Cambodia travels: boat ride on Tonle Sap

054050057060If you look at a map of Cambodia you see two major rivers : one is the Mekong and the other is Tonle Sap. In fact, the river Tonle Sap near Phnom Penh becomes a mighty lake before you get to Siem Reap where the famous Angkor Wat temples are located. Sol decides to take us on a boat ride on the Tonle Sap River the second day.  We see the breakfast area crowded with tourists from Australia, Europe and parts of Asia. We wait till the crowds thin down to find tables to sit at. After breakfast, we all wait outside where I see something quite private.  A young child and adult bow to a monk who is blessing them.   It is not something I would see openly in the streets of India. Sol comes in the van to take us and I remember the expression for good morning so I say to him and the driver, Arun sus dei. They grin back to acknowledge the greeting.

“We will pick up our lunch from the same restaurant and take the boat right there” says Sol. It is a beautiful sunny day and we walk into the  restaurant that looks so different in daylight. The lunch is packed not in plastic containers, but in straw baskets! The containers look so beautiful, some of us want to carry them back to India. Sol and the driver help bring it all to the boat as we get in. The boat has a lower and upper deck with chairs and we all pile in and sit down.  Some of my cousins take out their i-pads to play Scrabble. Some want to climb to the upper deck. I just want to laze around and see the shore as we take off.

We see areas in the water with plastic bottles and realize that these are nets with floaters to mark boundaries where people are fishing for fish, shrimp and other sea creatures.  People , young and old seem at ease moving around in water.   The houses along the shore look modest dotted with a few temples here and there.I see a mosque and realize there is a small percentage of Muslims here. The breakfast, the sun makes us all sleepy and we nod off for an hour….

Soon Sol wakes us up letting us know we will be getting to a village near the river. Sol says that  they make silver ornaments here. Some cousins are curious to see them and buy a few. On the way I get distracted by little children riding motorbikes and bicycles. I am always interested in children wherever they are so I stop and they start saying a few phrases in English, “How are you madame?  What is your name?” Cheeky little darlings! So I ask them their names ( very difficult for me most of the time) and ask them why they are not in school. They smile and of course change the subject to India , my clothes etc. ( In Malaysia they start singing movie songs and want to know about the actors in Bollywood) Sol hurries us to the silver factories. The women are honest and tell us it is silver plating on brass pieces. We watch them work and then get back to the boat, where lunch awaits us: chicken satay, toasted spiced vegetables, rice, and baked fish along with a fruit to eat, bananas. OK, one more opportunity to snooze before we get back.

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