I chose poorly
So after two days in Siem Rep traipsing around the temples, I decided to try something different. Why? I'm not really sure. But I decided to go on a tour of one of the floating villages on Tonle Sap. Tonle Sap is a huge fresh water lake in the middle of Cambodia. It's actually the latest fresh water lake in South East Asia. And you know me, if it involves a boat, I'm in!
The tour started fine. They picked me up from my hotel and asked me if I wanted to go to a lotus farm on the way. Sure. I'm trying to go with the flow on this trip. But as we headed out of town, the living conditions got worse and worse. By sticking to the big cities and the temples, I've managed to avoid, or to at least overlook, the poverty in these countries. But it was hard to avoid on this tour, because it was everywhere. The lotus farm was fine. Off the side of the road into a huge pond where there were thousands of lotus plants. Fun fact, in addition to the lotus flower, there is also a lotus fruit which you could eat. Umm. Pass. Then it was off to see the stilt village. Houses built on stilts because of how much the lake level changes during the rainy season. And as I'm sure you can imagine, the houses are ramshackles with missing planks and corrugated tin roofs. My tour guide wanted to know if I wanted to go into the village and I said no. So we continued to Tonle Sap.
There are four different floating villages on Tonle Sap. Two are Vietnamese, one is Cambodian, and one is a mix. There's some sort of tension with the Vietnamese that I'm not getting. But we we approached the lake, the tour guide was talking about how the people living in the floating villages fish, bath, and yes go to the bathroom in the lake. They do bring in bottle water from the shore for cooking and drinking. And one look at the lake made that obvious. The water was the most disgusting mud like liquid I've ever seen. We boarded a small boat which I had to myself and we headed up the channel to get to the lake. As we went by, I could see all of the garbage and plastic bags along the shore. I'm fairly certain it was in the water and just left behind when the water receded during the dry season. Lovely. We made it to the lake and it's so big you can't seen anything on the horizon. And it was still that gross mud color water. So this tour is basically a tourist trap. We passed by some floating houses and even a floating school before we got a floating tourist stop where they had fresh water crocodiles in a cage. Ok, sure. Took some pics. Just go with it Trey. Afterwards, we headed to the larger boat which had a nice view and where I would have lunch. Mind you, it's 10AM. So yes, I'm having a beer and lunch at 10AM. Don't judge. Thankfully I brought my Kindle so I escaped into the trashy sci-if book I'm reading. After about an hour, I was ready to leave. As I did, I noticed some of the children swimming in the water. Fairly certain there isn't a big enough tetanus shot in the world if I were to fall in the water. Thankfully I was back at the hotel a little after noon and just curled up on a lounge chair by the pool with a mojito. As one does, right?
Eating. Yes, I'm eating, but I'm not making it a priority or searching out the best places to eat. First, I'm not that much of a foodie. I try at times. But second, I'm not really a big fan of Asian food. Everything is with rice or noodles. So the thought of paleo is a joke. On the plus side, all of the food I'm eating is probably organic. And I'm still off soda, so there are some healthy choices I'm making. I did have the local specialty (with chicken) call Amok. It's a pretty good coconut based sauce with some interesting spices in it. Spicy warm, not spicy hot, so that was good for me. There's a place called "Pub Street" that is where all of the "fine" dining establishments are. $.50 beers? Sure, why not. And last night with it being Valentine's Day, it was packed and decorated with hearts and stuff. I asked Bob, my tour guide, the day before if they celebrated V-day here and he said mainly the young people. I did see a gorgeous young bride in her wedding dress walking down the street and my first thought was: "Gurl! You are dragging your amazing dress down this dirty street? What were you thinking?" Yep, I'm that gay.
Off to Myanmar!