Cruisin’ into Cambodia
“Welcome aboard the Aqua Mekong everyone. This is your captain speaking. In case of an emergency, such as a depletion of sangria, we ask that you board the jet skis on either side of the boat. The staff on your personalized water craft will then take you to the sandy shore, where there will be more than enough fruit & wine for everyone.”
Okay, okay. I’m just kidding. Of course we wouldn’t run out of sangria. Not on the Aqua Mekong.
The Aqua Mekong is a small cruise (about 40 people) that travels up & down the Mekong River between Vietnam & Cambodia. So, after waking up Christmas morning & spending a little time exploring the city, we transferred to the port where we board the lovely ship where we would spend the next four days.
Our first morning at sea (at river?) started with an early breakfast & an excursion to a local food market. We took skiffs to the shore & watched as the locals did their morning grocery shopping. There were all the delicacies, from fresh frog legs to field chicken…better known as rats.
After taking in all the sights, sounds & ahem…smells of the market, we visited a local landmark. “The Lovers’ House” is the home where Marguerite Duras’ novel “The Lover” or “L’Amant” took place. Now, don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of Duras or this French novel…I am oddly familiar. The only reason I have both read the book & watched the film is because of my AP French class in high school & my upper division French literature classes at Pepperdine…I actually did a presentation on Duras last year. She’s actually a very interesting writer & it was all that more interesting to see the house from the story that I had researched & studied. The story is based off an actual affair Duras had with a wealthy Chinese business man during the French colonial period in Vietnam & this is supposedly where they stayed.
We were off again on the skiffs early the next morning. As we headed to shore, we passed the famous floating market. Because boats are the easiest way up & down the river, many merchants sell their goods from the deck of their boat. As they all group together, the river becomes a floating market, with everything from fresh fruits to live chickens. In order to advertise what they are selling, each merchant ties their product to a stick, which they prop up high in the air for everyone to see.
Monks play a huge role in the educational system, so after saying goodbye to the children at the school, we headed off to visit some of the local temples, which were some of the most colourful I’ve ever seen.
After some lunch, we headed back out on the skiffs & took another tuk tuk ride to check out another kinda of market, but I wouldn’t say the food was as fresh. We discovered that pickling is popular & piles of smelly fish are just your common market fair.
Once we’d taken in enough of the fragrant market, the next stop was a temple on a mountain high above the city where the local monks resided. We made it just in time to witness the ceremony they perform before every meal & had the opportunity to ask the monk any questions we had about his beliefs & lifestyle.
For our final full day on the boat & finally having crossed into Cambodia, we took advantage of that day’s excursions. We started off with a visit to Silk Island, where locals made beautiful silks scarves & cloth by hand. They took us through all the steps, from breeding & raising the silk worms to the weeks it would take to make an intricate & colourfully designed finished silk product.
That afternoon, we set out again to take a walk through a local Cambodian village. In the center of the village was another school & a temple where several monks resided. Before we left, they performed a blessing ceremony over us which did, in fact, get us home safe & sound. The youngest of the group was only 11-years-old!
We ended our time on the Aqua Mekong with a sun-downer. We toasted our time at sea with champagne & played soccer with the crew until dark. Well, that’s it for part two…don’t go away cause there’s a lot more of Cambodia & Laos to explore!
Check out the Aqua Mekong here.
Just a girl sharing the baubles she loves & the bliss she experiences!