Sunday, 20 October 2013

wednesday 16th october - floating village

another morning, another early start.
Today we travelled a short distance to see "Kamphong Phluk", one of the floating villages in the region, however with the amount of rain we had experienced the night before I was half expecting more villages to be floating, thankfully this was not the case. As we passed roadside wildlife and "crocodile farm" signs the worst flooding that was apparent was the flooded road on the run up to where we were due to be catching our boat. Abandoning the (by now customary) white toyota van we all took tuk tuks through this final stretch of road, water lapping just under the boards beneath our feet and with wheels struggling to keep their traction and momentum as the water reached it's deepest, it was a relief to reach the other side to gingerly cross the wobbly slats of wood that has been placed down in order for us to make the boat that was waiting on the bloated lake away from the shrunken shore.

Once on board we all took our seats on the wet wooden slats as the craft was pushed around and clear of other similar vessels before making waves across the lake, rain spitting and caressing the right hand side of my body and face as we passed near partly submerged vegetation and occasional building It was here that I christened my poncho, "Poncho".

25 minutes or so later as the rain withdrew we approached the the first stilted buildings of the village and we took to the roof of the boat to get an elevated view of our surroundings. Simple dwellings, a school, children in boats fishing and women hanging clothes to dry, a simple life but maybe not a poor one. Not everything of value should maybe be defined in monetary terms. As we cruised around the self sufficient village, being greeted and waved to by adults and children alike, it was clear that this place had a community spirit that is so often lacking in more financially driven environments. The people seemed happy and content, but then that is the view from a river boat passing meters away from them and not any accurate or in depth study of the people who have found themselves living this way.

We returned to shore on the roof of the boat, some people now bathing in the emerging sun, others writing their journals to record memories of places they would never see again. I just sat there as it was more comfortable than those bloody wooden slats inside.

That afternoon was time for shopping, a few of us wandered into the town area before going our separate ways. I found one stall selling football shirts in the easy dry material I was after, but not being much of a football fan I was after something a little less tribal, they didn't have anything. I have found in Thailand and Asia that being 6ft plus puts you into gullivers travels territory and clothes of (not) large (enough) and above are often priced higher initially than smaller sizes. I'm just waiting to wake up one morning now and find myself tied down to the bed with little ropes by the little people.

I finally found a store called "Bambou Indochine" where I bought a lovely light material shirt, not quite what I was after originally but nice all the same. I bought the one originally due to concerns about space in my already tight backpack but liked it enough that before I had left the small shopping centre where the shop was located, I went back and picked up another in a different colour. The lady serving me called out in Cambodian to her associate and the returned to softly spoken English to tell me that if I bought 3 shirts I would get a free cap. I was already on 2. The same concern over available space stopped me.

1 hour later my cap fitted perfectly and I had another coloured shirt to fit into my bag.

The evening was spent in a bar and grill style affair where a thin rake of a man sat topless playing guitar and slaughtering his versions of different tunes, including those of simon and garfunkel, tammy wynette and henry manchini whist we attempted to eat sat at swinging tables fixed to the ceiling by giant straps. It wasn't easy, partly due to the motion and partly down to the table not being big enough for the amount of food and drink that was being delivered. After the food the small rake guy was replaced by a trio consisting of one man and 2 of the women from Robert Palmers "addicted to love" video, they still still have the moves too.l

Initially they lined up with the man out of view at the back, leading to the thought of "she's got a deep voice" on the first couple of numbers. One of the ladies actually had a great singing voice nailing the carpenters "top of the world", but when they talked to introduce the next song it was like listening to american DJ. its something that is a little jarring but a big percentage of Cambodian people that speak a lot of English, do so with an unerring american drawl.

karaoke started, we left and split along various routes with different distractions before all reaching the safety of the hotel at different stages through the night. I avoided a foot massage despite a couple from the groups gentle persuasive technique of trying to get me to join them in having one. I'm under no illusion, I know they can bloody hurt.

I think it's probably fair to say that women can be a little masochistic at times.

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