Sunday, March 13 ~ Sambor Prei Kuk
Another long, but exhilarating day that included shopping for school supplies, a visit to the ancient temple grounds of Sambor Prei Kuk, a boat ride on Tonlé Sap Lake to view the floating village, a school visit, followed by a ride on an oxcart to view sunset over the rice fields, and a home stay.
On the road at 8:00, our first stop was to pick up something for each of us to give the kids at the school later in the day. Tim and I chose puzzles, but some other items included pens, pencils, writing tablets, colored pencils, pencil sharpeners, soccer ball, other balls, hula hoop, and charts that showed pictures with English translations.
But we had a few stops to make along the way before arriving at the school.
Tonlé Sap Lake
“The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, that contains an exceptional large variety of interconnected eco-regions with a high degree of biodiversity … was designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997.” ~ Wikipedia
The size and appearance varies dramatically depending on whether or not one visits during the rainy or dry season. It is now nearing the end of the dry season and the lake appears to be little more than a mud puddle. Boats are sitting high and dry and stilt houses are far from the water’s edge.
Loaded onto two small boats, we spent about an hour on the water, simply observing.
This video clip I found on YouTube will show you what it is like during the wet season.
Even with the extremely low water levels, I was mesmerized. The water itself however is most uninviting. Used as a collector of sewage, to bathe in, catch fish for dinner, do your laundry and travel on, it is multi purpose and the lifeblood of the community. With a shortened rainy season (perhaps due to global warming), this village may die a slow death as the local food supply vanishes.
Continuing on our journey, we briefly stopped to look at the thousand-year old Kompong Krei Bridge (aka Spean Preah Toeus), dating from around 1181-1220.
A local market place to pick up some fruits and vegetables to take for our home visit.
Older than the temples at Angkor Wat, this smaller, lesser known site has been placed on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Also a bit disturbing, the area has been mined and could still contain unexploded ordnance. Although neither our Intrepid guide nor the local guide mentioned it, I reminded Tim to remain on the paths!
There are 80 children currently attending the “school”. Very similar to rural education we have experienced in Guatemala, where one teacher gathers the kids together beneath a tree. We arrive on a Sunday, but still a large number of children gather to sing for us and practice their English.
Ox cart ride
Two people per cart, we bounce along a dusty road, pass water buffalo grazing in harvested rice fields and arrive at the side of an almost dry pond in time for sunset.
Our adventures for the day were not over, as this was our night for a “home stay” where we stayed with a local Cambodian family. I decided to write a separate post to describe what that was like.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for leaders who care deeply for the future of their community. Our guide today was the local teacher who is giving eighty children a start for a brighter future. He also organized our ox cart ride and home stay to give us an authentic experience with a Cambodian farmer family.