Day 48 - Day 2 of our trip across the Meekong Delta to Phonm Penh

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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Our boats for day 2 of the Mekong Delta Trip

Today we started the second part of our journey to Phnom Penh and it was a really early start as we were leaving the hotel at 7am. We got breakfast in the hotel, again part of $26 ticket, and again it was egg based but its normal enough now. I wonder do they grow cereals over here at all.

The bus journey lasted about 5 minutes; all it was doing was taking us down to the waterfront to catch another boat. This boat was to take us to a floating fishing village an then into a Cham ethnic minority village where some of the poorest people of Vietnam live. The trip to the floating fishing village was short but refreshing at that time of the morning! We had already seen a fishing village in Halong Bay where they catch fish naturally and then put them in cages to sell to tourists and locals.

A local going fishing on the river
This fishing village was different though as it was more of a fish farm, than a fishing village. The houses had their entire underneath caged off down to about 7m and they just bred fish there on fish food. The house we were at was about 12m by about 15m, the cage went down 7m and it housed approximately 40,000 fish. The people that owned this fish farms were quite rich with some of them having 5 or 6 houses beside each other, all as part of the same fish farm.

From the fish farm we made our way further up the river to the Cham village. It was immediately evident the difference in wealth with the Cham people living in quite primitive houses along the banks with only small single person boats, compared to the floating fishing village houses with their satellite dishes and electricity as well as the large boats they owned. We got a brief tour of the village before we were given time to look at the various crafts that were for sale, all made by the Cham people themselves.

1 families fishing village.farm .... these are some of the richest people living in the Meekong Delta
On leaving the Cham village we continued up the Tonle Sap River heading towards the border stop. At about 10:35 we saw our first part of Cambodia. We were heading up one of the tributary rivers to the Meekong and the land in front was Cambodia and the land on either side was Vietnam, strange layout but that was the way it was.

We continued further up the river and at about 12:30 we got to our Vietnamese border checkpoint where we were to have lunch. We were supposed to have approximately an hour break before switching both guides and boats from Vietnam to Cambodia but, as a person on the boat coming the other way from Cambodia to Vietnam, had changed the date on their visa stamp, they ended up causing about a 2 hour delay as it was sorted out.

A trap door to feed the fish beneath the buildings of the floating fishing village
Our guide told us that the fine for this was about 2 million Vietnamese Dong or about $120, not something I'd recommend to anyone!

At about 3 o clock we finally made it across the border crossing into Cambodia and thankfully no one from our group had any problems. I suppose being 2 hours late was bad enough. From here it was back on the boat again and we spent another 3 hours cruising up the Meekong River. This was actually very chilled, we were back on the main Meekong again and there were boats of all sorts going about their daily routine up and down the river! As of the delay we also got to see the sun going down over the banks of the Meekong again for the second time of the Southeast Asia trip.

A fishing boat in the Meekong Delta
For anyone like us, on a long trip, spending as much time as possible on the Meekong really is relaxing, yeah the boat seats might not be as comfortable as a bus, but you get to meet some great people and take in some of the real culture that focuses itself along this great river.

We finally docked the boat at what looked to be a private jetty at the back of one of the houses along the Meekong. We climbed the bank and all gathered at the front of a shed beside the house. We were all a little confused as the boat driver didn't have any English so we'd no idea what we were to do next. Then a bus pulled up outside the shed and the sight didn't fill us with much confidence. They started packing the bags on to it through the back window, why they didn't pack them into the luggage hold puzzled me but it became clear later on. After loading all the bags in, we started to get on the bus.

The buildings as part of the Cham ethnic minority village
The bus looked even worse from the inside and we ended up in the last seat at the back. The seat in front wasn't parallel to ours either, I wasn't really complaining as I had more leg room, but after a few minutes we noticed that the seat leg on the inside had actually gone down through the floor ... that's why they didn't put the luggage underneath, there probably was no underneath!

After packing all of us onto the rickety bus we set off and after several miles it became apparent why the bus was so rickety, the road was a disaster. They were improving stretches and you could see all the machinery and rubble along the road but bits that they weren't doing up and had no machinery were just as bad! After 90 minutes of a backside breaking bus we were very glad to get off it in Phnom Penh though it was very late.

The Cham ethnic minority people

We were dropped off at the tour company 'suggested' hotel but practically all of us wanted to stay in a different district of the city, so we all jumped into tuk-tuks and headed for the area beside Boeng Kak Lake. Song (Korea) got into our tuk-tuk with myself and Caroline and off the 3 of us headed. Well arriving late was proving to be a problem, as everywhere we checked in the area was already fully booked up, so we got back into another tuk-tuk and headed to the second most popular area in town, along the lake front where we found a cheap $8 guesthouse that was clean and tidy and had rooms for both myself, Caroline and Song.

After settling in, the 3 of us headed down the waterfront to get something to eat.

A local Cham girl .. some of the poorest people in the Meekong Delta
We stopped at the first restaurant we came to and I decided to order a traditional Cambodian dish 'Fish Amok'. Fish Amok is a fish, coconut and lemongrass curry served in a banana leaf. It didn't turn out to be that nice and the lemongrass was a little overpowering for my tastes but it was edible. After dinner we headed back to the guesthouse for some sleep and to rest our bodies after the bone breaking bus!

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Our boats for day 2 of the Mekong …
Our boats for day 2 of the Mekong…
A local going fishing on the river
A local going fishing on the river
1 families fishing village.farm ..…
1 families fishing village.farm .…
A trap door to feed the fish benea…
A trap door to feed the fish bene…
A fishing boat in the Meekong Delta
A fishing boat in the Meekong Delta
The buildings as part of the Cham …
The buildings as part of the Cham…
The Cham ethnic minority people
The Cham ethnic minority people
A local Cham girl .. some of the p…
A local Cham girl .. some of the …
Building a new house on the Cham v…
Building a new house on the Cham …
A local Cham girl washing clothes …
A local Cham girl washing clothes…
A Tree root structure along the ba…
A Tree root structure along the b…
A pedestrian/motorbike bridge over…
A pedestrian/motorbike bridge ove…
The enormous rice paddies in teh M…
The enormous rice paddies in teh …
Some of the vegetables being grown…
Some of the vegetables being grow…
The look up the roof of our boat .…
The look up the roof of our boat …
A water pump that takes Meekong wa…
A water pump that takes Meekong w…
Vietnam on the left, Vietnam on th…
Vietnam on the left, Vietnam on t…
The rice padies of Cambodia
The rice padies of Cambodia
The Cambodian boat for the last bo…
The Cambodian boat for the last b…
Caroline, Song, Julia and Me at lu…
Caroline, Song, Julia and Me at l…
Sunset in The Cambodian Tonle Sap …
Sunset in The Cambodian Tonle Sap…
The rickity bus that too us into P…
The rickity bus that too us into …
The door of the bus ... there was …
The door of the bus ... there was…
Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk