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Friday, July 27, 2007

Memories in Cambodia (Angkor Wat) - Part 5

On the third day, we were glad to visit somewhere other than temples, so that we didn't catch the dreaded NABTS (Not Another Bloody Temple Syndrome). So we set out to the floating village of Chong Khneas.

It was quite a distance from Siem Reap town and we were lucky we went in a car. This was because the road conditions there were simply disastrous. For most of the second part of the journey, we were travelling through muddy terrain. According to our guide, the roads would get flooded once the rainy season came.

After the bumpy ride, we reached the river bank and got on our own private boat.

Not far from the jetty we saw numerous buildings, built floating on the river surface. It looked like a real town, complete with residential huts, sundry shops, schools, a basketball court (!) and so on.

One of the few schools in the floating village.

A floating Catholic church - fancy praying on water?

Believe it or not, there was also a pig sty built on water. Cambodians really can't go without pork.

All the buildings here are easily relocatable, depending on the water levels. We saw a family 'moving house', being tugged by a small motor boat.

Check out the picture below. Anything strange about it?

Yup, the loos are open air. Boat people can see you peeing, how about that!

The entire tour took about one and a half hours and we were back in town after that.

After some lunch, we headed on to the silk farm operated by Artisans d'Angkor. There we were given a tour of the silk production line, free of charge. They also had a shop selling goods made of silk. The silk here is purportedly one of the best in the world.

On the way back from the silk farm, we stopped by one of the rural schools run by the government. There were only 2 classrooms, with students from both classes taught by one teacher. The education sector must be seriously understaffed.

We went in to say hello to the teacher and students. Since she didn't speak english, our driver acted as a translator. Apparently, english is only taught in certain schools in the suburbs or town area, while rural schools mainly use the Cambodian language as a medium.

The conditions there were frankly quite miserable, but I guess there are schools like these back in our own country too. The students were shy when we tried to take some pictures with them. Things changed though as my friend started a math pop quiz and gave out candy to students who managed to answer the questions correctly.

We also gave out some pencils which we purchased in town earlier. Many of these children are too poor to even afford proper stationery.

This practically rounded up our Siem Reap and Angkor. There were other mini excursions as well that I have not blogged about, but I'm feeling this has kind of been dragging on. So this concludes my post on the great journey to the land of the Khmers.

PS: Did you read about the landing gear scare which happened to an Air Asia aircraft when it was trying to land in Siem Reap? Think twice before flying Air Asia!

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