Leben & Arbeiten im Land der Khmer
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[Auszug aus den Vorabinformationen seitens meiner Arbeitsstelle...]
Cambodians tend to dress conservatively, and can be easily offended by the insensitivity of some westerners in this area. The best thing is to take note of what local people are wearing, and use this as a guide.
Dress code in your free time can be more relaxed than is expected at work, and Khmer people are happy to make exceptions to foreigners. That said, please be respectful and try to keep shoulders, knees and midriff covered at all times where possible. Take special care when travelling to towns outside of Phnom Penh that may be less used to foreigners.
- Physical contact between same sex friends is common; you will often see young men holding hands. Bear in mind though that contact between sexes is considered obscene to older Khmer people.
- Sitting cross legged is frowned upon, and considered arrogant.
- Touching people’s heads is not acceptable, unless it is a child's, in which case it is fine.
- Khmer people have a collective mentality, so you may find that your personal belongings at work become fair game for anyone who wants to look at them. If you are not willing to share, keep your things well hidden from the kids and staff alike!
- The idea of 'face' is very important to Khmer people. People will often throw large extravagant parties that they can barely afford in the effort to look richer than they are. Getting angry is considered a loss of face, and will often make people uncomfortable.
- Be careful never to use your left hand to greet people or to eat – in most Asian countries it is reserved for bathroom use!
- Never point at someone, or beckon them with a single finger. If you do need to beckon someone over to you, use your whole hand instead of one finger, and be careful to keep your palm facing downwards.
- If you are invited to someone’s house, it is customary to take a small gift for the owner – biscuits or cakes will suffice.
- Always remember to remove your shoes when entering someone's house – this applies at some work placements and guest houses too.
- Make sure you are dressed correctly: no headwear, and shoulders and knees well covered.
- Always remove your shoes before entering a pagoda.
- In most temples photography is allowed, but be careful never to take a photo of a Buddha if it also captures someone with their back to the Buddha.
- If you sit in front of a Buddha figure, sit with your legs to the side, not in the lotus position.
- Never point your finger or the soles of your feet towards a Buddha statue.