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Vietnamese children in Akreiy Ksatr, Cambodia, 2018

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When the French ruled Indochina, they had a shortage of white collar workers in Cambodia and Laos, so solved it by bringing in many thousands of Vietnamese, which, understandably, didn’t please the Cambodians and Laotians too much. Most of these Vietnamese would be kicked out in waves, sometimes violently, as happened in Cambodia during the 70’s.

Still, many Vietnamese have returned to both countries, and the primary reason is population pressure, for Vietnam has 96 million people, while Cambodia and Laos only 16 and 7 million. It’s also why China and Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to export people.

Although there are certainly rich illegal immigrants, most tend to be poorer than the locals, so in Cambodia, which is even more impoverished than some Sub-Saharan countries, many Vietnamese are in truly sad shape.

A Vietnamese settlement in Svay Pak, north of Phnom Penh, became infamous internationally as a center of child prostitution, and in an American documentary about it, there’s a glimpse of the neighborhood church, so some prayed to Jesus, then sold their daughters. Fortunately, that situation has pretty much been snuffed out.

Just after six one morning, I took a ferry from Phnom Penh to Akreiy Ksatr, in search of its Vietnamese. Forgetting how much it cost, I handed the fare collector 1,000 riels (25 cents), but he gave 500 right back. There were only two cars on the old boat, with the rest pedestrians or motorcyclists, with one lady hitching her Honda to a truck that was laden with cucumbers, carrots, cabbages, lettuces and ginger.

Maybe I’m actually English, for nothing calms me more than a pint or to be on water, but crossing the Mekong didn’t last too long, and as the dismal houses of Akreiy Ksatr came into view, it was clear the capital’s wealth didn’t even splash across the river.

The village’s main drag wasn’t even paved, and though it was early, there was plenty of activities on the street. I passed a full restaurant, then a café that was filled with men watching European soccer. Shops abounded, with many already open. Pausing at the I Trust International School, I admired its colorful mural of wild animals, with this caption, “LET US PROTECT THEM FOR THE NEXT GENERATION.”

So far, I was not sure if I had seen a Vietnamese, for many Viets are dark enough that they are indistinguishable from lighter skinned Cambodians. Walking on dirt and dodging puddles, I soon reached the main market, which was just setting up. Hungry, I approached a lady selling rice gruel, pointed to the pot, smiled then cupped my hands to resemble a bowl. Frowning, she lifted the lid to show her food wasn’t quite ready, so I stretched my smile even tighter to indicate I would eat it anyway, but she would not budge, such was her culinary integrity. Starved, I would have slopped up her dish water. After a nod and a wave, I moved on.

Spotting a woman eating something at another stand, I went straight for it and, again, pointed to the pot, but the proprietor wasn’t quite ready to ladle up her chicken rice gruel either, so I simply sat down and waited until she granted me my bowl a few minutes later.

To my right, a fishmonger had set up her carps, catfish and anchovies on a dirty piece of canvas, placed right on the ground, so a hundred flies, at least, were buzzing all around her, like some kinetic nimbus, but there were flies everywhere, including over or on the plastic basket of mint leaves, in front of my face.

It’s well known that Cambodia’s street food is inferior to what’s found in Thailand or Vietnam, so I didn’t expect much, but my soup was even sadder than what I had eaten in Phnom Penh, though I was within easy mortar range of the capital. To chase away the taste, I bought two hard donuts from a young lady who was radiant with mirth, so surprised was she to see an obvious outsider at her provincial market.

Fortified with chicken, rice and processed sugar, I walked back to town. From afar, I could see a woman making bánh xèo, the Vietnamese stuffed pancake, so I approached her and asked, “Chị làm bánh xèo?”

“បាញ់ឆែវ,” she answered. Cambodians call the same dish, “banh chao.”

To blend in better, many of the 600,000 Viets in Cambodia won’t speak Vietnamese in public, so maybe she was one of those, for she could have been my cousin. Desperate to achieve legality, some Vietnamese are even claiming to be ethnic Cambodians who have fled from Vietnam to escape discrimination. Heading in the general direction of the church, I eventually found it, and suddenly, I was surrounded by Vietnamese speakers.

Through open doors, I could see Catholic icons in most of the houses, then I stopped at the modest yet beautiful lime-colored church, with its watchtower-like belfry and a raised, open-sided and covered structure sheltering a Madonna. Another Madonna had her own flowered shrine near the doors. The church’s roof profile, cornices and decorated columns all echoed Cambodian or Thai temples.

When Pol Pot ruled, the Communists killed all priests, many monks and destroyed many religious statues, or threw them into rivers. They dynamited Phnom Penh Cathedral. In 2008, a Cham Muslim found a heavy chunk of metal at the bottom of the Mekong, and since it was too heavy for him to pull up, he sold its location to eight Vietnamese Buddhists for \$7.50.

After two days of hard work, the Buddhists recovered a statue of a woman on April 16th, 2008. On shore, it was recognized by a Vietnamese Catholic as the Virgin Mary, so he advised them to neither break it up nor take it anywhere. Alerted, the dirt-poor Vietnamese parish of Akreiy Ksatr agreed to buy it for \$500.

Before delivery, one of the Buddhists dreamt that the statue flew over his boat three or four times, which he interpreted as a reprimand for their eagerness to cash in on their sacred find. Terrified, the eight Buddhists agreed to take no money, but over the years, the parish has bought them enough rice and instant noodles to make up for the lost amount anyway.

On November 18th, 2012, a Vietnamese Buddhist saw, in a dream, a bronze statue of a man with arms spread out, saying, “You must fish me out from the bottom of the Mekong. I’m lying near where you found the Virgin Mary.” With his two sons, he then found a statue of Mary holding a baby Jesus, which he donated to the Akreiy Ksatr church.

Phan Van Hum “When I recovered the Virgin Mary, I didn’t feel that it was a statue but a person who was alive, like us. I was both happy and trembling from fear. At that moment, I silently prayed to the Virgin Mary to cure my wife of her illness.”

Since the day of its finding happened to be the 21st ASEAN Summit, the ferries weren’t running, making the operation easier. This, too, the Vietnamese Catholics of Akreiy Ksatr attribute to providence.

Sitting on a church step, I could see a woman sweeping its yard, then kids in school uniforms entering, so there was also a school there. Before class, a few boys played soccer with a grapefruit-sized plastic ball.

Across the street, there was a café where men were fixated on a Vietnamese movie. I shared a table outside with a small girl doing her homework, and soon, two more kids joined us. Looking at her workbook, I saw that she was writing one simple sentence over and over. Across from her, a boy did the same.

I asked, “Do you study Cambodian also?”

“No, sir,” they answered. (It’s actually, “Dạ, không,” which is the deferential form of “yes,” then “no,” thus untranslatable, but equivalent to “No, sir.”)

“Do you have Cambodian friends?”

“No, sir.”

Hmmm, I thought, then, “Have you been to Vietnam?”

“No, sir.”

“Would you like to go?”

“No, sir!” the boy blurted, nearly laughing, so outlandish was my suggestion. He had probably never been ten miles from home.


His backpack was a Vietnamese brand, MrVui, and featured Captain America. Though he was much bigger than the girl, his practice sentence was just as basic, “chị kha nghỉ hè ở sa pa” [“sister kha took a vacation in sapa”], so either he was huge for his age, or just dim.

To both of the other kids, he would say, “Get away from me! Your breath stinks! Did you brush your teeth this morning?”

“Yes, I did,” and the girl opened her mouth to show her clean, straight and white teeth.

During recess, I noticed that half of the kids streaming out from the church’s gates were barefoot. They went into the café to buy food, with the richer among them splurging on a 25 cent cup of instant noodles.

Inside the café, there was a young man who was different from the rest, for he had tattoos on his arms and neck, stretched earlobes, dyed auburn hair, all black clothing and stylish sandals. Was he the local pimp or drug dealer? No, sir, the soft spoken young man was actually an aerobics instructor, as I would find out when I suggested we had a few beers together, which he declined, for he wasn’t keen on alcohol in the morning.

“Do you know where the Vietnamese Cambodian Friendship Monument is? That’s where I work. I teach hip hop.”


“I’ll be there this evening, at six.”

“How much do you charge?”

“1,500 [38 cents].”

He and his partners would set up two booming speakers, and the exercisers would come. They’re mostly women above 40, for those younger are still effortlessly svelte and lovely.

A Vietnamese identifies with his original village, so even if he was born in Saigon, he’s likely to say he’s a Soc Trang person, for example. Recently, I was asked if I was from Nam Dinh, simply because I had absorbed its accent from my father, so yes, in a way, I am a Nam Dinh person, although I had never been there. My new friend couldn’t name his “quê,” or original village, however, and knew nothing about his parents, besides the fact that his absent or dead dad had been a Vietnamese Army soldier.

Settling here in the 80’s, the Vietnamese started out as fishermen, but have branched out into many other professions, and nearly all speak Khmer fluently. Sitting in a dingy coffee shop, I witnessed a Viet woman conduct her business in Khmer when necessary.

All this time, there was a faint smell of rot in the air, and I discovered its source when I strayed into a dirt alley, leading to the river. Though used to all things unpleasant, I nearly retched, for the sweet stench was overwhelming, but only for a moment, then my system adjusted. It was clear most of the houses here had neither indoor plumbing nor trash pickup, so the river shore was a festering dump. I goofed around with a bunch of laughing kids. Across the Mekong, Phnom Penh’s best buildings gleamed, but on this side, all the boats were decayed, and much more miserable than anything I had seen in Vietnam.

Back in Phnom Penh, I’d run into a 64-year-old Vietnamese who had managed to survived in Cambodia for 35 years as a practitioner of gua sha, cupping and massage, “In Saigon, I cut and dressed hair, but I had so many customers, my electricity and water bills got so high, I got cut off all the time, so I came to Cambodia.”

The math didn’t make sense, but I kept listening, “First, I carried water for hire, then I got into gua sha. You have to understand, the medical care here was practically nonexistent, so I got a lot of customers. If you go to Orussey Market, they all know me.”

On a good day, she can make \$40, and that’s enough to send her three kids back to Saigon, where they have all graduated from college, “I have 22 relatives in the US, but they don’t stay in touch with me, because they know I’m poor, but I don’t need them!”

Fiercely, she spoke of the discrimination Vietnamese have endured in Cambodia, “They used to cut our throats, you don’t know. They would kill one of us, then say that another Vietnamese has done it. Sometimes they’d say ‘youn,’ but slightly off, so I’d shout at them, ‘Who’re you calling a youn?!’”

“With all your kids back in Vietnam, why don’t you just move back?”

“But I owe a lot to this country! I’m attached to it. It saved me when I was in deep trouble!”

A Buddhist, she converted to Caodaism, partly because they had given her a place to sleep, but mostly because here was a Vietnamese community in the heart of Phnom Penh. Tucked in an alley off Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, the Cao Dai temple is not easy to find, and I only stumbled across it by accident. It was founded in 1927, just a year after the religion’s establishment.

Caodaism’s garish architecture and syncretic pantheon have provoked bemusement or derision from foreigners. Norman Lewis said that its cathedral in Tay Ninh “must be the most outrageously vulgar building ever to have been erected with serious intent.”

In Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese Caodaists provide a curious charity. They’ll provide a free coffin and burial to any corpse within the capital area, and will even come in an ornate hearse, decorated with dragons and an all-seeing eye. If you’re too broke to go under, just get your old and/or illin’ ass to Phnom Penh, OK?

Cambodia lost a third of its land to Vietnam, and another third to Thailand, and the Vietnamese and Chinese keep coming, as they have for centuries. Although many aliens intermarry and assimilate, these foreign influxes can’t help but change Cambodia. To various degrees, a similar process is happening worldwide, and it’s a cause for celebration to those who worship change.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party had two key enemies, the Vietnamese and Hun Sen, a Vietnamese puppet in its eyes. Campaigning in 2013, Sam Rainsy declared:

If we are not careful, Cambodia will become a Vietnam, Cambodia will become Kampuchea Krom, we will be a province under control of Vietnam […] This is the last opportunity, if we don’t rescue our nation, four or five years more is too late, Cambodia will be full of Vietnamese, we will become slaves of Vietnam.

This rang truer than ever when the party was dissolved by Hun Sen in 2017, and Sam Rainsy again sent into exile. Hun Sen, in turn, charged the CNRP of being a tool of Washington, out to foment a color revolution, since Hun Sen was getting too chummy with China. In small country politics, everybody is always accusing everybody else of being a foreign lackey, and most of the time, all of them are at least partially correct.

Though no place can remain static, a population should have a say regarding modifications to its identity, yet in the end, it’s not a question of morality, but the leveraging of power, and on this side of the globe, one giant towers above all.

One morning, I chanced upon a dissolute, middle-aged white guy sitting on the curb, confusedly counting his money. His stars and stripes top hat was nowhere to be found.

Linh Dinh’s latest books are Postcards from the End of America (non-fiction) and A Mere Rica (poetry). He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Cambodia, Immigration, Vietnamese 
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  1. Dan Hayes says:

    Hi Linh,

    I’m continuing to enjoy your adventures in Indo-China (or is that geographic nomenclature now politically incorrect?).

    I liked the fact that the Buddhists who rescued the statue and refused monetary compensation were nevertheless well rewarded in food staples by the Catholic Church.

    And the students in the Church school wore uniforms even in a tropical climate – that’s the way it should be!

  2. Frankie P says:


    These glimpses of other cultures are valuable and interesting. I appreciate them, even though as a long time resident of Asia (Taiwan) who has traveled in many Asian countries, they are not as foreign, exotic and otherworldly as they might be to Americans who haven’t ventured beyond the shores of their country. I’m puzzled as to why you frame this kind of writing in terms familiar to American readers of Unz (Illegal immigrants), even though the nature of illegal immigration in the two places are completely different phenomena. I feel that this framing is an error, and it will serve to confuse your readers. Let me explain through an example. I have been teaching corporate English training programs to Taiwanese employees of international and local companies for many years, and I enjoy raising social issues and looking at the bewildered faces of my students as they try to process the information I give them about illegal immigration in the US. As you may or may not be aware, there are many foreign workers in Taiwan, mainly from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. They work in factories as operators, in private homes as elder care givers, etc. Their passports are routinely confiscated by their employers, and they are sometimes treated badly. Some run away and become “illegal immigrants”. They find work under the table, in restaurants, agriculture, etc. If they are caught by authorities, they are held in a detention center until arrangements are made to return them to their home country. I introduce ideas to my students about facts like this: Illegal immigrants in California (and other states, I guess) can go to the DMV and take a driver’s license test and acquire a California Driver’s license. A look of confusion comes over the faces of my students, who ask whether it’s necessary to have an ID to take a test. Yes, I say. But they don’t have US papers. Yes, I say, and they inform the government employees at the DMV that they don’t have US papers. Do you mean they tell them that they are illegal? ask the students. Yes, I say. Why don’t they arrest them? the students say. On it goes, with the students ultimately coming to the conclusion that the US is a crazy place with no respect for its own laws. My goal has been accomplished, for this is what I think, and I want to show them. My point, dear Linh, is that you should show us the culture of Vietnam and Cambodia in its own terms, without adding confusing headlines that will cause your readers to envision the situation in their own countries rather than the facts on the ground where you are.

    Frankie P

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
  3. This can be “solved” by force. If Cambodians want to retain their national identity, they should put Vietnamese under control & stop their demographic expansion; the same with Vietnam & the Chinese. Where there is a will, most such things are achievable (Israel and Arabs, Japan and the rest of the world).

  4. Every F* Time!

    Another so-called Saigonese/South-Vietnamese/Viet Kieu, who turned out to be from Nam Dinh!

    It seem that half of the Overseas Vietnamese are originally from Nam Dinh. That over-populated province with 1200 persons/km²!

  5. Anonymous [AKA "SeTe"] says:

    Probably that’s why he keeps on pedalling the scaremongering nonsense of China exporting people to other countries. Though Vietnam has 4.2% of its population living abroard while China only 3.6% (majority of overseas Chinese went to South East Asia hundreds of years ago).

    PS. Got to love Linh Dinh’s choice of wording here: “Cambodia lost a third of its land to Vietnam , and another third to Thailand” in order to put Vietnam as a “passive non aggressor”. Had Vietnam “lost” one third of its land to China, he’d definitely choose to use some other strong words, such as, “stolen“or “land-grabbed.”

  6. His stars and stripes top hat was nowhere to be found.

    I bet he still had his star spangled codpiece, tho!

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Frankie P

    Why are you thinking about arresting someone? Only the worst sort of people want to arrest people, prosecute them, and judge them. You be the judge. The immoral immigrants are what – fun loving party people or harmful louts?

  8. I watched “First They Killed My Father,” a film by Angelina Jolie about the Cambodian genocide and it was very good.

    I highly recommend it. On Netflix.

  9. Dan Hayes says:

    Hi Linh,

    I’m not that much interested in inquiring strangers about their personal affairs. But because of your writings I do not regard you as a stranger. With these preliminaries out of the way, may I ask you a somewhat personal question?

    Here goes. I know that you are married, hopefully happily. May I inquire whether your wife accompanies you in your latest Indochinese adventures? Or is she still ensconced in Philly? If not now, will she meet you at some future date? Or is the purpose of these visits are to establish the feasibility of you and your wife permanently returning to your native shore?

    Just asking.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  10. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Dan Hayes

    Hi Dan,

    Nearly always, I travel alone. As anyone who has traveled can attest, one’s itinerary and agenda must be compromised with the addition of just one more person, and that’s only natural, for no two people will want to do exactly the same things all day long, over several days. Plus, I tend to travel rough, which often means long bus or train rides, and often sleeping on them, and at each destination, I will likely spend hours walking around each day, in cold or heat, and often through very poor, and sometimes quite dodgy, neighborhoods, so you can see why my wife isn’t eager to join me. My wife didn’t accompany me to any of the many places I visited in my book, Postcards from the End of America.

    During my recent trip to Cambodia, my wife was in Saigon. OK, enough of this stuff, for there are much more important and interesting issues to discuss!


    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
  11. Anonymous [AKA "SoyUnGato"] says:
    @Frankie P

    You might as well teach them Taiwanese who has the authority to print the US dollar.

  12. Dan Hayes says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Hi Linh,

    Many Thanks. And Continuing Good Traveling!


  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Cambodia is known too for land mines. Year after year USAID provides money for land mine clearing. Imagine a place where land mines are a problem after all these years.

    China is doing joint military anti-terror exercises with the Cambodian Army but where are the women’s rights, tranny and racial empathy, gender based rappers and the web pages saying this is the goodness that we do on behalf of the poorishness? Dueling Oxfam’s – that type of thing.

  14. Hi Linh,

    Just showed this article to Jack Reese and I emphasized kids in vicinity of “wretcbed” smelling (open) dump. Jack reflected, said, “The world ain’t a good place, no compassion.”

    F.Y.I., this morning there was an “administrative lockdown” threat at a Wyoming Area School District kindergarten. So you know, it”s located across the Susquehanna river from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

    Unlike Cambodian youth, Americans are presumed “safe” given mandate for Municipal Solid Landfills. But it appears the children depicted in this article are not worried about getting shot while thumbing through garbage & textbooks.

    Thank you for the amazing education!

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The folks who killed the priests and threw the statues into the rivers are a bit more complicated than the ol’ they were Communist.

  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “(Flies) were buzzing all around her, like some kinetic nimbus,…” Brilliant image! Thank you.

  17. Truth says:

    Yo Linhjo:

    This was a fine article, but there is one article on illegal immigration that your readership desires the way a man dying of dehydration desires a bottle of Perrier!

    You want to win a Pulitzer? You touched on it once, Buddy. Your ticket to greatness here, and internationally will be a article (Which will grow into a book) on the African male prostitutes in Vietnam!

    Imagine the titillation and acclaim this one will generate. Get in deep with them, Buddy, you can ride this story to international acclaim, take my word on this one.

  18. Hey Lihn, awesome read, as always.

    I wanted to ask, how high are the crime rates in Cambodia and Vietnam? This people are, judging by your pictures, dirt poor, Brazil’s, Venezuela’s or Kingston’s slums levels. Did you feel threatened or had a bad experience in any of your trips to the area, or heard any horror stories or warnings from fellow travellers?


    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  19. Karl says:

    > It’s well known that Cambodia’s street food is inferior to what’s found in Thailand or Vietnam

    Ron Unz pays cash money for these uncontestable truths to get published

  20. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Joe Correa

    Hi Joe,

    A few months ago, I wrote in Back to the USA, “Hong Kong’s murder rate per 100,000 people was only 0.4 for 2016. With 7.347 million people, it had 28 murders. By contrast, Philadelphia tallied 278 homicides for a population of 1.568 million.” Violent street crimes are much lower in East Asia than the US, and I pointed to a main reason for this gap”

    Year after year, American blacks commit murders at roughly seven times the rate of whites, a fact that’s blamed by many on socioeconomic factors, historical resentment and/or ongoing racism, while others attribute it to a low IQ, innate lack of impulse control and/or propensity for violence. A century from now, will blacks still be an underclass in any multicultural societies still existing? How about in five hundred years?

    Without a significant black population, East Asian societies don’t have to deal with this debate or problem. I’ve wandered unfamiliar Saigon, Hanoi and Singapore streets in the middle of the night without any fear of being shot or stabbed, and I’ve done the same in many European cities, including Istanbul and war-time Kiev.

    In Phnom Penh, I walked all over, at any time, and felt zero fear for my safety.

    In Vietnam, many people fear having their small children snatched from the street and taken to China, to have their organs harvested. Some kidnapping stories, spread on the Internet, have turned out to be rumors, but Vietnamese kids have also been rescued in China and returned to Vietnam. Adults have also been tricked into coming to China, with the promise of work, but then are killed for their kidneys, livers and heart. Here is one Vietnamese television feature on the phenomenon:

    And here’s the Overseas Security Advisory Council on Vietnam:

    Despite the high crime rating for Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), most visitors feel relatively safe. Random violent crime against foreigners is relatively rare, and the level of crime is comparable to other cities of a similar size throughout Asia. Visitors regularly fall victim to property crimes, which are usually non-confrontational crimes of opportunity. Pickpocketing, purse slashing, bag snatching, and the theft of valuables is a common occurrence, particularly in areas frequented by tourists and business travelers. Maintaining an extremely high level of 360 degree situational awareness and alertness is critical to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of petty street crime.

    Theft by motor scooter is a popular modus operandi wherein thieves grab bags/purses from victims while speeding by. This approach can cause serious injury to victims if they are unable to quickly release themselves from the straps of the bag, leaving them to be dragged by the motor scooter at high speeds. Carrying bags on the arm opposite the road and walking away from the edge of the curb can discourage potential motor scooter thieves. Smart phones, particularly iPhones and Androids, are very popular with thieves and are snatched out of victims’ hands by passing motor scooter thieves.

    Another increasingly common tactic is for a female to approach a male victim on the street, touching him suggestively while propositioning him in order to distract the victim and pick his pockets.

    While violent crimes (homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping) of foreigners remains relatively rare, the four to six weeks prior to the Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) typically see a surge in crime. This occurs because individuals preparing to return to their families and villages for the holiday may seek to obtain high-value gifts/cash to satisfy traditional gift-giving requirements. During the one-week national Tet holiday, police and public security agencies remain at full operational staffing in order to maintain peace and order in crowded public spaces and to respond to the increase in residential burglaries and domestic disputes.

    While sexual assault of foreigners by Vietnamese citizens does not appear to be common, in March 2015, a female passenger reported that a xe om (motorbike taxi driver) attempted to sexually assault her when she hired him to drive her to her hotel.

    Residential security is generally good as long as appropriate security measures are in place. This includes the use of good deadbolt locks, securing all man-passable entries, and use of alarms and perimeter walls/gates. This is particularly true for those residences near the water, as they may be vulnerable to river pirates.

    Last week, I wrote:

    On my first evening in Phnom Penh, I met a woman from Valencia. Planning on a quick Cambodia visit, she had to stay on because a man on a motorbike had snatched her backpack, which contained her passport, but that’s what she got for leaving it in the front basket of her rented bike. Muy estúpido. Julia was anxious to move on to Thailand, then Vietnam.

    So Cambodian and Vietnamese thieves will snatch your belongings, especially if you’re really careless, but the chance of getting assaulted on the streets is minimal.


    • Replies: @Truth
    , @Joe Correa
  21. Karl says:

    10 Linh Dinh > During my recent trip to Cambodia, my wife was in Saigon

    round-eyes says: when cat is away, mice can play

  22. Truth says:
    @Linh Dinh

    In Vietnam, many people fear having their small children snatched from the street and taken to China, to have their organs harvested… Adults have also been tricked into coming to China, with the promise of work, but then are killed for their kidneys, livers and heart.

    Oh is that all?

  23. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Statues are a big deal. Both when they go up and when they’re sometimes torn down.

    The summer statue event of August last year seemed to be another carefully designed black box that succeeded in creating angry people and confrontation. “For their own good” as the designers might insidiously say. There are problems in the past that can be avoided in the future but enabling people to square off with one another has no such noble goals in mind. People are so caught up they can’t hear or see the contempt that is being aimed at them.

    Following Trump’s shithole comment heard ’round the world, Chris Hedges wrote about US assassins (and their Vietnamese wives) at work murdering people in El Salvador including Church leaders. So the design there was to destroy the country to protect coffee, sugar cane and cotton with angry people, violence and confrontation to this day.

  24. Weaver says:

    You write: “In small country politics, everybody is always accusing everybody else of being a foreign lackey, and most of the time, all of them are at least partially correct.”

    That’s sad to read.

    In the ideal, Cambodia would be fully sovereign. The diversity of nations is the wealth of mankind. It makes the world much more interesting when people are “from somewhere”, have a home, a nation.’

    I only know two things about Cambodia: Angkor Wat and Pol Pot. And I’ve also read (favourably) that Cambodians don’t tolerate foreign perverts.

    The ideal of “progressing forward” should include preserving as much as we can of the old world, as well as the environment.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  25. Anonymous [AKA "KingChoppo"] says:

    Dear Linh Dinh,
    I’m an Australian expat in my thirteenth year living in China.
    My first exposure to your journalism came via
    I was instantly captivated by your frank style and excellent accompanying photography.
    I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts.
    ICH now rarely publishes your stellar work, more’s the pity for them.
    I’m glad you have this new platform for your unique perspective.
    I applaud your integrity and honesty.
    Keep battling!

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  26. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Perverts, yes of course. The US State Department let everyone know about perverts. The black guy who managed My Lai will tell the citizens that we’re going to get the pervert.

    But what’s going on on the background? Well you wouldn’t know if someone is getting pushed off their land or swindled badly because of the horrible perverts in the news. Oh the poor children. The children of Syria, oh won’t the people think of the children.

    • Replies: @Weaver
  27. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Many thanks, KingChoppo. At ICH, there were a few bourgeoisie Reds who would freak whenever I said anything negative about Communists, and they kept going on and on about it, so I ditched ICH. So many people have but a single issue through which they see everything. So much righteous self absorption.

  28. Weaver says:

    I indeed don’t know much about Cambodia, Vietnam, nor Syria for that matter. It’s a great argument for why the US shouldn’t be involved. When we do get involved: locals blame us, some legitimate abuse results, foreign interests sway us, other special interests sway us.

    As you say: in Syria, Israel and Turkey are expanding. And the Saudis/Qatar are expanding their head chopper brigade. All we hear about is bad bad Iran. Israel is of course the dominant influence on the US. Israel seems to want not only part of Syria but also part of Lebanon. And Christians are unsurprisingly the biggest losers.

    Which side is the truly “good” side in such a conflict? Even Israel can present an argument. The US needs to get out and stay out.

    And the term people need to remember is: Ethnic cleansing. That’s what’s truly taking place. The US should cease taking part in such a thing. And so much history, including ancient communities, are lost forever. Personally, if I’m being honest, I believe the US intentionally supports the head choppers.

    But I live in a democracy. Voters are too stupid to understand events, or to even much care. Some talk of returning to the draft to end the warring. The draft is why the Vietnam War became unpopular.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Karl
  29. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    America doesn’t need a draft man. Poor folk fought for the American Communists in Iraq, Poor folk who didn’t have the money to fix their own cars are “drafted” by 3 square, roof, routine, uniforms, training and hopefully a ticket the hell out of dodge.

    • Replies: @Weaver
  30. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Fascinating reading as always about a part of the world about which I don’t know all that much but am learning more and more.

    Are there many ethnic Chinese in Cambodia and have they dominated commerce in the same fashion as they’ve done throughout Southeast Asia? Years ago I read a book called “The Two Vietnams” by a French journalist named Bernard Fall. He said in so many words that the Vietnamese and Chinese get a long like cats and dogs.

  31. @Linh Dinh

    Thanks for answering so thoroughly, this is quite interesting.

    Neither Vietnam nor Cambodia make it to the top 50 countries with highest intentional murder rate, I wonder whether the lack of Black-Mulatto and “Native” populations (Amerindian, Papuan NGs varieties and Innuit) has anything to do with that fact.

    On a side note, the story of the Chinese organ snatchers is quite mind-blowing. I’ve read something about Chinese organ harvesting from Falung Gong practitioners, but I thought at the time the whole thing was anti-Chinese propaganda.

    By the way, have you considered starting a youtube channel? you could do mini documentaries with live photographs (fixed shots) and a voice-over (preferably yours) basically reading your posts, and some interviews to the characters you find in your journey.
    You could direct your following to the channel, and could use it to sell more books and gain more followers. Maybe we could even chip in for microphones and a portable tripod. On the other hand perhaps it’s too much extra work with the DIY editing, just thought I would love to see video versions of your posts about your trips and the people you find on youtube, and I guess other followers would also.

    Just some ideas. Cheers.

  32. Weaver says:

    I don’t especially want a draft. I just thought it an interesting explanation for why Americans opposed Vietnam yet don’t seem to mind current wars. (I find a variety of ideas “interesting”.)

    Maybe a better reason is the body count, and obviously I don’t want the body count to rise.

  33. Karl says:

    28 Waver1 > Some talk of returning to the draft to end the warring

    no, they mostly talk about Universal National Service. and it’s MOSTLY because they want the pretty ones to be assigned to Washington, DC.

    didja notice that in the most recent written (pardon the pun) draft legislation for it, there was a proviso that 15% of the conscripts would be “selected” by endorsement of VIPs to receive full-free-rides to college?

    “selection by endorsement” was HarveyWeinstein’s plan

    Don’t forget that before the Harvey Weinstein show, it was commonly believed by the elites that them keeping their end of the deal, would result in the 19 year old girls still keeping their mouths shut when they got to age 49.

    • Replies: @Weaver
  34. Weaver says:

    Some mention the draft in a different context, but that’s certainly unwanted to have a mandatory service (in the US) in peace time.

    The 15% being selected is interesting, not for what you’re suggesting but more generally for the power it would grant.

    What happens when the US dollar collapses and foreign imports become prohibitively expensive? Poverty. Massive unrest.

    We’re on course for eventually having large numbers of unemployed. And it’s the young who get violent. Employing them in some sort of “National Service” would keep them out of trouble. It also allows for social engineering, and it helps reduce the birthrate since couples would put off having children for an additional 2 years.

    I’m not praising this idea. I’m saying that, from the elite perspective (which is not my perspective), it makes sense.

    Alternatively, I’ve tried to encourage people not only to home school but to start college early (15 or 16) and to even take online courses, so that one can work at the same time (and not be brainwashed by a college English prof).

    Similarly, I’ve tried to push for higher market wages rather than government dependence. It’s interesting how the elite essentially pursues the opposite. The populist vision is a large, independent middle class (and otherwise decentralised power); the elite vision is a servile, dependent population.

    I suppose a draft proposal is too dangerous then. Ty.

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