#2 Unusual Cambodian customs and traditions
Did you enjoy our first article on unusual Cambodian customs and traditions ? Keep enjoying yourself by reading Volume 2 below.
In Cambodian, we don’t shake hands or kiss each other. To greet someone, all you have to do is make the local greeting called Sompiah by joining your hands in front of you, bowing slightly and throwing, always with a smile, “Chum Reap Sour” or “Sousdey” (“hello”, in Cambodian). The higher the hands and the deeps the inclination, the more important your interlocutor will be. It is also appropriate to give all coins with both hands. Ditto if you have to hold and object out, use your right hand.
Always in the Khmer way of life, during courtesy visit, take off your shoes and leave your shoes in front of the entry door. Your host will surely offer you something
to drink or eat, don’t refuse it, it would offend him !
If you are lucky enough to be invited to share their dinner, don’t think about having a snack first. You will indeed start eating around 6:30 pm and will certainly be back home 2 hours later. Cambodians don’t spend as much time at the table as we do, forget your 4-hour lunches on Sundays with your family. Also, don’t look for a knife around your plate, the cutlery usually stops with a fork, chopsticks and a spoon. Whatever the reason, if you sit on the floor, keep your feet behind and your knees in front, without crossing your legs. A Cambodian can hold this pose all day long when you can only hold it for 30 minutes without twisting yourself in all directions.
Moreover, if you want to discover a new cuisine, Cambodia is for you ! Quite close to its Thai and Vietnamese neighbours, this one will introduce you to new ingredients, condiments and fruits that we do not always know in our Western countries. You will not be able to leave this country without tasting Lok Lak and Amok, two traditional Khmer dishes, or without having experiences roasted insects, snakes and stuffed frogs. Just s we have cheese in France, Cambodians have Prahok: fermented fish paste for several days… to be tested !
Beyond food, you can drink beer for less than a dollar. If you buy cans, don’t forget to look on the back of the capsule, you may have a chance to win a car !
Road trafic is an interesting phenomenon to observe in Cambodia. Even if it may seem chaotic, it actually stems from a certain hierarchy of priorities: at the very top is the big pickup
truck, then in order the small 4×4, the small car, the tuk tuk, the motorcycle, the bicycle and finally the pedestrian. If, on the other hand, you are white and a driver of a motorized vehicle, you automatically move up this scale (but this does not exclude you from wearing a helmet !). Similarly, don’t be surprised to see an entire family on the same motorcycle: the father behind the wheel, the mother in the back, the first child stuck between his parents, the second standing in front of his father and the baby on his mother’s lap.
The traditions mentioned above are good reasons to visist Cambodia and discover this new culture. But above all, don’t forget, in this country, you can’t be white and broke at the same time. Are you a Westerner ? Then you must be rich. This is due to the past we have in common and you can feel it when you walk down the street.