10 Reasons you’re gonna love Cambodia

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 10 Reasons you’ll love Cambodia

“Oh laaadybuy from me! Lady, buy from me” you’ll hear those Cambodian vendors pitch like an over-played pop tune on the radio. They do it so much you’ll think they’re doing it just to annoy you. But Khmer lady,  you still rock my heart!

In my last post, I kicked on Cambodia’s world famous site (maybe I’m more travel-jaded than I thought). But the truth is, I really fell in love with the country. Call me a sucker for rice paddie fields, stilted houses and hard-working and earnest people who still have a smile on their face at the end of the day.

What would you love about Cambodia? Well, aside from being one of the best budget destinations in Southeast Asia, here’s a quick roundup!

10 Reasons you’re gonna love Cambodia

 

1. Khmer people

Cambodia’s had a rough and violent history in the 70’s and the Khmer folk endured a lot, but their spirit hasn’t been broken. Instead, it’s bounced back with a childlike demeanor and sincere charm. The people appear content with the simplicity of their lives. Many appear a bit shy with foreigners, and yet, but throw them a smile and they’ll come back with a grin  to melt your heart.

While crime is always a possibility in any country, as a solo female, I’ve found Cambodia as a relatively safe country, even when walking around at night.

cambodians

coal seller

coal seller     women markets    .                            monk                                A toddler follows elder tradition of paying respect to Buddhist monks

 

The Rural Lifestyles

2.   Stilted houses

Traditional Cambodian houses are raised on stilt columns. This has several effects: it keeps the house cool, allows for shaded social and rest activities underneath and is protected in the case of floods. Personally, I just find them beautiful and orderly.

stilted houses khmer

Khmer stilted houses    stilted houses in cambodia   khmer stilted houses

3.  Floating Villages

Tonle Sap lake is the Southeast Asia’s largest lake and it’s home to over a 100 types of waterbirds, turtles, otter, crocodiles, etc… and floating villages. There are three main communities who make their houses and lifestyles on the lake: Chong Kneas, Kampong Phluk, Kampong Khleang. Read here.

Cambodia's Fishing Villages

Cambodia’s Fishing Villages on Tonle Sap Lake

4.   Farming, Rice Paddy fields and green green grass

Rice paddy fields and farm land never turned me on…until now. My eyes went into “Technicolor vibrance” shock the first time I saw it.  The farmlands stretch impressively long, wide and flat and  looks as if someone has laid brilliant green astroturf over it.

 

farming in cambodia

farming                   rice paddy fields cambodia rice paddy fields cambodia  

 

 

5.  Hammocks

In Southeast Asian countries, hammocks are common and it makes sense to perk one up between two trees at or in your tuk-tuk to take a rest, when the day is hot and business is slow. But no one can rock it like Khmer folk. The hammock seems to be well-integrated into their lifestyles. Perching your hammock up in your shop at  marketplace (like Kampong Cham) takes first prize!

hammocks

khmer hammocks

. .

 

Style & Sport

6. Volleyball is the favorite pasttime.

Cambodia loves volleyball to the extent it’s almost a national sport!  Passing through the countryside and small towns, I’ve seen at least a handful of volleyball courts set up on the roadsides.

Huge crowds of men gather around a humble net set up between two stick poles, to watch and wait for their turn to play.  I’m not sure why the sport is so popular but it is.

volleyball

volleyballvolleyball cambodia

 

7.  Western Clothes and Pajamas

Khmer daily apparel styles are mostly western in style. Most men, old and young, seem to prefer long- sleeved, starched and collared shirts over t-shirts and are for the most part, are neatly groomed.   By day, women don a contemporary dress style; while formal or evening affairs, can lead towards well-faded 80s style prom dresses.

Just as every country has their unique sense of glam, there’s always a ‘loose-cannon’ style somewhere, which makes you scratch your head. Take Cambodia’s ‘Pajama’ style for example…

clothes in cambodia

Clothing in Phnom Penh                                                                                                                                          .                khmer dress gowns                                cambodia dress styel                  .                                 Okay, what’s up with the pajamas  ?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      . cambodian pjs                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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Status 

8. Self-respect and pride

Cambodia may be Southeast Asia’s poorest brother, but you wouldn’t think it when you see how clean and orderly Khmer folk like to keep things. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are surprisingly well run.  Sidewalks, buildings, roads and houses may feel a little dated from time to time, but are never in shambles.  Things have a clean swept and trimmed appearance and people take pride in the few things they own, exercising great care and maintenance over their property.

Royal palace and park lawn in front (Phnom Penh)

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9.  SUV s are the rich man’s car

Like most places, Cambodia has it’s social classes of rich and poor. A common vehicle for affluent Khmer folk to drive is symbolic of wealthy status and prestige; and thus, are big and bulky SUV’s.

But these aren’t just any SUV’s. Cambodian SUVs come with its dealers’ logo prominently branded for all to see.

What is the most popular brand on the market?  Lexus.

lexus in cambodia

. suvs in cambodia Lexus & Landcruiser in Cambodiasuvs in cambodia lexus

 

 10.  Motorbikes are for everyone else!

If you’re not rich enough to afford a big chariot like an SUV, then you probably drive what the rest of the population drives… a motorbike. Cambodians aren’t as die-hard bikers as the Vietnamese however, so you won’t see them converting their motorbikes into beds, packing mountainous crates and household appliances nor drive long distances on them .

But they do treat them like precious horses.

motorcycle parking

motorcycle parking  motorcycle wash  Men at the ‘wash’, waiting for their vehicles to be serviced. Car wash? Not quite…      motorcycle wash   “Motorcycle washes”  motorcycle wash

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What did you think of 10 reasons you’re gonna love Cambodia? Will you love Cambodia ? 

 

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28 Comments. Leave new

nice post indeed. I once visited Cambodia and couldn’t forget the amazing floating villages here. Many things in this country are the same as those in its neighbor, Vietnam.

Reply

    @Ken: Thanks for pointing that out. The floating village I went to , Chong Kneas, I’d found later, was mostly Vietnamese. So you’re spot on. I imagine there’s some crossover influences and of course, there’s a lot of Buddhist temples.

    Reply

I love this post! It makes me want to fly back to Cambodia right now.
I totally agree with your list and I’m sure you had a difficult time limiting it to ten. I would add street food, sunsets in Battambang, and falling asleep to jungle sounds in Kep! ^^

Reply

It would be interesting to know how they like volley ball so much. This is… weird haha

I just learned that the Mekong Delta was Cambodia before. That a lot of Vietnamese arrived pushed by a war and now Cambodian are a 5% minority

I found South Vietnamese to be more open and friendly than North Vietnamese.

Hence I expect Cambodian to be a bit the same. Well, I will see… now I’m scared I’m auto hyping Cambodia too much and I will hate it haha

Reply

    @Furio: ha ha… don’t hype. Sorry for the late response. Wow, I don’t think I knew about the Mekong Delta. Interesting that one of the floating villages is predominantly Vietnamese and I hear there’s some tension between the Vietnamese and Khmer. But the volleyball thing has got me. No clue why that’s so popular but cute.

    Reply

I loved eating roasted cow and drinking beer w ice on a very hot day. I liked Cambodia, but I did get bored w the temples and I got a lot of teasing for being fat.

Reply

    @Debbie Ann: Awww… All foreigners must be considered ‘fat’ for Cambodia, although I have seen my share of heavy-weight Khmer too. Cambodia’s economy is just belt-tightening in general and when I think about how a-ping (deep fried tarantulas) came around as a snack due to lean times… Yeah, I wouldn’t pay those comments much mind.

    Reply

A grrrl after my own heart!
Of COURSE I adore this article, and agree with everything on the list – except volleyball. My complete lack of bumping and serving co-ordination leaves me cursing this horrid sport. But otherwise!
Such a great round-up post. Can’t wait to post about it in my Sunday edition of Loveliest Links!
Oh yeah, and that portrait of the Coal Seller has to be one of my favorite photos I’ve seen all year. It’s perfect.
Cheers, lady!

Reply

    @Dear Lady Expatriate: Can’t wait to see what your “Reasons for Loving Cambo” are once you truly settle into it and get to know it’s culture! That should be very insightful as I don’t know of many (or any) expats there.

    Reply

Oh man. LOVE the pajama style!! And how huge the mark names are on those cars…gotta get your bling somehow! 😉

Reply

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