NOT THE USUAL PETROL STATION
In the smaller villages of Cambodia you will not find the usual petrol station but individual entrepreneurs who have 45 gallon drums of fuel with a small pump attached where the fuel is measured before filling up the tank. Prices are usually displayed
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT CAMBODIAN FUNERALS ???
Buddhists believe that death is an end of a circle and strict procedures must be followed otherwise the person may not be able to move on to the next cycle---rebirth. When a person dies the relatives take the body home, wash it, dress it and place it in the coffin. The body is neither dissected, embalmed or organs removed as this may affect the rebirth. The body used to be kept in the house for 7 days but nowadays three days will suffice, during which monks come to the house to recite sermons by the body. On the last day the funeral procession is organised to take the body to the temple for cremation. The funeral procession consists of an achar (priest), Buddhist monks, family and other mourners who accompany the coffin to the temple.
White is the traditional color of death here, so the spouse and children are dressed in white and shave their heads as a mark of respect to the deceased. They believe that cremation allows the soul to depart the body to heaven or hell where they wait for reincarnation. After the cremation the bones are collected, cleaned and usually placed in a stupa at the temple compound. It is believed that they will be reincarnated quicker if they are close to Buddha or the monks who can help this process.Related to:
BIRDS FOR LUCK
All over Cambodia, especially at temples and by the river in Phnom Penh you will see locals buying birds from vendors who keep them in cages. The bird is then released and according to Buddhist tradition these people will receive 'MERIT'. On religious days the vendors do a brisk trade as locals are anxious to for a good karma.
Unfortunately some of the birds are in bad condition or even dead in the crowded cages. Some species rely on certain types of food which is not supplied by the vendor and quite often these birds are too weak to fly!Related to:
Dual currency system, KHR and USD
US dollars are widely used in Cambodia with local currency Riel. Take US dollars with you when traveling there, small notes, you can easily spend them without changing to Riels. The change rate is 1$ = 4000KHR, but if you are used to small amounts like me with Euros, it's easier to use dollars than riels. Or probably you are more math oriented than I and can easily count how much is 17469 riels. About 4.20, right? When you pay with dollars, you can get dollars and riels back so practice calculations with 4000.
Small means one dollar, there are lot of stuff costing a dollar, like a tuktuk ride, some fruits, beer and so on (one day in Angkor Wat is 20$ and three days 40 and with 20$ you can have a dinner with drinks for two).
The currency in Cambodia is the Riel but EVERYBODY deals in US dollars. They take US dollar notes but you get change in Riel. The reason for using US currency is so that if the economy collapses as it did when the Khmer Rouge took over the country and abolished all money, people could still use their money in other countries.
I DIDN'T TRY THE LOCAL FAVOURITE DELACIES !!
I watched as many travellers were trying the local delacies , but for me I passed on them. I watched the girl handling her many tarantula spiders at a bus stop Siem Reap and this I imagined was the normal procedure as she let them run up and down her arms.She held out her hand to offer me a few spiders...I reclined the offer..There were some very large plates of fried spiders by her side that she had for sale.Some German travellers on the bus I noticed that had purchased a bag of various insects and were eating them..I remember a man saying how good they were and they were just like " popcorn"..Then he started coughing and gagging and apparently had one caught in his throat and it was only after a few fellow travellers saw his predicament and came to his aid..luckily his throat cleared or otherwise he would have been in a really precarious position as we were really in the middle of nowhere..There certainly would have been no ambulance to call !! how far was any hospital..The thoughts really hit me at that moment just how vulnerable we all are travelling..Needless to say after looking at all the various items for sale I settled on a bunch of Bananas and some freshly cut pineapple.
You can never be too carefulRelated to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
Proper Dress in Temples
Proper temple ettiquette is something tourists often inquire about.
I'm a firm believer that, before entering someone's country, it is the tourists sole responsibility to educate him/herself on the do's and don'ts of that country in order to avoid accidentally offending the host.
Simple research through most guide books as well as "googling" the country usually ensures good results.
Although we found Cambodia incredibly lax as to dress codes compared to other Asian countries, all attempts should be made to follow dress codes when visiting and entering temples or, greeting (especially elders or holy figures such as monks).
For a more complete guide, please see link below.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Khmer (Cambodian) Language
The Khmer have had a written language since 156 A.D., but it has been modified a bit over the centuries . Their language has 33 consonants, 23 vowels, and 14 Sanskrit letters.
Their computer keyboards have 4 letters per key, and they have to use a combination of shift and alt keys to get the right letter.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Most Cambodians have an all-purpose checked scarf called a krama—it does everything. It’s a head cover, a baby sling, a dust mask, baggage carrier, whatever. Men wear it tied differently than women do when it’s a head covering.
It comes in a variety of colors, but almost nobody wears red—that was the color of the Khmer Rouge.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
namasteh instead of shaking hands/silence
I felt culturally blind here without language! But all greetings were the namasteh pose from yoga and bowing the head.
I also understood that when Cambodians were silent, instead of responding that was good, or OK. (I also earned a negative response)
Khmer Buddhists as well as Khmer Islam and the Cham are modest! I did not wear Islamic dress, I should have. But even beyond that group, it is not a place for lots of skin, although I guess tourists have some leeway.
GIVE TO THE ELDERLY!
In Cambodia you will probably find yourself giving money to, or buying things from the small children. As much as they need it the charities in Cambodia recommend you try avoid this as it just encourages parents to keep them on the streets (and so to some extent out of school). After a while I realised it is better to give to the elderly, or disabled people. You can only imagine what they must have gone through bearing in mind the history of the country. And to top it off many are now forced to spend their days begging on the streets. So they deserve all the help they can get.
It seemed to me that this is who cambodians themselves would direct their charity towards. After all there is no form of welfare system or government pension for the elderly in Cambodia. And what struck me most was the humility and gratitude they showed... they will likely not pressurize you to give money.
Khmer classical dance.
Khmer classical dance is often referred to as apsara dance and is a dance that dates back from the 7th century.
It's a very slow and fine way of dancing where the dancers wear costumes and you can probaply say that is has some links to classical ballet.
The dance was forbidden during the khmer rouge in the 1970's and almost all dancers were killed by the regime, but they have made a very good comeback in recent years and it looks like this facinating dance is set to survive.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Have some home made rice wine.
Home made rice wine is a big passion in Cambodia and there is a good chance that you will be offerd some.
It looks pretty unhygenic very often and not like something you wanna drink, but i have tried it and didn't get sick and i was able to drink it without looking too funny i think.
Give it a go.
When in Rome do as the romans.Related to:
- Wine Tasting
Have a spider or a cricket for lunch.
The camdodians love to eat spiders and crickets for lunch and you will see them selling by the side of the road and on the markets around Camdodia.
I have tried both and find that they have little taste, but the cambodians are one big smile when you mention these funny animals, so i guess they are very tasty once you get used to the taste.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Handy Customs we learned while visiting
It was a shock to us learning that the skull of the poor victims who were tortured till death where collected and presently desplayed in a pretty large glass tall container in the center of a religious or historic congregation. See photos attached.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
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