Day 8 Saturday 28 December. Angkor Ban

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, Eenie and Richard retired to the cabins to read while Sandy posted our blog from yesterday, as we discovered on the map that we are not that far from Phnom Penh.

At 9.30 Eenie and Sandy went to a demonstration of napkin folding by Sothy, the Food and Bar Manager and towel animals by Hue, from housekeeping.  We were so impressed with their ability and nimble fingers and were delighted with the results!!  Some of Sandy’s favourites were the napkin Sydney Opera House and napkin little girl and the towel elephant and towel swans!

We enjoyed the rest of our morning, relaxing and watching the scenery of everyday Cambodian life on the river pass by.

At about 3.00pm the boat arrived beside the village of Angkor Ban, nudging in to the bank, where the crew set up a gang-plank for us to step ashore.  The crew then lined up to help us up the steep bank and the steps as we headed off for our shore excursion.

Our first stop was at the temple where we were fortunate to receive a blessing from the Buddhist monks, who did their special chanting blessing using jasmine and lotus blossoms and oils. We sat on the floor with our eyes closed and hands together while they chanted and we were sprayed with the oils and blossoms.  Some of us received a special bracelet from the monks.  Behind the temple was the Stupa, which houses the ashes of the dead villagers.

Angkor is one of the only villages that was not burned down or destroyed during the Khmer Rouge tragedies and so we were able to see some of the stilted housed that were up to 100 years old.

We enjoyed walking through the village and Lovy, our guide, chatted to the villagers and translated for us.  We were made very welcome by the villagers and the children who happily followed us around smiling and saying hello.  We noticed that the houses in this village were bigger than the ones we have seen in previous villages and this was because they were slightly better off.  We saw Brahman cows tethered beside or under houses and at one stage two Brahman calves came and stood, mooing, next to our guide while he was trying to talk us.  Some of the children chased the calves away, giggling and laughing!

Some of the newer houses had wicker blinds on the outside of their windows that were ornately painted with pictures.

One of the families had a 50 year old lady and her 78 year old mother who were happy to chat to us via Lovy.  We also met a 90 year old lady, who told us, via Lovy, that she lives in the house by herself and is supported by her children who live in the city and on a farm in the outskirts of the village.  She also said that she had lived in the village all her life.

Our last stop was at a roadside stall of a girl/lady who makes ice blocks.  She demonstrated for us and Lovy gave her some money to make a few for the children who were delighted to receive the ice blocks!

After dinner, the crew entertained us, with each section performing in a talent quest.  Our favourites were the waiters, who sang “I still call Australia home” and also the housekeeping staff who sang, using their equipment as props eg one of them had the bottom section and pipe of a vacuum cleaner and was pretending to blow notes through the top of the pipe, another one had a mop with a microphone attached and in between singing he whizzed around cleaning the floor and another one had buckets set up as a drum kit, to name just a few.  We laughed so much we were nearly in tears!

To top it all off, when we got back to our cabin, the housekeeping staff had turned down our bed as usual and left us two towel swans (whose heads made a love heart) and a note to say “Sandra and Richard Forever” and a love heart from our two cabin stewards.

We have had a wonderful day in Cambodia, relaxing this morning, visiting the village this afternoon and being entertained after dinner by the crew!


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