Posts Tagged ‘penniless’

Warning to Hippies and Penniless Westerners Travelling to Phnom Penh

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm

By Antonio Graceffo


poverty kids BW

Warning to idiotic budget travelers from the world’s richest countries: Please don’t come to Cambodia with no money. I get email every week from people who want to come to Cambodia and train. About 30% of them are so deluded, I want to just post this, copy, paste and share, once and for all, to head off the stupid questions.

Please don’t write to me and ask me where you can get a well paying job in Cambodia, to pay for your training. It’s a poor country. Wages are well below the cost of living and jobs are few and hard to get. If you have real skills, you can apply to an NGO or an international company to do a real job, which a local can’t. But there are no casual jobs that pay well. And apart from casual teaching, I don’t know of casual jobs at all. Please don’t offer to work, clean the school, or teach English or martial arts in exchange for training, room, and board. Your labor is worth $3 a day. Room and board is worth $30. It’s not a good deal for the locals. Besides which, the people who teach martial arts are poor. They need you to pay your training fees so they can eat.

If you really want a local job, a factory job here would pay about $150 USD a month, for working 11 hours per day, 28 days a month. I get a commission for each overseas worker I recruit. So, let me know if you are interested.

Don’t tell me you are a vegan or have some sort of made-up, self-imposed dietary restrictions. The locals don’t have enough to eat. Telling them you intentionally pass up certain foods would be like laughing at their poverty. The food I eat here is often dirty and of questionable origin, but I am happy to have it. And I know a lot of locals who would love to eat for a whole day what a person from a first world country eats in a single meal.

And don’t ask me about your stupid dog. NO! You can’t bring your dog to Cambodia. (Antonio’s Law, number 141606) It is inhumane to chemically knock out your dog in Israel or Belgium or New Jersey, put it in a crate, and fly 23 hours to Cambodia. Once you get here, we travel everywhere on motorcycles. This wouldn’t be safe or maybe not even possible with a dog. Obviously the overwhelming majority of hotels won’t accept you with a dog. And since you are coming with no money and want to stay in the cheapest places, this reduces your options to almost zero. The cheapest option for a long term training stay is to negotiate and sleep in the school. But that is something you can’t do with your dog.

I think people from the west need to decide if they are rich or poor. If you are rich, live rich, and pay rich. If you are poor, live poor, and pay poor. But you can’t come to a developing country and expect to pay poor and live rich.

Please feel free to repost this to anyone who you think it might help.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on
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