Last week we were asked by one of our neighbours if we minded if another neighbour used the front paved area of our house for their wedding. This is quite a normal occurance in Cambodia, often a wedding marquee will go right across a street and if you need to go down you drive through or go another way!! So we said yes, not sure what would have happened if we said no!!!! We were informed the wedding would be on Friday and Saturday and our hearts sank!. We had been looking forward to a quiet weekend as we had had camp week at school and were quite tired.  Cambodian weddings are not quiet and involve a lot of loud music blasted over loudspeakers!
On Tuesday of campweek we arrived home to find the marquee going up….this sent me into a state of mild panic!!! This is a view from our roof garden looking down onto the street.

So I got a Khmer friend from school to translate for me and went off to find the neighbours. This was really good as I have only seen them from a distance and not reaaly had much chance to speak to them. (i have little Khmer and they have little english not a good starting point for chatting!!!) I was a little embarrased as my hands were blue from tie-dying that day!!!
It turned out they had family coming and wanted to make use of the space before the wedding. Fortunately the most noisy part of the wedding was to take place on Thursday and Friday morning (we had a sleepover at the school that night which was well timed) The main party and dancing was to be held somewhere else.
On Thursday we arrived back from school to see the rest of the marquee up and the first part of the wedding in progress. It was very weird to march straight through the wedding proceedings with my motorbike….but perfectly normal!!!

The gold and silver bananas always signify a wedding it is something to do with prosperity in married life.
wedding car not that much different from UK!
Our front door is at the back between the two left pillars! To get ther we have to walk through everyone eating! We drew lots of attention (so embarassing!)
View from our front door as they were setting the eating area up. 
The kitchen area was to the left of our front door and shielded by our row of plants…..very convienent! I noticed all the cooks and servers were men not sure if this is normal….will have to ask someone. Health and safety…mmmmmm
This is the view into the bride’s house. All Cambodian weddings take place at the bride’s house. I was very interested and wanted to take photos. I explained I lived next door and everyone was quite happy for me to take photos. The only person I did not manage to get a photo of was the bride. At the beginning she was not in the ceremony and was having her make-up done. As I was taking photos a young man proceeded to tell me all the diferent parts of the ceremony which was fascinating. 
This part of the ceremony involved a man who was like a compare/ceremony leader who would direct the proceedings and a group of musicians and singers…..this bit was quite loud over loudspeakers so everyone in the neighbourhood can hear!! It went on for several hours and then the priests came and took part chanting…also loud! I did get a look at the bride but she was too far away for photos.
 The young man was telling me the food was offerings to wish the married couple blessings in their married life. I think it is offered to the ancesters. The main part of the ceremony would take place on friday morning (which we would miss as we were at the school sleepover) All the guests come to the house and receive a bowl of fruit which had been prepared by the brides family the day before (I saw this in the house next door to the weddding) They would then go and line up out side the house, sometimes stretching round the block, and present the fruit to the bride as a token of their good wishes to the couple. Our house helper saw this and said there were many people. The guests were then served “boubou” which is a rice soup that is a traditional breakfast dish. After this there was another part of the ceremony. We arrived back at about 12 noon and people were sitting down to eat. Someone did mention we could eat if we wanted to but I thought the end of camp week my children were exhausted it might be pushing my luck!

I was pleased that I made the effort to go and take photos and chat with my neighbours as I met quite a few of them. I found out that there are at least four houses where they are related in this street but it was quite complicated. I think they were all related to the bride. The bride and groom will most likely live at the house they got married in with her parents or they will llive with his parents.

This is one of my neighbours who has the most gorgeous children. She can’t speak english but was happy to listen to my broken khmer. Her daughter was so cute and I even got a cuddle! Now I know where she lives and feel more at ease to go and initiate conversation.


So today it was all quiet as the wedding was over, the marquee dismantled and we enjoyed a quiet relaxing day! It made me realise how much I want to speak khmer and how frustrating it is not being able to hold even a simple conversation but thankful that I have learnt some and this is apprecited by my new neighbours.
So although the wedding was a bit noisy I am grateful as it was a great opportunity to make friends.
The most embarassing moment of the whole time was when I had wheeled my moto outside the front entrance to the wedding and then it wouldn’t start! Pretty soon there was a little cluster of wedding guests trying to get it started. It wouldn’t start due to a flat battery and Colin had to wheel it back throught the wedding!!!


2 thoughts on “

  1. It all sounds fascinating Rachel… glad you had an opportunity to meet your neighbours and look forward to hearing more aobut them all. Missing you all, but loving these posts…'s so colourful and of course I am very jealous of the lovely fabrics you have over there……keep up with the Khymer

  2. Very interesting to read. Thank you for taking the time to write and arrange this blog, the photos are beautiful. I love the colours,it just looks so beautiful. Lovely sunny weather too – hope you get to grips with the language in due course :O)

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