In my opinion, Cambodia's landscape can get pretty boring. The majority of the country is flat as an ironing board (the coast and the Cardomom Mountains excepted). The rolling green rice paddies set before a background of tall palms, dotted with cows, and houses perched on stilts -- it can go on and on with little differentiation from Siem Reap to Battambang to Kampong Cham. The people are what give the country character -- the children flying kites or splashing in muddy orange waters, the motorcycle man carrying piglets to market, and the teens in uniform riding in a straight white and navy-blue line 20 km to school.
And then there's the clouds. The clouds redeem the countryside in their unrelentingly, always changing beauty. There are the crisp white cumulus that hang above the paddies, set against the swimming-pool blue skies. The fast-moving wisps that tear overhead before a storm, and the dark grey sheets that drape blanket-like foretelling lightening.
There are the shockingly vibrant clouds at sunrise over a Sra Srang pond in Siem Reap and the mellow pastels of sunset over the river in Kampong Cham.
I'm not sure what meteorological miracle produces the startling effects, but whenever I reached my threshold of plastic pollution or motodup catcalls, I knew I could rely on a view of the sky to calm my nerves and make me appreciate this country.