Kampong Tralach and Koh Okna Tey

Feb 28, 2019 - Jahan


Guests awoke before sunrise to prepare for another exhilarating day in Cambodia. As the sun crested the tree line, we boarded a most unique transportation of ox-drawn carts. The journey took us through vast lotus fields, where we walked amongst the blooming landscape to learn how locals harvest, sell, and make use of these flowers. We then proceeded into town and visited a local school that is supported through contributions on the part of Lindblad and its generous guests. The school’s principal, teachers, and students greeted us enthusiastically with cheers and song. One of the main lessons taught here is English, so the guests had an were able to converse with students who showed no lack of excitement getting to engage directly with those whose language they are learning.

Back aboard the ship, guests could relax and stretch out their morning over Tai Chi on deck as Jahan continued to venture along the Tonle Sap River. The rest of our morning was full of interesting activities. Several crew members, along with some adventurous guests, participated in a “fashion show” to learn about traditional Cambodian dress. For those interested in going behind the scenes of our ship, our savvy crew gave a tour of the different decks, including the engine room and the galley. Later, cultural specialist David Brotherson gave a wonderfully assorted discussion on distinctions between Vietnamese and Cambodian culture.

After lunch, we experienced yet another form of exotic transportation known as the “tuk tuk.” This is a small one-person cart with the front equivalent of a motorcycle. We took these to explore Koh Oknha Tey, also known as Silk Island, due to their longstanding tradition of silk weaving. Before that, however, we stopped at a Buddhist temple, where we engaged a monk who discussed with us how temples here operate and what encompasses the daily life of monks as well as the integral role they play to their community and the prevailing culture at large.

Our tuk tuk drivers continued traversing the beautiful countryside dotted with farmers and land laborers until we reached the communal artisan area to learn about silk weaving. Here guests witnessed the entire process of cultivating and processing silk, and also walking among the actual looms to get a real sense of the level of skill and craftsmanship required to create beautiful silk garments by hand.

Back aboard Jahan, we continued along the Mekong River, taking in another glorious sunset while we rested in preparation for the next action-packed day ahead of us.

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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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