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Published: October 28th 2017
Yes Cambodia isn’t all temples and more temples ... we had an interesting drive out in the country side through villages with houses on stilts and swept yards with cattle, rice paddies and some other agricultural fields to visit a Wildlife Conservation area.
Although the USA was not officially at war with Cambodia during the Vietnam War period the country suffered from thousands of tons of bombs being dropped mainly ( as I understand it ) because the Viet Cong supply route the Ho Chi Min Trail ran through Cambodia and Laos. So of course this had a devastating effect on flora and fauna. As the country rebuilds also following from the Khmer Rouge regime in the 70s there are efforts to research and protect endangered species. And so it was to one of these centres ACCB, Angkor Centre for Conservation and Biodiversity , we went and had a most interesting guided visit with one of the biologists. One of the species of birds the largest stork, Adjutant Stork is breeding very successfully and the previous day several birds had been released into the wild. The animals in care there are all indigenous to Cambodia and most have been rescued
from the illegal trade in wildlife . By necessity for looking after the animals most of them are caged but well looked after. We saw several species of monkeys .. macaques, langurs and Gibbons , which were freely swinging about in the trees. Many species of turtle are endangered and especially the pangolin which is sadly used in Chinese medicine ... the pangolins were asleep when we were there. There were many birds from eagles and kites to hornbills as well as a leopard cat and a civet. One of their messages is to help preserve rainforest habitats is to avoid buying anything made from tropical hardwood and instead support more sustainable products such as bamboo, rattan, palm wood and coconut or recycled materials.
After that we were ready for a beer and another great lunch ..all the food was so tasty wherever we were. And one thing which was very useful was that everywhere we went we were given indivual bills to pay , so no hassle trying to divide up a bill for 12 people each time and who had what. A pity they don’t do that here !!!
Another treat was in store for us
with a visit to a floating village. Tonle Sap is a huge freshwater lake and river connected to the Mekong... during the monsoon season more and more water accumulates and for 5 months of the year villages around the flooded. This lake is huge 250km and 100 km wide at the end of the monsoons. So we drove along a dirt road which we were told would soon disappear under the water and each year this road has to be rebuilt , at the end of the road we all got into a wooden boat and chugged up the river into the lake , it was fascinating to see the mechansims for steering ...old bike wheels and bits of rope seemed to do the trick. A young lad took over the steering while the captain who looked a few years older went for a nap in the hammock at the back for a while... then as we docked at the village an even younger lad who looked about 7 years old jumped about with ropes and nudged others boats to one side to get us in !!! Well the system seems to work !! Oh all the while with a
wink to Health and Safety we were wearing life jackets. This floating village had about 4000 inhabitants , the buildings were all on stilts... there were houses , shops , a police station and a Church as well as a temple. Underneath buildings were stores and boats : washing hung in tree branches , firewood was stacked in the tops of trees and many of the house were gaily painted and with flowers and plants on decks looked so pretty.
So at the dock we disembarked the bigger wooden boat and two by two we got into what can only be described as very low in the water wooden canoes with a woman sat at the very front with her paddle . Jenny and I then glided around for about half an hour round the village and through some trees, I loved it ...so peaceful and silent and on the way of course there were some woman in their shop canoes selling things . When we finally came back to the main dock and managed to get out of the boat Jenny said she hated it !!! she thought it was going to tip up all the time... I
think if we had fallen in we probably could have stood up as you could see the trees were not submerged , it was probably only 1m deep. What another amazing experience that was to see how these people in communities all round the lake must adapt to this seasonal flooding.
And so to our last night in Cambodia and a very nice dinner followed by a trip down Pub Street and into one of the back alleys where we found a wonderful bar with nice modern decor ; after some cocktails with lots of laughs we all played Jenga . That was an evening not to be forgotten and it was back to the hotel at midnight to pack for our flights to next day and to say goodbye to all the lovely new friends we had made.
Next stop Ho Chi Min City.
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