A Rural Angkorian Day Trip

We had only one day left on our Angkor three day pass, but we convinced our tuk-tuk driver Chhay to bring us on a less traditional tour of Angkor. We wanted to visit a local fishing village that, although relatively hard to get to, was apparently worth the trip. Chhay was reluctant to do the trip, telling us that once we got there the boat would be expensive, and his fellow tuk-tuk drivers had warned him against bringing tourists there as the road was incredibly uncomfortable. We we're getting tired of being taxied around temples.

The first leg of the journey was the easy paved roads that surround Siam Reap, but how quickly they vanish when you are not heading towards Angkor. The hour long trip got progressively bumpier until it became quite clear we were no longer on a road, but what seemed to be a dried up river bank. In the rainy season this route would definetely be done by boat. At one point we heard yelling and their seemed to be a crowd of people blocking our way, we stretched out heads out of the tuk-tuk to see that a village home was actually being transported on the backs of its villagers and they were currently crossing our path. When they finally dropped the house down, the three of us cheered and clapped our hands. The villagers joined in on the celebration.
After a while we pulled over next to a small home where we would unhitch the tuk-tuk and continue by motorbike. Margaux and Yann sped off with two local motorbike drivers and I stayed with trusty Chhay, definetely a city boy, who did not enjoy the off-road motorbike scene. Margaux, whose driver was the young wild one arrived about ten minutes ahead of us, and was starting to get worried when Yann pulled up with his driver, Chhay and I came a distant third. After a few near tumbles I had taken to getting off the bike and walking through the rough bits, which Chhay seemed to appreciate, although his ego may have deflated a little bit.
At the river we were greeted by villagers, lunching on local products, raw shrimp and home brew. Its the first time since we began our travels that we turned down an offer of food. Our need to stay courteous was definetely outweighed here by our need to stay healthy but nobody seemed to bat an eye, our motorbikers were busy hitting the drink, so that they could be ready for the return trip. Not our city boy Chhay though, he decided to come along with us, as he had never seen Kompong Phhluk but had heard alot about it.
Two things make Kompong Phhluk amazing. The first are the wooden homes built on stilts, but not just ordinary stilts, ones that are 6 or 7 meters high. Tired of moving their homes every rainy season, the villagers finally settled on building their homes high enough to avoid even the worst flooding of the rainy season. The second is the petrified forest (also known as the enchanted forest or flooded forest). Right next to the village, is a forest petrified by the rising water that drowns it every year. The tree trunks are twisted and the roots immersed in water.

We docked our boat and visited the village, it was quiet and peaceful with the only people around being the elderly and the school children. Every one else was busy at work out on the water. The main road is covered with shrimps, spread out on mats and scorching in the sun, really a beautiful, colourful sight. The school children were eager to come see the visitors and as usual, Margaux was a big draw, with crowds of young girls vying for a chance to shake her hand.
When we arrived back at the dock our motorbike drivers were still there waiting for us, and we climbed on for the slow bumpy ride back to the tuk-tuk. I again arrived considerably later than Margaux and Yann who were busy entertaining the local children when I arrived. Of the many Cambodian children we had entertained, these guys seemed to be completely enamoured by the fact that foreigners were visiting their home. The young teenage girl, who ran the small shop where we sought out shade, actually gave her two hair barettes to Margaux and I, she took them right out of her hair and handed them to us. When Margaux pulled out one of her hair accessories from her bag and handed it to her she kissed it and put it in her pocket. As we drove off, the tuk-tuk was surrounded by children laughing and waving goodbye. For the rest of the afternoon, Chhay would not let us get off the hook, we still had one more group of Angkor Temples to visit. We were happy not to have skipped them, as they are more remote and full of character. As we pulled up to the largest of the three temples, so did a truckload of nuns and monks who shuffled in ahead of us. Despite our exhaustion and the midday sun, we still found the energy to race up the stairs of the temple when Margaux called out "last one up buys drinks tonight". Once again, I came in last place, but it was ruled that there was interference from Yann, so he was disqualified for cheating and came in last place. We pulled into our guest house right around sunset, said goodbye to Chhay and immediately set out to buy our tickets for Phnom Penh. We had less than a week left with Margaux, no time to lose!


Margox said...

This was one of my favourite parts of the trip. Generally I preferred visiting places where people obviously don't see tourists as often than a place where you are a constant target and you are surrounded by other tourists.

Yes, my bike ride was pretty wild, and I admit, I was getting slightly worried as I realised that Yann and Em were nowhere in sight behind me and here I was alone with someone I didn't know in the middle of nowhere!

The people were very friendly in general in Cambodia, but the girl's gift was very touching and made me wish I had brought along a few small things from home to give as gifts. It will be on my packing list next time for sure!

As for the race up the temple, well, it probably wasn't too respectful (plus I was wearing very short shorts that day, everything else was in the wash!), but I knew I needed to draw on my competitive spirit to muster up the last burst of energy needed in our Angkorian tour! It was too much for Em and Yann, though, they elbowed themselves out of first place! ; )

Margox said...

Oh, and I'm surprised you didn't mention Chhay's warping of my name - he called me Mango for the duration of our tour, which Yann and Em apparently found pretty hilarious at the time!

P.S. Em was still getting whiffs of "Dog Sauce" at this point in the trip! Talk about an imprint!

mom said...

were there any squirrels in the petrified forest?

Anonymous said...

coucou mes amours,

Encore moi,
Je n'ai qu'un seul mot a dire WOW

Le retour a la réalité lorsque vous allez revenir au Canada ne sera pas facile. Lorsque nous lisons ce que vous vivez chaque jours cela est bien loin de notre monde.

Faites attention a vous et je vous embrasse et on vous aime beaucoup beaucoup.

La plus belle des matante


Super-Mario said...

Très beau blogue, les photos sont merveilleuses. Les photos d'enfants sont très belles.


Anonymous said...

Salut, nous sommes avec super mario nous faisons des texte

Anonymous said...

Salut vous 2,
nous avons eu quelques problemes avec notre super internet, la supermatante et le super mononcle a règlé le problème avec supermario. Maintenant nous sommes dans le concours pour les commentaires, sauf que, nous avons déjà reçu des cartes postales. Super matante & supermononcle. xoxoxox

Anonymous said...

coucou les amoureaux

Juste pour vous dire qu'ici ON GELE, pendant que vous, vous suffoquez au soleil,

Pensez-y quand vous avez trop chaud,

La tres belle et plus fine matante


P.S.: on vous aime beaucoup beaucoup


Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, where are the photos of those well-built Cambodian fishermen we passed on the boat tour? Did any of them turn out?