Water Life and Cambodia Ahoy!

I have been dreaming of seeing Angkor Wat and today -when we leave Chau Doc, Vietnam and take a speedboat to Phnom Penh, Cambodia- I will be two days closer to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.  In between there is much to see and two immigrations to go through.

As we are leaving the hotel we spot a little girl apparently alone, but actually waiting for her dad.  She’s on a bike with her own little rattan “throne” in front.  We all start waving at her and she timidly waves back.  Dad comes out and takes the veil off her face.  She stares at us and is probably wondering what the fuss is all about!  

After the bus drops us off we still have to walk through a market to get to the boat.  We pass by a temple with inscriptions in Vietnamese and Chinese: Chau Phu Temple.  You would think at this point I would be tired of temples and markets but I still find them fascinating, each generating different emotions in me every time.  

Though small, it is a thriving market the one we go through on the way to the pier.  A crate of chicks reminds me of a Spanish children’s song that goes: “Los pollitos dicen, pío, pío, cuando tienen hambre, cuando tienen frío…”  (The little chicks say peep, peep, peep, when they are hungry, when they are cold…)  These must be really hungry ‘cause their pío, pío is loud and strong!  Somehow it saddens me and I look away.       

The lanes are narrow and motorbikes and people coexist in them.  I’m so enthralled by these huge grapes that I don’t realize that a bike narrowly misses me (or I it).       

And yet, on my next photo none of the craziness is reflected.

We go through an alley  and my inner voice goes “water ahoy!” (I know it’s land ahoy but I wasn’t up for arguing with myself.)

Soda anyone?  

And had I not had breakfast, I could of gotten it at the boat that offered a hot meal to all.     

A houseboat floats by and my thoughts float with it.  I wonder how it must be to live like that. 

I have a few minutes to ponder this as our boat gently advances to a fish farm that we are visiting.   But before that, we shall pass and visit a floating wholesale market.   Another boat offers us a burst of color along with its wares (somewhat like a 7/11 on the water).   A good indication we are entering the market.  

Each boat has a long mast that has, instead of a flag, the fruit or vegetable they are selling waving at the top.

Here’s the coconut boat.  

Want to guess what this one sells?

   

We leave the market with another blast of color from a boat.  

A few minutes later we arrive at the fish farm. 

I try to pay attention, I really do, but the smell from the fish paste so commonly used in almost everything here is so overwhelmingly nauseating that all I’m thinking is getting on our new boat that will take us to Cambodia.  Not that I haven’t smelled it before but it was always intermingled with other scents.  Alone, and in mass quantities, it is hard to breathe.

Relief as I take a huge breath upon boarding the boat that will take us to the Vietnam exit border     and the Cambodian immigration.  I had wondered this morning how it must feel to live on the water and I’m getting a taste of it now.

I have learned to be patient and smile my way through every immigration process but the Cambodian immigration control is unique.

A curious local (as usual it is the people that draw my lens).    

After leaving the boat and walking for a bit there is an immigration control like no other.  

I get the usual “Paraguay?” question but with it comes a smile and a look.  And just in case you don’t believe it actually is a border crossing here are some officials to prove it as we head back to the boat.   This is not the plank we take back to our boat… 

  Back on the boat our trip leader entertains us.  

I relax for we still have about two hours till our arrival to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia.       

My stomach growls, my eyes blink open, and I spot land.     

Thaly, our local guide, and our first and only female guide on our journey, welcomes us at the dock.  This is a bustling, metropolitan city.  We check in at the Almond Hotel where we have lunch.     At this stage of the game most have a hankering for familiar tastes so they serve us ice cream for dessert!  We are all like little kids verbalizing our delight with many “yummms and ahhhs”.

Off to the Royal Palace.      

As we cross the gates the sounds of life outside seem to decrease to nothing.  Isolated perhaps by the tall walls that surround it.  What it doesn’t isolate us from is the brutal sun.

The king is in residence, indicated by his flag waving high.  

I know I should be most impressed by the Throne Hall

-that we are asked not to photograph even from the outside looking in.  In fact, today we can’t go inside at all.   But aside from the Baccarat crystal chandeliers that are certainly captivating, it is the Moonlight Pavilion that holds my eye.     

We head towards the Silver Pagoda set of buildings.  The walls are painted with the Khmer version of the classic Indian epic, the Ramayana.  

I sit and contemplate how manmade beauty is framed and enhanced by nature.  

Life outside the walls has not stopped.        

We go back to the hotel to freshen up and go back out for our ride in a remok (the Cambodian version of a tuk-tuk) along the riverside to our restaurant.  We are served Cambodian food which, as in all of Asia it seems, includes curry something.  We taste fish amok (steamed fish with herbs in a banana wrap).  I am not warming up to Cambodian food as much as I have to the rest of Asian food.

Tomorrow we will have a somber morning walking through The Killing Fields.

Categories: Cambodia, Chau Doc, Phnom Penh, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “Water Life and Cambodia Ahoy!

  1. Wow…that’s a lot of photos and really nice ones! The little girl was precious!

    • Thank you! Was not going to flood the reader with them but couldn’t decide which ones to put so I incorporated a lot of them.
      The baby was really adorable and her dad was so accommodating when it came to us taking more photos!

  2. I love the photo of the little girl on the bike. She is adorable.

    Good luck with your journey tomorrow. I suspect it will be intense and emotional.

    • Isn’t she precious? Loved the fact that when the dad came out and saw us photographing her he calmly lifted her little veil and stepped away for us to continue!
      Yep, tomorrow will be an intense one.
      Thanks so much for reading. I look forward to more of your awesome and very funny writing!

  3. What an incredible journey you are taking!
    Such an experience, and a great record for posterity.

    • It’s hard for me to stop this stupid smile from surfacing on this journey!
      All I’m missing is a good macro lens, like yours, and the talent to photograph minute things!
      Love how you turn the little buggers into art with your photos.

  4. Amazing photos! I’m interested to read your thoughts on tomorrow’s journey.

    • Sobering. Somber. Incredulous… and much more!
      Thanks for your most recent post, by the way, and your reminder that I must get up and DO!

  5. Hola Piri!

    I agree with everyone, the little girl on her wicker throne was a delight but your description of the fish paste got me…. The markets made me think of my growing up days in Irapuato, Guanaguato…used to love to go to the market and walk the isles of strange fruit and take a whiff of those incredible smells. How alike the world is,que no?

    The picture of the curious lady is a nice one too!

    Big hug,

    Anag

    • Thank you Añag!

      In truth, there is so much that made me think of my home country on this journey that it really highlighted the fact that even in our differences we can and do find likeness.
      Muy cierto!

      Hug back!

  6. I hear a Voice Over as you walk though the alleys, while maintaining ambiant sounds. Occassionally you catch a glimpse of a Loved one, who quickly turns back into a local person, as you realize that their lives are hard but your life in Hollywood is just as hard in many other yet emotionally challanging ways.

    We hear the music of the country, the crash of the water, the cries of the kids. You see a baby and wonder how wouldit have been to have a child, then you see the face of the child that could have been yours.

    The afternoon scenery morphs into one of your paintings at home, you go back to the kitchen table as you are planning your trip. You remind yourself the “Whys” of going in the first place…

  7. Wow! Dr. AC that IS our screenplay in the making. I must have mentioned this before but your words are poetry!

  8. Nancy D.

    Love traveling with you honey!

    And you photographs are fabulous! Glad you figured out how to work that camera… Do I see another career as a photojournalist added to your long resume?!

  9. 🙂 Would love it if I could actually make money from even one more thing that I love to do!!!
    Love having you as a traveling companion my friend. And honored that you feel it’s worth reading.

  10. One of my favorite things about travelling is seeing how other people work, live, and interact. It always helps me to question my own assumptions. Your photos of the water markets and houseboats help give a glimpse into the local life.

  11. 🙂 Lovely that I can be of service!
    Stay tuned ’cause you won’t believe what I will be eating soon! Thanks for reading.

  12. I’ve been reading a few of your posts – what an amazing trip, stirs the wanderlust in me.

  13. So enjoyed all the photos…I’m glad you couldn’t decide, Lidi – we really do see through your eyes. Many thanks for taking all the time to put these posts together. I realize they will be a grand travel journal for you, but to do this from stolen moments of wifi and sleep is remarkable.

    • You are so kind! Yes, I did do this to have a personal record of my journey but the marvelous people (like you) that started coming with me gave me a sense of responsibility about keeping up with it. I must say though that I did write them sacrificing sleep while on my journey and had them all ready to go but connection issues all along the way (and my computer warning that it would crash if I kept downloading photos) kept me from posting. But I’m back since a week ago and am posting them as soon as I find the photos to accompany the post. So we still have about 20 days left. Don’t leave me yet, I’ll be lonely!

  14. I haven’t gotten a post update in a while. Does that mean you’re back in the States?

    • Hi Ben!!
      Sadly, oh so sadly, yes, I am back in Los Angeles. Asia remains with me and I with it.
      Will continue blogging of the 13 days that I had left. Then going back to Myanmar (figuratively) and reporting from there.
      Where are you now?

  15. Phew! I’m double dipping because I have been away, returned home and found nothing from Lidi! I even had a momentary heart glitch over the major earthquake in Indonesia…”was she THERE?”

    Thankfully Ben asked the question…so you are home.

    What a lot to process, Lidi. I hope you can adjust to North America again without getting angry! It’s not an easy adjustment coming back to our attitudes and lifestyles.

    I hope to see the final blogs of your life-changing trip.

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