Kampong Tralach & Kampong Chhnang

Mar 04, 2019 - The Jahan

Jahan was secured overnight at the riverbank, just downstream from “the port of the winter melon,” familiarly known as Kampon Tralach, which is located on the Tonle Sap river about 50km north of Phnom Penh. Since we are here in the dry season, the level of the river is low, and we have to climb up the banks to get to the local road. Awaiting us in this small village is a column of oxcarts, each pulled by two brahman cows under the direction of a local farmer. These carts are used on a daily basis throughout most parts of the country, and the cattle are not bred for meat but instead for labor. This is why they are typically so thin, as they are not being fattened for slaughter. We take a ride through the rice fields and end up at the local public school. The Kampong Tralach School has been supported by Lindblad/National Geographic for several years now, providing funding for free English learning programs.

Later in the day as we head upstream, we pass through narrow sections of the channel where we encounter some of the most intimate scenes. The script of rural Cambodian life drifts by: Children on bicycles head to and from school, farmers lead their cattle to water, fishermen haul the nets in and out of boats.

Our afternoon excursion puts us ashore at the capital of Kampong Chhnang. Named after its earthenware ceramics industry (“the port of the cooking pots”), the province is located in central Cambodia, at the southeast end of the Tonle Sap. We drive to nearby Andoung Russei, where the village women produce earthenware pots by hand, which are then sold throughout the country. Using a “paddle and anvil” technique, and continuing a tradition which dates back centuries, the potters of this village work through the day. The men in this village are farmers who work the fields, tend to livestock, or collect the juice from the sugar palms. We meet Mr. Ry, a village elder who has been climbing sugar palm trees his entire life. The juice he collects can be boiled down to form a caramel-like sugar, or fermented into a potent palm whisky. Cheers!

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About the Author

David Brotherson

Cultural Specialist

David’s career in archaeology began in 2005. While his interests initially focused on the ancient languages and cultures of the Mediterranean, he eventually shifted to Southeast Asia. David has been conducting research in Cambodia since 2009 and moved there permanently in 2011. He is a member of the Greater Angkor Project, an archaeology research program and international collaboration between the University of Sydney, Cambodia, and France, and has conducted fieldwork and excavations at numerous sites across Angkor. His research interests include ceramics studies, archaeological survey, and the history of Cambodian art and architecture.

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