17.01.2017 - 17.01.2017
We set off to visit an ethnic minority village of the "Kachah". We had a guide with very little English and all day he would say "The minority Kachah", a phrase he seemed quite proud of but it wasn't very enlightening for us.
We travelled by tuk tuk with 2 young people from our hotel, Katie and Lidor. Four people and the cooler the hotel packed for our lunch makes quite a crowded tuk tuk. After about 1 1/2 hours, most of which was on a very dusty red road, we arrived at the Tonle San River. Here we bought some school supplies in the market to take with us to the village.
We got into our boat, which was a long dugout canoe with a motor on the back. We sat on the bottom of the dugout on life jackets while we travelled upstream for about 1 hour. Not very comfortable, but nice to travel on the river. We even saw the head of a water snake as it swam down the river.
When we arrived at the village, we were mostly ignored. Everyone went about their business and unless our guide addressed them directly, ignored us. We had our picnic near the bank of the river and then had a tour of the village.
We waited by the school and the new well, which have been provided by Plan International, to give the school supplies to the teacher who was supposed to be there soon. After waiting about 1/2 hour and interacting with some of the smaller children, we left the books and pens at the school and continued our tour. Although they have a new well by the school, when we arrived we found the children filling water bottles by hand from a spring that was just a hole in the beach.
We ended our tour in the cemetery, which is quite interesting because each grave has a little shelter built over it, with carved wooden guardians(?) at the front, and lots of decoration. From what we could understand from the guide, they bring offerings of food, cigarettes, incense, etc for the first couple of months after a death.
So we got back in the dugout for the return journey. Half way along they stopped at a gravel beach so we could have a swim. Just down the beach a herd of water buffalo had come down to the water for a drink and dip. The current in the river was so strong it was impossible to swim against, it could take you off your feet if you weren't braced for it. A funny place to choose to stop - we passed many sand bars and little bays where the current wouldn't have been so strong and we would have had sand to walk on instead of rocks.
Once we had done the whole dusty road again and arrived back at the hotel, hot, tired, and filthy, we found our hotel room door open and all the water fixtures in the bathroom running water. Apparently they had a pipe break and the water tank on the roof emptied before anyone noticed. So they had filled the tank and were trying to get air out of the system. Luckily nothing was missing from our room and we managed to shower in a bathroom downstairs. It was all very strange and the explanation didn't make much sense to us. And then the day was capped off by getting our laundry back and having one of my blouses missing! I did get it back, but I had to make another trip to the front desk to complain about it. I'm afraid the Banlung Balcony is not a place I would recommend.