Something in the Atmosphere

The last two days have brought a worldwind of activity. Trent and I took the bus from Phnom Penh from Siem Reap. The five hour bus ride gave us time to do some work: Trent working on his Khmer and me working on my musical blocking. We arrived at our hotel (eight dollars a night, btw) which is very clean and respectable. We spent the afternoon at a wat just outside Siem Reap. We had just planned to visit the wat and perhaps listen to some music classes. As we were walking along the road, we came across none other than the master music teacher himself. Trent tells me that only two masters exist for this type of Cambodian funeral music. He invited us to talk and then to hear a privat performance by some of his students. Trent had met him before but not had a good experience as the master did not pay attention to what Trent was saying. That mystery was later solved by the fact that as soon as Trent spoke very loudly so that the master could hear, the two could engage in perfectly animated conversation!

Later, after touring the wat, we watched the daily music class. Our part-translator (Trent tries his best in Khmer but some of the most difficult phrases he must ask for help on) was Ham. He studies English and German (I told him his German name can be Hans) with any money he can scrap together. He brought us to his house as well where he showed us his English certificate and introduced his family.

Last night, Trent and I ate a more expensive restaurant (at least to the student budget) last night. The atmosphere was nice so we sat and chatted about “the good ol’ days.” We figured out that we’re officiall “old high school buddies” now. Later in the evening we also stopped in the very Mexico-ish (think Puerto Vallarta or Cancun or Cabo San Lucas) restaurant district. We went into a place to hear some live music which consisted of 80’s music sung by two singers of unknown nationality. In fact, the music wasn’t even really live because the all the piano underscoring was run electronically from recorded MIDI files. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly the piano player was playing if it all was recorded. It was fun enough, though to hear some “American” music.

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