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My Mekong Adventure: Part 7

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    My Mekong Adventure: Part 7

    Part 7: Buddhist Blessing, Ox-Cart Ride, Floating Villages & Interesting Foods!

    Something I had been looking forward to the entire trip was the Buddhist Blessing, and it was so much better than I could have imagined. We travelled by bus to Oudong, former capital of Cambodia to visit a Buddhist Monastery and then on to Kampong Tralach for an Ox-Cart ride.

    We arrived at the Vipassana Dhurak Buddhist Centre in Ou Dong just before 9am and Fin (our fantastic Cambodia tour guide) showed us through the beautiful grounds of the Monastery. The most stunning flowers were planted everywhere you looked that smelt as good as they looked. This was the hottest by far (I think it’s getting hotter day by day!) so Fin led us to the shade before we entered the monastery for our blessing to make sure we were aware of the protocol and what was and wasn’t respectful towards the Monk who was leading the blessing.

    We took off our shoes, made sure our knees and shoulders were covered, and went inside. The Monastery smelt of incense and jasmine which created such a tranquil atmosphere. Our group sat in a semi-circle in front of the monk, and were encouraged to get as close as we could whilst respecting the Monk as women cannot get too close or touch the Monks. When the Monk had finished the blessing he threw Jasmin flowers over everyone and it’s said to be good luck the more jasmine is thrown at you, so I sat as close as I could, whilst respecting the boundaries. After the blessing we thanked the monk, and continued looking around the compound. From here, we went straight to Kampong Tralach for an Ox Cart ride, the most popular transportation in the countryside of Cambodia.

    There were over 30 Ox-Carts, and seeing the Ox-Carts all lined up was brilliant (although slightly smelly!). In pairs, we got in to the Ox-Carts and began our journey back to the ship – there were a fleet of Ox-Carts as the entire ship did the excursion which was quite the sight. The local villagers gave us some odd looks as I double they’d ever seen so many ox carts pass through as once, (well, since the last Travelmarvel Essential Vietnam & Cambodia Tour Group!)! The entire way back a little girl followed our cart and gave me a letter, a drawing and a flower ring – I felt awful as I had nothing to give her as I only had my camera with me but she said she just liked practising her English and talking to new people so I felt a bit less guilty as I spoke to her about her life and family and what she wanted to do when she's older. Just before we got back to the ship the little girl (whose name I definitely cannot spell!) ran back home and said she would meet us at the ship, we wondered why she was running back home but we just smiled and said ok. Before we knew it, she was back and had written another letter to Gemma (who I was sharing the Ox-Cart with) and this time is was personally addressed to Gemma - it really was the sweetest thing! When we arrived back at the ship it was docked on the edge of the river bank with just a wooden plank laid out to board the ship again, it is such an authentic experience sailing to such remote country side off the beaten track, in the middle of nowhere! We said goodbye to the children and boarded the ship (and then ran to our balconies to wave goodbye to the children again!). We then spent the afternoon watching a Fruit Show from the Head Chef and relaxing in the pool on the sun deck and sailing to our next destination, Kampong Chhnang. We arrived around midnight and moored midstream overnight ready to visit the Floating Village in the morning.

    We took a local boat through the floating village of Kampong Chhnang to see the daily life of the people who are living on floating houses – this was a sight like I’ve never seen before, it really is incredible how people live with just the basics, but have such a love for life and are the most genuine happy people I’ve ever met. After sailing through the floating village we moored up and went ashore to explore the local town. We walked through the market where there wasn’t really anything to buy as the market vendors mainly sell food, which looked very… interesting! A couple of the group were brave enough to try the Balut which are eggs eaten while still warm in the shell and are served with nothing, you eat them after nine days and the eggs are held to a light to reveal the embryo inside…which you then eat! Safe to say I said thanks but no thanks to this dish! A few others had deep fried frog’s legs which looked the frog version of KFC but once again I didn’t try these! We left the market and sailed back to the La Marguerite for lunch and continued are trip to Prek K’Dam. This evening we were treated to the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail & Crew Presentation, followed by a disembarkation briefing from our Cruise Director, Tung. He read us the Tourists Prayer, which was really quite funny and went something like this (if you’ve been on a river cruise before you may have heard this!):

    Heavenly Father, look down on us your humble, obedient
    tourist servants, who are doomed to travel this earth,
    taking photographs, mailing postcards, buying souvenirs and
    walking around in drip-dry underwear.
    We beseech you O Lord to see that our plane is not hijacked,
    our luggage is not lost and our overweight baggage goes unnoticed.

    Protect us from surly and unscrupulous Tuk Tuk drivers, avaricious porters
    and unlicensed English speaking guides.
    Give us this day divine guidance in the selection
    of our hotels, that we may find our reservations honoured,
    our rooms made up, breakfast included, and (hot) water running in the taps.

    We pray that the telephones work, and the operators speak our tongue
    and remember our morning call for the sake of others on our tour,
    And that there is no mail from our children awaiting us
    which would force us to cancel the rest of our trip.

    Lead us, dear Lord, to good, inexpensive restaurants
    where the food is superb, the waiters friendly and the wine served complimentary.
    Give us wisdom to tip correctly in currencies we do not understand.
    Forgive us for under tipping out of ignorance and over tipping out of fear.
    Make the locals love us for who we are, and not for what we can contribute
    to their worldly goods.

    Grant us the strength to visit the museums, the Temples,
    the Monasteries, national parks, and convict jails
    listed as "must see" in our guide books.
    And if by chance we skip an historic monument to take a nap after lunch,
    have mercy on us, for the flesh is but weak.

    Dear God, keep our wives from shopping sprees and protect them from
    "bargains" they do not need or cannot afford. Lead them not into temptation
    for they know not what they do.

    Almighty Father, keep our husbands from looking at foreign women
    And remind them that they are on a "fixed" menu and not á la carte.
    Save them from making fools of themselves in cafes and nightclubs.
    Above all, please do not forgive them their trespasses for they know
    exactly what they do.

    And when our trip is over and we return to our loved ones, grant us
    the favour of finding someone who will look at our home movies and
    listen to our stories.
    So our stories will not have been in vain.......


    This made the entire ship laugh!

    After the briefing we enjoyed the Farewell Gala Dinner, which as always, was delicious! We then danced our last night on board away with the ship musician, Vy, before going to bed in preparation for our morning journey from Prek K’Dam to Siem Reap. We hopped on a luxury coach (think big reclining arm chairs and air con) and made our way to the Shinta Mani Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, which is absolutely stunning, such a tranquil atmosphere, the perfect way to end a fantastic holiday, but I’ll tell you more about this in my next blog.

    In Siem Reap we visited the ancient temples of Angkor. Angkor’s vast complex of intricate stone buildings (which are over 900 years old) includes Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (which was the last capital city of the Khmer empire, and also where parts of Tomb Raider were filmed!) and the carved giant smiling faces of the Bayon temple at Angkor Thom – these were fascinating so I’ll be back tomorrow with my Siem Reap Blog!

    As always, if you have any questions, just let me know

    Until Then

    Interesting once again Jess. Just a thought, when you boarded the ship "with just a wooden plank", how did the less mobile get on? Shame you're coming to the end but looking forward to hearing all about Angkor Wat......................HT


      Hi, Jessica, Loved reading your reports and nice to read about such wonderful places and you certainly brought back many happy memories for me. Thanks again for all your hard work.


        Hi Jessica
        Been cruising so just caught up with your travel blog. Have never really considered river cruising before but your interesting reports have given me food for thought!
        Look forward to the next instalment. Have fun :-)



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