Cambodian life: the mosquito edition

My friend mentioned that mosquitoes are our true friends in Cambodia: they are always there when you go home and they never leave you nor forsake you. In Cambodia, mosquitoes are carriers of both malaria and dengue fever. Malaria is only present in the most rural areas and I am not at risk of catching it in my day-to-day life. Dengue, however, is an urban illness.

Muhammad Mahdi Karim [GFDL 1.2 (

Dengue was first detected in Cambodia in 1963. (I don’t think that means it first arrived in Cambodia then, but I’m not an expert.) Since then its occurrence has been rising steeply. In 2018, there were over 15,000 reported cases of dengue. There are sometimes epidemics, for example in 2017, there were around 39,000 reported cases. There have already been over 1,000 cases of dengue reported in 2019.

Dengue fever can be just like a really bad case of the flu. However, there are deadly complications, which include dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. Also, it can take weeks to recover from.

Even when not considering the general risks, mosquitoes make life somewhat uncomfortable and annoying. They like dark places and seem to hide in clothes. Here are some annoying mosquito related scenarios.

  • Opening your bag and a dozen mosquitoes fly out.
  • Going to put your underwear on and a dozen mosquitoes fly out.
  • Squashing a mosquito and realising you killed it too late because your hands are now smeared with your own blood.
  • Waking up because a mosquito flew into your ear canal.
  • Getting too excited with the mosquito bat and realising you’ll be living in a mosquito graveyard for the next month.
  • Spraying the bathroom with insecticide then instantly needing the toilet. You have to choose between suffocation or wetting yourself.
  • Spraying insect repellent in front of a fan and getting it in your eyes.
  • Spraying your hands with DEET then touching your lips.
  • Inhaling a mosquito.
  • Getting a tuk tuk and realising that a cloud of mosquitoes are also hitching a ride.
  • Wanting to sleep with your back to the fan but knowing you’re creating a windshield that will allow stealthy mosquitoes to get to you.
  • Using a mosquito coil too near to your clothes so you smell of smoke for weeks.

Learn some Khmer

  • មូស /muːh/ (muh) mosquito
  • គ្រុនឈាម /kruŋ cʰiəm/ (krung chiam) dengue fever
  • រមាស់ /romoah/ (romoah) to itch