Traveling whenever I please is one privilege which was not bestowed upon me.
So, in the rarest opportunity of exploring another exotic locale, I make sure to leave that place a more well-rounded human being (figuratively speaking this is though 😆). Undeniably, my trip to Cambodia helped me attain this goal.
Resumption of our eight-day tour package came after a free morning and a complimentary post-marathon massage on August 5, 2019.
Patricia, Casey, and I were picked up from the hotel by Mr. Darit, our Siem Reap tour guide. Lunch of traditional cuisine was in a charming restaurant whose garden became the perfect backdrop for me in Cambodian attire that day.
Mistaken as a native, I took it as a compliment. I did want to achieve the Cambodian look when I purchased a sarong the first time we visited the Night Market.
After our heavy meal, we left the city proper for our boat trip to Tonle Sap, the largest Lake in Asia.
It took us around 35 minutes to reach the main port for the half-day tour of this lake. Our guide paid our fees and we readied ourselves for this boat cruise past 3:00 pm.
My second time to ride a pump boat, I automatically expected a life vest. When none was given to each of us, I didn’t ask. I deduced our safety would be in the hands of the boatman and perhaps, Mr. Darit’s too. We all said a silent prayer and kidded each other when the boat began its motion.
Floating villages, stilted houses, returning small boats with tourists, and a fisherman in his daily grind of life greeted us. When the boat accelerated, splashes of lake water reached my face and arms. I welcomed their cooling effect while I listened to our guide’s onboard commentaries.
Then, we docked at the floating Crocodile Meat Restaurant. Patricia and I proceeded to the viewing deck which exposed us to the spectacular view of the lake.
You may be wondering why the lake water is brownish. I couldn’t fully remember what Mr. Darit shared to us, thus I decided to google the reason behind it. In their paper entitled Preliminary Study of Sedimentation in Lake Tonle Sap, Cambodia Tsukawaki, et al. explained, “The lake is known as ‘the elastic water world’, because its water area expands drastically in rainy seasons. It is also known as ‘the mud ocean’ which refers to deep brown colour of the water all year round due to a large amount of muddy suspended sediments contained in water” (p. 623). The way I see it, this color adds to the marked appeal of this body of water.
We tarried on the wooden balcony for a few minutes before joining Casey and Mr. Darit to say “hello” to the crocs. Never ever (!) a reptile enthusiast since I suffer from ophidiophobia, I succeeded in taking a glance and these photos of the adults and hatchlings. Seeing the mature species had me recalling Arnold Schwarzenegger’s crocodile fight scene in the movie Eraser with his most iconic line “You’re luggage!” Arnie, yahoo!!! Are you here? I wanted to shout when I saw the different products made from crocodile skin. Hahahaha…
Having no plan of tasting any crocodile dish in that restaurant, we instead found pure entertainment in these puppies.
But my joy escalated when this ubercute pup stole the spotlight and my heart!
It was a comedic scene between a mother and her stubborn child who didn’t want to be left behind. Hahaha… If only I could bring him home, I could have done it. Wish denied, I could only purchase ethnic bracelets as souvenir.
Later on, we left the floating restaurant to go to Kompong Phluk, the floating village. Here I witnessed the local life as we passed by their houses, market, and school. Hailing from the Philippines, technically a third world country like Cambodia, I was no longer surprise to see the people’s living condition in the outskirts. The kind of daily struggle which we undergo economically, socially, and politically makes us ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) brothers after all.
After the two-hour tour, we’re back on the road to Siem Reap. As the sun began its descent, I replayed the different realizations I had even when I returned to the Night Market alone to acquaint myself with Cambodia’s unique and rich culture.
Photo (Screenshot from a video) Credit: