This morning I had to go to Phnom Penh and Giant Ibis bus company had all the seats booked. Normally there was always space, but due to high season, the bus was full. However, they were very nice and when they couldn't get me a seat with their competitor's Mekong, which was also full, they allowed me to ride on an extendable seat that blocks the path in the bus. For which I was enormously grateful, so I 'wai-ed' the girl at the desk 3 times with hands very high, and her smile died for a moment. It felt like I have done something inappropriate, although we have been very informal at that point.
Is it inappropriate to 'over-wai'? Or to joke about 'wai-ing'?
Wai and similar gestures are used to greet and show respect in many parts of South and East Asia:
The Thai greeting referred to as the wai (Thai: ไหว้, pronounced
wâi) consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. It has its origin in the Indian Añjali Mudrā, like the Indian namaste and the Cambodian sampeah
Sampeah (Cambodian greeting)