Phnom Penh

Mar 14, 2018 - Jahan


This morning, Jahan was docked at the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, and we had one more opportunity to explore the city and see it come to life. The enthusiastic early-bird guests, and birders, ventured out for “golden hour” photography at sunrise followed by wildlife viewing. We first made a stop along an esplanade that overlooks the Tonle Sap River. Photographers honed their skills with gorgeous colors, silhouettes and buzzing action shots of traffic or passersby. We continued our walk near Wat Phnom, where there is a large colony of flying foxes roosting in a tree.

After a well-deserved breakfast, we were joined by our guest speaker, Dr. Jean-Michel Filippi, a linguistic professor who specializes in 20th century Cambodian history. His presentation, “50 Years of Cambodian Modern History,” walked us through the country’s post-independence time and chronicled the events that led up to the Khmer Rouge regime and the horrific actions they imposed on the country. His lecture, followed by a healthy discussion, was an absolute highlight amongst the guests.

Jahan continued to navigate the Cambodian waterways, eventually reaching a narrow canal called “Aunlung Oak,” which branches off the Tonle Sap River. Cruising the canal offered a wonderful opportunity for birdwatching and seeing rural life along the water – children jumping off boats, people casting fishing nets or cattle roaming into the water.

In the afternoon, we went ashore via local boats to Kampong Chhang, which means “Pottery Embankment.” Here, Cambodians have been making clay pots for centuries, and their wares are sold in communities throughout the country. We visited a village cooperative and witnessed the process at local homes. Also in this area, a local farmer demonstrated the tools he uses to collect the raw juice from male and female palm trees. Twice a day, every day, he climbs dozens of trees to collect the fluid, and from it, makes sugar and rum. He was extremely generous and offered us samples of everything! Delicious!

Back aboard our local boats, we cruised along the Tonle Sap River to view floating villages occupied by Vietnamese immigrants, who came to Cambodia in the 1980s in search of a better life. We navigated amongst the homes, shops, and fish farms to have a front-seat view into this fascinating way of life on the water.

As we cruised back to Jahan, the sun began to set, and the sky filled with glorious color. Another great ending to another wonderful expedition day!

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About the Author

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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