Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mekong daze

A typical flooded forest tree with exposed roots in the Ramsar Wetlands area
I'm back from my Mekong river adventures of the last six days and must say a big thank you to Sithy in Kratie, Theara in Stung Treng and Sambath and his family in Ou Svay village near the border with Laos. All of them went that extra mile to ensure my safety and comfort during the different aspects of my trip, which I'll post over the next few days. The bare bones outline began with two nights at Sala Koh Trong on the island of Koh Trong, in the middle of the Mekong, opposite Kratie town. On the second day I spent the day on the back of Sithy's moto as we cruised at slow speed up the west bank of the Mekong river, a trail often overlooked in favour of the much more popular east bank route. The best part of this trip was 'getting to know the locals' as we stopped on numerous occasions to interact with all and sundry from rice farmers to noodle makers to families making a water festival special delicacy, Ambok. We also included two stops at ancient temple sites that came as a surprise. A thunderstorm didn't dampen our spirits as we raced back in time to catch the last ferry back to the island. I then headed for a night in Stung Treng, not one of my fave places in Cambodia I must admit, at the clean and cheap Suntah guesthouse, before a moto ride to the border with Laos and a homestay experience in the remote village of Ou Savy with the extended family of Sambath, which coincided with a Kathen ceremony and celebration at the local pagoda. Next morning I took to the water in a two-man kayak with Theara, who did all the hard work, whilst I admired the outstanding scenery of the Ramsar Wetlands. This was a fabulous introduction to the wetlands for me, it was a place I'd often wanted to visit and getting up close and personal in a kayak is definitely the way to go. The birdlife is plentiful, a veritable twitcher's paradise, while the 25 kms of flooded forests are a great way to hone your kayaking skills as well as seeing how the water and the trees produce a remarkable landscape. The water level was still high after all the recent rain in the countries higher up the Mekong river, so I must pencil in a visit when the water levels are much lower. It's an area that is definitely worth a second visit. A final night in Stung Treng before I spent the whole of today in the bus on the journey home. Pictures and more details to follow in separate posts.
Children enjoying handfuls of freshly-made Ambok in the Vathanak commune

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the intro to this place Andy. It's one of the area I know very little of in Cambodia. I'm looking forward to read about the ancient temples you had briefly mentioned.

November 12, 2011 at 12:28 AM  

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