Phnom Krom and Chong Kneas – What a Day We Had

(Note: a link to the photo essay of the day can be found at the bottom if you want to skip directly to that)

more Chong13We took advantage of Sunday, the day the kids are off from school, to put together another fantastic family day. We were joined by Mau and Pul, two driver mates of Savuth’s along with Pul’s wife and their two charming kids. So all in all we were 12.

The day started with a picnic style lunch at one of the ‘hammock clubs’ in the picnic1shadow of Phnom Krom. Along the way we stopped at some local markets to pick up grilled chickens and fish and some boiled shrimps. We had brought along the salads, sauces, rice and drinks in order to put together a huge and delicious festive meal. The lakeside setting was really nice with lots of stuff to see happening around the chill-out club.

more Chong9 But as always the kids really made the day extra special. A day out like this is always really exciting for them but with ‘Om Len’ in tow (‘Om is a Khmer word for a respected elder) it becomes extra special for them. What they don’t know, or maybe they do, is that the time I get to spend with them is a true gift and I feel like the one who is incredibly privileged. We more more more more Chong1fished a bit, practiced English and math, ran after the ice cream man on his bike and played beekaboo. But the most fun of all was when I got to play the central role in “wake the monster sleeping (or pretending to sleep with very realistic snoring sound effects) in the hammock and get chased all over the place.”

Phnom Krom Chong5 After several hours we packed ourselves back into the three tuk tuks and headed off to the fun fair on the jetty at Chong Kneas. This is the location where the tour boats embark to visit the floating villages on Tonle Sap and with some tour companies also the stilted village of Kampong Phnom Krom Chong9Phluk. It is incredibly insightful and even inspiring in some way to always re-discover that the fun and excitement quotient for kids has nothing to do with the sophistication or expansiveness of the fun fair. Of course we also got to see the land-side of life of many of the floating homes that now moor on the new jetty.

more Chong11Our original plan was to spend an hour or two there and then head over to Phnom Krom to climb to the top to watch sunset from high above the lake. But by an hour before sunset it was clear that kids were in too much of a state of excited exhaustion (or is it exhausted excitement?) to do the climb up and down. So we decided to stay on the jetty at Chong Phnom Krom Chong12Kneas where we got to see a very nice sunset. Having grown up myself around sailboats, I particularly enjoyed the beauty and serenity of the dark silhouettes of boats on the water as the sun set.

Phnom Krom Chong16On the ride back to town I had two exhausted angels in my arms, deep in sleep, and totally oblivious to the bumps that on the worst parts of the damaged road were almost enough to launch an inattentive tuk tuk passenger into outer space.

As anyone will tell you who has been to Cambodia, with all there is to see and do, with the incredible awe inspiring temples, it is the beauty and warmth of the people that really steal your heart and make you long for more.

If you are planning a trip I would recommend you think of the following: If there is any way you can arrange to spend some time with a Cambodian family, most easily that of your driver, by offering to host a picnic day at West Baray, Phnom Krom, Phnom Kulen or something similar, doing some ‘Cambodian things’ they love to do as a family, I can guarantee you unique experiences and memories of unsurpassed richness and warmth. In any case, if your driver invites you out to his home to meet his family and see his village as many will do if it clicks, do your best to make time for it. You won’t be sorry if you do but you may be sorry if you don’t. 🙂

If you want to see the full photo essay of the day… here it is:

Krom and Chong

(Thinking of visiting the temples of Angkor Wat? Don’t forget to check out my friend Savuth’s tuk tuk services!)

Originally published on my travelbog Leonard’s Trails

~ by Leonard on October 13, 2009.

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