A quirk of working and living in a foreign country (rather than just visiting it as a tourist) is that you end up involuntarily adopting some of the local practices into your daily life, even after you’ve left the country. You may only become aware of it when you have friends visiting you and you have to explain to them why you’re doing things that certain way!
Here are some habitual nuances you may have picked up if you’ve been visiting Cambodia.
You automatically take your shoes off anytime you enter indoors
It probably began for hygienic reasons, but it’s now also a matter of education and respect. Whether you’re entering a house, an office, a classroom, a temple, or a clinic, you leave your shoes at the entrance or put them on a shoe rack. At the beginning, it may seem odd to walk into an office and meet people barefooted, but the freedom of not having to wear high heels or other types of constrictive shoes is priceless.
The raincoat is the only piece of clothing you take on and off
The temperature in Cambodia is pretty much the same throughout the year. The only seasons in the Kingdom of Wonder are the rainy season and the dry season. As a result, you find yourself perpetually wearing summer clothes throughout the year. The raincoat is actually the only piece of clothing that you would add to or take away from your wardrobe.
You greet people not by shaking hands but with the Sampeah
Cambodians greet people by drawing their hands together at their heart in the gesture of a prayer. As soon as you embrace the “prayer” gesture and bow to the person in front of you, you may realise how shaking hands is unhygienic and probably not needed.
You turn in early and get up early
A large part of Cambodia still adheres to the rural lifestyle. By 5:30 a.m., life begins to stir in the streets, and the city is abuzz with activities at 8:00 a.m. You eventually enjoy waking up early with the sunrise to the sound of prayers from the Pagoda, when it’s also the freshest moment of the day. You then end up collapsing into bed by 10:00 p.m., which is pretty normal.
You read news on Facebook, instead of in newspapers
In Cambodia, everything happens via Facebook. You read local news, find a job, meet a friend, discover an event. There are endless numbers of groups you end up being a member of, unless you want to be cut off from what is going on around you.
You take a nap during lunch break
The times when your lunch consists of a quick bite in front of the computer belong in the past. In Cambodia, the midday break also corresponds to the hottest time of the day. Offices are usually closed for two hours for lunch to allow people go back home, have lunch with their families, and take a nap and a shower before coming back refreshed for the afternoon.
Do you have new habits you took home after living in Cambodia or things you’ve come to appreciate living in Cambodia? Let us know!