Wednesday, March 24th – Morning in Siem Reap, and late afternoon flight to Ho Chi Minh
Driving a short way outside of Siem Reap, we passed by rolling hills and farm land. The soil is parched and everything appears dusty, which is to be expected at the end of the dry season. But this is even more extreme than normal as they have been experiencing a drought for several years.
Once again we are surprised by just how much can be loaded onto a motorbike.
We are off to experience an ox-cart ride. This time is a little different from the one we went on a couple of weeks back, because instead of being pulled by oxen, we will be propelled by water buffalo.
The ox-carts are still being used today by the local farmers.
A bit of a bumpy ride, but still enjoyable. It was a little awkward getting in and out of the cart 🙂
The local children poked their heads into the door of our bus, hoping to sell us a flower or two.
There was much to see along the drive this morning.
Tonle Sap Lake is in the heart of Cambodia, with a rich and diverse ecosystem. To get to our scheduled boat excursion to observe the local life around the lake and the floating fishing villages, we travel over dirt roads that are little more than rough tracks.
Unfortunately with the local drought, the water level is WAY below normal and the river entrance to get to the lake and the floating villages is down to a very narrow dredged out canal.
I absolutely loved seeing how the families live in their floating villages.
Many of the homes are little more than thatched huts on stilts, yet they have their basics – church, school, store and community.
I hope you will enjoy this slide show of just some of my favorite shots as we slowly motored past in our long-tail boats. It felt like we were being invasive staring into their homes, but according to our guide, we are a welcome intrusion as our tourist dollars are a very important part of their survival.
We saw several unsupervised small children either in the water, in boats, or on their front deck. I know that they are raised on the water’s edge, and probably all learn how to swim at a very early age, but the mother in me was nervous none-the-less.
Another frustration was that the motor on our boat kept getting tangled up with various trash, fishing lines, rope, plastic bags, etc. in the water. I’m guessing that when the water levels are normal, this is not a problem, but on our couple hours here, our poor driver had to untangle the propeller 8-10 times.
And just in case you think you are experiencing Déjà vu, you are right. We did visit some different floating villages on our Intrepid trip a couple of weeks earlier. Here is a link to that post in case you missed it and are a glutton for punishment (or just really have a thing for floating villages like me). It also shows our first ox-cart ride.
Later, we visited the Angkor National Museum with its multi-media exhibits depicting the Golden Era of the Khmer Kingdom. No photography was allowed in the main display rooms, so I had to settle for one shot in the stairway.
A late lunch back in Siem Reap where we explored Pub Street. There are many bars, shops, and restaurants to choose from.
We had a little free time and I indulged in a very short foot massage with Jan and Frank. But first we had to find a shop where the employees were awake and wanted to work 🙂
Afterwards, we took our flight to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the largest city in Vietnam.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got a repeat performance visiting the floating villages. The villages we visited this day were in a different location, but the essence of the communities was very similar. I found myself fascinated by how they lived, raised their children, fished and grew a few vegetables to survive. I’m also grateful for clean water. It must be so difficult to live on what has essentially turned into an ever shrinking mud puddle. I fear that the very survival of this culture is on the brink unless their rain levels return to normal.