Sunday, 11 July 2010

Across the lake and a day in the country

Yesterday we decided against the temples after a bad night's sleep and went for brunch into town. Ended up taking a tuk tuk to the river where we hopped aboard a boat with a very helpful young driver who lead us off to Tonle Sap lake (a huge fresh water lake that runs off into the Mekong.) It was pretty incredible as all along where reed shacks built on stilts with families going about their business. Everywhere nude kids swimming and fishing and playing along the mud banks.

Eventually we moved out of the river into open water and on to the floating village (complete with floating catholic church, school, police, general stores) The views were stunning with the lake silver and endless to all horizons.

At one point I was clicking away at a little boat chugging in the distance and as it started to come closer I was enjoying focussing on a cute little ragamufin of a girl aged about 5, sitting up front of her dad's boat and wearing a too big hat. I put the camera down to wave at her and the boat made a beeline for us. Within seconds I jumped in horror as I realised she was holding up a big snake which was writhing around her shoulders. Well as soon as I alerted Simon (who is afraid of snakes) the panic ensued (because I am afraid of everything let's face it)The girl was begging for money and bring the snake closer and closer, eventually pulling up right next to our boat - which was almost toppling from the sudden movement of Si & I rushing to find some reasonable small change to pay her off.

Later we saw another small pants-less laddy merrily rowing a plastic washing-up bowl around other tourist boats and profering snake threats!

It was a great trip and we were struck by the life of the people on the lake and also on the way to the area by tuk tuk. Our driver was a great guy named Botra and he secured a deal with us to use him to take us to the temples today.

We met up with him at 8am and decided to use the first of our three day pass to head about 30 miles away to see the furthest temples which we wouldn't be able to cycle to. The journey was really great and once again -probably our favourite part because of the opportunity to see real rural folks living and working their normal day. Fascinating how this morning on our way out every family was involved in some industry- in the paddy fields, making carvings, sewing, cooking, sweeping, fixing generators, making bricks or rice noodles.

The countryside is so beautiful and lush - the rice fields are the most vivid green. We stopped at the first temple and it was HOT and full of japansies, chinese, korean tourists in big groups so wasn't that great a deal- but pretty stunning. Next we travelled further out and stopped in a kind of national park where Si and I set off walking 1500 meters up a mountain path through the jungle. Amazing noises of insects, frogs, birds and monkeys. It was extremely sweaty going and Pants looked like he's been in shower fully clothed by the time we reached our destination. At the end of the walk we got to see some beautiful carvings in the rock floor of the river (so underwater) It was a pretty magical place and featured in the film (terrible film) The Two Brothers (about the tigers) It's called the Linga River.

We had a leisurely lunch with Botra and he invited us to his home to meet his wife and children- bless him... not sure I would feel comfortable doing this but still. On the ay back to town we had a chance to check out the Land Mine Museum (pretty bloody grim -that's about all I can say about Kymer history at this time of night)
Anyway we were dropped back in town tied, sweaty and dusty but having had a really insightful day. Early night for me - Pants is off on his Jack to watch the footy at 1.30am- idiot! Not sure tomorrow may be cycling templewards again or chilling depending on how late back Si is and how he feels in the morning.

Hope all are well... we've got ages to go and don't know what to do about Pnom Penh as we keep hearing it's pretty dicey and prob best avoided -even from Cambodian's whose best advice is if you have to go - stay one night only and then in the morning visit the Killing Fields and then leave. (So Killing Fields are the option rather than the city- that doesn't bode well) Update soon...

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