Moving towards Siem Reap…slow but sure.

Slow boat to Siem Reap

Slow boat to Siem Reap

It is time to move on from Battambang and head to the next stop Siem Reap and Angkor Wat but how to get there.  Two choices are available the air conditioned bus which takes 3 hours and cost $3 or go by slow boat (with no aircon) down the Sangker River and across the Tonle Sap to Siem Reap which takes 6 – 8 hours an cost $17…..Mmmmm.  Well you guessed it; I’m on the damn 30 passenger slow boat leaving at 7:30 Am.  Endless photo opportunities and a flat butt from sitting eight hours on a wooden bench guaranteed.

Villages along the Sangker on the way to Siem Reap

Villages along the Sangker on the way to Siem Reap

It was not full so everyone could spread out a bit. I had a bench by myself after my friend Barbara headed to the rear of the boat to get out of the sun which was hitting the side our seats were on. Looking around I observed it was a real mix of tourist and locals, plus piles of goods being carried home by the passengers or being sent down to little mom & pop groceries.

Scenes along the river as we move to Siem Reap

Scenes along the river as we move to Siem Reap

The boat was an old flat bottom wooden clunker perfect for plying the shallow waters of the Sangker.  Thankfully it was covered with pull down shades on the sides in case the sun became too hot or it rained (both of which happened).  With a bit of shade and a little breeze coming from the river it was not so hot as to make it unpleasant and I enjoyed leaning out observing the lives of people along the river.

The boat stopped along the way here and there whereupon boats would row out and pull up alongside…people hopping on or off…goods being delivered or more being picked up…a ballet dance on boats and water.  At one point a low flat boat with a motor ran alongside as we were moving down river and a small boy about 8 or 10 jumped from his boat to ours with a tray hung around his neck. He walked the boat trying to sell us a cool drink and then hopped off the boat onto the one still running next to us…Amazing!

Families in houses along the river

Families in houses along the river

This is the end of the dry season and the rains have not yet come to raise the level of the Sangker River to a satisfactory level.  Much of the time on the ride was spent trying to find the channel and working hard not to get mired down in the mud.  The captain had an assistant who poled the boat along in some really shallow spots….so glad the boat was not full or we might have gotten stuck at least a half a dozen times.

Stilt houses along the Sangker River

Stilt houses along the Sangker River

All along this little river were encampments of people either living on boats or in stilt houses along the banks. At the beginning of the trip the river banks were more scarcely populated but at the end near Siem Reap there were dense floating villages along the tributaries leading in to Lake Tonle Sap. I want to come back during the rainy season to see how the river changes and how it effects the lives of the people along the river.

After 7 hours of maneuvering down torturously narrow waterways, the river is widening and the water color is changing….we’re emerging into a broad expanse of water… Tonle Sap Lake

Clouds over Tonal Sap Lake

Clouds over Tonal Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake is unique! A fresh water lake that dominates the map of Cambodia and covers 2,500 sq Km in the dry months… it is an amazing fishery and is the breadbasket of Cambodia.  When the monsoons arrive so much water comes down the Mekong River that it starts backing up the Tonle Sap River causing the lake to quadruple in size to 10,000 sq Km making it the largest fresh water lake in Asia. It is a fragile eco-system home to an amazing amount of fish and birdlife…some of which are endangered.  The eco-system  and the food chain for millions of Cambodians is under threat due to the Chinese damming up the Mekong river… only time will tell what the effects will be from the changing water flow.

Market in the floating village leading into Siem Reap

Market in the floating village leading into Siem Reap

Eight hours later the boat docks and my poor buttocks, which may take days to recover, are ill prepared for the twenty minute tuk tuk ride into the town of Siem Reap over some very bumpy roads.  But hey, that is what we intrepid travel bloggers do while anticipating a chilled G & T and planning the next photo op…..hit the bumpy road.

 

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
This entry was posted in Where's Bosco Now? and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Moving towards Siem Reap…slow but sure.

  1. Libby Voyles says:

    Thank you, Larry! Beautiful pictures and very interesting commentary.

  2. Claudia Hammer says:

    What an amazing little journey can’t wait to see what the river looks like when it is full. Wonder if the ride would be shorter and faster.

  3. dan says:

    good writing. i feel like i was there

  4. Paula says:

    Great shots…..color of the river changes in each pic. Hard for me to wrap around living in a stilt house on the river.

  5. Laura George says:

    To see your photos of others’ lifestyles is sobering. I just cannot understand how any basically good human being who has the opportunity to view in pictures or other wise, the endless differences in the day to day experiences of others can remain steadfast in the opinion that their beliefs are the ones everyone should hold true. To me, this is one of life’s great mysteries.

  6. Pete Bjorn says:

    I just want to mention I am just very new to blogging and certainly liked you’re website. Very likely I’m likely to bookmark your site . You amazingly come with terrific article content. Appreciate it for revealing your website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>