Use of 24-hour clock rather than AM/PM. Operate on a different calendar than Western countries – Khmer New Year generally falls on or around the 14th of April each year.
Personal space is not seen as important. Things are generally shared and touch is ok. Busses and trucks are often packed with people of all ages, sizes, and genders. These vehicles are sometimes overflowing with people who are literally sitting on top of each other. Greetings between men begin with a handshake. Some boundaries in terms of relations between men and women exist, and they come from Buddhist laws. Touch on top of the head is not allowed.
Points of Reference Time:
Seasons (dry, hot, rainy) are often used as a point of reference for measuring time, particularly in rural areas. This has a great impact on the quality and style of life. There are many villages situated along the Tonle Sap Lake that flood with 20-30 feet of water each year during the rainy season. The Lake swells to more than twice its normal size and is the main source of fish for the entire country. As a result, homes in these villages are built more than 30 feet above the ground on stilts. During the dry season, residents can drive motorbikes to the nearest town for goods, produce or supplies, but during the rainy season, the village is only accessible by boat. Even the pens for pigs and chickens are built to float in preparation for the rain each year.
Overall concept of time is generally flexible. However, submitting a project on time is often seen as more important than the quality of the work. In general, Cambodians are future focused, but they remain grounded and live in the present. Family is extremely important.
City centers are often built with French influence and show logical order. However, rebuilding is taking place in many places and expansion is often done without proper planning and infrastructure.
Rules and Principles:
Laws are in place and are generally followed, but those with financial means or positions of authority can bend them as they like. For example: Tourist visas to enter Cambodia obtained at the border with Thailand officially cost USD $20. There is also an unofficial $5 “processing fee” that must be paid as a bribe to the border official. This additional $5 is never actually mentioned. When asked, the border officials simply quote the price as $25. There is a sign in the room that advertises visas for $20, however, and those who do not pay the processing fee often wait hours for their visas.