Things I have learnt… 2

I previously wrote an arbitrarily numbered listed about things I have learnt about Cambodia. Well, I’m still learning. Some of the list are things I’ve learnt more about or things I thought were general Cambodian “things” but are slightly more nuanced. Read the previous post, as it will help with the clarifications.

  1. Cafes and restaurants have someone to help park your moto… in Phnom Penh. This is not always the case in Siem Reap (most customers are tourists who arrive by tuk tuk/ the areas are solely pedestrianised for certain times of the day, the streets are wider and less busy, etc.)
  2. You get given water on arriving at a cafe or restaurant… in Phnom Penh. (Tourists usually carry their own water and avoid drinking water from an unknown source. The water and ice restaurants provide are perfectly fine.) There are some restaurants that do it automatically in Siem Reap, and it’s perfectly fine to ask.
  3. Cambodians cheer before you take every sip of your beer (so you spend a lot of time clinking glasses).
  4. Cambodians can drink a lot when at weddings.
  5. Cambodians sleep anywhere and often in groups. They’ll sleep on straw mats, in hammocks; inside, outside. Sometimes there are quite a few people sharing the same straw mat. (I had to share a pillow at one point. It wasn’t a particularly big pillow either.) It’s like one big sleepover.
  6. The road rules are very similar to in the UK. However, in the UK, they are (mostly) followed.
  7. A Cambodian meal will consist of rice and usually three other dishes. You share it as a group or family. There’s usually a meat dish, some fish and some vegetables, maybe a soup as well.
  8. Often the vegetables will go with a particular meat. The Cambodians will tell you, “oh the cucumber, you eat with the fish…”. I’m not sure how they know or remember these things.
  9. In Cambodia, you can eat with your hands, a spoon or with chop sticks. Often vegetables, like lettuce, are used as wraps or to pick up food, too. I’m amazed at how competent they are in eating in such varied ways when I often feel like my hands have somehow stopped working and I get food everywhere (I stained quite an expensive white shirt the first time I wore it this week).
  10. Some Cambodians think westerners only eat bread. Or at least, that question seemed to be asked a lot (this was in the provinces, so they were perhaps not as used to westerners as in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap).
  11. You are often asked whether you’ve eaten yet as a greeting.
  12. Cambodians are very helpful and well-meaning.
  13. The dogs are seriously noisy at night. I knew this already, but I still am amazed by the sounds they produce. There’s one in my neighbourhood that sounds like a horse.
  14. Some drivers don’t put their lights on at night so ghosts won’t follow them home.
  15. It’s illegal to drive with your lights on in the daytime.
  16. Some Khmer believe that you shouldn’t whistle in the dark, because you’re inviting spirits to join you.
  17. Another superstition is that if you see dogs having, er, intercourse, you get conjunctivitis or can go blind. This one is particularly difficult because they roam around everywhere and are randy little things.
  18. Apparently, dogs bark differently if it’s a person or a ghost. Maybe that’s what the horse sound is about.