The word has a variety of spellings including those above and khramer but more importantly it refers to those mostly checked but sometimes striped cloths that are seen everywhere in Cambodia.
They are a local must have. No-one leaves home without at least one and they are so versatile. They are sold to tourists too and are truly are irresistible. The more you see them used in every day life the more they seem to appeal. Almost every traveller passing through Cambodia has at least one and we are no exception. In addition we have had to purchase a few as small gift items even though we were not planning to buy gifts. One hotel even gave us 2 as a parting gift as we had spent more than the usual one or two nights in their establishment.
The biggest surprise is that no monks ever seem to use them, although everything else a monk requires is manufactured in orange for his exclusive use. Yes I do love that.
I guess it comes as no surprise that in the big towns and cities there are hundreds of shops selling them but you almost never see a local wearing one. Many, many of the outlets are also proud to state that their supply has been produced by women in a co-operative or empowerment to end poverty project, or that their sale is in some other way supporting worthy causes and charities. This of course is even more reason to purchase and may explain why we now seem to possess over a dozen of them!
So what exactly are they you ask? Perhaps the pictures below will help.
They vary in size, shape and colour but can be used as:
a cushion for a head load,
a cleaning cloth,
a hammock for a baby or child,
a wrapping cloth for carrying goods,
a sling for carrying a child,
and doubtless many other things.
I even saw someone tie 2 drinking bottles together in one and then tie it around his waist!
My only regret is that I didn’t cotton on to their significance sooner and make it my mission to photograph every use I saw them put to: just one more reason to return to Cambodia I suppose.
If you think you really need one yourself put in your request quickly as we are heading to Bangkok on the 8am bus tomorrow.