Boating Misadventures

2008.01.29 Boating Misadventures

Sometimes at 6 a.m. your cranium has a few cobwebs. And sometimes you end up a few hundred kilometers from your intended destination.

Such was the case on my last trip to Cambodia. Leaving Siem Reap after several great days of roaming ancient ruins, my traveling companion and I took to the water to be transported to our next destination.

Siem Reap (SR) is situated on the north end of Tonlé Sap Lake, 18th largest in the world, and fed by the mighty Mekong River. On the south end lies the capital of Phnom Penh (PP) and off a western river branch lies the 2nd largest Cambodian city of Battambang.

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I wanted to go to Battambang. I wanted to see the “old colonial charm.” Instead I arrived, soaked and sunburned, in PP.

Such is life, I guess. With the multitudes of travelers, you tend to be treated more like cattle and herded about. We took for granted that even though our receipts were different colors (blue instead of yellow) and our tickets cheaper ($6 instead of $15), we would be ushered to the correct dock. The ticket taker did slightly pause, but evidently it was early for him too.

The ride itself from SR to PP we were trying to avoid. The idea was to take the shorter boat to Battambang (4-6 hours instead of 8+)
to get our fill of boats, not to mention our plans to take the Mekong into Vietnam. Most sources recommend shorter boat tours to Battambang or into the floating villages and instead take a cheaper and faster bus to PP.

In addition, the wind and boat aligned such that for the majority of us on the top of the boat, we remained soaked with a constant spray leaping up. For some it was an unintentional wet t-shirt contest. I should have sat inside where the view of the scenery was just as good.

Knowing the trip was somehow taking much longer than expected, my fears were confirmed as someone off-handedly remarked, “Welcome to Phnom Penh.”

So, we made lemonade out of lemons and spent our extra time exploring a little more of the coast: Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), Kep, and Kampot. I can’t say it turned out for the worse and had a great time just the same.