Our voyage was 2 nights and 3 days. Travelling from Phnom Penh to Kampong Tchhnang along the Mekong and Tonle Sap River.
We Travelled on ‘Sovanna’ a private river cruise boat and a unique boutique hotel that has just two en-suite bedrooms. Designed for just four guests, indulged with comfort and kindness by her excellent crew. Travelling all year between Phnom Penh and Kampong Tchhnang.
Enjoy the Video!
You will find the first set of pictures showing the beautiful thick vegetation, calm waters and nothing but nature surrounding us. Including floating fishing villages where families would enthusiastically wave ‘hello’ as we sailed by.
We arrived at Koh Doch, also known as Silk Island, which offers a fascinating glimpse of life in rural Cambodian.
As we walked through the centre of this quiet little island, you are immediately at peace with the slow pace of life. So very different from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Walking along the main road, we quickly notice the principal occupation as silk weaving. Being politely invited to watch, we witness the ladies spinning the silk thread before it is dyed and then working the silk into an elaborate design on their wooden looms. This authentic craft is something we will never forget and feel we were privileged to have experienced just a small glimpse of this life.
Further inland, we were greeted by a friendly man painting a handmade fence. As we approached, we asked what was hiding behind this colourful fence.
He explained that he had once visited the island many years ago, and it had stolen his heart. He invited us to see that he was passionately creating a school. And, he was delighted to give us a tour of the amenities that included a wood-fired pizza oven that the children had helped to make out of clay. A vast field facing us at the rear of the school was being turned into an organic garden to harvest micro vegetables he explained.
This fortuitous encounter was a unique experience continuing the overall fulfilment of this adventure.
We later strolled back to the boat, passing numerous Buddhist pagodas lining the landscape in the distance. Aboard Sovanna, we relaxed with refreshments and appetizers as the sun was setting, and prepared to dock for the evening near Kampong Tralach.
In the morning, we traversed the river; landing in Kampong Tralach.
We met a lovely man who took us for an ox cart ride through the village, passing beautiful rice fields and quaint little houses. We next arrived at the ancient Wat Kompang Leu Vihara. This pagoda left us speechless. We found remarkably well-preserved wall paintings that depicted rural life from over a century ago. Surrounded by rice fields and other small and very colourful pagodas we strolled the grounds.
This experience was breath-taking and filled our hearts with wonder.
We returned to Sovanna to enjoy the remainder of our evening. Watching the sunset on the water and enjoying a delicious meal prepared by our chef on board.
The following day we travelled to Phum Dum Russey Village in Kampong Tchhnang Province.
We learned that Phum means village, Dam means plant and Russey means bamboo. Also, that Kampong means port and Tchhnang means the clay pot. It all seemed hugely relevant when visiting this amazing little village.
We travelled by tuk-tuk to visit a man that goes by the name of Mr Ry.
He has quite the story. And explained the history of how he became a palm sugar farmer. It turns out the Khmer Rouge captured him during the genocide and ordered him to climb trees and collect palm sugar. He would then break it down, which he explained how to do in detail, even climbing a tree to demonstrate the process. While his wife and daughter moulded ceramic pots in the background. They asked me to try the traditional method of carrying water which was a test to my balance.
Meeting such a humble and gracious family was a fantastic experience. And, we’re already looking forward to our return visit to the Kampong Tcchnang area!
We continued our adventure travelling to Koh Chen.
Also known as the Chen Artisans Island and famous for its traditional silver and copper crafts. Stopping at a revered shop, we had the opportunity to observe the meticulous production of these stunning pieces. Happily, we did buy a one-of-a-kind creation that will remind us of this cultural experience for the rest of our lives.
Catching a 20-minute minibus ride had us arriving at Oudong Holy Mountain.
Climbing up the stairs to the temple and burial site of Cambodian kings was extremely satisfying. Reaching the top of the mountain, you are awestruck by the beautiful, panoramic views of the surrounding villages.
We entered to receive a blessing and a reading of fortune from one of the local monks. While heading back down the mountain, we approached a pond with hundreds of small fish. They instantly reacted to any shadow cast on the water, which was magical in itself. Later, on leaving the temple, we visited a very eclectic market located at the foot of the mountain. Here we bought locally harvested honeycombs and various other beautifully crafted products.
Returning later to Sovanna we had another exquisite meal served as we drifted to our final destination.
Our experiences were nothing short of spectacular. They ignited a whole new appreciation for rural life at the heart of the culture of Cambodia. From Phnom Penh to Kampong Tchhnang and to Silk Island on the Tonle Sap River.
It would be hard to imagine this experience without the guidance, knowledge and hospitality of Sovanna and her team.
- Orkurn (Chran) “Thank you (very much)”