Kampong Cham

Trip Start Feb 07, 2007
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Trip End Mar 20, 2007


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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Today we got to walk somewhere for a change. The ship moored, very neatly, right into the river bank so that was really interesting to watch. The crew set up a very sturdy gangplank ashore and we climbed up the steep bank. The temple complex we were visiting today was the site of an ancient pre-Angkorian Wat dating from the 7th century and was situated on top of a hill. The remains of the original structure were very impressive but all around it had been built a whole series of modern day Wats, Stupas and Buddha related paraphernalia to the point that it looked a bit like a theme park. We learned that it was women's day so the school was closed. The children were out in force trying to practice their English skills. They were all extremely polite and engaged you in conversational phrases similar to those I remember when learning French at school! "Good morning, how are you today"?  "Do you have any children"? and so on. I have to say they were charming and were also very keen for you to send them copies of the photographs you took of them. One young girl gave us a slip of paper with her address all neatly written out ready so we promised to send some to her.
 
After lunch we boarded a small coach (the first time we had used this mode of transport I'm glad to say) and went to a 12th century Angkorian temple complex which gave us a little taste of what's to come at Angkor Wat. After that we visited the twin Man and Woman hills. This is a favourite spot for the locals to gather and there are lots of monkeys everywhere. Unfortunately the local people bring them food as offerings and this has made them quite aggressive so we were advised to give them a wide berth.
 
Our final visit was to an orphanage at Kampong Cham. The Pandaw Company, with the help of its passengers, sponsor several projects in the countries they operate in, this was one of them. We stopped en-route to buy pencils, notebooks and a few sweets to take them and were greeted with such enthusiasm. It was great to see how well behaved they were. All the gifts were piled onto a table to be distributed by the headmaster later, after we had a tour of the complex. Living conditions are very basic but these are children from the poorest families. In some cases they have been left to be brought up by grandparents, who are too poor to support them and some have been orphaned through disease. They grow vegetables, raise a few pigs and make paintings to sell, all of which helps support the orphanage. The Pandaw Company have installed a well, provided bicycles, a couple of computers and built a hard standing for games. At the end of the visit all the children lined up and sang us a "thank you" song.
 
Back on board we just had time for a shower before dinner. The food on board has been very good. The buffet lunches always include a soup, a great selection of salads plus one or two hot main courses and fruit. Dinner consists of a starter, soup, main course and sweet and ranges from traditional local foods to more international choices. Tonight dinner had an Indian theme with curried fish and chicken massala.
    
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