As you, my readers are aware, my favorite photographic subject is nature in its many forms – landscapes, flora, fauna, skyscapes, waterscapes etc. I have never felt up to the task of capturing the human face. That is, until I met the people of Cambodia. You will see why in a moment.
Helping us delve intimately into the heart of the country and its inhabitants is an unforgettably unique mode of transportation: The Mekong Princess. Although small in size, allowing access into seldom seen locales, this riverboat was anything but small in its gracious appointments and services:
Peggy immediately found her favorite spot on the sun deck:
Our room was pretty spectacular as well:
A special shout out has to be given to the staff of this vessel. Within minutes of our arrival, they knew each of our names and quickly picked up on our preferences and quirks:
Case in point: one night after dinner, Peggy and I relaxed in the lounge chatting with our fellow travelers over a night-cap. I headed back to our room first. In the morning, Peggy handed me an item that one of the porters said belonged to me. My friends and family will instantly understand when they see the item:
Safely aboard, we got our first briefing on the next day’s itinerary by our fab tour director Chinh:
Ready to cast off, we hit our next WTDGAP moment – a phalanx of fishing boats had cast their large nets over the waters thereby blocking our path, but it only took a few moments to get it all sorted out, while everyone smiled at the predicament. Amazing people.
Our first port of call was the town of Angkor Ban. I say “port,” but as I mentioned before we were in rarely visited interiors of the country and frankly all of our trips ashore involved a version of walking the plank. As with previous journeys, faced with a rather precarious foothold, I opted to store my camera, but I did take a shot of locals as well as our guides helping us maneuver across one. The “deck” you see in the foreground is the edge of our sampan:
All arrived on shore without mishap and before we walked through the tiny little village we stopped at a lovely pagoda complex to be blessed by local monks.
Our local guide Sokun also gave us a brief demonstration of the positions and meaning behind the many poses of Buddha:
We now had a special invite to enter the home of a lovely grandma, who made us feel welcome by sweeping the floor while saying, “Sorry for the mess, Please come in.” Sound familiar?
“Come in” is not entirely correct – it was more come in and up, for the home was raised from the ground on stilts to protect it against annual flooding:
This woman is in her 80’s with an overload of charm and grace and I was humbled when invited to take a picture with her:
The piece de resistance, however is our next stop to a village school. After being greeted excitedly by the class:
We were each selected by a group of children, given books and a globe so we could help the students with their English. Somehow I received a Canadian alphabet book which had some very Canadian like examples: “I is for Inuksuk” – fortunately I know what this is and to prove it read this blog post. The book didn’t include “ay’s” sprinkled “aboot”).
The children were interested not only in learning English but also about us as people. I used my globe to show them where I lived versus where they lived and they asked questions about the children of the USA. All of us were quite taken in:
This is what travel is about.