Sunday, 15 November 2015

Day Five,

we were up early,

to watch the sunrise,

and nice it was too,

as it rose in the sky,

I naturally zoomed in for a more dramatic picture,

and a panorama from our balcony,

we passed many small villages,

as we made our way downstream,

we saw mostly fishing villages,

and watched,

as some of the smaller faster boats overtook us,

we did not go to the dinning room,

for breakfast,

we decided to eat and watch the river go by,

so an English breakfast,

for two,

and nice it was too,

the level of the river was low if you look at how high the stilts on this house are,

and this was where we were heading,

the town of Kampong Chhnang,

the tour we are on is a cultural one,

calling in at towns and villages on the river side,

two boats tie-up along side to transport us to shore,

one of the many ferries that cross the river,

we wait our turn,

all aboard for the Skylark,

and it is goodbye to the Jahan for the morning,

we land safely,

and make our way into town,

past some other road users,

and this is where we are going,

a small business that mines clay from nearby hills,

shapes and fires the clay to make one part of a cooking pot,

in another part of the operation, the outer metal jacket is made,

the clay is moulded and beaten into shape,

and is then left to slowly air dry,

meanwhile the outer buckets are piling up,

some times different coloured clays are used to give a pattern to the pots,

the pots fired and ready for their outers,

we were then shown how to make a small pot,

knead the clay,

and begin, a potters wheel is not used, 

the potter walks around the pot shaping and trimming, we were told it takes 50 walk arounds to make the wall of the pot,

the pot is finished,

but it still needs a base,

so using a former inside the pot and beating it from outside,

the pot is finished,

the tour guide advised us that it is not normal or expect to give or receive a tip, but buying a product would help the families business, so we bought a candle holder for $3,

here are some pots made earlier,

these fired and ready for market,

next a lesson in sugar palm products,

firstly one of our guides Ti showed us the difference between male and female sugar palm flowers,

and how to crush them to extract the juice, which was enjoyed by all of us,

then a treat,

we were all given a sample of sugar palm oil spirit,

we were then given a demonstration,

of how to climb a sugar palm tree,

from left to right, one of the staff from the boat whose name escapes me, but took lots of pictures of the trip, the sugar plantation owner who climb the sugar palms twice a day collecting sap, our guide and the half of our groups guide,

somehow I was chosen to dress in the tradition costume of a plantation owner, those bamboo pots over my shoulder seemed more than a little heavy,

a quick pose by a sugar palm tree,

that was a weight off of my shoulders!

I should mention that whilst up the palm the owner actually went at palm top level from one palm to the next with out returning to the ground, I could not even think of climbing one, but we were both the same age at 65 years old,

two monks and their helper cross the compound,

as in Thailand monks walk around early in the mornings and are given alms from the local population,

we return through the pottery village, passing some of the completed pots, many homes have these as a cooking pot firewood is placed in them, the way that they are made makes them easy to lite and cook on,

a short drive away we went to another village,

making a different product, souvenirs,

and instead of walking around the pot a potters wheel is used, here a teacher is instructing a student,

Samnang (tour guide) with a decorated pot,

and some smaller pieces waiting to be fired,

a map shows where different clays and other ingredients are found,

and test samples of different glazes,

the group is supported not only by the Heritage Line but by The Nippon Foundation as well,

some of the many souvenirs,

we bought a coffee mug that I am drinking from as I type this,

the raw product, clay from the hills,

the kilns,

and firewood,

placement card holders and other products waiting to be glazed,

we then made our way,

into town,

where vendors had set up shop,

meat here is never refrigerated when offered for sale, similar to local markets in Thailand, two ladies haggling over the price of this evenings meal,

plenty of fresh vegetables,

and fruit,

there is another alternative to buying meat this way,

you can buy it fresh!

this reminds me of a spell when I was in India, it was my turn to buy food for the evenings bar-b-q where I was staying on the beach, in two lots of 8 I bought the toughest 16 chickens you could ever imagine, feathers plucked they made the Road Runner look fat and overfed! but that's another story,

local caught produce was also for sale,

these taste remarkably like the winkles we eat in the UK on stalls in seaside towns, just a tad spicier,

looking down to the river the shop houses back on to,

and here are some of the cooking pots we saw earlier,

the stalls seemed endless,

I thought the locally made watering cans were neat,

the water level was low even though the rainy season had not yet finished,

more local produce for sale,

and a new one for us, a type of nut I think but we had never seen it before,

lots of fresh baked bread everywhere,

local transport,

looking down to the loading bay,

if this is the end of the rainy season, it is going to be a mean year for water,

as we made our way to the Jahan we past the town square, with three sets of statues in it,

I have to confess,

I do not know the story or meaning of them,

the jetty leading to the tenders to the Jahan,

which was anchored in deeper water,

one of the locals paddles past,

whilst have a cool drink I noticed these vendors,

selling fish in a way I had never seen before,

lots of them on sticks,

instead of individually, 

all bundled up,

and ready to go,

as we neared the Jahan another local boat motors past,

the local ferry,

as we left the boat our departure was recorded, and as we returned we were back 'in' again,

also as we entered the boat all of our shoes were collected to be cleaned and returned to our rooms later,

up anchor and we were away,

for the next part of our cruise as we past another cruise ship on the other side of an island,

as we past this inlet the difference in colour of the two waters can be seen,

soon to be mingled,

some of the local fishermen,

I positioned myself,

on the stern of the ship,

a tricky manoeuvre was about to happen,

normally rivers change direction slowly

but for some reason here the river goes through a 90° bend at Unlong Oak,

a tricky manoeuvre at the best of times more so now with the water level so low,

as we made our way to Kampong Tralach a buffet luncheon was served,

a full selection of salads,

and condiments,

lots of heated trays,

as you make your way towards the special of the day,

and past the dessert selection,

choice made then tuck in,

next a bit of fun,

as we assembled in the lounge,

we were given a lesson in how to dress as a Cambodian,

they made it look so easy,

then it was the turn of some of the guests,

and with a little help all was well,

great fun for all,

the attention to detail was so impressive, as we were leaving the boat I noticed this telephone and table, so just right,

we made our way ashore,

the water was deep enough,

for the Jahan to tie up to the shore,

and this was to be our transport, ox carts,

some of the oxen whose day off it was,

and their owners looked on with amusement,

I am guessing as we are near a school,

this is the school bus,

the Jahan moves away from shore,

as we make our way to the school,

past the bicycle park,

and into one of the classrooms,

as the Jahan turns to meet us later,

further downstream,

we were then shown into the school,

where to the amusement of everyone,

we could talk to the children as they tried to learn English,

then it was farewell, 

as our transport made it's way towards us,

some were a tad hesitant,

then it was all aboard,

and we were on our way,

as engineers worked on a project,

we made our way along the riverbank,

the driver of the cart behind us looked happy,

and even gave us a smile,

and this oxen was smiling too, I think,

we made a right turn,

moving away from the river,

and made our way through town, if the carts had been covered it would have looked like Wagon Train,

yes a bicycle would have been quicker, but nowhere near as much fun,

not a building to be seen for miles,

rice paddies ready for the next crop,

as we meandered through them,

a lone sugar palm,

on the left a few oxen taking a break,

also grown in this area,

lotus, lots,

and lots of them,

we take a 90° bend,

and look back at the sugar palm,

another turn,

and our ride is over, we spent over half an hour in the carts,

which was a bit hard on the posterior, which meant for old ones like me a bit of walking around to get back to normal, much to the amusement of the children,

the Jahan moored,

and we were back on board,

just before,


as a local fisherman makes his way home,

for us feet up on the balcony,

as we pass a fishing village,

and riverside temple,

we near one of the bridges,

as the light fades,

after dark it is cocktail time,

before our evening meal,


then to the dining room,

we had starters,

followed by soup,

then our main courses,

a pan fried fish for Diana,

a curry for myself,

dessert of fresh fruit,

then the lights went out that led straight away to a chorus of Happy Birthday for one of the guests,

after our meal we retired to our balcony for a beer or three and a game of cribbage,

and watch another bridge as we made our way along the river, what a fabulous day, with that we were off to bed.

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