Shopping for Cambodia: H&M to the Rescue

Busan — I’m sitting in EDIYA COFFEE and following the eyes of Koreans as they glance over the display menu.


Always the same.

In two weeks time I’ll be flying to Cambodia from my current city in South Korea.

“It will be nice to be in warmer weather,” I had mentioned to someone.

“Snow is better,” she had responded. “SNOWWW!”

Now you know the type of Tinder conversations I have.

You can’t walk far in Korea without bumping into an outdoor clothing shop. Mannequins manipulated into hiking position. Jackets, pants, boots, fancy hiking sticks to help scoot your way up — walk on in, sit right down — here, have some of my money.

I’ve made a plan that should save on my wardrobe expenses for my Cambodia trip.

You see, I’ve adopted Koreans’ love for shopping. I prowl the underground boutiques and stare at all the items currently in vogue.

I imagine myself in the outfits the shopkeepers have blended together. “Ohh, that’s pretty.” “That would look nice on me.” And then I remember I’m a straight male and shouldn’t say such things.

“That girl is cute.”


“She’s HOT!”


I’ve never purchased anything from these shops. I walk past them in route to the fast food joints I go to. But it’s at the end of this route where my Cambodia plan materialises: H&M.

I didn’t wear much H&M back in South Dakota. It didn’t match my hunting gear or the color of my father’s tractor.

But in Korea!

It’s a race that will only be won when I marry into a wealthy family. Males here pamper themselves to standards unmatched by my corn-belt brethren. It’s crawl-into-a-hole at worst, disheartening at best. Koreans dress FINE.

I’m a traveler. Do I need those skinny jeans? How useful will that cardigan be in sweltering Southeast Asia?

Traveling is difficult for me. I want a foot planted in both lives: cityscape cosmopolitan and the life filled with flip-flops and bro tanktops.

I expect Cambodia to be warm. There will be no need for city clothes. Well, maybe one nice shirt and a pair of jeans for the unexpected. But, other than that, light packing is the motto.

“Oh, good! H&M has simple v-necks for cheap.”

“Score! They come in COLORS!”

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll purchase 12 v-necks — one for each day of my trip — and, that way, I won’t have to do laundry. I’m a size extra-small. Imagine all the extra space I’ll have in my luggage. White, of course. Blue, Green, Black, definitely a yellow. Keep in mind, Cambodia is the Angkor Wat temples. What color will make the best selfie?

And the absolute best part? Those v-necks won’t cost me anywhere near the price of shirts in a fancy boutique. This means I’ll have more money for holiday cocktails or vintage wine.

It’s a store that you wouldn’t think of shopping at when preparing for a trip into ancient ruins. When you see a H&M mannequin, you don’t think: “Here’s a fella ready to climb a mountain.”

But it’s going to work for me.

I’m two weeks away from my trip to Cambodia. Now I just need to think of what I’ll wear on the plane.