Things you expect to see in Cambodia? Angkor Wat, chickens, naked toddlers chasing chickens, Irrawaddy dolphins, killing fields, rice paddies and wallowing water buffalo.
A special eye-catching occurrence? Pajamas.
2-piece cotton pant-and-button sleeping suits made of cartoon fabric. Hello Kitty, Micky Mouse, and especially, Angry Birds. It always looks like half the neighborhood has recently woken up from a fire alarm.
Fortunately, these cozy uniforms have no time or season. Pajamas are more common at dinner than chopsticks.
My theories on this strange cultural dress code:
- Pajamas are cheaper than denim jeans and tailored dresses.
- The top and bottom match, like a nice tuxedo made of Disney characters.
- If you don’t own many clothes, bedroom outfits are an unnecessary luxury.
- Pajamas are soft, breathable, and don’t wrinkle when you nap in a hammock.
Best pajamas-in-action-image? The mother powering her way through traffic on a moto, Drowsy Teddys bouncing on her body, mouth covered by a dentist’s mask to keep out the smog; in her rush, she seems to shout “Shit! I am late for something so important, I didn’t even have time to change out of my nightgown! And I don’t care who sees me!”
**As much as I’d love to poll the above reasons for Khmer pajama-wear, I haven’t yet found an appropriate way to phrase the question. “Why are you wearing this?” is about as insultingly blunt as “Why aren’t you married yet?” And both imply an obvious social defect…**