The morning started early with an excursion to the small village of Kampong Tralach on the banks of the Tonle Sap River. An important rice cultivation area, this village is special, with very organized leadership and a commitment to education for children and young adults. Before visiting the school, at sunrise, guests hopped onto oxcarts provided by local farmers and meandered through lotus and rice fields populated with an occasional brick factory. Guests had the opportunity to walk out into the lotus fields and photograph this beautiful and iconic flower.
After taking local transportation through the rice fields via oxcart, guests were taken to a primary school in the village of Kampong Tralach. The school children were prepared for our visit and were ecstatic to meet us. Two classes of primary school students sang songs for guests, and in return, guests sang for them. The school also prepared a flag raising ceremony for us, followed by free time to interact directly with students. It was a most memorable experience, a highlight for most guests.
The guests and crew returned to the ship for late breakfast and Tai Chi followed by an extravagant fashion show by the ship’s crew, highlighting the Cambodian Krama, Sarang, and Sampots. During this period, Jahan cruised downstream on the Tonle Sap past Khmer and Cham Temples, eventually making its way back to Phnom Penh to the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. It is here where the distinctive transition between the silt-laden Tonle Sap River and the clear blue Mekong River can be clearly seen.
Just before lunch, guests were treated to a presentation by naturalist Erin Britton titled “Tonle Sap: The Water of Life for Cambodia.” After lunch in the Viceroy Dining Hall, Jahan sailed upriver on the Mekong toward the island of Koh Oknha Tey, where guests travelled by tuk tuk through agricultural fields to a small silk farm and local recreational area. Silk farming and weaving is making a comeback as part of the Cambodian arts revival. Guests observed very skilled local weavers as they crafted colorful patterns dyed with local organically produced inks. After visiting the extensive gift shop attached to the silk farm, guests continued with tuk tuks to a local Theravada Buddhist Pagoda.
The evening capped with a delicious dinner followed by a showing of the BBC documentary Jungle Atlantis, providing a detailed look at how LIDAR has transformed the way modern-day archeologists understand Angkor City.