After leaving the rural Cambodian village of Banteay Chhmar our group took a detour along another bumpy dirt road (a ‘free massage’, our tour guide joked) and we were greeted by a loud and long wooden boat that would take us for a ride along the muddy Mekong River.
Our boat was chartered by three very young boys – the eldest was a teenager and the youngest was about five. With the loud motor chugging behind us, we glided through the shallow waters to Kompong Pluk, a fishing village that sits up high on bamboo stilts.
As we rode on the Mekong, which rises high during the wet season, we looked up at all the homes on bamboo stilts. It was incredible to see structures so high on what appear to be unstable foundations. Never underestimate the strength of bamboo.
The Mekong is the 7th longest river in Asia and brings life to seven countries, with its water flowing through China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. On our visit to Kompong Pluk the river was low – it must be such a glorious sight of abundance when the water level is high and the area is lush and green.
What started as a simple boat ride turned into an unexpected walk through the village to see the homes up close and meet some of the locals. Life is simple and the ground is messy with dirt and rubbish which must get left behind after the river falls.
With bottled water available everywhere in Cambodia due to poor drinking water, I was impressed to see some of the homes recycling old water bottles by using half cut plastic containers as pots for growing plants and herbs to hang off their balcony.
A group of young boys were playing soccer on the dusty floor, women sat on mats selling huge bags of prawns to prepare for making prahoc (fermented fish paste) and young children sat attentively listening to their teacher at the local school.
As we strolled through the centre of the village, two women were cooking banana fritters so we stopped to chat with them and enjoy lots of their fresh, hot treats. I don’t know what these ladies did to make these quick, simple goodies but they were the most delightful and delicious snacks I had enjoyed in a long time.
Coming up next in my Cambodia series I’ll be sharing my visit to the last leg of the tour – Siem Reap and the ancient temple complexes of Angkor Wat.
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