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Cambodia Tourist Quiz

Traveled around Cambodia a bit? What did you really learn? Planning a trip soon? Find out if you've done enough research.

1.) You've taken a motorbike taxi ride a short distance. Reaching your destination you pay the driver 2000 riels for the journey. He stands there holding the money with an incomprehensible grin on his face. What does this mean?

A.) You paid too much.
B.) You paid too little.
C.) He just passed gas.
D.) Any of the above. The grin is incomprehensible to us, too.

2.) How many passengers can you put in the back of a pick-up truck?

A.) That depends on what kind of truck it is.
B.) A carefully determined figure taking into account the stated gross vehicle weight, condition of the vehicle, the age and size of the passengers, and present road conditions.
C.) 12.
D.) One more.

3.) Your guesthouse informs you that your laundry will be ready soon. Soon is how long?

A.) Within the hour.
B.) Tomorrow.
C.) When the girl who does the washing can find the laundry detergent.
D.) Soon is an unquantifiable value.

4.) You are at the border and are told the tourist bus to Siem Reap is leaving now. When is it leaving?

A.) Now.
B.) When it's full.
C.) This afternoon.
D.) Soon.

5.) You flag down a moto, tell him your destination, and ask him if he knows where it is. He says "yes". This means:

A.) He knows where it is.
B.) He knows where you are.
C.) He knows what "yes" means.
D.) He knows how to say "yes".

6.) You're buying a bottle of water from some kid in front of Angkor Wat. She asks for 1000 riels. How much should you bargain?

A.) Haggle to the bone. Bleed her dry.
B.) 500 riels.
C.) 700 riels.
D.) The same amount that you bargained the price of the eight beers you were served by a British bartender in an expatriate/tourist bar the previous night.

7.) You rented a motorbike and have just been stopped by the police. What should you do?

A.) Pay whatever is asked.
B.) Stand around for ten minutes trying to bargain the "fine" down.
C.) Offer sincere apologies for being an inconvenience to the good citizens of Cambodia.
D.) Why on earth did you stop?

8.) Your motodriver tells you that, "You are number one!" What does this mean?

A.) You're his best customer.
B.) You're his first customer.
C.) You're his only customer.
D.) You're a condom.

9.) A beggar shakes his hat in your face, then points to his prosthesis and makes hand motions indicating 'no leg'. What should you do?

A.) Give him $1.
B.) Ignore him.
C.) Buy him dinner.
D.) Point to your head and make hand motions indicating 'no brain'.

10.) You'd like a posting as an election observer. What are the necessary qualifications and responsibilities of the job?

A.) Degree in political science and prior experience observing elections in fledgling democracies.
B.) You come from Florida and helped count votes in the 2000 US election.
C.) Your name is Charles Taylor or Robert Mugabe.
D.) See no evil, hear evil, talk no evil.

Answers: You'd probably choose D for each question and you'd pass the test, but read on anyway.

1.) Yes, D is the best answer, but C could be a possibility as well. In many cases, 2000 riels is a generous fare so A could also be correct. Had you handed the driver only 500 riels, well, B would be the proper choice. To read more about motodrivers, how to handle the fares, and local transport in general, read this.

2.) Of course D. Long distance pick-up trucks, still the most popular form of inter-provincial transportation, will easily place twice as many people in the back than most westerners think is reasonable capacity. And still, they always seem able to take on that one more passenger who flags them down from the side of the highway. The idea of a Khmer considering the weight of the passengers, the condition of his truck, etc is all nonsense. More passengers = more income. Period.

3.) D and only D, though C may be a cause of D. 'Soon' is a great word over here for a couple of reasons. In this part of the world people don't place the same emphasis on time as we do in the west and in an effort to maintain harmony and face, people have a tendency to give the answer they think you want to hear. 'Soon' fills both ends as it involves no commitment on the part of the person giving the answer and it gives the receiver of this information the good news that things will happen, well, soon. If you're told that something will happen "soon" and in your mind it doesn't happen soon enough, don't get too upset, that's how things are done over here. If you really need to nail down a time as to when something will be done, ask a question, like, "Will my laundry be ready by 5:00 pm?" While this doesn't guarantee a truthful answer you've somewhat minimized the possibility of being told "soon". Still, remember this is Cambodia and perhaps letting go of some of the time stress we westerners go through back home will make your trip go a little easier.

4) Again D, though C would be correct as well. B might seem like a correct answer, but it's not. The point here is that any kind of tourist transportation, and you'll know it's tourist transport because there probably won't be any Khmers on the bus or in the van, will often tell people they are leaving "now". Nine times out of ten this is a lie, but they know it's what you want to hear. In reality, the bus/van will leave "soon" - see answer to number 3. The reason why B is not correct is that in the case of Siem Reap-bound tourist transport, it's their intention to arrive as late as possible so as to increase the likelihood you will stay at the guesthouse they sell you to, that the bus is full and everybody is ready to go is not important.

5.) D is the only answer that is guaranteed correct 100% of the time. No driver would ever deny knowing where a location is as he doesn't want to lose a fare. Be aware of this if you're going somewhere and you're not sure exactly where it is or how to get there.

6.) D and only D. There are times to bargain hard and times not to bargain hard. This is the latter. If you can spend $12 on beer in a foreign-owned bar and not blink, then you can certainly spend 25 cents for a bottle of water from somebody who makes a dollar a day, lives here, and whose ancestors were among the laborers who built these monuments. And if the kid asks you for 2000 riels, well, you can pay that, too.

7.) D, but if you did stop then B. The only time you should stop for the police is when not stopping means running one over or if one of the police officers is sitting on a 250cc bike ready to chase you on your rented 110cc Honda Dream. For tips on how to handle a police shakedown read this (see question number 13).

8.) Yes, the answer is D, really! Number One is the name of the locally produced brand of condoms and Number One jokes have been around for years. Some would say the condom itself is the biggest joke, but apparently they have improved the quality a bit in recent years. In any event, if your motodriver, or any Khmer, says this to you, do laugh with him. It probably means he likes you. It's not meant as an insult so please don't take it as one.

9.) Well, you could try D, though some people might think you're insensitive. I think pointing to a prosthesis and asking me for money is also insensitive. Many beggars have entered the profession because of the generosity(?) of tourists. And some of these guys make a lot of money and it sure beats working. I do not give to beggars and feel quite strongly about it. What you do is up to you, but keep in mind that many beggars make considerably more money than a lot of hardworking Khmers who put in ten-hour days at real jobs. If you want to spread a little wealth around, put a tip in the hand of the waitress that serves you lunch, or give a couple of bucks to the local who spends an hour of his time helping you get your broken down motorbike to the shop, or in any number of ways that reward someone who contributes more than the ability to shake and hat and say, "Papa, som pram roy riel."

10.) D is the only thing that matters. B and C might help you land the job, though.



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