Returning to Cambodia, while we’ve come so far in language and culture, there is still tonnes to learn. The depth that I have been inculturated into the western society of Aussie life reveals just how much I am skimming the surface in Cambodia, even after five or six years. Whether it be the ease of using English over Khmer, through to being able to draw on numerous Australian or western cultural references that are just second nature and natural to me, versus knowing very little cultural references in Cambodia. I can’t even conceive of being able to riff off cultural depth by making up the phrase ‘We don’t need no edu-ma-cation’ (Pink Floyd and Homer mash up) in Cambodia, like I’m able to do from the West. Nevertheless, we press on with cultural observations.
In driving a car now, I am understanding Cambodian roads to a greater degree. Turning left, the equivalent of turning right in Australia, has its own rhythms. In Australia you wait for a gap and then speed across to the other side of the road. You’re picking the gap. In Cambodia you do the opposite. Instead of speeding out, generally you slowly drive forward and when you get the recognition that oncoming traffic is slowing down for you, you pull directly in front of them and then proceed to go slowly as you cross onto the side that you want to travel. You’re less picking the gap and more making the gap. This sort of slowly does it approach fits the way life is done here. You go slow at first and ten once you have made a gap you can speed up. In Australia, you just go fast from the word ‘go’.
One thing I noticed recently was I was happy for my kids to watch Aussie ads. Normally I feel like ads in Australia are a waste of time. They’re the filler between the good bits of whatever show or event I’m watching. Given the little Aussie content we get here in Cambodia, I found myself enjoying some Aussie ads with my kids. It gives us a window back into Aussie culture and society. Now, in some ways it is a fake view. But its also illuminating. Showing what Aussies love, what they want to be or have. While digging into the culture here, in some ways we lose some of our Aussie culture, or maybe just put it on hold.