Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sihanoukville and Chau Doc

 The following day we found ourselves in the city of Sihanoukville, whose beaches might pale in comparison to Turks and Caicos but were a welcome nature break from the city.  The nightlife reminded me of Cabarete in Dominican Republic; restaurants lining the beachfront, coconut trees towering over rustic tables and chairs  filled with tourists.  Dinner and drinks were entertained with live fire dancing and this night should have been great fun, feet in the sand and stars overhead.  Unfortunately we were surrounded by obnoxious American men; a group of young, loud, every-other-word-a-curse-word crew on one side, and an older group of hefty, cigar smoking opposite.  Both groups had beautiful young Cambodian women flanking either side of every man, who were dishing out drinks and drunken smiles like they were superstars.  We excused ourselves early and I walked back to our hotel feeling ashamed to call myself American.  I sincerely hope that there are more visitors coming to Cambodia with intentions to respect the country, the culture, and the people that have been through so much, versus capitalising on the dark underworld of cheap access to young bodies. 

Notice the crafty use of coconut trees as dock bumpers

The boats bar

Cambodia's version of a gum tree; the flip-flop tree 

Our guide explains various types of plants and animals during the river walk

The following days boat trip was intended to head to the Ream National Park but unfavorable weather kept us closer to the mainland. We still had fun jumping off the top of this triple decker and visiting a nearby island. 

We stopped along side this large boat who had a tall stake with a watermelon pierced through the top end.  Our guide explained that this is how you can tell the inventory aboard for purchase.

In Chau Doc we booked a river cruise to witness daily life on the Mekong Delta.  Every mile was dotted with fishing boats, women washing clothes, children bathing, and farmers growing crops along the banks.  The river acts as home for thousands who live aboard boats and in floating villages.    We made a stop at a fish farm, a floating house resting on top of a giant fish cage with a small square opening in the floor used for feeding. 

A typical walking bridge off the marsh areas of the Mekong

A remnant of the European influence

Getting our helmets on and choosing our moped and drivers of choice

To end the day we hopped on moped taxi's to climb Sam Mountain, well worth it as it was the most spectacular sunset of our trip.  A nearly full moon followed, almost shedding enough light to get a good picture of this temple.  After four attempts without flash, this was as best as I could do.

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