Something went wrong in file write


Not Found

Why it is ok to tell a Cambodian their baby is ugly.
Home / Books / 101 Curious Cultures / That’s an ugly baby

That’s an ugly baby

Yes you even have to call him ugly.
Yes you even have to call him ugly.

In a few places in Cambodia, Vietnam and China  it’s rude to tell someone their newborn baby is pretty, smart, or to give it any compliment at all. Instead people would love for you to say things like “Your baby is ugly and has a dog face”, “is that a monkey?”, “what an evil looking baby”, and even “your baby is stupid”.

Some people say these terrible things because they believe that if you say too many good things about the baby, that it will get sick, others believe that what you are saying now reflects the child’s last life, and that if they were ugly, stupid, mean or bad in some way in their past life, then this life must be better. It is strange, yet fun to tell a family that their baby is ugly, and then have them give you a wide smile for your insult which is really a complement.

In some villages the age limit increases. In the cities newborns get the most insults. In villages I’ve seen visitors to the family greet young children with outrageous insults. The children just smiled back while their parents chuckle.

Be careful, not everyone believes this and might be offended if you insult their child.

Hey, I’m Eric, is my travel blog. I write this website to show you how easy it is to live, work and travel all around the world. I’ve been traveling almost 8 years now. I’m just about to publish my new book Where the Wind Blows: Traveling around the World on $5 a day

Facebook Twitter Google+ 

sign up for our newsletter and get the latest story


  1. Damn, what an culture shock, that. I never would have known that; unless I had aleady been to Cambodia, witnessed the birth of a baby (or been around a family that had just had one) How is it that you came to learn this custom? Is that written down somewhere on the intertubes, because I can’t find it. The would give this article some more body (or, if this is an excerpt, your chapter).

    • Zane, I lived in Cambodia for 20 months. I learned the langue and always talked with the locals. They told me this and were very happy when I insulted their baby. It was always odd. I might add more to the article…I am talking to publishing agents now. If they want more Ill give them more. If they want less, Ill give them less 🙂

Leave a Reply

It is main inner container footer text