Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Just Messing about on the River (Siem Reap)

This was our final day as Mini Happy Family.  The honeymooners were last to arrive at the coach, both sporting harem pants.  It seemed Nathan had lost his bet with Krystal and his penance was to wear them.  Actually I thought he looked better than Beckham in a skirt and quite trendy for their planned ox-cart ride.  

Our trip this morning proved quite eventful.  The heavy rains had caused rivers to flood.  Already roads and houses were deep in water.  The people here did not wallow in self-pity.  They carried on with life as best they could, waving and grinning as we passed them by.  

Many were taking offerings to the temple on whatever transport they could find, if any. They continued to smile, even when our coach splashed them, drenching their best clothes.  Little children screamed with delight to see the crazy tourists steadily plodding on through the flood waters.  Some others swam in their newly created garden pools.  

Four of our gang had opted for the ox-cart ride.  The locals really made a fuss of them as the heavy carts were towed slowly along ahead of the coach.  Jemma  informed me that she had learned a valuable life lesson - Always wear a sports' bra when riding in an ox-cart!

So, that left Frank, Tania, Lord David and his Lady to amuse ourselves as we followed behind the plodders.  Eye Spy would have been restricted to something beginning with 'W'.  Water, water everywhere and ne'er a drop to drink.  Except Ny pointed out a well which had been provided thanks to his fund-raising efforts.  He hopes to have more built in the future.  At least some families will have fresh water to drink here thanks to this kind, young man.

We reached the end of the road.  There was nowhere else to go except climb aboard a boat being steered by a lad who looked about fifteen, yet sported a wedding ring.  The boat's mechanism was a concoction of parts taken from different vehicles and machines.  Steering wheel, gear stick and ignition came from various cars.  Lord David was convinced he had seen other bits on his lawn mower!  As for the rudder, a rope went around the boat, controlled by a clutch and brake pedal contraption.  

It was so noisy, we could only continue our conversation through sign language.  So, that didn't last long.  Looking around, we could see that the floods were causing problems here too.  A poor tuk-tuk was stranded on the last available piece of high land.  Would it still be there later?

On and on we drove.  For us, it brought back memories of a rather boring Norfolk Broads trip.  Stop shouting.  I know some of you like the Norfolk Broads, but we find them boring.  Flat and lots of reeds.  Here it was flat too but at least it was broken up occasionally by beautiful lawns of water lilies.  

At last Frank spotted buildings ahead.  On high poles, they stood clear of the water.  They even had a Community Centre.  Lord David decided he would not apply for a posting here.  

We pulled alongside a cafe and were given the chance to transfer to smaller crafts.  Lord David and I took two steps backwards (mentally that is, otherwise we would have been swimming).  I am not over fond of boats at the best of times and these looked decidedly wobbly.  I was also concerned that Lord David might dislocate his new hips during this venture.  Sitting straddling my bottom was far beyond his consultant's advice.  

We watched the other couples boarding. Pam created a bit if a stir when she started to slip.  Gasps of horror and loads of helping hands shot forward.  She just plopped neatly into place and they were away.  Off they sailed, happy on their travels.  It looked fun. 

 One boat looked slightly larger and it had a seat.  Surely we could manage that one?!  So Lord and Lady C boarded their craft (no piping aboard though).  We floated around the kingdom with a little female paddling for all she was worth from the bow (if that is the correct term for the front of a boat.  I thought it was prow but Himself who is never wrong says that I am and it is bow).  

Here, everyone lives in the stilted homes. Little children were swimming next door or popping across the road in a boat.  I wondered if they were going to borrow a cup of sugar or if they were on a play date.  An elderly gent was assisted by his toddler grandson in paddling the boat.  They learned early here.  

Tour of the Floating Village over and it was back to the roaring revs for the return journey.  We were kept amused by the antics of travellers going in the opposite direction.  They were celebrating big style, drinking and dancing.  If we had been closer, I would have accepted their offers of a drink.  Other revellers were jumping from high balconies into the water below.  Our boat soared on, buffeted by wind, rain and the swell from other crafts.  We waved to all and sundry.  A lump swelled in my throat as I was reminded of our Motorhome waving tradition in Scotland, so far away.

The landing was not far away and getting off was a little tricky.  The boat was high and the landing platform was low.  Sinbad the Sailor (aka Nathan) and Fearless Frank leapt ashore to offer much needed assistance.  I would have still been there now without their help.  

The road back was too flooded for us to continue.  The alternative route, down really small country lanes was rarely used by tourist buses.  We caused some eyebrows to be raised.  Our hair was almost raised too when a low electricity cable scraped along the top of the coach.  A little tricky situation but nothing fazed our driver.  I kept my hands well away from the metal in order to avoid a frizzy, frazzled look.

Oh look, another temple with yet more children chanting the 'One Dollar' song.  I'd tried to improve their repertoire in an attempt to distract them from poor Jemma and Pam.  Their purses were emptying faster than Harrods' shelves in the New Year sales.  I burst into a 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes' song.  Just blank stares then back to their requests for one dollar in exchange for a small item.

One group of charmers were making best use of modern technology.  We wondered why a photographer seemed to point his camera at mine and Krystal's chest.  I could understand why he'd pointed it at Krystal's but mine??!!  All was clarified as we were leaving. Small dishes were produced with our faces imprinted.  Very clever but not clever enough for Lord David.  He insisted on bartering (and badly bartering).  I fear my face now had another printed on top and my little momento has gone.  There went another Miami Hat.

It was almost Happy Hour.  We all declined another temple as the weather was poor ( that's our excuse and we're sticking to it).  We took along our tooth glasses to visit Tania and Frank.  We needed them to polish off the wine from an earlier time  Down in the bar even Lord David was a little daring with the cocktails.  We laughed, joked and swapped stories of our travels.  It was one of those evenings you just didn't want to end.  Hiccup!! Friends Forever x

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