#2 Unusual Cambodian customs and traditions
Did you enjoy our first article on unusual Cambodian customs and traditions ? Continue to enjoy reading volume 2 below.
In Cambodia, we don’t shake hands or kiss each other. To greet someone, all you have to do is 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 your hands are held and the deeper the bow, the more important your interlocutor will be. Similarly, it is appropriate to give all coins with both hands. The same applies if you have to hold out an object, use your right hand.
Always in Khmer manners, during a courtesy visit, take off your shoes and leave them in front of the front door. Your host will surely offer you something to drink or eat, don’t refuse him, it would offend him !
If you are lucky enough to be invited to share their dinner, do not think about having a snack beforehand. You’ll sit down at the table around 6:30 pm and be home for sure 2 hours later. Cambodians don’t spend as much time at the table as we do, forget about your 4-hour lunches on Sundays with your family. Also, don’t look for a knife around your plate, the cutlery usually stops at the fork, chopsticks, and 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 will be able to hold this pose all day when you can only hold it for 30 minutes without twisting in any direction.
By the way, if you want to discover a new cuisine, Cambodia is for you! Quite close to its Thai and Vietnamese neighbors, this one will make you discover new ingredients, condiments, fruits that we do not always know in our western countries. You won’t be able to leave this country without having tasted Lok Lak and Amok, two traditional Khmer dishes, or without having experimented with roasted insects, snakes and stuffed frogs. In the same way that we have cheese in France, Cambodians have Prahok: fish paste fermented 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 at the back of the can, maybe you’ll have a chance to win a car.
Road traffic is an interesting phenomenon to observe in Cambodia. Even if it may seem chaotic, it is actually the result of a certain hierarchy of priorities: at the 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 driving a motorized vehicle, you automatically go to the top of this scale (but that doesn’t exclude you from wearing a helmet!). Also, don’t be surprised to see a whole family on one and the same motorcycle: the father at the wheel, the mother at the back, the first child stuck between his parents, the second standing in front of his father and the baby on his mother’s knee.
The traditions mentioned above are all good reasons to visit 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 that we have in common and you can feel it when you walk in the streets.
Au Cambodge, il existe des coutumes et traditions parfois insolites à connaître absolument avant de visiter ce pays. Sans aucun doute, vous vous régalerez en lisant cet article.