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Any Foreigner Backlash?


aTomsLife

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With Thailand's stricter visa policies, and the enforcement thereof, there is to my understanding an ever increasing influx of westerners into Cambodia. For those on the ground there or simply in the know, how are Cambodians reacting to this sudden upswing?

In Cambodian media, there is a video circulating of a westerner being less than respectful toward the country's currency, and by extension also the Cambodians people. Here is a link: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=828506523905001&fref=nf

In the comment section you'll notice there is no shortage of death threats being made.

Between the above video and incidents like westerners taking nude photos at Angkor, is there a sense of increasing xenophobia and nationalism?

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No, the Cambodians are too busy hating on the Vietnamese to be hating on Westerners. It's been interesting to watch the Russian Mafia get a slap from Cambodia this week over the festival down in Snookie.

Khmer people in over-touristed destinations are actually much, much nicer than Thais are (in general) because it took about 30+ years of mass market idiocy for the Thais to start resenting the farang fool. Khmers are still pleased we're here spending money and I think they may just be naturally more tolerant of minor stuff (if you look on Facebook they circulate the nude pics themselves, for example, and just laugh about it) than the Thais because after you've dealt with genocide in your lifetime or your parent's life time... you don't sweat the small stuff very much any more.

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Thanks for your reply. So then--assuming you clicked the link and saw the comments--would you chalk up what's occurring to the standard groupthink social networks in general, and facebook in particular, has a way of producing amongst users?

Perhaps a better question is: Have Cambodians even noticed the uptick in expat arrivals, especially those coming over from Thailand?

I know it's absurd, but in my mind I picture Cambodian immigration points looking similar to what Miami was like in the 80's, when Castro opened the floodgates.

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Most Khmer have no problem with foreigners as long as they don't take naked selfies in Angkor Wat and other stunts like that.

The bad news for all the refugees from LOS is that the government is finally applying visa and work permit rules and it is not as easy as it used to be for the sexpats.

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I don't think it's anywhere near as dramatic. A lot of LoS emigrants aren't coming to Cambodia at all... they're going elsewhere. That's probably because Cambodia isn't Thailand and life here is not really all that comparable to life in Thailand. Here in Siem Reap there are a few more ex-Thai expats kicking around but not a flood of them. I suspect PP and SHV are getting a few more (because let's be honest - the beer's cheaper, drugs are easier to find and there are more whores in those locations) but not so many that rents are suddenly rising through the roof or that bars are running out of beer to sell either.

And I'm 100% certain that most Khmer have very little idea where most expats were in their last location; probably because they're not really all that interested in white barang that don't have a huge influence on their day-to-day lives.

So, yes groupthink is probably the result of the comments more than any real life issues.

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Cambodians are very touchy about their temples so yes, they get upset by disrespectful behavior, but upset with those who do it. They do not generalize this to everyone of the same nationality.

I find Khmers in general (at least in urban areas) much more sophisticated in their understanding of foreigners than are Thai, well aware of cultural differences between various nationalities etc. Perhaps a legacy of the UNTAC years.

No "backlash"..and the numbers of westerners coming here is not that dramatically more than before.

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  • 5 months later...

No, the Cambodians are too busy hating on the Vietnamese to be hating on Westerners. It's been interesting to watch the Russian Mafia get a slap from Cambodia this week over the festival down in Snookie.

Khmer people in over-touristed destinations are actually much, much nicer than Thais are (in general) because it took about 30+ years of mass market idiocy for the Thais to start resenting the farang fool. Khmers are still pleased we're here spending money and I think they may just be naturally more tolerant of minor stuff (if you look on Facebook they circulate the nude pics themselves, for example, and just laugh about it) than the Thais because after you've dealt with genocide in your lifetime or your parent's life time... you don't sweat the small stuff very much any more.

Some good points you have raised.

However, what do you make of the absolutely FRIGHTENING brick attacks, seemingly aimed deliberately at foreigners/expats (if this was actually the case, it would amount to a hate crime in my book) back in 2010-2013 (based on the reports I have read from the Phnom Penh post)?

Here's an article describing the incidents: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/brick-attacks-plague-riverside

However, I have to disagree somewhat with your points on Thais. As much as you might claim that some Thais are a bit tired of foreigners, first of all, westerners have never been a big force here, and even Arabs, Chinese, Indians and Russians, all of whom are generally present in larger numbers than any single western nationality and are presenting some headaches of their own (perhaps bigger ones than any westerners ever presented) on Thais, for most Thais, foreigners in their country in the form of expats and tourists (irrespective of nationality) is just the way it is - most are not even exposed to them enough to be able to draw an opinion of them. Most Thais are more weary of Cambodian and Burmese migrant workers, but again, unless a Thai is directly involved in their employment or works alongside them, the average office worker for instance has too little exposure to these workers to be able to form much of an opinion of them; few would know any or be friends with any.

However, one thing seems for sure - I have NEVER heard of Thais throwing bricks towards expats/foreigners in some kind of hate crime. That kind of seemingly random, unprovoked attack using a weapon as deadly as a brick, when used as a projectile, is absolutely unforgiveable.

Even though most of the attacks occurred around 5 years ago (with the most recent account I read about from around 2.5 years ago) it concerns me to even read about such incidents in the first place.

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Cambodians are very touchy about their temples so yes, they get upset by disrespectful behavior, but upset with those who do it. They do not generalize this to everyone of the same nationality.

I find Khmers in general (at least in urban areas) much more sophisticated in their understanding of foreigners than are Thai, well aware of cultural differences between various nationalities etc. Perhaps a legacy of the UNTAC years.

No "backlash"..and the numbers of westerners coming here is not that dramatically more than before.

I would think though that the number of foreigners in Cambodia, both in the form of tourists and expats continues to rise yearly, steadily at least, but this is not related to foreigners moving over from Thailand per se, but just a general worldwide trend for people to move to live outside their home countries. Citizens of richer nations are involved in the development of poorer nations, explained by most (if not all) multinational companies in countries like Cambodia having a number of expatriate staff, particularly at the senior management level; teachers, technicians, engineers, doctors, business owners etc. are all needed to train the locals, run the businesses and ultimately raise living standards. It is quite normal for this to be happening, especially in a relatively open country like Cambodia.

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No, the Cambodians are too busy hating on the Vietnamese to be hating on Westerners. It's been interesting to watch the Russian Mafia get a slap from Cambodia this week over the festival down in Snookie.

Khmer people in over-touristed destinations are actually much, much nicer than Thais are (in general) because it took about 30+ years of mass market idiocy for the Thais to start resenting the farang fool. Khmers are still pleased we're here spending money and I think they may just be naturally more tolerant of minor stuff (if you look on Facebook they circulate the nude pics themselves, for example, and just laugh about it) than the Thais because after you've dealt with genocide in your lifetime or your parent's life time... you don't sweat the small stuff very much any more.

Some good points you have raised.

However, what do you make of the absolutely FRIGHTENING brick attacks, seemingly aimed deliberately at foreigners/expats (if this was actually the case, it would amount to a hate crime in my book) back in 2010-2013 (based on the reports I have read from the Phnom Penh post)?

Here's an article describing the incidents: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/brick-attacks-plague-riverside

However, I have to disagree somewhat with your points on Thais. As much as you might claim that some Thais are a bit tired of foreigners, first of all, westerners have never been a big force here, and even Arabs, Chinese, Indians and Russians, all of whom are generally present in larger numbers than any single western nationality and are presenting some headaches of their own (perhaps bigger ones than any westerners ever presented) on Thais, for most Thais, foreigners in their country in the form of expats and tourists (irrespective of nationality) is just the way it is - most are not even exposed to them enough to be able to draw an opinion of them. Most Thais are more weary of Cambodian and Burmese migrant workers, but again, unless a Thai is directly involved in their employment or works alongside them, the average office worker for instance has too little exposure to these workers to be able to form much of an opinion of them; few would know any or be friends with any.

However, one thing seems for sure - I have NEVER heard of Thais throwing bricks towards expats/foreigners in some kind of hate crime. That kind of seemingly random, unprovoked attack using a weapon as deadly as a brick, when used as a projectile, is absolutely unforgiveable.

Even though most of the attacks occurred around 5 years ago (with the most recent account I read about from around 2.5 years ago) it concerns me to even read about such incidents in the first place.

My father was in the back garden once, when some idiot kids threw a brick over the wall and took a large (though thankfully only cosmetic) chunk out of his scalp and forehead.

You get dickheads everywhere. I doubt that was a racist attack more a drunk teenager with his daddy's car acting important to his friends. "Look even Westerners cannot stop my mighty immunity to prosecution..."

Compare this to the Thai taxi driver who beheaded an American in the street (with a Samurai sword no less) for disputing the fare. He then got his 7 years for murder (because if a Thai apologises for his crime in public they halve the sentence).

Or the endless YouTube videos of farangs getting a kicking from Thais...

It's really difficult to see racism here in Cambodia. I've lived in Thailand too (and in fact, hope to be moving back later this year) and it's so obvious there. The whole "Thai Number One and everyone else Number Ten" thing is ingrained from birth. You see racism constantly - for example, in a queue with a Thai behind you, you will often be ignored so that the Thai can get served first. This never happens in Cambodia.

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No, the Cambodians are too busy hating on the Vietnamese to be hating on Westerners. It's been interesting to watch the Russian Mafia get a slap from Cambodia this week over the festival down in Snookie.

Khmer people in over-touristed destinations are actually much, much nicer than Thais are (in general) because it took about 30+ years of mass market idiocy for the Thais to start resenting the farang fool. Khmers are still pleased we're here spending money and I think they may just be naturally more tolerant of minor stuff (if you look on Facebook they circulate the nude pics themselves, for example, and just laugh about it) than the Thais because after you've dealt with genocide in your lifetime or your parent's life time... you don't sweat the small stuff very much any more.

Some good points you have raised.

However, what do you make of the absolutely FRIGHTENING brick attacks, seemingly aimed deliberately at foreigners/expats (if this was actually the case, it would amount to a hate crime in my book) back in 2010-2013 (based on the reports I have read from the Phnom Penh post)?

Here's an article describing the incidents: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/brick-attacks-plague-riverside

However, I have to disagree somewhat with your points on Thais. As much as you might claim that some Thais are a bit tired of foreigners, first of all, westerners have never been a big force here, and even Arabs, Chinese, Indians and Russians, all of whom are generally present in larger numbers than any single western nationality and are presenting some headaches of their own (perhaps bigger ones than any westerners ever presented) on Thais, for most Thais, foreigners in their country in the form of expats and tourists (irrespective of nationality) is just the way it is - most are not even exposed to them enough to be able to draw an opinion of them. Most Thais are more weary of Cambodian and Burmese migrant workers, but again, unless a Thai is directly involved in their employment or works alongside them, the average office worker for instance has too little exposure to these workers to be able to form much of an opinion of them; few would know any or be friends with any.

However, one thing seems for sure - I have NEVER heard of Thais throwing bricks towards expats/foreigners in some kind of hate crime. That kind of seemingly random, unprovoked attack using a weapon as deadly as a brick, when used as a projectile, is absolutely unforgiveable.

Even though most of the attacks occurred around 5 years ago (with the most recent account I read about from around 2.5 years ago) it concerns me to even read about such incidents in the first place.

My father was in the back garden once, when some idiot kids threw a brick over the wall and took a large (though thankfully only cosmetic) chunk out of his scalp and forehead.

You get dickheads everywhere. I doubt that was a racist attack more a drunk teenager with his daddy's car acting important to his friends. "Look even Westerners cannot stop my mighty immunity to prosecution..."

Compare this to the Thai taxi driver who beheaded an American in the street (with a Samurai sword no less) for disputing the fare. He then got his 7 years for murder (because if a Thai apologises for his crime in public they halve the sentence).

Or the endless YouTube videos of farangs getting a kicking from Thais...

It's really difficult to see racism here in Cambodia. I've lived in Thailand too (and in fact, hope to be moving back later this year) and it's so obvious there. The whole "Thai Number One and everyone else Number Ten" thing is ingrained from birth. You see racism constantly - for example, in a queue with a Thai behind you, you will often be ignored so that the Thai can get served first. This never happens in Cambodia.

Well, were any locals ever targeted? I have read numerous reports of only westerners (and over on the thread about how Sihanoukville is the most dangerous place in SE Asia a report came in of an African who was also hit by a brick although the guy doesn't say when it happened) so if only white and black (and other foreign) people are victims, then yes, that is RACISM and a hate crime. Imagine if only Cambodians were being hit with bricks in Long Beach, Los Angeles, same thing. No double standards please.

However, if your dad was hit by a brick, did the kids see him first? Did they know he was there? Did they know what he looked like?

Nope, Thais don't throw bricks at each other nor at foreigners. That guy who was beheaded in the street was an extreme case yes, but the guy did act like an imbecile (not that that should be a good enough reason to be killed) BUT Cambodia still strikes me as being far more lawless than Thailand.

I have never been pushed out of line in order for a Thai to be served first, unless said person pushed in themselves. But that wouldn't be the fault of the cashier then. Also, Thais aren't generally the types to push in, Chinese are, but not Thais. Of course I am not blind to the obvious here, many Thais are quite xenophobic, but that generally doesn't end up causing random, innocent foreigners their health or their lives.

I am planning to drive my car to Siem Reap for a conference next week. I hope all will be well (well I don't expect it not to be and I have been to Cambodia many times, mainly Phnom Penh).

While I have never encountered any problems in Cambodia (the one time I was sick in Phnom Penh in 2012 and waiting for a Thai visa was hell of earth) but ONLY because I was so alone (the two expat guys I know there were not very supportive nor did they express any solidarity towards me) and I was glad to get out of there after 3 days of just driving around, sitting in my room, going out to eat, seeing the most expensive doctor I've ever seen anywhere in the world, etc. but that was not a reflection of what Cambodia is like because when I went back around 1.5 years later, I had an awesome time (although it helped that another new expat friend showed me a good time along with his friends).

I had my motorcycle helmet stolen from the Paragon car park (the underground one) in early February, 2014. Of course it was foolish of me to leave it dangling like that while my friend brought his with me. It was only a cheap flimsy one, so I purchased the equivalent as a replacement for US$12. The guard however acted like he didn't see anything but while theft can occur anywhere, in Thailand it's much less likely for something like that to occur. While I now always lock up my helmet, you can be almost certain nobody will be interested in your motorcycle helmet left dangling for 10 mins while you go inside to buy a coke inside 7-11.

Youtube videos of Thais beating foreigners. Yes, it does happen, unfortunately. Especially in the bar areas and especially in Pattaya. But usually it's provoked by one party or another. Very easy to avoid trouble if you are minding your own business in Thailand.

And yes, I'm sure it's the same in Cambodia where I've been to about 15 times and generally felt quite safe. BUT I have to admit these reports of brick attacks do not sit easy with me. Because it seems like they are random and keep on occurring. That is a sign of a breakdown in law and order if you ask me.

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I've been here for the best part of 4 years and had one minor incident in all that time (an argument with a thieving tuk-tuk driver - who suddenly realized he'd picked the wrong place and time to try it on). Otherwise, I've never been so much as looked at funny by a Khmer. This is absolutely not the case in Thailand where I've spent decidedly less time overall. If Khmer are getting attacked - you'll only read about in Khmer language news (which tends to ignore a lot of the foreigner issues conversely), so because you (nor I) have heard of it, it doesn't mean it's not happening. The English language press here loves to create the impression that Cambodia is lawless and dangerous on every street corner but I know more foreigners get into shit in Thailand in a week than they do in a year in Cambodia. Thailand, for example, is the 2nd most popular destination in the world for British people to need consular services either as victims of crime or the causes of it (because British people with lots of cheap alcohol and cheap prostitutes are pretty much bound to cause crime - It's shameful but true and I'm from the UK). The most popular is the UAE (somewhere I have also lived and to be honest I've never felt safer anywhere in my life than in the UAE).

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I've been here for the best part of 4 years and had one minor incident in all that time (an argument with a thieving tuk-tuk driver - who suddenly realized he'd picked the wrong place and time to try it on). Otherwise, I've never been so much as looked at funny by a Khmer. This is absolutely not the case in Thailand where I've spent decidedly less time overall. If Khmer are getting attacked - you'll only read about in Khmer language news (which tends to ignore a lot of the foreigner issues conversely), so because you (nor I) have heard of it, it doesn't mean it's not happening. The English language press here loves to create the impression that Cambodia is lawless and dangerous on every street corner but I know more foreigners get into shit in Thailand in a week than they do in a year in Cambodia. Thailand, for example, is the 2nd most popular destination in the world for British people to need consular services either as victims of crime or the causes of it (because British people with lots of cheap alcohol and cheap prostitutes are pretty much bound to cause crime - It's shameful but true and I'm from the UK). The most popular is the UAE (somewhere I have also lived and to be honest I've never felt safer anywhere in my life than in the UAE).

I absolutely agree with you regarding Thailand.

In fact, if I didn't have as much confidence as I do in Cambodia, no way would I go there as often as I do. It goes to show that for the most part, I've always had a pretty good time and have experienced nothing more than very minor issues. Yes there was that one jackass (the bus conductor) on the international bus from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh once who got angry because me and a few other foreigners decided not to pay the extra US$5 for the visa on arrival and did it ourselves, but after I told him off for being so rude (he was being rude) he felt sorry. However, towards the end of the bus ride as we were nearing Phnom Penh, I felt I should apologize in case I was out of line. He gracefully accepted my apology and no offence was taken. In another case last year, a tuk-tuk driver from Koh Kong, who took me from the Koh Kong bus station to the Thai border tried to rip me off, but in the end I gave him what I thought he deserved (after some negotiation) and he was fine with that.

The only issue with Cambodia is that when the shit hits the fan, it can get bad quickly. That is due to a certain "mob" mentality that you won't find much of in Thailand. Having said that, foreigners are rarely the target, and rarely do they get involved. As you rightfully pointed out in an earlier post, the main foreign victims tend to be Vietnamese (and to a lesser extent Thais, although the hostilities towards Thais were greatest in 2003 around the time of the Thai embassy rampage that damaged bilateral relations and also around 2011 during the height of the Preah Vihear temple dispute). Since then things have improved. But in the past 1-2 years the Vietnamese have been targets of various protests and border incursions by Cambodian nationalist mobs, as happened very recently. The Vietnamese are kind of fed up with this crap, though they generally just take it in their stride. At least my Vietnamese friend (who has been to Cambodia many times) laughs it off.

Anyway, I am very much looking forward to my trip to Siem Reap next Thursday. Although I have been to Phnom Penh countless times, this will only be my second trip to Siem Reap.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

I live for 6 months in Sihanoukville and have no problems at all. I know some alcohol and sex addicts (old addicted men) and then its more likely that you get in problems.

I am quite normal so it´s ok for me.

Good luck everyone

Tom

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I just came back from a trip to Siem Reap driving my own car from Thailand.

Was an absolutely fantastic trip. I did not feel threatened or unsafe anywhere or at anytime. I even found myself driving in isolated parts of town to send a new friend I made from Japan back to her hotel at 1am, driving on some unpaved side roads but there was no element of danger whatsoever.

The only annoyances I experienced was one guy trying to sell me some overpriced book that looked real but was probably a copy about Angkor Wat at the Banteay Srei temple, which BTW is now incredibly busy with tourists. And then there was the travel agent guy who tried to scam me out of 3 dollars on an exchange of 500 Baht for US dollars. First he said he would give me 11 US dollars, which I knew wasn't right, so after I told him I would exchange at a proper exchange booth to get 14 dollars which is what it should have been, he offered 12, 13 then finally 14.

The weather was incredibly hot, up to 38 degrees C, but then again just yesterday in Bangkok my car thermometer showed 41 degrees so given the lack of rain I'm guessing this must be one of the hottest August months ever experienced in both countries.

I absolutely agree with the Australian government's advice comparing Cambodia to Thailand. The Aussie government suggests "take normal safety precautions" in Cambodia, but "exercise a high degree of caution throughout Thailand" and "do NOT travel to Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and even Songkhla". Now with the unfortunate terrorist attack in Bangkok that advice rings more accurate than ever.

Apart from some bad press that as the Siem Reaper mentioned some English language news sources like to mention, I suspect the worst most foreigners will experience in Cambodia would be either snatch and grab attacks by motorcycle thieves and rip-offs by tuk-tuk drivers.

Cambodians were so pleasant and the English language ability of the hotel staff at the place I stayed was absolutely fantastic. Not to mention how much they helped and there was nothing that was too much for them.

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