It’s not only restaurants where you get a server breathing down your neck for duration of your stay as a patron. This vastly uncomfortable cultural phenomenon seems to be as omnipresent as the Tuk Tuk drivers. I went to UCare Pharmacy to take a look what they had for Athlete’s Foot ointments. UCare line of pharmacies is said to be the best in Cambodia, adhering to Western standards and selling approved and genuine health care products. Unlike many other pharmacies in Cambodia, UCare allegedly doesn’t sell fake pills which could cost you life. There have been countless cases of people getting scammed by paying for anti malarial pills and getting some fake substance that does nothing to cure this disease. Cambodia is notorious for that. UCare Pharmacy is said to be different and everything they sell is genuine.
I started to notice signs of possible Athlete’s Foot condition and thought of checking UCare out to see what they had for Athlete’s Feet. Even though UCare is more expensive than other pharmacies, they are the ones who are likely to carry this type of product and should I buy it, it would be an actual product, not some counterfeit crap.
There is UCare Pharmacy right on the opposite corner from Pub Street in Siem Reap, located directly on Sivatha Boulevard, which means it’s downtown and close to everything. So far so good, except from that “breathing down your neck” phenomenon which is so obvious throughout Cambodia. I walked in and was immediately approached by one of the girls who worked there. She asked me what I was there for and followed me around. Even though it’s pretty embarrassing to ask for it aloud, I told her I was looking for products to cure Athlete’s Foot with. Since she’s obviously never heard of this condition, she repeatedly asked what it was so I was forced to respond and repeatedly ask for Athlete’s Foot cure. It was getting more and more embarrassing by the minute.
Girl still had no clue what I was looking for, so she took me to a counter for prescription pills and went to a section where obvious prescription pills are. I told her that what I was looking for would not be there and insisted that I will take a look around their shop to see if I can spot it. To my dismay, both girl who followed me before as well as a girl who was behind the prescription counter followed me around. They were by my side on every step, “breathing down my neck” believing they are doing me a favour by being there to “answer” my questions. They were right next to me, following each and every of my steps. It was horrible.
Then when I eventually found a shelf with foot products, I crouched down to take a close look at what they had. Those two girls stood right by me overlooking my every move. At the end of the shelf I found one cream that was intended for Athlete’s Foot. I picked it up, rose up and started reading the label. Girls were there on each side standing right by me.
When you have a condition, the last thing you want is for everyone to know you have it. These girls made me feel that way. I missed good old Canadian style of shopping where everyone leaves you alone and when the time to pay comes, the cashier takes the item, scans it with cold face, puts it in the bag, takes you cash and lets you go. You don’t feel embarrassed even if it’s rather sensitive product you are buying. In Cambodia on the other hand, they follow you around, breathe down your neck until you feel every single one of your problem is publically known. It’s awful, but that’s the cultural thing that exists in this country. Ahhh well.