A Travellerspoint blog

Oudong and the Mekong Prestige has got Talent!

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 💃💃💃

Posted by China reunited 19:57 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Koh Chen

The Silver village

We had the luxury of a later start this morning, sailing from Phnom Penh to Koh Chen where we docked at about 10 am. Before we stepped off the gang plank we could see a large number of local girls waiting to sell us silver jewellery. Some found the constant pleas a little intrusive and were inhibited from looking at what was on offer. A short presentation by Rith our guide was given inside the sanctuary of the factory where the street vendors weren't allowed. No hard sell here.

Despite the intense heat and little breeze or shade, we walked around the village and visited 2 local homes. Then on to see the pagoda and monastery. It wasn't the most interesting of our excursions, but maybe it was just the heat getting to me ☀️☀️☀️
Once back on deck with a cool drink and refreshing breeze as we sail to our next destination I feel much better 😎

Posted by China reunited 20:58 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Afternoon walkers and Night riders

Shanks pony and a Tuk Tuk convoy around the city

Instead of a relaxing afternoon we went along the river for a walk, but it was just too darn hot! Ended up having a beer in a local bar. Brian had the fright of his life when a maccac (think that's how you spell it) monkey absailed down the awning beside him! Apparently they used to be a common sight, but not so much now. Back to freshen up to be ready for the evening lecture. We had an interesting pre-dinner talk by Professor Jean-Michel Filippi from the University of Phnom Penh on the history of modern Cambodia. He was very entertaining and the hour and a half flew by despite the sometimes difficult subject matter.

After dinner we assembled on the quay to be allocated a Tuk Tuk, 4 to each, for a hair raising ride around the city. It is particularly beautiful at night and we were fortunate that the water festival was on so lovely illuminations lit up the city. This took our minds off the several near misses between the local traffic and our convoy of 12 Tuk Tuk's. It was quite a white knuckle ride but we enjoyed every minute 😃😃

Posted by China reunited 18:04 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Oknha Tey

Back to school!

This morning we visited a local primary school which is supported by the tour company. It was very humbling as the children have so little but are so happy and enthusiastic for the education they receive. They sang us the national song and in return we sang them the national anthem! We were asked to tell the children our names, all of which were greeted with rapturous applause! The children then told us their names and were able to say "my name is ......... ". We were then invited to interact with the children. No problem there as we were promptly surrounded by about 30 excited 10 to 12 year olds. They were delightful and it was hard to tear ourselves away. Many of the group made donations to help the school in a small way.

We then went on to a silk weaving co-operative where the women still use traditional hand looms to weave the most beautiful cloth. It was very skilful and some of the patterns extremely complex. Needless to say many purchases were made!

The afternoon was at leisure 😃

Posted by China reunited 03:52 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Phnom Pen

A Day of Contrasts

Sunday morning saw us dock at Phnom Penh having spent the night moored beside a small island tied to a tree. This unusual mooring was to avoid waking passengers from their slumbers by dropping anchor which makes an almighty row!

An earlier start at 8.15 am as there was a lot to cram in to the morning session. Our new guide Rith was a bit of a character. At the first stop at the Royal Palace he suggested a group photo and took everyone's cameras and took the same shot for all of us. Quite bizarre. The palace itself was worth the visit. Unfortunately we couldn't go inside but could admire the sumptuous interior through doorways. No photos allowed either. In the same complex as the Royal
Palace is the Silver Pagoda which has a fantastic collection of Buddha statues. The most lavish being gold encrusted with diamonds. I hope my photos do it justice.
A short refreshment stop for drinks to help us cope with the 45 degree heat at 10 am was much appreciated by all.

Next stop was the National Museum which houses one of the most important collections of Khmer art. Our lady guide was a bit of a feminist, making carping comments about how women do all the work and men are no good without them! Really pissed everyone off by the end of the tour. At least we had 20 minutes to walk round on our own and to enjoy the tranquil courtyard. I don't think I've ever been in such a beautiful museum building.

On our way back to the boat we had a brief stop at a local market, but by this time were a bit too hot and tired to enjoy it :(

In the afternoon we visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S21, a former school which was used as a torture centre during the Khmer Rouge period. Prisoners were taken there for interrogation before being transferred to the killing fields. In reality few survived the experience due to the inhumane conditions and barbaric methods of torture they were subjected to. The cells where the prisoners were kept are in tact, so you can see how they were manacled to the bed for hours on end. Instruments of torture were also on display together with graphic photographs of the inmates. I'll spare you further details. Those images will stay with me and I don't feel able to go on the excursion tomorrow to the Killing Fields. There's only so many sculls I can take. On a happier note, Brian met one of the last living survivors of S21 who had written a book of his experience. He bought a copy which Chum Mey signed and he posed for a photo with Brian.

To lift our somber mood Rith took us across town to a Buddhist temple Wat Phmon which gave the city it's name and is situated on a 27m high hill.
Back to the boat for a quick shower before the traditional Cambodian dancing and music show by local children which was charming.
After dinner we took a short walk to the night market. Didn't buy anything but the karaoke was fun to watch 😂😂😂

Posted by China reunited 03:14 Comments (0)

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