“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins
Saturday, 23 February 2013
Heading North on National Route 5
Breakfast today saw us try another new fruit which we think is called a meal fruit although we are not yet sure given the accent here. As is typical of me, I cleaned and wrapped the pips from the plate ready to stow in my luggage. I've waited 20 years to get an avocado to germinate, so fingers-crossed it's a good year for me and propagation. Our mini-van, and its' driver Naro, were waiting at 8am to take us to the holy mountain at Oudong where it is believed the temple houses one of Buddha's teeth. As such there were quite a few children selling flowers and incense sticks to take into the temple. I'm not great at indoor photography in the dark, so I stayed outside to take shots of the people coming and going.
The sun had some out for the first time this trip this morning and it was harsh. At the top of the mountain where the temple sits the heat was immense (particularly after the 509 stone steps we had to climb to get there!). The bright sunlight also isn't great for photography but we managed a few shots helped by Eric's composition tuition. However, I don't think I will ever get excited about architectural photography.
Lunch was a bit of a disaster and I fear the inevitable after effects will be felt by me for a few days to come.
A couple of hours drive and a short sleep later and we had arrived at our hotel in Kampong Chnang. Clean, air conditioned and with free wifi, but not a patch on Hilary's. Still it is only $15 per night, so we can't complain!
We cooled off with a couple of beers before "Chamrong", our new guide, took us to visit the local villages to see how they make a living. Kampong Chnang is the area known for it's pottery and so we stopped first at a rural house where the family were hand-making clay pots using an old method of bashing it with wood and stone before building a fire in the garden and cooking them before they go off to the village kiln for a final firing. The family's eldest daughter, 15 years old, was busy making pots using a more modern method on a potter's wheel in the garden. She makes 30 pots a day and is teaching her little sister to throw pots too. The next stop was a larger pottery workshop making charcoal stoves using moulds made of aluminium and packed with ash. We were invited to visit the houses beyond this workshop to see how they made sugar and beer from palm fruits. A fascinating and long-winded process, but the results tasted pretty good, provided you steered clear of the dead insects embedded in it. Today seems to have been a day all about food. We tried meal fruit at breakfast, raw sugar-cane at Oudong, caramel sugar at the village as well as another fruit that I can't remember the name of. Eric seems to think we will have an opportunity in Siem Reap to try both fried crickets and fried tarantula!!
Dinner was disappointing after the poor lunch. We were recommended a restaurant that had an English menu just outside town, but the tuk-tuk driver told us it was closed and dropped us off at another restaurant with an English menu that was tacked on to a petrol station with a Saturday night live karaoke out back. The singers were god awful, but the tables out back in the garden provided at least a nice setting.
Stayed at the Sovann Phum Hotel