I think I saw a different side of Cambodia…. I made friends with the motorcycle driver whom I hired at the airport to take me to my guesthouse. After he had taken me to watch the sunset we went out for dinner at some local place. The waitress hung over our table pouring our beer as if it was wine all night long. I thought she was a total sweetheart. After dinner we went to a Karaoke bar where we ended up sharing our beer with our karaoke room attendants who ended up dancing around the room with us. The only Cambodian words I knew were “acoon” which is “thank you” and “chilmoy” which is “cheers” and those two words seemed to be the only two I needed. LOL

    I admit I did had a bad tuk tuk experience that resulted in the loss of my phone – and the tourist police weren’t exactly a joy to deal with…but it was really hard to get truly down because I can easily replace my phone while many people in Cambodia are missing far more important things – like basic plumbing – and limbs.

    For most of my stay I hung out with my driver who was also my protector and friend. Not once did I detect any racism from him or the people around me when it came to us hanging out together. Even the kids, vendors, and locals who hung out around the temples were friendly and engaging once you got away from the topic of commerce. EG: After losing my phone, I confided my experience to one of the kids who was trying to sell me something at one of the temples. This story was then instantly relayed to all the other kids as they came to gather around me. They were all really sympathetic and concerned. One of the young boys accompanied me through that temple and relayed my story to a group of guides and vendors that were clustered in the temple. Soon they were all prodding me for details and were sorry I had that experience. You could tell they were really embarrassed as citizens that I had that experience in their country.

    Yes Cambodian selling tactics were aggressive – and a little car salesman-ish but their leaders have created a desperate economy and their competition is fierce. I agree the Cambodian system is totally screwed but I found more citizens who melted my heart than froze it.

    1. I was so surprised to read the article about my country. I understand what you all mentioned about my homeland. However, they should think more deeply about Cambodia. It is not beacause i am Cambodia, but i believe that every society has the negative n positive points. It depends on what kind of person you meet, and what situation you face. Yeah, i agree that Cambodia is still on the way of improving, and I would say that it is quite tough though. For me, Cambodians are nice, helpful, and friendly. Of course, there are some immoral people and as a poor country, we are still on the way to educate them. We, Cambodians really want to see other say something good about us than other nationalities do. I do want to thanks for those who understand the situation in Cambodia, and suggest to those bear bad mood toward Cambodians. If i have a chance to choose another developed country to live, I would tell that I wont go to another place to live. I do not know whether this is beause I am Cambodian, but from the bottom of my heart, it is the most comfortable place with warm-hearted people. Please try to understand more about our people, and I am so sorry that our people make you feel bad.

      Thanks very much,

    2. Thanks for your comments. They sound fair to me. I think those who had commented in this cite should not overgeneralize CAMBODIANS in general. Elsewhere you can find all citizens are perfect. I won’t deny the bad behavior non-Cambodian people once in Cambodia have encountered, but they are just committed by some Cambodians.

  6. Hello Theresa,

    thank you for sharing your experience. You’ve been caught by the oldest trick in the holy Cambodian book of scams – fake friendship. Your experience is exactly that of vast majority of people who visit Cambodia. And they are exactly the types most Cambodians like seeing because they are the easiest to deceive and rip off. They don’t like the other types because they see right through them and know how to gather knowledge to learn about fair prices.

    Anyway, Cambodians will truly pretend they are the best friends of yours for as long as there is money flowing in their pocket as a result of the effort. Because most people won’t bother investigating on whether they are being ripped off or not, they will leave Cambodian believing that people were ridiculously friendly. While the truth remains – they were only friendly because that was the easiest and fastest way to your money.

    More and more people now grow tired of Cambodian hostility and after being accosted by 200 touts per hour of their stay, they naturally become defensive and adamant about their personal space that Cambodians like to invade. So when someone who’s an easy prey and falls for fake friendship easily comes around, they get passed around (introduced to more people) so more and more locals can pretend to be your “friends” because they also want a share of the money you carry around with you.

    I’ve seen that on so many occasions it was alarming. These people are victims of the oldest and most approved scam yet not only they fall right for it, they will defend the scammers to their grave. That’s how effective the scam is. You hear those people voicing their opinions every time someone who didn’t fall for the scam shares their experience.

    Trust me, should you have learned the truth about having been heavily overcharged while you were there and insisted on fair price, all the “friendships” would come to an abrupt end. Friendly locals in Cambodia never ever do anything to help you. They are only looking to help themselves and if pretending they were your friends was a way to it, then pretend they are your friends they will. That’s why they are never friends with people who think before they accept the first tout that jumps them.

    As for the kids who came over wishing to listen to your stolen phone story – I’ve gone through the same thing myself because my phone was stolen in Cambodia too. Again, it goes back to most visitors becoming defensive because Cambodians are so hostile and aggressive. As a result, it is more and more difficult to get any foreigner to listen to them, never mind talk back. And there you walk right into the trap and start your talking first. An immediate response from all touts will be to come over and pretend they listen. Because last 500 foreigners would not even recognize them so they all gather round to jump this one stupid woman cause she’s gonna be easy.

    Don’t tell me that when you were done telling your story, all of the touts, every single one of that down to the last one did not end up asking you to buy their bracelets, postcards or whatever else they had for sale. Comon, you know it is true. Of course they did and you know that. Yes, you fell for their false friendship and you will end up like others who fell so easily – defending it – but try to recall your memories and you will see that all that pretence about being willing to listen was in the end only used to get them to offer you their junk for sale. Again, getting close enough to the foreigners so as to have a decent chance at selling their junk has become excessively difficult due to their own doing. As a result, if someone serves themselves on an open tray, they all will come over and pretend to be interested in your story only to make you feel obliged to listen to what they have for sale in return.


    1. I am sorry to say this. But do not you think it is too much? First, I would like to share some opinions with you. First, please understand that Cambodia is a very poor country. We realize that there are so many social problems we have faced after the wars. Cambodia from time to time faced war. People suffered a lot more than other nationals do. We began from nothing, educated people were completely destroyed. We are poor, this is true. We are still living in the very challenging world even just a small one. Facing the poverty, we are trying to educate the people as much as we could. Yeah, surely, there is a vital need for the change especially the system. Do not you think that we are quite tough? it is about social system and poverty to pollute some of Cambodians and I am sure you did not meet some of Cambodian who are very warm-hearted, friendly, and helpful. Please! My heart is bleeding while reading your comment. It is too hard to accept it. I am so sorry that those who lacks of moralities made you feel so bad and had very negative impression about Cambodia. But it is not really true. I suggest you should learn more about the reality and try to understand something behind. We want to see our people nice, friendly, and helpful than you do. They just lack of education, so they do not know how to act properly. There are so many Cambodians who are really warm-hearted, friendly, and helpful. You should figure out more. For the social system, i would tell you this, we really need a better system than you do. You just come to visit for a short while but we have to spend our lifetime in here. We are so sad that our society fall down from a civilized nation to the poor and small country with bad reputation as today. Even that, I do not believe what you said completely, and i would say it is not true. I already spent half of my lifetime here. I will never ever leave this land till i die. Surely i have the reason. If my country is really bad as you said, then i would leave here and find another developed country to leave. It is not because i have chance or not, but because my heart and spirit is in here, the land that i believe it is quite comfortable to live. Once again, I am so sorry if we treated you badly, and I hope you would think in another way as I suggested.
      Thanks very much
      Best regards,

    2. Hello Mark, I have read your incredible writing about your bad experience in Cambodia. If I were you, I would have felt the same anger.

      By the way, this is just my short request to you if you are on the solution side. Could you please conduct a survey on the level of laziness, rudeness, arrogance …. you name it.. among tourists who come to visit Cambodia by the time they leave?

      I am dying to know the result of that. This is the only way for Cambodians to accept and improve the situations.


  7. Actually the kids did initially approach me trying to sell their wares…but when they heard my story they dropped that subject. The boy who accompanied me into the temple refused to take money from me when I tried to pay him for his time and attention. He really preferred the idea of giving me product in exchange for the money I offered – which is totally unlike the junkies that approach me on Canadian streets asking for hand outs and offering nothing in return. Of the people inside the temple he told my story to: Only one tried to sell me something – and one other wanted my email address.The rest just wanted to chat with the Canadian girl who was traveling alone.

    As for my driver: Every time I asked him what his rates were he got uncomfortable and didn’t want to answer the question – kind of the same way I feel when a friend asks me how much it would cost them for me to build a website or do a photo shoot for them. Our association started as a business transaction but as time progressed we genuinely enjoyed each others company. I finally forced the subject of money on the last night and made up my own price bearing the going rates in mind. He uncomfortably accepted – but I could tell he was really torn. He didn’t want to mar our connection with commerce. We still communicate through Facebook – and FYI: He also pulled out his wallet here and there along the way to treat ME.

    Fake friendships exist everywhere in western society. Just think of the servers for example. Trust me: I worked in hospitality and sales all my life and know for a FACT – the way servers treat you is highly dependent on how well they think you will pad their pockets with tips. What about business relationships? There is a LOT of fake bullshit in sales. It’s really just how commerce generally works – wherever you go.

    If a tourist walks around the touristy parts of Vancouver or Victoria they are going to be accosted by panhandlers who are going to give them NOTHING for their money. Cab drivers are going to take advantage of their lack of geographic knowledge and take the long way to their destination. At least in Cambodia I was almost always offered something I wanted in exchange for my money – and it was a third of the price of what I would see on a sales sticker at home.

    Everyone has a right to make money if they are offering a product or service in exchange. Asia just functions on more of a networking business profile as opposed to a big advertising profile. It calls for more aggressive tactics – and half the touts are just kids who haven’t been taught the softer sell techniques that are more wide-spread in western society.Heck they shouldn’t have to be out there to begin with. Sure it’s annoying as hell – but I looked at it according to the ways of the land I was roaming in. If you were to ask any of those kids what they would rather be doing I would put money down on the fact that chasing tourists with crap is far from the top of their list… but survival is different there.

    I have traveled quite extensively through North, South, and Central America as well as Europe and Asia. I have done it all by myself sporting a big smile and making sure I know how to say “Hello”, “Please” and “Thank you” in the local language. I am not a naive traveler – and I know when I am being ripped off or being treated with insincerity whether I am at home or on the road. There are good and bad people everywhere – but most are good – at least to me. My glass is half full most of the time.

    I did notice almost everything you have mentioned in this blog – but with the experiences I personally had I find it hard to paint an entire country with the same brush…and god forbid I get painted with a brush influenced by some junkie in Gastown.

    Overall, I had a good time and don’t mind paying more than the locals if I am still paying less than I would pay at home for the same thing. After all I can afford to leave my home and explore other countries while most of them will be lucky to own a home with plumbing…And I doubt the person charging me for whatever that product or service is has a nicer home than my 70’s style rental apartment.

    I saw a poorly run country with it’s citizens caught in the middle. If you could change the government and put the tourist dollars into the country they would function totally differently. Think of Ha – do you think she wanted to act as she was acting if she lived in a society with welfare and EI? Of course not. Do half the touts want to be out there selling crap instead of playing with balls and barbies? Of course not. I hate the game – not the players. I hate the leaders – not the pawns who have to function in their mess.

    Other than the two guys who snatched my phone, everyone else I met in Asia was cool to me. I enjoyed every product and service I bought and feel everything was cheaper than back home. I don’t care if the locals pay less. They have less money than me. Nobody was rude, racist, or hostile to me. I ate good food, saw cool things, and partied up a storm for a fraction of what it would cost me back home. I think most of Asia was a bargain and a good time.

    I saw and agree with almost everything you observed in your time there – except for the hostility. I personally had good people experiences – regardless of whatever the motives were. I walked away feeling satisfied so long as I didn’t do too many comparisons between the culture I came from and the culture I was in.

    (Also note: Despite our different social experiences I did not call you stupid.)

  8. I agree with Mark. I went again to Cambodia recently with an open mind (that tried to forget my past unpleasant experience in Cambodia) and with a hope of solving my marriage problem with my husband(also known as Mark). As I came from malaysia and most people looked like multiethnic asians from malaysia, I could easily blend in but, still I was exploited rudely too many times by extremely greedy and unhelpful cambodians once they detected my desperateness or my ignorance. They pretend to be subservient and nicer but I detected that it is all only a fake show to take as much out of us poor homeless foreigners who have to travel on a very tiny budget.

  9. And I noted (like all asians) they are only nice if they are in a disadvantaged situation. but what shocked me is their blatant immorality(which are much more immoral than the west) and filthy conditions of some guesthouses. I guess their immorality is excusable due to their brown shit skin colour. For example the haughty brown khmer was not bothered at all about groping my husband in front of me. But then, my husband did not care about my feelings too due to I guess too many asian prostitutes that he can easily get in cambodia?

  10. Hi Theresa,

    I don’t think comparing Cambodians to Vancouver bums is a good way to go. I once did a study on my own and came to conclusion (these are not official numbers, just my estimates) that no matter how advanced a society, or how well developed and performing employment system there is, even if there was employment for absolutely everybody in the country (no unemployment whatsoever), 4% of the population would still be unemployed. Again, this is just a result of my personal research, which also included socialist countries where everybody is provided with a job. Yet, no matter what, roughly 4% of the total population will still be jobless – mostly by choice. In other words, no matter how easy it would be for anyone to get a job, you would always have people who will do anything but work.

    There usually are several types of people within the group of the 4% of voluntarily unemployed. Some of them are panhandlers for whom the life on a street is more fun than hustle and bustle of an employed man who has to pay taxes and struggle to survive. These 4% of people are not a representation of what the society is like. The remaining 96% on the other hand are. As such, you cannot take a city like Vancouver and compare it to Cambodia because small part of it consists of panhandlers. Vast majority of people living in Vancouver are hard working, taxes paying citizens who live their lives contributing to society. There are a few bad apples, but they are oddities rather than a norm.

    Cambodia is on an exactly opposite side of the spectrum. If there are 4% Cambodians who are hard working, taxes paying citizens, then they are an oddity rather than a norm and definitely not a group to judge the whole nation upon. Majority of Cambodians are freeloaders. People with no interest to gain a skill that could advance them and/or society in life. They are merely looking for stuff for free. The only skill they are interested in improving is whinery so they can make themselves look more desperate and get more handouts each day. Earning a living is a tiring work that requires lifetime commitment. And while much of the world understands it and acts that way, Cambodians don’t and instead of trying to learn something to earn their own living, they prefer to sit around and molest foreigners out of money.

    We live in an information age. The industrial age is over. The new information age makes for a level field for everyone. While I was in Cambodia, I was earning my own living. The same type of living could be earned by anybody else. With wide availability of internet, the excuse of living in a porr country will no longer stand. Granted, in order to earn a living offering web based services, one needs to study a lot to acquire the skills and continue studying from that point on for the technology and the platform change all the time. And that’s where the catch is. I spent 5 months trying to explain this to Cambodians I was in daily contact with and was willing to teach them on my own, but 100% of all time they spent on the internet was spent by chatting with friends. None of them, ever, ever, ever tried to look something up, try to build something or otherwise demonstrate the will to learn to improve their chances of making money. This was of no interest because it requires commitment and hard work. But they always wanted to learn English because that’s what they saw as the best way to handouts.

    To use perceived poverty is not an excuse either. You sounds as though you had your fair share of travelling. Have you by any chance been to Eastern Europe before they joined the European Union? I spent a fair amount of time in Czechoslovakia in the early 90’s – it was a couple of years after Velvet Revolution (end of communism) but many years before they joined the European Union. At the time, I would get 30 Koruna (currency they used at the time) for 1 dollar. An average wage in the country was 4,000 Koruny per month. That’s basically the same as Cambodia today or Thailand a few years ago (virtually the same exchange rate as Thailand today).

    But you know what – despite people being as poor as Cambodians, I have never, not once, not even in the wildest dream been accosted by anyone in the street. I have never, ever, ever been overcharged just because I was a foreigner. I have never been attacked, nor come close to being a victim of crime, except from a few brushes with Gypsies who are a plague to the locals too and the same type of freeloaders you find in Cambodia. Gypsies are not Slavs – they invaded their countries, took advantage of communist regime that guaranteed everyone with income and have been exploiting it since.

    So how is it that countries with the same level of poverty are so vastly different from Cambodia (Poland was even less expensive than Czechoslovakia but I only spent about 2 months there). You can look way back through history to already find your answers. While Czechs or Slovaks have a history of peace (never ever in their history did they attack another nation. They were attacked by others and suffered from 1,000 years of oppression by Hungarians, but they themselves are the most peaceful people on Earth with no history of attacks against another nation ever), the history book of Cambodia would not have a single page that would not contain bloodbath. Anyone who thinks the killings stopped with the fall of Khmer Rouge is as gullible as it gets. Hun Sen is as bloodthirsty and unafraid to use force against anyone opposing him as was Pol Pot, only he is more cunning about it so instead of international condemnation, he receives international support.

    Furthermore, Czechoslovakia and Poland suffered immeasurable damages during the World Wars but what happened next? They rolled up their sleeves and started rebuilding their countries from scratch. They were damaged much more than Cambodia ever was but they pulled through and within a few decades, they were back on the map. Communism screwed them over a little, but again, regardless of how drained they were after decades of this regime, people rolled up their sleeve and got to work to, once again, rebuild their countries from scratch.

    Have they ever whined about being poor to justify their crimes and rip off practices? Never. Never ever. So how come it’s so justifiable for Cambodians. Why do people like you go through such insane lengths to defend those “underprivileged” people from “evil minds” like mine?

    Seriously, Cambodians are just too lazy and too violent. They are nothing but useless freeloaders and anyone who supports their culture of handouts is helping to retain their backward thinking. There is no nice way to put it. I know very well that saying it like it is lands the speaker with labels like “bigot” or “racist” but I’d rather be called names and stay true to myself and the world than live in a lie unable to look at myself in the mirror.

    I sincerely believe that you were deceived in Cambodia. Just as they are skilled thieves, so they are skilled liars. Everyone from as soon as they can talk is lead to live a life of lies. They lie every single day of their lives and soon it becomes an acceptable standard. Something they don’t even think of twice. Cambodians are not Slovaks. Unconditional help does not exist in Cambodia (though I have encountered it on more than one occasion in Vietnam and Malaysia, the rest of SE Asia seems to be very selfish otherwise).

    As for thinking that Cambodia is cheap – it really is not. I made a post explaining why it’s not cheap in detail so I won’t be repeating it here. If you feel like, you can read about it on the link below:

    I also made a post addressing fake Cambodian hospitality, which is what I believe happened to you. It did happen to me too, that a Cambodian would “pull their wallet out” but each and every single time it happened, I was reminded of it when chances of return for them seemed at the highest. If you had an experience with a Cambodian where they would pick up the bill and have not been reminded of it yet, you can rest assured that it’s only because they believe the biggest payout is yet to come:

    BTW, I didn’t call you stupid. I have merely translated the thoughts of an average Cambodian into words. Similarly, if I were to translate what they were thinking when they gathered round to listen to you, it would be something like: “Shut the f%$k up already and buy my postcard, b1tch!” And this is not me calling you names, I’m just the one who doesn’t beat around the bush and calls a spade a spade.


    1. <>Anyone who thinks the killings stopped with the fall of Khmer Rouge is as gullible as it gets. Hun Sen is as bloodthirsty and unafraid to use force against anyone opposing him as was Pol Pot, only he is more cunning about it so instead of international condemnation, he receives international support.<>

      And the million dollar question is … (drum roll) …

      “Are the Cambodians so screwed up because of the Khmer Rouge? Or did the Khmer Rouge drama unfold because the Cambodians are so screwed up?”

      I bet my life saving on the second option.

      The Khmer Rouge wasn’t defeated in 1979. They are alive and well running the country, driving shamelessly around in Lexuses and Hummers, ruling over the people in a SILENT reign of fear, putting on the “fake friend” act with the international community, putting on the “development act” with their banana education system, OVER-building projects, etc.

      The Cambodian people ARE the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Rouge ARE the Cambodian people.

      A people get the government they deserve.

  11. Hi WLIL,

    thanks for your input. From your comments it sounds as though you lived in Malaysia. Are you from there or is it only your current place of residence?


  12. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your interesting blog and for giving me the opportunity to comment too. Are you still travelling around Asia or heading back home to Canada?
    I was born in Malaysia and currently reluctantly residing in Malaysia after my breakup with my husband (also named Mark).

  13. Interesting to read this

    I live in Thailand and went on a short trip to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat. To cut a long story short, it was a pretty bad trip, with the main reason being the people there. Let’s just say I found they were constantly trying to trick me, almost always only friendly if I was paying them money for something (if I refused to buy something I got an evil look and a lot of hostile words in Khmer to their nearest friend), and seemed generally hostile, even if many of them cloaked the hostility with big smiles.
    The worst was a young man in my guesthouse who did his best to mock me in front of his colleagues, even when I was being polite and respectful to him. While making it clear he was trying to make me look a fool and feel uncomfortable his big grin never left his face.

    Oh, and I got pickpocketed by children (a big group of about 7 came up to me late at night, hugging me, pulling on my arms, and then took my wallet. I got the wallet back eventually, but not the money.)
    I understand it’s a poor country, and I understand there being some emnity towards rich tourists, but as a person who always tries to be polite, smile, use the local words for hello and thank you, I found their hostility shook me a little.

  14. I did not enjoy my travelling experience at all . I feel as uncomfortable in malaysia as in cambodia or thailand. I find most asian(of various faith) people are generally subtlely hostile, if not blatantly hostile for no reason. I guess it is their irrationally horrible asian arrogance over their socalled development that is causing all these irrational hostility.

  15. I was cheated during my siemreap cambodia tour with the driver named sam pho. he was young and manipulative, and fuc*in rude for my heaven sake. he dropped me on the market and leave. I waited for him for 30 mins, he always late, make a good reasons. and even have time to went to get hair cut.

    as I get his recommendation from trip advisor, so I wrote a review about him. I ended being insulted, threaten by sms, and more. the worst thing, the cambodian in the forum call me racistly, bad chinese indonsian, with this kind of brain, princess attitude, stupid head, potato head, indonesian is ugly and another bla bla bla bla. thats cambodian. helloww, I was writing the facts so none will have the same experience. but too bad, they were just shallow like a frog.

    1. No worries honey..the entire world knows how fucked-up this piece of shitty land called kampuchea is! how horrible and low life their people are!

  16. feel sorry for you bongkibong. I don’t enjoy my trip while I’m in cambodia as well. nothing is good there, I just don’t know anywhere else to go at that time.
    I don’t feel sorry for the cambodian who’re poor there, and live under the standard, they are big enough to choose their destiny rather than sitting and lazing around screaming one dollar.

    1. Hi boogeywoman, it’s really hurt to read your comments. I won’t deny what you had experienced during your trip in Cambodia. However, I wish to see your fair judgment by not in any attempt marginalizing Cambodian people.

  17. I have read several articles, comments, in this web. Well, as a Cambodian woman, me, I could honestly say that there are such kinds of stuffs you mentioned. What is life? Your both hands are not exactly matched…! That means both good and bad stay adhered to each other. Actually, there are cases and cases, so no one can say that this comment is 100% correct or wrong. Why are we able to write these comments? Because we have a chance to live in elite part of the world? and they, in another upside down part? In thief society, there can be also some good men, in philosopher’s society there can be some selfish guys! Thus, when someone say ONLY on one side of the balance, we Cambodians, could NOT accept since even in the very powerful country of the world, there are still discrimination, hatred, challenges….etc. In my province, there was an American woman who studied science conducting her research on Tonlesab water. She needed the study for writing her thesis about the presence of Samonella typhoid in the water. Well, she wasn’t mocked or discriminated at all. There she and her interpreter were greatly welcomed by one of my mom’s friend. And my mom’s friend became their godmother…..! So mocking help her to become a godmother of the girl? or GRACE ? or LOVE? The girl and the interpreter lived in her house, fed with food days and nights,…. even getting back from a party at midnight, the mother asked the daughter who also came to the party for what she would like to eat more when they got back home, and she said she wanted porridge. This is a story among thousands stories. But again, I Do Not Deny there are rude guys in the country, however, there are good side either. To be a human is to be in balance. Make sure our words are applicable to all the situations, not just A CASE!

    1. Hello Lina,

      Thank you for commenting. Your comment just made my point so much stronger:

      The American woman you have referenced in your comment is a perfect example of a person who would have no idea what real Cambodians are like. She is there on a research project, financed by whoever she does the study for. That means she has budget to pay for a guide, which is basically a budget to pay people to smile even if they’d best see her dead.

      I’ve seen many people like that. Filming crews are the very same breed. Often financed by a TV channel for whom they are producing a program, these people come and hire guides so they are constantly surrounded by people who will continue pretending that they are nice to them, never revealing their true self because playing nice guys is what they are paid for. Do you think these people leave Cambodia knowing what it’s really like after all they’ve been exposed to were people who smiled at them for money, and always offered a helping hand because they wanted some of that dough that came with the production?

      While I was in Cambodia I started making arrangements to work for an NGO. I was gonna stay for 6 months to work for them and the agreement was that I would pay the NGO $10 a day for homestay arrangements in the village where I would volunteer.

      Luckily, just before I signed anything or let any money out of my pocket, I did my own research using connections I built teaching English in the temple and volunteering on my own terms in the Sras Srang village, and found out that only $1 out of $10 I would pay the NGO would go to the family which would provide me with shelter, food, laundry services, etc. The rest would be kept by the rip off bastards behind the NGO.

      Needless to say, I backed out of it but have seen hoards of fools who didn’t. Foreigners stayed for 6 months, even longer all the while they were being royally ripped off by people who smiled at them all the time and pretended to be friendly because they knew that this type of masquerade is what hooks them up with easy income.

      But the biggest joke is that even after months of being played fools on, not only would these foreigners not get it, they would attack anyone who spoke truth because truth didn’t match their twisted perception of reality. These sheep are the reason why so many people fall easy prey to greedy scammers like those in Cambodia. I elaborated more on the sheep in this post:

      I needed Cambodia to realize that there are so many beautiful places around the world that even if I went to a different one each day, I would still not cover them all, so wasting time and money on places where ungrateful locals don’t appreciate my presence unless there is dough in it for them was beyond stupid.


  18. Let me start out by saying that I don’t disagree with everything you had mentioned. I also want to say many of them are just as true in the US and most western countries. There are RUDE people and LAZY people every where. However, given the lack of opportunities for jobs and education, I don’t condemn the Cambodians as much as I despite people who live on well fair and sweats and bloods of others. I am disturbed at the vast gap of rich and poor in the United States, and honestly, this gap is way bigger than in Cambodia. It disgusts me to see so many white trash who sit on their asses and blame job lost to immigrants or hard worker folks. According to Wiki, 26.6% lived in poverty.This number varied by ethnicity with 30% of white persons, 40% of black persons, 30% of Hispanic persons (of any nationality), living in poverty. I don’t attempt to equate poverty to being lazy, but my point is the lack of opportunities. And when the needs are so big, people simply lost their willingness to try. This is a bigger problem than you and me. There are so many factors that linked together from culture to politics to education, to community.

    I am not even trying to change your view, not my job and you are entitled to your own opinions, however ignorant they might be. But maybe you can try to understand. put yourself in someone’s shoe for a second. Pretend that your parents were shot in front of you, or your child’s skull was bashed against a tree, your love ones were rapped or tortured. On top of that, the current leader is stuck in his ass and could careless about his people. Sometimes, life can be cruel and Western decorum is the last thing on their mind. Survival kicks in, and you do all that you can to support your love ones, however many you have left after the genocide.

    My point is, yes there are rude and lazy people. Yes the country is messed up with so many problems. Yes, they need to stand up and demand more from their government. As educated as you are, I would expect you to understand that the world needs kindness in humanity if we want to fix this problem. And it starts with finding kind in people, like you. But your comments portrayed you no better than the people you described, rude and uneducated.

    1. Hi Rodwell,

      I can imagine most people would perceive truth as rudeness. When Galileo had the nerve to speak truth about heliocentrism, they wanted to burn him at stake. I suppose being called rude and uneducated by opposers of truth is not a big deal, afterall.

      The apologists like you are the reason why change is not happening. 30 years of you apologists attacking truth tellers got Cambodia nowhere. Wouldn’t it be time to change the tactics? I wrote about you long before you posted this comment here:

      And here:

      And here I addressed you calling me rude and uneducated long before you did so:

      You know, you apologists like to say that Cambodians are poor and lack opportunities we have. This is the same thing Cambodians were telling me when I was there. Everybody would go: “It’s hard to make money in Cambodia!” to which I would reply: “That’s funny, cause I’m in Cambodia and I’m making money.”

      Any Cambodian, absolutely any has the same opportunity to make money I had when I was there. We live in an information age, internet is widely available and anyone has the same opportunity to learn from materials that can be found on the internet to gain a skill that can be sold on the internet. I made money while I was in Cambodia because people wanted quality job done. They didn’t care (and didn’t even know) where I was from or where I was located. I could have been a Cambodian and I would have made the same type of money. One can either roll up their sleeves and get to work or continue whining so the apologists can gang up against anyone who points out where the real problem is and support their culture of handouts.

      BTW – every single Cambodian I met when I was in the country was richer than me. Every Cambodian I met was sitting on more money at any given time during my stay there than I was at that given time. And that’s just actual money, the ratio would be even less favorable if we also considered possessions. When they started whining about how poor they were, I asked to show me their phone and then I showed them mine. I asked them to tell me how many pairs of shoes they had and then I told them how many I had… Every single Cambodian I met had a place where they could go to sleep at night – I didn’t. And I had barely enough money to get me through the day with nobody to take care of me should my request for an advance fail the following day. I had to bust my balls to make money so I could pay for a guesthouse. I was in a foreign country so I had to work so much harder as everything cost me more just because I was a foreigner.

      No my friend, Cambodians are not poor, they are just greedy. They desire more than they truly need and that drives them into debt they can’t get out of. They want to have a motorcycle so they can show off. They want the latest cell phone… They want many things they don’t need but desire them out of sheer greed. I didn’t suffer from the same desire to show off so I didn’t put myself in debt to satisfy my vanity. I still had to work much harder than them for I had nobody to fall back on, but it just comes to show you how unfounded their (and yours) claims are.

      But this is all nothing compared to the argument you’re making about problems Cambodia suffered from decades ago. That was 30 bloody years ago for crying out loud. You apologists have been using that same argument for 30 years and where did it get Cambodia? It’s time to put it behind and move on. Japan was an economic superpower 30 years after the end of WWII. And so was Germany, and they were destroyed way more than Cambodia was after Khmer Rouge. I guess they can only be glad the apologists didn’t get in their way cause they would be where Cambodia is now.

      You can continue attacking those who speak truth about Cambodia – you can call them rude and uneducated all you want. Your predecessors have been doing that for 30 years and it shows. For as long as the backward thinkers stand in the way of the forward thinkers, Cambodians will be as miserable a bunch of failed humans as they are now.


      1. Sure! we have fallen down for decades. I realize that what you mention, to some extent, it is what happen in Cambodia. It is about environment you grow up, and how you grow up yourself. This is what we are challenging and struggling to change and improve. However, being poor, being uneducated, how many percentage you expect to have resourceful people who are thoughtful and able to change their lives? You would never know how poor we are, n how many people are in the poverty line. Social value has fallen down for decades, how could you expect to have the civilized people? Yeah, even some rich people are greedy, that is true. It is a bout the low level standard of social value and the commitment of leadership in the country. We are struggling and challenging to change and improve it. Many educated people in the country want to change it. We do want than other nationals do. We are bleeding during reading your comment. It is totally your freedom to think in your own way you prefer, but we suggest you please think about our country in another good side. We believe we also have, and we thank for your comment to alert us more how the outside world think about us, and that would be our motivation to go on improving.
        Thanks very much,

      2. The Germans? Weren’t they greedy to start 2 destructive world wars in the history of mankind?

        By the way, even your expression of disrespectful and negative thought to Cambodians as a whole, I still find it interesting to reflect on those issues.

        Thank you, Mark.

        PS: Could you suggest the civilized country leaders NOT to start another 3rd World War when Asia (including Cambodia) emerge to be leaders of their own or on the world stage?

        1. You all asians are so annoying. I am sure you all asian savages would start another war if and when all the Westerners leave your another one of your Asian shithole. You all asian can’t even run a proper decent budget hostel but want to brag about being leaders in the world stage! I am sure that is another one of you Asian delusion.

        2. Your dark skin Asians and light skin Asians are competing with each other to exploit the Westerners generosity. I am sure you all dark skin Asian and light skin Asians are just making use of Westerners who have the misfortune to visit your asian hellhole. I am sure once those Westerners stop coming, you all light skin asians and dark skin asians will start fighting with each other again.

  19. @ PH from Cambodia who posted several comments above:

    It’s been more than a year since I left Cambodia. I haven’t been there since (and don’t really have any intentions to at this time) but I must say this type of response would not have come my way back then. Something’s changed about Cambodia. There are two things related to this blog that should be kept in mind:

    1 – it is a personal blog which contains personal opinions and descriptions of events that took place when I was around
    2 – I built this blog on truth. Neither threats nor brown nosing would have any influence on how the events would be presented.

    So while I appreciate your kind response and will duly note change of tone, it will still not make me to start presenting half truths or downright lies.

    What you all really need to do is stop always whining about being poor and mistreated. Cambodia was nowhere near as destroyed after Khmer Rouge as Japan or Germany were after WWII, yet 30 years later they were both economic superpowers. I’m already sick and tired of repeating myself like a broken record but that’s because you Cambodians as well as your apologists keep bringing that up. You’ve been using the same whinery for 30 years and it got you nowhere. Do you want to see changes? Then stop doing the same bloody thing you’ve been doing for 30 years. The Japanese didn’t rebuild their country after WWII annihilation by whining that they suffered greatly. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

    The introduction of the internet into our lives tore borders away. These days nobody who lives in a country with available internet has the right to whine about being poor and use the life in an impoverished country as an excuse. People from Cambodia have the same opportunity to make money on line as do people from Canada, the USA, India, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Sweden or whatever other country with internet access. There are millions upon millions of dollars exchanged for the internet based services every day. Those who work hard to stand above the rest take their share of this chunk. Those who whine about being poor despite having the same opportunity deserve to be poor for instead of spending time learning a skill they could use to earn money with, they spend time whining like the whole world owes them a living.

    I tried my best to change Cambodians I was close to when I was in the country, but each of them spat back into my face when I pushed them to learn something. They showed me that they didn’t want to learn and earn their own money, they wanted the world to feel sorry for them and give them money for nothing. 5 months of taking them to the internet cafes and showing them resources from which they could learn got them nowhere for none were interested in learning when they could just use the time I paid for to chat online with their friends.

    This is why I post the truth – because you need a slap across your face to wake you up so you take charge of your lives. 30 years of being pat on the back by the apologists got you nowhere. It’s time for forward thinkers to deliver real change. It may hurt to hear the truth – it often does – but without it you’ll never change. If it was possible, you would have alredy changed. You had 30 years to do it. Allow the apologists to continue lying to the world and you’ll be at the same very spot 30 years from now where you are now, 30 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge rule.


    1. Mark, i told you one thing that i swear that in your whole life time, you have never met an extremely devastated society even under minus zero education. I give you a very true thing happened to Cambodian people during Khmer Rouge regime that after the victory day from the Khmer Rouge all people when they see the gold and rice, you know which one they really chose? It was only rice just for the survival. In this universe have any human mind does so about this condition? Another thing almost people were killed and very less people were survived in the very minus zero condition. We have started from the minus-zero scratch till today is not about the exploitation of the apologist. If you are really interesting in Cambodia, you must learn the political issue happened to Cambodia at that time. Who made us become so ? Who was the big boss in that game ? I used to ask American people about the Khmer Rouge regime that during the Khmer Rouge Regime, did America – the world leading boss – know this issue? Is there any super power country helped Cambodia at that time? But the very true thing that they had done was to exploit our nation to become worse and worst. I guess you might grow up in the wealth country with the great chance to go to school with the higher education system at the proper age of 4 or 5 but have you ever imagined that we Cambodian at that time went to school of grade 1 at the age of 12 or some people at the age of 15 at grade 1. And how was about the teacher at that time ? No teachers at that time at all because all the highly educated people were killed cruelly. Thus we didn’t have anything left to build up our nation. That is why we said it was minus-zero. The is very unfair to the poor nation but we have tried our best to survive ourself. Why ? As you might heard of the invasion at the border from Thailand-the closest ally of USA. Any super power countries help Cambodia to bring the justice ? Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia even the International Justice Court has already given the winning to Cambodia side but Thailand is still invading our nation. You see! though we are small and weak in military power but we still can protect our land from damn invasion by Thailand, the so-called-fake civilization country.

      Last but not least, it is not so easy as you have mentioned about our nation. Because you and your people have never met the very worse living condition in Khmer Rouge regime.

      1. Hello Tom,

        Thank you for your input. I do understand and never in fact tried to diminish the severity of the Khmer Rouge regime. I wrote about it before:

        and about your great leader, former Khmer Rouge who betrayed them to gain power for himself:

        I’ve never said otherwise but that the Khmer Rouge rule was a tragic period in Cambodian history. Too many people suffered, too many people lost their lives, country as a whole took major hit, BUT… constantly using it as an excuse is contra-productive. There were many examples in just recent 100 years which prove that a country CAN recover and come out on top even if previously faced with major disaster. I listed those examples countless times before so I’m gonna avoid it now cause it’s getting tiring.

        What I’m saying is that you Cambodians need to stop always complaining about Khmer Rouge. Yes, it was horrible, I’ve never said otherwise, but it’s history now. If you dwell on history, you’ll stay in history. Cambodia has dwelt on this history for 30 years and look where it got you. People in Czechoslovakia were making less money than you are in 1989, after fall of the iron curtain. 20 years later and they are members of the European Union and the country (separated countries, but it applies to both) is growing. They still have challenges to overcome, but if all they did since 1989 was complain about how badly the communist rule devastated them, they’d be as big a hole today as Cambodia is.

        So let me say it again – leave Khmer Rouge where it belongs – in the past. Move on. Tell the apologist sheep to shut the hell up about it and using it as an excuse themselves, and instead slap you on the back of your heads so you start taking charge of your own lives.

        PS – trust me, you don’t know what I had to go through throughout my life. Don’t assume that because of where I live at the moment, it somehow translates into easy upbringing. People who’ve been to hell and back don’t write bestselling books about it. This trait is typical of those who spice their life story up with made up hardships.


        1. Be careful, Mark. You may find yourself momentarily slipping into the realm of un-truth.

          The Cambodian people are/were the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Rouge are/were the Cambodian people.

          This is the biggest untruth of all – the inability of most people (all over the world) to face the reality that people ARE the government and that the people get the government that they deserve.

  20. Hi,

    Lots of interesting opinions here about Cambodia. I’m Cambodian and would like to share with you my opinions.

    I see some of the people here get little exposure to the third world countries so their reactions are as if they fell from heaven, not used to seeing dark things. Travel more then you’ll see many poor countries share similar characteristics. Poverty and lack of education are the main culprit so please try to understand, these people do not have monthly welfare money to live by like the unemployed in the first world.

    Secondly, there is a particular aspect about Cambodia, the dark periods it went through, never happened in other countries. You may hear genocides in Africa or other part of the world, but the kind of atrocity of the Khmer Rouge is quite unique with long lasting negative impact on the mental, intellectual and physical health of the people. If you read stories about how people were treated during the period, you won’t be surprised why the current people, the lasting legacy of Khmer Rouge, behave such a way. Kids and youngsters at that time were brainwashed and were taught to steal, to hate parents/relatives, to be cruel and aggressive and follow exactly what “Angka” – the revolution told. You imagine this happened in the whole country for almost 4 years, what would expect to get out of these people afterward, even 30 years after?

    Japan was destroyed during WWII but the people were not traumatised, tortured, brainwashed into anti-social elements as in the Khmer Rouge. Even in Rwanda, the short period of genocide there does not produce such a long lasting impact.

    Also, note that even after the Khmer Rouge, the social development in Cambodia didn’t start right away cuz the country was still in civil war and suffered from economic blockade. Sure peace only came in late 2000 (1998 to be exact) when the last ramnants of Khmer Rouge defected.

    So please try to understand by reading more about the country so you won’t be surprised and feel so bad about your experience. Try to be open to new things.

    I end with a question to you: what would you say about the US bombing of Cambodia, the atrocity that helped spur KR movement and brought it to power? You may have met people who have lost parents or whose relatives lost limbs due to UXO from the civil wars and the bombing by civilized world.

    While claiming to be civilized and from a civilized world, look in the mirror and ask yourself what you can do to change the world for the better instead of whining of bad experience on this blog space.


    It’s regrettable

    1. I give up. I wasted 5 months trying to help people of Cambodia before I realized that they cannot be helped because they don’t want to be helped. They are not interested in obtaining education they could use to earn money, but they’ll gladly use the excuse that they are uneducated to gain sympathy of the apologists with which come free handouts. It took me 5 months to realize that you can’t fix what shows no desire to be fixed so I’m gonna quit trying to explain anything to any more Cambodians through here also.

      You are plain and simple a lost cause. There is no wonder why you are in a hole you’re in. You will continue pulling your Khmer Rouge card ad nauseum even though it’s as irrelevant as it gets. Eastern Europe was devastated after two world wars swept through its lands to a point never seen in Cambodia. And before they were able to fully recover, they were trumped down by the communists who kept them locked up for 20 years. And look at them now. Take a look at countries like Czech Republic or Slovenia. Can you not see how ridiculous your argument you so vehemently choose to dwell upon at any cost is?

      Honestly, I give up. You Cambodians are unworthy whiners unwilling to move a finger to bring upon a change in your lives. You just enjoy flattery from the sheepy apologists who support and deepen your culture of handouts. I went through many third world country after I’d left Cambodia and that experience further confirmed what took me 5 months to realize – that my time trying to fix people who have no desire to be fixed was a waste of time. I should have invested all that time, effort and money elsewhere (as I did, but not after losing so much of it in Cambodia).

      Laos, which I visited after Cambodia was a slap in the face. I brought a huge bag of clothes and gave them all away in Cambodia. I also gave all chewing gums and other treats to the kids in Cambodia. Then when I was in Laos and saw how different people were there, I truly regretted to have wasted all the stuff my friends so graciously gave me to take with me on ungrateful Cambodians. I should have saved it and gave it to the people of Laos who never exhibited any of that deplorable behavior Cambodians granted me with even after I gave them freebies (yes, I admit it. I was tricked myself and also supported that horrible culture of handouts. And I regret it more than anything).

      Many countries I visited after and before Cambodia were much poorer yet there was always this blatant difference in how people welcomed me among themselves and responded to my presence. In other countries it was always along the lines of: “here’s a foreigner, so let’s make him feel welcome so he tells his friends and comes again…” – and indeed, I came again many times and will not hesitate to continue doing so in the future. In Cambodia, however it was always along the lines of: “here’s a foreigner so let’s rip him off as much as we can while he’s still here. We don’t care if he never comes back, but right now he’s here, so let’s take advantage of him.” And this type of attitude shows in all your actions and thinking.


    2. @ Bruce –

      Let me throw a question right back at you.

      Both Vietnam and Laos fell to the communists in ~ the same year as Cambodia. They sent their opponents off the re-education camps.

      The Khmer Rouge regime ended in a “Reign of Terror”.

      Why did things turn out differently in Cambodia then in the other two countries?

      And why are those other countries functioning better than Cambodia today?

  21. Wow. What a discussion about my country. I respect the writer’s opinion about my country and I don’t deny the fact that the opinion is true. However, I’ve got to say that Cambodia does not only have those people that you mentioned. There are many other Cambodians who are respectful and busy. If you judge Cambodia based on those Tuk Tuk drivers, I think it’s not a fair judgment. Anyway, thanks for coming into Cambodia even though it was not a nice experience for you.

    1. Hello Vina,

      Thank you for your comment. I have a sincere wish that life in your country improves. I myself made an attempt to deliver an improvement but was discouraged by thorough uninterest of target group to move a finger to achieve results. The first and most important step towards improvement is admittance that there is a problem and that it needs to be addressed. Second step is to identify that problem for what it really is, even if it pains to call it the real names. Third step is the necessity to put words and thoughts into action. Seeing that some individuals are starting to take baby steps towards the first step is encouraging. There may actually be hope for Cambodia.


  22. I think you are way too over generalize to the whole Cambodians by oberseving during your stay? And while i was leaving there half of my life, i can tell what you was saying is not 100% true. I think you really pissed about something about this country, so that you cannot open ur eyes to see some bright side in this country. I am not going to say much, but in Cambodia taught me that people who dissing about other country without balancing with the good and bad is immoral.

  23. I would say that I support Mark’s idea toward Cambodian negative point. Not only did you face with this kind of problem, i also used to experience this kind of thing so called embarrasing teasing from those uneducated people. However, again i would like to tell you that not all people in Cambodia are as the same as those guys that you have met. Educated Cambodians are full of respect and help whenever they can provide both hands to help you. Sometime, due to the poverty and illiteracy, greeds fall on those people mind. They have set their stereotype becos of this. But you should try to tolerate this. Thank, we are again happy to tell you that not all people in Cambodia re bad so please don’t judge us by only few bad people. it’s a fallacy 😀

  24. Dear all friends from various nations,
    As one of Cambodian citizens, I would like to tell you that we can’t just judge the characteristics of people of a country by using a few samples. Can the “100% Good” exist in your each country? There are any greedy and lazy people in yours? Or is that the ways Western and European people perceives Cambodia and its people?
    Is it moral for some of your people come for child sex and drugs in Asian countries? For that guy who had conducted his study about his people, are you 100% sure that it represents characters of people of your whole nations? You guys of concepts of living, and so do us. Misunderstanding between cultures may have caused your bad feeling and hatred towards my people. As citizens from developed countries, can you all think of this point again?
    Please don’t judge us as a whole. Let’s look at an example of my friend who is studying in USA. She was once robbed by some American gangs. In this case, can I say that USA and its people are bad. No ways!
    Please try your best to read your local newspapers and watch TV to see if there are not any lazy, greedy and immoral persons in yours.

  25. Hello Vichet Cham,

    Thank you for your comment. You just served me an easy ball for a smash.

    While I was in Cambodia I was appalled by how determined your government was to advertise your country as a destination with thriving child sex tourism. I can tell you that in almost two years after I’d left Cambodia, which is the time I used to travel through other countries of the region, I have not seen another one which would be this determined to remind every single visitor that child sex tourism is thriving there.

    I am incredibly appalled by the idea that some people would travel to other countries to exploit children. But I must tell you that Cambodia did a great job to keep reminding me that should I ever want to consider this option, this would be the country to do it. Honestly, an idea of child sex tourism never once crossed my mind – neither before visiting Cambodia nor ever after – but while I was in Cambodia, I was constantly reminded that there it was possible, if one wanted to pursue this avenue.

    No other countries, not even neighbouring ones in other areas of South East Asia, have posters plastered all over the place to remind people of child sex tourism and I’m guessing they also, as a result don’t have as big a problem with it. If you are like me and it would never ever cross your mind, just go to Cambodia and their banners will keep it in your mind every step of the way.

    I wrote more about it in a post which outlines my encounters with crime in Cambodia:

    My notes on role of women in the Cambodian society further explains what it’s all about:

    Here’s a thing, though: foreigners who travel to Cambodia to exploit children are without a question deplorable individuals, but let’s not turn a blind eye to a much higher scale problem – occurrences of rape perpetrated by Cambodian males on children.

    Keep in mind that I’m not your average traveler. I spent 5 months in Cambodia entirely submerged in the society. I worked hand in hand with locals and got to know the world they live in intimately. This little fact which reflects how big a problem rapes in Cambodia are, including rapes of children, is somehow never mentioned anywhere by on my blog. Yet it’s massive.

    No Cambodian female, outside of those living in heavily policed tourist traps, will set foot out of her house after dark and each Cambodian female has a male she can trust (usually her father, or brother) living nearby so they can intervene when someone tries to rape them. This is so because rape attempts are such common place, every female must consider herself a potential victim every second of her life.

    Virtually every Cambodian girl I met during my 5 months long stay in the country was either raped several times already, or at minimum had someone attempt to rape her but was rescued by her family. While I stayed in the village, I was involved in warding off perpetrators myself and this kept happening at alarming frequency.

    Girls explained to me that unless they are married, they live in separate houses with girls only because it’s a tradition, but their brothers must always live in a house nearby and have their cell phone at the ready because just about every other night someone tries to break in to the girl’s house to rape them.

    Rape situation in Cambodia is so severe, that despite thriving child sex tourism, the number of foreigners who get raped by local males each year outscores the number of foreigners who exploit locals many times. I personally know one Canadian girl who was raped in Cambodia. Her case is one of those highlighted on Canadian travel advisory website.

    One more time – it’s beyond disgusting that foreigners would travel to Cambodia to exploit children and this MUST be addressed NOW, however even if all child sex tourism in Cambodia was put to an immediate end, the overall drop in cases of exploited children would be minimal. Cambodian girls lock themselves up each night not because of sexually deviated foreigners, but because of rape happy locals who won’t have second thoughts about raping children.

    It is definitely necessary to put a stop to sexual exploitation of children by foreigners, but if all Cambodian authorities do is focus on stopping foreigners from exploit children and allow locals to continue raping back and forth unhindered, then this whole initiative becomes a joke. Foreigners, regardless of how deplorable their behavior is, are a drop in the ocean of Cambodian rape cases.


  26. Hi Mark, I’ve read your comments and blog, and realized that it’s really hurtful. We’ve been victimized by your worst experiences in Cambodia. I’ve not known who you are as a real person, but can figure out that you are of well educated person. When you criticize Cambodia, Cambodians, do not just look into negative perspectives. In contemporary world, criticism plays on both positive and negative. We’re Cambodians, we have more emic perspectives than you. Perhaps if you come to Cambodia again, you won’t allow yourself to be badly treated by those people you had experienced before. Please, don’t marginalize Cambodians in such ways. Best.

  27. Oh, Mark.
    Glad to hear that you want to help Cambodian people. I can see you know that problem of my people. However, if I am not wrong, globalization and crazy cultures from the so-called developed nations have been ruining those of Asian’s. Look back at the fact of homosexual? Child sex? and so on. Where are they coming from? Study more deeply about Khmer Rouge before you compare it to that of Japan after WWII and genocide in Rwanda and so on. The regime had destroyed not only the people’s lives but also the spirit. Also, there more obstacles for them to overcome, as you have known.
    We are the frog in the well now. WE are try to improve.

    1. Hello Vichet Cham,

      I’m not idolizing people from the West. As a matter of fact, I have many bad things to say about them too. I even made a post about an arrogant fellow Canadian I met in Malaysia. There are good things and bad things lurking everywhere. I expose them for what they are.

      You continue making the same mistake of still dwelling on Khmer Rouge. Whether it was worse than Japan or not is irrelevant. It was 30 years ago and you’re still using it as an excuse for your problems today. Khmer Rouge is history, leave there. Focus on your current problem – CPP being the major one.

      Cambodia as a whole sees crap loads of money coming in. Millions of people visit the country every year. They pay for visa, they pay for Angkor Wat entrance fees – this alone amounts to billions of dollars a year but it all gets lost in a black hole created by your government. CPP is your problem, not Khmer Rouge. You will never get rid of poverty if CPP stays in power.

      I wish you a lot of strength because removing CPP from power will not be easy. And western governments support them by financing these abusers from abroad. I honestly don’t envy your position in this regard.


      1. CPP IS the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Rouge was/IS the Cambodian people.

        If the CPP is ever thrown out of power the void will be filled by just another group of Cambodians who are/were the Khmer Rouge.

        The international community (which is not only the “western” ones but actually MORESO the Chinese) continue propping up the CURRENT Khmer Rouge regime because dictator Hun Sen puts on a good show and is too dumb to realize that once these outside countries are done extracting all the natural resources out of the country they are going to leave the Cambodians behind to descend right back into civil war — OOPS! I mean “fend for themselves”.

        The Cambodian people are THEIR OWN worst enemies. Their lack of ability to think logically, stubbornness and reluctance to take responsibility for their actions is the reason why no progress is made.

        There are many hardworking, honest people in Cambodia, but the problem is the way that you think. You are stubborn and resistant to change.

        Everyday I buy my vegetables from some old Cambodian peasants at the small market near my house (where there is no other foreigner around). And each day the lady who sells me the vegetables struggles to add the cost of the items in her head. And each day I tell her to just go and buy a $1 calculator in order to be able to work faster (for both my and her benefit). And each day when I show up she doesn’t have that new calculator. One of these days I am just going to stop buying from her and walk a few steps over to another seller who DOES have a calculator.

        I share this little anecdote to illustrate the problem in THINKING which makes Cambodians (rich OR poor) their own worst enemies.

        I refuse to buy that vegetable seller a new calculator, even though it would be no trouble for me. The reason why I refuse is because if SHE can’t realize that SHE is her own enemy than nothing I (or anyone else) can do will help her in the grand scheme of things.

        She is not a stupid person. She just doesn’t have the proper mentality to be anything more than what she is.

        This nice, hardworking lady’s problem is a good example of the general problem of Cambodia.

  28. Dear Authors,
    Thanks for your presence in Cambodia and thanks for your critics. Thanks for making Cambodian people hurt by just reading these comments. I am also Cambodian and I am now studying in the Unite States. You guys mention a lot about racism and laziness in Cambodia. However, this is not the case in Cambodia. It happens everywhere including US which is supposed to be a well developed country. You criticize us of making joke or laughing at people who are falling down or dropping somethings. So I’ve got a question for you, do you know the term “culture”? You should have acknowledged the word “put yourself in someone’s shoes”. So before you judge a thing, you better learn and think about it deeply. I don’t know who you guys are. But what I can think is that you guys are too proud of yourselves. You believe what you have and what know are the best in the world. You are judging everything based on your own value and apply them all elsewhere. You should be more critical about the context before you judge things. When you guys criticize us, don’t you think you are making a big discrimination and stigma? I accept that we are poor and there are some people who are taking advantages from tourists. But you can’t generalize everything to the entire Cambodian people. There are about 14 million people in Cambodia. How many Cambodian people who have cheated you when you were in Cambodia? 10, 100, or 1000? Then you generalize to all 14 million people. You said we are cheating you and making fake friendship, but you don’t acknowledge yourself is being too demanding toward us. It seems you are expecting us to follow everything what you want us to do. But we are humans and we have our own way of living and thinking. You guys are too capitalism, don’t you know that? You always think you are the best and want others follow your comments. You are too proud guys.

  29. Wow, more and more discussion are generated here. Anyway, I hope the discussion won’t lead to resentment.
    The writer (Mark) has his opinion and wants to express, and we readers respect the opinion.
    Yet, we Cambodians upon getting this comment should not be angry but ask ourselves why such a comment is given from a tourist to our beloved country. Is there anything that we can do? As a matter of fact, if you think hard enough, you will see that there are many things that you can do to help Cambodians from the way Mark and many other tourists write and comment.

    Overall, thanks for choosing Cambodia to visit and hopefully you will come back with more friends and family members.

    1. Hi Livina,

      I am not offensive with the critics but I can’t just stand when the author overgeneralize everything about Cambodian people. I do agree what the author wrote was true but he couldn’t judge everything. I like constructive criticism. Sure everyone has freedom of expression to voice their opinions and I also have freedom to express my feelings and opinion too.

    2. There’s something we call “Critical Thinking”. Try to say anything in fair way and not too extreme. I don’t get agitated, but think critically and consider a lot before you speak and act something. Observe and analyze.

  30. Yes, Livina Tep. Still appreciate his (Mark) and others’ effort in bring Cambodia into such discussion. However, from his blog you can see the title “Cambodians Are Extremely Rude Towards Tourists”. This text does not only pinpoint worse experiences he and others who have become involved in this discussion but also victimize us CAMBODIANS. Most westerners are likely to marginalize Asian people. Such marginalizing ideologies should be abolished. We may somehow realize the realities in our country, but how clearly we have known those non-Cambodian tourists. If he (Mark) really wish to correct those Cambodians’ behaviors and attitudes towards tourists, he wouldn’t have written using such language. Please read the article again and do Critical Discourse Analysis, you will see such marginalization – some Cambodians, NOT THE WHOLE CAMBODIA. Best.

  31. What an interesting blog!
    Thank you, Mark, the owner of this very lovely blog, for visiting us and spending a whole lot of time to write this blog and the others on Cambodia. I appreciate your time and effort on criticizing us, for I believe that thoughtful criticism brings about positive changes.
    Needless to mention, most of the things you mentioned in this blog are true—the Tuk Tuk annoyance, the kids selling their handmade products, or even the dangerous traffic. BUT, I thought that your point about Cambodians (as a whole) are Extremely Rude Toward Tourists was exaggerated. A smart man never makes stupid generalization. Judging others does not define who they are, but it defines who you are. If you go to Rome, do as Roman do. I suggest you learn to understand different cultures and to appreciate the diversity. I can imagine that there are rude Canadians out there. But, I do not say, nor do I think all Canadians are rude. I am expecting that you are well-educated enough to get my point. I hope that your experience in Cambodia does not define you. Else, I can imagine how life would be for you to travel to other places.
    Now, the point you made about The Khmer Rouge. Well, it has been about 30 years or so since the fall of the Khmer Rouge. And you claimed that we, Cambodians, should not use that as an excuse anymore and that Germany and Japan were in an even more devastated situation after the WWII. How Germany and Japan recovered is a more complex argument. But to compare these two nations to Cambodia is not a fair approach. Germany and Japan after the WWII received extensive supports from the US militarily, financially, and economically. After World War II, came the Cold War. The US feared that communist block would take over the world; thus, the Americans tried to help democratize other countries. According to Professor Walter Russel Mead, a political scientist, the war in Japan was finished in Jacksonian school of thought, which means to finish a war to the ground and start building a new nation.
    America helped Japan to rebuild their nation. America provided security to Japan so that Japan did not have to worry about building its military. Japan only spent less than %1 of its GDP on military, leaving the country more opportunity to invest and recover its economy. In addition, the U.S opened trades with Japan, which also contributed to the growth of Japanese’s economy. America also gave a lot of money to Japan so that the country can be economically strong enough to resist the communist influence, namely the Soviet Union and China.
    In Europe, America helped build the whole continent through its Marshall plan. Again, the U.S was afraid that communism will take over Europe. The Marshall plan worked out very well. America opened trades with Europe which resulted in a stronger European economy. And Germany was later able to pay war debt and recover its economy quickly.
    If you look at Cambodia, was there any similar assistance to Japan or Germany? I do not even mention the leadership we have been through compared to those of the other two countries. Instead of receiving aids from the U.S, Nixon was pointing to Cambodia in a map in 1970 where their troops would later come in and bomb Cambodia in the Vietnam war. After this, here came the Pot Pol regime. And then to make a quick remark how our today’s government works in authoritarian regime is another story to why we are still developing very slowly in comparison to Japan and Germany.
    To make the story short, you probably have no idea how hard life could be in Cambodia because you are so used to having everything since you were born. And you mentioned how you could make money while you were in Cambodia and kept going back to “the informative age” where everyone has equal opportunity. If you had never been to school, English was not your first or second language, you had no idea what the Internet was, or you had no idea what your lunch today would be like, I might be able to imagine how equal opportunity is distributed. But I guess not. Because you seem to not know how to put yourself in others’ shoes. And I do congratulate you because you were born with such a luxurious life that others in developing nation like Cambodia do not have a chance to enjoy. I hope you know how to enjoy it and appreciate what you have while, might be, learning to understand others.
    Last but not least, what you said that EVERY CAMBODIAN THAT YOU MET WAS RICHER THAN YOU was, again, a total misjudgment. I have no idea how you came to this conclusion. But, I am not trying to use Being Poor as an excuse. It just happens to be a situation we are in right now. We are trying to struggle to gain a better life. And I hope you will visit Cambodia sometime again to learn that all Cambodians are not as bad as you think. Your Canadians fellow MIGHT be the best people on earth, and I wish so. 

  32. Hello Menghun,

    thank you for your comment.

    I’m having troubles keeping up because many of you comment and I’m only one myself to respond. Plus I no longer spend too much time on the internet, though I must admit you caught me in the most opportune moment when I’m reorganizing my websites to make them ready for a yearlong switch off, so I spend more time on my computer than I had this past year.

    I will only say this much – you are all asking me to not judge you, yet you’re judging me without knowing. You all assume that I was born in a rich country, never knew hardship or poverty in my life, etc etc. You are falsely assuming all these things based on my current state of affairs. What lead me to my current state of affairs is unknown to you but you all jump into easy conclusions. Trust me, if you knew, your jaw would drop, but it is not my goal to make people feel sorry for me.

    Let me just say – you wouldn’t want to swap with me. Maybe yes as I am now, but trust me, I had to work three times as hard as anybody else throughout my life to get things other people don’t even break a thought about. And I’m talking about basic survival needs, not fancy possessions. I know more about hardship and poverty than all of you combined. I lived it, I survived it and in the end, I beat it.

    One more thing – you just happen to focus on one post, but I also made posts that outline positive things I experienced in Cambodia and similarly, I made posts in which I outline negative things about western countries, including my homeland of Canada. I don’t pick on any particular person, group or country specifically. All I do is describe experiences and feelings evoked by individuals, groups and countries I had an encounters with and I describe them truthfully.

    I said it before but I’ll say it again – Cambodia was not the only poor third world country I’ve visited. I went through countries in which people would wish they had as much as Cambodians have, yet no where have I had negative encounters comparable to those in Cambodia. Laughing at other person’s suffering – how many of you have told me in comments here that it’s just me not understanding different culture. I’m sorry, but laughing at other person’s misfortune is rude and uncalled for in my books. I will not accept it as simply culture I do not understand.

    As for financial assistance Germany or Japan received after WWII… Do you know how much money western governments give Cambodia each year? Cambodia is a country of only 14 Million people yet $1 Billion is separated from taxes of western taxpayers and given to Cambodian government – EACH YEAR. And that’s just governmental assistance. Corporate and individual donation are extra. This is absolutely sickening to see how much money gets dumped in Cambodia and you have nothing to show for it. Shame on us for electing governmental representatives who waste our tax payers on a black hole of Cambodia. I see this as absolutely unacceptable and will lobby for immediate stoppage of financial assistance to Cambodia as much as I can when I return to Canada.

    In the same breath, however I must express one more time what I had suggested before – I feel as though something’s changed about Cambodia since my visit. I have received many respectful comments from you guys and I think I owe you a big… something. If there was little respect I had for Cambodians before, I can tell you with all honesty that I have more of it now.


    1. Before ‘first world’ countries give handouts they should educate themselves about where their money is going? If they know a country is corrupt, why give its government money? Its naive and thoughtless, but of course the intentions are good. Well done you for working hard, but many others work hard too and don’t feel the need to go on about it. Modesty is under-rated.

    2. Nothing has changed Mark. In fact, thing are just getting worse. The only difference is that Cambodia is currently in a “boom” episode. The international money is flowing even more vigorously into the wrong pockets, the foreign investment is accelerating and – of course – the general arrogance level of those fine specimens of humanity called Cambodians is just becoming more virulent.

      No amount of money or aid or assistance, etc. is going to make an iota of difference here.

      The only thing that is going to create TRUE progress in Cambodia is the Cambodians changing their way of thinking and stop being their own worst enemies.

  33. I am here to share some idea ! I am a Cambodian ! I admitted that what u have already mention were the some of the cases in Cambodia. But some of you said that Cambodian is a kind of lazy and bad people and toward this idea, i feel very annoying ! I think u are the tourist only. I think u are involve in Cambodia just a short period of time ! I don’t think u can see every Conner of what happen in Cambodia ! I admitted that some of our people are a bit lazy but not all of us are in that kind ! I admitted that some of us are bad but again it is not in general ! I think every country on the world consist of this kind of people even ur country ! U and the other foreigners here have led the way of ur life quite different from us here ! and that is the point that i would suggest not to criticize us ! different countries have different ways of living ! u can not say that we are bad and urs is good ! The situation is quite different ! we are living in one of the poor country ! our people have access to lower education or sometimes even have no access to education ! We are just free from civil war ! That the root cause of what some people here do some kind of things ! We are not in the rich condition as urs ! but we are also human ! we need the other to respect us too even we are poor ! Please do not try to judge something just a short period of time ! observe it more clearly before say it out ! I don’t that case was just happened or not but i am sure that now most of our people are access to education ! so that that kind of situation are decrease now ! Again we are not all LAZY and we are not all BAD people ! Do not judge the book by its cover ! Observe more before speaking it out !

    1. Hello Hing Sotharath,

      Thank you for your comment. I would like to respond to the part in which you said the following:

      “You cannot say that we are bad and yours is good”

      I have only fixed internet type for English cause I really despise when people use “ur” instead of “your” but that’s not the point.

      I don’t understand where you took the impression that I would think that yours is bad while mine is good. I never suggested anything similar, all I do is describe feelings and experiences. I come to a country to see what it’s really like with my own eyes and then I write about what it was really like as perceived through my own eyes.

      There are no specific countries I write good things about and no ones I pick to write bad things about. I simply enter a country with an open mind and let it serve me the real deal and then I write about the experience. If the experience was positive, I’ll say I liked it. If it was negative, I’ll say I didn’t like it and will elaborate on it to make clear why I felt that way.

      I gave Cambodia a chance, but for the most part, I was mistreated. I didn’t go to your country with an intention to write negative things about it, but to see what it’s really like. Then after I experienced it, I wrote what it was really like. When my bicycle broke down in Cambodia 10km from nearest town, instead of any locals helping me, everyone was trying to take advantage of me. They saw that I was far away from town and couldn’t ride so they started offering their services at three times normal cost. Nobody in Cambodia was interested in helping a person in need, they were only interested in ripping him off because being out of options, he was an easy target. I have not encountered this type of mistreatment in any other country.

      And this is just one example. Things like that kept happening daily and all I do on this blog is describe exactly how it was. You Cambodians did have the same chance every other country I’ve visited did to be nice, respectful and welcoming to me, but you chose to be evil and always looking to take advantage. Why would no one offer unconditional help to a person in need? Why would tuk tuk drivers who normally charge $5 for this distance start asking for $15 seeing that I’d be stuck having to push bicycle for 10km if I didn’t accept their “offer”?

      You are wrong if you think that I chose you to say that you were bad and only say good things about my own country. I’m more critical of my homeland than of any other place and there are many instances in my blog that prove it. I went to Vietnam where people had the same opportunity to rip me off the same way Cambodians did, but they never even tried. Instead, they offered help and never asked for anything in return. Is this making one country sound bad while making another sound good? No it’s not. It’s simply describing the bad things that happen as bad and good things that happen as good. I have good things to say about Vietnam because people were nice and I have bad things to say about Cambodia because people were not nice. Not because I chose Vietnam as country to write nice things about and Cambodia as country to write bad things about.

      That’s what sets my blog apart. Other bloggers are scared shitless to post anything negative for fear that the sheep would retaliate. You never see them telling it like it is and if they do, they mellow it down as much as possible, apologize million times and finish it highlighting another million positive things to make up for it. What kind of gd bs is that? This is major disservice to travelers who come after them. If something is bad, say it is bad without bubble wrap around it. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t soften it up. Say it straight up. Sadly nobody used to do it, so I started it. It caught on and now it can’t be stopped.


  34. I would like to thank everyone once again for their comments on the issue discussed in this article. For our friends from Cambodia who commented, I would like to conclude my comments with a heads up:

    Regardless of whether you feel upset or offended by the article, it changes nothing on the fact that every single word of it is true. You may feel as though it’s undeserved or unfounded, but this is exactly, to the dot what many foreigners visiting Cambodia experience. I’m not the only one. During my 5 months long stay I spoke with countless foreigners who were utterly disgusted, cancelled their hotels and booked the nearest bus out of the country. Anywhere but in Cambodia.

    Not many write about it, but they feel exactly as described here. And as a result, money these people would have spent in Cambodia, was spent elsewhere. You want to help relieve poverty? Then don’t complain to me that I give Cambodia a bad name. Instead, complain to yourself, to your neighbors, to everybody who makes foreigners’ visit to Cambodia a nightmare. What I have written here is absolutely true so you can take it as a lesson and try to change, or continue complaining that people are talking bad things without knowing what they’re talking about and watch foreigners leave and tell all their friends never to come to Cambodia. The choice is yours.

    There is a great deal of denial in your words and actions, but very little will to address the cause of bad press. I know from my own experience how much difference it made to leave Cambodia and travel in other countries. There is simply no other place in the world where locals would be comparably hostile. I should have never returned the first time I left, but my natural response was that perhaps I did in fact miss the good that was to be found there so I came back to look for it. It took me 5 months to stop lying to myself and admit that Cambodians simply have no desire to fix themselves. They just want free stuff.

    I wish I had it as easy as you do. I wish somebody paid for my University like they pay for yours, but I wasn’t so lucky. I wish hordes of tourists came knocking on my door offering me handouts but I guess I just never spend my life whining loud enough to attract any. You don’t know what it’s like to still carry the burden of university debt in your late thirties. You don’t know what it’s like to not be able to spend whole afternoon sitting on a motorcycle in a shade of a large tree with your friends cause you have three jobs just to make the ends meet. Nobody comes to give me free t-shirts – if I need one, I must work hard enough to earn money and buy it myself and if times are hard, if I lose job or don’t make enough, my creditors will not give half damn. That option of someone coming and pulling me out of misery doesn’t exist for guys like me.

    I know it’s always the wheel that squeals the loudest that gets greased up and clearly – you know it too. If you spent just half of the time you spend whining on something productive, you would see many of your problems come to a fix. People in the first world countries didn’t get where they are by dedicating their lives to thievery and scam. For as long as you keep ignoring the need to roll up your sleeves and work your way into prosperity, you’ll see little to no progress. Abusing and taking advantage of foreigners may seem like an easy fix, but in a long run, it takes you two steps backwards for each step forward.

    If you want to see people stop talking badly about Cambodia, then stop mistreating them. Posts like this one will only stop appearing when you stop mistreating people who already showed you a great deal of support by taking the money they worked hard for to spend in your country. If you continue mistreating them, they will continue avoiding you and will tell their friends to avoid you too. You can be as angry with them as you are with me, but unless your attitude changes, this will not stop. It’s about how you make people feel. You are the cause. Press is the effect. And trust me, people who were robbed, raped, scammed, attacked, pushed around, ripped off or otherwise mistreated will have few if any good things to say. Given the density of criminals in Cambodia, there is no visitor to your country who would have stayed for at least 5 days and would not have been victimized. Sheep will think it’s their fault, but not everybody is a sheep.


  35. Wel…Going through this article, it’s so painful that this lovely adorable citizen were becoming as alien of hell. If you were jugded in one as all, it would fall as a big mistake to cambodians who were not really so. And if you are a tourist, you even make a bigger mistake because your short time is called a holidays, and it will be enough to judge the people as a whole..

    By the freedom of nation, ibelieve that those you were mentioned are the not-well-educated people whom their action and behaviors were so innocent and too natural to harm people except with those who are sensive. Imagine yourself living in a country like us while the code of live is not even equal to a living earn…..there’s no paint for us THAN HEARING YOUR ARTICLE HERE.

    Cambodian girl

  36. Thank you, Mark (author of this post) for pointing out a lot of bad things you experienced in Cambodia. I really appreciate SOME POINTS of what you said. For example, I agree with you that the problem of Cambodia is the government,some idea of developments….etc.
    Let me share my story in Cambodia. I studied English at an institute in Phnom Penh where I studied with many different native English speaking teachers such as American,English,Phillipine and also many Canadian teachers. I notice that those Canadian teachers have good knowledges of English but they have lack experience to be a good teacher. They seem to be hostiled with the student especially me, the one who often questioned them hardly. I did lowest grade in those classes while my grade should have been average. That why my written English here is not good. However, previously I had got 2 times of scholarship award in the classes of other different teachers exept-CANADIAN TEACERS. To avoid Stereotype, I say NOT ALL Canadian teachers are bad like this. At least, I learn to SAY SORRY IF ONCE I GENERALIZE. As I see on how your greatly understanding in this post is,I hope you would do something better in respond to this comment and other appreciated comments. For example, you should change your title of this forum “Cambodians Are Extremely Rude Towards Tourists” and some words you described…
    Best Regards,

  37. Hello Kuroun,

    Thank you so much for your comment. It’s a great comment to help me prove my point:

    Does your experience with teachers from Canada show that they are not up to par with teachers from other countries? Then say it. Say it like it is. If there is room for improvement, the best way to address it is by learning about it. If your experience shows that Canadian teachers have a lot to improve upon but don’t say it like it is, then they will have nothing to suspect it could be the case and as a result, will think everything is fine and dandy and will not try to improve.

    When will you people realize that speaking truth without beating around the bush is the only way forward? Sheep don’t speak truth, they tone it down or wrap it up in bubble wrap to make it sound less harsh for fear that other sheep will attack them for their audacity. What the hell kind of backward thinking is that?

    Granted – if you believe you have not had enough experience with Canadian teachers and that’s what’s holding you back from expressing it, then it’s understandable. But this would completely unsubstantiate your comment. It would simply mean that you’re trying to be a smart ass disproving a substantiated claim by making foolish comparisons. However if you believe your experience is well substantiated yet you hold back from exposing it in true light, then you are a sheep and an obstacle to human progress. The sooner you get the hell out of the way of everyone, the better.

    I cannot comment on teachers from Canada as I never attended a class in Cambodia, but what I can tell you is that from my personal experience, teachers of English in Cambodia are as useless as they get. I spent substantial amount of time in a village in northern Cambodia. Many adolescents from there attended an ACE school. That’s Australian Center for Education in Siem Reap. I don’t know where the teachers who teach there are from – whether from Canada or somewhere else – but they are the most useless teachers in the world. If I were a parent of someone attending that useless school, or if I were the fool who’d paid for someone to attend it, then I’d have no choice but to head straight in to have a serious talk with the principal or ask for my money back.

    Kids from the village where I volunteered attended that useless school and asked me to help them with homework. They’d try to do it themselves and then asked me to take a look whether they’d done it right. I could not believe my eyes. They were all shooting complete blanks. There was absolutely no sense in how they chose right answers, just randomness. I found out that they didn’t understand a damn thing. They returned from a lecture having no idea what the lecture was about. They didn’t understand anything about subject matter taught. As a result, they did their homework relying in randomness and asked me to correct it for them.

    Seeing that they clearly didn’t understand anything, I had to explain it to them. After brief explanation, it became clear to them, so I asked them to redo their homework and after that it was done right. As this kept happening day after day, I no longer asked them to do the homework first before I checked it, because I knew they wouldn’t understand a damn thing after a lecture with an ACE teacher who gets paid for it. Instead I asked them to show me what the lecture was about and then I explained to them how it works myself. They started understanding it and did their homework right.

    In the village I had students in all classes offered by the ACE, taught by different teachers. Not a single one ever returned from a lecture, regardless of who was the teacher, understanding the subject matter. They only gained understanding after I explained it to them. So they were literally only going to ACE to obtain a diploma, but they came to me to actually learn how to speak English. The former cost money (not theirs, somebody else paid for it), the latter didn’t, but it was pretty aggravating.

    The fools from ACE probably saw improved performance among student from the village, and must have thought it was their teaching methods that delivered results. Yeah right! The most useless school in the universe with tools for teachers.

    I need to stress, though – I’m not saying any of it to make up for bad experience you had with teachers from Canada. I’m just sharing my experience with English language schools in Cambodia. Aside from the village, I also taught in the Preah Prom Roth temple in Siem Reap. I did it for free, on my own terms – I don’t know what they thought of me as a teacher, perhaps they thought the same thing you thought of Canadian teachers. In general, I found Cambodians to be very ungrateful so even if they’re getting something for free, they’re still unhappy with it. I especially saw that with donations I brought from Canada. Even little kids – I’m talking about 3 to 5 years old – I’d give them free treats, they’d bite into it and throw the rest on the ground. They are so used to getting free stuff that unless you give them something that outdoes what they’d already gotten that day, they will scowl over it. That’s why I wish I hadn’t wasted any of the donations on Cambodia and instead saved it for Laos or other country where people are respectful and appreciative. Cambodians are too spoilt and generally ungrateful to appreciate other people’s effort to do something for them.

    But I’m already getting off topic. Anyway, thanks for your comment that helped me prove my point. Stop being a sheep and help people who may need help by saying what your experience was truly like, without softening it up. This is the only way to move forward and improve. I’m the greatest fan of my home country, but also her toughest critic. You can’t be one without the other. Not unless you’re a bloody hypocrite and a dim-witted sheep. Brushing problems under a rag is the safest way to halt progress.


  38. Dear Mark,

    You said “I quit job, so I can I travel.” You are so lucky to be able to say like that and even do like that. We, Cambodians, don’t even dare to quit ours if we have a proper one. I just want to tell you (like you never know) that Cambodians are really hardworking. We are asked to do many possible things even if they are not of our skills, but usually we get ripped off with little payment in return. We never complain because we are poor and we even are even poorer than the poverty line you, folks, defined. However, we are struggling and trying to survive with the little “dollar” we can earn from our own hard work, and not by ripping off from a foreigner who is hunting for negative point of others’ culture to write about just like you. Of course, there are bad and good people. Please try to look a little if not much on the bright side. Just a little, and you’ll see something quite different. You know “people get what they ask in life.” If you are hunting for trouble, and you’ll get trouble. You are trying to find the worst part of our DEVELOPING country, you’ll end up dealing with the worse things you’ll surely get them too in anywhere part of the world even in your own so-called developed country. Don’t go around and speak bad stuffs about others before your thorough analysis. Please be more considerate and understanding. Actually, it’s not worth my time leaving comment in here.

    1. Mark,
      Thanks for your reply . I never expected such a reply. Actually I never followed up this post after i left that comment. I read it again. It was a bit harsh. Probably I was so angry to write such thing.

      I am so sorry for your experience in Cambodia. But I am not sorry for what I wrote. Nikki’s comment down there hit my points so well. You didn’t address all of it.

      Good luck and take care yourself.

  39. Hello Sophalin Puth,

    Thank you for commenting even though it was a waste of time for you.

    There are things I mentioned several times before but require repeating because you brought it up again. We live in an information age. I quit work because like many people in Cambodia, I wasn’t happy with what my work was providing me with. As a result, I lost the security of my job, but I gained freedom to earn my own money doing internet related work. I did a lot of this work while I was in Cambodia and if I was able to do it from Cambodia, then anybody who lives in Cambodia can do it too.

    If all you spend your time on is complaining how hard it is for you in Cambodia, then perhaps you deserve it all. If instead you focused all this effort on learning skills you can sell for money, you could be living a decent life with decent income. Billions of dollars makes it to Cambodia every year. People spend there a lot. That means somebody IS making lots of money in Cambodia. If it is not you, then perhaps you should look at what you’re doing wrong and change it.

    I quit work when I had no money, no secured income, tens of thousands of dollars debt and no outlooks on it getting any better anytime soon. But I quit work anyway because, I could see that it didn’t lead where I wanted to be. It was a risky and daring step, but if I didn’t take that risk, I would be like you – spending every day of my life complaining about how messed up my life was.

    I will also repeat myself in response to what you perceive as “negative points”. These are experiences described without censorship. Cambodia had the same opportunity to treat me nice as did Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia or many other countries of the region about which I have many good things to say. I describe my experiences in each country I visited exactly as they happened. I write positive things about positive things that came my way and negative things about negative things that came my way. There is no more sincere way to write than this.

    I write the truth. Whether you express anger or gratitude, it will have no influence over what I will write. I make a point of being the truth blogger and stick with that promise. I do not mislead my readers because that’s the most disgraceful thing to do ever.


  40. Dear Mark,
    interesting read. I do know Cambodian society quite well because I’m living there (for many years now). I fully agree with your statements. Cambodians are generally speaking shockingly rude, they are extreme racists and they have NO intention whatsoever to get out of that shit hole they have created. They don’t like anybody, they don’t trust anybody they even don’t trust each other. They are totally incapable to learn from mistakes. They are arrogant, impertinent and they are dangerous. They have learnt that just whining about their poverty, stupidity, corruption …………….is actually enough to earn money. I personally do think that this won’t be enough in the future. Tourists are naturally quite gullible BUT if you look at the amounts of tourists right now……..HA……..ohh, it’s so much down you wouldn’t believe it. That “give me Dollar for nothing” apparently doesn’t work anymore.

  41. Mark,
    I was so compelled after reading your blog post and the comments that I presented it to my advanced English students (at ACE) in December 2011. To my pleasure, they provided very well-rounded and intelligent insights into the issues you presented. They were very rational and logical in weighing through all the criticisms you levied against Cambodians.

    Quite possibly part of the problem with your experience is possibly a lack of cultural understanding on your behalf. Did you ever stop to consider the reality of how you would be seen by Cambodians while spending time with a Vietnamese prostitute? (please don’t mistake this as judgment coming from me)

    Many Cambodians harbor serious animosity, if not racism, against Vietnamese (for historical reasons). And to compound that, most traditionally-minded, conservative Cambodians have very low opinions of prostitutes (even if Cambodian men take full advantage of them on a regular basis). These two issues alone possibly greatly contributed to the hostility you received, particularly from tuk-tuk drivers.

    Not only that, but as the quote goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” While it may seem like you were granting a huge gift to Cambodians by offering them classes on how to use the internet to make business and money, you seemed to have forgotten the first rule of development: ask the beneficiary what they most want or need, rather than tell them what you think the solution to their problems is.

    I congratulate you for trying to help. As an experienced teacher and educator I can relate to your frustrations. You were presenting a gift and they were mocking it by not recognizing its value. However, after 5 months, why keep beating a dead horse?

    Here are some of the comments and critiques that my Cambodian students brought up in response to your unfortunate experiences:

    1. They agreed that your post was 100% accurate, EXCEPT for the broad generalization to ALL Cambodians. Had you said that SOME Cambodians were rude, or that the tuk-tuk drivers or touts acted rudely, your blog post would carry so much more credibility. However, selecting such broad generalizations immediately limits the strength of your arguments or complaints.

    2. One of my students is a tuk-tuk driver and he agreed that the actions of many of his colleagues are deplorable. It does not excuse their rude behavior, but much of it is due simply to ignorance.

    3. Several of my students questioned where you spent most of your time. As they noted, if someone is on a very tight budget, it limits the selection of places to stay, and thus the type of people they might encounter. While you said you spent time in a village, it was a village affected greatly by tourism. If you had gotten out of Siem Reap town to other rural areas not associated with tourism, perhaps your interactions may have been different.

    4. My students also agreed that the Khmer Rouge period should not be used as an excuse or crutch for taking handouts or complaining about their lives. However, such a devastating period has had tremendous long term psychological effects, and without adequate means to respond to these conditions there’s no clear way to easily change behavior of dishonesty and distrust. There has been a serious lack of educated professionals with actual experience. Cambodians have literally been re-building their country and culture from the ground up.

    5. They unanimously agreed that five months was too short to make such critical evaluations of Cambodian people in general. Even I am still learning about Cambodia and its people after nine years.

    While I appreciate the truth of your experiences, I think the serious cultural misunderstandings you experienced cannot be an excuse to make blanket judgments about an entire nation. At the same time I would like to thank you for providing excellent discussion material.

    Overall my students appreciated (despite many feeling disgusted upon initial reading) being confronted by such anger and frustration because it gave them an opportunity to recognize how easy it is misunderstand their actions and thoughts.

    Also, I took your criticisms of ACE, a school you had never set foot in, as a personal challenge to be the best teacher to my students as possible so that I can provide authentic learning experiences in the classroom. In fact, I have taught some of the same kinds of students you mentioned.

    The reality is that many of the temple kids who have been sponsored over the years at ACE struggle because often they lack the basic foundation of an education from a Khmer school. At the same time, I have also seen many of those students go on to succeed at ACE and find gainful employment. I still run into some of my past students who were sponsored and they have nothing but fond memories of their time at ACE, and in fact, many still wish they had the opportunity to continue studying there.

    In the end, I wish you the best in your future travels and work experiences. Iceland sounds like a magical place, though I’m sure there are people who have possibly had quite the opposite experience as you 😉

    1. Hello Nikki,

      Thank you for your comment. I checked out your blog too – you have stories of people being scammed by fake NGOs there – it does sound like you are aware of the reality. You surely must also be aware of things like fake malaria pills sold in Cambodia, etc. I have been half way across the world but have never come across anything similar to Cambodia. People there will stoop to unspeakable levels to take advantage of fellow human beings and this really is not something you’ll find elsewhere. At least not to such extent.

      I started my blog, but have not finished (I don’t think I ever will). As a result, many stories don’t have endings to them. Such as the story of the Vietnamese prostitute. I did spend time with her, but only 2 weeks out of 5 months in Cambodia. I spent this whole time relentlessly looking for solutions for her and her daughter – believing there must be some, because it’s just not right that someone should live in constant fear and have no place to feel safe.

      The story between me and Ha ended when I sent her to Phnom Penh with a list of all western consulates and embassies. I did research on the internet and pulled out addresses and maps for her so she knows where to go. I gave her precise instructions on what to say because if her own country does not provide her with protection she needs from a man who hunts her, some other country could. That’s what asylums are for and she was a perfect candidate.

      The primary reason why I spent 5 months in Cambodia was because at the time of my visit, all that was available on the internet about Cambodia were half truths and skewed facts. These were the facts I was armed with when I came there and being the first country on my trip, I kept lying to myself that what I’m experiencing on the daily basis must be just some temporary misunderstandings. So I stuck around until I could lie to myself no more.

      I did leave after first month. One week after I sent Ha away, I went to Phnom Penh myself. The original purpose was to extend my visa but after whole month of being faced with constant abuse, I could not stand it anymore. A trip to Phnom Penh was the last nail in the coffin. I was still set on extending my visa, but people in Phnom Penh were just as horrible, if not worse as everywhere else in the country so I made a last minute decision to get the hell out of there instead. I went to the Vietnamese embassy and fled.

      Vietnam was an instant relief. All of a sudden I found myself removed from a hostile environment and placed into a friendly and welcoming one. I was still fearful of people, but unlike in Cambodia, none did anything to make my stay uncomfortable. Instead, they showed me over and over again that they are happy I chose to visit their country and hoped I would enjoy my stay. For the first time after a month in Cambodia I was also subjected to unconditional help. After several repeated slaps in the face in Cambodia whereas locals would pretend to meet me with a friendly gesture, only to shove it in my face later by reminding me that this is what they did for me so I needed to pay them back, I could not believe my eyes that someone would actually help a stranger out without expecting anything in return.

      In Vietnam, I could go places without anyone breathing down my neck and bothering me, abusing me or threatening me. It was such great relief I forgot all about the hardships I was faced with in Cambodia. And it was in that moment of happiness, after I felt that everything was fine and dandy, that I decided to return to Cambodia and continue with what I started. I didn’t want to abandon what I spend a month working on so lightly plus I felt what I was doing was important. Furthermore, regardless of how much one month in Cambodia run me to the ground, it was still not enough to fully realize how bad it really was.

      So I returned. And just as it was with my departure to Vietnam, in a whim I was withdrawn from a friendly and welcoming society and thrown right back into a hostile and abusive environment. The very first Cambodian I met (border officer) ripped me off, and it stayed that way until I left. Needless to say, the very last Cambodian I had to deal with also insisted on a bribe and threatened problems should I not give it to him. From the very first Cambodian, to the very last and with everyone in between, this is what Cambodia had for me.

      My first visit to Cambodia, when I originally landed after more than 30 hour long combined flight from Canada – tired as all hell – the very first Cambodian I had an encounter with stole my laser pointer pen. Thieving bastard took it and then lied straight into my face that he gave it back. Now why is it that every single time, the very first Cambodian all the way to the very last is a thieving bastard who will do anything to rip you off?

      Sheep and apologists like to sport the poverty excuse. Well, guess what. I visited Cuba several times and spent substantial amount of time there. I don’t know how much customs officers earn in Cambodia, but if I were to guess, I’d throw $200 a month on the table easy. Do you know how much customs officers make in Cuba? They make an equivalent of $40 a month. You think Cambodians are poor? Honestly, compare them to Cubans and you’ll realize they are in fact filthy rich. So why do these filthy rich Cambodian scumbags feel the need to extort money from me when their pay is so high compared to Cubans who despite earning way less, never once ripped me off?

      When I visited Eastern Europe in the early 1990’s, average wage was in the neighborhood of $150 a month. Again – not once was I ever ripped off there (though I was robbed by Gypsies, but they are not Eastern Europeans). Where do these Cambodians get the nerve to rip people off and justify it by claiming poverty when they make much more than people in other countries who don’t rip people off?

      Since leaving Cambodia, I had countless, countless positive experiences. I spent 7 months in Malaysia – never have I had anything stolen there. I hitch-hiked across the entire country, only taking a train on a couple of occasions for the experience of it and also used boats to get me to the islands. It was brilliant – friendly and welcoming people very appreciative of foreigners including their country on their itinerary. Never once have anyone done anything Cambodians were doing on a daily basis.

      Laos – neighbor to Cambodia. Incredibly nice people. No pressuring, no thievery – nothing. I had absolutely wonderful time in Laos and will never hesitate to come back. It’s been over two years since I left Cambodia and I still keep banging my head against the wall asking myself “what the eff was I thinking having spent 5 months in that ungrateful society when there are so many nice people all over the world elsewhere?”

      I was fooled by misleading information about Cambodia because at the time there was no truth to be found anywhere. And having had no previous experience with so much evil in one place, it took me a while to finally, once and for all admit to myself that I’m fooling myself thinking that I’m not wasting my time there. There were no temporary mishaps, there was no bad luck and wrong time in wrong places. Cambodia was plain and simple evil. You just don’t stage 5 months worth of evil. Especially not when as soon as you step outside, everything instantly changes.

      I gather from your message that you are a teacher at the ACE. I can tell you one thing I could never understand. How is it that kids who have been attending your school for years continuously and always put stress on the last syllable of every bloody word. What kind of a teacher are you if you don’t pick up on it and correct them before they fall into a habit of doing it naturally?

      I have not met one ACE student who would say a single word with properly placed accent:


      I slapped them (figuratively, not literally) each time they did it but could not understand that after years at the ACE, no teacher has ever corrected them. What are you people getting paid for? Don’t you feel ashamed charging money for lectures that are this useless?

      To the point, though – thank you so very much for taking time to bring up my post with your students and for taking time to write back about their thoughts. I commend both Cambodians of today and you for incredibly civilized response despite incredibly harsh criticism.

      In the same breath, I would like to acknowledge and publically admit that my generalization in this post was uncalled for and unsubstantiated. I must have written the post while I was still feeling the rage caused by the treatment received and it must have made me perceive everyone as hostile. I do give praise where praise is due (there are many posts on this blog acknowledging positive experiences and nice people I met), yet it still does not excuse my generalizations in this post. For this I sincerely apologize.

      I would like to take this opportunity to respond to each specific point as brought up by you:

      1 – Please extend my apologies to my Cambodian friends for offending them with baseless generalizations.

      2 – I believe aggressive behavior of Tuk Tuk drivers costs them business. I myself declined Tuk Tuks on a number of occasions when I would have otherwise used their services, but refused just because they all jumped me the moment I poked my nose out. I would like to encourage them to study successful business models from any country to notice that there is no long term gain, only loss if business model is based on applying undue pressure.

      3 – I agree with that. After about 3 months in Cambodia, I went with girls from the village to Tonle Sap lake. I was gonna rent a boat there and take all girls for a boat ride on the lake, but it didn’t materialize. Seeing that I was a foreigner, boat owners tried to rip me off and even though everybody else in my convoy was Cambodian, they still tried to, which I responded by cancelling my intention to do it all together. I am the most loyal customer a business has ever had for as long as they treat me fairly. The moment they try a shady trick is the moment they see me for the last time. In this case, they tried to take advantage of me, I never gave them another chance.

      But since we were already there, instead I took the girls to the open market that was at the foot of that temple on the hill overlooking the lake. There were stalls with food (this is where I tried eating a snake for the first time in my life), and as I passed from one stall to another to see what they had, I noticed that something wasn’t right. I could not quite put my finger on it and then it hit me. I’ve been browsing the stalls for 15 minutes and none of the sellers jumped down my throat. I could actually walk around to see what they had in peace, without anyone pressuring me.

      What do you think happened next? I spent more money on food there than anywhere else in Cambodia. Give me space to breathe so I can take a look at what you have, give me time to decide what I want without pressuring me into buying something and I’ll reward you with a lot of business. On the other hand, if you do what happens in most other places in Cambodia – you pressure me into buying something, you are always in my face and won’t live me alone – then I won’t even look at what you have, even if you might have something I’d be otherwise interested in.

      I also had a very positive experience in Kampong Cham where I did an interview for a newspaper with a monk who runs an orphanage there. Not only were people there friendlier, I also found ancient temple ruins nearby much more visually appealing than in main Angkor area. But it could be because of thousands of bats in one of the stupas and I love the shriek they make. It’s music of love to my ears. Apsara dance the kids from the orphanage performed exclusively for me put tears in my eyes. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

      4 – Leave Khmer Rouge where it belongs – in the past. Understand it, learn from it, but don’t dwell on it. Khmer Rouge is not your problem. CPP is and they are more dangerous that Pol Pot. They use sneakier methods to oppress the populace and that makes them an enemy that will be very difficult to overcome. I feel sorry for Cambodians who have no chance in hell for real improvement for as long as CPP stays in power. I’ve been to Cafe Metro, I know who they’re up against.

      5 – It was long enough to make me regret even coming. 2 years in other countries of the region further affirmed this notion. I will never go back.

      Thank you again Nikki for taking time to discuss my post with your students and then taking time to write a response for me. I wish you and my Cambodian friends a lot of strength in the challenging times ahead.


      1. The students don’t learn much at the English school because the administrators are garbage and only care about taking the tuition money. The teachers are treated like crap. The students talk in class, talk on their cell phones in class, blatantly cheat on tests, have little respect for the teachers (even foreign ones) and the list goes on and on. Teaching English (especially in Cambodia) has got to be one of the most difficult, under-compensated, and emotionally draining jobs on earth.

        The same stubbornness, laziness, inability to take responsibility, and other negative qualities of Cambodians talked about above roll right over into the English schools.

        And don’t even get me started on the public school system (if it can be legitimately called that).

        The educational system in Cambodia is garbage for the same reason as mostly every other institution in Cambodia is garbage. And the main reason why it is garbage is because – as always – the Cambodians who run the system are their own worst enemies. They just drive around in their stolen Hummers with their armed bodyguards and wait for the international welfare system to dole out some more juicy $$$ to stuff into their filthy pockets.

        The biggest problem for Cambodians is NOT the CPP or the Khmer Rouge. The biggest problem for Cambodians is CAMBODIANS, because Cambodians ARE the CPP and ARE/WERE the Khmer Rouge.

  42. I sort of feel the same about the fake friendship part.
    I also understand that i cannot apply my thoughts on every Cambodian. This is where my problem lies.
    As i am a tourist i realise i will significantly up the probability that i will attract a scammer. Maybe out of 100 people 1 is a scammer and the other 99 are genuine. However, it is likely that the scammer will make an effort to get to me first.
    I am travelling solo with the intention of not hanging with other westerners but with locals. I can meet westerners everyday when i am at home.
    Twice i have been stung by this trick on my travels in SE Asia. Once in Thailand and once in Cambodia. Two so called friends who would be my “best friend”.
    At first i found it very strange that someone could be so friendly and treat me as a best friend so quickly. Taking me out, eating at their house with friends family… How can someone be your best friend when they don’t know you. Maybe im not a good person, how do they know so quick?
    But, i gave it the benefit of the doubt as i was trying to keep my mind open to different cultures. What seems very wierd to me could be the norm for a local.
    The Thai “friend”: finished on my last day with a £700 bill in a local bar/cafe????? 5000baht for a plate of Tofu and a bowl of soup, the other 25000 baht or so for the drinks i had been drinking with his friends. (i had said i would take them out for being so good and showing me some insights into Thai life), they took me to a friends food cafe.
    All of a sudden when i questioned these lovely people, it all went serious…..I HAD to pay. I mean in Thailand how can 20 or so drinks, a bowl of soup and some tofu cost £700 (~$1000), this was a corner shop affair, not a swanky bar or restaurant. Just somewhere the locals would eat for cheap.
    Well i left Thailand with a bitter taste in my mouth. Went to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Straight away i hit it off with a local Tuk Tuk driver. During my time in Siem Reap i had 4 dollars a day to live off, this included accomodation. I had lost my cashcard in Thailand and had to wait 2-3 weeks for a new one to be sent.
    The Tuk Tuk driver sympathised with my situation, but over the next couple of weeks he would see me somewhere and automatically buy me a drink or coffee….. I would not like him doing this as i felt obliged to pay him back but couldn’t. However as this only happened 2-3 times and cost him around 50p each time, i thought, ah well maybe he really is being a friend and helping me in the little way he can (trying to not let my experience in Thailand dirty my mind). Because we had many good conversations at the guesthouse i was always gonna give him maybe £20 when i left. This as a gesture for the good friendship that just included conversations and 3 drinks.
    Long story short, it got to the last day i was leaving. He suddenly asks me for $60 tip. I could not afford this as my trip had been massively affected by the £700 (~£1000) in Thailand. I gave him $20, which to be honest, i thought he would be happy with as he didnt earn it. It was gesture of friendship from me in a way that would hopefully make him smile. Well no his face changed, he brought up the 3 times he bought me something (not mentioning that the total cost to him was around £1.50) and put the guilt trip on hard. When i never caved in (probably would have if i was financially better off) he looked sooo angry. Thats when i realised i was being charged for the time he spent pretending to be interested in talking to me.
    Also the guesthouse itself. The people who ran the place were so friendly and helpful. This lasted for a couple of days until they realised i wasn’t using their tuk tuks or food court ( simply because after rent i had 2 dollars for two plates of food and bottle of water). When they see that they aren’t getting more money on top of the rent, they became quite cold. Walking out of the dorm to greetings and smiles soon turned to ignorance.
    Now im in Phnom Penh and another local has taken a liking with me. This is my BIG PROBLEM. I am here to taste local life, however because i have been stung both times, there are alarms going off in my head. This is a defence mechanism as i have already been hurt 100% of the times i have let a local be a friend. Maybe this person is genuine, do i give him the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand my head says KEEP AWAY your gonna regret it when its over. I so want to be friends with this guy, but i think im not going to be able to let him in because of my past experiences in this part of the world.
    Very big shame as im sure that most locals are very nice and genuine.
    I have travelled many places that are poor. I even go as far to say poorer than Cambodia is now. I have had many many local friends in these countries (poland and czechoslovakia around 20 years ago). I never got scammed like this.
    So i think maybe the minority are ruining it for the majority here. The locals need to know this is happening and do something about it as i know it is having a knock effect. It has really put off many of my friends from visiting. They are now going to try south America as i made their 50/50 choice easier.

    1. Hi Phil,

      I’ve been to Czechoslovakia and Poland at approximately the same time myself. It was shortly after the end of communism and the average wage in Czechoslovakia at the time was an equivalent of $100 US. It was less in Poland as Poland was poorer. Yet I have never experienced any form of pressure tactics or scam there.

      One could even compare Cambodia to Cuba where people live on as little as $20 a month and still you wouldn’t experience this level of crime and extortion there. In the long run, Cambodians are only hurting themselves with all this hostility and animosity towards foreigners.

      I know exactly how you feel right about now, I’ve been there myself. You give your heart and soul to those people and they stab you in the back. The feeling of betrayal is hard to get over with. It’s astounding how they have no problem smiling directly in your face when in the back of their head they’re plotting to take advantage of you. They don’t seem bothered by the fact that they ruin lives of people who are supporting their own existence.

      I hope you find a genuine person whose intention won’t be to take advantage of you, but don’t hold your breath. They’ve mastered the skill of taking advantage of people while keeping them fooled with fake smiles to a point that the victims don’t even realize they’re being victimized. And when it’s over and done with, you’ll hear them telling everyone how friendly Cambodians were, when the mask of friendliness was only used to rip them off.

      Take care on your travels,


  43. Look people,

    I don’t know how else to say this to you…

    Asian people are (for the most part) FUCKING GARBAGE!

    They don’t give a shit about you or me.

    The more sophisticated ones (like the “educated” classes of China, Korea, etc.) will give you a little bit of that “warm, fuzzy” feeling – but in the end it all comes back to the family/tribe.

    Hey, have you even gone into a Thai or Cambodian restaurant in America or English and tried to strike up a conversation with the owners? Didn’t get very fall, did ya? Why not? Because they don’t fuckin’ care about you! All they care about is those filthy dollars that they can suck off of our economies and send home to the autocractic money-republic.

    Look. I have lived in Cambodia, Thailand, etc. I have dealt with those Slimy Chinks from China (hey, maybe Chairman Mao was onto something) all over Asia. Yeah, sure those racist animals run a good shop – but they do so in a “mob mentality”. That is, they move into a country/city and set up their network system and then monopolize the whole economy. Do you think there may be a reason why one of the first acts of the communists was to cut the heads off of the landlords?

    You think those “Slimy Chinks from China” give a shit about you? Think again.

    The bottom line is that the communist movement swept through Asia because Asians are a bunch of money-obsessed, racist animals.

    Personally, I refuse to give any more money than necessary to these filthy animals. I live in their countries. eat their food, screw their filthy whores and that is it. I don’t give a flying fuck about most of them. I live amongst them but separate. I deal with their racist remarks and gestures – and instead of spitting on them, punching them square in the face, or worse – I just use them like the animals that they are.

    The sooner you realize that most of these animals don’t give a flying shit about you the better off you will be.

    Sorry for the hard dose of reality, but…

    No apologies.

    1. Hi WorldyMan

      Being an Asian people, i don’t know i am in amount of the most part FUCKING GARBAGE as your mention or not.

      However,i am confusing with your comment :

      ( I live in their countries. eat their food, screw their filthy whores and that is it.
      I just use them like the animals that they are.)

      i have many question marks in my brain about your comment.

      1- Asian is FUCKING GARBAGE, why do you like to stay in those garbage countries and eating garbage food? what kind of human are you ? cos the normal human not like to live within garbage and eating garbage food, am i right ?

      2- screw their filthy whores? it’s rarely to see the human fucking animals except porn star that does this as their job. what are you ? A fucking animal porn star or what ever……?

      Sorry for asking you those questions, because in your comment make me confusing but…..

      No apologies too :-).

  44. I have read all comments because I care. I’m hurt, worry, sad and depressed but I don’t denial any negative views…. there is no excuses.

    This is my four trips back home since I exiled myself abroad 32 years ago. Cambodians changes every time I come. Civilization here is going backward. This country and its people used to be one of great ones.

    I come here not for pleasure but just to visit relatives and observe things. It worried me very much to see my fellow Cambodians lower themselves to the level hard to understand. Cambodians need to take responsibility themselves but I put the blame on the corrupted politicians/leaders – there is no government in Cambodia.

    I know people post their views not just because they disappointed but care. I hope they still have a little room in their heart. Please be considered criticisms can help and hurt. It could further isolate this poor country from the rest of the world.

    What we can do to help is raise our voices make this corrupted so-called government accountable for the problems. It must come from the top. Cambodians are desperate people. They don’t believe in and trust their own governments. In the last 4-1/2 decades they have been living through misery, fear, oppression, dictatorship, you name it. They do anything to survive.
    The generation now know nothing but corruption is the norm. And education is history.

    Hope all who cares understand that not all Cambodians are bad.

  45. Hi Mark,
    I just found your comment by chance and thank you so much for your comment about my country. in Cambodia we had a word said that a true friend is who dare to speak the fact about us, even it’s hard to accept 🙂
    However, i need some info from you as you were a well educated person and living in a civilization country too.

    1- how much time that your spent for your education ?
    2- Just 5 months spent in Cambodia, is it enough time to educated people from the Zero level ?
    3-Which country in the world that have a killing field war like Cambodia ? (Killing Field = Killing everything ( infrastructure,Education and also religion).
    4- in fact, our victory day from Khmer Rouge is January, 7th 1979. but as i am a Cambodian lady who was born after this regime i notices that we were just survived from the war in 1998.
    And from 1998 till 2010 (Your comment past date) it’s 12 years, thus within this period with nothing in our hand beside the 2 free hand, we used our one hand to renovated the country infrastructure and other hand in education. How much improving that you think we should get ?

    I have read your comment, mostly it’s come from your emotion more than your brain :-), this is just what i thought. be a person who living in a civilization country and got a well educated still using his emotion to judged some one behavior. How about us ? the none educated people and poorest country can be compare ?

    At the end, i would like to say sorry for my broken English as my teacher also Cambodian people and i only paid him 300Riel= 0.1US$ per hour during that time.

    With warm regards,
    A Cambodian countryside lady

    1. Dear Sorphea,
      I appreciate your stand in defending our country. Don’t be apologetic about your language skill. You are a good Cambodian.

      Only people who really care about this issue feel hurt an angry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of trevelingmark but despite his hurtful remarks about his experiences in Cambodia, he has made some good points of which we can’t completely deny, but stead, we can use them to help make corrections and improve things back home. As much I can tell, to have trevelingmark spent all these time and energy to put up this webpage because he was disappointed and sorry to see this once beautiful land and its people are falling to the bottom. If I were him I would approach it in a more proactive way, if he really care.

      But having said all these, his criticism has merit. Use it to better ourselves. Criticism is not just about destructive. It’s also constructive.

      I hope that before people make their comments about this topic they should understand the differences between Civilization, Education and Wealth. These three things have nothing to do with each others. We don’t have to be wealthy to be a civilized person. We don’t need a PhD to understand a modern civilization, and we can’t point the fingers and keep blaming others for our own stupidity. And we don’t need Phd and wealth to reason, commonsense, and to know right and wrong.

      Our problem is there in plain sight – the lack of general education in certain khmer societies from the top ranks to the bottom which can’t be denied or ignored. If we really care and want to make a difference, we should take whatever steps to help improve ourselves from within instead of throwing a tantrum at the people who brought up the issue.

      Believe me, I have lose sleeps over this. But it is an eye-opening and it’s better that trevelingmark said it. I noticed it too but didn’t know how to start. It’s just like spit on your chest.

      But don’t waste your time and energy on some stupid garbage comments you see on this post.

      Take care and be hopeful. After all, Cambodia will remain as a country on the map. How we want that country to be is on us – the know-betters.

  46. Hello,,,,I am really appreciate for your comment, but I just make sure that did you use only deductive thinking or inductive thinking? Make sure that u see all Cambodian are lazy and did you have any clear evidence that Cambodian are the most laziest people in the world? How much you can know about khmer’s culture? How much you know about Cambodia’s condition? U know just a laugh,,,u interpret to other bad action, in Khmer is not absolutely bad. Just say the word’No’ in Cambodia, they do not mention as a rude one,,,,,and others culture.We are different from 1 culture to 1 culture. Make sure u learn from us more clearly and say with clear evidence. Do not just do a small sample to just as the whole. Cambodia is the developing country and we try from day to day to develop our country, this is a not an easy way to grow rapidly, we need the help from government, and the strong commitment of our citizens. We realize we still have some bad points as the traffic, corruption,,,,because Khmer ‘s people still have limited knowledge,,,,and we just have political stability and election since 1993,,,,,,,,,u can see, We do not cheated. Honestly,,,hope u understand our condition and we are going to change it from time to time!!!

  47. wow interisting post!!! seray, my heart goes out to you most of all, and lady from province, i feel marks comments weren`t really directed at you or people like you….. the level of sophistacation found in a society i have been told can be measured by the way criminals are treated after they are caught, and as such prey soar speaks volumes about cambodia, being mean spirited and rude has NOTHING to do development so often used as an excuse for bad behaviour, grow up!!!!! emotional maturity is the issue and only chilldren insist that nothing they do can be wrong in any way, cambodians in phnom penh are, for the most part the rudest most maliscious people i have ever encounted, this can be fixed only after it has been acknowledged and nationalism used by your leaders and in your schools seems to prevent most khmers from seeing that they treat people that are not from cmbodia with rudeness and comtemp, and i have been here over seven years, have two kids and would dearly love to go home, if the locals had not stolen both my motorbikes and pretty much every last thing i own. so now i must rely on a taxi girl just to eat.
    There ARE some good natured Khmers, but they are few and far between, tired and ashamed – thier existense proves the rest are aware that the general standards of treating non khmers and eachother is less than ideal.
    I see hope for the future though as the khmer kids seem far less hatefull.
    PS serey….your people need u back to heal that which was broken, i am guessing most well adjusted,educated and kind spirited men and women were the first to see what was coming, and left first, leaving only stupid, strong and turncoat types to breed what now is.come back and teach, seriously after seven years here i am finding it really hard to not hate everyone here <expats included, thier behaviour on the whole would never be tolerated in the countries they originated, giving the locals a distorted view of the way the rest of the world operates..
    i am so tired from walking to find somewhere to stay and being poorer than the average Khmer, i hope this my post makes sense

  48. Perhaps Khmers behaved in that haughty arrogant manner because they are using US dollars and getting aids from Westerners. A third world country should not depend on US dollars to prop them up and instead should use their own third world currency.
    I reallly hate their people. It seems they are allowed to be rude and abusive to others but us foreirgners are not allowed to shout at them.

    1. Hurtful comments you made WA. But please don’t pain with one big brush. And your languages don’t separate you from them – ones you called dirt. Are you considering yourself a westerner? Be like one.

  49. According to the law: 1.”No foreigners over the age of 50 cannot marry a Cambodian women, even
    if they were both consenting adults” 2.”Foreigners who make less than $2,500 a month are forbidden
    from getting MARRIED with Cambodian women. Could this discrimination prejudice or jealousy against foreigners..

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