Say “Cambodia,” and often two associations come to mind: the lost glories of Angkor, and the horrors of the Khmer Rouge’s “Killing Fields.” Any understanding of Cambodia today however, must embrace both these opposites, as well as the changing attitudes within the country caused by somewhat of a demographic revolution.
In the past Cambodia was the center of the Khmer empire, which from its capital at Angkor from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries ruled much of what is now Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The ruins of the Khmer palaces, temples, and cities testify to their power, wealth, high culture, and engineering skills, while their subsequent abandonment and long obscurity provide a sobering example of civilization’s fragility. Today, Cambodia is negotiating its rich and complex past with the challenges of modernity in a globalised world.
Culture Smart! Cambodia is for all those who want to do more than just scratch the surface. Whether travelling as a tourist, businessperson or student, the guide will enrich your understanding of the land and its people, their values and their attitudes.
Concise sections that trace the country's history help us to understand how the past has shaped the collective and personal values of Cambodians today, while sections on Cambodian life at work, at home and in social situations will enable you to successfully navigate your way with sensitivity and with understanding.
When being hosted for a meal remember to leave something in your bowl or on your plate to indicate that your appetite has been satisfied. When eating with chopsticks, never leave them in the bowl with the ends pointing upward as this resembles the incense sticks that are burned for the dead. Instead, place them at the side of your plate or bowl!