Amazing Ream National Park

Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
Trip End Apr 15, 2011

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, April 8, 2011

I am writing this as I sit in the Bangkok airport waiting for our plane to Angkor Wat. The cruise is over but the vacation goes on.
Yesterday we visited Sihanoukville, Cambodia. This is a little visited deep water port in the southern part of Cambodia. It has aspirations to be the next resort destination and I admire their ambition. This part of the country is made up mostly of fisherman and farmers. It has beautiful sand beaches and is beginning to add some resorts to the mix.
The country has put aside a large track of land and river, with mangroves lining the banks, as a national park. Quite forward thinking for a country which has so far to go compared with it's neighbors Vietnam and Thailand. The river was fascinating. We had a park ranger driving our boat for about 90 minutes along the river. We saw many people fishing for shrimp by using just their hands. The river is very shallow and they just stood on the river bottom and leaned over and grabbed the shrimp. They were also catching oysters and eels this way. There were long sticks sticking up in the river which anchored nets for fish. Mostly the river banks seemed pretty wild. We landed at a small fishing village. The houses we're raised up off of the ground and the people were spending their time underneath the houses. In the rainy season it floods and they go into the house above the flood waters. They had many dogs, chickens, ducks and each family seemed to have a pig or two. There were were a lot of children running around but none of them approached us, although we were basically hiking through their front yards. The guide had warned us not to given them money as they would all want money then, but none of the children approached us. A couple said Hello in English in a shy way. There did not appear to be any electricity in the village but every one seemed relaxed and they all appeared to be well fed. They had a one room school which had the name of church and a cross on the front. The guide explained to us that this was a state run school but because the church gave them money, they put their name on the school; that was different. We were apparently a curiosity as only a few cruise ships a year come into this area. We then hiked through the rain forest, which was very hot and humid. A few of the older folks had trouble keeping up. When we emerged from the jungle, there was a pristine white sand beach. Just incredible. However, no one told us there would be a swimming opportunity, so none of us had suits. The water looked so inviting. We did see some birds but I still have not seen a monkey. The guide told us that when they started building a road in the park it scared all of the monkeys away. Oh well. I did see two little kids swinging on railings at the airport today, close.
On the way back to the boat the guides told us stories of Pol Pot. It is amazing that these
people have survived basically having half the population killed by their own government. Yet they have big aspirations for the future. After asking our permission to allow the the assistant guide ( we also had an assistant driver, couldn't tell what he did- Ken said he was like the Miss America runner up, if they found naked pictures of the driver he wold take over and drive) to speak, our assistant guide then took the microphone and did his stand up act, telling the absolutely dumbest jokes I have ever heard in a thick accent. I will tell you the jokes when I get back.
I encourage you all to keep an eye on Cambodia and consider a trip here in a few years. It has the potential to be a paradise I think, and they have water buffalo.

I am going to post this without proofing it, so I apologize in advance for any typos. Gotta get on the plane. Will let you know what Angkor Wat holds for us.
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