On the River to Siem Reap

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Battambang - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Our tuk tuk driver was late - normally they are early, and I was getting a little concerned when he finally turned up. I knew that we would make the boat, but I wanted to be sure that we didn't have to sit down the back too close to the engine.

Not to worry, they had just started boarding when we got there. We found four seats together and watched as people trickled on. A few Cambodians, but mainly westerners. We had been told that the trip would take 8 hours. The boat had life jackets and padded seats, as well as a small toilet up the back, so we knew that the trip would be okay.

We set off just after 7 am and wound our way down the river, following the current which wasn't very strong.

We passed little villages and watched as the scenery changed and the fishing methods became more sophisticated. There was plenty to look at, and lots of kids to wave to. We all had our stories - Simon on the kindle and Jonno, Georgia and I with our stories to listen to - which was ideal as you could enjoy the story and watch the scenery pass by.

We had stocked up on our provisions so the kids enjoyed a breakfast of special K and real milk while Si and I tucked into muesli and yoghurt - our first cereal based breakfast of the trip to date.

Around 11 am we stopped off at a floating cafe for lunch. There was one meal on offer, some meat with rice and egg. We bought two to share - but Si and Jonno ate most of them, plus some fresh pineapple. A little later we cracked open some cheese and ritz crackers as we watched the villages pass by. From time to time, the boat would stop to unload cargo or let off passengers and boats would paddle out to collect their cargo.

The river was quite narrow in parts and you could see it would be quite slow going as the water levels dropped. Eventually we entered Tonle Sap, an enormous lake that supplies much of the seafood for Cambodia. We sped across the lake and then entered the river to Siem Reap. There were streams of tourist boats heading up the river, and the tourists would wave to us as they passed - as if we were now a tourist sight!

Finally we reached the dock, almost exactly 8 hours after leaving Battembang. Swarms of tuk tuk drivers flooded the boat seeking passengers, however, we had a free pick up from our hotel, and our driver was waiting with a sign with my name on it. It was a 20 minute ride into town, and our hotel was on the other side, giving easier access to Angkor Wat should we want to cycle there.

We checked into our rooms at Boutique Cambo which turned out to be be two enormous adjoining rooms, so we have two bathrooms. Luxury.

After some wi-fi time, we took the free tuk tuk into the centre of town, and wandered round with hundreds of other tourists. We found somewhere for dinner, which was a simple dinner of noodles, and stopped off for some ice creams on our walk back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we meet Jonno's teacher, James St Julian at 8am for day one of our exploration of the temples.