An in-depth study into the following areas to find out the true essence of the culture and traditions of Cambodia:
A. The cultures of the place
Cambodia’s culture trains its children to become good members of society in order to insure harmony, peace, and stability. Cambodian parents teach their children how to sleep, walk, stand, sit, and speak. For the parents, the values below capture the essence of a well-mannered Cambodian.
How to Sleep
- You must wake up before sunrise or you are lazy.
- Sleeping places in the home are determined according to status. (Cambodian families often live in one or two rooms, and everyone sleeps on the same bed, a large slatted wooden platform about eight- or ten-feet square. The parents sleep at the "head" end and the youngest children sleep at the "foot.")
How to Walk
- Tell people where you are going and when you are coming back. (This is important to show respect to others and to keep them from being embarrassed if someone asks and they don't know where you are.)
- If someone of higher status is passing you, bend lower (from the waist) than that person.
- Don't make sounds with your skirt when you walk.
- Don't wear shoes or hats when you enter a house or temple.
- Close doors softly when you go through them.
- When you meet someone on the street, ask where they are going.
How to Stand
- Stand with your arms crossed at the waist. (Arms at the side means you are signaling that you are strong. Hands on the hips or arms behind your back or across the chest means you are rich, powerful, threatening, or disrespectful of other people.)
How to Sit
- Sit with your legs straight down. (Crossing legs shows disrespect.)
- Never put your feet on a table or show the soles of your feet to others.
- Men can sit on the floor in the lotus position while eating.
- Women must sit on the floor with legs aside.
How to Speak
- You must speak softly and gently.
- Show feelings only at home.
- Children have no right to speak unless spoken to.
- A guest is polite and doesn't talk unless spoken to.
- Let others talk more than you.
- There should be limited talking at meals. Speak only if spoken to.
- If you speak with anger or emotion or express feelings, you will not be respected. You are behaving like an immature and uneducated child.
- Patience is a virtue. (Parents make a comparison between a gasoline fire which ignites quickly and burns to nothing, and a charcoal fire which is difficult to start but cannot easily be extinguished and becomes more intense.)
- Do not make aggressive movements or gestures--such as making a fist, pounding the table, or throwing something--while speaking.
- Moderated feelings are best, i.e., those that are neither very happy or very angry or sad.
- Giving criticism or discussing an individual's problems must not be done in public. (That person will lose face, want revenge, and will be unable to accept your idea.) If you must give criticism, do so in private and indirectly. Talk around the issue, ask for information about the issue, and then let the individual reach her own conclusion in her own time and way.
How to Eat
- Men can eat a lot but must not eat fast.
- Women can eat only a small amount.
- Take food only when asked or directed to.
- Use the communal spoon. Not using it indicates you are insincere or not part of the group.
- People of high rank do not expect to have to get their own food (especially at a buffet). They are often seated in a private or special place and served by others to show status and respect.
- All guests must be served water or another drink even if they come for only a short visit. Give a drink rather than ask what they want which is impolite. If asked, they are obligated to choose the least expensive drink.
- If guests come during a meal, they must be invited to eat.
How to Greet
- Offer a traditional greeting with hands in front of face, palms together, in prayer-like fashion.
- Men can shake hands with men.
- Men should not shake hands with Khmer women unless they offer their hand.
- Men should not hug, kiss, or touch the body of a Khmer woman while greeting her. (She will lose respect and feel embarrassed.)
- Men should not look women directly in the eye. (They may become confused, feel uncomfortable, nervous, shy, and not respected.)
- Men should not give "strong" visual attention to other men.
How to Dress
- Formality is very important for respect in the office and at important occasions, when teaching, or when being welcomed as a guest.
- Men wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and shoes. No T-shirts and sandals.
- Women should avoid skirts above the knees and sleeveless or low-cut blouses.
- Shorts are not appropriate in public or when a guest.
- The goal in dressing is to blend in with others, not to stand out.
- Men's hair should be short.
How to Work
- Maintaining proper relationships in the office takes priority over the work.
- Proper behavior is more important than work performance.
- You will get honor if you show respect and politeness to those of higher status or power.
- Your performance will be evaluated based on allegiance to those in power.
- You will be rewarded with money or power or job security if you give respect and allegiance to your superiors.
- It is better to agree than to disagree, especially if the other person has a higher status.
B. The traditions of the place
The word tradition comes from the Latin traditionem, acc. of traditio which means "handing over, passing on", and is used in a number of ways in the English language: # Beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally
Miech Ponn, advisor on mores and customs at Cambodia's Buddhist Institute, says magic tattoos are believed to bring good luck or popularity but are mostly used by soldiers seeking to become invisible to enemies or repel bullets. Tattoos were really popular among Cambodian men in the past. Almost every Cambodian male was superstitious people in rural areas are usually the ones who believe in magic. Until now science can't break this superstition. I don't know why it cannot
Usually, the Cambodian customers are police, soldiers, and fighters like boxers and martial artists quoted by Chan Trea
The tattoos usually feature images of supernatural creatures, Hindu gods or characters from Pali and Sanskrit. Cambodian fighters are often adorned with intimidating images of a dragon, tiger or the monkey king Hanuman.
Chan Trea notes the tattoos can be administered by any traditional healer or Buddhist monk who has strong spiritual beliefs, but only a few remain alive who know how to use traditional long needles and recite magical spells.
Water Festival in Cambodia
The Water Festival in Cambodia takes place each year in October or November, at the time of the full moon, and is the most extravagant and exuberant festival in the Khmer calendar, outdoing even the new year celebrations.
Starting on the day of the full moon in late October or early November, up to a million people from all walks of life and from all over the country flock to the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers in Phnom Penh to watch traditional boats racing on a huge scale. This year more than 400 of the brightly colored boats with over 2,500 paddlers battled it out for top honors. The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strength of the powerful Khmer marine forces during the Khmer empire.
During the day, the boats race in pairs along a kilometer-long course, and then in the evening brightly decorated floats cruise along the river prior to and during the nightly fireworks displays.
There is often a parallel festival at Angkor Wat and although it is smaller in scale it is just as impressive due to the backdrop of Angkor Wat.
The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time when the river flow reverts to its normal down-stream direction. In a remarkable phenomenon, the Tonle Sap River earlier reverses its course as the rainy season progresses, with the river flowing "upstream" to Tonle Sap Lake. Then as the rainy season tapers off, the river changes direction once again as the swollen Tonle Sap Lake begins to empty back into the Mekong River, leaving behind vast quantities of fish.
Life in cambodia
Most of Cambodia's population live in rural areas as farmers. In the countryside, houses are made up of palm leaves and bamboo and are usually built on stilts to protect them from floods that occur annually. A rural village is made up of a group of houses that center around a Buddhist monastery.
City life for the poor, is like life in the country, except that tremendous crime and unsanitary conditions must also be taken into effect. Social standing is reflected by material possessions, which is apparent in wealthy and middle-class Cambodian lifestyles.
In the rural areas, clothing is simple and material possessions are hard to come by. Women tend to wear cotton shirts with ankle length. Men and women both wear a krama, a multipurpose cotton garment. It can be used as a head covering, loincloth (for bathing), and as a bag for carrying items. In the city, Cambodians usually wear Western clothing.
C. Their indigenous groups
Cambodia is a multi-ethnic society with a large majority of ethnic Khmer. The indigenous populations constitute close to one percent of the total population and are often called hill tribes or highlanders (Khmer Loeu) because most of these peoples live in the four northeastern provinces of Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stung Treng and Kratie, which are considered upland areas.
The scarce of population studies makes it difficult to quantify the population number of ethnic groups in Cambodia. The National Population Census 1998 identified 17 indigenous groups in Cambodia based on their spoken language. According to this source, the total number of indigenous peoples was about 101,000 or 0.9% of the then total population of 11.4 million.
The livelihood strategy of indigenous peoples is based on agricultural production: shifting cultivation, wetland rice cultivation, pig and chicken raising, gathering food from the forest, hunting and fishing. Traditionally indigenous communities have managed and used a wide range of natural resources including forest lands, agricultural land and water resources. However, today most of them face the loss of land and a decreasing access to land that they had farmed for generations.
D. Their languages
The majority of Cambodians, even those who are not ethnic Khmer, speak Khmer, the official language of the country. Ethnic Khmer living in Thailand, in Vietnam, and in Laos speak dialects of Khmer that are more or less intelligible to Khmer speakers from Cambodia. Minority languages include Vietnamese, Cham, several dialects of Chinese, and the languages of the various hill tribes.
E. Their mode of education
The formal educational structure consists of six years of primary school (grades 1–6), three years of lower secondary school (grades 7–9), and three years of upper secondary school (grades 10–12). Before 1996 the structure was 5:3:3, and before 1985 it was 4:3:3. In prerevolutionary Cambodia, the educational structure was 6:4:3. Therefore, while educational provision has increased in recent years, it has not yet reached the level of the period prior to the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Higher education is available at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Royal Agricultural University, the Royal University of Fine Arts, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Law and Economics, the Faculty of Business (National Institute of Management), the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (formerly the Higher Technical Institute of Khmer-Soviet Friendship), and the Maharishi Vedic University (an Australian-funded institution in rural Prey Veng Province). Private education exists at all levels of the education system. In primary and secondary education, private schools have been opened by ethnic minority communities as well as for the children of the relatively small wealthy expatriate community residing in Cambodia. Private higher education is available at Norton University and at a number of other institutions, such as Regent College. Also, there is a flourishing industry, especially in Phnom Penh, in unregulated private schools that offer students instruction in foreign languages and computer skills.
The current structure of Cambodia's education system stems from the chaos that enveloped the country in the aftermath of the destruction caused by the Khmer Rouge. The Ministry of Education, while operational since 1979, was officially formed by a Council of Ministers subdecree in 1980. Although the ministry's departments were restructured in August 1998, there is still no legislation in place to regulate the new arrangements. Provincial authorities, with meager funding from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, continue to bear the burden of responsibility for local education budgets, while several government higher-education institutions remain outside the authority of the Ministry of Education. Theresult is that educational management and systems for educational planning and administration remain highly fragmented and often largely ineffective.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1740595254/bookrags Lonely Planet Cambodia (Country Guide)
F. Types of Leisure Programmes (E.g. festivals, events, sports, other recreation…)
You would never fall short of entertainment, Sports and Recreation in Cambodia . Swimming is one of the most favourite activities of the people of Cambodia. With lovely beaches all around you can indulge into a number of water Sports and Recreation in Cambodia.
The Koki Beach on the Mekong River is the most popular destination for beach activities during the week ends. The beach has white silvery sands and pristine blue water with an array of food stalls. The Kep Beach in Kampot province is the largest beach of Cambodia, and is the most popular place for family picnic.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in this part of the world. The rice fields after harvesting is used to play the game by the villagers. Soccer is often played in schools, colleges, and universities.
Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium is the largest sports centre of this district. Volleyball, basketball, and tai-kwon-do games are often hosted at the stadium. National Sports Centre of Cambodia is famous for hosting swimming, boxing, and volleyball competitions.
The Cambodian children are involved into a number of sporting activities. Heoung, which is a game similar to baseball, is mostly played by boys. Two of the most popular Sports and Recreation in Cambodia played by girls are tress and baycon.
There is a number of Sports and Recreation in Cambodia offering a selection of leisure activities to every tourist. The most popular ones include jet-skiing, go-carting, tenpin bowling, and mini golf. Sihanoukville is one of the finest beaches of Cambodia and offers the most favorable conditions for snorkeling.
Diving is also widely practiced as one of the most popular Sports and Recreation in Cambodia. There are great beaches that serve as the best diving spots of the world
G. What is the country known for?
Siem Reap (see-em ree-ep) means 'Siamese Defeated'. There is however an irony to the name 'Siamese Defeated', given that Thailand ultimately defeated Cambodia, and controlled Siem Reap
the story of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) headed by Pol Pot (Brother No 1) massacred millions of innocent Cambodians in the most brutal and grotesque manner, comparable to what Hitler did to the Jews in Austwich. Pol Pot with the help of a few others was the architect of the most brutal and radical revolutions of mankind. 1975 was declared Year Zero for Cambodia. They were to be on a self-destructive course to sever all ties with the past.
Ang kor wat
the whole Angkor period spans for more than VI centuries, and more precisely from IX till XV century. During this period the Khmer empire reached its maximum splendor as one of the most powerful southeast asian kingdoms. In this period the whole area of Angkor was buit. Cambodian consider Jayavarman II as the man that started everything. He define himself Devaraja (good king) and he established the Khmer empire in 802.
After him, Indravarman, a king considered by many of its time an usurper: we prefer to remember him for starting building the Baray, a complex irrigation system to bring waters in the area of Angkor. He also started to build the Bakong and the Preah Ko temples. His son Yasovarman went further in his father's project: he built the Phnom Bakheng and the Lolei temples, and with him, Angkor become the new capital of the kingdom. These two king further extent the Baray's system too.
Then the capital was moved to Koh Ker for a short period, under the kingdom of Jayavarman IV, an usurper, but after only 14 years Angkor become again the capital under Rajendravarman II. His son, Jayavarman V, was instead a great king, and with him the empire expanded to its maximum extent. Two wonderful temples, as Banteay Srei and Ta Keo were built.
After him, Udayaditavarman II built the pyramid of Baphuon and the western Mebon (we are now at the half of XI century), and here we are really close to the very peak of the Khmer civilization, two great king the left once forever their footstep in the history of this planet and they are Suryavarman II and Jayavarman II. The first king built Bang Melea but it also the one that built Angkor Wat. The second king has built Preach Khan, Ta Phrom and Angkor Thom.
As you will see with your eyes these last temple are traces of a high level civilization, with an exquisite taste for art. An enormous job that involved not only an army of thousands workers doing the hard job, building, moving rock and materials and so on. There was another parallel army of thousands of artists and artisans. Angkor Wat is also them. We will never know their names, or their faces, but what they left us fulfill our hearts with something magic. The walls of Angkor, they also speak about their lives, their customs, their salaries: Angkor was not only a religious place, but a capital crowded with a million people.
Spot the Disney in the modern society
There is a Ang Kor Wat themed Museum which is a small scale size of Ang Kor Wat. The museum attractions a mostly foreigner which showcases plays with actors in costumes and Cambodian music and is located within the city of Seam Reap.
In the museum there are statues of 54 gods on the left and 54 demons on the right. This is a theme from the Hindu myth of the Churning of the Milk-Ocean. The east gate of Ang Kor Wat was used for a scene in the Tomb Raider movie, in which the bad guys broke into the "tomb" by pulling down a giant tomb. Pictures and part of the set can be seen at the museum. There is also the Terrace of the Elephants served as a viewing platform for royal parties or government officials which and depicts elephants and garuda (a mythical bird-like creature).There are show schedules of the renactment of the fight between gods.
According to http://khmerization.blogspot.com/2010/12/cambodias-and-southeast-asias-colonial.html canbodia are looking to tear down their old buildings and build high-rise sky scrapers. This show that Cambodia are conforming to the patterns of the modern nations.
Analyse changes that have been brought about by tourism
The result of tourism leads to the development of hotels and restaurants
In the development of hotels, guest houses and restaurants, no consideration was given to the
maintenance of public order or to the traditional way of living of the local
population. The rapid increase of city dwellers, comprising also foreigners
and locals coming from the provinces, has seriously disturbed the capital city
of Phnom Penh.
Neither urban zoning nor regulations on architecture has been
elaborated, creating more problems for traffic and parking facilities.
1. Changes on culture
To date the location of new hotels and buildings is developing and does
not account for the ancient urbanism of Phnom Penh and of other cities like
Battambang and Siem Reap. Their architecture clashes with the traditional
settings, thus damaging the general character of th town. Moreover, the
interior decoration of some of those hotels and restaurants do not have a
The establishment of hotels has aggravated the problem caused by the
absence of sewage treatment throughout the country. As a consequence, the
pollution level of the rivers is increasing, and the country does not have the
financial and technical capabilities to solve the problem. The lack of electrical
power has forced the installation of diesel generators, which in turn cause
noise and air pollution due to petrol fumes.
2. The economic effects
Unplanned development strategies will have disastrous environmental
Effects. Since the Paris Agreement, Cambodia has changed from a centralized
to a market economy. With the steady increase of foreign investment, the
Current administrative structures do not have the absorptive and management
Capacity to deal with the present situation. There is a lack of organization in
the distribution of responsibilities and regulations to manage foreign
Investments and therefore theco-ordination of development projects.
3. Effects of tourism on culture in Cambodia
An important aspect of tourism is the creation of jobs. Because of the
dearth of experienced personnel in hotel and restaurant sectors, management
jobs are often given to foreigners. This problem is frequent within the travel
agencies. Appropriate training should be given to young Cambodians willing to
work for the tourism sector.
The local travel agencies are mainly responsible for receiving tourists,
taking them from and to the airport and making bookings. They do not
organize travel and package tours which are usually paid in foreign countries,
thereby no local income is generated. Consequently, the national agencies do
not have the necessary funds to promote and expand themselves.
4. The social effects
One of the main social problems caused by the massive arrival of
tourists and foreigners is the increasing number of nightclubs and prostitution.
Tourism a culprit in commodifying cultures
I agree that tourism is a culprit of the commoditized cultures in:
1) TONLE SAP LAKE
During my OCIP trip we took a boat to see the lives of the people there. As soon as we arrived we noticed an unbearable stench. Fishing, toilet, waste disposal, cooking ... practically everything was done there without proper basic infrastructure. It was not a pretty sight and actually, very disheartening. But the locals went by their lives the best they knew it. There were floating homes, floating schools, floating toilets, even floating boys (literally speaking). Very young children were seen rowing big boats going about their daily lives. All the locals that we've met so far had a strong command of the English language. With a tinge of an American accent. Due to tourism the locals themselves have learnt to speak English to communicate with tourism. Some floating homes very opened for viewing with a ticket charged to enter. Their cultures’ are now seen as a means of deriving income.
More information on TONLE SAP LAKE
There were people washing dishes in the lake, doing laundry, swimming, bathing, cleaning vegetables, brushing their teeth and going to the washroom. We saw men throwing out fishing nets and women cutting up and salting the resulting catch. Our boat docked at a village along the shore. Twenty-year-old trucks were pulled up haphazardly along the beach waiting to take loads of fish to market. People lived in little wooden lean- tos. Each makeshift shelter was a jumble of belongings. Sleeping mats were spread out on the slatted floors. Men lay snoozing on these mats while women sat at their sides fanning them. Plastic pails, tin cans and earthenware jars held drinking water, gasoline, garbage and the family’s
storehouse of rice. Bowls of food and chopsticks sat on tables made from cross sections of tree trunks. An odd assortment of boat batteries, baskets filled with clothing, fishing tackle, blankets, gas burners for cooking, foodstuffs, and usually a small television set completed the contents of the homes. The lean tos had bamboo, reed or grass roofs and walls formed from tarps or sheets of plastic. These dwellings had no front doors so you could see right inside each one.
2) Sex tourism
On the way out from the hotel in the evening around 6pm, we passed by a local village where we saw many young girls with make-up put on. I was curiosed. Found out from the driver that there were many karaokes around that area and those girls worked there. Their jobs were more than that. They also provided extra serviceslike prostitution. Poor parents rent/sell their daughters out as beggars or prostitutes. Child prostitution is a big problem here. Foreign paedophiles (mostly Asian men themselves) seek young, under-age, virgin children for sex in view of the rising rates of HIV infection. Very repulsive act. I came across an article by a New York Times journalist the other day which stated that the girls were only paid about USD1 per client and sometimes they had up to 10 clients a day. And one could actually buy a girl's freedom for about USD200 only. Incidentally, Cambodia has the highest rate of HIV infection in the whole of South East Asia. Currently there are strong public awareness on this, and it has somewhat helped lower the infection rates.
3) Income disparity
Most of the toddlers ran around without any clothes in the stifling heat to request for photos to be taken which were chargeable. Older kids were dressed in torn and dirty clothing and begged us for money, gum, pens, our watches and jewellery. Although many of the children had rotting teeth and runny noses their faces and hair were washed and clean. The little girls had pierced ears with tiny gold hoops and dark, beautiful eyes. The women wore colourful sarongs and the elderly ladies had their heads wrapped up in loose fitting turbans. The difference income gap makes them seem inferior to us, which really saddens me.
4) Erosion of culture
As it was our last evening we decided to go watch the much talked-about Aspara dancing at . So, ended up in Aspara Theatre at the Angkor Village Hotel which was only meant for royalty and was a serious dance. However we had our dinner while watching performance which appears rude. So, ended up in Aspara Theatre at the Angkor Village Hotel The dance went on for too long and I was not able to appreciate it. I've always considered events like this to be a tourist trap.