A few months ago I posted a blog where I focused on each sense individually during my trip to Battambang. In said post I also said that there would be more. So, here we are! Over the next week I will have more posts for sensory immersions in different places around Cambodia. So, here is my next sensory immersion: Kep/Kampot, Cambodia. These places in Cambodia were where we stayed for a week during Spring YAGM retreat, and they had some new and fun insights! Just a note that none of these are from one singular moment, but from combined moments where each sense presented itself in a new way.
Music beats at a nearby bungalow, a fellow YAGM speaks. The rushing of water ebbs and flows in the distance. Laughter sprinkles the air. A lizard imitating an overused squeaky dog toy cries in the distance. Repeatedly. Wind rustles through leaves all around, my voice hollers back at me from the surrounding bark of a tree. A beeping to rival the Dr. Beat metronome from high school marching band clicks in the distance. Nothing makes a sound, or if something does, it is too subtle to disturb the appearance of silence. Songs echo in a concrete church.
White sand, ocean waves, and afternoon sun reflect one another in a blinding brightness. From twenty-some feet in the air I can see beyond the forest of the tree that supports me to the city, to the sand, to the beach. A lightless lighthouse welcomes us into its sacred space and I look around to see each face that stares back at me. The clouds create a kaleidoscope from pink to blue in the billowy clouds. Other cream-colored clouds seem to cover the sky and ground surrounding a mountaintop. Graffiti made by those in need of a space to express covers the brick and concrete of a King’s crumbling past home. Sunsets never disappoint with watercolor mixes over Mekong currents.
Cheese, sauce, crust, pizza. I had forgotten about pizza. The Kep crab market offers seafood in stir-fry, tacos, soup, and just as a stand-alone dish. Crab, squid, shrimp, fish. They do not disappoint. A busted open coconut offers fresh flesh from inside the hard exterior. Refreshingly sour lime soda soaks my tongue, I ask for some sugar. Rice and vegetables mix with a texture I can only associate to cheese-whiz, which I was unaware existed in Cambodia. Not a combination I will continue in the states. An ice cream cone described as chocolate makes me question if I have forgotten what chocolate tastes like.
Fresh air fills my lungs as I think about the trees I don’t have in the city. Around me the flowers of the season and the leaves growing anew abound with subtle fragrance like a light perfume. The thick and memorable mix of sunscreen and bug spray assault my nose, while also protecting from the assault of mosquitoes and sunrays. Inside a van full of soaking wet humans who have been hiking all day, I am thankful for deodorant. Still, the dampness makes a musty smell not quickly overcome by cosmetics. Garlic, brownies, peppers, chicken, alcohol, coffee, mangoes, coconuts, and bananas drift on the air from countless restaurants, stands, and carts.
My toes willingly sink into the ground and they are covered with small grains of sand. Cool waves mix with cool breezes, and yet it is hot. The familiar tug of a harness envelopes me into a hug. Tight, safe, secure. Water washes away the worries of my world in a salt-infused fury. A sharp stab on my shoulders from a sun-induced scar signals me to wear a shirt with sleeves today. Water pounds onto my clothes and soaks them to the point where they could hold no more water. I shiver with chattering teeth, not an experience I’ve had since arriving in Cambodia.
Check out any of the other posts in this series on my page dedicated to Sensory Immersion posts. The page tells a little more about the idea and includes links to all sensory immersion posts thus far.