Cambodia - Day 2, Ride to Kampong Phluk (Floating Village)


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Asia » Cambodia » North » Tonlé Sap
February 28th 2022
Published: March 16th 2022
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After having a short couple of hours in our very nice hotel, New Riverside Hotel, a quick shower and nap, we got ready to start our adventure.

First we got lunch in the town center, "western" food, which was not all that great... but the fresh papaya juice more than made up for it! It was so good and the best one of the trip. Back at the hotel, our bikes were assigned to us (we had previously sent in our heights) and we put our day supplies in the pouches. We also gave our overnight bags to the van support crew as we were not coming back to the hotel until the next afternoon. Yes, 3 nights of poor sleep - hello Trekkup!

Once we got our bikes and supplies for the day sorted, off we went. We probably spent a good 15 minutes on the busy streets in town. It was dusty and there were some cars to dodge but we were in good spirits. Soon enough, we were on the back roads and got to our first stop about an hour later.

Wat La Oh

Our first stop was near the edge of town, plenty of people but not crazy busy. This temple includes a cemetery with pagodas, Buddhist hall and a school. While we were there, the monks were having their lunch, the second of their two daily meals. There were also a lot of kids hanging around, including a few on bikes. They were so cute and friendly. There is little information that I could find on this particular place, but it was very well decorated along the outer portion of the temple; we didn't go in. I really loved the many sculptures, especially the giant serpent heads at each entrance, which continued into a long snake tail over the railing of perimeter. Below this, some griffins (?) were 'holding' up the tail. It was very detailed and interesting.

We continued riding and stopped at one spot that was a farm, growing chives as well as other things. It seemed very well kept, and I loved the elevated planter beds. My guess was to avoid heavy rainfall and flooding, which was part true, but was also to deter chickens from disturbing the plants.

Lunch

We stopped at Stoeng Torcheak Restaurant, which I believe is also next to a resort, but is situated along a pleasant creek. This was such a cute place, with various locations of tables spread out, as well as some areas of relaxation, like hammocks beneath a big pavilion where our guides hung out the whole time. We had a delicious multi-course lunch including spring rolls, rice, a fish dish, and some chicken. It was yummy. A few of us downed some cold beer as well. We had a couple of hours here, so after lunch we had a bit of time to explore, so I sat out on this huge swing beneath a pleasant stand of trees. Very peaceful.

Kampong Phluk and Tonle Sap

After lunch, it was pretty much a straight ride, very straight actually, to our final destination: The Floating Village. We went through a little crowded village at the entrance to the park where our guides paid our entrance fee. We were told that it was a 15 minute ride to our stop. That was a lie. It was 10 km or so along a long, straight, dusty levee! It was an easy ride, but at this point we were tired, hot, and were completely exposed to the afternoon sun. So, it was difficult. We stopped at a little hut about halfway where we had nice juicy watermelon to give us some more energy. Along the levee, we passed a water buffalo crossing (which was pretty cool), an elevated school, and plenty of fishermen and other villagers. Finally we entered the floating village, where most of the buildings were painted blue and it was a very pleasing contrast.

We had to go down toward the second row of homes which is directly on the existing river. Our guide told us that during the wet season, the water levels are up to the first floor or higher. It was difficult to imagine because apparently the villagers take full advantage of the dry season by planting gardens, establishing paths, and riding the bikes and motor bikes.

We stayed at a locals' home on the top floor. I think some people were a bit surprised at the very bare accommodation, but ... Trekkup. However, we all wound up agreeing that it was such an incredible and unique experience, and the family who lived there were so nice! They put us into mosquito net covered sections in the main room on the upper floor. We slept on a rug on the hard wood floor in our sleeping bags, so not the most comfortable, but it was fine.

However, first things first. We changed into our swimsuits (well, some of us) to take a boat out onto Tonle Sap for a swim. Tonle Sap means "freshwater lake". I was looking forward to this despite being tired. We were driven to the launch area and boarded a small typical boat which brings flashback of work HSE issues. But it was a very nice ride through the river to the lake itself, past floating buildings and old boats to our next stop. A crocodile farm / restaurant. We got off here, which we assumed was kind of tourist trap. But it was a bit more. There we saw two crocodiles in a water level cage, maybe there were more. Who knows. They bred them as we saw a few little ones. And they also ate them, as they were a main part of the menu. We weren't hungry. Oh, we may as well swim here, right? Yikes! Water was murky due to the churned up river spoils and we were next to crocodiles. Ummm.... while I wanted a swim it was a bit daunting. So, J and M jumped and I went soon after. When you jump in, you are immediately surprised at how shallow the lake is - we were pretty far out and I could touch the 'bottom' with my feet. The bottom was a very loose layer of squishy mud. It felt weird. But the water was refreshing. It was difficult to get back up to the restaurant - no ladder, but we got up. And got a beer to sit up on the roof deck to watch the incredible sunset.

Then we made our way back, past the buildings, boats and mangroves with the amazing sunset colors at our backs. So beautiful! We were briefly accosted by local women trying to sell us crap, but made our way to our van and back to the accommodation. Here we changed and hung out a bit while the family made our meal. They set up a table on the upper balcony. When dinner was finally served it was clear we would probably be eating bugs if we didn't pay attention - they were attracted to the lights above our table and dropped onto the plates. I kept trying to turn the plates over on the food to minimize this. The food was pretty good - the vegetable dish was delicious, bugs and all (protein!). Rice of course. There was a fish dish which was pretty good. But most importantly, was the snake soup. Thankfully, it did not include snake blood as we feared, but a few us did try the snake (which we had seen struggling in a sack before our boat ride - I was a little sad actually). We were all surprised at how bony it was! And it was chewy. It did not taste bad, but was more difficult to eat physically than I had imagined. I am ok with not having it again.

We were unable to eat much of the food, so we saved the rest for the family because it was good food! We put them on combined plates (still trying to minimize the bugs) and they were placed on a slab on the floor of the upper floor adjacent to our main room.

I must also mention the bathroom. I actually can't believe I did not get a picture - sorry! It was at the very end of the house on the top floor nearest to the river. It consisted of a hole in the floor and a pipe that went directly from this hole down through the other levels into the ground. From there.... I don't want to know. But the room also had a big tub of water with a bucket to either refresh yourself (no thanks) or flush the toilet. Thankfully, I think I only used this only three times over the whole night.

The next morning, we got up to see the nice sunrise, and a couple people M and G went out to check out the nearby temple. It was a very nice, peaceful morning. And interesting to see the people getting up and starting their day. I sat and watched the house across from us; a man who was clearly a fisherman returned with a big bucket with the day's catch, easily climbed the nearly vertical stair/ladder thing, and told his sun to go down to the ground where he had discarded some supplies that the son then put away. I think the wife/mother was down burning their evening's waste. It is just such a simple, peaceful life and was fascinating to see.



Day 1 ride: 38 km


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Wat La OhWat La Oh
Wat La Oh

my leg muscles were tight!


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