Posts Tagged ‘chobhi’

Cambodia travels: Le Lotus Blanc and on the road to Siem Reap

April 25, 2013

069 070 071066That afternoon we stop at Le  Lotus Blanc (The White Lotus) for lunch.  This is an NGO  run by the French and has a store as well where they sell products like clothes,bags made by destitute children and some of their parents. We are  requested to first go to the store area and watch a video.  After the genocide, when several charitable organizations entered the country in the early 80s, they found children living on trash heaps.  Some of these children were rescued by a French NGO called Pour  un Sourire d’Enfant  ( For the smile of a child) and this center was started where the children were sent to school and also trained to work in the adjoining restaurant.  I look at the bags and scarves and pick up  a few; one of my cousins buys an outfit for her daughter. After half an hour we walk to the restaurant next door.  The whole place looks beautiful with a lovely garden and blooming flowers outside.

This is another beautiful sunny day and the smiling faces of the young gentlemen serving us lunch warms us up. The morning mood slowly lifts from our faces. First they serve us a thick squash soup and follow it up with some excellent fish with vegetables.  The young servers speak halting English but their smiles and demeanor  win us over. We hang around in the gardens after eating and then it is time to get back to our hotel.

Today will be our last day here and then we  leave early morning for Siem Reap to see the famous Angkor Wat temples. We rest for awhile and then the avid shoppers want to spend time looking around. So we all go to the central market area in the tuk tuks. I am struck by the beautiful flowers in the market area and we walk around. I find another NGO shop selling stuffed animals made out of cloth. I buy a cute looking rat  and my cousin buys an octopus. We decide to have a simple dinner at one of the riverfront cafes. Lunch was heavy so a simple soup is enough and we go back to the hotel.

Early morning, Sol is ready with the van and driver.  We have a quick breakfast, check out of the hotel and get on the road. We stop first to buy, corn and a lovely purple fruit called milk fruit.  The vendors are right on the side of the road, like they sell in India and Sri Lanka. One of my cousins has an endless supply of snacks so with the fruit , corn and snacks we fill ourselves. We stop at a big shopping open market to use the restrooms. I am shocked and fascinated to see the women selling spiced and fried insects!  The are also selling big sized melons that look like overgrown cucumbers.We pick up some pineapple and coconut water and get back on the road.

Cambodia travels: boat ride on Tonle Sap

April 13, 2013

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.