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.
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.
In Cambodia you will find anywhere the colorful orange gowns of buddhist monks. Around the temples, in the towns, along the roads (in line) in the early mornings....
I had the idea of monks as meditating beings inside their monasteries, but most of the monks U find here are just poor young folks from the countryside that come to the monasteries because it's free and here they can learn some basic topics they couldn't at their villages.
Most of them know basic english and I could see the use of internet was widening their minds... for good or for bad, who knows? Talk to them, they are usually friendly and love to learn about our different customs and ways of life.
In Cambodia, the locals like to wat semething which I almost gross out when I saw them eating. It was half-hatched eggs. When the eggs were half-hatched and the "little chicks" were formed (with its feathers, etc), they were all brought to the market place and eateries to be sold.
The locals eat them raw. They will break the tip of the egg and gobble down the "liitle chicks".
Lotus seeds are nice to eat and they taste good. Locals like to eat them like a fruit. In the picture, you can see that my moto driver cum guide is holding on to a few stalks of lotus seeds.
Try them when you are there.
I tried them and well, nice. Didn't know they can be eaten.
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.
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 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.
Along the way, you will see many floating villages. This is a typical floating house. The people staying in these villages are usually fishermen. For your information, I read that the Tonle Sap offers abundant fishes and hence the Cambodian people can rely on Tonle Sap to make a living, either by rearing seafood or fishing for them.
This was the floating village school. There were classrooms, library, etc in the school. The students go to school by their family boat, which is the regular mode of transport for people staying in the villages at Tonle Sap.
The picture is underexposed. Hope u can figure it that the school is in the middle of the river.
There are many many children in Cambodia. And as our boat passed by the school, excited children start to wava at us vigourously. These children were so innocent and they were so curious. Well, kept waving at us. I felt like joining them in their lesson then.
I the villages, almost every family owns a fishing net. It looks hand-made. How it functions is that the net be submerged into the water and when the fishermen will shift up the pulley-driven huge net when ready. And bingo! The fishes are caught inside the net.
Along the Tonle Sap, you will most probably noticed that the most common activity done by the kids is playing in the water. This groups of kids were playing in the water when our boat passed by. They were very friendly too, wavaing vigourously at us. Aren't they cute and lovable?
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.
On the way to Siem Reap I spent more than 4 hours in a pick up vehicle with many other cambodians. There I had the chance to experience my first contact with locals.
They don't speak much of english here (except in hotels...) but with signs and good will we could hold a few simple conversations... anyway I had nothing better to do in the meanwhile, LOL
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Good for: Solo
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