how tourists should NOT treat the natives

D and I were sitting in a restaurant nowhere near the tourist track when some kids were dropped off by a tuk tuk outside. As they wandered a few feet, gawking about with lonely planets and maps in their hands– very comically lost– a rude blog post title popped to mind: “You too can look …..”. We stepped out to snag some quick shots, when these guys turned the tables on us. They waved and smiled really big, the kind you save for retarded people, probably thinking we were natives taking photos of foreigners. We took off before they could start talking really loud English at us.

I have never been looked at by a white person like this. My immersion in Cambodia is complete.


  1. Kampuchea Crossings says

    I doubt these guys in the picture meant any offense. The bit about treating natives like they're stupid is fairly commonly done whether intentional or not. It's just a source of constant amusement to expats.
    How are immigrants treated when we go to the US or other western country for the first time, with accents and strange clothes, gawking about being "uncool", etc?
    Knee-jerk reactions, all, I guess. :-)

  2. I am a middle aged white American woman that had the great privileged to live in Battambang for over six months last year. Of course in that position most of the foreigners I knew were ex-pats who worked side by side with Cambodians and we were all great friends. I would never assume someone did not speak English and I did my best to speak as much Khmer as I could pick up in my short time there … But … I did from time to time over hear extremely rude behavior, especially in restaurants by tourists and even some ex-pats. Of course if I knew they were an ex-pat they would get a verbal spanking from me. (They were usually just drunk). Please know that most of us just want to be a part of a bigger world and a bigger community. Sometimes we are just learning how to behave as we go. And oh yes, though I am no longer in Cambodia I still have a lot of communication with my Khmer friends there.

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