The Mekong – Cambodia
In October 2011 we cruised on the RV Mekong Pandaw along the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia, our first visit to the two countries.
A typhoon had recently affected those countries and the river was flooded.
This short video shows the local Cambodian fishermen taking advantage of the high water.
Cambodia – The Mekong from Phnom Penh to Angkor Ban
We first visited Cambodia in 2011 then returned in 2014.
In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, we took a cyclo tour to the Royal Palace.
We then cruised slowly to the riverside village of Prek Bong Kong, known for its silk weaving and later to Angkor Ban including a delightful stop at the local primary school.
Cambodia – The Mekong from Chhloung to Phnom Sambok
The section of the Mekong River that goes to Kratie is less visited by river cruise ships.
Chhloung is an old colonial town with French and Chinese buildings, some very dilapidated.
Kratie is the jumping off point for a trip to the dolphin grounds using bus and small boats ti see the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.
Phnom Sambok is a temple set on a hilltop with views over the Mekong.
Numerous plaster statues of monks line the steep concrete steps leads from the foot of the hill. At the top of the hill are shrines, a temple and many monkeys.
Cambodia – The Mekong from Kampong Chhnang to Udong
Wat Nokor, in the Kampong Chhnang area is an 11th century Buddhist shrine with a modern pagoda squeezed into it.
Cruising along the muddy Mekong is the ideal way to see country life, with excursions to look at local occupations such as rubber manufacture, rice planting, pottery,
Kampong Chhnang is a bustling town and includes a large floating village of Vietnamese immigrants.
Kampong Tralach is a much smaller village on the Tonle river. It’s main claim to fame is providing ox-cart rides for visiting river cruise passengers. Interesting but not comfortable!
Udong is a religious centre on the Tonle river. Several small rounded hills are topped with temples and stupas. We were lucky enough to see monks gathering for their main meal of the day.
Cambodia – Chong Koh
Chong Koh is a silk weaving village on the banks of the Mekong River not far from Phnom Penh.
It has an opulent Buddhist temple and a down-at-heels school, a similar state of affairs in many Cambodian villages.
The villagers, as always, were delightful.
Cambodia – Wat Hanchey
Wat Hanchey lies about 20km upstream from Kampong Cham on the Mekong River.
The oldest part of this temple was built in the 7th century and is on top of a 300m high hill with good views of the river when the weather is fine.
Unfortunately it rained heavily while we were there so visibility was limited but the temple compound itself was large and interesting.
And while we looked at the temple sights, the local children looked at we tourists!
Cambodia – Kampong Cham
Kampong Cham is a small city on the banks of the Mekong River.
While there we visited Phnom Pros (Man Hill) for another look at temples and statues but the most interesting, and photogenic, things were the monkeys!
Choeungkok is a small village supported by AMICA, a French/Cambodian society.
On the way to Kampong Cham Orphanage Centre we stopped in town to buy goods to donate to the school there – soap, toothepaste and brushed, cooking oil, exercise books and pencils.
Cambodia – Phnom Chisor
Phnom Chisor is about 50km south of Phnom Penh, set on a lone hill giving great views of the surrounding country.
It’s a road less travelled and getting there by tuktuk required asking direction several times.
Four hundred steps lead up to the ruins of a Hindu temple built in the 11th century.
Renovations are taking place.
Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat
Angkor was the capital of the Khmer empire from about the 9th to the 15th centuries. It was a huge city. Its ruins are located in forests and farmlands near Siem Reap.
There are over 1000 temples in the Angkor area, the most famous being Angkor Wat. It is the major tourist attraction in Cambodia and even features on the country’s flag.
Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Khmer empire. The most famous part is the Bayon, the state temple built by king Jayavarman VII, with its hundreds of serenely smiling faces.
Mekong Unexplored (Vietnam and Cambodia)
In 2014 we took a ten day cruise along the Mekong River.
Some parts of this we had seen before but other sections were new.
Along the Mekong in Cambodia we visited the capital Phnom Penh, silk weaving village Prek Bong Kong, a school at Angkor Ban, the old colonial town of Chhloung, Kratie and the nearby dolphin grounds, and Phnom Sambok, a hilltop temple with good views of the Mekong, the ancient ruins of Wat Nokor, the bustling town at Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Tralach with its ox-cart ride, Prek Kdam silver village and Bhuddist temples and stupas at Udong.
On board the RV Angkor Pandaw we were also treated to entertainment by local cultural groups.
The Lake Tonle Sap Story
On our two cruises along the Mekong we had hoped to cross lake Tonle Sap but in 2011 the water was too high to allow the boat to get under bridges leading to the lake; in 2014 the water was so low that the boat could not get over a sandbank at the start.
We decided to take a day tour from Siem Reap to visit at least the northern area of Tonle Sap.
Unfortunately our boat developed engine trouble, we drifted for some time heading towards a thick clump of water hyacinth and eventually transferred to another tour boat.
I don’t think we’ll be tackling lake Tonle Sap again!