‘Going Native’ in Cambodia

Posted on by Khmer 440


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After living in Cambodia for a few years, it is considered quite normal for a foreigner to subconsciously take on many of the cultural traits of the indigenous host community in his or her adopted homeland. Indeed, some foreigners , over time, become totally assimilated into Khmer society and adopt all or almost all of its norms and values. Consequently, and in order for you to better understand this phenomenon, Khmer 440 has compiled a list of signs and signals which indicate that this cultural transition may be taking place in your life.

You know you’ve become Khmer when……..

…your Phnom Penh house is worth $400,000, you drive a $30,000 SUV, but your living room looks like a minicab office in a bad area of South London.

…you get sick and don’t visit the doctor. Instead you send your wife to the pharmacy and tell her to come back with 3 green capsules, a pink one, two blue ones and one more in a color that you’ve never tried before.

…you point with your lips rather than your hands.

…you speak through your nose rather than your mouth.

…you have ‘Jingle Bells’ as your mobile phones ringtone: In July.

…you only ever make phone calls while driving at 80pmh through a built up area.

…you never park less than two meters from the kerb.

…those foot prints on the toilet seat are your own.

…you ditch your comfy sofa and replace it with a highly varnished, luxury hardwood park bench.

…if you are a woman, you buy an elegant and expensive pair of mule sandals; then you wear them with thick pink and red striped woolen football socks.

…you cycle home from work three abreast on a busy main road during rush hour so you can have a nice chat with your friends. Then you act all surprised and indignant when the car at the front of the enormous half mile tail back you’ve caused starts honking his horn.

…you move house by moto.

…you go down to the palace at night and do an aerobic work out in jeans and high heels.

…if you’re a man, just before sundown you pull your shirt up on top of your pot belly to just under your nipples to cool down, all while scratching your nuts.

…you borrow one neighbour’s baby, then take it to the other neighbour’s house for a chat.

…you send your Grandma out to weigh people.

…you wear green nylon underpants. For a week.

…you spend $700 on the lastest iPhone, and then you push your motorbike to work and back because you’ve got no money left for petrol.

…you pay $100 for the answers to your brat’s national exam paper, and then demand the money back when he fails because the paper was changed.

…when you are guilty of something and are confronted, you smile and giggle slightly.

…you think that if a barang gets out of a tuk tuk, he or she wants to get straight on the back of your moto.

And you know you’ve become a Khmer driver when…….

…your $50,000 Lexus SUV has large, garish letters on the side reminding everyone what kind of car it is because nothing says classy like 12″ Lee Press-on letters.

…you drive up the wrong side of the road through a red light to make a left hand turn and when confronted with a car turning right on the green look indignant when told to get out of the way.

…you pull out in front of speeding vehicles and stop, and then get annoyed at them.

…you always drive directly to the centre of a roundabout and cut across everyone else – even if you’re taking the first exit.

…you can keep a 0.5″ gap between your car and the one in front of you – in all traffic conditions – at all times.

…you creep slowly out of a T junction when there’s only one car coming – it’s miles away – there’s nothing behind it – and you end up both sat still in the middle of the road and you’re smiling.

…you don’t drive directly behind the car in front, but follow it 2′ to its left so you can see down the road.

…you never look farther than 6m in front of you in your direction of travel.

…you don’t accelerate for long enough to overtake – just ride alongside and try to sideswipe for position to avoid oncoming traffic – but only if it’s larger than you.

…you will cut up another driver under heavy braking to turn right just in front of him.

..you know no-one who will pay more than $20 for labour to fix a car, but you’ll cough up $30,000 to buy a “lightly used” one.

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