Sometimes when I’m riding a bus on one of the Cambodian national highways, I look out the window and think it looks very much like northwest Indiana: flat, agricultural land stretching on and on into infinite, with trees and powerlines here and there. Perhaps because of the flatness, sound carries here as across a still pond.
Even though the rainy season is almost over, there are still showers and storms all the time, sometimes every day. When it doesn’t rain for two days straight, and the heat has baked everything to a crisp, and everyone is begging for rain or a least cloud cover, it is such a relief when it storms.
In Prey Chur, before I left Kampong Cham, I could go to the roof and sit in a hammock, watch the piles and piles of clouds inching across the horizon it a smoky purple-blue haze, practically stationary, little stitches of lightning jumping around them. Storms move so slowly here that when they finally reach you, it can pour for hours on end without a break.
My favourite are the storms that sneak in at night; you can hear them in the distance, rumbling and rumbling until you fall asleep… Several hours later they may wake you with a rush of wind, rain coming sideways through your open windows, lightning like camera flashes in your bedroom. Time seems to slow down when lightning strikes here, because the street below my window will be bright as day for several, lingering seconds that feel like much longer. The thunder continues to crackle for a minute, sometimes two; in the nighttime stillness, listening to it roll on and on reminds me of striking a tuning fork, how eventually the sound dies out but imagining still being able to hear it.