Captivating Cambodia

Pol Pot

I’m sure you’ve heard this often enough, “Knowledge is Power”

But once upon a time in the Kingdom of Cambodia, knowledge was not power

In fact, it was dangerous to know too much

Khmer Rouge’s notorious leader Pol Pot ordered the mass murder of all educated Cambodians

so that nobody would oppose his rule.


No birthday celebrations?

Ok maybe you’ve stopped celebrating your birthday after 30

But fact is, at some point, you’ve had friends and family celebrate your special day with you

Now in the Kingdom of Cambodia

Traditionally, birthdays are not celebrated.

And older people might not even know their birthdays.

So don’t be surprised if you get a quizzical look when you ask your Cambodian friend

Hey when’s your birthday?


Changing names

Whenever a new government was at the helm

Cambodia would change its name

During its republican years, it was called the Khmer Republic

When they were under the Khmer Rouge regime, it was Democratic Kampuchea

And then it was the People’s Republic of Kampuchea under the leftist group called Salvation Front.

Today, it’s officially recognised as the Kingdom of Cambodia.


Cambodian Flag

If you’ve not noticed before, the Cambodian flag is the only national flag in the world

that has an image of a building

the Angkor Wat

The largest religious monument in the world that’s part of the Angkor World Heritage Site


Head to toe

In Cambodia, the head is considered as the highest part of the body

and you should never pat your Cambodian friend’s child on the head even in the gentlest, kindest manner

At the same time, it’s thought to be disrespectful to let your feet or soles point at people or things,

so when you’re sitting, it’s best to tuck your feet in.


Cambodian Cuisine

Cambodian cuisine includes noodles, soups, grills, stir-fried, curries, salads, desserts, lots of vegetables, tropical fruits, and of course rice which is the staple food for Cambodians.

Cambodian culinary secrets are mostly handed down from mother to daughter.

Two very unique ingredients that give Cambodian cuisines their fabulous typical flavour

is a pungent fermented fish paste known as pra-hok and the kapi, which is a fermented prawn paste.

But the most tantalizing Cambodian cuisine would be the tarantula kebabs which are a popular delicacy.


What’s rice got to do with it?

Cambodia is supposedly the only country that has the least Chinese influences

among all the other Mainland Southeast Asian nations.

But interestingly like Mandarin, rice and food mean the same in Khmer language.



Football, introduced by French, is one of the most popular sports in Cambodia

but other sports, such as; volleyball, bodybuilding, field hockey, rugby union,

golf, and baseball are also gaining interest here.



Rice is ubiquitous in Cambodian meals and delicacies.

It is served in many forms that include fried, steamed, or in the form of noodles.

It is even consumed as dessert by mixing it with fruits and coconut milk that give it a sweet taste.


Main exports

The major export products of Cambodia are rice, timer, fish, garments, and rubber.

Fish is also consumed in varied forms like, fresh fish, dried fish, smoked fish, or as a paste called Prahok

that is mixed with spice like hot peppers, lemongrass or mint.



One of the more popular sports in Cambodia is football, introduced by the French.

But equally prominent are the Cambodian traditional sports like

boat racing, buffalo racing, Pradal Serey – unarmed martial arts, Khmer traditional wrestling,

and Bokator – one of the oldest fighting systems that involve weapons


Water festival

Interestingly, Cambodia also has their own water festival

or the Bonn Om Teuk celebrated in November at the end of monsoon,

when the Mekong River recedes and the popular sport rowing race is also held during the same festival season.


Cambodia’s Motto

Cambodia’s motto is “Nation, Religion, King”

To date, Cambodia is the only Asian country to have a king who is partly of French descent.

The head of government of Cambodia,

Hun Sen is the longest serving leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years



When visiting Cambodia, a formal greeting is done by joining both the palms together in front of each other

and then bowing.

It’s called Sompeah and is usually initiated by the younger or lower rank of people.


Land-mine injuries

Cambodia has the highest per-capita percentage of amputees in the world due to land-mine injuries.

UNESCO has listed Cambodia as the third most “landmine-d” country in the world

with more than 4 million landmines are still strewn across the country

It’s estimated that it will take a decade before all the land mines are cleared up.


The infamous tyrant

Over one and a half million people died during the regime of the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot.

The infamous tyrant leader, who took the control of Phnom Penh in 1975

wanted to eradicate western influence and modernization in Cambodia

He’s considered one of the most notorious war criminals of modern times.


The Angkor Wat

The iconic ancient temple of Cambodia, the Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II who reigned from 1131 to 1150

It’s one of the most magnificent world heritage sites sprawling 1,150 square miles

Possibly the largest pre-industrial city in the world

The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit word nagar for city while Wat is derived from vatthu,

the Khmer form of the Pali word that means temple grounds.


French influence in Cambodia

Cambodia remained under the French occupation from 1863 to 1953.

The English word Cambodia is derived from Cambodge, the French word.

To date, Cambodia is the only Asian country to have a king who is partly of French descent.


Two main contributing industries

Garment export and tourism are two main industries that generate revenue for the economy of Cambodia.

That’s is until 2005 when oil and natural gas were discovered from the territorial waters of Cambodia

Other major export products of Cambodia include rice, timber, fish, and rubber.


Tonle Sap

The Kingdom of Cambodia has many large water features

Huge reservoirs and canals were built by the Angkor kings to provide water for irrigation.

Cambodia also has the largest inland lake in South East Asia called the Tonle Sap.

And interestingly, in north east of Cambodia, dolphins can be found in rivers.


Pub-trailer (Cambodia)
Hey it’s Lynette and all this week on Expat Radio 963 XFM, we’re celebrating Cambodia’s Independence Day on 9th November.

So join me on Globe Trekker Monday to Friday 12 to 1 for a one hour special as we celebrate all things Cambodian. Interesting food, rich history, music and more.

Experience Home Closer only on Expat Radio 96.3XFM

About lynettetanblogs

Lynette Tan is Mrs Singapore Universe 2016. She believes in being beautiful and healthy, naturally. Her mantra? You're most beautiful, when you're You!

Leave a Comment