Don’t be the “Ugly American”

One of the things that irritates me most when traveling abroad is an Ugly American. I am not sure who came up with that term but here is my definition: an American who travels abroad who does not take the time to read and educate themselves on the land and people they are going to visit; an American who is arrogant, ignorant, demanding, offensive and rude.

Yesterday we had a six hour bus ride to catch up with our River cruise. The  water level on the lake was much too low for our boat to operate so we needed to travel to a location where the water level was high. What does the Ugly American do? Complain for a solid six hours. What did I do? I was reading a book: “Surviving The Killing Fields”. I poured a glass of wine and began to educate myself on the people of Cambodia.

The people of Cambodia have suffered so many hardships. A land that has had so much war. Their family and friends murdered in front of their eyes. Never enough food on the tables, never enough fresh clean water. Land mines still exploding taking off their limbs. And yet they are the most friendly and gracious people with the most beautiful smiles.

As I sit here typing this I am in a lounge area with wi fi drinking a mimosa, enjoying my picturesque view. The Ugly American is making an ass of himself yelling at the most pleasant Cambodian because he does not have wi-fi in his room. The Ugly American cannot get off his fat ass to walk to the lounge to use the wi-fi.

If you hear on the news that an Ugly American went overboard on a River cruise in Cambodia you will know who helped toss him overboard. 😃

We all can be so much kinder to people of every race and color. If you are going to travel to a third world country educate yourself first. Don’t demand to be treated like the class level back in America, don’t tell people how much you’re worth. It’s completely irrelevant here in Cambodia.

2 thoughts on “Don’t be the “Ugly American”

  1. Hi Shelly- Am loving the adventure you are on right now! It has prompted me to try to find a move Glen and I saw about 200 years ago. It was a monologue by Spalding Gray called “Swimming To Cambodia.” It was based on his role in the movie “The Killing Fields” and discussed all the horrors the Cambodians suffered at the hand of the Khmer Rouge regime. I had just done a loan for a beautiful Cambodian woman who had escaped with her son by playing dead in a box car full of corpses. Can you even begin to imagine?! Her story truly broke my heart. I have not had luck finding the movie yet, but if I do, I will loan it to you on your return.

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