5 things Khmers do better than Barangs

Posted on by Nathan Thompson

1. Respect

In the West the phrase, “old person” is so objectionable that it needs to be pussyfooted around with terms like, “older person” or “senior”. In Cambodia if you call a fifty year old guy “Tha” (grandfather), he is likely to be very pleased. Why? Because being an old person is good here. Old people are respected for their wisdom and spirituality and play key roles in Cambodia’s religious and familial life. In the West, to quote Irvine Welsh, the old are left “in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment”.

And what about the monks? Consider the Western equivalent: gangs of priests marauding down Oxford Street or Rockefeller Plaza receiving bows and grateful gifts of food and money every day. It just wouldn’t happen. Sure, the Cambodian monkhood hasn’t been afflicted by the problems that caused the Christian priesthood to loose all credibility, but even so, at best, Western priests are regarded little more than an historical fart. As a result, the West has lost its religious underpinning leaving those members still able to rouse themselves from TV-induced comas to ruminate only on existential anxiety and the meaningless of it all.

2. Suffering

I recently watched a couple of shrill documentaries entitled “Breadline Britain” and “Britain’s Hidden Hungry”. I found it hard to sympathise with the featured people who, despite their ailments, were warm, well-fed and disease-free. The thought never far from my mind was that any poor Cambodian in a similar situation would be brimming with joy at having clean food, free healthcare and accommodation. I concluded that the English “poor” were, by comparison, ill-equipped to handle the particular bitchslap Life had landed on them. Poor Cambodians go through far worse everyday but their faces show more acceptance and less self pity. Of course they are not afforded the luxury of being able to sink into depression because if they did, they’d starve to death. But certainly, Cambodian culture does afford a place for the poor so even those on the bottom rung of the ladder have access to self esteem.

3. Generosity

Cambodian people are seriously generous. For example, I was riding my moto to a festival accompanied by my friend Supea who was riding alongside me with her two sisters on a separate moto. It began to rain. I had no raincoat. Guess who got the only raincoat stashed in Supea’s moto? Me. I’ve lost count of the number of times strangers have bought me coffee or offered me mangos and these things do not come cheap for most Cambodians. Then you have the fact that the temple where I live has been feeding me from their meagre food supply every day for free without a hint of resentment. Indeed, when food began to run low they were full of concern about whether I would have enough to eat. A local woman – one of the poorest members of the village – once saw me struggling to wash my clothes by hand and came and helped me for free.

4. Childhood

Cambodian children are not more well-behaved than English children but they are a damn site less angry. As a result, when they do misbehave, it’s more like a Just William caper than an occasion to call the police (not that you could call the police in rural Cambodia). I think it has to do with the fact that Cambodian families are also not yet consumed by screens and so they still, you know, talk to each other. The kids are also expected to help with the family chores, eat with their extended families and play outside with their friends. The boys play marbles in the temple while the girls throw their arms around each to exchange secrets. Contrast this with the West’s over stimulated offspring who, when torn away from their screens, are so disorientated they can only stagger round Westfield scaring grannies.

5. Doing Nothing

Have you ever seen a Westerner doing absolutely nothing? Think about it. Waiting for a bus or train doesn’t count because waiting is technically still part of a larger activity known as traveling. I mean doing literally nothing.
It’s very rare. Cambodians on the other hand can sit there, with their friends, completely comfortably saying and doing nothing. They’re just being open to the experience of the present in way Westerners find difficult. Some would call it sloth, but on the contrary, it’s more unnatural for humans to be constantly doing stuff like machines. It’s good to do nothing because it mitigates stress and exhaustion. It is a large part of the reason why Cambodia was named by Rough Guides as the “world’s friendliest country

Nathan Thompson

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25 Responses to 5 things Khmers do better than Barangs

  1. William says:

    Very interesting and quite correct, and as a westerner I get quite frustrated doing nothing.

  2. Ken svay says:

    Agree with some of this but respect for elders is a bit of a myth. The rich and powerful steal land from the elderly and fuck their grand children, they have no respect.

  3. Moody says:

    A good thoughtful list.

    I know what you are saying Ken, but I reckon the rich and powerful are on a tier above the poor and peasant class elderly. I’m sure in their own circles they show respect to their elders.

    I don’t like the “tier”, but tier it is.

  4. Pecahead says:

    Some Khmer might be generous, but others are so selfish they would sell their mother if it meant a couple of extra bucks to piss away at KTV.

    • KingWilson says:

      You mean the ones hanging outside the whorehouses? Maybe if you stopped following your dick and moved outside the narrow bottom 1% of the population you’d feel differently. These people claiming the top 1% of the pop. are all sociopaths seem to be projecting imho…

  5. rebo says:

    I totally agree with generosity. I still feel awkward when being offered food by security guards, cleaners and anybody that happened to look in my direction while they were eating. Such a fascinating country on so many levels

  6. su says:

    ‘Struggling to wash my clothes by hand’ please!!!!!!!

  7. falcon randwick says:

    Yes, Cambodians are better at doing nothing. As for the rest *yawn*

  8. Visser says:

    “Then you have the fact that the temple where I live has been feeding me from their meagre food supply every day for free without a hint of resentment.”

    About time you started paying your way then, you remind me of Alan Harper.

  9. Ruud says:

    Good article! And very true, I think. However, I must say that I do look forward to a follow-up, i.e. 5 things Barangs do better than Khmers.

  10. EthanL says:

    I strongly agree with generosity. But I have doubts about their respects since they are too selective at times with name calling.

    • anonymous says:

      I don’t like the way they refer to Westerners as farang or barang. It sounds so derogatory. Their generosity is only limited to a few grain of rice or few leaves of vegetables. They(those brown/yellow Asians) are NEVER generous with money.

  11. anonymous says:

    Those Asians are better in talking bad about people that they give food to.
    They are better in pretending in all sorts of manners.
    They are better in ignoring disadvantaged people.
    They will pretend to invite you for food but most of the time they don’t mean it at all. I think they are not generous at all. They are only selectively generous to people who come from richer countries or have connections that they want to tap or exploit.

  12. anonymous says:

    Those Asians are also better in making use of their children to exploit the generosity of foreigners.
    They are better in pretending to be friendly initially to get as much out of you.
    They are better in making money from vulnerable people.
    They are better in treating people like things that they tend to discard in a brutal manner.
    They are better in causing pollution.
    They are better in ripping people off.
    They are better in preventing people from voicing out opinions.

  13. anonymous says:

    They are better in pretending to be helpful when one don’t need their help. But when one need their help and have little cash at hand, they will show their true nasty colour.
    There is nothing really spriritual or really special about their asian society, when it is so corrupt at all levels.

  14. anonymous says:

    Those Cambodians think they are entitled to do nothing even though their country need a lot of cleaning up.
    They are just waiting for foreign slaves to educate their children for a pittance, to clean up after them, etc.

  15. anonymous says:

    Those Asians are also better at being rude, abusive, intolerant of criticism, ignorant, stingy, corrupt.

    Those Asians are also better at promoting all sorts of horrible food or get rich scam.

    Those Asians are also better at promoting and pushing a much more ugly way of life.

  16. M says:

    I feel urge to clarify this article, since I find it very misleading (to say it very politely). The article sounds to me like it is written by someone who spent half year in Cambodia and thinks that he understands about Cambodians.

    First, let me tell you that it is quite tricky to buy software here. Only the copies are available. They copy books, CDs, DVDs, you will buy “GUCCI” shoes which get nonfunctional after one week, “Adidas” for a dollar or “North Face” bag for $5. Everything in Cambodia is fake, the cheating is a culture.

    You may say every country has some honest people and some cheaters and that the same fits to Cambodia. You may also say that in every country you may find some places with rubbish and that fits also to Cambodia. And just the observation tells us that the rubbish is being laid all over the Cambodia. Cambodians are deeply committed to throw new rubbish around them and around you everywhere and every day. So the comparison fails and that also suggests some implications.

    The “respect” mentioned in article–you can feel everyday. All you need is to ride a motorbike on the streets of PP. You will be given so much “respect” that you couldn’t imagine ever. They mastered chocking any crossroad. The crossroads are big enough to handle all the traffic. But, lights or no lights, everyone is elected to go first. And no one finds it is reasonable that it is just him to step back in order to allow the jam to pass. It is a great adrenaline to drive in the night, esp. in provinces, you will be given so much “respect” by high beams from almost all cars within the opposite stream.

    The claim that Cambodian are “generous”.. I have to say that I have met genuine souls in Cambodia. They work hard and don’t think much how to make profit without work. And it is very unlikely that the foreigner will meet them. Cambodians know that cheating is the norm. And they also know that foreigners do not know. They can not cheat each other already so a bunch of cheaters will always stick to you. They indeed pretend generosity only to build your trust. In a best case you will be maneuvered into loss of tens of dollars to pay their drinking party. Assuming you are an alcoholic that might not be considered as a loss.. In an average case they aim to borrow your money or whatever with no intention to bring back. This is a template. When you claim your property back they will be angry and will hate you (if they try to get a profit from you yet can not succeed they will hate you as well). They indeed believe that taking $100 from you is more than justified because they gave you a can of beer or a dish of noodles before. In a worse case you may become one of so many losers who were cheated in Cambodia even of everything. And there’s no one in Cambodia who will be surprised by such story. C’est la vie..

  17. anonymous says:

    Too many of those Asians are known to secretly hate or despise White foreigners due to jealousy and other illogical or irrational reasons.
    Therefore don’t expect any respect or generosity from those mostly stingy, exploitive and hateful Asians.
    Even their Khmer women are so pretentious, crude, cruel vulgar and disgusting.
    Everything is so overrated and overpriced in their third world slum.
    Of course most of their attitude are horrible. They act as if they are entitled to behave that way just because they are poor and living in slums. Those are rich are as bad when they are not doing anything to improve the slum that they built.

  18. anonymous says:

    At least in the West, even if one is old and disadvantaged, one can still have some decent help, decent environment and decent home to look forward to.
    In the West, old people are more independent and have more respect for the young people and vice versa.
    In Asia, older people tend to be more manipulative and tend to be more exploitive and often get treated like a child, which is ridiculous and demeaning.

  19. anonymous says:

    Another fact is most Asians tend to be much more inconsiderate and tend to interfere unhelpfully. They tend to cause poverty to others by their unkind Asian interference and unkind Asian invasion. They act as if that everything that belong to others, belong to them and that they have a right to bully and abuse anyone that don’t enrich them. In fact they placed too much importance on making money to the point of neglecting their elderly and young ones and to the point of causing terrible and ugly destruction and pollution to their environment. They don’t have the right attitude towards wealth and that is why one sees them appear to be in poverty all the time.

    It is strange why those Asians are not ashamed of their laziness even though they tend to be ashamed of their poverty. It is also a fact that most Asians are better at being lazy and filthy, even when they have a job and clean water given to them.

    Most Asians are usually quick to anger and are often inappropriately angry and get easily angry over every slight thing or every slight comment about their rotten Asian culture.

  20. asdf says:

    ADMIN – please moderate this racist bullshit

  21. jason says:

    What you people said about the Cambodian people are human nature. Put in the same situation, the brittians or the Americans or anyone can be as bad if not worst. Culturally, Cambodians taught be kind and care their neighbors.

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