160918 Kampong Tralach and Oudong

Cambodia’s climate has an average temperature of 27-28 degrees C. The climate is comprised of two main seasons affected by the tropical monsoon. The wet season is from May to October and the dry season from November to April. The coolest period lasts from December to January. The monsoon season may carry some heavy rains but these quite often occur during the late afternoon and overnight in between August to October and unlikely to spoil what u want to do.

Theravada Buddhism is the official prevailing religion in Cambodia, and approximately 90% of the population is Buddhists. The country also has minority religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Since Buddha’s statues and images represent the Buddha, visitors are asked to behave respectfully to all of them so as not to cause offence to local people. It is illegal to take any piece of sandstone out of the temple and also any Buddha’s statue out of Cambodia without the express permission of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

We go back in time today. Waiting for us to get off the ship is a huge line of oxen in pairs ready to ‘haul’ us for 20 minutes along the road. There must be over 35 pairs. It was an interesting way to see the countryside but an uncomfortable one. The little kids were making small gifts for us along the way out of leaves. Perhaps they wanted payment but we didn’t know, nor could we get to our money that was in the back pocket. Its very hard when you are sitting in an ox cart with no room to wriggle and find the wallet.

We made it to the coaches which were ready to take us to the country’s largest pagoda, the Oudong Temple. Arrangements had been made for us to be given special time with a monk to receive a blessing on our travels. Not very formal, but done anyway. Our guide for Cambodian sites is Lovy who has been giving us a wealth of knowledge but for me, it’s hard to hear him through the ‘whisperer’. At least I hear his instructions when we need to change direction during a walking tour.

Our guide interviewed a little 85 year old lady who has been a nun in the pagoda for over 10 years. She was quite a trick when asked her name by replying, “You should know my name by now. You have asked me many times.”

Greg managed to strike up a friendship with a young guy. This kid was ‘fanning’ Greg all around the pagoda. He followed him into the WC and all the various temples, offering a cooling breeze. When we were getting on the bus, Greg wanted to take a photo of him and just as the picture was to be taken, the kid offered his middle finger as a centre piece. What a surprise for Greg. We told him later, the kid wanted MONEY. Another surprise for Greg.

Our ship was waiting at 12:00 noon for the longest sector of the cruise – 150km – back to Phnom Penh to rejoin the Mekong River and up to Kampong Cham. During this voyage, we are guests of the Captain as he takes us through the engine room and into his office, the Captains Bridge. Scenic Spirit had its maiden voyage in January this year. It is 85m long and 12m wide. Weight is 3,000 tonnes. Top speed is 20.3 knots but we could only manage 10 knouts while heading upstream. There are 4 decks and a sun deck. All of the 32 double suites and 2 Royal suites have a sun lounge balcony. For those hard of walking up stairs, there is a lift that services each of the 4 decks. A crew of 56 serve the 68 passengers that enjoy being on the ship. All of us can vouch for great individual service from each of the happy crew.

After the tour of the ship, the Chef gives a demonstration of Asian Cooking and Tropical Fruit Tasting.

Our cruise is quickly coming to an end. We are reminded of this during the port talk in the evening. The Cruise Director gave us instructions how things work for the disembarkation procedure and on up to Siem Reap.

At the Trivia Night, our group missed out winning by 1 point. I’m not fussed as the prize was a bottle of local ‘plonk’ to consume – not my thing at all.

Tomorrow, we visit Wat Hanchey, Phnom Pros, and take an ecotourism visit to a weaving village.