Cambodian Notebook 6 - 'The Isle is full of noises'

‘The Isle is full of noises,’ Prospero told his guests in The Tempest.  Here, during the night, all sound is drowned out by the throbbing roar of the generator that charges up the equipment for the following day, as well as running the safety lights and the water pumps. The big rainwater tanks need to be aerated to keep mosquitoes from breeding.

But last night the generator broke down and all we had was the silence and the night noises of the island.  There was a full moon riding out to sea, so we could see everything clearly.
Nightfall on the island, with a big thundercloud
The night was full of life.  There were geckos talking to each other – “geck-oh, geck-oh” – and whistling bugs in the palm thatch.  Occasionally a cricket chirped.  A bird we call the ‘whoop-whoop’ bird (an owl?) sat on a tree on the beach whooping in various registers and sliding up and down the scale.  This was all very pleasant against the slap, slap of the sea on the shingle.  But then we heard the ‘heavy breathing monster’ on the other side of the bamboo wall.  It sounded ferocious and ominous, but whether it was animal or lizard we lacked the courage to find out!

It was too hot and sticky (29C and 78 degrees of humidity) to sleep without a fan.  Some of the volunteers were playing Khmer music in the communal hut and chatting by torch light.  We walked down to the end of the pier to catch what little breeze there was, and sat and looked at the moon and the winking lights of fishing boats, dangling our legs over the water.

This is our last day.  Tomorrow we begin the long haul back to the cold north and a culture so different in character it’s almost impossible to imagine from here. 


  1. Sounds a lot like the time my man and I spent on a Fijian island called Nananuirai where the cockroaches were as big as mice. But great experience and wonderful sunsets. Sounds like you have had a wonderful time. Lt me know when you are back in Tuscany xx

    1. Thanks June. It was amazing - except for the rats and the cockroaches! But then, even paradise had a snake . . .

  2. I've thoroughly enjoyed your blog posts. I was actually about to email to ask if you'd like to do another workshop on life writing with the Dumfries Writers' Group. I missed it last time and people have said they'd love to have you back. Anyway, I got caught up on your trip to Cambodia and thought it was not the time to email you. I will email you.
    Have loved your time on the island. I've visited Vietnam but never been to Cambodia. One day, I hope.

    1. Thanks Mary. I'm back now, so please do email me as I'm busy planning my schedule for the next 18 months. YOur group were such a nice bunch - I'd love to be asked back!


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