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Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Cambodia

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Cambodia can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Cambodia?

What are the most common clichés about life in Cambodia in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,

Priscilla

The biggest clichè in my opinion would be that expats have loads of money; and their life is easier. So locals would think it wouldn't make a big difference to over price on expats.... iF ONLY THEY KNEW   :o

Locals thinks Expats are always happy since they are living in the land of sun and tropical climate. Well that aint true, same problems and troubles we carry. 

Expats are supposed to have infinitely amount of money, they (men) party everynight and get Khmer girls and barang girls to their beds.

Expats haggle on everything, never willing to pay decent prices for street food vendors.
Expats nener pay tips cos theyre forever in "backpacker" mode which means theyre poor even if theyre not.

Many expat lives from hand to mouth especially those unemployed living off their benefits.

If you dont smile and greet friendly everytime looking into eyes youre arrogant and vulgar.

Expats are never expected to critisize any wrongdoings they perceives like being ripped off in utility costs.

Asmaa.Hassan :

The biggest clichè in my opinion would be that expats have loads of money; and their life is easier. So locals would think it wouldn't make a big difference to over price on expats.... iF ONLY THEY KNEW   :o

If you are a Khmer, living from $200 and you see a foreigner staying in a hotel of $50 a night, you realize and think the guy is rich, much richer than you, and they are right.

Not all foreigners have enough money for a nice life style, but most of them have. Either they are, like me, retired and receive their pension on a Cambodian account (which gives them way more value for money), or they work and get their Cambodian salary. A teacher gets as much as $1500 a month.
Those that live from hand to mouth should go back to their country, as they do not fit in.

Overpricing is common is all poor countries, SE Asia is no exception. In Thailand you pay 10x the price a local pays for National parks. Take it or leave it. It's not your country so if you do not feel well go find another place. You're free, aren't you?

Backpackers is a separate species, mostly on a very tight budget, not really very clean, easily drunk or stoned, not really the group of tourists any country would like to see.

Vicmot, you are clearly negative because of personal problems.

True is:
We are supposed to be rich, and in most cases we are, compared to Khmers.
We are mostly happy, and in most cases we are. But have a look at bar owners that have invested their money in a bar and hardly get any customers, and you see the other side of happy.
We are happy because of the climate and weather. True, if I think of the coming winter in Western Europe I'm happy to live here, and that already 10 years (SE Asia)

Not true:
They expect us to always smile. I think there is a difference  between always smile and always have a sour face. I have learned to put up a friendly face and I meet many smiles because of that, not in the least adorable Khmer women that smile back.
They think we party every night and lay Khmer and/or foreign girls. Nobody thinks that, certainly not of expats, as opposed to sex tourists that come here for a few weeks.

In general I would say expats live a good life here, have all reason to smile and no regrets to have come here. As I said before: if you don't like it here, move on to a place that you like.

JoeKhmer :
Asmaa.Hassan :

The biggest clichè in my opinion would be that expats have loads of money; and their life is easier. So locals would think it wouldn't make a big difference to over price on expats.... iF ONLY THEY KNEW   :o

If you are a Khmer, living from $200 and you see a foreigner staying in a hotel of $50 a night, you realize and think the guy is rich, much richer than you, and they are right.

Not all foreigners have enough money for a nice life style, but most of them have. Either they are, like me, retired and receive their pension on a Cambodian account (which gives them way more value for money), or they work and get their Cambodian salary. A teacher gets as much as $1500 a month.
Those that live from hand to mouth should go back to their country, as they do not fit in.

Overpricing is common is all poor countries, SE Asia is no exception. In Thailand you pay 10x the price a local pays for National parks. Take it or leave it. It's not your country so if you do not feel well go find another place. You're free, aren't you?

Backpackers is a separate species, mostly on a very tight budget, not really very clean, easily drunk or stoned, not really the group of tourists any country would like to see.

I disagree here for one of the most common reason to come to asia is because it s dirty cheap in terms of food, services and in most cases housing too. In most european countries living is just too costly to have any freedom of choice anymore what one puts in ones mouth, so even with unemployment benefit you can still live relatively worriless and free life here. And yes everybody fits here, poor and rich altogether, it doesnt look if youre caucasian or asian, theres as much relative constructional poorness in europe as there is in asia. Any Cambodian owning a house is richer than a european person living in asia as unemployed or with minimum wage or pension for that financial matter.

Overpricing is explained by the inflation tourism causes. And it goes both ways, offer and demand needs to meet for any tourism to work. Tourism is the main source of income for all Asian countries with no natural riches to boost their economy. 

Can only wonder where your narrow-minded bitter racial vision for these "poor" western people comes from? I greatly disagree here.  Just because youre from Europe and expected to be 10 times richer doesnt equate being  so in reality, its a deeply rooted twisted assumption.

All backpackers seems to be rowdy loud bunch of poor young men wreaking havoc everywhere they roam. Well most of them works before and during their travel for their upkeep bringing money to the local economies. 

Feels like youre willing to allow only one type of people to enter poor asian countries like Cambodia, image of yourself, those with pockets overfilled with retirement savings and willing to spend it like theres no tomorrow. You dont see the causality here I mentioned earlier.. When they do spend money like nothing it raises the prices for local population too leading to fewer options for them to choose where to obtain their food and other everyday resources.

My intention wasnt to rant you but to wake up to think this world belongs equallt to poor and rich and true richness is not the thickness of your wallet but the responsibility to use your assets properly to enrich the local quality of life.

Don't know where you found my narrow minded vision on poor people.

Cambodia has poor people, most people are poorer than most expats, right? So they look up to foreigners as we seem to have much more money, and they are right.

I agree with you (and I stated it before) that value for money is a great advantage for Westerners, and there for one of the reasons to come to live here.

As for people that do not have enough money to survive, I repeat let them go home, Cambodia is not waiting for more poor people, and certainly not poor expats. Probably when you go back you can jump on the social security train or some institution will take care of you (Red Cross, church, Salvation army). One should not forget that losing all your money here really means you did something totally wrong, and in most cases those people can only blame themselves.

I am not rich, I live my life in a nice way, I save money for special events, I smile and I'm happy that I live in Cambodia with nice people and value for money.

Re backpackers. I did not say they are poor or never work. They are cheap Charlies that buy one beer and sit for 3 hours  because of free wifi, so they can use their iPhone or laptop. They are really a contribution to the local economy hahaha.

JoeKhmer :

Don't know where you found my narrow minded vision on poor people.

Cambodia has poor people, most people are poorer than most expats, right? So they look up to foreigners as we seem to have much more money, and they are right.

I agree with you (and I stated it before) that value for money is a great advantage for Westerners, and there for one of the reasons to come to live here.

As for people that do not have enough money to survive, I repeat let them go home, Cambodia is not waiting for more poor people, and certainly not poor expats. Probably when you go back you can jump on the social security train or some institution will take care of you (Red Cross, church, Salvation army). One should not forget that losing all your money here really means you did something totally wrong, and in most cases those people can only blame themselves.

I am not rich, I live my life in a nice way, I save money for special events, I smile and I'm happy that I live in Cambodia with nice people and value for money.

Re backpackers. I did not say they are poor or never work. They are cheap Charlies that buy one beer and sit for 3 hours  because of free wifi, so they can use their iPhone or laptop. They are really a contribution to the local economy hahaha.

What harm does "poor" expats cause to local people? - theyre not dependent of Cambodias social security, since there isnt one :D Also many occasions there can be temporary poorness. I dont think I have seen more than 1 or 2 hopeless expats here having obviously lost first their mundane property and finally their dignity strolling on the main street pointlessly.

I think its good for cambodian people ideologically  to see poor westeners who are doing even lowsier than the worst of cambodians. The essence being Cambodian poors are born to it while western poor bastards like U said have f**** up their chances indefinitely beyond redemption. 

Im not rich either and so far Ive lived with quite relaxed and qualified life even as unemployed I have still contributed to this society in Siem Reap by favoring small street vendors when getting everyday supplies. In the long run though I feel Siem Reap is not the place for retirement. Thus Im moving on once again leaving the latest new life behind which Id rather not to do being so tired and through of life constant changes already.

You obviously have not found your inner peace and inner balance yet. That is a pity and I feel sorry.

It is something I have achieved and that makes my stay here a happy one, as I have no disturbing factors in my life.

I wish you all the best.

@JoeKhmer
Why do you have to say "if u don't like it, move somewhere else or you don't fit here?"
Don't you think this is a bit negative too as u mentioned about another post?!
This is a forum where you give your opinion about something not to enforce your opinion!!

MuhamadSattar :

@JoeKhmer
Why do you have to say "if u don't like it, move somewhere else or you don't fit here?"
Don't you think this is a bit negative too as u mentioned about another post?!
This is a forum where you give your opinion about something not to enforce your opinion!!

Yes we should embrace people from all walks of life to come here neverminding their socioeconomical backgrounds. This can be heaven and safe-heavenm for many people for various reasons. I for one came for better humanity Which Im glad to admit, I found from here. Theres place and roles for all kinds of people. Better message is to take care of our closest fellows in case they cant do themselves. Give to those who needs it in their weakest moment and they will give it back to you  in the wake of your own misery.

MuhamadSattar :

@JoeKhmer
Why do you have to say "if u don't like it, move somewhere else or you don't fit here?"
Don't you think this is a bit negative too as u mentioned about another post?!
This is a forum where you give your opinion about something not to enforce your opinion!!

For your info, I'm not enforcing my opinion at all, I don't care if people follow my advice or not. Advice yes, that's what it is. If you are not happy here in Cambodia, I advise you to move on to a country where you feel fine and happy. That's all I say, you don't have to stay here, opposed to people that are born here, you (we) came here on free will and can leave any moment.

JoeKhmer :
MuhamadSattar :

@JoeKhmer
Why do you have to say "if u don't like it, move somewhere else or you don't fit here?"
Don't you think this is a bit negative too as u mentioned about another post?!
This is a forum where you give your opinion about something not to enforce your opinion!!

For your info, I'm not enforcing my opinion at all, I don't care if people follow my advice or not. Advice yes, that's what it is. If you are not happy here in Cambodia, I advise you to move on to a country where you feel fine and happy. That's all I say, you don't have to stay here, opposed to people that are born here, you (we) came here on free will and can leave any moment.

Joe,
I agree with all you say, Joe. I actually spend most of my time in Thailand - happens to be where I know lots of people. But I am keeping an eye on this forum and regulalrly consider whether to move from a well established social scene to one where I know no-one. I am retired and my pension is a lot more than locals in Thailand and I accept that I am considered much richer then they are. I do bargain with them (I think they expect it and, I've been told, they have more respect for you, so long as it's not over the top!), but I know that I will still pay more than a local and I'm happy with that.
To those people that are not happy, whether that's financial or other things, then maybe try to find elsewhere. However, I suspect that unhappy people will be unhappy where ever they are (quite a few studies/ research confim that - here's one of many I just googled - http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/08/29/ … -to-admit/ ).
Maybe one day Joe, we'll make contact.
Meanwhile, stay happy, folks!
Bob

hi Priscilla,
There will always be misconceptions until we truly experience living in the country. It is part of human nature to make assumptions, which some interprete as misconception. But, with the Internet, finding out information about the subject matter has become easier although we still some due diligence to differentiate between fact and fiction.

There will always be risk when venturing into a new territory and the price to pay going through the learning curve. The cost is reduced if there is someone trustworthy to point the right direction. In my experience, newbees are easily singled out by conmen. Once they gain our trust, the rest is history.

Jazz4me

Interesting as usual, you know I've read a lot of  Joes post and I can say there he doesn't seem to be a critical type guy , I think he's a thinker and has lots to offer expats , he's really one , I'm just starting on my journey, 7  months total in Cambodia, and I'm taking his advice , I've not found my spot in life yet , I'm just going to head to Thailand or Vietnam not sure where , but Cambodia is wonderful I'm going to check out a few other spots , if you read joes post you will see he's usually on target , seems to me like a pretty smart guy. But I have not written off Cambodia , and for all you Phnom Penh ex pats haters ha , I love it here , Phnom Penh , I can see myself always returning to , but I'm going to look around , any ideas are welcome , single 59 , just me and myself , retired , don't need or want work,

Nice read Twinsguy. You are absolutely right to go venture out other places in SE Asia.

If it would be me, I would hold on a bit, maybe make the year round, before exploring other areas. Reason is that I think you need at least a year to get to know the pros and cons of a country and it's population.

As for other countries here, Thailand is by far the most difficult country to live in, with more and more expats leaving, either to their home country or to one of the neighbour countries. Visa complications are one of the obstacles. It is possible to have an annual visa based on retirement, but you have to report to Immigration every 90 days, you have to prove every year of extension, with a written statement from your embassy, that you are such and such and are retired, plus the statement that the income you apply is correct. Every year again. Some offices want you to draw a map how to get to your house, in case they want to check. Every year the same map. Every year you have to prove your income, by a bank letter on the day of application, stating you have account such and such, that the balance on your account is correct and up to date. Every year again.
I have lived 8 years in Thailand and I can say for myself that I prefer Khmer people, they are much warmer and friendlier than Thais, for whom your money is number one. Jokingly I have said that Thais say Welcome to Thailand, please leave your wallet here at the airport and go home again....

I have heard good things re Myanmar, above all that it is also a value-for-money country and getting on track with their neighbours Thailand, as far as tourism and expat life is concerned. Still I find it too early to recommend them to live there, I think they need a couple of years to establish a good atmosphere with infrastructure, health care and good living conditions.

I would like to explore Vietnam too. I have heard many good stories about the country and their inhabitants, although it is also said that the people are having dollar-signs in their eyes. I will go there, have a few female friends who are willing to show me around. I will stay in the South, at the sea, places like Danang, Nah trang and even Phu quoc are my favourites, but I guess you would like Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) as you love big cities :)

I will also take a holiday to Indonesia, but not Bali, probably Sumatra or Borneo. Indonesia used to be a colony of my country and there is a lot of influence in my country, now I would like to see the original.

As I said before, go and see where you like it most. I would not be surprised if you would come back to Cambodia, to me it's the best and easiest country to live in SE Asia. Good luck!

"Don't need or want work." Those are the most beautiful words I think I've ever heard! Hahha! Good on ya bro!

True.

Joe I really like your knowledge and the way you look at things. We are guys coming there from South Africa, first to sort visas out and business (I must say it costs quite a lot in Cambodia to open an established company) in December, and then all going well before the end of next year in hopefully permanently. Although SA is deemed a developing country it has enormous wealth and infrastructure, better than most so called western countries..however we all in our 50s now and want a change. We have all been many times  to Thailand especially Phuket, staying for many weeks over the Dec/Jan period in the Le Meridean Hotel which even for us is very expensive, however good friends living for years in Shanghai and all the posts and investigations Ive read make Cambodia a wonderful place to settle. Also from what Ive read the opportunities to help locals with skills training and jobs seems to be very good. Yes here in SA we understand corruption more than most and it occurs everywhere on the planet, however one needs to view that as part of the cost of living in a beautiful country. All the best mate.

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