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PEOPLE

The population of Cambodia today is about 12 million. About 90 percent of the people are Khmer ethnic. The remaining 10 percent include Chinese-Khmers, Khmer Islam or Chams, ethnic hill-tribe people, known as the Khmer Loeu, and Vietnamese. About 10 percent of the population lives in Phnom Penh, the capital, making Cambodia largely a country of rural dwellers, farmers and artisans.

 

CULTURE AND TRADITION   

Traditional arts and crafts are abundant in Cambodia. Scuptures., paintings and curving done with great care and attention. One can view such antiquities in market place, shop or museum.

 

The variety of arts and crafts are large in range and include such item as: silver and gold jewellery, wicker were furniture, fine hard wood furniture, silks, marble sculptures, high quality China, leather ware and much more. There is a sharp eye for detail here and much of the products will be intricately carved especially the furniture, sculptures etc.

Unfortunately, much of these works completely ceased to exist during the Khmer Rouge dictatorship. Artisans ware instead forced to work in labour camps, where most of them died painful deaths. Many arts and crafts also purposely perished during that time.

 

Today there has been a revival, due to a great deal of restoration work, which has been initiated by foreign governments. Now many centers have been established to keep the ancient methods of the craftwork alive. You can see examples of this throughout the country.

 

RELIGION AND LANGUAGE   

Cambodia's official language is Khmer. French is still taught in schools and universities. English increasingly predominates. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is also practiced in neighboring Laos, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka.

 

GENERAL ADVISE & HEALTH

Drink lots of water. Never drink tap water unless purified, bottled water is available everywhere. 

Use an insect repellent against mosquitoes. It is the only way to be sure of protection against mosquito borne diseases. Since Cambodia has a hot and humid tropical climate, casual and light-weight clothing is best. Clothing made from natural fibers is the best option. A jacket might be needed on cool winter evenings or in hotels and restaurants using excessive air-conditioning. A hat and high-factor sun block is advisable as protection against the hot sun when sightseeing.

 

When visiting temples or pagodas, including those of Angkor Wat, shorts and T-shirts are acceptable. Shoes are generally removed at the entrance to pagodas. For visits to the Silver Pagoda, which is within the Royal Palace grounds. visitors are asked to dress more formally. Gentlemen are required to wear long trousers and ladies should wear long trousers or long skirts.

 

Standard film, (such as Kodak, FUJI or Konica 100, ) and slide Non are widely available. Photos are inexpensive to process in the country. Any specialized photo equipment should be brought with you. Photography in airports, railway stations and near any military installations is forbidden and discretion should be used when photographing people, particularly monks.
 

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

Although no vaccinations are officially required for entry to Cambodia, they are highly encouraged. Visitors are advised to check with their doctor or a travel immunization clinic regarding protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B. Any essential medications should be brought with you as there is no guarantee they will be available in Cambodia.

 

Communications

The advent of mobile phones has dramatically improved communications between the main towns. That said, many of the landlines destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era have yet to be replaced, and the lack of phone lines not only hinders ordinary business but also keeps Internet access costs high everywhere except Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It's only been a few years since mail destined for Cambodia had to be collected in Bangkok, but the postal service is now reasonably reliable, although inbound letter that attract the attention of staff-there's no rhyme or reason to this-often get pilfered.

 

Mail

All Cambodia's mail is consolidated in Phnom Penh. Sending mail from provincial cities seems as reliable as posting from the capital, though it costs a little more as you'll be charged for your mail to go to Phnom Penh first. Within the capital itself, only the main post office is geared up to accept mail bound for abroad.

 

Mail to Europe, Australasian and North America takes between five and ten days to arrive, leaving Phnom Penh for major international destinations around twice a week the specific days can be checked at the main post office. Stamps for postcards sent from the capital cost 1800 Riel to Europe and Australia, 2100 Riel to America (add 300 Riel if posting from the provinces).

 

Parcels can only be posted in Phnom Penh, though at a whopping $17 for a one kilogramme parcel going abroad, it's worth deferring the task if you are subsequently heading to Thailand. You'll be charge 3000 Riel for the customs form, detailing the contents and their value, to be completed, but it isn't necessary to leave the package open for checking. Post offices sell mailing boxes if you need them.

 

Phones

You can make domestic and international calls at post offices or telecom offices in most towns. The government telecommunications network; Camintel (W) (www.camintel.com) usually runs these services, which along with the Australian firm Telstra, also runs public call boxes in Phnom Penh. To use these, you'll need a phone card, available in denominations ranging from $2 to $50; look for shops displaying the phone cards can't be used in each other's facilities, but with a Tele 2 phone card, you can make international calls from any call box by dialing the access code (T) 007 (instead of the usual (T) 001), then the country code and number as usual. With any of these options, making international calls is expensive at around $3 per minute, so It's worth looking out for deals offered by internet shops, guesthouses and travel agents, which can as much as halve the cost.

 

For domestic calls only, the cut-price glass-sided booths, payable to the attendant. The booths vary in their coverage of Cambodia's various networks: accessible numbers will be written on the side of the booths (usually (T) 012 MobiTel numbers - see below - plus the local area code and sometimes other mobile providers).

 

Faxing is extortionate in Cambodia, at $3-$6 per page. If you really must send a fax, the hotel business central and internet shops are the most reliable place to do so.

 

Mobile Phones

There are three mobile phone service providers in Cambodia: Samart code (T) 011, MobiTel (T) 012 and Shinawatra (T) 015&016. MobiTel is the most widely used network and has transmitters in all major towns, although reception is still limited to within the town boundaries. Mobile phones can be rented in the arrival hall at Pochentong International Airport for around $28 per week. Usage is by pre-paid phone card, available in values from $5 to $100 and $2 for 011; in most towns, you'll find outlets displaying the logos of the various providers. When you get your card, scratch off the panel on the back to reveal your PIN, then call up the top-up number-also given on the card-and enter the number to activate the card. Call rates are around $0.20 per minute within the same mobile network number or out to a local landline.

 

Internet access

If you want to get online, do it in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap - here you're never far from an Internet shop or café and rates are under $1 per hour. In the provinces it's a different matter: even in Battambang and Sihanoukville access is limited, and expensive at around $0.5 or 2000riel per hour.

 

One of the best ways to keep in touch while traveling is to sign up for a free email address that can be accessed from anywhere, for example Yahoo Mail or Hotmail. Once you've set it up, you can send mail from any Internet Café, or from a hotel with Internet access.