Mixed Blessings followed by some fun
The afternoon excursion was to Oudong, the former capital of Cambodia (17th to 19th century). It is the home of the stoupas (mausoleums) of the last Khmer kings. In the pagoda there was a ceremony for those who wished to receive a blessing from the Buddhist monks. Their chanting was were hypnotic and peaceful. At the end of the blessing we were showered in jasmine and chanted "sabrook" (at least it sounded like that) 3 times to be blessed with good fortune. This beautiful experience was somewhat marred by local children begging. It was obviously organised, as one of our party saw the money being collected by an older woman who sped off on a motorcycle.
On to the village of Kampong Tralach to see the vihara of the Wat Kampong Leu. This small pagoda dates from the 19th century and still shows its original paintings. It was here we were particularly affected by the local children who offered us handmade gifts mostly made from flowers and reeds. We had been told by our guide not to give them money as this encourages them to beg and unlike the previous stop, they didn't actually asked for money. They did trail around after us looking hopeful.
We returned to the boat by ox cart which was a fun if occasionally uncomfortable ride! Luckily it only took 20 minutes. Our enthusiastic guide Rith ran up and down the line of carts taking photos. Absolute lunatic!
It was another quick turnaround to prepare for the evening talk by the 2 local guides Rith and Tra on their home country Cambodia. It gave a different perspective and certainly less idealistic view. It ended with an amusing demonstration on the many uses for the 3m x 1.5m traditional woven cotton scarf. The most useful one being how wrap it around your neck and make a fold and knot in one end to carry a water bottle.
After dinner the crew performed for us. The purser, usually a fairly serious guy, sang us us a traditional Cambodian song, the engineer performed magic tricks and the waiting staff did a traditional Cambodian dance which we were invited to join in. What we lacked in technique we made up for with enthusiasm 😀😀 The room boys and girls gave a spirited rendition of "happy" which they also danced to aided by various household implements. It was very funny. The last act was the catering team led by the chef who sang WMCA dressed just like the Village People. We all joined in the chorus and actions.
A disco followed for the energetic among us and we did manage to grace the floor once or twice 💃💃💃