Text page

Culture and politics

Culture and politics forum

Respecting local sensibilities. why should i when they have no respect for me.

Posted by sayadian on 2/1/2012 at 20:22

went in to buy a very ordinary plug for my pc.The girl didn't even look at the old part which I held out for her to examine.Just kept on chatting to her colleaues ( small shop but there were 4 of the lazy cows working there) didn't even look at me.Just said curtely.
'we don' have.'
How do you know if you haven't looked.' I replied
She totally ignored me.
This isn't the forst time this has hapenned. I believe it's endemic in Cambodia.

Went into the Post Office, 6 of them sitting there doing the usual Cambodian thing of staring off into space.
Excuse me, Can you help me.
Not even a reply just a hand pointed at one harrased girl serving a long queue.
usually they are so over-staffed too.yesterday I went in a small bakey which sells only cakes and bread and what I wanted, Pizza.There were 15 girls in orange tops 'working there' but the majority were typical Cambodian-just trying to ignore the customer so they could get on with the really important things in life, like staring into space.When you finally do find service the girl can't add 3 + 4 and has to fetch her calculator. Luckily the boss come after i had made the terribly complicated purchase of two pizzas and a baquette and luclily he could count because the huge calculations looked like it was going to send her into tears. all the while of course the usual rubber necks have arrived to wath the excitement of a couple of Barangs in a Bakery.I think I'll start charging for autographs.
Why is Thailand and Vietnam so much more civilised?

#1 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by exacto on 2/1/2012 at 20:43

sounds like a tough couple of days. but don't let it get to you. things like this happen everywhere, and has happened to me more than a few times in thailand too. i think the lack of customer service is because there is no reward for those people if they do a good job or not. just a guess.

cambodia is still recently emerged from two generations of civil war and a pretty dark era. i remember a similar situation in prague with some pretty awful behavior from the immigration officials at the airport, but the rest of the trip there was still great anyway.

remember too that your hotel room is probably less than you'd pay elsewhere, and the food less than other places too - at least when compared to back home. just consider it part of the cost of doing business.

and to answer the question in the title of the post? you already know the answer. it is because you want to act and not react. and it is because we travel to experience new things, even if the new things aren't all happy ones.

anyway, like i said, don't let it get you down. smile at some random people and be extra kind for no reason and be the one that starts to get things moving in the right direction. and feel bad for those of us stuck back home going to work tomorrow instead of enjoying an angkor beer at a lakeside cafe. regards.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,831

Posted by MADMAC on 2/1/2012 at 21:24

Good advice from exacto here. I have seen all kinds of people living here and the ones that are happy are the ones who accept their environment the way it is. A friend of mine said to a guy at a bar I was in "You don't like the food, you don't like the people, you don't like the government officials, you don't like the weather... but you want to work here." Of course for most of them it's about the cheap women and cheap booze. Also learning the language. If you live here, you really have to learn the language of your environment. Frankly, I find it disrespectful to not even try. Another guy I know here got hassled at immigration when he went to renew his visa. The immigration officer said to him "You've lived here 12 years and can't speak Thai?" Imagine if we were in the US or England and after 12 years your neighbor couldn't speak even functional English.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by busylizzy on 2/1/2012 at 21:46

Yeah, it does happen everywhere. You're just having a bad run. When in Bali recently, a friend went to a restaurant in Ubud, specifically chosen because they had WiFi. But he had planned on getting a drink and having some lunch. He was shown to a table, they gave him the WiFi password - and disappeared. Never brought a menu, never asked for an order. There was no one else in the restaurant. He wasn't that worried about not eating as he was primarily after the WiFi, and was playing a bit of a game with them: "How long can I stay without ordering". He skyped me at one point and I could see staff sitting around doing bugger all. I spoke out to them in Indonesian to see if that would get their attention - but no response. Two hours later he finished with WiFi, looked around and left. He went next door to have his dinner.

You do wonder sometimes about their understanding of running a business!

I liked exacto's final comments!! I do sympathise with your frustrations, sayadian. I hope you can sympathise with our frustrations of being stuck back in the office! :-)
Hang in there, you'll have a moment of unexpected kindness soon!

#4 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by sayadian on 3/1/2012 at 02:28

Perhaps I should have added that I've lived here off and on for 8 years. For much of that time I spent half my time in Thailand and half or less here.(Btw Mac I speak and read, write passable Thai because ,like you, I think it shows respect and is also the quickest way of understanding a very complicated and different way of seeing the world.
I also have my own place and don't live in an hotel.
To balnce things out, I find a lot of positive things happen to me here and a lot of good people. I just wanted to focus on a few of the negative aspects that iritate me now and again though I've been here long enough to know that showing irritation actually works against you (unlike the west)
Another example of something that I find stupid and counter-productive is to take an example.My girlfriend gets her hair done in the same place regularly but last week the bill was doubled. After complaining it was knocked back but still was far too high. (I do know local prices)I've been told that the local thinking is because you are a regular they think by charging you more they make more money??? when in actual fact it drives Western business away.
Just getting some gripes off my chest.I don't suppose it'll make a radical change to my life but I think if I stay her a 1000 years I still won't understand Asian attitudes.
Sometimes it works in yhour favour. I got caught red-handed the other day making an illegal right turn,a bit of polite negotiation resulted in a 'fine of just $3.The cops comment was really funny though, he apologised to me quite sincerely but exlained him and his buddy were broke and needed a little money.No lecture about breaking the rules it was all about making a bit of money.we left all smiles and a nice salute from the officers.

#5 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by busylizzy on 3/1/2012 at 02:33

Sorry Sayadian - I forgot that you lived there! Yeah, I can see that some things would wear you down after awhile... :-O

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by MADMAC on 3/1/2012 at 10:50

I've never been to Cambodia, but a friend of mine who left Thailand and took a job in PP told me it's VERY different.

I have never had that experience here. Customer service, in the sense that I am waited on hand and foot in a restaraunt, is excellent for me here. Much better than back in Germany. Here my favorite restaraunt has about 12 waitresses. One will always play with my little girl so I don't have to watch her all the time while eating (I take my daughter out to eat a lot when her mother is working and while waiting for the food to come, she doesn't want to just sit - like most five year olds). I just have to look at the waitress and she's at the table. Sayadian, come on back across the border man. You already speak Thai, the BS factor is low...

Funny story on this line, I told it once before, but one time here I was at a local bar I go to about once a week. There is only one road back into town, and occassionally the police will run a checkpoint there to check for drunken drivers. Now I had had three big beers, but I'm a small guy, so I am probably legally over the limit. I stop and the cop asks me if I've been drinking. I told him straight up I had three bottles. "Oh, mai bpen rai". One of the officers had (has) a custom made chopper with a BMW 750cc twin. It's a beautiful bike and I told him so. He asks me if I want to take it for a ride and gives me the keys. You got to love Thailand. I've heard it's different in Bangkok and down south, but out here... people are cool.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by asia4life on 6/1/2012 at 02:23

What you experience sounds similar as when back in Sweden (where I live). Going into a clothing shop, or any other where young people work, none give you attention. It is more important to talk to their friend on the mobile than serving the customer (twice the age of them)

So honestly, I get more upset beeing treated that way back at home, where we used to "have the best education" and they should know better. Meeting the same attitude in South East Asia, I kind of accept it (if it is a "good" day), since they still don't have the same education system as in Scandinavien and maybe have not been educated in this matter

So maybe this is more an attidude of age more than geography????

#8 asia4life has been a member since 30/11/2011. Location: Sweden. Posts: 19

Posted by MADMAC on 6/1/2012 at 05:24

When I lived in Germany I made very good money. We lived in a very nice apartment, in an exclusive neighborhood. My wife went into a little, expensive boutique to buy some clothes and the snooty woman (and she wasn't young) simply ignored her. When my wife asked her how much something cost, she said "more than you can afford." My wife was furious and that lady lost not only that sale, but any subsequent business from her or her upscale friends (my wife told them all). Bad service attitudes can be found everywhere unfortunately. The biggest probelm out here for me is sometimes the wait staff are unaware I speak Thai, they don't speak English, and they are embarrassed to engage.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Please login to add your reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a post to the forum. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.