Late at night I hear an unfamiliar loud noise. I wonder if the neighbors have turned on some piece of mysterious Cambodian equipment or perhaps they have just turned the TV up.
I open the doors to the balcony and see that this is no mechanical sound. This is the sound of Mother Nature, a Cambodian tropical storm. It is torrential. The air is sweet with its smell and sensual and thick enough I can move my hand through it the way you move your hand underwater slowly has you push against all the wetness.
I am in love. For me there is something so commanding about tropical storms and this is grander than any I have experience. I stand on the balcony transfixed. Can you have a romance with weather, if so this love affair has begun? Part of me wants to run downstairs and outside to stand in the rain, get soaked and feel what it is like when the heavens open up. But tonight I am too practical.
Sheltered by my balcony I have a front row seat as the street activities below me scatter and some people run and others walk to find shelter. The Tuk Tuk drivers pull on their rain ponchos, pull down the canvas covers, zip up against the rain and continue to wait for the faire that will make their night. Shop keepers stand in the doorways waiting to see how long it will last and if they should close up early. Restaurants which are designed with the first 10 feet outdoors and under a canopy quickly flood and hungry folks simply move to the back. The wild motorbike riders race through the streets drenched from the rains and splashing through 6 inch puddles of water with ease. Some umbrellas come out – the big hardy canopy style that can actually offer some protection. Other travels rush on foot as if hurrying will keep them dry when they are already soaked. I can see their shirts stuck to their bodies, their hair drenched as they blink back the rain trying to see through the torrent. The kittens – the kittens are nowhere to be seen.
Later I find out – that this little storm is nothing. The remnants, the tail end of the monsoon season. A late night reminder that here in South East Asia Mother Nature still rules and that “It’s Cambodia – you will always get wet an you will always dry out.”
Someone said when it rains in Cambodia it is not just heavy rain it is biblical. Not like individual tropical clouds sending big drops to earth like Hawaii but like the sky opens up and just dumps. Water gushing from a heavenly faucet and then in minutes it is over and the night returns to the sultry silence.
For me, today, a new experience. But in a week it will be familiar, ordinary, expected and part of my life here in Cambodia.
Find more stories from Ardice Farrow’s experiences in ‘Ardice Abroad’.