Motoring Through the Tonle Sap

Battambang Travel Blog

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On Tuesday I took a boat from Battambang to Siem Reap.  The entire reason I chose to go to Battambang in the first place was so that I could do this boat ride, supposedly the most scenic and beautiful in the country.  All I have to say is that if that is the most beautiful stretch of scenery, Cambodia is seriously hurting in the natural beauty department.  Which is all too true, given that the country has been depleted of its forests.  For as far as the eye can see, for miles upon miles, it's just barren land with a handful of trees scattered here and there.  Certainly not an eyesore, but when you think of the lush tropical jungle that used to be, it's heartbreaking.

Sunrise over the river.

The boat ride was long.  We're talking looooooong.  Eight hours and can't feel your ass because it's gone numb long.  And the entire time you're perched on unforgiving wooden planks with your knees jammed up behind your neighbor.  Made me pine for the days of Thai buses.

Nor did I get many pictures.  It seemed most of the floating villages we passed were on the opposite side of the boat from which I was sitting, and there was fierce competition for camera territory between a big French family and a few grumpy Brits.  I didn't bother trying to add to the struggle, it wasn't worth it.

I kicked myself for not charging the ipod; I had envisioned a small boat happily cruising along and making friends with the handful of travelers on board.
  No such luck.  The boat was pretty sizeable; I was told it could hold thirty, but if you ask me that was pretty crafty math considering no fewer than fifty of us were on board, and we stopped something like three dozen times to admit more locals.  Squeezed in like sardines, there was no comradery to be had.

For whatever reasons, I was singled out to move a few times to help even out the weight distribution.  Me and only me.  Mind you, there were big dudes (and shall we say a rather corpulent German woman) and kids running all over the place, and locals who could sit wherever they pleased.  So why they needed to move me, I have no clue.  But I was the chosen one every time.  Which turned out to be a good thing, because it became rather comical toward the end, and it enabled me to have conversations with a few people after being assigned to sit next to them.
  Which is how I got to know Allan and Dave, two Australians I first met earlier in the morning when we shared a shuttle to the dock.

The three of us swapped travel routes and goofed off and commiserated about the painful states of our poor backsides, which really helped the time go by.  The second half of the trip turned out to be more pleasant than the first, even though we were all bored to tears and half deaf from the sputtering motor and groaning every time we stopped to load/unload more people and cargo.

We finally arrived somewhere around 3:30, our legs cramped and stiff after sitting on wooden planks since before 7am.  We made plans to tackle the temples together the following day, and went our separate ways, gratefully collapsing into (relatively) soft tuk-tuks to our respective guesthouses.  I was unsuccessful in the wifi department, found some street food, and called it a day.

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Sunrise over the river.
Sunrise over the river.
Look closely, there are pigs in th…
Look closely, there are pigs in t…
Our brutal boat.
Our brutal boat.
Tuk-tuk ride through Siem Reap.
Tuk-tuk ride through Siem Reap.
photo by: Mezmerized