Land of a Thousand Smiles

I arrived last night to the sweltering tropics and have been settling in nicely (thanks in part to the air conditioning in my hotel room). The most striking thing I have noticed since arriving in Cambodia is the extreme respect and politeness people show each other. You greet someone by pressing your palms together at your chest and bowing slightly, similar to the ‘namaste’ greeting we close yoga practice with, bowing to and honoring the good in each other. These interactions create such a peaceful, comfortable atmosphere.

Last night I was contemplating the similarities between the Cambodian and Rwandan slogans, ‘Land of a Thousand Smiles’ and ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’. It is not so much how similar these slogans are (I believe that Rwanda has many more hills than Cambodia), but after visiting both countries (although I have been in Cambodia for less than 24 hours and cannot truly make any claims), how remarkably interchangeable they are. Rwandans are some of the kindest, most peaceful people I have encountered, and I have a feeling that Cambodians will fit into this description as well. This leads me to wonder if the peaceful disposition is an innate part of their vastly different cultures, or if it evolved from the commonly tragic recent histories of both Cambodia and Rwanda. I encourage your thoughts on this.

And now… to venture into the city!

M

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One response

  1. Amy

    “Namaste.” What an approach to every person every day … but especially as you explore and strive to understand a completely new culture, people and place.

    June 10, 2011 at 6:32 am

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