A Travellerspoint blog

Stunning Sunset over the Mekong River

Today we left at 7.30 am in a taxi to take 2 of our girls (who are sisters) to their home in the provinces for a 2 day family visit. They live near the Vietnam border and we were told it was a 5 hour drive each way.

We headed out of town on a pretty good road by Cambodian standards and drove about an hour till we got to a car ferry crossing over the massive Mekong River. The waters were high and fast flowing as we were at the end of the wet season.

While waiting for the ferry, our car and other mini buses were surrounded by sellers trying to make a living from selling fruit, drinks and snacks. Once on the other side we continued for another hour, but now on a dirt road. The journey became a lot slower as we manoeuvred around potholes and drove through small villages with markets and oxen pulling big carts selling earthenware pots.

We stopped at a colourful arch which signalled the end of the journey by car and now it was onto the back of a motodup (small motorbike). From here, the 4 of us on the back of 3 bikes, drove on a narrow muddy track surrounded on both sides by emerald green rice paddy fields and irrigation channels. It was so peaceful and beautiful.

We passed children fishing in waterholes, sitting on the back of massive water buffaloes and playing outside. The children here were much shyer than the city children and very few responded to my waving and greeting in Khmer of “Soo-d s’day!” (“Hello!”). On we went past typical Khmer wooden homes on stilts, or smaller ground level huts made of thatched palm leaves. In the front yards were dogs, pigs, cattle, chickens, ducks and old women with checked Cambodian kramas around their heads, chewing and spitting betel nut that stains their mouths orange. Channy and one of the girls nearly ended up in an irrigation channel when their moto slipped sideways in the mud. Our muddy track soon turned into a watercourse, so our next mode of transport was on foot - with our pants rolled up and barefoot through water up to our knees.

On the patches of dry land we would jump on the back of the motos before having to walk through the next water covered section. Most sections were easy to navigate as it was a sandy bottom, but every now and then we would hit a patch of sticky, slippery mud!! Channy told me later she remembered getting leeches when walking through water like this in the tumultuous times during the Pol Pot Regime, when they were marched around the countryside from camp to camp. I’m glad I didn’t know about the leeches till I was back in the taxi!

After half an hour we arrived at the girls’ small home and were welcomed by their Mum, Dad, 4 brothers and sisters, 6 dogs and all the neighbours. It was a one roomed thatched hut, made of palm leaf walls and roof, with a dirt floor. They had no water or electricity and cooked over a fire. Half of the inside was a raised bamboo slat table/bed where we were invited to sit and have a meal. Not wanting to offend our generous hosts I broke all my rules of TD prevention (Traveller’s Diarrhoea) and joined them for lunch. We sat down to eat a whole chook (freshly killed) and rice all sitting cross legged on this raised platform. Below us were the 6 dogs snarling and snapping at each other as they fought over the scraps that fell through. After lunch I saw the dogs licking our bowls and knew that had probably happened just before lunch too! Despite all that, the food was great and I am glad to report that my tummy had no ill effects!! (Especially as there was no bathroom!)

You may wonder how it all works without having a toilet. I can answer that one for you! Easy for the boys……no explanation required. For us girls…..well I was given a sarong that was ceremoniously wrapped around my waist. I was instructed to undress under that and squat - right in view of all the neighbours, but with my modesty preserved by the sarong!

To earn money, the father regularly goes to Phnom Penh and does labouring work on building sites and then comes back home till the money runs out. They had a pig and several cows and of course there were lots of chickens. Our girls were so excited to see their parents and family, especially as it was over the holidays for Bon Om Tuk Water Festival. These public holidays are important family occasions and where possible we will organise family visits at these times.

Off we headed home after an hour with the family and saying goodbye to the girls. Back walking through the water, on the moto, back to where our taxi was waiting and then on to the town where the ferry crossing over the river was. Well …. we soon discovered that everyone else was trying to get back to Phnom Penh this day and we waited 5 hours to get on to the ferry. Until then I believed we had traffic jams in Brisbane….well not quite like this! We were surrounded by Tarago-sized minivan buses that were loaded with 30 people inside and also on the roof, cows wandered down the street, people wandered up to the vehicles selling food and drink, children played with sticks on the road side and it was a fascinating scene to walk around and be a part of. At times our car would not even move for an hour, so it was a great lesson in patience!

I witnessed the most stunningly beautiful sunset over the Mekong, in shades of brilliant orange and yellow. And still we waited, now in the dark for our car’s turn on the ferry.

Finally we were on the ferry and then raced home in our car when we got on the road on the other side. Driving on the roads at night is not the safest and our driver madly overtook every vehicle in our path, sometimes two abreast. Each time, all I could see were dozens of headlights heading towards us As I gripped the seat and felt my blood pressure rise I decided it was best not to watch anymore and just lay down for a nap. We were home by 9 pm - tired but had loved every minute of it!!

Fortunately the lunch had not given me TD as there was no access to toilets for the 8 hour trip home!!!

Sellers crowding around the cars

Sellers crowding around the cars


Ferry over the Mekong

Ferry over the Mekong


On the motorbike now

On the motorbike now


Brilliant green paddy fields

Brilliant green paddy fields


On the moto

On the moto


Hopping off when the road was too bad

Hopping off when the road was too bad


Passing traffic

Passing traffic


On our way

On our way


So peaceful & beautiful

So peaceful & beautiful


Nearly lost the bike down the edge

Nearly lost the bike down the edge


First lot of water we waded through

First lot of water we waded through


Hoped there was no leeches

Hoped there was no leeches


Long stretches of water to walk through

Long stretches of water to walk through


Part of the adventure

Part of the adventure


Boy on a buffalo

Boy on a buffalo


Arrived at the house

Arrived at the house


Me

Me


Traffic jam

Traffic jam


Cows wandering the streets

Cows wandering the streets


People on roofs of cars

People on roofs of cars


More cows

More cows


Traffic Jam 2

Traffic Jam 2


Most amazing sunset

Most amazing sunset


Ferry & sunset

Ferry & sunset


Mekong River Sunset

Mekong River Sunset

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Cambodia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login