Sunday, July 29, 2012



I've noticed I've been shushing and tutting at Cambodians more than seems 'politic'.

In Europe, they have a lovely custom.  When you approach a restaurant, they usually have a menu posted outside.  It is my belief this is done so that you can inspect the menu without either needing to bother the staff or be bothered by the staff.  Just take a look and see if you want to eat there.

I like this custom.

Every restaurant in Cambodia has a menu outside of it.  However, if you pause even momentarily to examine it, a person will immediately show up to either hustle you to a seat or sometimes grab the menu and flip the pages.    They want to try to strike up a conversation with you just to get your butt into a seat and your money.

These people are getting my shushing when they approach.  Since some of them even have no concept of personal space I may direct them to move back to a certain point so I can look at the menu without them being too close.

The shushing usually works.  They don't have the skills at English to even operate within the limited conversations of a restaurant, much less question why they are getting shushed.  They simply don't get it.

Where to sit within a restaurant here can be tricky.

The best seats for watching the world move by - or street theater, as I call it - are outside of the restaurant and pretty much on the streets or where the sidewalk would be if they understood the concept of sidewalks.

If you take these seats, you are constantly beset by beggars and people selling junk.

Or you can choose to see less and sit within the restaurant where you are aloof from these beggars.  In Cambodia, the people running the restaurants do not drive them away.


When you are speaking many languages, you have a certain leeway with the pronunciation.   In some, you can be wildly off the mark and a couple of questions can nail down what you are trying to say.

After a mere six weeks in Indonesia, I had accumulated enough words and phrases that I was starting to get asked if I spoke the language.   Learning pieces of the language of the country you are in can be rewarding, make the people happy and pay off in small, unexpected ways.

Not in Cambodia.

Here, if you attempt their language they won't understand you because:

a) you have slightly mispronounced the word
b) you may have pronounced it correctly, but your strange foreign accent prevents them from understanding
c) you have correctly and exactly pronounced the word but because they were not expecting you to be speaking their language, they don't get it

Despite how it may sound to people who have never traveled here or a few whose language skills and patience far exceed my own, I am not going to bother learning this language at all.


Ignore beggars.  Fortunately, the idiots that get taken in by their scams aren't usually the kind of people interested in reading a blog like this.  They are the 'do gooders' of the world.  Perhaps that entitles them to get scammed.

I was sitting in my favorite restaurant ("Viva", Mexican food) watching a husband and wife tourist get scammed.  A kid had brought the ole empty bottle and real baby and gotten the gullible husband to go 'buy some formula' from the store for her.  That's fifteen minutes of his life - as well as a decent amount of money - he'll never see again.

While the husband was gone with the kid, I asked his wife who was sitting at the table wondering what could be taking so long if they'd been to Asia before.  She responded haughtily they had been there often on vacation.  I figured this meant they either normally traveled on pre-packaged safe group tours, they were stupid or both.

For those not familiar with this particular scam, you need at minimum an empty bottle.  Having a baby certainly makes it more effective but sometimes finding a baby - even in third world hell holes - can be difficult.  With your bottle you then approach the silly tourists and tell them you don't want money, you just want formula to feed your baby.  Some tourists will just give you money but others you get to walk to a nearby store.  In the store, the tourist buys prepackaged powdered baby formula which is very expensive.  They give it to you then you take it back to the store and get back most of the money from the shop keeper and on to the next sucker.

While the husband was off getting hustled, a random tuk tuk driver even tried to brief the wife on this well known scam.  When the husband returned, he got the message passed on from his wife.  For the next hour, he got to sit around looking indignant.  Apparently, their loads of Asiatic travel hadn't prepared them for this simple scam.

I heard about this happening in India but with a twist.  Someone went to buy the formula but they took it out of the original packaging and put it into different packaging.  The beggar freaked out on the 'do gooder'.  A lot of screaming and even throwing the baby formula at them.  Clearly, not really interested in the baby formula.

Keep in mind that most of the money beggars get go to the local 'beggar king' aka 'crime lord'.

Don't be a chump.


I just got done listening to  this book on MP3.  I like his story telling style - it's very personal and conversational.  Hopefully, he'll write more stuff on this topic in the future.

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