ABOUT CAMBODIA

CAMBODIA OVERVIEW:

Location.

Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.

Climate.

Cambodia has a hot and humid tropical climate. The country is dominated by the wet southwest monsoon from May to October and the dry northeast monsoon from November to April. Most of the rain falls in the southwestern hilly area and the coastline facing the Gulf of Siam. The central lower areas are somewhat drier but hotter. Temperatures are between 23 C and 26 C at night, and 30 C to 35 C during the day most of the year, but April sees temperatures of 40 C occasionally. September and October are the wettest months. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February. Disastrous flooding occurred in 2001 and again in 2002, with some degree of flooding almost every year.

The best time to visit Cambodia. Most travelers visit Cambodia from November to March. If you prefer to dodge the crowds and go when prices are lower, the best time to visit Cambodia is from May to early October. Cambodia is warm year-round with temperatures rarely dipping below 68°F (20°C), wherever you go. Seasons are broken into wet and dry season.

General information.

  • Area: 181 035 km²
     
  • Population: 16.25 million
     
  • Capital: Phnom Penh
     
  • Religion:  Buddhism
     
  • Points of interests: Angkor Wat, Tonle sap, Ankor Thom, and Phnompenh.

Events and Festivals

– Chinese New Year -Thanks to the large Chinese population in Cambodia, Chinese New Year is an important holiday even outside the Chinese community. It will fall some time between late January and late February every year following the lunar calendar. Many consider it the one day in Cambodia that everyone goes to bed with a full stomach.
– Chaul Cham or the Khmer New Year, is held in mid-April, this is a massive party that lasts for 7 days. People visit wats with offerings and prayers.
– Visakha Puja celebrates Buddha’s birth enlightenment and passing in nirvana. Candle-let processions take place at Angkor Wat. It falls on the eighth day of the fourth moon (in May or June).
– P’chum Ben or The Spirit Festival, is a celebration to honour ancestors in September or October, people make offerings to spirits at Buddhist Pagodas across the whole country.
– Bon Om Tuk celebrates the reversal of the Tonle Sap river and falls in early November. Boat races take placeall over the country. Phnom Penh has the largest celebration. The 2010 celebration attracted an estimated 2,000,000 visitors from outside the city (many city residents flee the city during this time). The city becomes very crowded, and as the events of the 2010 festival show, where close to 400 people died in one night, crowd control is a serious issue.

Language

Khmer is spoken by 95% of the population. Additional languages are English, Vietnamese, Chinese, French and languages spoken by ethnic minority groups found in the far eastern and western parts of the country.
Many of the younger people in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have at least a grasp of English, Korean or Japanese.

What to eat?

Cambodia’s food is mainly rice with some sort of curry, more like Thai curry than Indian curry. Cambodia is also well known for its sour soups, and when Cambodians eat together there is usually a soup involved. International foods are available especially in the major cities. There is also plenty of fresh fruit to eat like pineapple, but most Khmers like to eat their fruit a little unripe.

Typical Khmer dishes include:

– Amok – Arguably the most well known Cambodian dish. A coconut milk curried dish less spicy than those found in Thailand. Amok is usually made with chicken, fish, or shrimp, plus some vegetables. It is sometimes served in a hollowed-out coconut with rice on the side. Quite delicious.
– K’tieu (Kuytheav) – A noodle soup generally served for breakfast. Can be made with pork, beef or seafood. Flavourings are added to the customers taste in the form of lime juice, chili powder, sugar and fish sauce.
– Somlah Machou Khmae – A sweet and sour soup made with pineapple, tomatoes and fish.
– Bai Sarch Ch’rouk – Another breakfast staple. Rice (bai) with pork meat (sarch chrouk) often barbequed. Very tasty and served with some pickled vegetables.
– Saik Ch’rouk Cha Kn’yei – Pork fried with ginger. Ginger is commonly used as a vegetable. This tasty dish is available just about everywhere.
– Lok lak – Chopped up beef cooked quickly. Probably a holdover from the days of French colonization. Served with a simple dipping sauce made from lime juice and black pepper, lettuce, onion, and often with chips.
– Mi/Bai Chaa – Fried noodles or rice. Never particularly inspiring, but a good traveller’s staple.
– Trey Ch’ien Chou ‘Ayme – Trey (fish) fried with a sweet chili sauce and vegetables. Very tasty. Chou ‘ayme is the phrase for “sweet and sour”.
– K’dam – Crab. Kampot in the south is famous for its crab cooked in locally sourced black pepper. A very tasty meal.

Safety

Other than unexploded ordinances (UXO), bombs and other explosives left over from wartimes, Cambodia is pretty safe. In order to avoid unexploded ordinances, it is best to stay on marked trails and official roads at all times. This is because every year landmines that have been buried by rains can resurface meaning places have to be cleared regularly. The dangers of mines and unexploded ordinance to travelers is minimal, though. While Cambodians, especially children, in remote rural areas are still victimized by the remnants of the war, there are no reports of travelers ever being killed or injured by mines or UXO.

The other common threat to travellers are pick-pockets. Make sure you watch your bags and pockets at all times from pick-pockets, many of whom are street children. Some of them are very skilled and can get violent if confronted.

In general, staying safe in Cambodia is the same as being safe anywhere else. Always be aware of yourself, your possessions and your surroundings.

ETIQUETTE DOS AND DON'T WHILE YOU ARE IN CAMBODIA.

Cambodian people are well-known for their hospitality and warmth. Out of respect, visitors to the Kingdom should take care to observe local customs and practices. You may find it useful to familiarise yourself with the following common dos and don’ts before embarking on your trip to Cambodia.

DOS IN CAMBODIA.

  • Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
  • Support the local economy by buying Cambodian food and handicrafts, or simply try a traditional Cambodian meal.
  • It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship such as a pagoda or temple. Additionally, visitors should dress appropriately when inside a religious site (upper arms and legs should be covered, hats removed).
  • It is respectful to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
  • A respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest (known as “Sampeah”).
  • If invited to dine in a Cambodian family’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host such as fruit, dessert, or flowers.
  • If invited to attend a Cambodian wedding, it is customary to bring cash as a wedding gift.
  • When using a toothpick at the table, use one hand to cover your mouth.
  • Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.

DON’TS IN CAMBODIA .

    • The feet are considered the lowest form of the body and the head the highest form. Don’t point or gesture with your feet or put your feet on the furniture. Also don’t touch someone on the head.
    • Don’t start eating before your host if you are a guest at a dinner.
    • Women should never touch male monks or their robes, or hand something directly to them.
    • Show respect by not taking photos or disturbing monks during prayer times.
    • Buying and consuming any type of narcotic drugs is illegal.
    • Kissing and hugging in public is very impolite. Wearing revealing clothing is also not considered appropriate even though other tourists may do this.
    • Do not purchase historical artefacts or rob the Cambodian people of their history.
  • BASIC VOCABULARY.

    Knowing a few words of Cambodian language always earns smiles from the local people.

    Suor s’dei – hello
    Lia sun howie – Goodbye
    Sok sabai chea teh?  – How are you?

    Knyom sok sabai – I’m fine.

    Baat (for man) Jaa (for woman) – Yes!

    O-te – No.

    Aw khun – Thank you.
    Somh toh – I’m sorry / Excuse me!































 
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