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Going Local

sunny 31 °C

In a couple hours we are off to the airport, headed for Ho Chi Minh City in Southern Vietnam and we both agree that Siem Reap has gone by too quickly. We haven't had enough time to see everything, eat everything and, I'm ashamed to say, we haven't even managed to figure out how to pronounce our guide's name. We have had a really wonderful time here.

Yesterday morning came very early as our guide assured us we had to see the sunrise over Ankor Wat. It was a spectacular view for half of us, I won't say which half, but someone definitely wasn't getting out of bed at 4am again no matter what she was going to see. I wandered around for a few hours before heading back to the hotel around seven to have some breakfast. At 9am we were back on the road with a different agenda today, it was time to take a break from temples and go and visit some rural living. Every time we drive through town he takes a different route and it is amazing what this small city has to offer, so far we have seen lots of restaurants, museums, parks, monuments and palatial homes for various members of government and royalty when they are in town.

We headed south out of town and the road went from wide and nicely paved to one lane, bumpy dirt track that wound down the river to the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake. I just googled it myself and it's pretty amazing because it changes size so much with monsoon season that the actual directional flow of the water current changes twice every year. We bought some tickets and got on our own ferry for our three hour cruise (not just a Gilligan's Island joke, it was a three hour cruise!) The landscape didn't change a whole lot (even though we were on the water) as the path the boat took was lined with trees and brush that grows up out of the water. Beyond the trees were plots of water that were being fished by locals much like farmers working a field, everyone seeming to respect that they had their area to set their nets. The trees got denser and we stopped seeing anyone fishing just before the forest opened up and we had arrived at a police station and the local high school. Before we knew it we were downtown in the floating village of Kampong Phluk, a bustling economy built completely of houseboats and buildings on stilts of concrete or bamboo. We cruised down main street while the locals went about their day; one guy was building a new canoe, a few ladies were paddling around boats full fresh vegetables selling them door to door, kids were either at school or swimming to avoid the heat, it was pretty unreal. Beyond the town we motored through a floating forest that was a little less impressive and then we were out of the river and right out in the massive Tonle Sap Lake. We watched some locals fishing in the deeper water before heading home, back through town and the shallows.

Back ashore, we grabbed some lunch and headed to catch a temple or two. We also visited a local orphanage that I think must be where Angelina Jolie picked up her kids as they seemed to think everyone that is white must want a couple little ones. Don't worry, we didn't come away with any souvenirs from that stop.

It was definitely time for a nap after the 4am wakeup call so we headed back to the hotel. When 8pm rolled around, Nat was feeling a little under the weather so she grabbed some room service. Our guide was back ready to show us the town, so I couldn't let him down. Nat was resting up for Vietnam, while I headed out on the town. I asked him if we were headed to all highlights I had heard of and he replied that he wanted to show me a Cambodian beer garden which also came with a live show. We went to the other side of down and ended up in a giant fancy shed with a stage full of singers and tables full of celebrating locals (and a very few tourists). I have read a few things warning tourists about ending up at the head of a table full of locals as the party can get out of hand and so does the bill, but after this week, I trusted our guide and he didn't let me down. It was long before we had a table full of tuk tuk drivers, some of the singers from on stage and a beer rep from the local beer. Plates of fish and chicken and even frog arrived with rice and sauces and more beer. Saturday night was jumping at the beer hall, dinner was great and was fun to meet so many people, language wasn't a barrier and we had a blast. I thought it was time to go and check on Nat so we rolled out just after a big rain shower. The big tab after our party night ended up being $34 which just doesn't add up as I think our table must have consumed a case of beer plus all of the food.

We might just have to come back here one day. Our guide has already assured us that he will meet anyone we send him at the airport with a sign with their name on it and he will give them the experience like we have had. In case you are wondering, the cost of having this tailored tour and surefooted tuk tuk driver is $15/day.

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Posted by colincampbell 00:31 Archived in Cambodia

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C'est magnifique!!! Un voyage de rêves.
I have a great time to see yours pictures.
Waw!!! Good wine, good food and a beautifull woman!
What a man would want more (:
Beau bonjour de La Malbaie, à vous deux!!!

by Claudette Dufour

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