Friday 9 March 2018

Tonle Sap boat trip

In the afternoon we went on a never-ending trip to the Tonle Sap Lake. Fortunately Elaine decided to duck out of it, and I think that decision was very wise.
It is coming towards the end of the dry season in Cambodia so it turns out that the lake is very low. Our bus first stopped at the check in office and in the wet season the boats dock here. There was no sign of any water so we all trooped back on the bus and drove for a few miles over the dry lake bed.
We then walked down to a small stream and we picked up our boat here. Our guide is standing waiting to help us on to our boat in pic 2.
The next hour was amazing as we chugged along a small stream looking up at all of the houses on huge stilts. We passed a big cage and our guide said that it was full of crocodiles. 
Our guide also showed us a photo on his phone from last November and the water in the lake was right up to the top of the stilts. 
We then walked up into the village for a walk around. It was very pretty and there was lots of children out playing in front of the houses. There was also thousands of prawns laid out in the sun to dry. 
Underneath one house was a dried prawn 'factory' where the shells were removed by hand. The prawns were sold in Siem Reap, the shells were fed to the fish and a huge bubbling pot in the corner was making prawn paste. 
Two tiny little boys were helping by packing up the prawns from the street and carrying huge sacks down to the ladies who were shelling the prawns. 
We then got back on the boat and on towards the lake, which we had still not yet seen. On the way the extremely old engine suffered a mechanical and black smoke and hot liquid poured out of it. The captain stopped the engine, grabbed his toolkit and raced towards it. He used his finger to stop the liquid shooting upwards and carried out a quick repair. After about ten minutes the engine came back to life and we made it to the lake and then to a floating restaurant. 
The lake was huge and stretched beyond the horizon. We bought a beer each and then noticed that a huge snake in a very small cage was only a few feet from where we sat. Checking the menu we found that it was actually on the menu, served with either a spicy sauce or hot and sour fried rice. There was also the same choice but with crocodile. 
Next item on our itinerary was to watch the sunset from the lake, but we spent so long at the restaurant that the sun disappeared just as we were all climbing back on board. 
Then the captain put his foot down hard on the pedal and we charged back to the dock and caught our bus home. 
A memorable trip, but not necessarily for the right reasons. 

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