Cambodia: Behind Those Khmer Smiles

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More than the ancient temples and authentic Khmer local delicacies, it's worth going back to Cambodia because of the charming Khmer people.

With my limited time to observe them, it's still almost impossible not to notice the glimpse of resilience behind those big smiles. Their country may not be able to offer them the pleasure and comfort other industrialized countries can provide but their adaptive skills plus their vibrant culture and iconic temples gave them the advantage to be one of the most visited countries in Asia.

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Even language is not treated as a restraint in trying to accommodate their guests. We once visited a local store near our hotel to buy some personal stuff and the middle-aged woman who speaks their local language patiently showed us the price of every item we want to buy by taking out the equivalent Cambodian Riel bills in her wallet. What a clever Khmer lady!

Cambodians comprise of a cheerful crowd, down to earth, and homey human beings.

Our tour guide slash driver is another proof. The moment we met him at the bus transport terminal, he welcome us with a big smile and cheerful gestures. He comfortably initiated small talk to us and deliberately listened to our grumbling with the 6 hour bumpy road experience on the way to Siem Reap. At the end of the 10-15 minute ride, he taught us to say "Thank you" in their local language - "aw-koon ch-ran"

His kindness does not stop there. He generously provided insights of the different places we visited on our whole day temple tour. Each temple distinctively described with excitement, when all I saw was the same enormous pieces of sandstones intricately stuck together forming gigantic towers with refined decorations. I know I am bad in Architecture, please don't judge me.

While most of the people from province dream of going to the big city when they grow up, watching the Khmer people made me envious. I envy their simplicity. I envy their smiles. I envy their patience.

Cambodia may not have a developed economy and advanced technology yet, but they are blessed with remarkable and happy people.


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