7 Ways Cambodia Can Solve its Foreign Dude ProblemDecember 31, 2013
Oh crap, it happened again. Just yesterday, Cambodian police announced that they are searching for a 48 year-old British man in connection with the presumed murder of a Cambodian woman. Apparently, the suspect fled his hotel in quite a haste after allegedly killing a “lady visitor” and stuffing her dead body under his bed.
The details of this particular incident may be revolting, but sadly, the report of a Westerner being implicated in a crime in Cambodia is no longer surprising at all.
Every time I return to Cambodia after a few months away from the country, I’m amazed by the rapidly increasing number of Westerners who are visiting or living in the Kingdom. Cambodia now welcomes over four million foreign tourists annually – six times as many tourists as it received just ten years ago.
It’s not just the tourist numbers that are increasing. Thanks to a rising Thai baht and some cockblocking visa restrictions implemented across the border in Thailand, the number of expatriates moving to Cambodia has also swelled in recent years. Unfortunately, while the quantity of foreigners in Cambodia continues to multiply, the quality of foreigners visiting and moving to Cambodia appears to have declined.
Hardly a day goes by now without a sensational article in the local press about a Western lowlife engaging in some embarrassing or criminal behavior that seems to cast all foreign visitors to Cambodia in a negative light.
But if you read those news articles and you take just a cursory look at the Western meth heads, burnouts, booze hounds, bums, and beggars wandering the streets of Phnom Penh, you will quickly realize that Cambodia doesn’t have a general problem with “foreigners” causing trouble in the country.
Cambodia has a specific problem with foreign men.
Think about it. Foreign women don’t flee criminal charges
in their home countries and move to Cambodia to buy sex from teenagers, abuse drugs and alcohol, molest orphans, and assist suicides in Kampot.
Foreign men do that.
You never see local newspaper photos of a crazy foreign woman setting fire to her apartment building while wearing only a Speedo.
You don’t read about foreign women in Cambodia glassing bargirls, stealing Wild Turkey from supermarkets, strangling Vietnamese prostitutes, or setting up fake charities to get access to vulnerable garbage dump kids. Foreign men in Cambodia do that.
You rarely see foreign women driving drunk and killing Khmers or hopping around ancient temples with their peckers hanging out. If a Cambodian hotel owner rents a room to a foreign woman, he can be relatively confident that she’s not going to smash up the hotel, burglarize the other rooms, or leave a dead hooker under the bed.
As far as I know, Cambodian police have never arrested any Western women for stealing cars,
dealing drugs, raping masseuses, robbing banks, sodomizing beggar kids, cutting off the thumbs of local thieves, or wrapping their dead roommates in tarp and sleeping with their decomposing bodies. Western men in Cambodia get arrested for that stuff. Pretty often.
Am I suggesting that foreign women in Cambodia are perfect? No. They are sometimes seen plodding around in ill-fitting backpacker garb and trying to pay 900 riel for a tuk tuk ride. But by and large (and I do mean large), the foreign women you meet in Cambodia are decent, law-abiding people who are here to do something positive with their lives. A foreign woman who moves to Cambodia almost always does so for a noble purpose, like working, volunteering, or supporting her man. In the meantime, the most popular reason for foreign men to move to Cambodia in 2013 was “could no longer afford the booze and hookers in Pattaya.”
Do you know what else foreign women almost never do in Cambodia? Die. Okay, every now and then you may hear about a drug overdose by a honeymooning bride, but that’s quite rare.
Self-destructive foreign men, on the other hand, bite the dust in Cambodia with alarming frequency. They jump from buildings and leap from bridges. They hang themselves, stab themselves, shoot themselves, and drink themselves to death.
Am I suggesting that every foreign man in Cambodia is a sexually deviant, alcoholic jailbird who will inevitably harm himself or someone else with his disgusting and dangerous behavior? No, not every one. But it cannot be denied that all of the raping, killing, stealing, and dying by foreign dudes in Cambodia inflicts untold suffering upon the Cambodians who are victimized by their crimes, not to mention the burden on local authorities who have to clean up the foreign corpses and ship them back to Croydon.
There are so many undesirable foreign dudes menacing Cambodia now that the Cambodian government should really do something to solve this problem. Here are 7 ways it could do so:
1. Impose gender-based visa fees
At the moment, Cambodian tourist visas cost $20 per month. Ordinary (business) visas cost $25 per month. Here’s my proposal. Starting immediately, entry visas should be totally free. For women. Visa fees for men should be doubled, to $40 a month for tourist visas and $50 a month for business visas.
Hear me out on this. While I have not seen any statistics showing what percent of foreign visitors to Cambodia are male, it is undoubtedly well over 50%. My guess is that the Western expat community may be as much as 75% male.
This male-female visitor ratio is unnatural. If a bar or nightclub attracts disproportionately too many dudes, it will impose a cover charge for men and offer “ladies night” promotions to women. This prevents the place from turning into an undesirable nightly sausagefest. If the strategy works for bars, why shouldn’t countries do the same thing?
Doubling visa fees for men and eliminating fees for women will generate substantially more revenue for Cambodia, because there are more male visitors than females. Instead of 4 million annual visitors paying $20 each ($80 million), there will be about 2.5 million male visitors paying $40 each ($100 million), and 1.5 million females entering for free.
The change would have absolutely no financial impact on all the normal male-female couples who visit Cambodia as legitimate tourists. The husband’s visa costs would double and the wife’s visa costs would be eliminated, so that’s a wash.
The increase would only detrimentally impact all the “lone wolf” males who visit Cambodia each year– the exact demographic that causes most of the trouble once they get into the country. Doubling their visa fees would offset the costs of hosting these high risk, death-prone visitors, and it might dissuade some of them from showing up at all. Any single dude who is deterred from visiting Cambodia due to a $20 increase in his visa fee probably wouldn’t have contributed much to the local economy anyway.
What about the cost of extending an ordinary (business) visa to remain in Cambodia for a full year? Right now that costs about $285. Under my proposal, the one year visa extension would be free for women but cost twice as much (about $570) for men. This would help attract desirable female expatriates, while simultaneously deterring immigration from a less desirable, oversaturated group (i.e., single dudes who can’t afford $570 per year to stay in the country).
You may think, “This idea is crazy. Cambodia would never implement deliberately discriminatory visa fees based on gender.” Why not? Cambodia already imposes weird age restrictions and financial requirements on foreign men who wish to marry Cambodian women; discriminatory rules that are not imposed against foreign women who wish to marry Cambodian men.
Raising visa fees for foreign men would be a simple and effective way for Cambodia to increase revenue by tens of millions of dollars and control immigration from a particular, problematic subset of foreign visitors that Cambodian law already discriminates against. The only remaining question is whether some skint expat dudes would try to save the $570 by applying for their visa extensions disguised as women, like Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in “Bosom Buddies.” Well, of course they would.
2. Ban foreign men from teaching Cambodian children
Many of the foreign men in Cambodia support themselves by teaching English to Cambodian children. It seems that almost any Westerner can find a teaching job in Cambodia, even with no prior experience or qualifications. Disturbingly, there have been numerous incidents of Western men getting jobs as teachers in Cambodia even though they have prior records in their home countries of sex crimes against children. One American serial pedophile told the FBI that he came to Cambodia specifically because it was an easy place for a convicted sex offender to find work as a teacher.
It’s not feasible for Cambodian schools or the Cambodian government to conduct worldwide background checks to determine which foreign teachers are prior sex offenders. The only surefire way to protect Cambodian children is to ban foreign men from teaching them at all.
Children are loud, annoying, germ rockets who are best cared for by women anyway. It’s quite unnatural for an adult male to ever want to spend time with any children other than his own. Any white guy who randomly shows up in Cambodia to “help the children” should probably be kept as far away from kids as humanly possible. If you had a child, would you rather leave the kid with an unknown Western woman for the day, or leave the kid with the next white dude you find walking along Phnom Penh’s riverside? I thought so.
I’m actually surprised that a ban on foreign men teaching kids hasn’t happened yet. When foreigners do bad things to Cambodians, the Cambodian government usually responds with a sweeping ban of whatever activity led to the abuse. When news broke of abusive marriages between Korean men and Cambodian women, Cambodia simply banned Korean men from marrying its women. When Malaysian employers mistreated some Cambodian maids, Cambodia banned Malaysian recruiters from hiring more maids. Following reports of child trafficking, Cambodia banned foreigners from adopting Cambodian children.
I realize that most foreign male teachers in Cambodia are not rapists or child molesters. But there have been enough horrific reports of sexual abuse of Cambodian children by foreign male teachers that ban-happy Cambodia should just forbid foreign men from teaching kids.
Why can’t the foreign dudes in Cambodia teach English to adults, while foreign women teach the children? If schools can’t find enough Western women to teach Cambodian kids, they can hire Filipinas. The kids may end up speaking English with a silly Filipina accent, but at least they won’t be molested by their teachers.
3. Only give long term visas to foreigners with jobs, businesses, or spouses in Cambodia
For the first quarter century following the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia had no reason to restrict immigration from Western visitors, because no Westerner in his right mind wanted to move here. Times have changed though. The standard of living in Cambodia has improved in recent years, while economic conditions in some Western countries have significantly deteriorated.
Many Western men now view Cambodia as a desirable place to live. They may tell you that they enjoy Cambodia for the “freedom,” which apparently includes the freedom to drink their own blood and eat their own shit.
Unfortunately, Cambodia still lets absolutely any Westerner stay in the country forever, even if he is unemployed, homeless, and begging on the streets. Shockingly, Cambodia even lets Western pedophiles remain in the country after they have committed sex crimes against Cambodian children, leading to their subsequent arrests for abusing Cambodian children again and again and again.
It’s time for Cambodia to tighten its visa requirements and deport its foreign pedophiles. Send the undesirable Western dudes packing for the Philippines.
4. Interrogate and search single male travelers on arrival
I’m a single Western male who has flown into Phnom Penh airport about two dozen times. No Cambodian immigration officer has ever asked me a single question. No customs officer has ever searched my bag.
There’s a scene in the movie “Taken” where Liam Neeson’s character impersonates a French intelligence officer and tells some Albanian gangsters, “You think because we are tolerant that we are weak and helpless.” The utter indifference displayed by Cambodian customs and immigration officers creates a first impression among visitors that local law enforcement is inept and that “no one cares what I do here.” This nonchalance emboldens foreigners to misbehave once they enter the country.
Cambodia should put on a show at the airport to make foreign dudes believe they have arrived in a country with competent law enforcement that pays attention to what visitors do here. As passengers exit the plane, women and couples should be sent to the normal immigration line. Creepy single guys should be referred to a special line, where an immigration officer may ask them questions like, “What’s the purpose of your trip to Cambodia?” “How long have you lived in Thailand?” and “Ewww, why is your passport covered in vaseline?”
I sometimes get questioned and treated like a sex tourist by U.S. immigration officers when I return from Cambodia. As far as I’m concerned, that mildly humiliating experience should start in Cambodia itself. How will Cambodian immigration officers decide which foreign men to interrogate? That’s easy. Guys traveling alone. Guys wearing tank tops. Guys who look like Steve Buscemi.
Sex tourists are like cockroaches. They hate sunlight, both literally and figuratively. Shine a light on their activities by asking them questions on arrival and looking through all their luggage.
When you find a foreigner entering the country with an entire suitcase full of condoms and Viagra, remind him that it’s illegal to have sex with children. Watch how he stammers and avoids eye contact and mutters some nonsense about being here to “see the temples.”
Even if you let the guy into the country, he’ll know that you know that he’s a disgusting pervert. This may make him less likely to misbehave during his trip. Shoplifting is deterred when store employees simply say “hello” to customers who enter, because potential shoplifters know that they’ve been noticed. Same idea.
Don’t tell me that Cambodia doesn’t have the resources to question and search foreign male visitors. Cambodians are naturally inquisitive people. It makes no sense that immigration officers who should be scrutinizing foreign visitors remain mute during every encounter, but I can’t walk ten feet down the street without a tuk tuk driver asking me where I’m going and what I’m doing. Cambodia should just deputize a bunch of volunteer motodops to work at the airport and tell them, “Go ask those white guys a lot of annoying personal questions and search their bags. Anything illegal you find, you can keep.”
5. Stop giving visas on arrival to Africans
The most important rule of a successful modern immigration policy is “Never let in immigrants from countries poorer than your own.” Very few countries are poorer than Cambodia, and most of those shitholes are located right in the middle of Africa.
Cambodia has seen an influx of dodgy African males during the last decade, from lovely places like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinea, and Cameroon. Do you know why so many African dudes are moving to Cambodia? Because virtually no other country will let them in.
African men probably behave even worse in Cambodia than Western men. Sure, they may not be accomplished sex criminals, but the Africans in Cambodia have shown a strong aptitude for drug
trafficking, fraud, robbery, and the occasional kidnap and murder.
Africans who arrive in Cambodia also regularly overstay their visas, because, let’s face it, the squalor of Phnom Penh is a fucking paradise when compared to Ouagadougou.
I propose the following solution. Every year the United Nations publishes the “Human Development Index,” a report that basically ranks all the countries on earth from nicest to crappiest. Cambodia is usually ranked about 140th, ahead of only the most screwed up countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Cambodian immigration officials should just look at that report every year and draw a big red line right under Cambodia. Anybody from a country listed below Cambodia should be denied a visa on arrival.
6. Criminalize extramarital sex between foreign men and local women
Did you know that in Vietnam, it’s illegal for a foreign man to share a hotel room with a Vietnamese woman unless they are married? Lao law similarly prohibits sexual contact between foreigners and Lao nationals if they are not married. Do some people break those laws? Of course. Forbidden sex is totally hot. It’s hotter than make up sex, and almost as hot as conjugal visit sex.
But these laws are still a major disincentive to bottomfeeding sex tourists, who always prefer the path of least pussy resistance. Vietnam and Laos both have warm weather, cheap beer, and beautiful women. Yet, thanks to these laws, they are not overrun with sex-crazed Western men like parts of Cambodia and Thailand.
Cambodian law already restricts marriage between foreign men and local women, so why not announce a few new laws restricting sex and cohabitation as well? Even if the laws prove impossible to enforce, their mere existence may slow down the tide of horny foreign men parading nightly between Street 104 and Street 136.
7. May I suggest the occasional civil war?
Cambodia’s absolute best hope of quickly clearing out its foreign dude debris would be if its ongoing election protests suddenly turn violent. Nothing will scare off the junkies and sex tourists like a nice, loud civil war and then a decade of U.N. oversight and artificially high prices.
It wouldn’t even have to be a full blown civil war. All you need is enough violence and unrest for the U.K. Foreign Office to advise against travel to Cambodia. As soon as that happens, British travel insurance will be invalidated in Cambodia. This is important, because British tourists never go anywhere without travel insurance. Few things terrify a Welshman more than the thought of having to spend his own money to see a doctor. Trust me, if a few bombs go off and the Foreign Office blacklists Cambodia, virtually all of the shirtless Brits in Sihanoukville will quickly decamp to Bognor Regis.
And when the British government advises against travel to Cambodia, the U.S. State Department will quickly follow suit, because they don’t want to be sued by some dumb American who gets shot in the ass and then complains that no one warned him that civil wars are dangerous.
Soon the sleazy French, the kinky Germans, and the drunken Australians will all disappear too. Yes, a bloody civil war that tears Cambodia apart would be totally worth it, if it meant I’d never have to see another dude like this guy basking outside Paddy Rice.
Gavinmac is a foreign dude who spends far too much time in Cambodia. His other “7 Reasons” articles can be found here.