Saturday, August 29, 2009
The laid-back, sleepy colonial street in Chhlong. On the left is the Mekong River.
There are a handful of locations that have eluded me on my travels around Cambodia over the years. For various reasons I've never managed to get to Svay Rieng, Pailin, Koh Kong and Chhlong. Well, a 30-minute visit en route to Kratie made sure that the sleepy town of Chhlong, hugging the east bank of the Mekong River, was deleted from that list. The driver announced we were taking the short-cut route to Kratie and rather than simply whizz past Chhlong (also known variously as Chlong and Chloung) I suggested a quick look around the place and my fam trip colleagues agreed. We didn't have time to do anything other than walk along the road fronting the river that contains a series of French colonial and Chinese style buildings, some in disrepair, others serving as family homes, but it was good to at last visit the town my pal Caroline had written about eight years ago here. Once the rest of the road to Kratie is paved then Chhlong will see a lot more traffic coming its way and I'm sure the crumbling colonial-era buildings, one of which proudly displayed the date, 1922, on its facade will undergo renovation, much like the classic 1917 family home that was transformed from a derelict mess into the gorgeous Relais de Chhlong hotel. On our return journey we popped into the hotel, which is just about to close for further expansion, but more on that in a later post. For now, colonial street in Chhlong remains a quiet and laid-back location, just around the corner from the town's market. I spotted a handful of very old Khmer houses as well, all of which ensures enough good reasons to return to Chhlong in the not too distant future. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get there in the first place.