Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Just go back to your country, where dogs aren't chasing you

There are basically two fractions of expats: Those who compare the current country with their home country and those who are kind of "take it as it is" people. You may find people between those fractions, but start a controversial Facebook post about the garbage problem, and you will see how easily people get divided.

Like the guy who complaint in a Facebook group about dogs chasing him while he was running. That's a common issue in Asia (and Africa and South-America, I assume), and I do understand it might be annoying to runners. If he just would have asked if there are places with less dogs for running, he would have gotten suggestions in seconds. But he took a broader approach, talking about kicking dogs and killing them with his bare hands – the usual troll thing.

Not a dog, and will not bite you. 

I am exploring Siem Reaps outskirts in my bicycle a lot and so far never had issues with dogs. When I see them, I slow down, say hello and that's usually it. I adapt to the environment I am in, and that is the key. If you like running, you most probably developed this hobby back home, in an environment that is safe for runners. Where people keep dogs inside, or on a leash.

50 years ago, before urbanisation and jogging, dogs were roaming the streets in the west as well, or at least they protected the house and the yard and sometimes sneaked out. Jogging and the fitness thing came with the office work and apartments, where people did less physical work. A farmer didn't need to go running after a work day.

And then there is is the natural behavior of dogs chasing everything that is running away from them. Because they can. That's why it is always a good idea to slow down and/or stop and tell them with your body language that you are not a threat but that you are gonna pass by no matter how much they bark.

So, if you start complaining about the fact of roaming dogs (or that many of them carry rabies, what they do), then present a suitable solution. You may find a charity for free rabies vaccination, but you will not change the fact that dogs are allowed to roam the streets. This will change over time, as you can see in Phnom Penh already, when population gets more dense and people start living in condos rather than single houses. (Although Bangkok shows that street dogs still survive, mainly because people feed them well).
This is a dog, but will also not bite you :-)

When you live in another country/continent and maybe soon on another planet, you have to adapt to a certain extend. It doesn't mean you have to throw your garbage around, or burn it. But you have to accept that your neighbors are doing it. You can talk with them, and you may make a change. But other people will still burn it and there is nothing you can do about. Complaining about it is the least helpful approach, and the we westerns vs. those locals thing isn't helpful either.

There are just things you can't do in Cambodia, as there are things you can't do in England or Germany. I miss the snow sometimes, but there is just no snow here. Khmer may want to go fishing at a German river, but they need permission, if they like it or not. We all have to adapt to the environment to a certain extent, whenever we change it. It's like the sweating issue: Most foreigners -  me included – are going crazy when they move to Asia because they are sweating a lot, and it's kind of embarrassing. Until you recognize that locals sweat too, and that it is not a big deal.

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