Small Piece of Advice

Dear Traveler,

I have been watching you. Yes, creepy but true. You don’t know me, but I have come across you when I owned restaurants. I know how you behave when you are in your home country. I understand your expectations. But here’s the thing. your in Asia now.

This is different, they get to you when they get to you. That could be right away or in 15 minutes. And when they do show up, don’t be alarmed if there is a cigarette in their hand. For that matter, don’t be alarmed when you glance towards the kitchen and the cook is smoking.

They will only approach you when they see the menu closed. You will not be told any specials. The menu is what they make, end of story. You will be expected to give them your entire order, not just your drinks. They will stand there quietly until you have completed the entire order.

So a couple of suggestions. When placing the order, for the love of god, don’t ask them what is good. They will stare at you like it is a trick question. If the guy is smart, he will just point to the most expensive thing on the menu.

Don’t modify the food! They barely speak English so raising your voice and slowing your speech, while you ask for the dressing on the side is not going to help. Eat is as it comes. Or order water and bread. Your choice.

Food may not come out all at the same time. It will come out when it is ready. It is something we accept when going out for Japanese. But for some reason all other restaurants in North America, we have come to expect that all food must come out together.

If there is one meal that is delayed or incorrect, don’t expect it to be removed from the bill or deeply discounted. Remove your expectation to eat your meal with everyone, that may not happen. Your food may also arrive prior to your drink. Complaining won’t help you out at all. Smile and just accept the fact that the food and drink finally arrived.

They are not going to hover over you or try to be your friend. You need something, wave. That is the only way they will approach the table. Your bill will come once asked for and your dishes will not be cleared until you leave.

You don’t need to follow my advice, that is okay. But may I suggest you stay home then?



P.S. Enjoy these pictures of Cambodia.

Travel Tip:

Tipping is a North American concept. Most other countries have the service charge added to the bill automatically. The staff receive a decent salary in most countries, plus will share the service fee. If you feel you had exceptional service and food, it never hurts to leave a dollar to two. Some locals will take offence to you tipping. It then starts a precedence for them to tip as well, so be careful not to offend anyone.


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