Siem Reap – 1

Only one week in Siem Reap was much too little time. Siem Reap, the second largest tourist center in Cambodia, is the site of many famous Buddhist temples including the sprawling Angor Wat, the smiling faces of Bayon, and the tree gnarled ruins at Ta Prohm. The clip below is the best bird groove I have ever heard, recorded at dawn at the Bayon Temple (picture above).

Though the temples themselves were silent, the soundspace around them was not. Tourists milled and spoke, and cameras were constantly shuttering, motorbikes could be heard nearby, and in one temple reconstructive work was being done.

Above is a famous tree at Ta Prohm. My traveling companion in Cambodia is the photographer in the corner. The clip below is of locals selling string instruments and drums to tourists.

At Angkor Wat, the sounds near the outside of the temple complex always included the shrieking cicadas. Inside the temple, the main sounds were of tourists walking, talking and shuttering their cameras. In the clip below, I am near several tour groups speaking several languages, which has been the dominant soundmark of all touristy places I have visited. As as happened several times, someone sees me standing with my Zoom H4 recorder and approaches me asking what it is (a few Australians in this case). I am growing to like these ‘interruptions’ to my recordings, as it gets me some free soundbites of curious people, and I get to explain my Sound Journal project and give the website address to people. Most people grasp the idea quickly, but the vast majority are surprised by it, and say they like the idea, but ‘haven’t ever really thought about how a place sounds’… Onward ho – sonic education! One noisy tourist at a time…