Sunday, July 24, 2005

Visited the town of Tonle Sap today. For the first time since we arrived, we had the opportunity to say "yes" to a tuk tuk driver. Usually we say no a million times every time we leave the house. It started raining yesterday afternoon and it really hasn't let up. The streets were pretty empty and muddy. N haggled with the driver a full five minutes, finally agreeing to pay him $6 dollars for the round trip. He wanted the higher price because of the rising gas prices.

The trip was bumby and long. We drove down hut lined streets. We passed an infamous orphanage, that was recently "taken over" by an Australian NGO. Actually, they didn't succeed, because one of the cambodian workers mutinied and didn't let them enter. She took the money and spent it on her own family while she lies to the orphans.

Eventually we left the limits of Siem Reap. Our driver stopped at a dreaded Tourist Association office. I cringe every time we have to go through this. It should really be called the Tourist Fleecing Office. A humourless man behind a desk demanded $20 dollars for a one hour trip. We groaned. We made a big show of being put off. I suggested we go somewhere else. They chatted for a while in khmer. finally she got him to give us a 1.5 hour trip for 15 dollars. Score! I am sure that is still significantly more than a khmer would pay.

We got back on the tuk tuk and passed more shacks on the way to the river. After a while I could start catching a whiff of fish on the wind. Our driver stopped at a yard littered with mud and garbage. A teenager ran up to us, chatted with the driver, took our ticket and motioned us to his boat. We had to clamber over this rickett gangplank, and through a house boat to get it it. I think we went through his family's living room. His mother waved to us from the kitchen.

Tonle Sap is seething with fishermen, children-in-little-boats, crocodile farms, Vietnamese (our pilot was very specific about when we were going through the Vietnamese section-- I sensed some tension), water plants, engine repair shops, schools, missions, women paddling boats loaded to the gunwalls with fruit and market wares.

Yesterday at the lab I met a guy named Nathan. I started talking to him because he was uploading his photos to flickr. Here's his link for the Tonle Sap pictures.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mybigtrip/sets/631346/

He's way ahead of me, technologically. He uses a a canon eos. happy visiting.

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