Indeed they were. You can read the thread here.
I find Khmer440 funny because of the spats between the different bar owners and the expats who frequent the different establishments. It's also instructive because some of these guys have been in Phnom Penh for a long time and know the ins-and-outs. And the gossip is always good entertainment. I am glad I live in Siem Reap though. Siem Reap just seems less...complicated.
Anyway, I was reading the thread and found this bit interesting. From ryan_asia:
Posted: Sun May 02, 2010 3:46 pm Post subject:
I was visiting Phnom Penh around two and a half years ago and stayed at the guesthouse next to DF's (David Fletcher's) bar. I saw the fliers on his tables about helping the people at the dump. Back then I was stupid and thought anybody could help save the world. I asked David what I could do to help and he replied that the people needed rubber boots.
I asked him how many were needed and what the cost was. He needed 100 pairs and said they cost $3.00 each. Thankfully I didn't have $300 on me at the time. The next day I asked a Khmer lady working were I stayed next door if she could go hunt them down for me. I didn't want to go myself and get ripped off with Barang pricing.
I gave her $300 and asked her to see if she couldn't get them for less as I was buying a large quantity. I assumed that was the end of that money but she came back with the boots and gave me back $150. Incredible honesty given what she was getting paid for a salary.
Read the whole post here. Thanks for sharing ryan_asia.
Many times at Phnom Penh's riverside my friends and I would get accosted by some Khmer man with flyers trying to convince us to pay to visit the dump. I think it was US$15 for food and the trip there. The pushy man would even harass us in the restaurant, so I'm sure he gets a commission (why else try so hard?). Often the man would ignore me, only giving the fliers to my white friends. Of course I always advised friends against signing up for the trip, believing it to be a scam (turns out I was right - how shocking).
Fletcher is now behind bars. He was arrested in Bangkok after fleeing Cambodia because of an expose in UK's Sunday Mirror.
Anyway the point of this post: Tourists to Cambodia who would like to help please do not participate in the work of some random "charitable" organisation you encounter, no matter how persuasive it seems. You need to find out more.
One of the strategies Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, recommends is this:
"Aid agencies should increasingly be concentrated in the most difficult environments, accept more risk. Ordinary citizens should not support poorly informed [may I add, and intentionally corrupt ones] vociferous lobbies whose efforts are counterproductive and severely constrain what the Aid agencies can do."