Can you guess the sound from your typical Phnom Penh street? (be patient until sounds load)
SOUND # 1
‘poeng moan ang, psom kreung [pseth]. mian ruel chet chngui chngayng’
Roasted eggs! Special flavour, very delicious!
I’m pretty sure these eggs are injected with a flavour burst, shook up and roasted. I’m not saying they’re not tasty, but they may or not be fresh.
SOUND # 2
This jingle has been around for ages. I had always wondered where the tune came from. My first guess was some old military jingle and second would have been a children’s song. Then my friend Daron decided to sing it into one of those audio recognition websites and low and behold, The Virginia Company from the Disney film Pocahontas. Who would have thought? Perhaps Phnom Penh ice cream jingles were just being introduced to ice cream vendors in 1995 and this one stuck?
SOUND # 3
This food vendor is definitely unique to the others as it employs live performance rather than recorded playback. In the evenings, most often a young boy will walk down the street banging sticks in a rhythmic fashion in order to signal that a noodle vendor is following shortly. This apparently gives warning to those who are up a few floors or can’t find their wallet right away.
SOUND # 4
This ice cream vending franchise made inroads into the street food market around 2011, no doubt trying to claim hold of the strong market share held by the Pocahontas fleet.
SOUND # 5
‘nom pang, nom pang saaich, nom pang bayuen tuk doh koh, nom pang bai chout, nom pang bonaim’
Bread, normal bread, bread with meat, bread with milk, Bayon bread, sweet bread, [hot hot!]
Selling bread door to door by bicycle has to be one of the oldest street vending methods in the city. Every seller records a different megaphone jingle but they all advertize their various types of bread available in the big basket behind their bicycle in the same way. My favourite part is that most end with kdau kdau (hot! hot!) and clearly there is no way the bread is warm after riding around town all day (likely with days old bread).
SOUND # 6 (two sounds)
I didn’t know this for a long time but ‘et-jai’ is actually a Vietnamese word. I guess this should have been obvious as everyone stereotypes the recyclers as Vietnamese anyway. Traditionally, Etjais would cry et-jai! up and down the streets but recently it has become much more popular to employ the repetative squeak technique (squeezing modified dish detergent bottles). Either way, residents sell recyclables to the Etjai or recyclables are found in curbside trash. The Etjais drop their collection off at a central location where they are paid for metal, cans, bottles, wood and cardboard by weight, all to turn a meager profit of $1-$2 per day.
SOUND # 7
Now for the most annoying street sounds. For anyone who enjoys a stroll, nearly every corner will have someone offering a lift (perhaps clapping to get your attention). Cambodian’s never walk anywhere so it makes no sense when a foreigner walks by on foot. Fortunately, the hassling is only through shouting, unlike some other countries in the region. Tuktuk and motodop drivers are especially lackadaisical and rarely get up from a reclined position to pursue any further.
SOUND # 8 (two sounds)
Fighting for first place of most annoying street sounds are weddings and funerals. In the case of funerals, black and white tents are set up blocking traffic with a loudspeaker attached blaring sound outwards for the pleasure of everyone outside the tent. The segment of the program where Chinese symbols are crashed together at 5:30 in the morning makes me want to jump into a coffin myself and nearly makes the monk chanting and dingily bells bearable.
SOUND # 9
‘poeng tia koen, m’kroap m’poan, m’kroap m’poan, chau doan, kdau kdau’
egg duck child, one for 1000, one for 1000, river snails, hot! hot!
Two of the most revolting foods sold by travelling vendors are the fetal duck eggs and river snails. The duck eggs are classified by 7-day or 14-day depending on how developed and crunchy you like your fetus. River snails seem appetizing at first with their lemongrass and chilly seasoning and their fresh hot steaming presentation. One time I bit into one and some excrement squirted on my arm. Enough for me, thanks!
SOUND # 10
The other classic street vending food is probably the only one that I enjoy regularly. Fresh coconut water, always hacked open fresh with a machete.