Cambodia 2007 : Phnom Penh life style

My trip to Cambodia took place in this Lunar NewYear. This was the first time I had traveled to another country – my first trip over sea.

In this country, I had nice days and met nice friends.

The first day in this country, I was suprised about Phnom Penh – the capital of Cambodia. It is a beautiful city with a lot of buildings in traditional style. This city is not as modern as the other cities of developed countries, but PhnomPenh is a calm and hospitable city. There are about 2 millions people living in this city, but I found that this city is not as crowded and noisy as HCM city.

There are many motobikes in this city – of course, the same in the others cities of the South East Asia, for example in Hồ Chí Minh city. But, I found that many Phnom Penh inhabitants have their own car for transportation. They said that the price of car in Cambodia is cheaper than in Việt Nam, so more people can afford for a car.

The Cambodian Assembly

In Cambodia, we stayed with a lovely family. Although the host is the cousin of my accompany- MissThắm, with me, he behave as if I were his relative. His two son are nice guys too. The older, named Leap, has graduated from the University, and now he is an English teacher. The younger is a student in the fourth year of mechanic and law. His name is Sambath, and he was our guide for the trip to Siem Reap.

Most of Cambodians I met are nice and intelligent people. I found that English is very popular in this city, and the Phnom Penh citizens can speak English very well. They use this language in their daily work, and English become very familiar to them. I was ashamed for my English in the first day I came here, and my first conversations in Cambodia were very difficult for me. Gradually, speaking English was acquainted with me day by day. This is also the reason why I decided to create this page for my English writings.

These other popular languages in this country is French, Chinese and Vietnamese. My Cambodian friend – Sambath can speak both English and French well, and his uncle Mr Sau Lai can speak English, French, Chinese and Vietnamese.

I can’t speak Khmer, of course. All my conversations there was in English, but I felt very comfortable when most Cambodians I have spoken can understand me, from a very young boy to a pagoda warden (bonze). Sok Kun is Mrs Chanthy’s son, he is a child, only seven years old, and in the second class of the elementary school, but he has been studying English for 4 years, now, he can speak English very fluently, with exact pronunciation. Sometime, his parents use English when they talk to him.

One of the reasons explains why English is popular in this country is the aspiration () having a good job in an international or in a foreign company of the Cambodian youth. I found that there are a lot of international companies or organizations in Phnom Penh, there are also many non-government organizations here. Their activities are most in health, rural developing, woman developing, education…

The Cambodian family

My accompany – Miss Thắm and the Cambodian family

The first night in Cambodia was so calm and tender with gentle sleeping. The second morning, we wake up early preparing for the trip to Siem Reap – 300km from Phnom Penh province with the most popular beauty-spot – The Angkor.

At the bus station, there were a lot of tourists and many of them were foreigners. And around this city I saw many foreign tourists walking on the streets, having meal in the restaurants, siting in the Tuc Tuc for sight-seeing. This time is the rush hour for tourism in Cambodia, this is the Lunar New Year holiday, and many tourists from the Asian country choose Cambodia for spending their holiday. They come from China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Việt Nam. The others come from Europe. I can see that the Cambodia’s tourism is developing speedy.

The Cambodian have their own calendar – Khmer calendar, not the lunar calendar. I would like to write some things about the Khmer New Year. These informations I found on Internet and i want to share with you. Khmer New Year is the greatest traditional festival, and also it is the greatest national holiday because it is three days of festival and sometimes can be four days. Khmer New Year begins on April 13th or can be on April 14th, depending on the “MohaSangkran,” which is the ancient horoscope. In fact, Khmer New Year originally began on the first day of the first month in lunar calendar, which can be in November or the beginning of December. 95% of Khmer population are farmers, and the period from November through March is the busiest season for Khmer farmers to reap or harvest the crops from the rice fields. Khmer people can find free time in April because there is no rain, and it is very hot, so Khmer farmers have the time to take vacation after they have worked very hard to gather the rice crops from their rice fields to get their income. Therefore, April is the right time for Khmer in Cambodia to celebrate New Year. The Khmer New Year festival originated from Bramhmanism, a part of Hinduism, which was a religion that Khmer believed in before Buddhism. Later on Buddhism became associated with the festival and then took all the important roles in the festivity.

There are many Cambodians whose origins are Chinese, Vietnamese so they also celebrate the Lunar NewYear holiday although the lunar NewYear is not a national holiday. You can feel that when you come here in these days. They ask their boss for day-off work and gather with their relatives, or travel.

The life prices in Phnom Penh ir more expensive than in Viet Nam, especially the prices of fuel, electric power, food, housing fee…- the most important things for daily life. For example, a small family with 4-6 members have to pay about 100 US$ for electric power per month. This is a very expensive fee for a Vietnamese family.

There are some things about Cambodia I got from this trip.

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