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Expats are found far and wide. Thailand and Cambodia provide popular long-term haunts, since everything one could need is freely available for anyone of moderate Western wealth; sun, hammocks, food, beer and women.

Kampot, on the South coast of Cambodia is one such place. Expats here style themselves ‘Pol-Pats’. I think you need look little further than this crudely-chosen nickname to find potential for criticism of these people, but in reading their ‘Kampot Survival Guide’, I did.

“The Gods practised first on Heaven, then they made Kampot” reads this rag’s tagline. In a place better than heaven, a ‘Survival Guide’, I think, seems somewhat obselete. Nevertheless, the twenty page booklet contains some information about mosquitos, hangovers and other such perils, whilst continually rubbishing similar advice available in the Lonely Planet.

In fact, the guide doesn’t express much enthusiasm whatsoever for the traveller.”FREE for tourists, $1 for backbackers” is adorned on the front cover, less a pricing policy and more an indication of intent.

The intent of this newsletter is, I think, entirely concerned with the elevation of its writer and his peers. Expats occupy a lonely space between tourist and local. Writing a guide rag seems to settle roots. The guide is funny, occasionally witty and allusive of the necessary ingredients for expatriotal enjoyment. Whilst there is no harm in this alone, I find the tone of writing unreasonable when considered from a Cambodian viewpoint.

In a rag about a Cambodian town, townspeople get barely one mention; local people are “generally very friendly”. The language throughout is that of “we” and “us”, while local people have no evident voice. On politics, so hugely affecting in the country’s past and present, “it’s best not to go too far into Khmer politics, just accept it.”

Western finance makes it easy to live a comfortable life here with minimal cultural contact, save the extensive contact involved with ‘massage parlours’ (“always use a wilkinson, love sock”).

Ask the editor of KSG where the coldest beer in town can be found and he would take you to a bar in a flash. Ask him about how Cambodia should go about increasing it’s literacy rates and he would, I imagine, dash off to that same bar in a flash.

Expats can live a heavenly life in Kampot, as elsewhere, and the KSG helps them do just that. But I find it difficult to accept that such a lifestyle permits them to live like Gods in a Kingdom which is not their own.

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