Little Quirks That Make Khmers Unique

Cambodian Culture, Living in Phnom Penh / Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I’ve got about a dozen posts on draft but I’m nowhere near half way finishing them. It must be that really soothing massage I had earlier @ Bamboo Spa or the hearty late lunch we had at Mexican resto – Casa Lika near the riverside. But whatever it is I’m just so in the mood to procrastinate. So what I did this past two hours, I just surfed the web and ended up in YouTube watching vids about Cambodia.

I found this really interesting and funny video from Spring Roll Fever, a Chicago Comedy Sketch Group and it had me ROFL! I just love those little quirks they mentioned and yes I’ve observed them among Khmers.

There are people who say negative things and tries to put down Khmers {see comments on the said video}, and I just don’t understand them. Khmers are just some of the most charming and nicest people I’ve known. Sure, there are some bad apples in the group like what I’ve mentioned in my previous post here. Just the same as in most races, there are good and bad points but in my experience the good far exceeds the bad.

Khmers have gone through a lot and I find them very admirable their sense of fortitude and their sense of humor even in dire times. I’ve also noticed a lot of similarities between my own Filipino upbringing and Khmers.

So how do you know you are Khmer indeed? Here’s some quirks mentioned in the video that I’ve personally observed too..

  • Your living room contains only Khmer DVD’s and karaokes – oohhh! I’ve seen this in my M-I-L’s house. And my Khmer nieces and nephews can belt out Khmer songs on karaoke like pros..{Which reminds me so much of my Filipino relatives back home hehe}
  • During a Khmer bbq party, the moms are the one’s cooking and the dads drinking and gambling and telling each other corny jokes – true! I’ve seen that a lot, but not really all..
  • Your parents buy a new dining table but your not allowed to eat on it – uh, yeah. Hubby’s cousin just bought a really pricey all wood dining set {I thought it was really nice} and I wondered why they still had to spread out a mat and not eat on the table..
  • You love to eat mango with salt, sugar and chili – oh yeah! and this has rubbed on me too! Now I can’t imagine eating green mango without those..
  • Khmers you haven’t seen for a long time tell you to your face that you got fat – Haha I’ve been on the receiving end of this one that I’ve grown immune to it already, perhaps they consider me now as semi-Khmer. Same with Pinoys too, they really would tell you to your face that your fat. No subtlety at all.
  • You wash with water instead of using toilet paper – true and this I don’t mind. I would definitely feel much cleaner with water and soap.
  • You use a pail and scoop  for bathing even if you have a working shower – most Khmer homes I’ve been to have this bucket and scoop setup. Personally, I prefer using the shower but I don’t mind this Khmer quirk because most Pinoys are like this too.
  • You have at least one big picture of Angkor Wat in your house – ooops! we don’t have one yet. We do have an apsara wall decor…
  • Whenever you get sick you scratch with a coin – traditional cure. Yeah! I’ve tried this and you know what it did make me feel better and I even know how to do it!
  • You own at least one luxury car so you can roll it in a Khmer party even if you are poor– LMAO! Now I need to stop wondering why there are lots of Lexuses around..Maybe I should consider buying one hehe..
  • You got beat with almost every object in the house – hmm form of discipline. Yeah I’ve observed some..
  • Everybody is your cousin. – Another thing I feel comfortable with here. Extended family, just like back home in the Philippines!
  • You love prahok!– love would be an understatement! I think prahok is almost synonymous to being Cambodian. I even kidded hubby and asked him if  eating prahok is a requirement for citizenship. Too bad I haven’t really learned yet to eat this. I’m just too sensitive with the smell, but who knows I might learn to like it someday.
  • Your name is almost the same as your brothers and sisters – true! I really have a hard time remembering the names. And its hard to distinguish a girl and boys name. Ex. I used to think Dara was a girl’s name but what do you know last week I met a guy named Dara. So now I’ve learned never to assume things..
  • You watched Tomb Raider only because it was filmed in Cambodia – hahaha yes I know..
  • You mix fish sauce, lime, some garlic, chili as dip for crab and lobster. – This is my all time favorite Khmer sauce! And it goes well with fried fish, shrimps and marinated/grilled pork too..
  • You bring the rice cooker on a picnic – so I’ve seen..
  • You own at least one furry fleece blankets and you have five more in stock just in case someone sleeps over. – =) My Khmer M-I-L gave me a whole bunch of these blankets and what do you know, I love it they are so comfy and warm. Can you blame Khmers for getting attached to it?
  • Your parents get invited to weddings every other weekend – yes, we get tons of invites and its not polite not go or not to send some $$ with the envelope. I rarely go but hubby usually goes and just a secret between us — this thing can get really expensive and threatens the monthly budget.
  • You dip french bread with condensed milk – ugh! hubby’s favorite snack. He says its so good. I don’t like it, I prefer french bread with ice cream haha specially those from the street carts!
  • Khmer men wear sarong at home – thankfully, Hi-ace doesn’t do this. But I did ask someone who does and they say its comfy. Now who are we to argue with that?

And one other unique thing I observed:

Khmer ladies just love pajamas! Just walk out, whether on the street, the market, malls, pagodas well you can see lots of them wearing pajamas. I’ve never seen any other place with so many pajama clad people roaming around.

Well, that I would say makes Cambodians really unique!  All part of the fascinating Cambodian culture.

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