we arrived in Phnom Phen overnight and docked beside the main cruise barrier right in the heart of town in a tributary of the mighty Mekong river. after breakfast it was straight away on our first adventure involving a Tuk tuk ride to the colonial town and wander around the streets seeing the crumbling colonial buildings that are just now being restored 20 years after the end of Khmer Rouge autrocities. there was still plenty of squalour but life seemed to be rolling along at Cambodian pace of not much hurry for most people.
We visited the old liabary which was saved and the modernist 1950’s style markets where we spent a few $ and conversed with the locals. Lunch was at a fabulous restaurant that served amazing local food and was staffed by kids rescued from the streets who’s art therapy adorned the walls and it was amazing. we also visited a local school and buddhist temple where the kids playing in the grounds were most amused by all the old white folks milling around.
We had an entertaining evening aboard the Scenic Spirit with local dance troupe doing the full on Tiger dance tourist show for us. the next day it was off to the royal Palace temple complex which had very similar feeling to the Thai Buddhist temples of Bangkok and very ornate indeed were they.
We have fallen in love with this part of the world. If it wasn’t so hot it would be the perfect adventure escape .!
temples and street colours.
Colour , Texture, Design and Finesse everywhere.
We had a great time at the stunning National museum built in the royal Palace/temple style it was a very insightful journey into the Khmer period.
Our last night in Phnom Phen was spent having a few laughs and dancing up on the deck before retiring and resting ready for another big day out and about in the heat. The first stop was a visit to Kampong Tralach a silver smith village up a brach of the Mekong where we met the locals and navigated our way around the touts selling fake silver right outside the genuine silver smiths. they all looked the same so knowing the tricks was important. the village was fascinating and it was a such an insightful experience. we met a local teacher who survived the killing fields by pretending to be a labourer and the stories of what these people went through sent shivers down our spine. 50% of the population tipped out over a 10 year period.
Village life on the Mekong.
These kids never give up.
Our morning started with an Oxen ride through the streets of Ko Chen to pick up a bus taking us to the temple and monastery of Vipassana Dhurak a vast array of structures and hostels for the resident nuns and priests. it also acts as a retirement home for those wanting a simpler life but was full on young monks and plenty of activity amongst the grand structures. we sat in on a blessing ceremony and visited the elderly nuns as well as the lunch time rituals.
Lone monk wondering which way it is to lunch !
Persisitence paid off for this girl who finally won over Ann.
our little retired nun who was 93 and lives at the monastery with her younger 85 year old sister.
on our last day cruising we arrived in the morning at Wat Hanchey and climbed the stairs and winding paths to the monastery on the hill over looking the Mekong river near Kampong Cham. we met a young novice monk and heard his story and visited the halls and temples along the compound. climbing down the long ceremonial staircase we met two young cheeky goat herders at the bottom who were very amusing.
The Mekong all its glory spread out before me. The island is covered over in the rainy season.
The Local goat herding monastery boys
The Eco village life.
At Kampong Chan which is a small regional city we visited an eco village just out of town where a series of initiatives are in place to create a more ecological sustainable economy and where modern ways are being taught without the refuse issues that plague developing countries. that night the local children entertained us with traditional dancing on the deck and we then went to disco land ourselves that night being led by our cheeky waitress
It feels like I’ve been away for months and the many experiences have been so culturally different and educational,