Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Koh Kong's mangroves

A group photo at the entrance to Boeng Kayak with a couple of community officials thrown in for good measure
It was my first trip back to Koh Kong and its mangrove swamps and wildlife sanctuary at Peam Krasaop since last October when I spent five days in the area with my brother Tim. This time around it was in the company of twenty other travel agents on a fam trip with the Cambodia MSME/USAid program. After an overnight stay in Koh Kong city itself at the mediocre Asean Hotel, we headed by bus to the entrance to the mangrove forests at Boeng Kayak, the location of a 1km concrete mangrove walkway that takes you to a swaying suspension bridge and observation tower that was to be our departure point after a talk with the local community officials. I wasn't overly impressed with the mangroves to be honest, pleasant enough but with no wildlife to speak of, low water levels and more mangroves than you can shake a stick at, it became monotonous very quickly. We then took two boats along the main channel, with mangrove forests either side of us, and headed towards the open sea, stopping on an island that had an isolated white sandy beach and nothing else. Chasing the tiny sand crabs quickly became the sport of choice. Rather than head for the sea as I did on my previous trip, we turned around and paid a visit the the original Peam Krasaop fishing village. This gave us a chance to meet the locals, who were busy sorting out their day's catch of fish, the smaller of which goes to make fish paste, the larger fish get eaten and sold. For me meeting the villagers was the best bit of the day so far. On the way back, we didn't see any dolphins but I did spot a white-bellied sea eagle, or so I told everyone. If it wasn't one, it sure did a good impression of one. Next on the agenda was a visit to the 4 Rivers Floating Lodges for lunch, which will be the subject of a separate post.
These lovely girls await you at the entrance to the mangrove swamps, ready to take your money. Everything is signposted and all prices clearly shown.
Three of my companions standing on the elevated concrete walkway. LtoR: Kelly, Sorphea and Mark.
The mangrove forests as seen from our boat. During the rainy season these roots wouldn't be exposed.
A deserted white sandy beach awaits the sun worshippers
A passing boat heads for the open sea whilst I was stood on the white sandy beach
A young girl joins in the fish sorting process at Peam Krasaop fishing village
These inedible slug-like creatures were called sea potatoes by the locals, but are more likely to be a variety of sea cucumber
These smaller trey riel fish are used for fish paste and prahok
A look down the main water channel that flows through Peam Krasaop village
I take a moment out from chatting to the local villagers with the help of one of my Khmer friends
Most of the women and children are engaged in the fish sorting process. The men are usually found drinking beer.

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