The Enormous Gap between the Rich and the Poor

20 October 2011

A tuk-tuk parked next to a Camry

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, but driving down the street you will first notice the amazing amount of motorcycles and tuk-tuks on the road, and then notice that anyone who drives, drives a luxury car. From Toyota Camrys, to Range Rovers; Lexuses to Escalades, and even Humvees, Phnom Penh is filled with them. Their homes are either run-down apartments, or flashy mansions that look like they can be on the road to Beverly Hills.Yes, the contrast between the very rich and the very poor is obvious. There are slums right around the corner from one of the malls. But no one seems to bat an eyelid. What is running through the minds of the rich when the poverty that is right in front of their eyes can't be ignored?DIY baby-chair

Corruption is rife, not even the schools are spared. According to sources, the teachers are paid so little that they do not teach the students what is necessary to pass the exams. Instead, students are required to pay extra for "tuition". Many of these students dont have enough money to eat 3 meals a day, so they have no choice but to drop out of school, get low-paying jobs, and the vicious cycle continues. Police stop motorcyclists on the road, and demand money. If none can be given, they take the bikes instead. This is the reality of many Cambodians.How are people supposed to survive if the police take away the only thing they have?
Common scene on the roads of Phnom Penh

On a more personal note, I went out for lunch with Singly again as Kat was only scheduled to arrive around 7pm.. This time we had "safer" food:Cashew nut chickenGreen curry chickenYum-yum pineapple shake! Singly obviously loves it too.. Lol..

Then we went to Sovanna Shopping Center. I didnt buy anything, as things are surprisingly more expensive in Cambodia. I guess this is because they use USD. Interesting fact: There are no coins used in Cambodia; instead, the Cambodian currency riel is used for "change". Singly said that it's because coins are easily lost, and i can see why that would be a factor, as they mostly ride motorcycles, but I still ignored his comment.. ;p
We went to the arcade, where i discovered that boys everywhere really are the same. I could've been kidnapped for all Singly knew when he was watching this other kid play Street Fighters. Hahaha.. But I still smoked his ass when we played Air Hockey!! =D (Say it Singly! Say I rule!! Muahahaha.. ;p)I found out the NGO/church we were going to be working with is called New Life Centre which is just behind my hotel Basically, a ministry called Cambodian Outreach provides relief to the poorest areas of Cambodia, and The New Life Foundation, along with the humanitarian programme Children @ Risk are just a couple of their "branches". I got to visit the Children @ Risk office where we bought some souvenirs for friends, which is great cz they represent Cambodia, and at the same time we get to help these children make some money to sustain themselves.. I bought some braceletsand keychainsFor those of you who'd like to help without physically going to Cambodia, you could always sign up for their sponsorship program, details of which can be found here.


  1. Nice pic and amazing writing about Cambodia. I do really like to read it so much. Thanks for sharing..

  2. Aww.. Thanks Richard! No problem.. Shall let you know of any other posts too.. I loved Cambodia, and making new friends like you! =)

  3. Very good write-up about life in Cambodia. The place and food looks amazing!! Your new-found friends are doing a great job.. Keep-it up!!

  4. Thanks! Will be updating more soon.. Hope you're ready for some long stories!! ;p

  5. A very good observation about the gap between rich and poor, it's probably a case of the rich getting used to it or even thinking the poor choose to be poor, I've heard that attitude exists. A.B.

  6. Actually A.B., yes, we have heard that this kind of mentality is the norm.. But I like to think that at least some of the rich are different..? =) Hopefully we'll be seeing some change soon?