Fortune tellers delve into the spirit realm to offer clients glimpses of what may lay in store at work, in marriage and even at the moment of death
Photo by: Mom Kunthear
Ham Davy credits her skill in telling fortunes to unwavering assistance from the spirt realm.
Cambodia's many fortune tellers ply their trade in every corner of the country, from pagodas and private residences in the capital to the public squares of the provinces - offering patrons a chance to glimpse what might lay in store for them in the future.
Ham Davy, 65, tells fortunes in front of Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh, where locals and tourists alike often inquire about their futures.
"I have been a fortune teller since I was 12, and from this career I can feed my five grandchildren and pay for a rented house," she said.
But Ham Davy is quick to explain that her trade is not for those hoping to strike it rich.
"One can't get wealthy as a fortune teller because we receive only a small amount of money. I am very poor because I never cheat customers. Sometimes, I don't even take money from them," she said.
As for the accuracy of her predictions, Ham Davy is equally candid.
"I can't say what I tell my customers is always correct, but I believe that 90 percent of my predictions are correct," she said.
She charges 5,000 riels per session, but the number of customers each day varies.
"There are about five to 10 people who come to me each day," she said. "Mostly, they want me to make predictions about their work."
Ham Davy credits her skill in fortune-telling to unwavering assistance from the spirit realm.
"I can predict the future because I have a black spirit who stands behind me and helps me during every session. It tells me about the person who comes to seek my predictions," she said.
I can predict the
Future because I have a black spirit who stands behind me.
Ham Davy says she learned her trade from the black spirit, who tells her all she needs to know about her clients.
She added that she is always honest in predicting the future. "I have never lied to anyone. Other fortune tellers don't have the black spirit to guide them, though they claim they have the spirit and can predict the future," she said.
And what of her own future? Has Ham Davy ever petitioned the black spirit to reveal her own fate?
"I know myself and how I will be in the future. I know I can't become a rich woman. I can just help other people and earn a little money to support my family," she said.
The aging prognosticator hopes one day to retire but says she may have to continue for the sake of her family. "I want to stop this work and go live in the forest, but my children don't want me to go."
Fortune teller Ta Vannak, 47, works in front of the Royal Palace and says he has been in the business since the age of six.
"I learned from my grandfather, and I have a special spirit that stays with me," he said.
"I believe in myself and that what I say about the future lives and fortunes of my customers is true."
The knowledge provided by his spirit allows him to offer clients specific recommendations about the most important aspects of their lives.
"I can stop or allow couples to marry because I can see the problems they will face," he said. "I just look at their face or catch hold of their hand, and I can know about them."
Telling fortunes is not as easy as it might sound, he said.
"It is a difficult job, but for me it is not too much of a problem. I have been doing this for nearly 40 years," he said. "Normally, I have 20 guests per day, but sometimes there are more than 100 guests who come."
He added that his clients include many tourists, who believe firmly in his skill at reading their futures.
"I know when someone will die and what will happen to them during their life ... and I can predict a person's future from the moment they are born," he said.