Siem Reap, the place I left 10 months ago, which I called home on and off for 2 years, has changed. I recently return for a short 7 days. Walking across the tarmac after exiting the plane, I breathed in the air and I was reminded once again of the unique smell the town has. Or maybe it was because we’d just missed one of the torrential down pours now the rainy season has started. The air had been cooled and the humidity dropped. By the time I’d got through visa application, where they tried to offload me with change in torn dollar notes, (bills to those of you who are American!) which aren’t legal tender in Cambodia, through customs, collected my luggage, handed in the numerous forms filled out on the plane, it was time to find my tuk tuk driver, the humidity had risen again.
Longterm plans were to travel to Taiwan and stay for 3 months. My intentions were to check out different cities with the view of staying longterm. Taipei, the capital in the north of the island, was not for me as I like smaller cities and a slower pace of life. The north was too cold and damp, even in spring, though I suspect the summers would be stifling in this densely populated city. So having moved south to escape the misery of the temperature, I arrived in Tianan. It became apparent, this previous capital city was not going to be much better, though on days it was warmer, though even when the sun shone, a rarity due to the pollution filled sky, this also was a grey, gloomy, ugly city.
Rainy monsoon season in Cambodia can be the best time to visit. The countryside become lush and green and loses the brown dusty look it has in the dry season. The monsoon season usually starts May through to November. This year 2016 it was late and a drought set in. Many villages were without water and NGO’s started to supply daily bottled water until the rains began.
The rains announce themselves by producing strong winds and swirling tornadoes of dust forming, fast moving clouds form in the angry grey sky and then a single drop of rain before the torrents. No time to get indoors.
Cambodian Silk: The revival of silk weaving in Cambodia by artisans is slowly growing. Cambodia is famous for producing and growing the most exquisite silk and keeping the traditional ways alive. All steps in the production of the silk is extremely labour intensive from raising and feeding worms from gardens of mulberry bushes, to harvesting the silk thread from the cocoons, processing the thread into the correct quality yard, spinning and then weaving high quality silk. The knowledge is passed down from generation to generation and was almost wiped out by the Khmer Rouge. Slowly it is emerging again and even started to be exported.
If you’re planning on visiting Siem Reap make sure you leave a night free to go to one of Phare Circus many acts.
This story is called, Sokha, about a woman haunted by her memories of the Khmer Rouge and based on the true life stories of the founders of Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO School.