Our Vietnam/Cambodia river cruise ended with a final excursion, this one to Prek Ku – a floating village on the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. This village, made up of stilt and floating homes over the lake, is extremely impoverished. The main industry here is fishing lake and river fish when water levels are high enough to support it. The Heritage Line cruise company supports the local teacher of the one-room floating school. The teacher teaches approximately 80 students in shifts. We visited the school and donated some school supplies that we had brought along from the States. As educators, it was mind boggling to see the classroom and we wondered how the students would ever see a much different life.
From there, we watched some of the local fishermen pull in their catch and then headed back to The Jahan to start the rest of the day cruising across Tonle Sap lake. The lake, at this time of year, is very wide … but less than six meters deep. The heavy rains from the previous months make the lake navigable by the larger boats, like our cruise boat, but it is not navigable at other times of the year. The largest lake in Southeast Asia, you cannot see the shores when in the middle of the lake. The scene below is our last sunset on the cruise.
The final night onboard The Jahan was quite celebratory. A farewell reception was held on the sun deck with all officers and crew giving us a nice final evening send-off. The some tunes were played and the crew called some of us out to dance with them. A young guy who seemed to have eyes for Ryan immediately came over and grabbed him up onto the dance floor. He later grabbed Clint up there, as well.
The next morning, we were shuttled by motorboat to the shores of Siem Reap, then transferred by bus into the city. We soon arrived at our hotel, settled in, and rested for much of the day. We were kind of pooped, but in a good way. The cruise was one of the very best trips that either one of us has ever been on. The people, the villages, the food, the experiences … everything was so much better than we ever expected. Heritage Cruises does an amazing job of taking passengers to authentic working villages and showing what daily life is like. We felt like we got a glimpse into the life and history of Vietnam and Cambodia in one week better than we could have any other way.
After resting up a bit in our room at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap, we ventured out a few blocks to dinner along the Siem Reap River. Our good luck streak hadn’t ended, it seemed, as we had one of the best meals either of us could remember in a long time at Chanrey Tree – a Khmer restaurant.
Our next couple days are spent exploring ancient temples in Siem Reap and then we fly home to the States (via S. Korea and Japan) on the 17th of November.