A Travellerspoint blog

The Minority Experience

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.
Green bushes at side of road covered with red dust

Green bushes at side of road covered with red dust


Lidor and Katie at the market

Lidor and Katie at the market


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.Transporting wood in the village

Transporting wood in the village


A loaded motorcycle

A loaded motorcycle

A village house, which looks just like the Cambodian houses along the road.

A village house, which looks just like the Cambodian houses along the road.


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.
Plan International well

Plan International well


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.
Drying rice

Drying rice

Grave site

Grave site

Back in the dugout

Back in the dugout


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.

Posted by katdill 04:04 Archived in Cambodia Tagged ethnic_minority Comments (0)

Travel to Banlung

overcast

This morning we had an early breakfast and said goodbye to Donna and Lyle, who are heading back to Canada, and also to Bun and his family.
Bun and his wife and baby girl

Bun and his wife and baby girl


Bun drove us over to the Asia Van Travel office so we could catch the van to Banlung. One 10 seater van took us to Stung Trent, where we transferred to another van for the last part of the journey to Banlung. Each van was full, but reasonably comfortable. We arrived about 3:30 or so, which was earlier than we had expected. We got a tuk tuk to our hotel, which turns out to be an old French colonial mansion converted to a backpackers hotel. Lots of dark woodwork and heavy wooden furniture. Not the ritz, but for two nights it will do as it is very cheap ($8 US per night).
Water buffalo crossing the road

Water buffalo crossing the road


Bridge over the Mekong River

Bridge over the Mekong River

Sitting area outside our room

Sitting area outside our room


We had a short walk along the lake side to an interesting restaurant called CoCo Nut Shake Restaurant. Don had to try out on of their coconut shakes, which was very good. This restaurant has small stalls walled half way up with concrete blocks with each table and chairs in one. So you can see the length of the restaurant across the top of the walls, but when sitting down you can't see your neighbours.
CoCo Nut Restaurant

CoCo Nut Restaurant


Back at our hotel, we had a nice supper at their open air restaurant. I had a dish with cashews and tofu as the main ingredients. This is cashew growing country, so maybe we can stock up!

Posted by katdill 15:06 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Our Last Day in Siem Reap

semi-overcast 30 °C

I have managed to lose my voice somehow in the last day or so. Got up this morning with not much voice at all, but at least it doesn't hurt. We had moringa tea at breakfast for its healing abilities and with lots of water to drink we set off on our day's adventure.
Donna, Lyle, Don and I travelled with Buffalo (one of Bun's employees) in his van, along with Bun's father-in-law (who didn't seem to speak any English). We travelled for about 2 hours to Kulen National Park. There we first visited the waterfall, to avoid as many of the other tourists as possible. The waterfall is lovely, but of course, you reach it by climbing down many steps and then climbing back up. The other 3 had a swim at the base of the waterfall. It was interesting to see that the Cambodian women are too modest and shy to wear bathing suits, so they go swimming in a kind of sarong.
Stairs down to the falls

Stairs down to the falls

The falls

The falls


Women going for a swim

Women going for a swim


After we climbed back up, we visited the River of 1000 Lingas - a linga is a representation of a penis. The carving done in the river doesn't really look like a penis at all. They were carved in the 11th century and cover 150 meters of the river bed.
The carvings in the river

The carvings in the river


We also visited a reclining Buddha carved out of the top of a huge boulder - so yes more steps. (I confess I passed on climbing up to see another reclining Buddha. I was trying to be kind to my ankle.)
On our way home we stopped for lunch at the same restaurant that we ate lunch at yesterday. Not such great service today, but good food.
When we arrived home, Bun immediately asked about my health and made me a couple of cups of lemon tea to help my heal. He is a wonderful host and a very caring person. We had a special meal prepared for our last night and then the four of us went with a Dutch couple out to the Phare Circus. This is a circus put on by poor and destitute children who have been educated and trained by this organization to develop circus skills. They told a story about being ostracized and displayed their fantastic circus skills so well. A wonderful show!
Phare Circus

Phare Circus


Then back to the tuk tuks and home to bed - except when Don sat on the edge of our bed, it collapsed under him. We couldn't fix it without some tools, so we put the mattress on the floor and slept there.

Posted by katdill 01:37 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

sunny 32 °C

We got up at 5:00 am to get to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. We had Ton as a guide and the same two tuk tuk drivers as before - Sinh and Thou. We sat outside the temple by the moat and waited but the horizon was cloudy and the sun didn't come up directly behind the temple (due to the time of year, not the clouds!).
Angkor Wat at sunrise

Angkor Wat at sunrise


We then went to a local market for breakfast and had noodle soup. It was a little open air place and the soup was delicious. It cost $14 US for all 7 of us to eat! It is always interesting to visit the small local markets and see the different things they are selling.
We drove over to Ta Prohm temple, which is a temple that has been overgrown with trees. There are huge trees growing on the roofs, around the walls, everywhere. They are part of the destruction of the temple, but sometimes they are also holding it together. Most of the temples we visited are undergoing restoration work, with the cooperation of many different countries.
Don with a huge ceiba or kapok tree at Ta Prohm

Don with a huge ceiba or kapok tree at Ta Prohm


Then it was time for a 45 minute tuk tuk ride to the Ladies Temple or Pink Temple (Banateay Srei) which is built out of reddish sandstone and has lovely carvings. It is the smallest temple we visited but it had very intricate carvings due to the pink sandstone being softer and easier to carve than the beige.
Young man selling palm fruit, palm juice, and the male palm flowers

Young man selling palm fruit, palm juice, and the male palm flowers


We then headed back to town and stopped at a roadside restaurant which seemed setup for tour groups. They had good food, but of course, a little more expensive.
So back to Angkor Wat so Ton could tell us all about the amazing bas relief walls that run around the outside of the temple. He was very animated while he was narrating the myths and legends depicted in each panel. Because Lyle and Donna had been there previously, they rested while Don and I stood in the line to go up in the central tower. We had to wait about 1/2 hour and spent about 10 minutes up there. We didn't feel it was all that interesting, although there were a couple of statues of Buddha which were beautiful. Unfortunately, I had a misstep and fell to my hands and knees, but only slightly twisted my ankle. Just a little scare.
Ton telling us stories

Ton telling us stories


When we arrived back at the homestay, we found that Bun had 2 friends visiting from Phnom Penh, and also 2 local friends arrived for supper. So we had another interesting meal talking with these young men.

Posted by katdill 01:57 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Exploring Siem Reap

Our 40th Wedding Anniversary

sunny 32 °C

As Donna and Lyle had done a tour of the temple ruins when they were here with their G Adventure tour, they decided to go to visit the floating village and the cultural village instead of coming with us to see the ruins.
We first had to travel to the ticket centre, a big complex that everyone has to buy their tickets for the temples. Our tickets were checked quite often and we had to keep them on us all the time. They seem quite serious about controlling access and maintaining a respectful attitude in the thousands of tourists which visit every day.
We travelled by tuk tuk, with Sen as our driver. He doesn't have very good English, but we managed to communicate well enough. He would drop us off at a temple and show us where we should go. He would be waiting for us to show up and was always right there when we came out. Very nice young man.
Sen with our tuk tuk

Sen with our tuk tuk


We started at the Angkor Thom west gate, in order to miss the large influx of tours which start at the south gate. We proceeded in the opposite direction as those tours, so we managed to miss some of the crowding, although there were a great many people at most of the sites. Here is a little fellow we saw at one of our first stops. His mother was selling something and he was having a great time chasing his older siblings.
One of the many happy Cambodian children

One of the many happy Cambodian children


Angkor Thom west gate

Angkor Thom west gate


One of the more memorable temples was Baphuon, which has a long causeway to walk in and out. The low ground around it must flood during the monsoons. We climbed 100 steps up to the top and back down again.
I called a halt for lunch and Sen took us over to an outdoor restaurant by Angkor Wat to eat - good, cheap food. Then we visited Bayon temple, which is known for the stone faces of Buddha on it's towers. It also has many bas relief scenes carved on the walls. Very intricate and detailed carvings of Hindu mythology.
Monk visiting Bayon with modern technology

Monk visiting Bayon with modern technology


We had a quick walk thru of Angkor Wat before quitting and going home. We will visit it again tomorrow and spend more time. I find the tourists who are so focused on getting their selfies or portraits taken in the ruins very frustrating. They don't seem to appreciate anything but a good background for the picture of them!
After cleaning up with a shower and cooling down for awhile, we joined the party downstairs. The children Bun assists performed a couple of traditional Cambodian dances for us, which are mostly about their expressive hand movements.
Children's Khmer dance

Children's Khmer dance


Bun had also invited a large group of young people involved in a project called "Thinking Beyond Borders" over for the concert and supper. It was very interesting talking to them as we waited for the performance to start.
We wanted to have a special meal for our anniversary so the four of us went out with the tuk tuks and tried to find a restaurant Don had chosen called "Love U Restaurant". Great name and great food, but very hard to find. We had a Google map of it's location and drove by it 3 or 4 times, but it was so inconspicuous that we missed it. Finally with the help of kind strangers we found it and had a nice meal. Then it was home to bed after a very busy and full anniversary.
At our anniversary dinner

At our anniversary dinner

Posted by katdill 15:29 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

(Entries 46 - 50 of 53) « Page .. 5 6 7 8 9 [10] 11 »