As starry-eyed as I was about being in Cambodia, there was no denying the in-your-face poverty, prostitution, child labor, heavily armed military presence, shady foreign business and CPP’s puffed-out chest after a rigged election.
My first bitter taste of filth happened when I arrived and went through customs. I gave the security my passport/visa.
Security: “How many days are you visiting?”
Me: “14 days”
Security: “Are you Khmer? Where are your parents from?”
Me: “Mom’s from Battambong, dad’s from Phnom Penh. I was born in the States.”
Security: “You speak Khmer very well. Can you spare $5 for coffee? my partners and I are thirsty. We don’t have much money. Please help us out.”
Me: “uh…. I don’t have cash.”
Security: “You’re American, you can spare $5. We just want coffee. We’ve been working long days.”
After the 3rd time he asked and I said, “no,” my mental light bulb turned on. I remembered my dad advising me to slip in a few US dollars in my passport to make the process go faster and easier. I played stupid – shrugging my shoulders, giggling, apologizing. He got frustrated with me and just shooed me away. SCAMMERS. I got this a few other times throughout the trip and back at the airport as I was leaving. “Coffee money”? FUCK YOU! I wonder how much they make a day with that bullshit.
Have any of you experienced this?