In his village in Kandal province, Sey Song gnaws into a whole coconut using only his teeth; one of many ‘powers’ he says he’s been aware of since the age of 12. Photo by: TOUCH YIN VANNITH
It’s a rare and exciting occasion to come across a person whose physical capabilities leave onlookers slack jawed, bewildered at the scene unfolding in front of them.
Sey Song is one such man who says his unusual talents are better described as “powers” and that he’s been aware of them since he was just 12 years old. At that time in his life, his claim to fame was being able to coil his body up in a way that resembled a snake.
“The first time, I just tried it two or three times with [other people from the] neighbourhood, but no one could do it besides me,” Sey Song remembered. “That’s why they gave up [doing tricks]. Before I felt a bit painful, [but] essentially my neck skin was just slightly hurt.”
Now 28 years old and living in Preak Anh Chanh village, Mok Kompul district in Kandal province close to the Kampong Cham border, Sey Song has added at least 10 more stunts to his repertoire. Among them is his talent for shoving marbles into his mouth in such a way that they’re invisible; challenging onlookers to try and see them leaves the audience stunned, and Sey Song resolute in his talent.
The entertainer can also tear thick lengths of rope apart with his bare hands, flare his neck muscles to a width so wide he resembles a defensive cobra, and retrieve tiny objects from the inside of glass bottles using only his fingertips.
On the day The Post met Sey Song in his village, his demonstrations revolved largely around his skills with coconut trees and their fruit.
Two people tied his legs up so that each was bent into half its regular size. There were at least five tight loops of rope around each leg and yet Sey Song bounded up a coconut tree, at least 10 meters into the air – a sight that had the villagers who were watching screaming and shouting, some even ran off in fear. This climbing skill is also applicable to palm trees, says Sey Song.
“I tried the first time with a palm tree about 15 metres tall,” he said. “At that time, I did not feel afraid of it at all because I knew my ability obviously. I’ve now climbed in that style maybe 40 or 50 times already.”
And the stunt didn’t stop at just the climb. When he reached the top of the coconut tree, Sey Song then picked five of the fruit and managed to bring them all back down to solid ground. Onlookers commented that he did it with such ease that the heavy spheres seemed more like piles of “cotton fiber” the way he could handle them.
Sey Song’s delicate handling of the fruit didn’t last long though. With a group of people watching on, he then tore into the dense, furry balls – using only his teeth. Within minutes, and with juice splashing about his face, Sey Song had the husk completely peeled and ready for regular consumption.
The strange yet oddly intriguing skills Sey Song possesses haven’t always been received with so much enthusiasm by his neighbours though. He says that in the past they simply “laughed at him”. His wife wasn’t very impressed in the beginning either but has since come around to it having witnessed the continued success of his tricks. A humble man, Sey Song says he doesn’t display his skills in the hope of becoming well-known. He says it’s simply a personal challenge; pushing his body to new limits to prove to himself what he’s capable of, and perseverance is necessary.
“People who can do such things are people who are strong, but we have to be born with it and we have to practice frequently,” he said.
It seems Sey Song’s talent may run in the family, too, as he says his daughter was born with similar “powers”, though he wants her to discover and nurture them in her own time.
“Although my daughter can do it, I will not teach her about this. I want my daughter to do it herself.”