A Travellerspoint blog

Cambodia

I Yacht to Write More Often

sunny 35 °C

March 17-21, 2018
I've fallen too far behind in my travel writings to document each day we spent on our boat, the Toum Teav.
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Suffice it to say that each day was similar in structure but different in content.

Breakfast:
At 7am or 8 am, coffee, tea, juice, and water served with eggs to order, bacon available most days, pancakes, pastries, corn flakes (no one touched them), yogurt, and a selection of tropical fruit like dragonfruit, milk fruit, mango, grapefruit, lychee, pineapple, banana, soursop, and the list goes on.

A morning jaunt:
On most days there would be a stop in the early morning at a rural village to meet local artisans, visit a school or a pagoda, or just tour the town.

Afternoons:
Then back on the boat for lunch and the heat of the day until another stop at 2pm for another quick tour.

Evenings:
Sundown drinks and dinner on the boat and free time at night on the boat if cruising or ashore if docked (both options we typically filled with more drinks). It was a pretty charmed life!
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On our day trips, we:
- Toured a brick and clay pot factory
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- Toured a tilapia and catfish fish farm. We fed the fish and created a brief but intense feeding frenzy
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- Visited numerous pagodas and temples, and received a blessing from a senior monk
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- Toured a fruit orchard and sampled all the different types of tropical fruit
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- Saw how rice paper and rice wine are made (the wine has cobras and scorpions in the bottles), which we were told had certain aphrodisiac effects (!) 90_IMG_7783.jpg
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- Saw how certain locally-derived snack foods are made
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and visited a honey farm where we sampled honey and royal jelly (again, a "cure-all" product and many health claims were made... I wish I had taken a picture of the list of benefits. From memory, this stuff cures diabetes, ulcers, increases libido, increases beauty and eliminates wrinkles, cures Hepatitis A through C, and much, much, more).
- Visited a local school and bought pencils and notebooks for the kids (creating another brief but intense feeding frenzy!)
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- Took a ride on an oxen cart (Oregon Trail or bust)
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- Saw a floating market (sort of, there weren't many vendors left as a road bridge had recently been built)
- Took a tuktuk ride around Cambodian capital Phnom Penh 90_IMG_7592.jpg
and shopped at the night market, briefly turning down the wrong street (think red light district)
- Saw a traditional Apsara dance on the boat done by kids in a Phnom Penh cultural training program for disadvantaged youth. We also had a small dance party with the boat crew
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- Took a ride on a traditional Vietnamese sampan boat
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- Visited the largest local food market in Vietnam c8752aef-2..bae2fa81f9b.jpg
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- Saw rural and urban life for Cambodian and Vietnamese people from the land and from the water
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- Saw the most incredible trees, 90_36271D20AE9ABD760AE2848E3C31757B.jpg exotic flowers, IMG_7615.jpg plants, 90_IMG_7787.jpg landscapes and scenery, at times starkly contrasted with extreme poverty, horrendous working conditions, lack of hygiene, and widespread pollution. A valuable reminder of how lucky it is to be born in a country like Canada. We make a conscious effort to set a good example, be socially aware, give our tourist dollars to good causes, and be good stewards of our planet as we travel.

All day, every day, we saw boats. Fishing boats, dugout canoe-type boats with incredibly loud, longtail motors, tugboats, huge industrial boats with cranes dredging up the canal bottom, other boats to carry the muck away, rice ferrying boats with rice drying out on huge tarps in the sun, and very very occasionally, we saw another passenger vessel like ours.
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As we leave Cambodia behind, I reflect on the interesting fact that I was able to speak English in essentially all the places we visited. Even in the rural towns, children are learning English in their schools and greet you on passing motorbikes with a loud "HELLO!" and a wave. In the markets, even the rural food markets, the prices were given in US dollars and our change was as well, with only the last fraction of a dollar given in the Cambodian currency, the Real.

Our Cambodian guides had gone to university and earned a degree in tourism before getting jobs as tour guides and specializing in either French or English tourism (and increasingly, Cantonese). These types of jobs are some of the most desirable jobs for millennials in Cambodia's biggest cities.

It was really incredible to feel so welcome, so safe, and so wanted in Cambodia. To be able to participate in an exchange where our tourist dollars are helping - and we are getting so much in return.

We covered a fair bit of waterway over these five days and crossed into Vietnam from Cambodia from the comfort of our boat. An immigration official - who was indistinguishable (to us) from an ordinary fisherman - boarded and we were processed and on our way within about an hour. We learned afterward there was a small hiccup with one of the French passports having the wrong type of visa. I believe it was resolved quickly with a small change fee. We never even left the lounge deck.

Posted by Casualodyssey 04:14 Archived in Cambodia Tagged water local boat traditional ship cambodia river vietnam canal tropical tour mekong palm delta Comments (0)

Sizzling Siem Reap

sunny 36 °C

March 11, 2018
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We landed at the Siem Reap, Cambodia airport at 930 am and were greeted with hot tropical sun and palm trees. Getting our tourist visas and clearing customs took about two hours (!) despite relatively short lines.
Outside, we asked for a tuktuk to our hotel. Technically the airport pickup was included in our booking but since I hadn't heard from the hotel I wasn't counting on it.
Tuktuks in Cambodia are a bit different than the ones we took years ago in Thailand and Indonesia: not factory produced, 3 wheel taxis. Instead the Cambodian tuktuk looks like a wooden carriage style trailer attached to any 100-125cc motorcycle. At more than 125cc, a driver license is required - so you don't really see that. IMG_7652.jpg
Tuktuks are the ideal transport for us as tourists because you can look out the open sides and see the countryside go by while the moving air cools you down. Plus, they are cheaper than cars and other transport. Win win!
The driving in Siem Reap was a lot less wild than we remembered in other countries. It actually seemed like there might be a speed limit. We arrived at the hotel and checked in. It seemed pretty dead and it took us about an hour to figure out why... the pool was thick with dark green algae and was completely unrecognizable from the pictures online. 838cffea-a..bd798fbc549.jpg
The pool was the main reason we choose this hotel but we were too tired and hot to Transfer right away, so we committed to one night.
After a shower and a nap, we flagged down a tuktuk and went to the central tourist district to check out other hotels, grab a meal, and have some drinks on "Pub Street". 232D3514EC90FF9FA2C72ADBFAF37D46.jpg Our first drinks: Angkor beer (the local brand) along with a cheap crocodile stirfry over rice, which was delicious. 232E20C4A0B9F9E975FB5AC201152037.jpg
The bill? $6.25 for two mains and three beers. We could definitely have done worse.
We tried out the fish pedicure for $2 each which included a free beer too, that was really weird feeling at first but a neat experience. 231AE52ED248AAAF16415D94937FD3D3.jpg We found a great hotel with a beautiful pool and they told us to come back around 1pm tomorrow to check for a vacancy. 231BD6360061D9D1D1FEBF92235F2B6F.jpg A little more walking around and taking in the city before heading back to the hotel around 1am. 231CB5D0FB6112AF3070CE4F9044ED08.jpg

March 12, 2018
It's taking us a few days to work through the jet lag. The 35 degree afternoons don't help - napping is definitely attractive to beat the heat. The pool is lovely and the swim up bar is great too. IMG_7431.jpg
Street food is around $1.75 for beef noodles with fresh veggies and beers are sixty cents. Great ingredients for staying fuelled up while wandering around town. 2331C3AFC15E82F02B433EC007861A38.jpg

Posted by Casualodyssey 18:28 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia angkor tropical hot asia southeast reap siem Comments (0)

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