Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday -- Setting Sail

After a leisurely morning and lunch at our hotel, we packed up and got in a tuk-tuk to head off to the meeting place for our cruise. It was at a fairly large hotel and there were others waiting. We handed over our suitcase and went to a waiting area. There were two other American couples; out of the thirty people on the cruise, the rest are all French. Eventually we got into a bus and drove about a half hour out of Siem Reap to a port. There were a lot of boats there on the Ton Sap Lake. We took a speedboat for a four-hour trip to the Thom Tiou II, our cruise vessel. There wasn’t much to see, only an occasional distant shore. So I listened to an audio book and got a lot of knitting in. The sun set on the water while we lon our way.

Our speedboat in front

Sunset along the lake

We arrived at the boat about 6:30. There are 14 cabins, a nice dining room, and a comfortable covered area on the top. We ended up sitting with the other two American couples and enjoyed conversing. Both are from California and have traveled quite extensively (to many more countries than we have, by a large number). One will be getting off in Phnom Penh, so only are with us for two nights.

Our cabin is small, two twin beds pushed together against the wall and about 3 feet of space on the other side.  The closet has room for all our clothes. The bathroom isn’t as small as some we’ve had on ships before.

We moored along the river bank overnight; it is too noisy to travel in the night. And we have a very small crew; I think they need to sleep, too. Our tour guide is Sam and he is very cheerful.

Tuesday morning we left soon after breakfast for the floating village — the largest in Cambodia and maybe the world. Our two river boats went well over a mile downstream and there were houseboats all along the way. The people make their living by fishing. There are hundreds and hundreds of these homes, often 12 deep from the shore.

This boat was just below us. Notice the propellor on a long pole -- the water is quite shallow and all the boats are like this. This family was fishing; I'm not sure what they were doing against the green growth along the bank.

A view down one of the "streets" of the floating village

Along the way we saw a small mission school and stopped. Some people got off and went inside, but there wasn’t much room, so we didn’t try to go in. The children were very friendly, waving and calling to us. 

Arriving at the mission school

Some of the children

Right outside the school we saw something bobbing in the water. It was a plastic jar of candy. This woman was very happy to retrieve it. Then she pulled up to the school where she had a tiny shop on the side. We saw some of the kids eating slices of bread from her.

View of houseboats and houses on stilts on shore

We stopped at the main dock of the town and walked around. We crossed a “local” wooden bridge to see where the fish smokers are. There were thousands of fish! They smoke them for a week and they can last for a couple of years. We had free time after that to walk around the town. I found a nice bench by the dock and enjoyed watching the people and the boats.

Yes, I walked over this and without my sticks!

Prepping fish for smoking

In the smoker

Woman feeding monks near smokers

Cans of Raid for sale -- empty ones were used for net floats

Stilt houses on riverbank

Man near me on bench with fresh bread
Panorama shot from bench
From the bench where I sat, I could see these men playing something similar to bocce, rolling and tossing balls. Dan was watching them.

We got back to the boat about noon, in time for a delicious lunch at 12:30. More about the food later.

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