posted by Gareth and Sarah Wilson on Sunday, January 13, 2013
In the recent "heatwaves" that have hit all over Australia, it has really made me think of how we handled the heat while living in Cambodia. The hot season brings an average of 35 to 40 degrees each day, with no relief for days on end, almost months...I came across this email that I wrote home to family and friends while living in Prey Veng, which I thought painted a good picture of April in Cambodia, where loud music mingles with the humid air...
"I shouldn’t speak too soon, but there’s no religious music belting out over loudspeakers near our house today…there’s almost silence…well there’s still the neighbours…they’ve been making minced pork for a while now, chop, chop, chop, chop, and there’s the bread selling lady, walking down the street yelling ‘noom paaaaan, noom paaaaan’ – she has baguettes arranged nicely in a cane basket on her head – it’s nice when you catch her and get fresh bread delivered in the morning….the dogs are barking, there’s a few mangoes and coconuts plopping from the trees…but there’s no xylophone type music playing at high decibels through crackling speakers ruining our morning….peace.
Over the past week and a half, we’ve had 6 mornings with this music starting between 4:00am and 5:30am…it’s a little difficult to bear. While we struggle very hard to respect the traditions of the Khmers, we really can’t reconcile the fact that these traditions need to wake us up at 4:00am. Ahhh, I guess it’s all part of it, we’ll get over it when we get some sleep and a few straight days of silence! We’re planning on getting away from it all over the next week when we head down to Kep for a few days…ahhh, “Verandah” goodness, it’s a lovely hotel, with beautiful, natural looking bungalows made of wood and stones, all looking out over the sea, and what’s more they now have a swimming pool. So really we shouldn’t complain – this is our reward for living through the Khmer New Year lead up in Prey Veng!
The thing is this is just the most trying time of year in Cambodia, not only is there the ceremonies and lack of sleep but the heat is really quite unbearable. You sweat just standing there…it’s around 40 degrees every day with high humidity…and pretty much no air conditioning. Well there are only fans at the office…we do actually have an air conditioner in our bedroom at home which we do tend to use to cool down the room as we’re going to sleep but the cost of it is pretty astronomical, so we try not to use it through the night…maybe every now and then we need to buzz it in the middle of the night to try and circulate the air. The thermometer on my alarm clock states that it is around 30 to 32 degrees pretty much all the time in the bedroom which makes for sticky nights…early morning brings the only relief – plus the cold shower. While in the early mornings of November the cold shower is not welcome, in the mid day heat in April, it’s the best thing ever invented! That and the fan…the transportable fan pretty much follows us around the house, it’s pretty much unbearable without a fan right on you – much better when you’re wet too, just out of the shower – no point drying yourself – you’re dry in about 3 seconds!"
1. Young Men working in the April heat 2. A Prey Veng sunset during the hot season