Sensory experiences

I think its really hard to truly know what a place is like until you have been there.  Once in a place, you get to hear, smell, taste, see and feel all it has to offer.  The sights you can put into a photograph but the rest is harder to articulate to someone who hasn’t experienced it for themselves.

butterfly cambodia

So here I am  attempting to describe my sensory experience for you.  I am sure I will not do the place justice but I will have a go at describing how my other senses are faring here.

First off the sounds: I wrote a bit about the constant pagoda noise in an earlier blog.  This is a real feature of the place and starts early.

wedding cambodia
The wedding of our friend Somnang’s son and daugther-in-law

Add to this a wedding or funeral, ceremonies that last two or three days.  There are a range of celebrations, meals, music, speeches and so on.  Most bridal parties have at least six outfits so there is a need for some time to pass so show off all that finery.  But the sounds of the wedding can be heard streets away and are one of the few things that go on late into the evening.


At the moment we are smack in the middle of the two week lead into a local election.  Campaigning is only allowed for the two weeks prior, which basically consists of large groups of tuk tuk, motos and cars, traveling around the streets playing music and saying ‘vote for us’.  The loudest voice wins!

Let us not of course forget everyone’s favorite pass-time – karaoke – this happens in most restaurants, either in the main dining area or in private rooms around the edges of the restaurant.

karaoke cambodia
a private karaoke room

The Cambodians seem to like everything LOUD! so all of these noises are played out at high volumes.  Even a small local ceremony out in the countryside will be blessed with the largest speakers you’ve ever seen and everything will be pumped out at maximum volume.


The other thing is the smell here.  The local council do provide a garbage clean-up service so by the time the city starts up, most rubbish has been collected.  However at stupid o’clock, when we head out for a run, the streets are still a heady mix of rotting rubbish, rotting fruit and blossoming frangipanis.  A very odd and not always pleasant mixture!


The markets also have their own smell, largely due to the impressive (but stinky) fish section.

The tastes here probably deserve their own blog and I will write about the food some other time, but there is plenty of choice here and the riverfront comes alive at night with a fantastic night food market.

Experiencing a new place through your senses is amazing and even after two months I keep seeing, hearing and smelling new things all the time.  I can’t wait to see what next week will bring!


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