Things I Miss About Cambodia

Greeting people with respect

In Cambodia, you traditionally greet people with your hands together and placed in front of yourself (from the chest upwards) as a sign of respect. I really admire this, as it is a very easy way to show that you are a polite person and respect another person. It is something we always promote at Human and Hope Association, and as a result, have some of the politest students around! Of course, this is also a way to determine right off the bat if someone is a respectful and courteous person. When I was interviewing candidates for an accounting position in 2016, an applicant came to Human and Hope Association and I immediately greeted her with respect when seeing her. She didn’t do the same. Our staff looked on, gob smacked, and needless to say, she didn’t get the job.

Insane amount of public holidays

Well, this one has its benefits and its pitfalls. On one hand, the insane number of public holidays (we are talking about upwards of 30 per year) is bad for the education of children, as they really need to focus on their schooling. But on the other hand, you can take holidays without tapping into your annual leave, so you don’t have to worry about letting your team down. It also always gave the very hard-working team at Human and Hope Association much deserved breaks, especially for our holidays that lasted a week. Time to refresh so they can commit their all to their jobs. This brings me to my next point….

Easy and cheap to get to other countries in Asia

Did you know that it is actually cheaper to fly return from Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur than it is from Siem Reap to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh? That’s because Air Asia constantly offer cheap flights, which I have definitely taken advantage of throughout my years of living in Cambodia. Also, given that the cost of living is constantly increasing in Siem Reap, if you play your cards right, holidays can actually cost the same amount as actually staying in the country during holidays.

Historical landmarks

Cambodia has a long history, albeit a turbulent one. I absolutely lovevisiting the temples this country has to offer, although I definitely haven’t managed to see all I should. 

Calling people by titles

Instead of using names in Cambodia, we use titles to express their rank or their age. For example, I will call someone who is a few years older than me, ‘bong’. But, if they are older than that, like my landlord, I will call them ‘ei’ or ‘po’, which means aunty and uncle. For people younger than you it is ‘oun’, and for really old people, it is ‘yay’ or ‘om’. Not only is this a sign of respect, but it is also super useful when you don’t know someone’s name. Think of it as a politer way of saying ‘mate’. I have known some people for many years and I still don’t know their names, but it is okay, as I can call them by a title. It is fantastic for avoiding awkward situations.

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