One thing I’m loving about life in Cambodia is the rain. Having lived most of my life in semi-dry climates (in Canberra in the highlands of south eastern Australia, and in the desert that is Beijing) rain always seems special to me. Looking at averages online, Phnom Penh receives about 2.5 times the annual rainfall of either Canberra or Beijing. I’ve visited Cambodia during rainy season a few times before and I’ve always loved it. Even getting wet doesn’t bother me – not when it’s so warm out all the time.
A few days after I moved into my flat there was a big rainstorm while I was home in the afternoon. I decided to leave the stuff I was working on and enjoy the sound of the rain. I took a plastic chair onto the narrow balcony out front and sat there for an hour or so reading my book and listening to the rain. A few times I even put the book down and just let the sound of the rain wash over me. Our apartment is in a terrace house, one story above the street. Almost every house has a wide corrugated-iron-style roof outside the ground floor which means that in a rainstorm there are a LOT of metal surfaces to be struck by raindrops. The sound is so loud that I could hear it a street or more away.
The rain wasn’t constant all afternoon. The intensity varied and sometimes it stopped entirely for a short while. One of the things I loved best was hearing the rain coming, hearing the sound of rain on metal and realising it wasn’t raining on MY street – that I was hearing it a street or two away, getting louder, and finally arriving on the roof right beneath my balcony. The noise is nearly deafening! But beautiful, to my ears. I love the sound of rain on a tin roof. It’s like music made by nature and humans working together. I’ve always considered it a universally appreciated sound, but turns out I was wrong on that one. Maybe I like it in part because it reminds me of visiting Troon, the farm my mother grew up on. The sound of rain on a tin roof takes me back to being in the farmhouse there (or outside chasing frogs) on rainy afternoons.
It’s the tail end of rainy season at the moment and there’s usually rain a few times a week. One time I was in the big new shopping mall with a friend and unbeknownst to us a huge storm hit while we were inside. When we got to the exit doors a crowd of people were waiting inside, staring at the wall of grey, not leaving. We had to be somewhere so we braved the pouring rain and found a tuktuk to take us where we needed to go. We got pretty wet in our short dash, but once inside we were fairly cozy – tuktuks here are well-equipped for rainy season, with canvas/plastic flaps to roll down and enclose the passenger seats (if not the poor driver!) But plastic windows still let us see the waves of water building up across the streets. There was a lot of thunder rolling about around us, and when we stopped at my friend’s house there was an incredibly loud crack – lightning and thunder hitting so close they seemed to be at the same time.
I’ve only been really caught out in it once, but I didn’t mind. It wasn’t cold, and there was something nice about it. Although saturated black leather sandals left my feet with blue-black stains that took a day to disappear (even after scrubbing them with soap!) So far the weather here has been a near-perfect blend of rain and bright sunshine – often one after the other and back again! I so appreciate the clear, blue skies full of fluffy clouds and the warm beating sun after ten years of Beijing smog.