Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More pain, less pleasure...

A crooked horizon due to listing of overcrowded boat
After all the steep climbing at Angkor Temples, a late morning is what we needed but alas, the Amazing Race boat trip required us to suffer another 0600 start. True to the "flexi-bei-tei" nature of this lovely country, our pick up came late. What's more, it already had 8 burly Caucasions in the old diesel van but somehow with some Cambodian magic, the 4 of us, 2 bags plus 2 folding bikes managed to fit in.

Expecting a lovely & spacious boat (it is a long 5 hr ride), we were shocked to be sardined into an old boat build for 35 pax. Dora counted close to 60 pax and we ended on the roof of our QE2 liner, Cambodian version. I had to personally mop the roof so that we could sit/sleep decently. It was quite comfortable to be on the breezy roof soaking in the magnificent scenery. Wildlife is obvious very rich in the Tonle Sap Lake with all kinds of birds seen, some flying in A-formation. We passed by several floating villages where even schools were on boats. The kids were always ready to give their cheery smiles and friendly waves. But soon the sun started to come up, and we were like frogs in slow boiling water.

The only toilet stop came 4 hrs later where we docked and were herded onto a floating coffee shop. Toilet was a hole in the shed, leading straight into the lake. Fortunately, we were told to squeeze with fellow passengers below in the deck and that provided some respite from the searing heat. Sitting at the back next to the diesel engine, I was not sure if my lot had improved. What's more, the boat had to squeeze through some very narrow passages of mangrove bush, and the "whipping"effect began as branches brushed rudely into the cabin. We took it all in stride and 7 hours later, arrived at the rickety Battambang Ferry Terminal.

It was such a relief to be picked up by Celia in a huge Toyota Landcruiser, with cold aircon. The Banan Hotel chosen was pretty decent. Celia and I managed to squeeze in a bike ride with the Brompton and Carry Me and we had a photo competition where our 9 yo Godson, Daryl was the judge. Less dusty, more character and certainly more French colonial than Siem Reap. I met a chubby Aussie guy who runs the Bus Stop Guesthouse and he pointed us to the best restaurant in town, PP. It turned out very satisfying indeed with delicious Khmer food served, finished off with lovely ice cream.

We ride the Bamboo Train tomorrow, this time a little later for the rest of the group. But for me and Min, a Physio student at Melbourne Uni, it would be a 0630 start to do what I love most, bike riding and photography of an unfamiliar town waiting to be explored.

Hopefully, there will be more pleasure than pain.

1 comment:

in2minds said...

if a trip is organised i'll certainly participate.