- William Platt
Cambodia is cool
Updated: Sep 23, 2022
At last the blossom are on the trees, the winter is past and spring is here beckoning a beautiful summer. The days are getting longer, the sun is shining and that is the problem.
I have been living in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia for just over four months and my first observation is … it’s hot. Not just hot, it’s really really really … hot. By the time I have walked down four floors and 400m to the best school in the world then up five floors to my classroom I am so hot I could set you on fire, and I am leaking body fluids … from everywhere.
My billiard ball head is beaded with liquid pebbles. I have a spinal river and my chest is sweat city. My life moisture collects around my sternum and when there is enough critical mass to become a high tide of salty water it makes a dash for my southern hemisphere. Pausing briefly to puddle in my belly button it then hurtles onwards to the waist band of my underpants. It's going to be another soggy day.
Early on I found a solution to this tropical problem … stop drinking water, it works. Well it works for a while, admittedly there are some side effects.. First your back aches followed by dizziness, a lack of concentration, vomiting and fainting. If not remedied your kidneys fail and after that it’s pretty final. I started drinking just before the vomiting stage.
Spring is not good news because all that has been described above is in fact what the local people call the “cool season”. Oh yes, the cool season (November to February) is over and the “hot season is about to begin.
The hot season is the same as the cool season only hotter and the wind blows. Like sitting in the sauna with a fan blowing gently on to your pale white unblemished skin. Or maybe like opening the door of a fan assisted when you forget it’s a damned fan assisted oven.
Your eyes dry out, nostrils burn as you breath in. It is a blessed beautiful relief when the wind stops … for a moment then you feel the skin scorch like you have put your hand under the grill.
The good news is the hot windy season is almost over, and soon we move into the very hot and humid season. If you think it can’t get worse, it does. This is the time of mucho moisture, blinking rapidly is considered an extreme exercise even breathing becomes an effort you don’t want to make.
Thank God, gods, no god for air conditioning, at least sleeping in your bedroom can be a cool and pleasant experience. Well cool and pleasant so long as 100,000 air conditioning units are not turned on at exactly the same time. The Phnom Penh electricity supply is how shall I put it … fragile, sometimes it can't cope, goodnight to a good night.
The very hot humid season will end, at last, in late June It ends with cool wet air and a little rain. Except this is the tropics and this weather change is called the monsoon.
Phnom Penh does not have a good refuse collection system and it’s waste water pipe work can become err … overloaded. Especially when the rain lands like a billion baths being poured out over the city in one minute. Drains get blocked up with rubbish, water backs up into the streets, sewers cant’t deal with the run off. Cool water from above and sh!t from below.
A million plastic bottles and bags clog an already decrepit system. Rats abandon their lairs, excrement comes back to say “hello, didn’t think you would see me again”. I have a 400m walk to school past a river which stinks so bad right now I have to hold my breath as I cross over it. Soon I get to wade through it, the joy of summer.
I have a suggestion for the new Cambodia tourist advertising campaign.
“Come to Cambodia between November and February it’s really cool”.