Phnom Penh to Kratie
Nothing is easy if you are using different keyboard systems with hardly any letters on them. So I wrote you a long letter yesterday and with one wrong move I have wiped it all out. So today I thought I shall be clever and tell you our story 1st as a Word document and copy and paste it across to the Blog - no way - on this machine there is no Microsoft Word. So I shall stagger again and hope for the best to keep you in touch.
After Phnom Pengh we wanted to make a long trip on the Mekong river but that failed: as they have built a bridge up north in Kampong Cham with a much improved road surface there after, no one of the locals wanted to spend 5 hours on the water if they could do it faster. This is a pity though because I am sure later, when tourists will be coming more frequently, they shall have to reinstall the facility.
We spent a night in Kampong Cham and had one stroll along the river, this is all one can do there if the boats are not running. But the best was the contact we made through the hotel manager to a friend further north in Kratie : her name is Dari and she introduces herself as "the only Female Motor Driver in Kratie".
This lovely 26-year old girl and entrepreneur became immediately our friend. She organised for us two tours into the country with herself and her cousin as drivers. We cycled around potholes along the Mekong and had great fun exploring the villages with houses on stilts - very necessary because at the height of the rainy season in October the Mekong floods often up to 10m and although their 1st floor rooms are dry they have to save their livestock and goods. It is strange and moving when travelling through dry landscape to see boats "moored" along the fields for rescue.
Dari loves this land outside the town and has many friends among the very poor peasants. So she took us to a field where a woman harvested rice and she and I tried cutting rice with a sickle. This is easier than binding sheaves - I still haven’t understood how to fasten the knot. The woman laughed to tears and had great fun.
A treat for us were coconuts freshly cut and brought down from the tree, it tastes like nuts. For the children we had brought shiny sweets that Dary distributed for/from us, two each. When I have organised our pictures you shall see their faces beaming with joy.
There are also temples here but they are all reconstructed and too brightly painted after the destruction during Khmer Rouge times. We shall see the cream of culture later in Angkor.
The next day we visited the sweet water dolphins living in only one area of the Mekong. It was a beautiful trip with eight people on a boat, cruising around little islands, watching out for dark shadows and lines on the water. If you once want to go, don't expect that they jump high like in the ocean; they only come to the surface to draw a snaring breath and one can see their fins, a bit of a snout and the tail. They are impossible to photograph but the main thing is that they are still there - a fraction of the original group because bombing and fishing for oil has reduced them drastically.
In the evening Dary brought us to a hidden place under a mango tree where locals eat their favourite Cambodian pancakes: Very thin and crisp around the edges, folded in is minced meat mixed with bean sprouts. You eat it with your fingers joined by a big communal plate of mixed greens, herbs and lettuce. All is being rolled up and dipped into a lovely peanut sauce – nyam-nyam!
So sadly we had to leave today for a long bus ride to Kampong Thum. Tomorrow we shall visit again on motor bikes a pre-Angkor temple complex and the time of real cultural treasures begins.
This is it for today. I hope it reaches you in good spirits and good health!
All the very best from Klaus and Friederike2 Kommentare 15.1.08 11:55, kommentieren
mariana (15.1.08 23:47)
Dear Fred and Klaus,
Your blog is a great idea. And it looks like you are already charmed. I hope you will manage to add some pictures too, despite the tricky keyboard.
Have a nice journey!
Hans (16.1.08 11:02)
habe herzlichen Dank, dass Du uns so hautnah an Euren Erlebnissen teilhaben lässt! Wir wünschen Euch einen guten Fortgang der Reise und weiter viele schöne Erlebnisse, und nicht all zu viele Pannen.
Hans und Sigrid