Cambodian weddings are usually annoying.  This might sound culturally insensitive, but truth is that even many Cambodians agree with this statement and so do certainly the majority of expats.  How, you might ask, could a wedding, a joyous occasion be annoying?  Let me explain.

The most common wedding takes place on the street in front of the bride’s house.  Yes, the street.  Tents are erected and often block off the entire road as the space is turned into an outdoor dining and cooking area.  The wedding ceremony begins between 4am and 5am.  This is not an exaggeration, this is a fact.  If you’re thinking along the lines of Western weddings, you might think, so what?  People can get married at home at 4am.   However, Khmer weddings, unlike those you might be familiar with are LOUD.  Part of set-up is a wall of speakers (the more the better, quality is irrelevant) which are turned to full volume from the wee hours of morning to the point they can be heard several blocks away.  If you are living in the nearby blocks, forget sleep.

I’ve asked many people over the years why weddings here have to be SO LOUD and the answers have varied from:  “we want everyone to know we are happy” (yeah, but your neighbours aren’t) to “it shows we have money to rent lots of speakers” (next time can you spend a little extra to get ones that aren’t so lacking in sound quality?).  My favourite is, “in the countryside, the loud music reminded everyone there was a wedding on and to come.”

All that aside, why am I writing about Cambodian weddings?  Well, the other day, I got an email inviting us to have a look at a new mapping/advertising site for Phnom Penh.  The developers are using Google maps, which are built on Google Earth satellite photos.  These are quite out of date in a rapidly developing city like PP and this results in a lot of inaccuracy.  Especially for us.   Have look at the photo below:

This is a screen shot of the satellite image of the CK office road.  The arrow points to a street wedding which took place the day the image was captured.  It makes it look as though the road ends and there is a house in the middle.  This is exactly what Google maps then interpreted it as.  Look at the map below:

According to this map, 376 stops half way between 113 and 105.  This is not the case as we can attest.  The road exists and we are here!!  Weddings ruin more than just a good sleep….