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Published: November 24th 2013
Launch to Ship
Tonle Sap Lake
We were told prior to departure that because of high water levels our trip was rescheduled to have a 5 hour bus trip to board the ship. GOOD NEWS! The water level was low enough that were were able to board as first expected with a short boat launch from a short drive from Siem Reap. We didn't know exactly what that meant until on day 2 of the cruise we went under a newish cement bridge, with very little clearance. That bridge is the key to whether you are able to go as scheduled or will have a rescheduled itinerary.
Some from the group went back to Angkor Wat for sunrise, I opted to sleep in. Having wanted to do the sunrise hot air balloon ride over Angkor park, it was shut down for refurbishment while we were there, so no go. I took the opportunity to sleep in and to read a little bit. We left the hotel about 11:45am and headed for Kampong Chhnang. Along the way we passed small fishing villages, seeming much poorer than those we had seen in Vietnam. Dotted throughout were some very prominent painted stone houses, that seemed out of place among
Cabin 205 perfect!
the stick and board homes most people lived in. We boarded small launches that took us out into the lake to our waiting ship, La Marguerite. Our bags were waiting in our nicely air conditioned, and beautiful staterooms. After freshening up we headed to the dining room for a delightful buffet lunch. Beer and wine was included with meals. I didn't think it was too bad, I'm not much of a drinker, but some complained about the quality, and they ordered better wines and paid for the upgrade, or ordered cocktails from the bar.
The afternoon was free to explore the ship, visit with new friends, sit atop on deck chairs. It was hot, so most of the time, if we weren't in the cool pool, we were inside enjoying air conditioning while on board.
During the cocktail hour each day there was a "signature cocktail" for no charge in the lounge, available for those who came to the daily briefing. Mr. Son gave us an overview of what to expect the following day. From there we all headed to dinner which was ordered off a menu. The wait staff was wonderful and always got the orders right.
Only once in a while was the food not up to par, and they were quick to bring another option if you we unhappy with the food. The soups were amazing every lunch and dinner. Salads were plentiful and you needn't worry about eating anything or ice cubes on the ship. Desserts were so-so, but the abundant fresh fruits at every meal made up for a lack of really special desserts.
Tonle Sap Lake is huge and wide. There are floating villages surrounding it. From what we were told, these fishing villages move around the lake as the levels rise and fall throughout the year. Cambodia is the 2nd largest producer of fish in the world, with China being it's #1 buyer. Since they are land locked, most of it comes from the Tonle Sap River which swells to become this huge lake for most of the year. The normal Cambodian diet is rice and fish, fresh or sun-dried, 3 meals a day, so the force of nature that is this lake is the most important place for food production in the country.
The beds in the stateroom are very comfortable, lots of fluffy pillows. A TV with
no reception, but videos at the Pursers Office, which I caught up on several great films during the trip.
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