Feb 19, 2019 - The Jahan
With an early start to beat the heat, we climbed up the banks of the Tonle Sap River at Kampong Tralach to experience a timeless form of local transport: the traditional Khmer oxcart. Making use of a design which has changed little in a thousand years, oxcarts are the backbone of the local transport network in the less-developed parts of Cambodia. While lacking in modern creature comforts, this simple design is truly a sustainable means of transportation, effectively running on grass. As we wind our way through the rice fields the sun rises over Kampong Tralach. After learning about rice and lotus agriculture we head to the primary school which offers free English classes to the local community. This is a program Lindblad/National Geographic sponsors and holds a great deal of pride in.
The afternoon takes us further upstream into Kampong Chhnang province. Along the way, Jahan enters a narrow side channel of the river, allowing the adjoining river villages to be seen at a much closer vantage. Children call and wave from the shade of the banks. Fisherman haul in their nets. Herons and egrets coast alongside us, while kingfishers dart across the channel from tree to tree. Eventually we reach the provincial capital and go ashore to visit Andong Russei, the potting village. Heirs to a tradition which dates back centuries, the women of Andong Russei make earthenware cooking pots using anvils and special paddles.
Back aboard Jahan, we head back downstream, retracing our steps to take in another beautiful sunset from the upper deck. Tomorrow we’ll relax aboard the ship as we head south to Vietnam and the Mekong Delta.
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