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Published: February 20th 2011
Joy of joys, this trip was to be taken in air-conditioned comfort. What a treat indeed. I may have mentioned how hard am finding it adjusting to the heat out here. Have I? Am sure I must have, it has pretty much been my all consuming thought this last week. Am sure I didn’t have this much difficulty adjusting the last time and I’ve been pretty darned miffed over it I can tell you for it is impacting on my enjoyment to an uncomfortable degree.
However, I subsequently discovered that 2 paracetamol (taken after a particularly rough run in with a particularly unyielding rock whilst clambering through a particularly tight space at Bang Malea) makes the heat that much more bearable. It is likely then that I am running a small fever of sorts; this cheers me immensely as it means my troubles are sure to be short lived. Alas though I only bought one strip of paracetamol and it is unconscionably expensive out here. Still, at least there is hope.
Ah but I digress (as ever), where was I? Oh yes, luxuriating in air conditioned bliss. Soon enough I was joined by my 4 companions for the day:
1st was Jim, an elderly Canadian who, despite being well past retirement age and carrying an unwieldy tripod, was still more fleet of foot than the rest of us.
Then Lisa and Pisue (excuse spelling) 2 charming girls from Singapore. Very sweet the pair of them. I suspect they were in their early twenties but with all the huddling and shy giggling they engaged in they seemed about 12. Innocence personified!
Last to join us was Elizabeth a New Zealand lady currently living in London (don’t they all) and right in the midst of a whistle stop 11 week word tour. Full of energy and enthusiasm she made a great addition to the group.
So, together we set off (yes, I know, we were undoubtedly that evil of evils… the tour group. However, at least we were small and…. Well… yes… well, at least we were small. Moving on!). About 20 minutes in to the trip I dragged myself out of my cool heaven in order to study the process of making (and eating) Kro Lan (sticky rice cooked in bamboo). It is a particularly labour intensive process and so comes as some surprise to find
they only charge 2000 Riel per bamboo piece (About 50cents), and I suspect this is a tourist price to boot. I take my hat off to these ladies I really do.
Next up was a tour round a local market selling everything from live fish to fruit and veg to TV repairs. Wandered round, soaking up the atmosphere and snapping anyone who stood still long enough to be snapped. (I must interject here to qualify that this was a photography tour, I was a bit of a misfit, and portraits were apparently the order of the day). Took a while for me to get used to just snapping people but they really did seem to enjoy having their photo taken (takes all sorts I suppose) but soon I was snapping with the best of them.
Once again my arms were a source of great curiosity with ladies (young and old) surreptitiously stroking them and then beetling back to their friends giggling. I did not enquire as to the reason for this (fearing it would inevitably be to my detriment) and so can only surmise they were just ensuring I had not in fact painted myself with chalk prior
to setting off this morning
There were several other stops en route allowing us to photograph stunning views and as many children as would throw themselves in front of the lens. The only payment they required was a quick look at the result and a wave bye bye. Charming (but how long before unheeding tourist ruin this charm with candy and dollars). We also stopped to observe the mind numbly boring (and yet oh so intricate) process of gutting and spearing small fish for drying. Remind me of this next time I moan about my job please. We also had a tour around one ladies stilt house.
Now I can just imagine the reception a group of foreigners would get in Scotland if they stopped a stranger and asked to tour their home but here the lady was all smiles, immediately stopped work and bustled up the ladder to open doors and cupboards for our perusal. She was immensely proud to have us view her home, there’s a definite lesson in these and somewhat humbling to my good self. Hopefully I’ll retain it. There is precious little in the way of privacy, living and sleeping is done in
one large room. Out back there is a pig pen (bear in mind we’re 20foot in the air here) a small kitchen (where her son was less impressed to see us, we had caught him cooking and this is usually solely the female preserve) and immaculate bathroom. Everything a family could want and not a thing more. Climbing down was a little hairy; I strongly suspect this house was chosen because it had easy (!!!) steps as opposed to a simple bamboo ladder.
All sorts of ethical issues were raised by this visit, not least the lack of recompense to the lady or the village for our intrusion. It is sad that in our constant thirst to see and experience new cultures that we needs must change them (And not always for the better) in the process.
Anyway, I can philosophize later. We made it onto our boat and put putted (very loudly) along the river in search of the floating fish market. Got a charming glimpse of river side live as we floated by, with fishermen er… fishing, children playing and one house owner tugging their home out into deeper waters (as the lake level falls those
in floating houses much move to deeper waters in order to prevent becoming stranded, also many of those in stilt houses pack up and decamp to temporary lodging ion the lake edge). We made it to the fish market but alas, by this time I was feeling distinctly queasy and managed just a couple of photos (Whilst sat firmly in my chair, any kind of movement would have been my undoing at that point) then I shut my eyes and prayed for a swift return to shore. This tickled the villagers no end for it would seem that sea sickness is not a common phenomenon among the residents here.
Thankfully, lunch was held on dry land. Several different varieties of fish (all delicious) and a particularly scrumptious dip made from lime juice, sugar, salt and chili. Alas the lady of the house was not prepared to part with the specific recipe (or, as I suspect is more the case, my guide was not interested in obtaining it).
And that was the end of our morning in Kompung Khlang. A fabulous day, can thoroughly recommend it (providing you don’t go handing out candy to kids that is).
at Bang Malea on the way home. This is my all time favorite Temple. About 2 thirds rubble and plenty of opportunities for scrambling about pretending one is a true adventurer. In order not to lose face (well, if and elderly gent with a tripod and a lady in flip flops could do it…) I found myself teetering over rooftops with 20 foot drops and squeezing through stupidly small gasps in rubble (did I mention my claustrophobia at all). Hated every minute of it, until it was over and now I look back fondly. Weird that huh!
Another early night as I had to be up for 4:30am for my trip to Koh Ker. I’d gate crashed a private tour (paying handsomely for the privilege of course) and the gentleman whom I was accompanying was keen to get there for sunrise.
PS Once again photos will follow when I have the time and patience to upload. Today has been well.... interesting shall we say. I shall tell you more later.
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