We depart before the break of dawn from Phnom Penh towards the Angkor Ban village on the Mekong River. The village is famous for its unspoiled community and beautiful, traditional houses. It feels like being transported back a hundred years, into an era unaffected by modernity where villagers are characterized by their unbridled warmth.
While we sail upstream, lunch is served and afterward, our staff is keen to show you a variety of traditional Khmer fashions the local people still wear on special occasions. Conversely, the ubiquitous Cambodian scarf, the Krama, is a garment worn by people of all ages and walks of life. This multi-functional attire is worn not just around the neck, but also as a bandanna, facemask, belt, swimwear, and even as a hammock to carry children.
We cruise further up the Mekong to visit a local school and learn more about the education of the young Cambodian generation. Children from the Organization for Basic Training (OBT) are provided free, supplemental education in English, maths, and the arts, and they are always excited to show their skills in music and dance. Shower the young performers with applause and in return, you are bestowed upon with the most genuine and happy Cambodian smiles.
We continue our land journey to the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey (7th century). Formerly built to honor the Hindu god, Hirahara, the complex is now a Buddhist temple, a testament to the country’s past and present religious beliefs. This small complex sits on a hilltop with breathtaking views over the Mekong. Many young, novice monks live on the compound of Wat Hanchey, and we have the chance to observe a few of their daily lives: eating simple meals, praying, studying, or hanging out and making conversation while in their saffron-colored robes.
Another temple on the way is the tranquil monastery of Wat Nokor. Although not massive in comparison to the vast complexes of Angkor Wat, Wat Nokor is the largest of its kind in Kampong Cham Province and is distinctive from other temples with its black sandstone walls. Here, we might have the chance to engage in light banter with some of the sociable monks living in the area.
Back on board, you are free to relax until dinner is served. The boat moors mid-river near Kampong Cham.
Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, Dinner.