Trips from Kompong Cham

Trip Start Oct 14, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Trips from Kompong Cham

Although much of our time in Kompong Cham was spent learning to speak Khmer, we did manage to go on a few trips to see the surrounding countryside.

Cycling Around the Island

The Mekong River at Kompong Cham is very wide - I'd guess over 3 kilometres in places. An island is located in the middle of the river, a short ferry ride from the town. We never managed to ascertain quite how big the island was, but probably about 10 by 2 kilometres. Five of us took bikes across on the ferry and then cycled around for a few hours. The ferry was great fun, although a bit of a third world disaster waiting to happen as so many people, motorbikes, chain saws, dogs and crates of beer were loaded onto it. It seemed to consist of two wooden canoes, with planks laid across then - all powered by an outboard motor. Life on the island seemed even more primative than on the 'mainland' and the roads were pretty atrocious - we got very muddy! Probably the most exciting part of the island was rickety bamboo bridge which we cycled across. I felt very much like Indiana Jones as Rachel shouted "Indy, Indy, save me!". No, I'm making that bit up.

Boat Trip Down the Mekong

We hired some motorboats with drivers and went for a trip down the Mekong. The boats were actually quite fast and we probably felt cooler than at any other time in Cambodia! Although the boats were fast, I'm not convinced that the driver of the other boat really needed to wear a motorbike helmet...After going downstream for about 20 minutes we then travelled up a tributary for about 1 hour to reach a small village where silk is died and weaved. To be honest the silk wasn't very impressive, but the boat ride was great. Whenever groups of children saw us they went and would shout "HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!" again and again. Some even got so excited that they jumped into the river and tried to swim after us. We saw many different methods of fishing along the river, but all of it seemed subsistence and the people we saw all looked very poor. The boat driver had to be careful in a couple of places not to shred fishing nets that had been spread almost completely across the river. Another interesting sight was floating kitchen gardens. There are bamboo platforms with vegetables growing on them .The vegetables take nutrients from the silt in the river rather than from soil.

Motorbike Ride to a Wat on a Hill (Can't Remember the Name)

Our second practise motorbike ride in Cambodia was upstream alongside the Mekong, to a big Wat on a hill. The ride was great, along a dirt road and through several villages. The scenery was great, with the Mekong on one side and mostly paddy fields to the other. The ride took about one hour there and back and was pretty tiring and certainly very dusty. The Wat was reasonably interesting (to be honest Cambodian Wats are perhaps best described as gaudy rather than impressive), but had great view up and down the Mekong as it was located on top of a quite big hill. The ride up the hill was quite exciting and was the most 'off-road' we've probably experienced so far.
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