Kampong Chhnang

90 k from Phnom Penh to Kampong Chhnang by bus …. and it took over 2 hours! We think every road in Cambodia is being worked on, and Cambodians agree.  The city of Kampong Chhnang didn’t in any way wow us, neither with food or accommodation, but the aspects we loved were unreal.  So many memories to flash on.

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The water isn’t very deep but we were still grateful for the lifejackets just to give us a bit of padding at the back!  How do they manage hard wooden benches as they do?

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Shortly after arriving we were on a long tail boat touring floating villages on the Tonle Sap River.  It was incredible to drift through just observing how people live in such a small area.  Why do we in North America feel like we have discovered something new?  Tiny houses have nothing on these folks.  In general the people were so friendly, waving and calling hello – they don’t have enough tourists yet to make this seem like an intrusion into their world, we are more like a novelty, just like their way of life is to us.  On the ecological side of things it was very challenging to see the garbage floating and the outhouses for the homes nothing more than a privacy shelter built out over the river.  We spotted “general store” type of boats pulling up at homes and we were surprised to notice how many homes had satellite dishes on the roofs, with many of them also having solar panels on their roof.  I’ve included a few of the photos I took of the floating homes, just to show the variety.

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These fish farms were everywhere on the river – they subsist mainly on fish for their protein.

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These little girls stopped to ask my name, and laugh at my tentative steps as they ran back and forth! 😳

This rickety bridge is just as unsafe as it looks.

 

That took about two hours, and then we were off to the next adventure.  A tuk tuk driver took us to a local pottery village and it was simply fascinating.  The government now legislates people pulling clay out of the mountains, and so it is all regulated and paid for. One family home we stopped at is the largest producer of clay ovens for Cambodia.  They had just received an order for thousands of these ovens – in Cambodia each family has at least two of these on the go in the kitchen, one for rice and the other for whatever they are cooking that night.  The entire family was very hard at work, and yet still welcomed us with smiles and allowed us to wander around and didn’t mind me taking a few photos.  Our driver knew them all, and was able to explain to us what was going on.

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Grama sits here in the dirt all day, pulling out the chunks of clay.

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Next it all has to be cleaned – water poured in and then they clean all the impurities, bits of rock etc out of the clay.

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Meanwhile these guys have a really efficient process on the go – they are creating molds, which will later hold the oven for firing and then be painted.

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Under the plastic tarp is a huge mass of soft clay, this lady is filling the molds, and creating the oven shape, removing from excess from the centre.

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The kids have to trim all the surfaces, and etch in designs.  No such thing as playing with the mud around here, they are all valuable members of the team (they do go to school in the morning).

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look at all her wooden tools and implants around her

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Black ash is rubbed inside and outside the pots before firing – these are all waiting to be fired for 24 hours in an open air type of fire – huge pit.

 

 

The next stop was a totally different pottery experience.  This woman learned the craft from her mother and is carrying on her work.  She exclusively makes pots for cooking on those ovens, in all sizes.  She allowed me to work with the clay, and even do the designs on one of the larger pots she was working on.  Again, she had so much work to do, but seemed genuinely happy to be explaining to us (through driver again) how things work and how to do what she does.

 

The third and final pottery stop was with someone using a potters wheel to create many different pottery items.  It was so much fun to have her show me how to do it, and my own pottery bowl didn’t even turn out too bad.  So wish I had been in the area long enough to have it fired and finished to bring it home …. but they carved my name into it so someone in the world that buys it will have an original “Kathy” design …

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So patient, showing me exactly where to put my hands.

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Done, pretty good if I do say so myself!  If we were around in a few days it would be fun to see the finished product and even take it home.

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Cows, everywhere there are cows!!!  And red dirt roads.

I was going to put everything from our stay in Kampong Chhnang on one post, but that would just make it too long.    We spent 2 nights here, and saw so many amazing sights that it is just a lot to take in.  All this was just one day!  I will save day 2 and our trip to Kampong Leaeng for the next post.  After all even I can only listen to me for so long, and look at so many photos.

Usually Wilson is with us, and he often reviews for rambling run on sentences, sentence structure or even spelling mistakes, and I’m sorry if you are subject to all that.  Grant is here for accuracy, but missing Wilson & Vivi’s input on the writing!  Next time guys???

 

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