late night soup messenger clak-clak-claking down the street

So Keith and I were the other night having a few drinks at Rising Sun by the river when the Soup Messenger came by. Here’s what it sounded like:
[audio:|titles=Sound clip clak clak|righticon=0x0000ff]

It’s a relic of the olden days, when food carts roamed the city streets and a little boy was sent ahead to let people know the food is coming. The kid taps a stick against a piece of bamboo, the sound of which the dead of night really carries– especially back when houses were mostly wooden. (The concrete shophouses along the river also bounce a healthy bit of noise). The sequence and rhythm of the clak-clak-clak is code for what kind of food they sold – bohboh (rice soup), nom ban chok (white noodle soup), etc. If you want some, the kid will run back to the cart and bring a bowl of soup to you. The cart pusher will wait until you finish eating (cuz s/he wants his bowl and chopsticks back), and the boy will go on ahead looking for more customers.

When we heard the familiar clak-clak-claks, Keith chased the kid down for a photo (we’ve been trying to catch a picture of him for months!). But it just doesn’t really do it justice. So when the kid came back around to go into the opposite direction I chased after him for a sound clip. It was dark and hardly a soul was out on the streets, so he was probably thinking how loony foreigners are.

I gotta link to the Martin Laine’s WordPress Audio Player for the easy install of the audio player, and to the WordPress blog for the color coding. Also, did you know that iTunes can convert your .wav files to .mp3s?


  1. LOVE this entry, you’ve just given us another dimension to Phnom Penh – literally, thanks to the recording. Thanks!

  2. Aw, this signifies classic Phnom Penh to me. Those sounds are fading away…


  1. […] Late Night Soup Messenger from Natalie though the guy on my family/residential street comes by right around sunset to serenade us. […]

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