Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Highlights and Happenings in Kampong Cham

Cambodian version of the QE2
Well folks a lot has happened  in the two and half weeks since my last blog so I have tried to select the best bits and the bits I can actually remember which may not be the same thing for this entry. The last time I posted I has discovered another side to sleepy little Kampong Cham. Well within a couple of days of the end of Pchum Ben and end of LEO beer promotion the town quickly returned to its’ former sleepy nature. 

Enjoying the Sun Deck

So in order to maintain some level of activity I joined the majority of the group on a ‘river cruise’ up the Mekong from Kampong Cham, which included a visit to one of island villages and another very old Pagoda.
We boarded our trust boat which was organised by out guide Gideon and needless to say those of us who were on the “boat” mentioned in cycle blog felt it was like the QE2 if for no other reason than we could stand up straight without the fear of capsizing. 

So we meandered slowly up stream for couple of hours and then moored at one of the Mekong Island. The village made up of 250 people including 25 children is a seasonal home with the houses been floated back to the shore in the wet season. We were greeted by all 25 children (it felt like it) and had a tour of the village and met the chief and some elders.
The Children of Island Village greet our Boat
Ingrain aka Peter Pan chats to the kids

The most striking thing for me was the sheer simplicity of live and the children in particular seemed happy with the simple treats we had brought them which was mainly balloons. The chief told us about some of the issues affecting this commuting village and what the different groups were doing to help. He also showed us the school which provided grade 1 class after which the children most go ashore for school.                                 
Island school
The houses on the island
We get seen off by the kids
Dave get's first class treatment from Kath
I am the king of the world hwo needs Kate Winslet
So after a relaxing time on this small island which had more cows than I have seen so far in the whole of the rest of Cambodia we boarded our trusty vessel and continued up stream once more. At one point having a race with a empty cargo boat which was heading up to Kartie to collect stones for road building. We soon overtook this boat and shortly thereafter docked near the old pagoda. 
The infamous steps
Someone decided to run up the 250 odd steps but quickly ran out of steam and ending up crawling the last 70 steps but still made it to the top first. We met the tourist police and paid the required $2 fee to have a look around the Pagoda which dates from C1st BC. We had lovely picnic has the heavens opened and this included such delegacies such as Branson Pickle and Cheese sandwiches. 

After lunch we had our very own Indiana Jones experience, when we literally went off the beaten path and heading down the hill to the bottom of the Pagoda complex. We then boarded our little vessel and heading back down the river at very relaxed pace enjoying the scenery and sunshine.   

So what else did I get up to before finishing language training and saying goodbye to Kampong Cham. Well I decide to go for another cycle this time a mere 25km trip out the main Kampong Cham-Phnom Penh road to visit what is called Man and Woman Hills. This idea was one of my better ones but unfortunately it rained for most of my cycle back and I was very, very wet. It was still worth it for the great pictures I got and of course to see the monkeys.

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