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Friday, December 23, 2011

Scams in Cambodia

The situation in Cambodia is much better than Thailand. Here, one can take the tuk tuk or taxi without worries. Most places are safe to walk alone even at night. Only worries might be the land mines:)

But there are a still a few scams floating around though.

Most blatant is the "Fish Massage" which is everywhere.

But instead of using real "spa" fish ie Garra Rufa which is a type of sucker fish, here the Cambodia used another type of fish.
The real thing
The fish a sort of tilapia or cichlids used by the Cambodian. The problem with these fish is that they do not eat the dead skin like the real spa fish but are simply nibbling away at the human fresh!
The fake fisb
At least the fish scam cost only US$1 and maybe some loss of skin and fresh. Not a big deal unless you suay suay go and catch some diseases from the water.

This young lady was carrying a baby and going around being “friendly” with tourists. We had been pre-warned by our guesthouse owner. The modus operandi is to tell the tourists that she has no money to buy milk powder for the baby. To alleviate the suspicion of tourist who do not want to hand over cash, she will suggest that the tourist pop in to one of the nearby convenient store and buy a can of milk for the baby. When the transaction is done and the tourist is satisfied that he/she has done his/her good deed for the day, and after he/she walk off, the lady will return to the store and sell the milk powder back to the store at a discount. She gets her money and the store gets a small cut. Win win situation for everybody except the tourist!

Most tourists to Cambodia know that the country is improvised with many orphans and war victims. Not wanting to hand over cash to the many aid organizations around and have it misappropriated by officials, most tourists will bring over stationeries etc for the schools and orphanages. We too did the same thing lugging over a stack of stationeries. And we were so happy when we saw this school just 3 doors away from our guesthouse.

It claims to be a school for the poor children in the neighbourhood and every evening when we walked back to our guesthouse, we could see tourists happily conducting English lessons for the children. So we handed over our supplies to them.

Our joy was rather short-lived though when we were told the school was a scam. How so? Firstly, the school purports to offer schooling for the poor children in the neighbourhood who cannot afford to go to normal paid school. If that was so, why was classes conducted only in the night and not day? Secondly, most of the children cycle to the school. If they were really poor, they would not have been able to afford the bicycle. And thirdly, the area the school is in is considered one of the more affluent neighbourhood. There are no poor families in the area!

Apparently, what the school did was to entice tourist to contribute cash; there is a huge collection box at the entrance; or supplies which they could sell off to shops. So we were one of the suckers.

But considering the extent of the scams in Thailand, Cambodia’s scam pales in comparison. At least for the time being.

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