There are many children trying to sell you the souvenirs at entrances of all temples. Some could be quite persistant but they are harmless, merely making a living. If you have no intention to buy, please turn them down politely. We learned to turn them down in Khmer language:
"Te Ou-kun" meaning "No, thank you"
It did help by bringing along some small gifts i.e. stationeries, candies, etc. These will bring them joy :)
Don't show anger if possible. Most Khmer will bend over backward for you, but things can naturally be frustrating at times and losing your temper will only make you and the Khmer person more uncomfortable.
Not really a local customes, but one of the locals taking a dip
This was taken early one morning when the sea was so calm it was like glass. A cambodian family were all swimming in the sea. I caught this boy with the backgroundof the cambodian fishing boat. One of my favourites.
In traditional Cambodian culture a lady should wear a different colour skirt every day of the week. Monday is Yellow, Tuesday is Violet, Wednesday is Yellowish-green, Thursday is Green, Friday is Blue, Saturday is Blackish-red and Sunday is Red.
Each night the king of Angkor had to sleep with a girl, choosen between hundreds of nude girl on the royal pool. This was due to fulfil the wishes of the nine-headed serpent in form of women. Probably this legend of the serpent was created by the king himself to fulfil his own whishes of unbridled sex (also to control queen jealousy).
The Khmer heritage is most evident in the work at Angkor Wat, in a way even more meaningful than the Egyptian pride of their antiquities. The temples are still used as sacred places where incense is burned and prayers made. It's important to keep this in mind as you climb around the stone monuments.
In Cambodia (as in many parts of Asia) children who are found begging are often the products of Lazy adults who make a living by sending out a "cute" child or, presistent gentle eyed child to beg for your dollars. In exchange, children are given some food or, place to shelter.
If you're providing the child with enough money, that child learns that by begging for money he/she stands to make a better living in a poor economically challenged country than by going to school and learning a trade.
We suggest taking the time to carry school supplies such as pens/pencils/notebooks or paper which you can offer instead. Ocassionally, we would also buy a pancake or such to divide for the children that would beg outside the restaurants.
Always smile and you will always get a hug, bow or thank you in return.
The only exception was if the begging child/adult showed obvious signs of land mine casualty or, debilitating disease. You will see blind musicians, one arm/legged victims and or scarred people begging. Those we would donate money to. Have compassion above all else. These people are trying to survive in a manner they think best.
The other thing that was brought quickly into perpective about Cambodia was that, more so than any other place in Asia, we found beggars more aggressive here....
Before you pass judgement, read up on it's history, the fact that it's a war ravaged country and that there are alot of war casualties from land mines, leprosy, etc. in it's midsts.
I will address the begging issue further in my Warnings section but we stuck to the following rule of thumb: If they were obvious casualties of land mines or, suffering from an incapacitating illness/malody, we would readily give them money. Otherwise, when eating at a restaurant we would buy the children food or, a large banana pancake with fruit wihch they would promptly devour.
Also, we carried school supplies (such as pens/pencils and candy/gum which we offered to others. Also, you can purchase cheap toys, paper, rulers....anything school related to encourage the children to attend school rather than devote themselves to a life of charity. We found this simple act of kindness rewarding and, we always received a bow, a thanks and a very big smile from each and every child we helped. Too often I observed westerners "annoyed" by the children mobbing them when, if they had taken the time to dig into their backpacks and offered candy or a pen, they would've been treated to a warm grateful smile or, on ocassion, even hand made "gifts" from children who truly are less fortunate than many of our own "spoiled" kids. If you're traveling with children of your own, this is a good way to teach appreciation for what they have at home.
Petrol is still sold in bottles or pumped from barrels by the roadside. There are very few "big" petrol stations.
The Cambodia people still prefer buying from the roadside though. Well, they somehow feel more at ease when they see the petrol flowing into their vehicles' petrol tank rather than a more modern pump whereby they can only see from the meters.
When traveling in a foreign country, one should take heed of local customs though at times this can become hard to do. Westerners generally are less worried about the amount of skin they show than those from many other parts of the world, particularly Asia. We hadn't really planned on hitting the beaches of Cambodia but found ourselves there just the same. We had brought bathing suits for less conservative Vietnam but found it too tempting to not go for a dip. We tried to head up the beach to avoid the locals but sometimes the locals find you. Don't take offence, natural curiosity just takes over.
I couldn't resist. My buddies and I went out to the "Happy Shooting Range" to shoot off a round on an AK-47. Quite exhilarating. It also made me think about the people in the armed service who use those on a daily basis. It was a humbling experience. Of course, I did find the whole thing a little amusing... especially the German grandmother who was tossing grenades into a pond when we arrived. I also heard you could go up into the hills and shoot a rocket launcher at a cow.... and if you miss, you keep the cow. Um, no thanks.
When I first arrived to Siem Reap, the first thing I recognize is restaurants. from small & local people, to big and expensive. The second I recognize is -- almost all restaurants have outside eating place. so we can relax seeing the road. This behaviour made me have a little nostalgia to Aceh (a province in Indonesia) where people loves to drink coffee at 'warung'.
If you happen to be invited for a chat or more by people, you will notice that most of the time, they won't really let you inside their house.
You will stay under the house if it is a stiltted house, and most of them are. or even when I was visiting friends of some cambodian guy I was hanging around with they would always let me sit on the balcony by the entry door.
So don't be surprised.
The only time I was"allowed" inside a house was because I was invited overnight and for meals as well.
It depends what country you live, but most tourists can get a visa when arriving. Fill in visa application form (one passport photo), arrival and customs declaration cards. Go to a visa application desk and handed your passport, application form and photo to the first officer. Then move along desk following your passport and pay visa fee 20 US$.
A domestic service charge is 6 US$ and an international payment is 25 US$ (Feb. 2005). Phnom Penh Int. airport: Passenger service charge counter is located just after check-in desks. Just go at the end of check-in desks and you will find that counter. Pay charge and then go upstairs using an escalator. Siem Reap Airport: Passenger service charge counter is on left hand side just before a door leading departure lounge.
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KO Road, Rottanak Commune, Battambang, Cambodia
Good for: Solo
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