Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cambodian Oddities

Although I usually refrain from writing about certain cultural particularities as this would sometimes lead people to be biased. I just consider them normal.

But there are a couple of things that really struck me as odd; they are also completely non-sensical.

There is this belief especially among middle-aged women – I have never encountered it in younger ones yet – that drinking too much water makes you fat. Consequently, they drink just a glass or two a day. It may come as no surprise to the discerning observer that a lot of people suffer from migrane and severe headaches; a direct result of dehydration. When those headaches get too bad they go see a nurse or a doctor who puts them on an IV of saline solution to replenish their body water. This is good business especially for the nurses who normally do this on the side at home; I don’t know where the saline solution comes form, and I don’t really want to speculate, but I do have my theory here.

Anyway, I wonder where this silly belief comes from. Why they choose to see a nurse for an IV so quickly – they call that whole thing ‘chah serum’ – may come from the Communist period. Health care at that time was free so it was really easy to get it. Nobody in the West would think of going to get an IV for the same symptoms. At $150 per doctor’s visit in the U. S. for instance, that is no surprise either.

The second oddity is that some people don’t dry their bodies with towels after a shower or bath. Reason: if you rub the body with that towel you rub that water into the skin. The water is not entirely clean as a lot of people, especially in the countryside, use rain water or bathe in the river. By letting their body air-dry they don’t get any bacteria into their body. Well, it may make perfect sense at first glance, but it also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the human body.

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