Tour Day 5 - Stung Treng
Jun 25, 2013
We had the enormous hotel restaurant all to ourselves for breakfast. The hotel is apparently owned by a 3 star general and ex Khmer Rouge officer. No expense had been spared on the place and it’s almost obscene as to the amount of ornate hardwood furniture there is around. Everything is very heavy solid teak. They are cutting trees down at an alarming rate and very much of the logging is illegal.
Breakfast done we set out on a 4.5 hour road trip to Stung Treng, which sits on the banks of the Tonle Sap river. This river flows into the mighty Mekong on the western outskirts of the city. The journey was relatively comfortable in the back of our air conditioned saloon car although the road conditions varied considerably. There were long stretches of reasonably good tarmac roads followed by compacted dirt roads with the inevitable craters and then onto roads with loose chippings about 4 times the size of those used in the UK. The latter made for interesting driving as these huge chippings were continually thrown everywhere as we sped along. There was a continual clatter from the underside of the car. Most of the journey was through sparsely populated areas and you could drive miles without seeing another car/bike/oxen/person.
We made a stop at what looked like a small border town in the Wild West! A small shop sold everything from the required coke to massive pieces of hardwood furniture. Furniture was for sale everywhere and apparently, large quantities find its way into China. They even had a pair of goalkeeper’s gloves for sale and they looked as though they had been hanging there since we last won the world cup!
Refreshed we travelled on at a fair speed, usually travelling bang in the middle of the road as this is where there seemed to be fewer pot holes or loose chippings. It was amusing to see on one section they had a road sweeper out (see pics) and we had to pull over and then drive though a thick dust cloud.
It was a bit depressing to be driving for almost the total journey where swathes of trees had been cut down and the forest retreating further and further back.
We eventually arrived at a ferry port on the banks of the Mekong. This river is massive! I am not sure how wide it was at the crossing point but I would guess a mile. The car was reversed on, along with an assortment of other traffic and before long we were off for a pleasant crossing. There were 2 motorbikes, each with 2 pigs in bamboo cradles on the back. Poor pigs were upside down and topped and tailed and securely roped in. No RSPCA over here!!
We embarked at Stung Treng and it was just a short hop to the hotel. Very nice it is too –guide book says best in town. More solid teak furniture including a massive bed.
We had lunch (stir-fried vegetables and prawns) and then it was off on another 90 min drive to see a flooded forest. On the way we stopped to see a young lad riding an ox. We stopped to take pics and all had great fun as he tried to show off and stand on its back but kept falling off.
At the flooded forest, which always floods in the rainy season, we boarded a very narrow boat (snug fit) and sped along with the outside water level just below waist height. The river was very fast flowing but the craft easily cut its way through.
Have to speed up as I’m finishing this the following morning, internet connection is rubbish and images taking forever to download. I have to be out in 10 min so going to come to an abrupt finish.
We are off to see very rare Dolphins today so will let you know if we find any.
Take care and will catch up soon.