Nat Geo Explorer: 2008 Last Love Hut
Bride and Groom huts- also known as “love huts” have been an indigenous Kreung custom, where young girls and boys approaching adolescence, were given their own huts outside the family home, where they could live independently, court the opposite sex to find the correct life partner, as well as experiment with premarital sex. With villages being so scarce, and bad road conditions, making traveling time between villages long and tiring, it would be common for visitors courting from other villages to stay for the night.
Now this tradition which was once a key part of Kreung culture no longer exists. These huts have not been used for the past 10-15-years, being made redundant within indigenous society, due to technology and better road conditions.
Dating has become easier with the use of mobile technology, as well as time traveling to neighboring communities being cut significantly due to better road conditions and infrastructure within the province. These key changes mean its quicker and easier to communicate with potential love interests, and no need for young people to stay over night in personal huts, as they may have previously done before.
Through better road connections, education, the introduction of electricity via solar panels and generators, and the use of mobile phones, remote communities are now more aware of modern Cambodian society. As they are increasingly more exposed to Khmer culture, their traditional practices are being altered and viewed as “ taboo” in contrast with khmer society. From their growing exposure to mainstream khmer culture, the youth are developing a new perception of what's "right and wrong".
Whilst visiting village chief, Vin Sokkhim (33), in Ratanakiri province, we spoke with him and the village elders, to see how the village has changed over time. And his account of having one of the last “love huts” in the village.