Tonle Sap Trip

We awoke this morning to a deluge; it was the most and strongest rain I’ve ever seen, complete with lightning and thunder. Powerful. Took our time having breakfast, and hung out at the hotel for a bit waiting for it to let up. Surprisingly to me it was over in an hour.

We boarded our tuk tuk and were off to the village of Kampong Phluk. It’s not super far away, but the drive took about an hour. The first half is on the main thoroughfare through Cambodia…so we were passing bikes while motorcycles and trucks passed us. After that it was a half hour down a very rough pothole filled (and now soaked) dirt road. It was fun bumping along passed folks who didn’t seem to get alot of visitors. This route is off the beaten path; most people go see a floating village closer to town, and rent a boat from there. Well once we arrived at the end of road there is a home setup that sells tickets to get on the tour boats around the village. I was shocked to find that our fare is $40! Thats’ crazy considering I’m paying $20 a night for a hotel. Oh, well I coughed it up, but not after deliberating with the ticket agent to make sure he wasn’t charging for Zoe and even asked for a discount…he said no, “just one”. We then walked a 1/2km down the road to the boats and I figured out why its so much…”just one” boat…that can fit about 10 people. Had I known this I would’ve been happy to sit around for a bit waiting for any other tourists to come down the road. I felt a bit gipt (well I still do), but it’s tough to know sometimes and we’re only here once.

Since I got the whole boat, Pearom our tuk tuk driver came along. He ensured me that alot of that money goes to the town people, and especially the school; he also said it’s more expensive (like $100)to go the other route…via a different town nearer Siem Reap and then boating farther down the lake. I believe him and I’m so glad we went. It was awesome to see how these people live in the lake. During the dry season the houses are on stilts about 10 feet up above the water, but now they were only about 3 feet up! Amazing. I guess they live off fish and sea veggies and venture into town periodically to get other staples. There were dogs, chickens, pigs, and cats living in these little islands of homes. The kiddo’s learn early how to boat and balance on the board bridges and the village Wat (temple) is the only built up flat space so that is where they all hang out and play. It was way fun to have Pearom along since he explained some stuff and helped play with Zoe. I always welcome another set of eyes to watch our crazy kiddo – especially on the water. It was cool…there is also a flooded forest near the town which was neat to see as was the center of the Tonle Sap lake where we turned around.

The return trip was enjoyable as the clouds had fully cleared and the sun was out in full force. Zoe had to pee, so the boat driver stopped the thing so I could hang her over the edge to go. I really wish I could’ve gotten that on video. We then tuk tuked to the last set of temples on our agenda: Roluos complex. The drive was fun since there were lots of kids everywhere taking a dip in the water. There is standing water and a flooded river everywhere, so it’s fun to see all of them out playing and fishing. Zoe fell asleep in the tuk tuk enroute so I got some lunch while she napped in a hammock at the restaurant-hut. She awoke and was obsessed with feeding her rice to the local chicken. The Cambodians love her and think she is hysterical.

The last of our temple visits was neat. These were older, Buddhist temples, the first in the area. So, they are built differently with more brick work. The Bakong temple was awesome; it’s like a big pyramid with elephants and lions gaurding the corners. The sun was getting low by the time we got there, so we didn’t have many other tourists to deal with. Zoe enjoyed running around the different levels and up the huge stairs. The view from the top was neat; just over the trees. Our tuk tuk ride back to town was uneventful.

We then enjoyed some swimming pool time and I had a beer with some of the workers. I guess the owner is having a bit of a party and they all love Zoe, so we hung out with them for a bit. I believe we’ll go back down to the restaurant and get some dinner before hitting the hay.

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