Very poor

Yesterday was another whirl wind.  I woke up early, but thats nothing new, at 7 a.m. and hopped in a tuktuk to head to the floating village.  The ride was nice.  Twenty minutes or so through the parts of Cambodia that you don't see if you just stay right in Siem Reap.  The back roads are nice and you get a true taste of how most Cambodians live. 

I arrived at the dock and ran into a girl who I had met briefly in Bangkok.  She was with a whole group of people from the UK and we planned to boat out to the village together.  However, the men running the boats had a different plan.  For some reason, although it was certainly not gas efficicent, they chose to put me on a boat by myself and put the entire tour group on another boat.  I didn't really understand but I just went with it.  One thing I have learned on my travels is just do what they tell you to do even if you don't understand why they want you to do it.  There is no point in arguing.  If they want you to sit in this seat instead of that seat just do it, even if there is no reason for it.  So I unintentionally got a private boat tour of the floating village.  My guides were two young Cambodians, who looked like they might have the combined age of 30 together.  We slowly drifted through the low river (rainy season has long since passed) and arrived at the lake in about 30 minutes.  My guides didn't speak much English but enough to communicate that the village was a mix of cambodian and vietnamese people who were poor.  The answer to every question I asked was "yes, very poor" with a smile added in.  After my trip to the floating village I met my tuktuk driver and rambled towards the silk farm

Sitting out on the front of the boat
My very young tour guides
A view of a large part of the village

This ride was substantially longer as I had to go back passed Siem Reap to get to the silk farm.  I do however feel it was worth it.  The silk farm was pretty interesting.  I was shown by my very own gratis tour guide every step of the silk making process.  From the silk warm eggs, to the mulberry leaves they are fed to the cocoons and thread process then the weaving of the handmade fabrics.

Baby silk worms

Silk cocoons
Flowers used for dye

dye materials with the silk that they've colored, believe it or not one of those natural dyes is cow poo.  Ew

Extracting raw silk

Mulberry plants that feed the silk worms

A partially woven scarf and the complicated loom that is used
Dyed silk

After my silk farm adventure, and without buying anything from the gift shop because clothes made for little asian women do not fit me, I returned to my hostel, had a quick bit and got dressed for a 2 1/2 hour ATV ride with my travel buddy Amy.  The company was run by a frenchmen who was very serious about the safety rules.  He explained, since we were both going on one ATV, if the person driving hits the break too hard they will eject the passenger.  If the person driving hits a pile of cow poop they will splash the passenger.  If the person driving speeds up to fast they will eject the passenger.  Naturally Amy jumped on the chance to ride first.  But all went smoothly and we each drove for about half the ride.  We were taken to an orphanage outside of town and given a tour by a 13 year old orphan who had better English grammar than myself or Amy.  We donated a few dollars and grabbed the mailing address so I can send some books when I get home.  After, we stopped in a rice paddy to watch the sunset but couldn't see much due to the cloud cover.  It was none the less a very entertaining ride and I have a new love for ATVs. 

Amy and I on our ATV (or quad bike)

All the children ran to the road to wave to us as we drove by

Cambodian cows.  More intimidating then our beasts of burden aren't they

More waving children piled on a motorcycle (or cyclo) as they call it

Ready for sunset and a break from the 4 wheeler

After our ride, covered in grime and dust, we both returned to our respective hotels to shower and met up for dinner in the town for some authentic Khmer barbecue.  We chose 5 meats; chicken, beef, shrimp, squid and crocodile.  It was a very fun meal.  The phrase don't play with your food was not applicable here.  And I have to say I quite enjoyed the crocodile.  It was sort of a cross between chicken and beef.

Anyways, after our entertaining dinner complete with two $0.50 beers I returned to my hotel to pack.  I am now in Phnom Penh where I plan to spend the next day and a half.  I'm off to explore. 

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