Kampong Tralach | Kampong Chhnang | Tonle Sap

Dec 23, 2019 - The Jahan

The morning started with an early morning visit to a small village called Kampong Tralach on the riverbanks of the Tonle Sap River. As the sun rose over the Tonle Sap, we loaded into traditional two-wheeled oxcarts organized by local Cambodian farmers. Oxen took us through green rice paddies and lotus ponds seemingly transporting us back in time.

After meandering through the rice fields and lotus ponds we visited Kampong Tralach primary school, where we were greeted with cheers and smiles from Cambodian school children. The students proudly and enthusiastically spoke English and sang a song for us. We returned by singing for them too, and after they performed an impressive flag raising ceremony for us, we took time to interact and get to know several students and teachers in the courtyard before returning to Jahan.

Returning to the ship, guests were given a full breakfast in Viceroy Dining Hall and had the opportunity to practice Tai Chi. The crew then prepared a traditional fashion show introducing guests to the Cambodian Krama, Sarong, and Sampots. Eza King then presented a fascinating talk on “Fisheries of the Tonle Sap River” describing the large biological diversity of fish species caught and consumed in the Tonle Sap River and Lake.

Jahan then cruised through one of the narrowest and active stretches of the Tonle Sap River, called Aunglung Ork. Guests were treated to observe a variety of birdlife, spotting egrets, king fishers, Chinese pond herons, grey-headed fish eagles, black-winged hikes, and thousands of fruit bats avoiding predators. We also observed beautiful river gardens, pumps withdrawing precious river water to irrigate adjacent rice paddies, and an exciting navigation prompting the captain to thread a needle through a labyrinth of local fishing nets.

After lunch, Mike Greenfelder gave guests an insightful workshop on iPhone and smartphone photography in Jahan’s lounge. Following this, we boarded local boats to transit ashore to Kampong Chhnang to visit the Aundaung Russey Village to see the making of Khmer-style pottery, known throughout Cambodia, and delicious sugar palm products. We also had the pleasure of seeing how sugar palm is harvested by a 68-year old Mr. Man climbing 20-meter-high palm trees and extracting juice, cooked, and prepared to make sugar and palm sugar wine. It was fascinating and guests were enthralled with local expertise and skill in their trades.

Following the visits to the sugar palm business and pottery factory, we transited back to Kampong Chhnang by minivan and boarded local boats to cruise past floating villages of Vietnamese immigrants. Most are fisherman and sell their fish to the local markets or export to Vietnam.

We ended the day with a famous recap by staff, a superb dinner in the dining room, and a showing of The Killing Fields, a film about the notorious Khmer Rouge. 
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Patrick MacQuarrie

Patrick MacQuarrie

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