Monday, November 1, 2010

Cambodia: Land Of All Five Senses

A Reprint From An Article Written Nearly 10 Years Ago

The country of Cambodia is an extravaganza of sights, sounds, smells, and colors. It is truly a feast for the 5 human senses.  

We see the bright, vivid colors of the fresh fruits at the market. We see the single-file lines of orange-robed Buddhist monks walking from house to house, shielded from the sun by their yellow umbrellas. We see the large family of monkeys playing in the trees near the post office. We see the cyclos, motos, cars, and trucks whizzing by in every direction, rarely stopping and rarely obeying any of the laws of the road.

We hear the loud, piercing chants of the monks saying prayers over a loudspeaker at a funeral. We hear the massive sheets of rain pounding the roof during the rainy season. We hear the nasally call of the "pang-pang" man as he makes his way slowly down the street selling bread. We hear the fried noodle vendors as they notify the neighborhood of their presence by rhythmically beating wooden sticks together. We hear the loud, sensual beats of Cambodian love songs pouring from the karaoke parlors. We hear the incessant honking of the traffic during rush hour.

We smell the overpowering aroma of incense being burned at many houses in the neighborhood. We smell the unmistakable odor of Cambodian sausage cooking on a street vendor's cart. We smell one of the many open sewers in the city, and we hold our breath.

We taste the dust from the roads. We taste the ever-present bowl of rice, and the indescribably bitter tea that is served to us in houses. We taste a delicious bowl of curry that was made under the trees and over an open fire. We taste the sweet flavor of the popular sugar cane drinks.

We feel the weight of soaked clothes after being caught in a violent downpour on our moto. We feel the sweat seeping from our bodies in the hot season. We feel the frantic scrambling of a cockroach against our toes as we discover one's been hiding in our shoes. We feel every pothole on certain roads. We feel the slimy texture of the small, grape-like fruit called "ply-mien". We feel the mosquito bites, the heat, and the occasional cool, refreshing breeze. We feel the weight of a country that does not know Christ.  

Cambodia may be a lot of things, but one thing it is NOT is boring! I'm sure you could live here a hundred years and still not experience everything. Every day is a new adventure...a new experience...a new sight, a new smell, and new sound, a new feel, a new taste...

I'm so thankful that God called us to Cambodia, the Land Of All Five Senses.


  1. Thanks for the quick tour of Cambodia. Some of your adventures sound inviting....others do not.
    May the Lord bless you as you celebrate your Anniversary month.

  2. Just read how to win a book on your blog. All of them sound so interesting. Hope I win one!
    I read all of your posts and I almost always leave a comment.

    LOVE your blog....LOVE you....LOVE your lovely wife....LOVE all my adorable neices and nephews....LOVE reading about your ministry!
    I am so proud of ALL of you!

  3. Ha! Cockroaches in the shoes . . . you DO want people to come and visit you . . . don't you?
    I think you should make a short video based on this article to introduce children to the mission field. Could be great for Junior Churches and Sunday School classes.

  4. Made me think of some of the smells here. We have mainly body odor from not bathing on a regular basis and the garlic smell emanating from peoples body and breath. Put those two together on a hot, crowded bus and it still would not be as bad as some of the smells you described.

  5. Vanessa (Kaiser) BirmanNovember 1, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Well written article, Stephen! Thanks for sharing. I'm getting involved in fighting sex slavery around the world. Have you ever read "Terrify No More"? God bless you and your family in the mission field. :)

  6. I really enjoy reading your updates. They always touch my heart. Especially enjoyed this article...Miss you all so very much & pray for you frequently. Tell Angela & the kids hello!

  7. From little Timothy - "This article was good! Why do you have mosquitos or bugs in your country?"

  8. Audrey Stephens: I love this post, Mr. Benefield! Sometimes, here in the States, I like to just take a few minutes and remember all I can about a particular part of being in Cambodia--I try to remember every sense and every little detail of the scene. This brought back memories! Thank you!