Battambang to Siem Reap by boat down the Sangker River and across Ton Le Sap
Battambang Travel Blog› entry 17 of 17 › view all entries
February 16th, 2004 – by: oriel
It soon became clear why the propellor shaft had broken and ultimately, why the trip was to take 12 hours instead of 2. We were at an extremely low water season and in certain places our skipper and his one man crew had to get out of the boat and push it through when it ran aground on the muddy bottom. Sangker is a busy fishing river lined with all sorts of fishing gear from simple thrown nets to huge dip nets raised and lowered by A-frame cranes. The fish that are caught with these diverse gear are placed in the hulls of fishing boats where they are allowed to ferment and later a fermented fish sauce is decanted from this mix and used as a food flavouring throughout Asia. With all the fishing traffic and boats passing us, we ran aground regularly and our crew spent more time in the water either pushing our boat free or helping passing boats - including many rank-smelling fermentation hulls full of rotting fish.
Contributing to our sensory experience was the continually changing vista on life on the river banks. The river was highway, water source, laundry, food source, bathing facility, and sewer for the thousands of households visible from our passing boat. We saw children herding ducks along the banks and women washing clothing and dishes at the waters edge. Others operated bicycle and passenger ferries across the water.
As we approached the mouth of the Sangker River, the water deepened and we were able to increase our speed although the crew had to manoeuvre around fishing weirs fixed to the bottom that extended out into the Ton Le Sap. We stopped on the Battambang side for a restaurant break and to discharge our remaining Cambodian passengers before crossing to the Siem Reap side. As we walked up the muddy trails of the Siem Reap boat harbour area we were relieved to encounter our driver who had been waiting for us for hours and drove us back to the Salabai Hotel just as the sun was setting.
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