Homestay- Central Cambodia

Successful travel (and life, if you want to get expansive about it) is all about managing the gap between expectation and reality. So far on our adventure, these have aligned pretty neatly. When a disconnect occurs, it can lead to happiness, or frustration. Keeping expectations low means that most of the time, there is room to appreciate the small joys that populate every day. Our expectations have routinely been met and exceeded with situations and people far more generous and lovely than expected, and it’s been marvelous.

But, occasionally, there’s a chasm in the other direction, and our homestay was the location of this disconnect. Everything about the place was as expected or better. Almost everything…. there was one big downside.

Cambodian weddings are a BIG deal. Big. The family must make a very elaborate show of it, and they go all out. They will rent the loudest stack of concert-level speakers they can, and the party lasts for at least 3 solid days. There’s a short break for about 2-3 hours in the daytime, but otherwise, this is a loud, raucous affair that goes on continually, even throughout the nights. So here we are, in this lovely, tranquil location, except…. The THUMPATHUMPATHUMPA music that never stops, except for equally loud announcements over the PA. I thought i would go insane. Earplugs, music on the iPad, nothing could subdue the incredibly loud dance music from a neighboring farm. We were meant to stay 5 days here, but I could not bear it, so we left early.

I don’t want to name the place, because it really isn’t their fault, and there was nothing that could be done. The owners and family provided 3 meals a day of lovely food, and could not have been nicer. There were good basins and soap for laundry, with a line in the sun that dried everything in no time. I was able to do the first proper clothes washing (not in tiny hotel sink) in 6 weeks. They run a free after-school program for local kids to learn better English skills, and part of your stay is to help teach. The kids are really great, and ask lots of questions that would be considered rude in the west, but not here. The food was homey, fresh and delicious, And we met some other travelers from Spain, England, New Zealand, and some peace corps volunteers from the US.

But then there’s the constant soundtrack THUMPATHUMPATHUMPA, all the time. You cannot read, sleep, hear the birds or the crickets. Only the non-stop noise of horrible techno music. If there is a hell, I believe that it’s personalized for everyone. This would be the sound of mine.

They kept bikes, and gave you a hand drawn “road” map through the fields which lets you explore the area on your own, which was pretty great- that sort of thing we’d really wanted to do, just get lost in the paddies. Here are a few pics of the property and the surrounding area we explored.

Meat market. The smell was not good.

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The pond outside our cottage

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Riding bikes in the countryside

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An ancient temple, there is still an active monestary around back

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Every thing about the place was wonderful, and it’s a shame that the relentless THUMPATHUMPATHUMPA really made it unbearable.

But- I would probably go back- just not over a weekend. Or not in wedding season. We arrived on a Friday afternoon when the festivities had begun. We almost left on Sunday, but then the music stopped! Yay! As soon as our tuk-tuk left… 5 minutes later it started again. I cried. On Monday, we definitely left. The music was still going. THUMPATHUMPATHUMPA.

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