By the time I arrived at my hotel (Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa) I hadn’t slept for 35 hours, so as you can imagine I was far from a fully functioning human! Even the exhilarating, white knuckle, tuk tuk ride in, hadn’t done much to wake me up. After doing my best to remain compos mentis whilst the receptionist talked me through check in, I headed straight to my room and grabbed two hours sleep.
One thing I had paid attention to when the receptionist briefed me, was that they offered a free community village tour which they run in the morning and afternoon. I decided to do the tour in the afternoon, after I’d slept.
I was met at hotel reception by my guide and also my Tuk Tuk driver ‘To-To’). It had rained during the afternoon and the tour took me through puddle filled, sodden dirt track roads, which weaved through the bustling local community. As we wobbled along in the Tuk Tuk, the guide explained about the people, houses, buildings and land as we passed them. We reached a track which appeared in good repair compared to the one we had just left, the guide told me that the community pays to keep it maintained. We headed out along this track which cuts through the flooded farm fields. Along the way we passed numerous groups of people chatting, cooking and fishing, until we reached the end of the track, where we stood and chatted for an hour, watching the sun set.
My guide (on the left in the photo) told me how he was lucky as he’d gone to live with a monk to get an education, which is where he learned to speak English and it had enabled him to be a tour guide. This allowed him to break the cycle of poverty he’d grown up in, in Phnom Penh.
He shared many stories with me as we stood chatting – my favourite and most touching being how, out of principle, he wouldn’t eat dog (although most of his friends do). He revealed that he had a pet dog when he was growing up, who he was very fond of. He returned from school one day to discover it had ran off, and as he searched for it for days he soon discovered it had probably ended up at the ‘dog market’… Since then he has refused to eat dog. He then told me a tale of how his friends tried to prank him into eating dog. When he left the table, they’d concealed dog meat below his chicken – but luckily he noticed. He said it made him so angry that he wanted to fight with them. It warmed me that, like me, my guide was in awe of the sunset (despite him living here, he didn’t take it for granted). As I snapped away with my camera he was happily snapping pics of it with his phone.
We dropped the guide back to the hotel and following his advice, I asked To-To to take me to the old market to get something to eat and I finished off by grabbing some pics of the wonderful illuminations.