Let me take you on a walk along a street in Battambang, a city in tropical Cambodia. But this is no ordinary walk. We are preparing a memory filing system for the Journey Method. The Journey Method is another name for the Method of Loci, a memory technique devised more than 2000 years ago in ancient Greece. Please read my post Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci for background information.
Before we start, here are some bits about this intriguing city: Battambang is located in northwestern Cambodia, about 100 kilometers east of the border with Thailand. The town of 200000 is the capital of Battambang province, the rice bowl of Cambodia. I first came to this fascinating place in 1999 during an extended trip through South East Asia.
The name Battambang literally means “Lost Stick.” As the story goes, a peasant came into the possession of a wooden stick, which turned out to have magic powers. The farmhand could control the cows by just throwing his stick. Bored of tending to the cows, he decided to use his magic stick to overthrow the king. His reign didn’t last for long though: After seven years, he was overthrown by the former king’s son. In the process, the magic stick was lost and Battambang got its name. (Bat = lost, Tambang = stick) The people of Battambang are still looking for the stick. A statue was since built for the stick-wielding farmer, and today people come to pray for good luck to Ta Tambang (Grandfather stick).
Back to the Journey Method: My objective was to design a journey along a familiar route that can be used as a memory filing system.
To this end, I went on a walk and identified 20 locations to be used as files for storing information. To make for effective pegs, the locations had to be distinct and interesting. I paused at each location and identified a unique feature which I could use to connect information to:
- Temple Gate with Faces: Here I chose one of the elephant heads as a unique feature. Tip: Always look at a location from the same perspective.
- Socks Shop: I focused on the socks hanger to the left to create a good peg.
- You Can School:Here I focused on the glass entrance door and the door handle in particular.
- Here be Dragons guest house: The lounge chair with the blue cushion makes for a great peg. At times the hammocks also come in handy. Tip: A specific feature at each location allows me to associate information fast. When I want to link a piece of information to a location, I just recall that feature and link it.
- Chinese tycoon’s house: My focus is the second-floor balcony
- Bahai training center: My peg is the spiked top-floor construction.
- Guardhouse, governor’s mansion: The motorbike is parked there every day. It makes for a good peg.
- Radio station: I focused on the station sign.
- Acleda ATM: The ATM booth has two ATMs. The left ATM is what I focused on.
- New hotel: My peg is the canopy roof.
- Drink shops: I picked the red-white parasol with the coolers in the center.
- Middle bridge:I chose the first piece of railing on the right side.
- Female Buddha: The statue itself makes for a wonderful peg since I have observed it many times.
- Spirit house and bush: Usually, I use the green spirit house, but sometimes also the bush. Almost all houses and other premises in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand have spirit houses to offer a home for the house spirits. The spirits are thus discouraged from moving into the normal residence and causing trouble for the residents.The larger the house is, the larger the spirit house.
- Fountain: My peg usually is the water pool.
- Male Buddha: The whole Buddha statue serves as peg.
- Electricity pole:The whole pole and sometime the power cables serve as anchor for memories.
- Waste bin:
- Naga: The five-headed Naga is my peg. In Buddhism and Hinduism, Naga is usually a deity that takes the form of a snake. Nagas with an even number of heads are female, the ones with an odd number (like the one below) are male.
This concludes my memory filing system with twenty storage locations along a road in Battambang. In general, when applying the journey method, I suggest you try the following guidelines:
- Choose a journey along a familiar route. If you are not yet familiar enough with your journey, consider using it for your daily exercise routine until you become familiar with it.
- Identify distinct and interesting locations that can be used as files for storing information.
- Always look at a location from the same perspective.
- Choose a specific feature at each location as a peg. In my experience, this allows for a more reliable link between the location and the information to be memorized. Depending on what I want to memorize, I deviate from this guideline. To get a feeling for what works best, experiment.
i hope you have enjoyed this post, and it could inspire you to explore the place you are currently at for the creation of a mnemonic filing system.
Are you wondering whether you can reuse your locations? Yes, you can. Read my post on reusing the locations in a memory palace for how to do it.
- Zepp, Raymond A. Around Battambang. Battambang, Cambodia: Tean Thor Association, 2006.