Readers' Submissions

Delightful Cambodia – A Guesthouse Manager Talks



The Special Meal (1)

"You see them over there? French tourist and his taxi girl. They order food before, but – ha!!! – she cannot eat! They come here and she talk too me very impolite. She think she boss! She only taxi girl! But she think she big now, because has rich barrang customer already, with white skin and sharp nose! Ha! So they order food. Ha – I put chili too-too much in her food! Cannot eat! Ha!

Brother speak to me: 'Sister! You crazy already! No put chili so much! Customer cannot eat, they never come back.'

But I say: 'Brother! Now YOU crazy already! I put chili too much in HER food only. Sure cannot eat – ha! But for HIM I cook very good food, very good amok dish, steamed fish you know, and takalok fruit smoothie for him, sure HE come back!'"

The Special Land

"First, Mama buy this land only to sell later. Maybe rent land to Khmer family for some time. But you see, there is old guesthouse over there, behind our land. Then we see, so many barrang tourist walk to this guesthouse. So I say to Mama: 'Mamaaa! Can make guesthouse too! Make good business with rich barrang customer. Mamaaa! Can, sure!' – Mama speak: 'Ok, we do.' – We know nothing about tourist business, but adh panyaha. We make guesthouse. Brother make plan house, I make plan room and garden, Mama make plan kitchen and money.

Ha! Now all customers for old guesthouse see our place first. Ha! Old guesthouse lose customer too much! Sometimes they not so friendly, customer no like this, and we always friendly for customer!

Ha, now old guesthouse lose money already. Now they want to sell to us!! Mama say: 'Okay, can buy old guesthouse. But not now. Later! Wait one more year, two more year – they lose money all the time, later they sell more cheap.' Ha!"

The Special Customer (1)

"Before we start guesthouse, we no speak English, no read English, never talk to westerner! So in Phnom Penh we have special teacher, my family only, learn English for tourist business. For two months learn English, then guesthouse open already and no have time to learn more.

So, we put sign on the road, new guesthouse open now. My family sit in kitchen and wait for first customer! Uiiiiiii!

Then, big car coming, stop at our guesthouse. Oh, I sure car have westerner inside. We see big car, but we shy to speak to barrang! Mama say: 'Son, daughter! My English not so good. You go out, speak to rich barrang.' But I say: 'Brother! My English not so good too, YOU go and talk to customer barrang!' But brother say: 'Sister! I cannot! I shy already! Sister, please you go and talk to rich white man, you go quick now, I sure he waiting already. Good luck!"

Uiiiiiii! I feel like cannot speak English one word. Uiiii! But I go out to meet rich white customer. Must do business. But I so lucky, so lucky!!! You know, customer come with big new car, but he Khmer, he Khmer – no need to speak to barrang white man."

The Special Customer (2)

"You see him customer over there, that Mr. Thomas. He our old customer. He come every few weeks for weekend. No barrang can stay in Phnom Penh long time, Phom Penh adh sabai, no green, too many bad people, they need to get out of city and spend time in guest house in natural countryside, here no have bad poor people, cyclo driver, snackseller, no crazy people like Phnom Penh.

Yesterday Mr. Thomas call to make reservation for today. I booking best room for him. But then this new customer over there arrive, you see him there with very polite shirt. I can see he no tourist, I sure he work in Phnom Penh, maybe teacher, maybe organization. I want him to come back.

So I change reservation, give best room to new customer. When old customer Mr. Thomas arrive, he get noisy room on the street side. But that no problem, Mr. Thomas come back anyway, he can take bad room this weekend."

The Special Meal (2)

"Sometime customer too stupid. Sometime customer say, I bring wrong food. I SURE I bring the food they want before. But they forget, or they change idea. Okay, okay, they say we make mistake, so they can have old food for free, or get new food!

If customer change idea, Mama very angry. (Business belong to Mama.) Mama speak: 'Okay, stupid barrang can have new food and not pay old food.' We do like that here, so customer can be happy and can come back.

But – ha!!! – then Mama spit into new food for stupid customer!"

Stickman's thoughts:

I'll have to get Gordon Sharpless to help translate the Cambodian!