A highlight for me when visiting a new country is to learn about the culture and customs of that country. I was lucky enough to strike up a conversation with a local tour guide. We discussed many things and I felt I gained a true insight into Cambodian culture. Here are some interesting facts I took away from that conversation.
- It’s profitable to be a tour guide in Cambodia! Especially if you speak English, and even more so if you speak Spanish or Italian. There are lots of opportunities for work, particularly in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
- It’s not socially acceptable to speak about and discuss politics in public. It’s considered to be rude and you might find yourself in trouble for doing so.
- The older generation of Cambodian people is very superstitious! They do not make any big life decisions without consulting a fortune teller first. For example, what type of car to buy or which day to purchase it or what day to get married on…
- There are still around 5 million active landmines in Cambodia! Don’t worry, the main tourist areas have been cleared. The landmines are mostly located around the borders of the country. Most of the landmines were cleared by children (playing with slingshots) or animals (they obviously can’t read the warning signs).
- Fishing in a Cambodian village is an interesting business! A bomb/landmine is thrown into a lake and the villagers scoop everything up that is killed by the blast.
Children and education
- The average size for a Cambodian family is 13 children!
- Corporal punished used to be lawful in Cambodian schools. Punishment used to be very harsh. For example: if your fingernails were too long, the teacher would smack your fingertips with a piece of wood! Also, if you disrupted class, you had to stand in front of the class on one leg for an hour while the rest of the pupils continued with their work. However, today corporal punishment is no longer allowed in public schools.
- Being a teacher in Cambodia is very prestigious and coveted position! In the past, you had to come from a wealthy family to become a teacher.
- The pass rate for Grade 12 is very low in Cambodia. Today, if you graduate high school with a distinction, you receive a scooter from the government, along with a full scholarship to a university of your choice for 4 years.