We had just finished lunch on the Rustic Pathways boat. It was quite a nice lunch, with cooked Mama Noodles with vegetables and some other sauce. The taste was very unique and I liked it a lot. Today we moved out of Battambang and continued on to our final destination, Siem Reap. This last leg of our trip we are going to travel by boat and it shall take 3 days to complete, stopping at different villages on the way to do some community and service.
As usual breakfast was at 7 and we were on the bus at 7:45. Our first stop was the a local market called “Lotus Market”, it sounded like an other market same as the ones in Bangkok, smelly and dirty. But I was completely wrong about my prediction. Even though it was quite dirty, but there was no smell at all. It was replaced with the smell of fresh fruits and vegetables. It was really nice. The reason why we had to go to the market is because we have to stock up on all the food and supplies we need for these 3 days on the boat. We brought a bus load of fruits and vegetables and headed to the port to begin our journey on the river.
At first glance, the Rustic Pathway boat seems to be quite small, but it is actually quite spacious and big. Theres a small bar like table at the back where the food is prepared and a roof where there is room for everyone. It is a very nice boat.
The start of the trip, the bank of the river are filled with houses, they were all build with stilts and rose high above the ground. There are always children bathing or just playing in the river, they would use the mud as a slide and slide down into the river. It looked like lots of fun. As the boat continued on down stream, we reached the houses slowly disappeared and rice fields replaced them. There are endless acres of rice fields, and once in a while there will be a wooden hut where the farmers sit and watch over their rice. Off to the distance a black cloud can be seen pouring rain onto the fields for the rice to grow. It was truly a beautiful site.
The village that we are going to stay at is another 2 to 3 hours away. In this time I am going to enjoy the country scenery and enjoy the smell of freshness.
The sun has set and even though it is not even 8, yet everyone is sleepy and ready to go to bed. We reached the village at around 2 in the afternoon, which was a lot earlier than we had expected. We went to check out our home-stay house, which was very spacious but it wouldn’t fit all of us, so the guys would have to sleep on the boat (which is actually very cool).
We walked along the only dirt road of the village, we walked until it lead us to the end of the small village. On the way we could see the real life of cambodian country side people. All of their houses are either raised very high on stilts or has empty oil tanks underneath so when the water come they can just float on the water. It isn’t the rainy season yet, so the water level is very low, it is still possible to walk to different houses, but when the water floods this place, boats or swimming would be the only form of transportation.
After our short tour of the village, we visited the school. As all the other infrastructure around the village it was about 7 meters off the ground. When the children saw us coming, they were all very shy and ran away from us, right back into their class rooms. We greeted them with smiles and tried to make friends with them, but they are too scared to approach us. I decided to take a picture with the children, it was hard at first because they didn’t know what I was doing so they ran away from me. I showed them how it worked and soon the children flooding into the picture. This still didn’t take away the fear they had of us. We then payed a game with the kids. It was quite a simple game, but the language barrier we had between us made it quite a challenge. After endless trial and error, we finally managed to tell them what was going on. They soon understand and got very into the game. After the game they shoed us some of the English that they have learnt. Counting numbers from 1 to 10 in English seemed to be a piece of cake to them. Saying the ABCs was a different story. They were saying it well at first, but when they reached the letter “R” everything fell apart. Their class was about to start so we left the school so they can continue with their education.
We went back to our boat and stayed there until it was time to cook dinner. Some of us volunteered to help cook the dinner. I went along with two others while the rest of the group stayed on the boat. The kitchen of the house wasn’t like any other, there was a fire stove and no running water. A big box of clean water sat at one side and rain water from a pond at the back of the house sat at the other side. It was nice and spacious and lots of work could be done. We were going to cook 2 dishes, Pineapple Beef and Tom Yum Chicken. They were all not hard to prepare but with only 4 people cooking it did take an hour or so to push all of these dishes out. The end product was delicious and it was defiantly a experience of a life time.
After dinner, we had a meeting and reflected about what we felt about what we saw today. I felt like even though that they have a very hard life, working their whole lives to earn money, but everyone has a smile on their face which feels very warming to me.
Back on the boat, we decided to take a shower. It isn’t a normal shower but a bucket shower and we took it on the roof of the boat. That is a really different experience and one that I have never experienced it before and I think I shall never experience it again.
For now everyone is tired and the generator of the boat are going to turn off, so it is time to sleep. Goodnight!!
Fried Noodles with vegetables
(Cooked on boat)
Tom Yum Chicken
Pineapple with Beef